“Hello, Z. I am Eve,” the beautiful vampire said as soon as she opened the door to our hotel room.
“How did you know my name?” the blonde hacker asked suspiciously.
“I know things. Please come in. I am happy Adam has brought you.”
“Yeah. I’m not. Well, I’m glad to be alive, but my-- shit! Is that live?” Z asked as she pointed to the video screen on the other side of the hotel room. It was a newsfeed, and it had all three of our pictures displayed on the screen. There were no names under the images, but a video feed from the mall suddenly began to play, and it showed us running from the armed men. It didn’t show what happened in the back hallways, and I wondered if there weren’t cameras back there.
“Yes. It just began to play. I’m happy you both made it here in time. We will have to be careful leaving the hotel now.”
“We? Listen, I don’t want any part of whatever terrorist bullshit you two have planned. My life was totally fine before I started working for you, and now it’s fucked from both sides.”
“You caused the mess. You said you could get into Elaka Nota’s databases without a trace. You didn’t, and now you’ve compromised our plan to escape,” I told the hacker with a sigh. “You are stuck with us now, if you want to live, that is.”
“I didn’t fuck up, though. I don’t mess up. I’m the best--” the blonde woman began, but Eve interrupted her with a small wave of her hand.
“No. You didn’t make a mistake. I think you know what happened,” the raven-haired woman said as she crossed her arms.
“What the fuck do you mean? I don’t know what--”
“You can try to lie, but you have a suspicion. The more you try to fight it, the more you are convinced that it is true. Why don’t you check? There is a terminal over there.” Eve pointed to the far side of the room where there was a computer port.
“I’ve got my own rig. I don’t need to use that one. Eww. Fine. I’ll look into it. Don’t you two freaks try anything while I am distracted. I know how to fight.”
“We won’t.” Eve smiled at the tattooed woman and then gestured for her to sit on the far side of the room.
Z gave Eve a glare, and then she moved to the chair. Half a minute later she had pushed the cord into the hole on her head, and she was sitting slouched in the seat with her eyes closed.
“I like her,” Eve whispered in my ear. “I am glad you brought her over. She has some anger issues, but she is honest, caring, and honorable.”
“I know about anger,” I said with a smirk. “What do you know of how they found us?”
“She wasn’t lying. She didn’t get traced. Or at least, she is very sure she didn’t. However, she isn’t so sure about the faithfulness of her now dead boyfriend. She thinks he might have sold her out to Elaka Nota. I am guessing that she is-”
“Fuck,” the hacker moaned. “Damn. Damn. Ugh.”
“So?” Eve asked her.
“Dumbass sold me out. His account has two hundred thousand in it. Wired there half an hour before we met. I tried to trace where the money came from, but it had Elaka Nota written all over it. Fuck. I can’t believe this.”
“I am sorry,” Eve said.
“Yeah. Whatever. Ugh.” Z wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and then sniffled a bit. “The fucker is dead now. He can’t spend the money. I hope he burns in hell. I was good to him. I should have known when I found him with that bitch Kayleta that he didn’t give a shit about me.”
“Here is the file.” I pulled the rolled folder from my ammo belt and passed it to Eve. “I only spent a few minutes looking through it. Uwuwto Alwin will probably be our easiest target.”
“Hmm. Let me study for a bit. You should take a shower while I talk to Z about our future. There is a bag of clothes for you on your bed.”
“Confirmed, but I need to sleep soon. I do not think I can stay awake for the planning,” I said as I inhaled sharply to taste the air. I did smell like blood and gunpowder. It would have been a good scent, except the blood was my own.
The hotel shower was large, and the water was hot. I probably spent more time than I should have to let the jets massage my sore muscles, but I didn’t care. I was tired. No, I was beyond exhausted, and I probably fell asleep for a few minutes against the wall. Then I forced myself awake and worked on washing myself. I was delighted to be alive, and every shower I took might be my last. The memories of my time being experimented on were a bit hazy, but I recalled the weekly cold showers with a hose. Perhaps it wasn’t as torturous as the countless times they had prodded me with needles and shot me full of radiation, but the shivering sessions were clearer in my mind.
