Vampire: Dark Ages
Testing the Cage
February 2, 2013 2 am
It took Hunter most of way to the third level of tunnels for his anger to simmer down again after Duke had blatantly summoned him like a dog. He kept telling himself that he didn’t care, reminded himself that he was used to being called all kinds of things by the COs at OSP. But the combination of being summoned like a dog AND having his will forced into compliant obedience was beyond Hunter’s tolerance. No amount of composure or discipline could keep his fury from his expression and body language as he glared at Duke and followed against his will.
He knew that he had asked for it. He wanted to know the extent of Duke’s control over him and he was testing it at every opportunity. Sometimes he was able to refuse an order and sometimes not—the type of order didn’t seem to matter. So far the score was two-to-four Duke, which statistically put Hunter’s chance of successfully refusing currently at 33%. Six tests made for a poor data pool, but at face value 33% seemed like reasonably good odds, especially considering that Hunter still wasn’t at his best. The problem was, Duke was perfectly capable of repeating the order and so far, Hunter had been unable to refuse the same order twice. That wasn’t encouraging at all. It meant that Duke had the power to make Hunter do whatever he wanted and that refusing was almost pointless. Almost. One of the orders he had defied was in punching another vampire, so theoretically, if something was important enough and could be accomplished quickly in a single action, he had at least a 33% chance of succeeding.
Statistics for success was only one of many things on Hunter’s mind as they made their way through the dark tunnels. He was going to need more than numbers if he was ever to get his freedom, and the other reason for testing Duke’s control of him was simply to see what Duke would do, how he would react. So far Hunter had concluded that Duke was intelligent, calculative, patient… They were traits that they both had in common and that made Hunter wonder if he had possibly met his equal, or even his superior. Perhaps even more daunting was a single statement Duke had just made.
‘You’ll know when I do something to you.’
Not very many things were capable of sending a chill down Hunter’s spine, but that had been one of them. As much as Hunter wanted to brush it off as a bluff, he didn’t get the sense that Duke was the type to bluff when it came to threats. He got the sense that Duke was quite capable, possibly even quite powerful and didn’t need to bluff. Which left the question— if Duke was capable of enslaving his will, what else was he capable of? In a world of endless supernatural possibilities, part of Hunter really didn’t want to know. At the same time, he knew that he couldn’t let himself be cowed by fear. Fear of failure and consequences would only get in his way.
Needless to say, Hunter’s attention was not very focused on the investigation Duke had brought him down to do. What little he did find, he kept to himself. Instead, he had decided on his next two tests. First, he wanted to know how Duke’s control would change if Hunter changed forms. He already knew that even the raging Gauru couldn’t or wouldn’t attack Duke because he viewed Duke as his Alpha. Now he would find out if his wolf form was any different.
It took a couple of tries and as always Hunter had to keep his Beast in check. Eventually though, he was able to successfully shift into Urhan.
Even as a wolf, traits like his larger size and striking presence were notable. His long pale brown coat was singed with enough charcoal black to make his coloring a little more dark than light. It was only the second time Hunter had been in this form and he immediately shook his body before sniffing the air. It felt liberating, his senses coming to life in an entirely different way.
Hunter still detested it, especially now that it was only reinforcing his new title of ‘dog’ and ‘pet’ among the vampires. He had his reasons for using it though. Not only was it reassuring to be able to successfully shift without losing control to his Beast, but he was pleased to find that his regard for Duke hadn’t changed. He still hated him, still revered him, still couldn’t attack him and yet was perfectly capable of otherwise commanding his own actions for the time being.
With Duke (seemingly) distracted by talking with the second vampire, Hunter began sniffing around the cavern for the trails he had picked up before. They were stronger now that his nose was ten times better and Hunter made a note of the two distinct scents in case he wanted them later. But he hadn’t shifted to do a better job for Duke. It was time for his next test. Sniffing the ground, Hunter followed the trails up into the tunnels until he was well out of Duke’s sight. Then he paused and looked back only for a moment before he bolted.
In this form, he could RUN. And after more than two weeks of being in restraints, it felt wonderful. Moving as fast as he could, he charged up the tunnels back the way he had come. He didn’t slow to smell the way, instead relying on the map in his head, using it to make short cuts for a more direct route where he determined he could do so with minimal risk. He could see his entire route from start to finish, and it didn’t end with reaching the street. His destination was room 324 of the Larkspur Hotel on the waterfront.
He didn’t know how far he would get. He didn’t know what Duke would do to try and stop him or find him. He didn’t know if he would get in trouble for running. His guess was that Duke would have anticipated this type of action and that he’d be seeing him again soon. Hunter didn’t care. He would get his answers, he would figure this out, he would use his knowledge to eventually escape.