A painful jolt broke the tranquilness the monster had sunken into. When had he fallen asleep? Opening his eyes, he started to realise the fact he was able to – thus alive - and secondly, he wasn't floating around anymore. He lay on a table, but this place wasn't the laboratory. The table was wood, not metal, he also found himself not in a prone position for once, almost curled up on his side. The reason for this were – as he found when he looked around hazily – cables sticking out from his back, all the way down from neck to hips.

Also, the monster started to realise, he felt awful. It wasn't actual pain, but a feeling as if his whole body had gone numb on him, yet he was freezing and shivering to make up for it. Where had they taken him? He couldn't feel anyone's presence around, but that wasn't too surprising. Despite his limbs being stiff and highly unwilling to cooperate, he somehow managed to sit up and take that place in.

A few chairs next to a wall that wasn't even quite one tail-length away, a cupboard with glass doors and things he didn't recognise – weird white shapes with colorful paintings on them, some bigger, some smaller -, also the skin of some unfortunate, striped animal on the floor. And then there was the large, black container right behind him, standing in a corner, lights blinking on and off as it worked who knew what magic. Every cable running from the monster's back went into this one, giving him good enough reasons to yank them out and get away from here – yet he wouldn't move. Something told him that machine wasn't doing any harm, might in fact help his survival. Since that voice hadn't ever betrayed him, he decided to let that thing do whatever it was built for and lay back down for his own sake.

Just as he was about to drift into a hopefully dreamless sleep again, the monster heard someone's steps approach. Not caring to sit up, he watched from the corner of his eyes as the room's door was opened and two humans entered. One he recognised as that raid group's leader. Behind the man came in a woman, who didn't seem like a scientist, yet had an aura about her that betrayed her knowledge of whatever her field of education was. The man wasn't young anymore, yet not old enough to be considered senior. It was obvious how he became leader; his charisma filled the room. He seemed dependable, powerful, smart. It would be hard not to trust such a man, which probably was the reason he could assemble such a large group.

The woman had closed the door behind her and addressed the leader with a whispering tone. Every now and then they'd look at him, keep on discussing whatever topic, even left the room after a while, just for the woman to return on her own.

"Are you aware?", she asked, as she held a flashlight in one hand, shining into his right eye, then the left. Satisfied with whatever she'd seen, she took the monster's right paw into one hand, looking at a ticking device on her other arm, just to gently put down his paw afterwards. He didn't even consider fighting. This human probably didn't want to harm him, else she'd have done so by now. He decided to trust her for now.

Where am I?, he thought aloud, startling the female enough for her to jump visibly.

"Telepathy.. Should've known", she said after having recovered from the scare. "Your kind always had a knack for this. To answer your question, you're at the resistance's main quarters."

Resist..? It didn't make sense. What would humans, the top predators, have to defend against, except maybe the machines?

"I can see you don't know us. We're the ones fighting back against the slavery mankind is put under. You see, it's not just the mons being treated like lower creatures. We all are just slaves to the system these machines have built. There's traitors from our own rows, serving them willingly as well. Our goal is to free everyone and defeat the machines, for good."

He must've looked lost, since the female made an unfeminely seeming snort-sound after a while and went on.

"You see, that underground laboratory we found you at was in fact under the direct command of the machines. I saw what they've done to my colleagues. It was my gun that ended their life. I see it as an act of mercy, don't you agree?"

It was a test, so much did the monster gather. He tried nodding, just to find his neck disagreeing with a pretty painful shock that went right down his spine. After it passed, he let out a breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding. The female looked at him, her gaze analysing.

"I wouldn't do that if I was you. Whatever they did to you, it left your ports damaged. We managed to reinstate most of them, but that one on your neck is still glitched. Put too much strain on it and it might short-circuit your whole system. Just lay still for a while. That machine over there will keep your energy cells charged until we have the materials to repair the damages. Once that's done, I hope you're grateful enough to help us out."

Help you..?, he thought and again the female flinched, this time looking annoyed.

"Suddenly yelling around in my head isn't helping", she growled – which almost seemed cute at her stature – and, after a display of obvious headache, went on. "You have the power to end this. We have the technology to keep you going. It makes sense for you to cooperate. You won't be forced though. We're not slavers. You can go whereever you want and do how you please, unless you interfere with our cause."

Your cause.. You want to.. defeat the machines?, he thought, this time trying to think more silently. By the female human's lack of flinching, he concluded it worked.

