The constant knocking on the door forced me to get off the bed. I didn't want to from how nice and soft the sheets were. Regardless I dragged my feet and twisted the knob to find Mason on the other side. He was dressed in a solid, white shirt, black cargo pants and boots so large they threatened to squash you dead. Over his outfit he wore a knee length black coat with grey straps on the shoulders. He looked ready to say something until he got a good look at me. After taking me in his expression turned from dead serious to tense and pained.
I blinked in confusion. I don't know what could have brought on this reaction until my brain took its time realizing I was dressed in shorts and the morocco maroon sports bra I love so much.
"What?" I mumbled.
"We go out patrolling at the Lower Level." He announced.
"So? You're coming with us." He said as a matter of fact. He was demented if he thought I was going down there.
"The hell I am."
"Yes. You damn well are." Mason forced his boot between the door and the frame when I tried closing it. "Get ready. We leave in five minutes."
That's when he left, closing the door after him. I sighed and cursed under my breath before throwing on a black hoddie over the sports bra, zipping it all the way up to my breasts and exchanging my shorts for the faded, denim jeans I had stuffed at the bottom of my bag. My door cracked open while I was fixing the end of my jeans into my combat boots.
It wasn't Mason at the door, it was Darius. He gestured for me to follow him and I did so, quietly after grabbing the ball cap in my bag. The guy had something about him that was comforting. I didn't quite understand it, but he didn't seem as keen on the whole power thing like the others. In fact, Mason seemed like he is in it for the game rather than the power. Robin was the one with the obvious desire to rule.
The lot of them, except for Loon, were waiting at the foot of the stairs. Darius disappeared out the front door as soon as we reached the bottom and I was quickly assigned a baby sitter.
"Armani, she is your job today. Don't let her out of your sight." Robin called out and we all moved.
Robin was off with Darius in a separate car, as was Mason. Armani pointed at the car waiting for us with a chuffer dressed in all black. Loon waved from her spot at the huge double doors and quickly a feeling of uneasiness washed over me. We drove down each level, the change noticeable the lower we went. I thought we would stop at the Lower Level but we kept going, and I realized we were headed for the Underground.
"Wait. I thought Mason said Lower Level." I commented.
"He lied. Our patrolling takes place in the Underground. I hate that place, but it's been a while. We need to remind people here who is in charge. Still, the place is so damn dirty and dark. Granted, they have some fascinating stuff, but the people who live there are all kinds of messed up."
I was silent. I knew damn well how messed up they were. I've been there the one time with Benny. It was the first time I met Hobs. He worked at a rundown garage along with his sister, which I never saw. I wonder if he's be down there...
When the light no longer lit up the sky I knew we had entered the Underground. A sickening feeling took over me and suddenly I feared we might run into Hobs and Benny. I had reasons for this. See, Hobs and Benny can be quite ruthless despite Benny's beat up look and Hobs' average build. I worried they might make a move against the Dusks. If something happens down here, there is a good chance the Kovras might be ready to make their move. I was almost positive they would be waiting for me. So I was terrified of them. Why wouldn't I be? Kai tortured me for years without a sense of sympathy or compassion. I was a misbehaving dog to her. A slave worth no more than her used up shoes.
"Hey!" Armani snapped her fingers repeatedly in front of my face and I snapped out of my daze. "We are getting out now." She said and kicked open her door. I slid out behind her and felt a chill run down my spine.
The Underground was just as I remembered, only worse. It was dark, lit up by lamp posts, and the occasional wharf-rat was wondering about. Stands covered by stained cloths were posted around every corner and people were clearing away, but not exactly hiding. The Dusk were already walking down the street and in the front Robin had already disappeared. Mason was next and Darius followed. Armani rolled her eyes and gripped my wrist.
"Walk faster. I want to get this over with." I let her pull me while I kept a watchful eye on every shadow that jerked. "What are you so afraid of? I'm here. No one will do shit to you." Armani assured. She was wrong. None of the Kovras would be afraid of taking any of them on. Kai already stood her ground against Mason and she escaped with her life. Of course, I doubt armani had any idea of that.
In the distance I saw a glimpse of silver hair, the same flawless hair I remembered belonged to Katzune, the middle sister. What was a glimpse became reality when she let her face show out of the shadows. My heart skipped a beat and I was nearly clutching on to Armani. She seemed startled yet sympathetic of my actions. She pulled me back and looked into my eyes before asking. "What are you hiding from? What is it?"
I figured the first time she asked that no one said anything to Armani, and probably didn't say anything to Darius either. They were ultimately clueless of what they were up against.
"My creators. They are powerful, dangerous and blood thirsty. They will stop at nothing to get me. You need to let me go, Armani. Before they hurt you." I was dead serious and I hoped, for her sake, that she believed me. She might have, but it didn't bring her to the conclusion I wanted. Instead of letting me go she gripped my arm and kept me close at her side. I no longer saw Katzune, which made me worry even more. I wasn't going crazy. I know what I saw.