I finished drying myself off, brushed my teeth, and put on a spare change of clothes with shaking hands. I didn’t know how Eve managed to get the new set of clothes, but the underwear, sweatpants, and black tee shirt fit perfectly. I made one last towel dry of my hair and then I stared into the mirror for a few moments.
Once my eyes had been brown with a few flecks of green in them. Now they were a strange goldish-yellow. The pupil was still round, but as I stared at myself, I willed my vision to begin to shift, and I saw the black circle in the middle of my iris begin to elongate. I shook my head and then rubbed the bridge of my nose before looking in the mirror again.
How long would I live?
Even if we didn’t get captured or shot full of holes trying to escape this planet, I’d been re-created and mutated with the DNA. Had they just used tigers? Or did they use other creatures as well? I didn’t know exactly what they did to me, but I didn’t imagine it had done any favors for my longevity. I might only have a few Earth months left. I didn’t recall them injecting me with drugs to keep me living, but that didn’t mean my body wouldn’t fray at the edges and come apart when the alien DNA battled against my human parts.
I forced my tense body to relax, but then the exhaustion of my change from tiger-man into normal human fought to claim my consciousness. I shook my head to wake myself up, and then contemplated my current situation.
I was free now, even if hunted. It had been so long since I tasted freedom. Eve had given it to me, and I wasn’t going to die until I had her safe on a ship and blasting away from this planet. It would be a blessing if I lived any longer, and I intended to keep repaying her until one or both of us was dead. Maybe that was another sort of captivity, but I’d rather spend my life in her service than enslaved to anyone else.
I walked into the living room, and Z shot me a glance. She was looking over the paperwork with Eve, and the two women were speaking about the next steps.
“He cleans up pretty good,” Z said.
“Yes. He does,” Eve said as she glanced up from the paper. Our eyes met, and I felt my brain kind of float above my body when I stared into her strange red orbs.
“You look really tired. Like you could just fall over right now,” the blonde hacker said.
“Please rest, Adam,” Eve said with a smile. “We can go over this when you wake.
“I’ll be fine for a few more minutes. Have you two come up with a plan?”
“Yes. Your recommendation of Mr. Alwin was a good one. There are a few others we can try, but that man takes plenty of trips outside of the main housing towers of Elaka Nota Corporation. He even drives his own vehicle to the facility we are looking to infiltrate,” Eve said to me while she flipped through the papers.
“So we grab him and get him to take us to the facility. Sounds easy,” I said.
“Ha! Adam has the subtlety of a meteor strike,” Z chuckled.
“The concept is agreeable to me. We need to plan out the details. Z has videos of the man engaged in an orgy with many strippers at the club he visits. It might be the blackmail leverage we need since he is married with four children.” Eve leaned back in her chair and yawned with her fingers over her mouth. I had never seen the woman yawn, and I realized we had been up for probably three Earth days in a row.
“Do you need to rest?” I asked her.
“I will be fine. I can sleep on the ship after we’ve engaged the drives or used the folding tech. You are the one that needs to sleep. At least for a few hours.”
“Confirmed. I will--”
“Alright, I have to say something.” Z stood from her chair across the table from the vampire and walked to the other side of the room where the news screens still showed images of our faces. “You are a fucking man-tiger that can shape shift.” The blonde woman pointed an accusing finger at me. “You are, fuck. I don’t know, but you’ve got big ass fangs, really pale skin, and you are like ‘turn a straight girl into a lesbian’ gorgeous, so I’m gonna guess vampire.” Z moved her finger to point at Eve, and the dark-haired woman made a small shrug.
“That is a good description,” Eve said.
