Wil woke feeling as if he’d been hit by a tank. His mouth was dry, his eyes hurt and his head felt swollen. The ringing in his ears had been replaced by a pounding like a pile driver.
As soon as he struggled to sit up, Penny was beside him, giving him a supporting hand. Her eyes held concern, not just on a professional level. She flung herself at his chest, grabbing him tightly as if her life depended upon this one embrace. Wil lost his balance, collapsing on the bed once more.
“Penny,” he said thickly. “What?”
“Oh, Wil, I was so worried! Don’t ever do that again!”
“Whadidido?” He could barely enunciate.
“Rashima?” His head was clearing. “What about her, where is she?” He felt a burning in his loins, uncomfortable and evocative.
He sat up, pushing her roughly aside. “What? Who?” His movements were erratic, dangerous, as he swung his arms around wildly.
“She was shot, Wil.”
There was a long pause as Wil worked through this information. “Dead.” His voice sounded flat and emotionless.
“Yes. Wil, she was a siren.”
“Whazzat?” Blinking fast, he tried again to clear his wooly head.
The name conjured up an image, a definition began to take form in his mind. Smacking dry lips, he shook his head, trying to clear his eyes, but only made himself dizzier.
“Fuck me,” he groaned as he lay back down.
A glass pressed against his lips. He drank automatically, spilling a good bit on the bed. The pounding faded to a buzz like barber’s clippers. He his mind was clearing gradually.
“Penny, start over, all I remember is this – Oh God! This woman, she was so beautiful, exotic.” He felt a burning sensation in his loins again. “Ow! Why do I hurt?”
“Wil, look at me.”
He focused on her face with difficulty. “Penny?”
“Wil, if you don’t focus for me, I’m going to hit you.”
He blinked slowly, tried to clear his head again and failed. “Feel like shit,” he mumbled. “There was this girl.” He mused again, rolling over, hoping to sleep and dream of the woman in white.
Smack! A sharp slap clipped him on the left cheek, snapping his head sideways. He caught her hand before she could get him with the back swing.
“What the hell was that for? Penny?”
She grinned at him, kissing his smarting cheek. “You’re back! Oh, thank God! What do you remember?”
“Lots of explosions, Aurialonus, and some woman. There was something about her.” His eyes glazed over again and Penny slapped him sharply once more. “Will you please stop doing that?”
“Not until you snap out of this!” She popped him again, but less hard. “She was a siren, Wil. Do you know what that is?”
“One of those women, Greek mythology, sang and lured sailors to their deaths?”
“Something like that, only this one is a telepath who lures men to her, controlling them, making them her tools. I thought she had you for awhile.” Her voice drifted off. “She’s been the problem, all along. She was sent to kill us.”
“In all these other operations, she’s turned the men against one another. Only Emory kept his head.”
“Why? What makes him special?”
His puzzled look remained frozen as she touched his temple and he remembered. The day they had been brought to the lab for the first procedures, there had been a medical technician with a special instrument.
“They put a chip in your head, so a signal can be sent out, killing you instantly.” They had made it sound like it was for protection, his as well as others. Why had he forgotten?
“He hasn’t any chip.”
“But all us super soldiers got that, didn’t we?”
“I’m not exactly like one of you,” Emory said, sidling into the room. Penny nodded at him as he sat on a chair near the bed. “I’m a special case.”
“Why?” Wil found it almost infuriating that this little, weasely man was special, somehow superior to him.
“I’m the chaff,” he said softly, his face clouding.
“He doesn’t know, Randy,” Penny said gently, putting a hand on his shoulder.
“They did some more experiments, stuff you guys don’t know about. When they had you under, they took samples of sperm and ova.”
A glance up at Penny got an encouraging nod.
“I’m the by product of one of their in vitro experiments. They wanted to make super soldiers from scratch. I was a failed experiment. I’m what’s left when super heroes mate!”
He was angry, hurt. A life of being shoved aside and told he wasn’t good enough had left him bitter.
“But it’s saved your life, Randy.” Penny interrupted him before he got too carried away. “That’s why he’s survived all these missions and everyone else died. She couldn’t control him. But he couldn’t hurt her until now.”
“There was a program, subliminal, running through her. As long as she was conscious, it made it impossible for him to protect us. But Ishanti knocked her out as they were getting in the car. Once she was unconscious, Emory could act. I about gave him a black eye though, until he explained.
Emory chuckled quietly, relaxing for the first time since Wil had met him. “I had to talk faster than I ever have in my life. Thought I was going to lose an eyeball or something.”
“Well, a ball of some kind, but I doubt it would have been your eye.” Wil looked up at Penny, his old smile back on his face. “Mind explaining that whole knee in the groin?”
“I had to get your attention, it seemed the best way.”
“Kind of harsh!”
“It worked, didn’t it?” Her tone softened, her eyes held his for a long moment.
Clearing his throat, Emory looked embarrassed and excused himself.
“Hey,” Wil called after him. “Thank you. I owe you my life, kid.”
Emory turned around and faced him, a soft smile playing at his lips. “And I owe mine to you.” In a rush he was gone.
Wil watched after him in puzzled silence, wondering what on earth he meant.
“Greyling has some explaining to do,” he sighed as he kissed Penny deeply, inhaling the fresh, clean smell of her hair and the spicy scent of her cologne.
“Don’t be hard on her,” Penny said, unbuttoning his shirt as she pushed him on the bed. “She tried to protect us.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” he kissed her. “But right now, I don’t want to talk.”
“Neither do I.”
“You know, Penny, I could fall hard for a girl like you.”
“Good.” She smiled, kissing him passionately as she shoved him down on the bed.
©2015 Dellani Oakes