I am

"She was made out of pure spirit and life. A star on earth. Yet a hurricane in space. Cassiopeia Turow was different."
I am a girl who dared to dream. I am someone who sought adventure. I am a person who will learn and thrive and satisfy curiosity. These are all qualities most people share. But most people can't say that they overthrew a monarchy or helped burn down the world.


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36. "...Lady Luck..."

 

THIRTY THREE

“Some people aren’t lucky in the moments they wish that Lady Luck would just listen to them.”

 

Two Days Ago.

Board Room, underground SIE hide out.

 

Cassiopeia had no choice but to sit down. If she tried to escape back through the door she came through she would be beaten and the guard held a Taser and a baton in each hand. She couldn’t go any other way.

She couldn’t say anything, her breath was stolen from her in her shock. How was Lucian here? How had he been involved?

“You’re so much cleverer than that meagre cell, I expected for you to escape days ago,” he mused pushing the paper away from him to place his head on his hands. He looked curious and amused and Cassiopeia hated him with a passion. “Who knew that killing that prostitute would be the one thing that got you motivated?” He smiled and her anger grew.

“Her name was Amber and you killed her,” Cassiopeia seethed, holding onto the handles of the chair with white knuckles. The red dots on the back of her hands stood out but Lucian’s eyes never left her eyes.

“Death is a young girl with bare feet and a whistle on her lips. She cries crocodile tears and dances in a graveyard with a thousand apologies strung around her neck.” Lucian recited with an almost croon in his voice, “My mother used to tell me that, it’s from a story I think although I couldn’t tell you which one. It’s a bit morbid to be telling a child but my mother was peculiar.” He laughed at the memory. Cassiopeia knew that he didn’t deserve this brief moment of happiness. Her fists came to meet the glass of the table. “Ooh, she’s angry now. Look Reg she’s angry,” Lucian directed towards the guard behind her. 

“What do you want with me?” Cassiopeia asked through gritted teeth.

“You know what I want with you, to test SIE on you to see what happens. I thought you were brighter than this?” Lucian sighed, “What you should be asking is why I chose you and kidnapped you at the Founder's celebration?”

When Cassiopeia said nothing and Lucian cocked an eyebrow she was forced to repeat the question. Lucian smiled at her frustration and gritted teeth. “I chose you because you were the ultimate challenge, you were placed in the most optimum place to do the most damage. You are fixated with my brother so removing you betters him, you are a member of the Sect which would distract them from the bigger picture and you’re brave. It’ll be fun breaking that tough exterior.” He tilted his head, studying her and then he smiled.

“You’re not going to break me,” Cassiopeia asserted assuring herself more than she was with Lucian.

“We’ll see,” Lucian murmured and signaled for the guard to take her back to her cell. She was dragged out of the board room, Lucian smiling behind her back as she tried to struggle. There were five guards around her and they weren’t going to let her escape. There were guards posted at her door too.

The only escape now was to tunnel upwards and that was easier said than done.

Lucian first saw the SIE drug when it was in his mother’s hand. He had snuck in after a nightmare and he had saw her place two of the clear pills on her tongue and swallow. She had relaxed on the bed and closed her eyes. Lucian had watched as she slept. He had stayed there for hours just watching before going back to bed. He was chastised the next day for coming into his mother’s room that night. He never knew how she knew he was there. Later in life he knew that that was his mother’s power however weird and wonderful it was.

The day was as monochrome as the old family portrait of the Wyrick family tucked into a dusty cupboard when Lucian came across a SIE drug lord. The portrait was of Lucian, Hadrian and his parents and it hadn’t been taken out since his mother had left. Lucian was the only one that could remember it.  It was as if the colour was sucked out of the world in the night and replaced only with greyscale on that day, and Lucian had followed his father’s book – of which he had looked in secret defiance – to a hide out. He went with the intention of staying hidden but he left with a job. He became a trafficker, distributing the pills in the customers who were in the palace. His job had escalated when his father had fired all members who had taken the drug in the palace and he convinced the very same drug lord for his position to assent. Within a couple of years Lucian had blackmailed himself into the top table. Once the leader of the den had been taken care of, which wasn’t that hard to do, Lucian had been at the head of a global operation and pass caring about how it affected the royal family. That was if Hadrian stayed out of it.