“Right, right, right.” Z shook her head. “I don’t care how powerful, or badass, or like really damn good looking you both are; no one gets off of Trappist -1e without Elaka Nota knowing about it. Get a ship with a hyperdrive? Are you out of your minds? That is military grade shit. Space folding tech? That is even crazier. If there is a ship with space folding tech on this planet, every fucking government or megacorp within thirty light years would be here trying to take it. Elaka Nota is powerful, but they aren’t strong enough to take on the rest of the damn universe.”
“I can understand why you aren’t hopeful about our prospects,” Eve said with a surprisingly gentle voice.
“Hopeful about our prospects? That’s putting it a bit mildly. If I took one of the kitty man’s pistols, deep throated it, and pulled the trigger; I’d have a better chance of surviving than what you are planning.”
There was silence for a few moments as the hacker glared at us fiercely. Her shoulders were tense, and I saw her lean body shake a bit. I could almost smell her terror from across the room, but it was blended with a dozen other emotions. They rolled off of the young woman in waves of scents as if she was trying on a dozen different perfumes at a cosmetics counter.
“But you will still help us?” Eve asked at last. Her voice was hopeful, and the beautiful woman raised both of her eyebrows. It wasn’t quite a pleading expression, but it got the message across.
“Are you two just going to eat me after I help you? I don’t know what kind of crazy shit you both are into. That guy turned into a fucking walking tiger with big ass teeth. You have crazy red eyes and just admitted you are a vampire. How do I know you won’t just suck all the blood out of me and then feed me to your boyfriend when all this is over? You’re hot and all, but I’d like to keep my blood where it is, thanks.”
“We won’t do that. We just want off this planet. I can tell you about our past if you want, but the short of it is that we’ve both been experimented on by our captors. There are others like us. We want to escape this planet and then help people. Eventually, we will return and end Elaka Nota Corporation and their puppet governments, but they are just one of many in the universe. Will you help us? We can’t promise you’ll live through our attempt to escape, but neither of us has any desire to eat you.”
The blonde hacker crossed her arms after Eve spoke. A few painful seconds passed while she looked at both of us. Then she took a deep breath.
“Yeah. I’ll help you,” Z said with a loud sigh and gestured to the news screens. “I’m dead if I stay here. Ugh. I’m way too trusting. Will you both take--”
“Yes. Of course, you can come with us. I would like you to join us,” Eve said with a smile that might have been reassuring, except for the fangs jutting from her full lips.
“Lady, I don’t think that is a good idea long term. I’ve got all sorts of issues. If we do this, you can just drop me off at the next planet you dock at. I prefer to be on my own, anyway. Especially after my--”
“You might change your mind. We will discuss it after we are successful. I am aware of what you think your issues are, but they are of no concern to Adam or me. If you haven’t noticed, we have our own idiosyncrasies, and I can assure you that we will not be bothered by your broken heart or your--”
“Okay, okay, I get it. Let’s just get off of this shithole so we can fly to another shit hole. I’d probably be better off just killing myself now, but hey, maybe we can actually pull this off?” The young woman shrugged and then gave us a smile. “I don’t see how we are going to nab this guy. He has guards on him all the time. Even the club’s cameras show them never more than three meters from him.”
“Except when he is in the private room,” Eve said.
“Yeah, but we’d have to get past the guards. I’m sure Adam can kill them, but that might raise alarms and--”
“You are very pretty,” Eve said with a wave of her long fingers.
“Uhhh. No? Have you looked in the mirror? Wait, do you even see your reflection?”
“It seems to me that the only thing Mr. Alwin likes more than one lovely woman, is two, or three, or a room full of pretty women,” Eve said.
The blonde hacker and raven-haired vampire stared at each other for a few moments, and then Z’s face soured as if she’d just found a piece of hair in her food.
“Ugh. You have got to be fucking kid--”
“Do you want to get out of here?” Eve asked with a chuckle.
“Well yeah, but--”
“Then you need to use your computer skills to have a bunch of slutty outfits delivered to us,” the vampire said as she tapped her own skull where Z’s connection port was.
“Ugh. Fine. Let me get on it while kitty-man sleeps.”