"Come on. We need to catch up with the others." Armani insitsed.
I heard what she said, but I didn't listen. It was hard to listen when your throat is being crushed by a pair of hands. Armani's grip wasn't strong enough and I was easily pulled away from her. There wasa lot of grasping from my part and I clawed at Kat's hands, my legs kicking violently at the air with no outcome whatsoever. Armani turned to find me struggling and launched herself at Kat. There was no use. Kat and I were gone, or maybe Armani was gone. I wasn't sure since all I could see now was black. Then I was on my knees, alone, and gasping for oxygen.
"I'm sorry. I was afraid Kai might be around. She had to think I'm still on her side." Kat's voice startled me and I saw her drop to her knees and help me sit up straight. She looked just as I remembered: pointed features, a never-ending arch on her eyebrows, silver hair long and loose while two strands tied at the back into a tiny ponytail.
"What are you talking about?" I asked. I was scared mindless, but what was the use of crawling away of attempting to run?
"Kai has gone mad. She has Karen practically on her knees. I have the good sense to not fear her, but Karen is young and afraid. I'm trying my best to keep Kai at bay, but she's out of control. She wants you back, J 0.3. She wants to put an end to you. You must know why I'm here." Kat placed a hand on my shoulder and I flinched. "Listen to me. You do not feel simply because I made you feel. It is impossible for a humanoid like you to possess any emotions. I wanted to give that to you and so a part of my empathy power is within you. That's what helps you feel like humans do. It is also why you have powers you can only channel through something. I'm sure you've figured that out by now"
"What are they? What is this power?" I asked, pressing forward and urging her to answer my questions. Kat considered telling me, I saw it in her eyes as they shifted from blank to conflicted.
"Manipulation. It is a common gift among my tribe. Because of the small amount of power you have you are limited to nature. Do not use it. Ever. Kai will sense it and come after you. I do not know where you were. After you left the manor we could no longer track you. Wherever you were, go back and stay there. Kai will come after you and you will suffer, as will your friends if she catches you."
My heart was racing and I was sure my chest would burst and give into the stillness. My feet planted themselves on the ground and I managed to stand up. Kat was staring at me with worriment in her eyes and I wondered how much of what she said was true.
"You're saying I should stay?"
"I'm saying that wherever you were you are safer there than running away."
"Did Kai go after Hobs and Benny?"
"The two men that escaped?"
"She's eager to find the younger one. She also took an interest on the one who saved you. He really did her over. Keep that one close. I need to go now. Be safe J 0.3."
"Jinx. My name is Jinx." I told her.
Kat smiled and nodded before her body faded away, leaving the sound of slithering snakes to linger in the air around me. I looked back and forth, but I had no idea where I was. It didn't matter though because Armani came charging towards me. "What the hell?! Where did you go?! Where is she?!" Armani scanned her surroundings and used her body to shield mine. Soon enough I was surrounded by all the Dusks. It was all in the blink of an eye. Mason stood beside me.
"What happened?" Mason asked.
"Some lady with silver hair kidnaped Jinx." Armani answered.
"She was you're only job, Armani." Robin scolded.
"There was-" I was cut off.
"She came out of nowhere, Robin. Don't bitch. She's here now." Armani spat back.
"Hey!" I screamed. They all looked over at me and I moved to face them all. "The woman was Katzune. She's one of my creators. She came here to warn me about Kai and her insane agenda. She is out for blood and Kat says I'm safer back at the estate. Something in the estate is blocking out their ability to track me."
"That settles it. You are, as of now, on lockdown. Take a good look at the outside world because it will be the last time to see civilization until we are sure there is no danger." Mason said before he gripped my arm and took me to the car. I rode with him now and he didn't even look at me.
"Are you still mad at me?" Talk about stupid questions.
"Mason? Seriously, I'm sorry. I was mad."
"Oh damn you then."
Mason shot a look at me and his foot stepped down on the break before he turned to me and grabbed hold of my chin. It was gentle yet demanding the way he looked at me. "Get yourself into trouble like that again and you will regret it." He let his fingers drop from my chin and continued driving, nearly running over a poor by passer. "Kai will be the least of your worries."
A couldn't help but smile to myself. His eyes did me in, no doubt, and his lips... This was a mess to avoid and still I was drawn by this bastard. But, Mason must be some kind of stepping stone compared to Hobs. Oh... fuck me. Mason cared for me and I didn't realize how much I wish I could have him until now. Down side? Blondie-Most Perfect. The woman was the only thing standing in my way. Mason didn't seem to like her all that much, but he was still with her and refuse to be the other woman.