Lucian had watched Cassiopeia since the day that they had met in front of the palace. He knew that she was Hadrian’s new fixation and that would be detrimental to his brothers vital work. He was only looking out for him. The more he looked into what Cassiopeia did the more she became a liability. This was especially so when her wires crossed with the Sect – the organization hell bent on squashing SIE like a bug. He knew that she was the prime capture.

They had been testing the SIE drug on people since it had been manufactured. The first trials were from people in the organization themselves. Then it had escalated with Lucian’s ascent into leadership. He offered incentives for those who came in, extra pills free of charge, and not all of them died from the assault. Money was given to them to preserve their silence. They were too traumatised to talk despite the incentives.

Again it was Lucian who suggested taking in what he called Strays of Society, people who wouldn’t be missed. It started with petty criminals and people from the Cracks, people already shunned by society. Then Lucian’s links with the brothel came in handy and a couple of prostitutes later they were flying through trials.

Amber had been the last prostitute they had had. Probably the last one.

He knew that Leon Brickell had slept with Amber herself because he was there when Leon had stumbled in out of his mind. He knew how it would affect Marianne and he was overcome with anger. It wasn’t a hard decision to capture the only person he could; Amber. Taking Leon would have looked too suspicious. Being a paranoid man made Lucian be attentive to the secrecy of the SIE campaign.

Amber had been broken but her tongue had not been silenced. Her tongue had been what gotten Lucian’s order for her to be killed.

“You pride yourself on being a Prince, on being indifferent to your father. You once told Mary that you would never be the man your father wanted you to be, nevertheless be the man that your father was. You are your father, you are far worse than your mother. You are hells incarnation!” Amber spat across the floor, spitting out the blood from her mouth. It stained ruby red on the tiles and yet her eyes shone with fiery anger. How could someone so broken still remain so together?

“Hadrian would be disgusted by you. He would loathe you for what you have done. He would disown you and then your precious brotherhood would be destroyed. It would all be your fault!” Amber’s words struck a chord, the chord vibrated in his chest and made his eyes black out.

His boot clacked against her head, snapping it to the side. The greasy hair blossomed with blood as the steel capped shoe came in contact with it. Amber lay on the floor and panted and yet her eyes did not lose their intensity. 

There was only one thing that would make it disappear.

“Get Farren,” Lucian ordered and the anger shifted to fear. Amber knew who Farren was by now, he had threatened her with his gun too many times by now. She knew what was coming. But Lucian liked to gloat. He leaned down to her side, never minding about the blood clinging to his shoes.

“You’ll be killed when you get back to your room,” he whispered into her ear and relished at the tiny whimper that escaped her, “this isn’t a threat anymore, it’s a promise.”

Amber shifted into pleas and terror. Lucian smiled and turned his back. Farren appeared in the doorway and the fate of the prostitute was sealed.

“You know what to do Farren, a single bullet, we don’t need more to be wasted. Kill the bitch and get it over with.”

Farren only answered his agreement with a gleeful phrase, “Of course boss.”

Lucian’s smile had never been bigger. Amber screamed and she was dragged out by her greasy, bloody hair.

Lucian couldn’t pinpoint when his resentment towards his father turned into a general apathy towards everything and everyone not his brother. Maybe it was because his brother was the only one who was consistently there for him. It was only his brother that could hold onto Lucian’s feelings. His resentment towards his parents turned into general dislike for the state of the country even though he knew it was in good hands now that his brother ruled. Sometimes his harshness with Hadrian dissolved into apathy as Lucian said things for the sake of it. Sometimes feelings for Marianne held onto the meagre strands of emotions he still felt. Once she was gone, held fast in Leon’s hands, the hurt had shifted into apathy. During her trial his emotions came back on and when she was banished they faded out once more. His emotions towards things that weren’t himself were like a tide, rising and falling. He and Hadrian were the only people he could count on.

This job did not call for emotions. It was better that way. Dealing with Cassiopeia would be more fun if he didn’t show any remorse towards her. It would get the job done also.

Cassiopeia didn’t know what to do. She had failed and now a pit of hopelessness had opened up in her stomach. The food was force fed to her the next morning, a guard waving a spoon of white sludge at her menacingly. The water was cloudy. There were no extra snacks. Her stomach heaved at the taste, they didn’t even try to hide the fact that there was something in the food.