"That's right!"

I want to help you. How can I?

"Don't worry about that yet. You're in no condition to fight right now. Let us do our thing first. Then we'll see."

The monster didn't reply to that. He looked at that human, trying to figure out if there was any catch, trying to decide wether she was really trustworthy or if he just made a fatal mistake. As he was contemplating his fate, his weary mind slowly drifted to sleep.

When the female came back that evening, a broad grin on her face, the monster looked at her in alarm. How long had he slept? In here, his feeling for time was askew. It could've been days – or hours. But there were more important things at hand, as he was to find out.

"Very well, you monster. Turns out the exploration group found lots of spare parts and junk metal in that laboratory. You're in luck; they found just the parts we need to fix you. What they didn't find – and what we're out of – is anesthetica. Sorry about that. You'll have to endure some pain."

I'll be fine..

"Good. I say we start right away, the sooner you'll be ready", the female said with a hint too much enthusiasm and proceeded to prepare for the operation. When every inch of her arms was desinfected and her mouth and head were in white cloths, she returned, stopping next to her patient, seemingly waiting for something.

~ Where are these jerks? They should've been here long ago.. What's keeping them? God, I want to start.. I wonder how they did it.. ~

The monster couldn't keep from staring at the woman. Her thoughts had been as clear as his own to him. She could've said them aloud and he hadn't noticed a difference. She seemed oblivious to his reaction, still deep in thoughts. When her eyes took a certain glance, he seriously considered slamming her down and escaping. It was the same look, the very same one they had .. Screw the defective port, he had to get out of there!

He tried to move – but his limbs just didn't. He knew he wasn't paralysed with fear, yet they did not even as much as flinch. Not even his tail, usually a trusty weapon, reacted to the brain's commands. The machine in that dreaded corner gave a loud beeping noise as his mechanical heart made attempts at jumping out of his chest, regaining the woman's attention. Her eyes, still pointy and sharp, looked at his unmoving form.

"Now don't get excited .. It'll be over before you know it"

I .. can't move!

"Of course you can't. Wouldn't help me if you suddenly started thrashing by reflex. The machine intervenes in your nervous system. It will numb the pain to a degree, but paralyse you in order to keep you from hurting yourself. Now, now.. calm down! You'll be fine."

She jumped back just in time before the machine blew up in one large fire ball. The force of that explosion was still enough to throw her against the wall, leaving her senseless, while the monster was safely protected by his own force field. When the air cooled down and the monster felt its limbs slowly regaining life, it plucked the cables out and climbed down the table, just to find himself unable to walk. With a dull THUMP he fell right next to the unconscious human, disoriented and panting. Only slowly he managed to stand on insecure legs and drag himself out of the room, always leaning against the wall.

I didn't mean to do that.. how could this happen.., he thought, uncaring if anyone shared his thoughts right now. A few humans ran past him, but were too distracted to actually notice. They'd likely heard the noise and came to see what happened. They would take care of the woman and only find him gone. He didn't want to taste their wrath when they found who had done this.

As he stumbled along the hallway, he found a stairway and decided to climb it. There had to be a way out of here, right? It wouldn't be an endless maze, designed to fool invaders and keep prisoners inside, right? Thinking this he felt his feet miss a step and himself crashing on the steps in consequence, shivering from shock and pain. To make it worse, his legs weren't just sluggish, but started to go numb again. If he could just fly out of here.. just.. floating..

The stairs slowly backed away from him.

Wait, were stairs supposed to do this? The ceiling answered his unspoken question with a dull thud to his hazy head. It was then the monster noticed he was in fact floating, just this time, his body wasn't half dead on some table. This wasn't a dream either. Now he just had to find out how to move.. maybe, if he was up there, at the end? He wanted to be there, right , he flew. Too fast, having too much velocity and being too surprised to even think of breaking, he shot right out of the underground dungeon, into the daylight, to find himself laying upside-down half on his back, half against some old building's wall, stupified. This never had happened before. If he'd known he could just.. fly like that.. At least he now was outside and free from these humans. He tried the same trick to pick himself up, but found it was no longer working.

Snorting in frustration he rolled over, planning on crawling away if need be, when a zapping sensation around the base of his neck made clear that moving – at all – wasn't a good plan. The female human's words came to his mind, her warning. But he couldn't stay here, prone and prey for each and every possible enemy! So he stood, forcing his legs to cooperate by sheer will.

That though was when the word turned black.