"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
I didn't want to believe my eyes. The man in the middle of the hostile crowd of L.E.O.'s couldn't be my father. He just couldn't be. The man bound to the chair had a sort of dejected air about him. He didn't even attempt to defend himself from the angry hands that struck at him or the knife that dripped with his blood. Dad would have fought back. He would have done struggled against the ropes that encircled his prone form. I fought an internal war in my head. Both sides battled valiantly but just as a tree must eventually bend to the will of the powerful tornado, one side came out triumphant. I reluctantly gave into the idea that the man was my father. There didn't seem to be any other option available.
I had closed my eyes in my attempt to sort out my clashing mindsets. I stared for a few more moments at the backs of my eyelids, endeavouring to hide in the illusion of calmness and peace for as long as possible. My concentration was broken when an authoritative tone barked an order and the sound of shuffling feet could be heard. I opened my eyes slowly, wary of this new person with the voice of steel. The group of burly men who had been huddled around Dad an instant ago, were now standing at attention across from a compact man wearing a streamlined green suit. His shoes gleamed as he paced in front of the now stoic men, scowling at each of them in turn.
"I leave for half an hour on assignment and this is what I come back to? I ordered you specifically not to harm him and the next thing I know, he's being beaten half to death. Have you forgotten the reason he's here at all? Let me spell it out for you. We need him. What do you have to say for yourselves?"
He didn't yell. He didn't scream. He didn't raise his voice at any point in his tirade. His words were no less venomous, no less scathing however, then they would have been if they had been spoken by an appalling giantess. He spoke like someone who was used to having his orders followed and followed instantly. None of the men in line dared exhale, let alone speak a single word. The man in green snorted in disgust.
"And to think that I was considering promoting you. As punishment, each and every one of you will have no time off for a month and will be docked forty days pay." he glared at them for a few beats, "Dismissed."
The L.E.O.'s scattered, unwilling to spend a single second more than necessary under his frigid gaze. I merely stared. I found that I couldn't take my eyes off of him. Power and strength oozed from him as slime oozes from a slug. He cast his eyes around the room, hunting for any sign of the disparaged officers. After taking in the surrounding room in one fell swoop, they settled on me. His ice blue eyes glinted and his thin lips curved upwards into a cruel smile.
"Hello, Emaline. It's nice to finally meet you. I've heard so much about you. I don't have much time to chat at the moment but I promise that we'll get to talk soon. Won't that be fun?"
He stalked towards where I was standing, fingers twitching expectantly. He stood next to me so fast that it seemed as if he had teleported. He reached one of his filthy hands towards my face. I jerked my head back but he was too nimble. He traced the side of my face with one of his stubby fingers, leaving streaks of grime behind. I shuddered, revulsed. At the sudden motion, he stepped aside and gestured for Elena and my guard to follow him. They spoke in hushed, hurried tones, obviously deciding what to do with me. At one point Elena flushed and appeared to be protesting something. The man held up his finger to his lips to silence her. Whatever he said next must have placated her for she swiveled around and grabbed me by the shoulder, keeping one eye on me and one eye on my guard and the mystery man as they exited. I cast one last glance at Dad, sensing that it would be my last look at him in a long time. He was unconscious, a blonde woman kneeling over him applying bandages to his many wounds.
She nodded a goodbye to the woman behind the desk, who had gone back to painting her nails as if nothing had happened, and proceeded to lead me out a door, through another hallway, and into yet another room. This one resembled a princess's bedroom in a fairytale. There was pink and white everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. There was nothing that I could see that was blue or yellow or red or any other color. There was only pink and white as far as the eye could see. The blankets on the bed were frilly and lacy, matching the curtains, the tablecloth, even the rug was made of the same material.
I was totally bemused. Why was I being forced here of all places. It was a fully functional bedroom for a little girl with rich parents. The exact opposite of me. All I could do was stare from my spot on the threshold. My confusion was heightened when I received a push from behind, making me stumble forward. When I had regained my balance I heard a series of beeps. They sounded like a keycode being punched into a lock. I whirled around, only to face a door made of solid steel. There was no doorknob, no way to open it from the inside. Realization hit me like a punch to the gut. The man had said that they needed Dad. But I knew Dad, he would do everything in his power to stop them from getting what they wanted. That was why we had stayed in hiding for so many years.
They had an advantage over him now. Dad may have been willing to give his life to keep the information safe but he was most certainly not willing to give his children's life for it too. The man had the boys and I as leverage and if he got to keep us for the rest of our lives, that was merely a happy side effect. I started to tremble and I knew that it had nothing to do with the temperature.