Cassiopeia felt dizzy after the guard left with the bowl in hand. The world span around her softly like she was twirling around. She hugged the floor in an attempt to steady herself. It didn’t work. She must have collapsed. She felt her limbs folding in on one another and then blackness.

She woke up to being dragged across the floor. A guard had took her arms and was dragging her. She didn’t have the energy to fight. The floor scraped across her skin, her dress was dragged upwards revealing more skin than she wanted to. There was a guard behind her, watching her as the other guard dragged her. His eyes lingers on her legs and he licked his lips. Cassiopeia wanted to fall back into blackness. Instead she got the chance to watch the blur of the orange lights as they passed them. Everything was dark and orange tinted and a blur. Nothing made sense.

“Halt Tony,” the guard behind her uttered and her arms were let go, her body thudding against the floor, her head flopping to meet the ground. Cassiopeia only registered how cold the floor was and how it met the uneven walls. A blindfold was tied around her eyes, the silk tied roughly so that her hair felt gross against her face. Then her arms were picked up once more and the pursuit began again. It was pure darkness beneath the blindfold and a part of her was welcomed for it. This way her blurred vision could not confuse or panic her. It was almost serene.

That was until they reached their destination. She knew the smell of the room, the experimental chamber had a sterile, medical smell. Everything was cold and the pungent scent of medication stung her nostrils. There were other people around her she could tell and the uneven ground left her as she swept up onto the metal table. The leather straps came around her wrists and ankles again, the IV attached to her hand.

All of the procedures which she had avoided for the last couple of days were coming back to her. She hated it, detested it even, but this was her life now. Then the blindfold was ripped off her eyes leaving it to pool around her hair and ears. The light was harsh on her eyes and she had to shut them in pain.

Lucian was in front of her this time. His arms were crossed and he was near the back. But he was still there and his presence frightened her. “This is where the proper tests begin, over the last couple of days we’ve been administrating you with an extremely low dosage of SIE which will get your body used to it. Now we’ll up that dosage and test to see what happens.” He smiled a crooked smile and signalled for the nurse. A tube was connected to the IV, a clear liquid in the bag attached to it. The liquid almost had a sense of luminescence.

Cassiopeia was reminded of unicorns for a brief second. If unicorns cried this was what their tears would look like she decided. She had a brief moment before she felt the substance, the cold rush of the liquid, flood into her. It hit her like a freight train, the intensity of it, how fast it rushed through her veins. It shocked her and she arched off the table, the straps holding her in place. Her eyes blew wide.

God this was hell.

It only got worse. After the entire bag was empty they attached another one in its place, like there wasn’t enough of the drug in her system already. Cassiopeia shivered on the table, her limbs felt like ice, fragile and hard. The hairs on her body stood up as she violently shuck. Her eyes closed as she sucked herself into a deeper place to cope, a place where she no longer hurt and she was back in the tavern.

There was a moment where her body seemed to float and she became  accustomed to the pain she was feeling. She could feel her heart rate stutter and adjust, coming down by a couple of beats. Then pain came in a new wave. The reprieve didn’t seem like it was enough.

Her brain stopped working sometime during the assault. Cassiopeia remembered that she had screamed, screamed and screamed until her throat felt like sandpaper and her voice was hoarse. Lucian had sat and smirked as each cry flew from her mouth. The pain had a raw quality, the realness of a person so consumed by something that knew no end or limit. She would pant for a moment and she head went sharply to the right. The bag was empty. She was still in pain.

Her veins felt like concrete. Her head ached. She panted. This suffering was great, too great and Cassiopeia wanted it to stop.

Dear God make it end.

It didn’t end. It got worse. Lucian checked a watch, the watch face glassy with four diamonds marking the points of a compass. “Now for the real tests to begin,” he uttered gleefully and came closer to her, his hands resting on the cold metal of the table.

“That wasn’t the real test,” Cassiopeia mumbled, her head facing him unable to be lifted. Her voice was croaky like a frogs. She hated that he had done this to her.

