26. The End of an Old…

Another presence entered the room, the air filling with a sense of fear.

For a second, Tanya just stared at me, her eyes prying into the wound as if willing it to disappear. Abruptly, she strode to my side and knelt next to me. She inspected the wound and then checked my pulse. After making sure that I was still alive, she took off my belts and laid them on the floor. Removing the drenched cloth against my stomach, she grabbed one of my blades and began to cut away the suit.

The sharp metal slipped and sliced into my skin. She whispered an earnest apology and then continued.

The tiny cut she made didn't even faze me. I had a huge fucking hole in my stomach to worry about. A little cut was nothing I couldn't handle. No other pain could make me forget about this. The researcher could have crushed my leg, and I still wouldn't be able to take my mind off the ache in my stomach.

Once my entire stomach was exposed, she placed the blade back on the ground.

Blood ran from the wound, down my side, and soaked into the mattress. I wanted to brush the uncomfortable feeling away, but I couldn't find the strength. The instinct had stolen my strength and hid it somewhere out of reach.

She took a clean chunk of cloth, pressed it against the wound, and wrapped another cloth around it to hold it in place. In order to secure the cloth against the wound, she had to lift up my stomach to fit the cloth around my torso, which caused the ache to increase. Every movement tore the hole open more and more.

Bandaging me was a lost cause, a knowledge shared by both the researcher and myself, for the damage was internal. She may be a researcher, but as she said, she wasn't a surgeon. Without the proper tools and surgical team, I would bleed to death internally. It was only a matter of time. In fact, it was amazing I was holding on this long. Despite the knowledge, the researcher bandaged me up carefully, as if using great care could achieve the impossible.

As I pondered my slow death, I realized I was lucky the creature's tongue didn't release venom or didn't go through my spine, paralyzing me. The creature would have carried me away, and I wouldn't have been able to fight back. A thought occurred to me at that second, would Truc have stopped it from carrying me away? Unsure why, but he didn't seem to want me to die. He helped and carried me. I quickly stopped thinking about that; it didn't matter anyways. I just hoped he would take the three of them somewhere safe. He could be civilized.

As Tanya continued to wrap me up, the pain only increased. I wanted to tell her to stop, but I was weakening. I no longer had the strength to fight—NO, I no longer wanted to fight. My job in life was finished. I finally felt worthy instead of worthless. Of course, I never did get to kill Carter and the Organization, but for some reason, the instinct and mind weren't allowing me to use that as a motivator to live. Instead of filling me with hate and vengeance, I was overcome by thoughts of seeing my crew again. This was strange, for I wasn't sure if I believed in an afterlife, and if there was an afterlife, I doubted I was going any place "good."

If I continued to let go of things, like my desire for revenge, I would surely die. Only a few more minutes of contentment and no motivators, and I wouldn't have a chance, not even surgery would be able to save me. All fighting in me would be gone, and I wouldn't be able to do anything to save myself. The thought scared me, for there was so much I was missing, and for Christ sake, I was only nineteen. That made me laugh, I had done and seen more in my nineteen years than others had in nineteen lifetimes.

Tanya stayed by my side for some time after bandaging me up. Every once in a while, I heard her tell me to hold on and that I could make it. She seemed to be pleading. She said she was sorry that she couldn't do more, her words solemn. I tried to mumble but nothing came out.

For a moment, I tried to understand why she wanted me to live. Why would she try to plead with me as if she truly cared? We didn't even know each other, and up until today, she thought of me as a lab rat. She wasn't just pleading with me to plead; she truly wanted me to live as if her own life depended on it. Maybe she felt gratitude that I helped save her.

What would the Organization do with my body if they found me?

The question jumped into my head, but I overlooked it, for it wouldn't matter, because I would be dead. On the other hand, they might never find my body. I trusted Truc to get the ship far away from them. If the radar was right, we were only a matter of hours ahead of them, but if Truc wanted to avoid them, he would be able to. I didn't doubt his ability to escape. In addition, the ship was fine, so he shouldn't run into any technical difficulties. It was a good thing the creatures didn't damage the ship too much.

My heart sped up even more.

Finally, it was running out of blood. Soon, it would slow down and then give out. The end was near.

Fear entered the air as Tanya got up and left the room. As the door closed behind her, I began to drift again. I couldn't even make myself care or ponder why she felt fear.

My mind relaxed, peacefulness replacing all other emotions. While I was in that state of peace, my body started to tingle, as if falling asleep. It wasn't a comfortable feeling by all means, but for some reason, it felt right, as if that's what was supposed to happen. Was that what dying felt like?

