tempest reborn (jane true #6) Page 18


Our little group walked on silent feet down the thin gray carpet lining the concrete floor till we neared what had to be the end of the establishment. Hiral gestured to a door at the end of the corridor on the left-hand side of the hall. The walls here were proper walls, but we still crept forward as quietly as we could.

Until, that is, I felt a tug at my hand. Iris had stopped, her face pale as death.

‘I can’t do it. This was a mistake. I shouldn’t have come.’

I placed both of my hands on her shoulders, gazing deep into her eyes. ‘You do whatever you’re comfortable with, you hear me? If you want to wait for us here, none of us will think less of you. You were brave just coming.’

She dropped her head, a small sob racking her body. ‘Thank you, Jane. I’ll just stay here. Don’t worry about me, though. I’ll be fine.’

‘Are you sure? Do you want me to stay with you?’

‘No. Please. I’ll be fine. And they may need you.’

I was torn between staying with my friend and going to help take care of the Healer.

‘Seriously, go,’ Iris told me, obviously seeing my hesitation and interpreting it correctly.

After another second of deliberation, I nodded. ‘All right. If you need anything, just shout.’

‘I will.’ She took a seat on one of the little chairs in the waiting area, wringing her hands nervously. I turned and ran down the hallway, catching up with the others quickly. They’d been waiting for me.

‘Iris all right?’ Anyan asked.

‘Yes, but she doesn’t want to go in.’

‘I don’t blame her. You ready?’

‘Yes.’

Hiral did his little disappearing act to scout ahead, and we didn’t see him again till he popped back into visibility, standing right in front of the room Yvonne must have stashed the Healer in. He cocked his head to the side, shaking it slowly, gesturing for us to move forward.

We ended up all crowded inside the doorframe, peering inward with various expressions on our faces. Mine, at first, reflected confusion. In front of us lay what had to be the Healer, although his back was to us. Green goblin scales covered the back of his head and neck, trailing down his spine, broken only by some sort of strap across the back of his head. I wasn’t sure what that was about, because his face was turned to the other wall. The rest of his body was a hodgepodge of goblin scales and human skin, and there was definitely a lot of skin to see.

For the Healer was naked, except for a giant adult diaper and a crisscrossing of ropes binding him up like a hog for the slaughter.

There was nothing so off-putting as seeing the bane of your nightmares wearing some giant Pampers.

He must know something’s up, I thought. In my naïveté I thought the goblin halfling was struggling, for who wouldn’t know something was wrong after at least ten minutes of being hog-tied in a diaper?

That’s not struggling, my libido pointed out delicately. A second later, I realized it was right. The Healer was humping the floor. Or his diaper. I’m not sure how that fetish worked, really.

Gritting my teeth, I pulled the labrys. I wasn’t fucking around.

At my unspoken but very bright signal (the ax didn’t seem to like the Healer one bit), we all strode into the room. Squirming to turn his tied body, the Healer eventually made his way over to the new source of light in the room. The labrys flared brighter, then brighter, and he squinted at us, unable to see our shadowed forms in the glare. It wasn’t till I spoke that he realized he was in more of a bind than he’d paid for.

‘Hello, Healer. We meet again.’

This time he squirmed for real, and not in a fun way. His cries of alarm were muted, however, by the ball gag, explaining the thin strap at the back of his head.

Yvonne is a clever thing, I thought admiringly. I’d have to ask her where she learned to tie knots.

‘Why don’t we make our guest comfortable,’ I told Anyan and Ryu. I was channeling every Bond villain I’d ever seen, trying to mimic the creepy combination of polite threat at which they all excelled. Acting as my evil minions, the barghest and baobhan sith moved into the room. Caleb stayed behind me.

There wasn’t much in the room, which was, indeed, made of rubber. Black rubber, to be exact, and the floor had been left concrete but painted black. A drain was set in the middle of the floor, and I remembered Yvonne’s comments about the hose. Perfect for a quick clean-up, I realized, trying not to think of all the things one might do with a diaper fetishist.