“No, it’s absolutely necessary that we put your body to the extremes to see the effect the drug has on you. Normally it takes a little bit of pushing for the powers to emerge.” His face was near hers looking into her eyes. He didn’t look away as someone placed a knife into his hand. His fingers clenched around it. His other hand came to the strap of her dress lifting it carelessly to the side down her arm. Her heaving chest was nearly exposed and the skin of her clavicle appealed to him. 

The knife danced along her skin just enough to bite. Then he pushed down and blood pooled like a red ribbon along her clavicle. It looked as though someone had tied red wool around her neck loosely to allow it to fall. Then Lucian pushed harder.

Cassiopeia screamed for her mother. She begged for it to stop. It did not stop. The blood dripped down staining her dress, she could feel it slipping further down her body. “Shh, shh, it’s okay, it’s okay,” Lucian crooned and watched as a tear slipped free of her eyes. They were breaking her and it hadn’t taken much. He stroked her hair and watched at the blood continued to fall, the knife lay lax in his hand away from her skin. “It’s okay, you’re okay,” he uttered before bringing the knife back down to her skin.

In the end a bloody x shape was formed on her clavicle. Cassiopeia was allowed to lie there, no more attacks were delivered after the x was formed. She felt dirty and the blood continued to drip down her dress. She was sure that the cuts were going to scar. She didn’t want to look at it, she already knew that it looked crude and uneven. Ugly. That’s what it was. Lucian had never tried to be delicate.

The people around her watched as nothing happened. Cassiopeia didn’t try to escape, she knew that it was pointless.

They tested her further.

An open flame was placed on her arm and it was held there until she begged. They liked to hear her begging she realised.

They hauled her up, undid the straps on her wrists and held her in a glass case of water until she couldn’t breathe. It was peaceful underwater she realised. She had gotten used to the cold and the voices of the people around her dissolved into muffled sounds. Her hair floated and all she could see was crystal clear water and distortions of faces. Then when she had gotten used to the peace they would drag her back out again. Her chest heaved with the attempt to get as much oxygen as she could and then she was dunked back under.

She thought once or twice that she should just breathe in the water and then it would be over. The pain in her chest was growing and breathing would make it go away. It would be alright to breathe. It was on the fifth or sixth dunk that she decided to give breathing underwater a try.

She remembers waking up on the floor, Lucian above her slapping her cheeks, another guard thumping her chest. She gagged and the water she had swallowed was expelled onto the floor. She was a very proud when some of it went on Lucian.

He cursed and called her a stupid girl. She didn’t give a damn, not now.

The girl had thought that she would get away with trying to die. Well she was sorely mistaken.

They would test her until something happened, that was the fun of the game, the waiting.

It was the freezing that broke her. They stuck her in a freezer and locked the door. Lucian knew how cold it was in there. The door was glass and they could see the tears roll down her cheeks and freeze in the cold. Her hands pressed against the glass with a finality. Her lips turned blue as her eyes pleaded with them. “Le-let me out, p-please I-I’ll do anything, an-anything.” Her pleas were admirable but they were weak. Her head was bowed, her wet frizzing hair hiding her eyes. “Please.”

Her eyes shut, her lips turning a deep hue of blue. Her fingers curled against the glass. Just a little more time and they would have her. Just a little more.

It was numbing how cold it was. Her fingers didn’t feel like they were hers nor did they feel like they were attached to her hands and then arms. She had stopped shivering a while ago, it took too much energy to shiver.

Her head lolled back. She was ready to give up. Even her brain hurt. Everything hurt.

She opened her eyes, the lids felt like bricks but she did it. Her lashes stuck together but she did it. Her breaths fogged against the glass, heavy and pleading. Her lungs ached with how cold it was.

Reality felt fragmented and broken. Nothing seemed to sit right. It was like life was a gigantic puzzle piece and there were many pieces missing and replaced with pieces from another puzzle. It was all jagged edges and uneven lines. Nothing fit.

Something broke, like a wire pulled taut that had finally snapped. She felt herself falling but her body never moved. Her fingers twitched. Warmth gathered around her fingers making the blood return to her veins.

She looked down and couldn’t believe what she saw. Black, black like deep sea or deep night sky, spurted from the tips of her fingers. The liquid dripped from them and it steamed. It coloured the glass black.

Lucian smiled from outside the freezer. The lock finally came loose and the door was opened.

This was what the drug had given her and she did not have a clue what it actually was. 

 

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