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Thank you for those who reviewed the last chapter. Much appreciated.

Disclaimers: see chapter 1.

CHAPTER 5: PUNISHMENT

Having woken up from a restless sleep, Ron was more than eager to discuss with Dr. Drakken of how he'd get away from the island. However, the doctor had locked himself in his laboratory, the House of Pain, and so Ron was left waiting till evening.

"Or whenever he decides to take a break" Miss Go said. "Sometimes he works for days without rest". Strangely she hadn't asked her gun back, which Ron still kept with himself for protection.

Since he had no desire to venture outside of enclosure anymore, Ron was forced to find ways to kill time. There were only two things that could calm him down: cooking and Kim. And since latter was not an option…

Ron entered to kitchen. He found that Drakken had an impressive collection of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and some fish, but no meat. Then again, the law he had created for his mutants clearly stated that eating meat was bad, so perhaps Drakken didn't want to take the risk of it getting to them.

Ron started chopping vegetables, heating the pan and adding spices. He really wasn't following any recipes, just doing what felt like right. No one had ever complained about his food before. While working a small movement caught his attention. Ron turned and saw the pink rodent he had seen previous day in his room and later in Drakken's laboratory. It looked at him with strikingly human like gaze.

Ron wasn't sure if he had simply taken the leave of his senses or if thing simply looked different in daylight, but he had to admit, that rat was rather adorable.

"Cheese?" the rodent squeaked.

Ron raised an eyebrow. He took a piece of cheese from the table and handed it to the animal. The rodent took the cheese, not with his mouth but with his pawns and started eating happily.

"You like cheese then?" Ron asked, not really sure why he was talking to … it? Him?

"Yep. Yum" the small creature squeaked.

"Well, at least you have a good taste then" Ron smiled.

"His name is Rufus".

Ron turned around to see Yori standing shyly at the doorway. She had her shoulders drawn back and head forward, as if she was planning to leap. For a moment Ron considered the strange, incredibly flexible movements he had seen Yori could do… and her apparent strength when she had saved him in the lagoon.

Maybe she too is…

But no, wait. What had Drakken said yesterday? He had only used male creatures. And unlike any of the other inhabitants of the island, Yori showed no sign of deformity or abnormality in her.

Ron smiled. "You two know each others then?"

"Rufus often sneaks in the kitchen to find something to eat. Miss Go doesn't like it. She often tries to catch Rufus but he is too fast" Yori said, with a small smile on his face.

"Want something to eat?" Ron said awkwardly. "It's not much, just vegetable stew ala Stoppable".

Yori sat down the table as Ron put some to platter. She ate a little and gave him a smile.

"Like it then? Good. Don't tell anyone but I'm about to let you in on a secret. Chefs are like human beings. They like to be complimented" Ron whispered and gave a conspirator smile.

Yori smiled back though it was obvious she hadn't understood the humor.

Ron shrugged, feeling a bit awkward suddenly. "Soooooooo, Yori…how long have you been on this island, actually?"

Yori thought for a moment. "Always" she finally said.

Ron blinked. "You can't have been here always. You're what? 19? 20? Drakken said he's been here for only 8 years".

Yori looked down. "I don't…remember much before coming here. I remember faces".

"Faces?"

"Children. I remember they smiled and looked at me".

"Was it in school maybe?" Ron pushed.

"School?" Yori asked, confused.

Obviously not then. "Did you play with them? The other children, I mean."

"No. I wasn't allowed outside the cage" Yori said.

Ron didn't find his food so tasty anymore. Cage? Now that I think of it Drakken said something about buying her. Was she a child slave? Victim of human trafficking?

Ron tried again. "Do you remember you parents?"

"All I remember is the cage. Then this place".

"Didn't you have any friends?"

Yori only gave a blank confused look.

Ron couldn't help himself. He had often been said to possess a heart too big for his own good and maybe people were right, but he couldn't stop. He stood up, walked to Yori and hugged her.

Yori stiffened instantly. Ron hoped he wasn't being too inappropriate. Since Yori was neither trying to leave nor telling him to stop he remained as he was. After a moment or two Yori seemed to relax and rested her head on his shoulder.

"If you want, Yori, we can be friends" Ron said.

