In The Eye
ME: HELLO~! Yes, I am STILL alive! The past year has been really rough for me, y'know inspiration-wise, along with a gaggle of other things, mostly dumb and hard things that I will not bore you with by telling, but aside from that, I'm just REALLY REALLY REALLY happy to be able to post something written again!
Now this one is special because, number one, it's my very first DreamKeepers piece actually written and published. Number two, it's also a special gift for one VERY gifted DreamKeeper fanfiction writer named ZephyrLyall who hasn't been on DeviantArt long been has made some pretty great one-shots and stories. And finally, number three, this one-shot is actually roughly based on a personal head-canon theory that I'll be putting into, hopefully, a future series of DK fanfic series, provided I can get a little more background in the DK universe. Patience is a virtue . . .
Anyway, I own nothing mentioned, save one mere OC and reviews are appreciated!
The inside of the Sabbaton Towers was shining bright tonight.
The chilled, sweet champagne in her glass bubbled daintily on her tongue as she sipped. The lights of the vast antechamber glinted off its surface, thankfully not blinding her but making it enough to shut her eyes as she elegantly raised the flute.
She gave a quiet sigh of boredom. Tonight was just another gathering of the elites. Anyone with cash to burn, time to spend or at least one live appearance on the media had shown their faces all to wine and dine with the Viscount of Anduruna himself. Each forgoing the current dilemmas of rising crime rates, destitution ravaging random DreamKeepers near every day; hell, even the intricate and unsettling deceits and under-handed ploys from men and women within their own ranks of First Class Citizens were shoved aside for that one glorious night.
What a crock.
Fancy food and top-grade fermantae, its value in weight enough to feed an entire district, was laid out in trays of expensive silver or ceramic on clean linen table clothes or rested on the careful steady hands of busy, diligent waiters, their scent permeating the air. The breezy, light chatter floated around her as multiple guests, all dressed to the nines and every number after that, mingled neatly within twos or small crowds, each unique Dreamkeeper body covered in sleek tuxedos or glittering gowns of silk or velvet. She smirked at a sharp, girlish giggle at no doubt some sort of pretentious political joke that split the air for a second before disappearing again in the sophisticated air of murmurs and mutters.
She herself had decided to part herself into a single unseen oasis of serenity and quiet. Not quite in the way of distinct isolation from the entirety of the room but not quite in line either. A perfect vantage point where she could be seen yet remain undisturbed, rather like a Sky Ryuu-Neko perched at the perfect height to spring away tittering at its enemy or swoop in on its prey. Although, honestly she preferred to think of herself as more like its more mischievous and darker cousin. She slyly swallowed the laugh when she caught the poorly hidden glances of some stray bachelors, obviously content to ogle her from afar.
She shook her head. Men and their wandering eyes, even if the wife of the Viscount was a true sight to behold. And to think that not too long ago she was slumming it with the rest of the rabble, if she heard Mr. Bellomont mutter correctly a few moments ago. Takes one to know one, she supposed. Where the hell did he get off anyway . . .
And where was the man pledged to hold her love and defend her honor? For better or for worse, until death did them part? Halfway across the room.
Her husband, to his credit, was doing well; hobnobbing with fellow politicians and socialites indiscriminately, even from the back of his head it was easy to see him flashing his trademark, million-lucre' smile to whatever dull-faced official or data-scroll star was invited or weaseled into his inner circle. Whatever topic they were engaged in, be it a matter of great political importance or perhaps just a stab at dry, stuffy humor, was spoken with grand, subtle gestures fit for a game-show host and a sly chuckled response. A collection of laughs just as stale as the company was returned to him.
She shook her head. Yeah, she had definitely picked a winner.
Ran in the family, she guessed.
A genuine, familiar burst of laughter glided into her ear. Instantly, the lethargic stilled air around her had vanished with a bubble of enjoyment.
She scanned her surroundings until she found her target. She smiled at the sight.
The two large, mighty green wings were folded regally behind the slim back of a petite Sparrow-like DreamKeeper, brushing against another pair just as large and hinted with morning gold. She stood tall and proud, her pretty turquoise green eyes bright and cool, her gorgeous white saree dress turning men's heads with next to no effort, and her lagoon green and snow white features warming only from the man next to her. Her sleek and slender arm was graciously linked with his, three times the size of hers and tipped with large, shaggy hands and razor-sharp claws. The giant griffin's hold was gentle however, made clearly obvious by his Aegean blue face's subtle but loving looks. The way his peach-rung, sun yellow eyes shining even beneath his thick, cloud white brows was noticed not only by her but every other envious woman in the room.
