Xander vol.1 Transmutation, Page 11Jaz Johnson
With lethargic eyes, Xander looked around at the room they had put him in. They had bandaged his wounds, cuffed his wrists together in front of him, as well as his ankles, and sat him down in a wooden chair behind a metal table. The room seemed to be some sort of metal as well. The walls were covered in some sort of metallic paint. The light from the single naked florescent bulb in the center of the ceiling gave the room a cold atmosphere, and did nothing to lift Xander’s spirits.
Which were not actually too low. Although he had been wounded and apprehended, he was, nonetheless, curious as to why. He wanted to know just what was going on, and why he had been captured. He hadn’t harmed anyone – aside from Richard. But that was self-defense, as Saphora had instructed. But his inquiries would soon be answered with the presence of Agent Elba.
The door to the room, previously locked, slowly swung open, revealing Elba’s tall and muscular figure, hidden beneath the tailored suit he wore. The sleeves of his white button down were rolled up to his elbows, lined with the tip of his red tie. He kept his eyes averted from Xander as he closed the door behind him, waiting to hear the sound of it locking before turning around and making his way to the metal table, which had an empty chair, identical to Xander’s, in front of it.
Elba sat down with a sigh, setting the manila folder he was carrying down in front of him, slightly to his left. Xander sat in silence as he adjusted himself, scooting the chair forward and resting his folded hands on the table. Finally, Elba’s brown eyes rose to meet Xander’s violent ones, a slight grin raising his bottom lids ever so slightly.
“Hello,” Elba greeted wholeheartedly. Xander cocked a brow, almost warily. “I’m Agent Elba,” Elba introduced, gesturing for Xander to do the same. Xander eyes glanced to the side momentarily before returning to Elba’s.
“Xander,” Elba nodded with a sigh. “Sorry we had to shoot you,” he apologized with a slightly wider grin.”
“Are you?” Xander challenged. Elba raised a brow. “Your people said nothing when barging in and proceeding to attack me,” he explained. “It doesn’t seem like a very apologetic course of action.”
Elba gave a small nod.
“Would you have gone with them if they’d asked?” Elba asked, remembering Saphora’s resistance to as little as questioning. But Elba’s surprise, Xander complied.
Elba’s brows rose.
“I’m assuming you’re – you and your people, that is, are the reason Saphora’s time on Earth was so unpleasant,” Xander noted.
Elba grimaced, more out of confusion than disapproval.
“And assuming this, you would have still gone? Seems foolish.”
Xander smiled, shaking his head.
“Knowing that does not make me afraid. Merely aware.”
“And how do you know your time with us would not have been as unpleasant?”
Xander hesitated, thinking of how to phrase his words.
“Saphora was not confident in her abilities, which resulted in fear. The case is not so with me.” The change in Elba’s expression was slight, but did not go unnoticed by Xander. Xander leaned forward a bit, folding his own hands. “So, before you do whatever it is you’re going to do, I suggest you keep that in mind.”
Elba’s face flattened at the subtle threat.
“Right,” he hummed. “So, let’s start. You’ve already admitted to knowing Saphora. That’s more than good progress.”
“Am I being charged with something?” Xander interjected. Elba paused, almost hesitated to answer.
“That’s what this is, isn’t it? People are brought to this … facility when ‘charged’ with something. A crime, perhaps,” Xander went on to explain. Elba couldn’t help but grin as he nodded.
“Ah, so you’ve been doing some homework.”
“I’ve got a tutor,” Xander agreed proudly, pleased to show of his knowledge of the planet.
“Did your tutor mention homeland security? Or the ‘do whatever you want and get away with it’ badge?”
Xander’s smug expression faded just slightly.
“We didn’t get to that yet”
“Yes, well,” Elba chuckled. “I’ve got one of those. So, let’s stick to the topic at hand.” Finding no come back off the top of his head, Xander let him continue. “A few days ago, you were in Clemming’s City Mall, correct? For multiple days, actually.”
Xander was silent, immediately calling the memory of Richard and the condition he’d left him in when encountering him. Elba took Xander’s silence as a signal to continue.
“And during your last trip, there was a little incident,” he said as he reached into the manila folder, pulling out a handful a pictures taken from the mall’s security footage.
He sprawled them out in front of Xander, each of the photos showing a different angle of the event. One of Xander walking towards the damaged fountain. Once of Xander catching and holding Nora, whose face was not in the shot. One of Richard standing in the fountain, facing them both. One of Xander and Nora standing behind the compact wall she’d summoned to protect them. And two more of Xander fighting Richard. The last photo showing static interference, most likely from the electric waves Xander was emitting.
Elba let Xander look over the dispersed pile of photos before continuing, watching his reaction to them. Xander finally looked up at Elba, their eyes meeting. Xander leaned back in his seat.
“You have these, so you know that my actions were brought on defensively, where as his were offensive,” Xander pointed out.
“Yes,” Elba agreed. “We can see that.”
“Then why he is not being contained? Questioned?”
“Simply because we don’t know where he is.”
“And you think I do?” Elba paused, and Xander scoffed, shaking his head. “Why would I know where he is? Don’t you think I’d be doing my best to avoid him?” Elba gave a light shrug.