He wasn't sure if Yori was listening for she didn't answer, or indicate in any way that she had heard him. Slowly, very slowly, she moved her face from his shoulder, to the side of his head. And before he could react, she moved her tongue across his cheek.

Ron's eyes flew open from surprise. This kind of reaction he had not expected. He turned to look at Yori, whose mouth was open and who was looking at him with an expression that was either hopeful or horrified.

Ron was about to stutter something when his eyes locked on her mouth. For the first time Ron saw Yori's teeth. They were sharp. All of them. A full row of incredibly sharp teeth.

Yori seemed to notice that he had saw her teeth. Her eyes winded incredibly open, her hands flew to cover her mouth and with a dash she disappeared from the kitchen, leaving Ron standing there with dumbfound look on his face.

"Oh boy" Rufus squeaked from the table.

Ron was shaking, but not out of shock or fear. He was shaking out of something that he rarely felt. Fury.

He stormed out, walked straight to Drakken's work place, the House of Pain, and marched in, kicking the door open in the process. Drakken was at the operating table, where his newest creation Eric laid in straps. He raised his head to see furious Ron.

"Now, now. Didn't Miss Go tell you that we'd speak of ways to get you out of here later?" Drakken said in a distracted tone.

"Yesterday I feared you're insane, but I was wrong. You are evil" Ron said, walking to Drakken.

"Evil? That is a very unscientific word. What brought this up?"

"Those creatures in the jungle were horrible enough. But what you've done to… to that girl is criminal!"

Drakken's face showed no emotion as he returned Ron's stare. "Yori?"

"Yes, Yori! She is one of your creations as well, isn't she? Those others I might have been able to overlook! I could have showed that much consideration. But not now. What you've done to her I can't overlook. I will expose you. I'll tell everyone what you're doing here!" Ron declared and turned around.

"You're leaving then? How? By swimming? There are sharks in the water, you know" Drakken said.

Ron stopped. In his anger he had forgotten he didn't actually have a way to leave.

"Sit down and calm yourself. We may as well speak openly since you know little Yori's secret".

The younger man turned around to look at the scientist he had become to loath. Drakken merely gave a little self-satisfied smile as Ron sat down to a spare chair.

"To answer to your question" Drakken started "yes, Yori is one of my creations. The only one whom I've been able to bring so close to being a human. I thought that after her bringing others as close to humanity would be a piece of cake, but for some reason she is the only one who has been able to maintain her human form. Others very quickly deteriorated to more… well, you did see them last night. I've been keeping Yori here in the enclosure to see how long she can keep her human like appearance".

"Last night you said you've only made male creatures. Why did you lie about that?" Ron asked.

"Scientific interest, of course".

"What?"

"Well, you see, while in enclosure Yori has always been very withdrawn. She is scared of both me and Miss Go. Who can blame her really, we are rather intimidating. But the day you came here her attitude changed. She talked to you. Asked questions herself, without me telling her to. She has taken a clear interest in you" Drakken explained.

Ron took a deep breath. "And this is scientifically interesting because…?"

"Well naturally I wanted to see how much of a human she is. Is she able to have human like emotions, like caring and love? Will she be able to have children? And what kind of children would those be?"

Ron stared the man. "Come again?"

"Well, you are a young man and Yori is, and I say this proudly as her creator, a beautiful former panther. I thought for once to let nature take its course and see what happens".

Before either of them realized what was happening, Ron had stood up and punched Drakken in the face so hard he actually fell to his back.

"You are beyond evil, you're twisted! I knew that there was some major bad road on this island but you've build a whole freeway of it!"

Drakken held his other hand on his nose and stared up at Ron. "Huh?"

"You know what I should do? I should take this gun right now" Ron said and pulled out Miss Go's gun "and just shoot you right here!"

"Calm down. You are incredibly unscientific young man" Drakken said as he stood up.

Ron was about to say something back when Miss Go suddenly burst in the doors. Either she didn't notice or, more likely, didn't care that Ron was holding her gun and Drakken was wiping blood out of his nose. She walked between them and spoke to doctor.

"Dr D, we have a serious problem here".

"What, more serious than him playing interracial pimp?" Ron asked.