The woman smiled. Where others would undoubtedly be scared shitless to be so close to the megalith that was Guard Captain Igrath Winters, his wife Fae held no such fright. In fact, she practically glowed at his side, noting him staring with rosy cheeks and a shy smile. Her smile grew as they stopped and conversed with other guests with a kind of grace and respect that you wouldn't see from such a high status couple. Nice to see that fame didn't go to everyone's head.
If Fae was so deep in love, Igrath was drowning. Each moment they had alone, he spoke to her as freely as best friends would, speaking with his paws as much with his mouth, her huddling in closer until they were practically attached from wing-tips to hips, only stopping now and again to hug the other closer and closer until it was near to physically impossible. Fae, despite almost being swallowed by his sheer muscles, beamed like a child on AllSpirit's Eve, with Igrath looking down at her with a pure, ice-melting kind of love that the woman had not seen in a time too long to count.
It was strange how watching two totally different so deeply connected that you feel as though you can experience the laughs, smiles and happy moments between them yourself. How funny it looked as he bent his colossal form down from the waist up, his mouth brushing into her ear words scandalous enough to tinge her whole face red and fight back embarrassed shrieks. Even with the sharp smack she gave him on his broad chest with an affronted smirk, she somehow made an even brighter grin bloom on his beak.
A small laugh did escape her this time. The big goof. It was a real mystery what Fae saw in him. But he made her happy as she made him, so she was too. And she was sure that she wasn't the only one.
Before she knew it, her feet had carried her over to the pair, her lips spreading open and a hand reaching out to them, to her. A touch to her shoulder, Fae starting a little before looking right back at her with a happy grin. She noted Igrath's look of pleasant surprise as her hand was taken into hers, Fae looking right at her, gleaming with an open beak -
"Commencing the stimulation process now."
The gentle memory came undone with pain.
She was too tired, too weak to scream. Yet one still tore itself from her raw throat, cracking along with the surges of cruel, unrelenting electricity. Hot white agony ripped through her in torrents, burning her nerves and splintering her mind with nothing but pain, pain, PAIN -
What had been just a minute of fury and lightning immediately quelled as quickly as it came. She took in huge, gasping breaths, no air reached her lungs in spite of her efforts, panting haggardly as aftershock spasms rippled her body. The tubes stuck into her, the contents within glowing bright blue, remained undisturbed. Her head felt clouded, her senses foggy with hurt and what will she had was spent just holding onto to her consciousness. Before too long, her mind could finally make sense of the rest of the world around her.
The air was cleared of all sweet perfumes, colognes and food, turning bitter, stale and reeking of burnt fur. Her tongue turned to lead, the taste of champagne fading from the coppery taste of her own blood and sweat. The deafening ache in her ears pounded her brain until it mercifully dulled, albeit slowly.
When sound finally returned, she instantly wished it hadn't.
"- Tried this six damn times, already!" A not-so-feminine growl. Something hot exploded inside her stomach at the woman's voice but was quickly doused like a stove flame with a cup of water. "Now you better tell me why you can't make this work!"
"Ma'm, this isn't not my fault!" A nasally, raspy voice that made her fur crawl. Her eyes felt weighted down with sandbags, only having the power to weakly trace out the other DreamKeepers' shadows from the dull gray floor. The smallest threw out a hand towards her. "I've been running this treatment nearly around the clock for nearly seventy-two hours now. Even with added stimulation, the dust readings remain the same, and Subject B-02's Power levels fluctuate like a bander on dry land. There's no way to keep it steady for more than a single minute!"
The second shadow, a couple of heads taller, snapped her neck like she was flipping her hair. "Your incompetence is truly awe-inspiring. It shouldn't be this hard to hot-wire this bitch with dust and raise up her power!"
"Ms. Nanaja -"
"Erm, Councilor Nanaja, it's not the injection that's the problem, the subject's body can only sustain so much dust at a time; any more and her body could collapse within itself. Frankly, it's astounding that she's still alive from numerous injections for this long."
"And I'm just as astounded that you've had the nerve to waste our time with your useless school science fair-rated experiments. And that term's just barely an insult."