A large amount of energy came into the room and interrupted my peaceful state. Truc stood in the doorway for a moment. Black eyes were on me the entire time, never once blinking. It was awkward to have him looking at me without returning the gesture. So badly, I wanted to stare into his beautiful, mysterious eyes, to see that unearthly glow behind them, and to be able to read his face. But the instinct wouldn't release the strength that it had taken. Besides, for far too long, I had been content and unmotivated. I could do nothing anymore.

He stepped inside and closed the door behind him.

I wasn't exactly sure why he was here, but my mind and instinct stirred restlessly as if they knew and disliked the answer to that question.

Had he come to thank me? That thought made me laugh to myself. It was Truc, not someone who could feel empathy and normal, human-like emotions.

Air thrashed inside the room as if the world was unstable, quickly destroying my laugh. Something horrible was about to happen.

The room shook.

All peace disappeared, and my eyes flew open. The pain in my stomach grew more intense, as if my body halted the release of painkillers because it wanted me to die. It wanted me to be in so much pain that I had no choice but to die. As if pain could make me give up, I thought. Did my own body not know me very well?

Truc had slammed his fist into the steel wall. An astonished look appeared on my face as I stared at his hulking, unstable form.

He glared at me, the look one would expect from a demon. His body was as tense as it had been when he carried me into this room. Blood and water still drenched his arms, side, and the middle of his black shirt where his body had pressed into my wound. He should be in pain, but instead, he appeared pissed. Torn away on the side was his shirt. The light in the room allowed me to see more detail on how the creature had ripped him apart. Blood dripped onto his black pants to stain them. The man hadn't even cleaned himself off. Red, irritated-looking flesh, jagged and dismantled, hung down in pieces. The creature had really ripped him apart. I guess the creature hadn't released any venom; otherwise, he would be in some serious pain right now. We were both lucky in that regard.

Why would he be pissed? For Christ sake, I saved his life. Rightfully, the bastard should be thanking me. Instead, he appeared dangerous and unbelievably mad. A flame was in his dark eyes, and every time I tried to close mine or show any kind of weakness, the flame consumed them.

The pain increased tenfold, and it took all of my strength to stop from screaming and groaning. My eyes closed to hold in the pain.

"I should've made you go." Regret was loud despite his quiet words. It sounded like he said it more to himself than to me.

I opened my eyes to look at him, realizing this would be the last time I ever saw him and deciding it was worth the pain. His large arms crossed over his chest as poignant eyes assessed me, a beautiful animal even when in torment. Yes, definitely worth the pain.

Some of my strength returned as my mind attempted to block out the pain. "If we'd a left them, I'd a hated and killed you." My voice held more strength than I felt at the present moment.

"Now you're gonna hate me even more." He stated, his words slightly repentant. He put his hands against the wall, stared at the ground for a long moment, and then back at the wall. He seemed to be battling or trying to control something inside of him. Tension and helplessness seeped out of his strong body. The instability in the atmosphere increased along with his energy, which confused the hell out of me.

Why would I hate him even more? What could he possibly do?

He smacked his hands into the wall. An acrimonious tone left his mouth that was more of an unholy growl, something one wouldn't hear except in the deepest, darkest part of hell. "If you die, I'll kill them."

The room shook again from his wrath.

He stalked toward the door, turned back to me, and ran his hand over his face. For a moment, he cursed at the ground, his jaw clenched. Dread surrounded him like a cage, the unusual emotion holding him against his will. Strangely, I felt his energy go back down to its original amount—what the hell was going on inside of him?

When the shock of his words wore off, I shouted, "The hell you will, I saved your life Truc. I fucking saved you." I made myself sit up. Pain tore through me, but anger overruled it. Blood rushed out of the opening in my stomach, making the bandaging wet and clingy. I stared at him, hate encompassing my hazel iris.

He placed his hands behind his head and glared back. Again, his voice was ruthless and unfeeling. "You have a choice; if you live, they live. If you die…" His voice grew louder, "…I'll torture them until they beg for me to kill them."

The truth in his words hit me hard, and I knew he wouldn't have a problem carrying out his threat. I screamed at him, "Fuck you, this isn't funny Truc. If you hurt them, I'll…"

He cut me off, "You'll what? You'll be fucking dead; they'll scream for you to save them." The loud, brutal tone of his voice was no doubt thunderous enough that the three other survivors heard.

I was across the room in a blink of an eye, the involuntary action torn from me by a fiery rage.