Miss Go paid no mind to him, instead she put a mangled corpse of a rabbit to the table. "I found it in the woods. There're probably more of them. They've been eaten".

Drakken stared the dead rabbit for a while and then his face changed to that of frustrated and angry.

"Why won't they just stay as I want them to stay?" he shouted, picked the dead rabbit and left the laboratory with Miss Go.

"Excuse me!" Ron shouted walking behind them, feeling a bit offended that his outrage of having been paired with a panther was ignored.

Drakken turned to him. "Yes, you should come along, with the gun and all. Always need extra hands with these cases" he said absently.

Realizing he was not going to get anywhere this way, Ron got in the car with Drakken and Miss Go as they drove out of the enclosure. A short time later they arrived to the jungle village of Drakken's creations. Miss Go pulled a gun – so that's why she didn't ask me to return this one, Ron thought – and fired a shot in the air.

The creatures appeared from their little huts and gathered around. The goatman from last night, Senior, approached Drakken.

"What is the law?" Drakken asked.

"Not to walk on all fours. That is the law. Are we not men?"

"ARE WE NOT MEN?" the other repeated once more, on their knees.

Ron turned around to see Miss Go taking a rifle out of the car, loading it with darts.

"What is the law?"

"Not to hunt other men. That is the law. Are we not men?"

"ARE WE NOT MEN?"

"What is the law?"

"Not to spill blood. That-"

"Stop!" Drakken shouted harshly. He raised the dead rabbit for all to see. "That law has been broken".

All the creatures seemed to be startled by the sight of the dead rabbit, as well as the knowledge of someone having broken their law.

"Who? Who amongst you has spilled blood?" Drakken demanded.

The creatures looked each others and moved uncomfortably. Drakken's posture had become very tense and he never moved his eyes from the creatures. Miss Go had the rifle ready.

The creatures finally seemed to come to conclusion and all of their heads turned to look one specific animal. Ron looked at it also. It was covered in green scales and had webbing in hands and feet. It had very sharp teeth and red eyes. Ron realized he had seen those eyes before, in the lagoon. This creature had been the one to attack him and Ron had no doubt in his mind it was also responsible for killing the rabbits.

"Gill, come forward" Drakken spoke with a calm and cold voice.

The said creature, Gill, took few unsure steps forward, glancing towards other creatures as if asking for help. They gave him none.

Drakken pointed at Gill. "He who breaks the law must go the House of Pain!"

"HE WHO BREAKS THE LAW MUST GO TO THE HOUSE OF PAIN!" others repeated.

Gill's fearful eyes turned from Drakken to Miss Go and back. And then he spotted Ron. Something changed then, his eyes turned from scared to furious. He growled, tensed and leaped forward, just when Miss Go's shot her rifle. The dart missed Gill by inches and hit the ground.

"After him!" Drakken shouted as Gill disappeared to the jungle. The other creatures chased after him.

"After him?" Miss Go shouted back. "He's faster than either of us and could be anywhere in the jungle. You know the jungle in which our car can't get into?"

"Have you forgotten that we are dealing with animals, Miss Go? When hunted they'll always go for their own territories. And Gill's territory is easy to guess; something with lots of water".

Not long after they had drove back towards enclosure and stopped in front of the path that led to lagoon. As they walked towards it Ron couldn't help but remember the last time he had been here. It was quite unsettling. He took the gun he still had and made sure it was loaded. He had never actually shot with a gun but he knew enough how to use it.

The lagoon was as calm and undisturbed as Ron remembered it. Drakken and Miss Go looked around.

"Could he already be in there?" Ron asked, pointing the water.

"No, the other ones went after him. If he's gotten here already they'd be here as well" Miss Go said.

"Let's start walked then. We should run into them sooner or later" Drakken said and three headed to jungle.

It didn't take long when they met the other creatures that had formed a circle. Drakken pushed through them.

"Alright, is Gill here, we need to…oh".

Gill was there indeed. He was lying on the ground, moaning and twitching and had a long branch going into his stomach.

"He must have been running with such speed he didn't see the branch in time" Miss Go said.

"Or maybe he tried committing a suicide. I'd be delighted if that was the case, it's a very human thing to do" Drakken spoke, while looking down on suffering creature.