“Then maybe you could shed some light on why this happened, and who he is? As well as the woman here that you appear to be helping. Are they more of your kind? Like Tebias? Saphora”
“No,” he said. “He’s human.” Elba frowned, confused and in immediate denial. “Or, I suppose, was.”
“What do you mean?”
“I couldn’t really tell you,” Xander sighed, resting his folded hands in his lap.
“We’re going to need a little more than that, Xander,” Elba egged. But Xander shrugged.
“Sorry. That’s all I know.”
“And what about the woman? The one in the photos.”
“Not giving her up,” Xander answered bluntly. “You’re wasting your time.”
Elba paused, watching Xander’s nonchalant body language with a tremor of aggravation. But he maintained his composure, remembering the ace he had up his sleeve. He gave a sigh, opening the folder again as Xander glanced around the room. Taking out another photo, he carefully - calmly placed it in front of Xander, drawing his attention. Xander’s eyes lowered, looking over the photo once quickly, then again more carefully. His body tensed at what he saw.
It was Loni. A photo taken of her from someone’s cellphone the day she had wondered into the café in town. She was waltzing out of the café with the cake she taken in her mouth. Xander’s jaw clenched, but he fought with his body to remain still, not wanting to give away a reaction. But Elba had already seen.
“Just wondering. Is this your lion? You know, since Saphora had a dragon and all. And it isn’t the zoo’s. We were wondering if it was yours,” Elba asked casually.
“I don’t have a lion,” Xander lied, keeping eye contact with Elba.
Elba gave a slow nod, as if to dismiss the question with that answer. He then pulled out another photo, and slowly placed it directly on top of the previous. This one was of Loni sitting b
ehind bars in the cell, unknown to Xander, that was directly below him. Her eyes were glowering at the camera and its ower. Her body was spotted in blood, and her hands were also cuffed. Xander’s hand twitched.
“Is this your lion?” Elba asked again with emphasis.
Xander’s eyes snapped from the photo to the cocky glint in Elba’s eyes. Xander hands slowly balled into fists as he attempted to keep his composure.
“Where is she?” Xander demanded.
Elba sighed, leaning back in his chair with crossed arms.
“How about this?” Elba suggested. “You tell us where that woman is? And we’ll give you back your lion.”
“This isn’t a game,” Xander pressed.
“No,” Elba agreed. “It’s not.”
“Where is she?” he asked again.
“Give me an answer, and you’ll get yours,” Elba assured.
“You’re regretfully mistaking my demeanor for tolerance. Or what’s worse, weakness.” Xander stood up, making Elba a little more than aware of the failure of the stake. “Or worse still – disloyalty.” Xander glared down at Elba, who was slowly backing away from the table in efforts to stand up. “I’ll ask once more,” Xander offered, as he applied a magnetic property to the cuffs he wore, and the walls that surrounded him.
Within the instant, the cuffs broke apart, each half zipping to either side of the room and sticking to the walls, leaving his hands and legs free. Elba’s eyes darted to either wall as he shot up, stepping away from his chair as the naked bulb flickered.
“Where. Is. My. Lion?”
“So, like, are you tazed on a regular basis?” Jared asked Loni.
They had been sitting in a cell in the same building that Xander was being investigated in. They were both cuffed, both injured – though one significantly more than the other. Loni was sitting on a bench with Jared, after they had been taken in from Maverick’s apartment. Neither of them had been pulled aside for questioning, and just sitting in the cell with Jared was being to ware on Loni’s nerves.
“And where’d you learn to fight like that? You like, broke the countertop with that guy’s face! Well, helmet, but –“
“Human,” Loni breathed. “I will maul you,” she warned.
“And why do you keep calling me human? Is that something you do when you’re mad? Are you mad?”
Jared couldn’t help his excitement – and curiosity. Being in that type of situation, it was the only response he could think of to keep him from thoroughly freaking out. If he had been sitting in that cell alone, he would have surely begun to lose his sanity. Having someone to share the experience with – whether they were engaging or not, was a buffer for him.
Loni groaned at his continuous questions. She was sure she would have no remorse in killing him. The fact of the matter was that she didn’t want to hear Xander’s mouth about it. But she was reaching her limit of patience.
“Do you think they’re going to kill us?” Jared suddenly asked. “You don’t think they would, right? Is your stomach okay? Is it still –“
“Do you want death?” Loni asked with sudden enthusiasm. Surely Xander wouldn’t be angry if the human as wishing for death. “I can give you death, human,” she genuinely offered.
Before Jared could answer, one of the on-guard security men banged their stick against the bars of the cell, causing a moment of silence. And before Loni could protest the treatment, she saw the flicker of the lights above them. It was slight, but noticeable. The first wave went unnoticed by the others. But the second wave was a lasting one, with the lights turning off completely for seconds at a time before flickering again.
Loni slowly stood, her neck craned to look at the lights. Jared looked around at the lights, not particularly concerned by them, but waiting for them to stop. The guards however, seemed to be shifting in their confidence, catching Loni’s attention. She brought her gaze to the wall to her left, in time to see a spark of electricity crawl down the dull stone wall and scatter about the floor. Jared’s feet shot up from the floor to rest on the bench as he looked on with wide eyes.