My fist struck his jaw, and he took it without moving. At first, a look of astonishment appeared, but he quickly composed it.

I didn't know where I found the strength to attack him, only that I did. I knew I was screaming at him, but I couldn't hear it. I was losing control, as if I were watching myself attack him.

"You son of a bitch." I kneed him in the chest as I yelled. Rage, hurt, and horror surged through me, tensing each muscle in my body. I wanted to murder him, torture him, until he begged me to stop. How dare he threaten them after we just helped them, after I gave my life for him, and after we nearly died to get control of this ship. My fist smashed into his face. "Don't fuck with me Truc, I'll kill you," I screamed at him, my eyes wide in fury.

His face didn't move as I backhanded him as hard as I could. Those black eyes never drifted from mine, and no emotion or pain fluttered across his face. He took my abuse without fighting back, simply standing there while I hit and screamed at him.

I was throwing a fit, but I couldn't calm down. The words he said and the images they created in my mind couldn't be forgotten.

I slapped and pushed him into the wall of the tiny room, shaking the steel walls. My blood-covered hands grabbed hold of his shirt and shoved him into the steel. I released him and then forced him into it again. Screaming, my elbow crushed into his face, followed by my hand.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he grasped the tops of my arms and stopped me.

I looked up into his eyes, which were full of amusement and…hope?

His eyes burned into mine, charring and disfiguring the emotions I was attempting to read. Blood streamed down his hard features and out of his mouth, and no doubt was in my mind that swollen, black and blue marks would soon cover his face.

Like a narrowing tunnel in front of me, the sides of my vision closed in, the brute's handsome form disappearing. Balancing became harder as I stumbled back from him.

I began to mumble, my eyes closing, "Don't…fuck…"

Excruciating pain overwhelmed me, my mind unable or unwilling to block it out. I clutched my stomach and collapsed.

Warm arms caught me.

Helpless, I wrapped my arms around his neck. His body tensed as if he could sense my pain and helplessness—destroying the hope he had felt. He cradled me in his arms as he gently carried me to the mattress.

I didn't want him to lay me down. Comfort and receding pain accompanied the protective embrace every time he held me. He was like a drug to my pain—an antidote or a huge dose of morphine.

His arms left me completely, and he wrapped his fingers around my weakening arms. At this particular moment, I didn't give a damn about pride. I didn't want to feel the pain I knew was waiting for me when I let go. Lurking just beyond the threshold his body guarded, snickering and mocking me, was the pain, knowing he had to let go and leave the entrance defenseless.

Warm breath blew across my cheek when he exhaled.

My heart slowed, death wrapping its chilling arms around me.

All of my strength remained focused on holding onto him. The muscles felt as if they were disintegrating, starting at my shoulders and trekking up to my fingertips that held desperately to his neck.

Drew? Tyson? Tanya?

They came rushing back into my thoughts. Why would he give a shit if I were dead or alive? Why would he be full of rage?

Weakness won the fight. His hands flexed and tensed as he slowly lowered them to my sides. Hesitantly, he backed away from me, giving the pain full access to the entrance. My eyes squeezed shut when the pain raided my system, and I wished I had the strength to grab onto him or to ignore my pride and ask him to touch me, to take away my pain.

Shoving aside my own anguish, I concentrated on those I thought I had saved from the monsters. I had been wrong; the monster hadn't been lurking behind us. Instead, the monster had been hidden amongst our group, waiting for that precise moment when my guard dropped and the survivors were left defenseless, a monster I overlooked and underestimated. I'd thought he was simple to read, that he was simply a selfish man. Never would I have guessed he would kill because I was going to die. The reason for his actions was unclear and made no sense. Was he just doing it to cause me pain and to make me think it was my fault when he had planned to kill them anyways? But that wouldn't explain the resentment I felt form around him when they had entered the room. He no doubt blamed them for my death.

As much as I hated begging the monster, I had to beg for them. Never would I beg for my own life, but this was someone else's. "Please…don't hurt them…Truc?" I opened my eyes.

He knelt next to the mattress with his eyes on e. Black eyes were still overwhelmed with pain; however, incandescent rage quickly replaced it. Around me, the energy in him grew, crushing me as if the walls of the room closed in around me.

Maybe begging hadn't been such a good idea; it seemed to piss him off even more. Perhaps he knew begging would be a last resort, and it meant I was giving up.

He gritted his teeth as he glared at me with eyes better fit for a madman.

My eyes began to close, the evilness in his black eyes unable to prevent the action.