Ron couldn't bear to look at the suffering creature. "Can't you just put him out of his misery?" he asked.

"Now, why on earth would I do that? All of these test subjects are important to me. No, we'll take him to laboratory and see if he's beyond saving. If I can't return him here I can always use him as a test subject for new serums" the scientist answered without a hint of sympathy.

A strange monkeylike creature dressed in black clothes and covered in black fur started to circle wounded Gill.

"Monty, stay away from there, we will try to move him" Drakken said.

As Drakken and Miss Go shooed the monkey creature away, Ron still watched the miserable creature on the ground and went over in his head what a sad existence was waiting for it.

Gill moved his head a bit and made eye contact with Ron. "No more… house… of pain…" it rasped out.

Ron couldn't even remember making a decision in his head or moving his arm. All he knew that the next thing he was aiming his gun on Gill and pulling the trigger.

The silence that followed the gunshot seemed to last forever, as Drakken, all his creatures and Miss Go all stared Ron who was staring his hand and the smoking gun he was holding. Gill lay dead on the ground, his lifeless eyes staring him.

The first one to start moving was the monkeyman, Monty, who swayed his arms from side to side and stared at Ron with a glare of anger and hate. Then he raised his hairy hand and pointed Ron.

"He has killed! He has broken the law!" Monty shouted.

The goatman Senior continued. "He who breaks the law must go to the House of Pain!"

"HE WHO BREAKS THE LAW MUST GO TO THE HOUSE OF PAIN!"

Ron dropped the gun to the ground and stared with growing terror the heated gazes the animal people gave to him. They all looked ready to rip him to pieces.

He didn't hear anyone moving behind him, but he did feel the hit before he blacked out.

###

Ron came around little by little. The first thing he became aware of was how thirsty he was. Then that he was lying on something hard and couldn't move.

"Do not try to move. You have been tied down so it's useless".

Ron tried turning his head to the source of voice. He saw Drakken working on a table filled with bottles of different colored chemicals. He was typing something to an old computer. It was only then Ron realized he was in Drakken's laboratory.

"Do not try to speak either. I have injected in you a sedative of my own design that has taken away you ability to form words for time being. Do not worry though. You'll be able to scream alright".

Scream?

"Yes, my young uninvited quest" Drakken said as he finally left the table and came to stand beside the table Ron was on. "I was quite upset about the stunt you pulled in the jungle. Killing Gill like that. Whatever possessed you to do that? Was it pity? Did you pity him? Another emotion I've never been able to understand. What use is pity anyway?"

Scream? Why would I scream? What is he on about?

"However, I didn't stay upset for long. After all the situation did turn to my advantage soon enough. You see, the law I made my creations to obey is the thing that keeps order on this island. If my creations ever lose their absolute faith in it chaos would break out. And I cannot allow that to happen. So you see, I must punish you for breaking the law".

I sense bad road. Really bad road.

"They're in the jungle now, just outside the enclosure, just waiting to hear you scream. When they hear it they'll know the law has been carried out and they'll be happy. And I have been granted a chance to try something I have only dreamed of for so long: human testing!" Drakken ranted with a joyful voice.

"I've never had the chance before. When I came to this island my experiments with animals were still very primitive, I didn't even dream of using humans. But since then I have. Problem is smuggling humans to this island is risky and I'm too afraid of Miss Go to even suggest anything like that to her. But now here you are, delivered to me on a silver platter".

Please don't… don't do this…

"So what shall it be? Do you have a favourite animal of your own choosing? A lion? A bear? A crocodile?" Drakken spoke as he went back to the table and got an syringe.

"Ah, but I have something special here just for you. How does a panther sound like? By coincidence exactly the kind Yori is. We'll see if you'll warm to her after getting close to your…animal side. Perhaps later you can tell me also what it's like, to lose ones humanity and become completely primitive beast. As a scientist I find that fascinating".

Drakken lowered the syringe and while Ron couldn't see it, he felt it stinging his neck.

"This will only hurt a little bit. What comes next… more so".

Ron could only stare the roof and pray this was all some gigantic nightmare he would soon wake up from. He couldn't understand why this was happening to him. He had always been good. He felt his breathing quickening as a warm feeling spread his entire body.

And then he felt pain unlike anything before.

To be continued…

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