Ryu and Anyan picked up the Healer roughly by the armpits, swinging him in a way that made his bound body jerk painfully. The goblin halfling batted at them ineffectually with his magic, but he was no match for either supe, physically or magically. I would have thought it wasn’t a fair fight, except that the Healer himself specialized in unfair fighting. His victims had ranged the gamut from weak supes to human children, so I didn’t feel too badly about dropping the auspices of chivalry.

‘Oh, that is perfect,’ I said, channeling my inner villain, as Ryu and Anyan untied the Healer’s bindings long enough to bind him back in place, tied to the only furniture in the room.

Ironically, that piece of furniture was the same type of medical gurney that the Healer had used to torture so many of his own victims. It was the sort that could fold up, or down, from almost a chair to more of a bed.

‘Aren’t you a hot mess of issues,’ I marveled, walking toward our bound captive. Anyan and Ryu had raised the back of the gurney up so it was more like a chair than a bed, and they’d left the ball gag in for now.

‘You torture people in the way that you want to be tortured? Is that it? Orchestrating the pain you want to feel yourself?’

The Healer’s eyes, radiating a combination of fury and fear, blinked wetly at me.

‘Maybe you think they enjoy it, too?’ I mused. I was genuinely curious. It wasn’t often one got to question a true sadist.

‘No,’ I said after I’d thought through the issue. I took a step forward, studying the pink human flesh of the Healer’s face and the eyes that bulged at me over the ball gag. ‘You know they don’t want it. And that’s part of why you love it so much. At the end of the day, you’re an imperfect victim. Not only do you want the pain, you can only let it go so far before your self-preservation kicks in. But when you hurt another person … they can take whatever you give them, because you don’t care if they die.’

Our eyes, locked on each other’s, shared something then. And that something was … nothing. I would never understand the Healer any more than he would ever understand me. I don’t know what made one person so eager to hurt others, and another willing to help, and I could study a hundred Healers and never be any closer to the answer.

I moved out of spitting range first, then nodded to Anyan. ‘Take the gag out.’

The barghest did so, using his power to keep the Healer’s head back against the gurney’s headrest. It was a reminder to the Healer that it wasn’t the ropes binding him that really kept him there; it was the fact that every single one of us in that room was far more powerful than he was.

I reveled in watching him squirm, and I know I wasn’t the only one. We all loved Iris like a sister, except for Caleb, who loved her in another way entirely, and we all wanted revenge for her kidnapping and abuse. Our motivations were far from pure, although I didn’t feel too sullied by wanting the Healer to feel just an ounce of the fear he’d made others feel.

‘Listen, you,’ I began, ready to put the fear of God into the Healer. I raised the labrys to emphasize my point, assuming we were going to have a tough time getting anything out of one of Morrigan’s closest acolytes. ‘If you don’t tell us what we want to know…’

‘I’ll tell you everything! Anything you want. Absolutely everything, just let me live…’

For a second, I thought I’d misunderstood the Healer’s strong Scottish accent.

‘You’ll what?’

‘I’ll tell you everything. Anything. Just ask. What do you want to know? My secrets for my life.’

I couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed. I’d had a whole Evil Spiel ready about how we would cut off his appendages, and I mean all of them, and I’d been working on some ‘descaling like a fish’ ideas, but instead he just folded.

‘What is Morrigan planning next?’ Anyan asked, since I was sulking like a disappointed child.

‘Nukes,’ the Healer said promptly. ‘She’s sending her people in to commandeer a nuclear submarine. She’ll fire on whatever target they’re set for.’

The news hit all of us differently. Caleb gasped, clearly understanding the full implications of such a threat. I just shook my head, wondering if we really were in a Bond film. Everyone else looked suitably serious.

‘Which sub? When? How?’

For the next twenty minutes, the Healer told us everything. Ryu took notes on his phone. We also got some good info on just how many troops Morrigan had, what their general feelings were about what they wanted from their affiliation with the Red (which ranged from wanting Armageddon to wanting a place in the New World Order), and where Morrigan/the Red was mentally.