I didn't have the energy to kill him. All I could do was hope he would come to his senses and reconsider. That was a useless hope; I knew him well enough to know he wouldn't reconsider. A sick feeling grew inside of me, not because of the wound, but because of what he was going to do, and what I was unable to prevent. Regret and anger boiled the remnants of blood in my body. How could I let this happen after I risked everything to save them? Why couldn't I have a peaceful death?

Death's cold arms constricted, not about to let me go, as I inhaled a strangled breath.

All of my senses went crazy as Truc got closer to me, each one of them near death but forced to climax one last time. So close to death, I felt so alive at that moment, as if death granted access to some sort of higher level within the senses, opening a door that remained locked until death. But it wasn't just death; it was a mixture of death and him. Somehow, he brought new life to each sensory receptor, as if making them unnaturally sensitive.

Rough, calloused fingers brushed a strand of hair away from my face. His lips brushed my ear as he whispered, "Last chance," in his husky voice.

My heart stopped.

He placed his fingers on my wrist, feeling for a heartbeat. When it didn't come, he released it. His fingers lightly stroked my cheek. The pain from inside of him formed a blanket around me. I had no idea he could feel that sort of pain. He wasn't supposed to be able to feel human-like emotions that went against everything I knew about him—what was happening to this world I once knew so well?

Finally, his hand left my cheek, and he stood up.

I didn't understand. I kept waiting for an ending, but it never came. My body was dead, but my mind wasn't? I could still hear and think, but I was dead, I knew I was. Was this some sort of punishment, to make me completely aware of my surroundings but unable to do any fucking thing about them? Would I have to listen to him kill Drew, Tanya, and Tyson? Was this some sort of sick joke?

I began to resist. If my mind was still there, I could still wake up. I would not lie here and listen helplessly as he killed them.

A new beginning.

The room shuttered. The mattress vibrated beneath me. "FUCK!" Truc shouted, the word more of a loud growl, as the room shook again and again.

Damnit Ellitia wake up he's going to kill them. WAKE UP! You're stronger than this.

Pure hatred surged through me. I wasn't sure if it was all for him or partially for my weakness as well. What was the point in killing all those creatures if he was just going to kill the people we saved? For Christ sake, because of me, their deaths would be more painful than if I would have let the creatures kill them. Guilt sickened me; this was what I got for not leaving and listening to the instinct. This was the payback, the punishment.

A chilling scream echoed through the ship; the cry of a frightened child.

I tried to move. Nothing. I screamed inside of my useless mind.

I'd kill the bastard. I'd find a way.

The ship shuddered and another scream reverberated off the walls.

Epilogue

One hour later:

"Did you find her?"

"She's being brought in as we speak. She was found dead on the ship with four others, one of which is a wanted murderer who would be executed anyways. We'll take him with us to the facility and drop the other three off on the way. We'll keep an eye on them; they may prove to be useful if she refuses to participate."

"They can bring her back?"

"Once they get her to the facility, she should be fine. She has already begun healing."

"This was supposed to be a game, what went wrong?"

"The creatures broke out and populated, more than tripling their numbers. We're lucky. How is the research on the control device?"

"Still no word."

I could see and hear in flashes.

Men in white placed my body on a medical bed. They voiced caution to one another, acting as if what they handled were contaminated. One man placed his hand on my wrist and said something I couldn't make out. Voices were fuzzy and muffled, and something stopped me from concentrating on his mouth to read his lips. Things were beginning to fade again.

Suddenly, I became hyperaware, everything around me coming in clearer. I wished I could turn my head as I was wheeled out a door. My useless body wouldn't obey my shrilling commands, but I felt his eyes staring at me and his unusually large energy pounding into me. Desperately, I tried to move my body, to make it come alive again, so I could look upon his face one last time. Black eyes seemed to burn into my soul, making me remember their beautiful, mysterious shine. In my mind, I saw them as if I were looking into them; however, I knew how they appeared in my mind was nothing when compared to seeing them in reality. Memories quickly faded away and became obscured and jumbled. Shaking my mind, I reminded myself he had killed Drew, Tanya, and Tyson.

In the next instant, I was being transferred to another, more comfortable bed. Bright lights and white walls enveloped my body. Tingling sensations sprouted as I lay lifeless on the bed. Energy from the researchers was all around me.

I didn't quite understand how I could see. Perhaps it was the soul seeing and hearing the surroundings. Was my soul trapped inside my body, unable to get out and move on?

When would it be over? When would I be able to sleep in peace?

In a flash, I saw a man in white who looked so familiar—Carter. He beamed down at me, the same smile he had when he killed my crewmembers.