A frustrated sputter. "Councilor, I -!"
Her shadow neared his, her growl making her out more like a stalking Acolynx. "If Nabonidus wasn't so interested with your so-called "brilliant work with Bio-Keeper experimentation", we would've left you in that cesspit of a white-collar prison where only maggots like you can thrive." She cut off his indignant squeak. "But, despite our preservation, he did and, what have you given us in return? Failed rejects, dead-end projects and only, count them, one dead-beat whore so doped up that her breath alone could read red on a dozen Breathalyzers!"
"I can not work miracles, Councilor Nanaja!" His tired shriek drilled like arrows in her battered skull. "What Nabonidus wants from me may not even be possible, at least not without the proper materials and equipment! What you have me working with isn't even close to what I need in order to advance the subject to the next stage of the Dusted process."
"You'll work with what he gives you, you useless, whining, little -"
"Hey, hey, hey now, Tins, take it easy," The tallest shadow practically rose out of darkness like a cobra, his gravelly, sickly smooth voice sliding like a chain whip over her spine. "If the good doctor here thinks that there's more needed, then there's more needed. Let's not rush perfection here. After all, the last thing we need is another you."
"What- You,- You bastard-, how dare you -!"
"So, Doc," The tall and small shadows creeped towards her, every inch closer making her wish so badly that she could run if she only the strength to stand. "What exactly do you need, huh? I'm only asking, cuz, you know, like the big boss, I'm am verily quite interested to see what you could do if you really pulled out all the stops. So, I mean, just so we're straight, what is it that you need?"
". . . Well, what I, what I could really use is some more thermal inductors, because I think if the subject's body temperature is raised to a specific, higher degree, it could lead a reaction. Right now, all I have are basic heaters and those can only go so far as far as scientific process goes." An excited sound. "Oh, you know what, what I definitely need is a few factory-grade power-generation systems, just one or two so I can really amp up the stimulation charges."
"Wow, Doc, really? With that much electricity, you could light up the entire old FallGuard Stadium!"
"And you wanna pump that much power into this poor bitch?"
"Uh, well, uhm, yes!"
". . . I like ya, Doc. I really like you. DK after my own heart! Consider it done!" The tall shadow bellowed out a crackling laugh, followed by a swift smack on the small one's back, earning a choke of pain. "See how ya do it, Nanaja? You give it a carrot, the Knossos moves easily."
"Fuck you, Ravat!"
"Geez, Tinsel, ya kiss your boy-toy with that mouth?" A light sigh. "Sorry about her, Doc, she means well, but – Oh, you know what, scratch that, nevermind, she's a bitch twenty-four seven. But, don't take it personal." Something whistling as it was thrown at him, only to bang against the floor as it missed, a sneering chuckle.
His tone then turned firm. "But she is serious about results; Nabonidus has only so much patience for certain things he expects. And what he expects from you now is the very first member of his new army. He has big plans for his retake-over of Anduruna and he can't very do that with a rushed job of a super soldier, ya feel me, right?"
"Oh, I understand, sir, I just -"
"Because, I'd really hate to have use my power and rot that big brain of yours down to the stem simply because you were late on the due date. But if, Spirits forbid, should it ever come down to that, you would understand why I had to do it, right?"
Teeth clacked together nervously. "O-O-Of course, of course, I-I understand."
"Fantastic." Another smack, louder than the first, a pair of thick glasses falling into her view before a pale pair of hands scrambled to pick them up.Oh what she'd give to be able to take her them into her mouth and rip them off . . .
A pair of dark boots stepped forward, their owner stopping leisurely just an inch from her. "Of course, this is a team effort," His shadow arched over her like a threatening cloud. "And we need all hands on deck for the big day. No room for any slackers here." She could actually hear him smiling with his next words. "You do seem a little light-headed, how about a one more pick-me-up for the day?"
She didn't respond. She couldn't respond. She wouldn't give these bastards the satisfaction of seeing her suffering. No chance in hell.
She dare not look him in the eye as rough fingers gripped her greased, matted hair in a clump, the claws scraping her scalp as her head was yanked up. Bloody red fur and rows of razor-sharp teeth glittered maliciously at her even in the low light of the room. "After all, we need to speed up production, don't we, Mrs. Calah?"
The telltale click of a switch as the Doctor threw it, and her world fell to pain, light and screams once more.