Last time, on The Adventures of Cat Madigan.
I woke up in a brothel that I had to save Daniel from. I also got a dominatrix to take her clothes off.
And now things are going to get weirder.
Act natural, act natural, act natural. Christ Cat, you’re a frigging model, that’s one step away from a hooker. You can do this.
It’s easy to not show anything as I walk through this place, but it’s another thing entirely to not feel anything. In truth, I am scared half to death. This place is far more frightening than any of the dungeons or torture chambers I’ve had the misfortune to be in.
The Fury instructed me to go to the cells to find the woman. But this place is huge, and everywhere I looked, there were writhing figures and strange…contraptions with people strapped or chained onto them.
Suddenly, I’m span around, and I’m facing a tall, dark man with piercing eyes. “And what do I call you?” he enquired.
Fuck… “You can call me whatever you want,” I said randomly. The man frowned, so I added, “I think the question you want to ask is, Who are you?” Fan-fucking-tastic Cat Madigan.
To my relief he chuckles. “You’re a different dish,” he mused. “But you’re too shy for a Fury.” He grabs me by the waist. “I think my dear, you are wearing the wrong uniform,” he breathed in my face.
It’s like my heart is getting squeezed from the inside. This man is a giant, and he could do whatever he wanted with me at the snap of his fingers.
I slap him across the face, and I know, as he staggers back, that everyone starts watching this new performance, even stopping their own…acts, in order to focus on us. “I know what I am,” I inform him frostily.
“Fucking bitch,” he growls. “You’ll do as I-”
In a split second, I had pulled out my whip and cracked it at him. It slashed his chest and he cried out. “You do not have control over me,” I snarl at him. “I am not yours to command, no matter what you may think.” Conscious of everyone around me, I continue. “The next time you touch me I’ll strike that hand. The next time you curse at me I’ll strike that tongue.” I crack my whip again and he falls to the ground. I walk over to him and pull him up by the hair. I whisper to him, “I am not your whore. I am your mistress, and you’ll obey me till I see fit.”
“Now,” I hold him behind his back. “Take yourself to the cells, I’ll be with you in a minute.” When he hesitates, I bark out, “Now!”
He immediately starts walking, and I follow. It can’t be that easy, I was thinking. This guy was about to rape me a moment ago, why is he doing as I say?
The cells were remarkably like the dungeons in the castle. The only difference was all the…toys. I shove the man into one cell and I close the door behind us.
When the door slams shut, he rushes at me. He grabs my throat and shoves me against the door. He pulls my scarf down and grips my face as if he would crush it in his grasp.
I growl, and hold my five lettered hand down on his chest. They burn into him and he cries out. Now that I have the advantage, I kick off his stomach and he goes crashing into the other wall.
Dusting myself off, I pick up one of his arms and cuff it. He starts refocusing just as I am finishing the other, and he snarls at me. “Fucking cunt,” he spits.
“Oh shut up,” I groan, rearranging my scarf. “I am sick and tired of this place already. I am trying to find my friend and I am not in the mood for anymore of this bullshit. I just want some facts.” I look at his savage face. “Which I’m guessing you’re unwilling to give me?”
He spits at my feet. “Don’t worry, I’m not an actual Fury, so I won’t hit you,” I inform him. “But you’ve probably already guessed that. Anyway, I need to go and you are a very loud person, so…”
Looking at the display on the wall, I ask him, as if I were asking for the time, “Which of these will knock you out quickly?” Ignoring his responding curse, I pick up a cane and analyse it. “Good enough.”
His eyes widen as I swing it up. “Sorry,” I tell him, before swinging it into his temple.
Praying that he didn’t have an even more damaged brain, I quickly got out of there and started listening in the other cells for anything of note. But there was nothing, no talk of humans, or anything sounding remotely like Daniel.
The woman probably lied to me. Of course she did; I had held her at knifepoint, or whatever the flammable equivalent is, and forced her to strip. She wouldn’t get anything from telling me the truth. Why the hell did I believe her?
Exasperated by my ignorance, I started walking out of the cells. But then someone grabs me by the shoulder and pulls me back in. “Let me go,” I snarl at him.
“I need you for something,” the man growls.
“Did it not occur to you I’m busy?” I retort.
“I don’t hear any customers of yours,” he replies. “I just need a helping hand.”
I automatically hear the euphemism first. “Can’t you use a Meek for that?”
“Not that.” He spits out the word as if it tastes foul. “We have a little problem back here, and I want to know more about it. I want someone to read him.”
Read him? “What does that have to do with me?”
“Since you’re not busy, you can do the job,” he replied. He takes me into a cell at the far end, and I look away from the occupants, trying to seem more polite than disgusted. There’s another door in this cell, though there wasn’t one the one I had been using. He leads me through the door into a well furnished room, which reminded me of Daniel’s own chambers. There’s one more door, and when we go through it, I feel a wave of dread crash through me.
Two chains extend from the ceiling, suspending Daniel’s arms in the air. His feet are attached to the floor by a similar set, and when he looks up, his eyes are detached and bleary.
“What can you tell me about him?” The man looks at me expectantly.
I hesitate, before walking over to Daniel. “I…haven’t read many people,” I say.
“And you call yourself a Fury?” the man spits.
“I can do it,” I tell him hurriedly, even though I have no idea what to do. Kneeling before Daniel, I cup his face in my hand, and I pray that he’s not gone, that he knows I’m here.
Almost if by magic, he begins to focus and he blinks himself awake. Then he takes in the sensation of the chains pulling at his arms and he hisses in pain. I put my thumb over his lips. “Shhhh,” I warn him.
He looks up at me and his eyes flash with shock as he realises who I am. His eyes look me up and down, and I know that he’s registering me, with my scarlet corset and black skintight pants. I turn back to the man. “What do you wish to know?”
“Start physical. Look at him, tell me what you can see.”
I hesitate. “He’s dehydrated. And probably starving. He keeps dissociating, or something of the like.” I just say things at random, in the unlikely hope he won’t suspect something. “Build…” I release Daniel’s face and walk around, checking for anything I can tell the man. Daniel’s shirt is gone, and I can see the bruises on his back. “He’s a fighter,” I say. “He’s taken some recent wounds, but these,” I indicate the lighter marks, “have been there for years. He can take a beating, probably anything you can throw at him.” I pause. “Sensitivity.” I rest my hand on his waist and I feel him flinch. I run it up his side and he groans. “Very,” I said. I turn to the man. “There’s no reason to torture this man. He’s not going to tell you anything while he’s still breathing.”
“You know him,” the man said flatly.
Trying very hard not to show anything, I look up. “Oh?”
“You forgot to mention that this man is human,” the man informs me. “It was almost as if you didn’t notice. Interesting.”
I clench my jaw. “I don’t see the difference, if I may be honest. And besides, who wouldn’t know him? He’s almost as well known as Kaya.”
He flinches. “You should know better than to mention her,” he growls. “The name’s taboo. We’re in enough trouble anyway.”
“Why is he here?” I ask. “I thought they had already interrogated this place. What reason does he have for coming here?” I grimace. “Apart from the usual reason.”
“The Meek,” the man groans. “Or rather, the one pretending to be.”
“What are you saying?” I can feel my heart rate rising at the word pretending.
“There was an infiltrator. What’s more, she was a human one. Understand now, Fury?”
I only took in the word human. “You mean…”
He sighs. “We found the girl after. They don’t know about her yet, but it’s only a matter of time. We should’ve killed her, if I may be honest.”
“You didn’t?” I frown. “Why…if I may ask.”
He looks at me as if I were an idiot. “I’m not a monster,” he says. “I know what everyone says of me, but I can’t kill someone just to avoid bad publicity. You might, but I can’t. It’s…cowardly, but I can’t live with her death on my conscience.”
“I think I can understand that.” I pause. “So you won’t kill her. Or this man.”
“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did. But I can’t let them out either.” He thinks for a moment. “They can both work here. They’re both able bodied, well, he will be after he’s fed up again. We need to break them though.”
“Break them?” I already have a bad feeling in my stomach.
“This one especially.” He indicates Daniel. “Let out now, he’d attack the customers. He’s too wild.”
I close my eyes. “Isn’t that the same as killing them?”
“No one’s dying. Not really. Think of it as retraining.”
“Yes,” he says, completely unfazed. “Everything is fine as long as no blood is spilled. Much like how it is out there,” he indicates where the prostitutes are all coupling.
“There’s still the matter of ‘breaking’ him,” I tell him. “How do you break a man who has endured enough pain for a thousand?”
“Simple. You take the one thing he cares about the most, and destroy it in front of him. And there she is.” He looks at me pointedly.
I’m silent. “Oh don’t feel sad about it,” he says in what sounds like a comforting voice. “For what it’s worth, you put on a very good act. If you hadn’t probed further, you would’ve gotten away with it. You certainly behave like a Fury. And your reading is quite good, for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Maybe that’s just your relationship with him, but still, you seemed to grasp physical and mental analysis quite well.” He smiles at me, but it only reaches his lips. “It’s your eyes which are the problem. Not something people care about usually. But they show too much emotion for someone around here…. If it makes you feel better, he was found fairly quickly, far faster than you.”
“What are you going to do?” I ask. They won’t kill you, but it won’t be pretty either.
“Waste not, want not,” he replies. “You can be broken in too. And then I’ll have two new employees. It all works out in the end.”
At that I burst out laughing. It’s a mad, maniacal sound, but that’s the last thing I care about. “I’m already broken!” I crow at him. “Broken beyond repair. Go ahead! Smash every bone in my body! Take anything you want, take everything I am!”
He shows nothing. “It’s fine,” he says easily. “We have things for freaks like you.”
Only then do I notice the two Fury’s behind me. Before I can react, I fall to the ground, weighed down by the massive shackles on my hands. “This is my field, Lady Madigan,” he tells me. “I make the rules here. And I accept your challenge.” He turns to the Fury’s. “Make sure he watches as you break her. That’s the point of this. Break her soul, and you’ll break his.”
I’m sorry Daniel, I thought, as the Fury’s approached me.