“The hell was that?” he shouted. And when he asked, the flickering stopped, leaving the group in darkness.
There was a stillness that fell among them, as they awaited the lights to come back on. Jared flinched when hearing a low growl, which immediately registered as a lion in his mind. Slowly, his eyes trailed up Loni’s body, speechless when meeting her illuminated, golden feline eyes.
“Hang on, hang on,” urged Elba, with one hand raised submissively towards the fuming Xander. “Calm down. She’s fine,” he assured.
“Where is she?!” he bellowed, moving towards him.
Elba took a step back, raising his other hand. He was admittedly surprised by the sudden switch. Though really he shouldn’t have been, given the circumstances. He had grown accustomed to Saphora’s reluctance. He now realized he had taken it for granted. Before he had the chance to give up the lion’s whereabouts, his thoughts were scrambled by the sound of screaming men – and a roaring beast.
Both men stopped their interaction to listen, Xander more intensely than Elba. His eyes squinted as Elba slowly turned towards the metal door. He then snapped back towards Xander when hearing him laugh.
“You kept us in the same building?” he laughed wholeheartedly.
Elba jumped when hearing the pounding come to the interrogation room. The roaring was prominent now, and he was realizing how quickly his situation was spiraling. He glanced up at the gun that Xander had magnetized to the ceiling as he continued to step back away from the door, which was growing weaker by the moment.
Xander couldn’t help but grin as he patiently waited for Loni to make scrap metal out of the door, coming to his rescue. But looking at Elba, Nora words rang in his head. Immediately, he frowned, the realization that his death was not practical, coming into play.
Nora needed him, and surely whomever he was associated with. Xander looked back and forth from the creaking and thudding door to the anticipating Elba before scowling and hurrying to move in front of him as the door was broken down.
Immediately, Loni went charging for Elba, oblivious to Xander’s position until she collided with him. Xander’s arms locked around Loni’s torso as she snarled in disbelief. She clawed around his body as Elba stumbled over himself, falling to the floor and immediately crawling backwards towards the wall.
“Loni!” Xander growled through the force he was fighting against.
He dug his heels into the floor, using his magnetic pull to plant his feet firmly as he pushed Loni back. She back-stepped, glaring past him at the shocked Elba. She darted in his direction, only to be caught in a headlock from Xander and tossed onto the ground.
Loni rolled back onto her feet, her glared now directed at Xander, who was also on his feet, crouching low in preparation. He was still standing protectively in front of Elba, who was still shuffling nervously about. Realizing that Xander was protecting him, he spoke up.
“Control your pet,” he urged, making Loni’s eyes snap back in his direction. Xander groaned in frustration as Loni charged again.
“Not helping,” he grunted as he moved up to collide with her again.
Again, Xander’s arms came wrapping around her, this time applying force to bodyslam her onto the metal table, causing it to bend downwards as they landed on the floor. Loni gave a low growl as Xander gave a groan of pain, hurriedly sitting up to watch her.
“Loni,” he breathed. “Stop.”
Morphing, Loni stood up, her hands in fists by her sides as she looked into Xander’s eyes. Elba looked on with amazement, seeing the transformation up close and personal.
“Have you got a death wish? Because I’m starting to think I should grant it,” Loni spat, fed up with his cries of wolf.
“They had you somewhere. I was trying to scare them into giving you up,” Xander explained as Loni stepped closer.
nbsp; “Well, now I’m here,” she huffed, glancing down at Xander’s torso, which she noticed had also been bandaged. Her eyes narrowed. “And we’re both injured.” Their eyes met. “And you’re protecting them.”
“Nora needs –“
“Nora?” Loni scowled. “This planet’s quarrels are not of our concern.”
“I made a promise.”
Just then, a group of three men came into the door way. The one in the middle was carrying the weapon used to stun and capture them, while the other two were standing on either side of him, ready for action. Elba held up a hand to them, signaling them to hold off on firing as he waiting for Xander and Loni’s conversation to continue. Loni turned to look at the weapon with cautious and enraged eyes.
“You protect them even while they attack us?” Loni scolded, looking back at Xander.
“You came in here to protect me. Is it so direct for them to protect him?” Xander answered. Loni scoffed. “Loni. You know as well as I do that that is not their technology. Would it not be beneficial to us to study their adjustments and alterations to the weaponry?”
Loni was hesitant to answer as she looked back once again at the altered Athenian technology. She grimaced at the point that was presented to her.
“And what if they’re not the only ones who have it? What if it has something to do with Nora’s condition?”
Again, Loni looked at Xander. She grumbled, glancing over at Elba, who had slowly made his way to his feet, still wary to the situation. Loni frowned, narrowing her eyes at him as he straightened his suit. She stepped towards Xander, her index finger jabbing into her companion’s chest.
“I’m doing this for science,” she clarified.
Xander smiled, giving half a nod.
“You expect me to believe that? That you’re a mutant and he’s an alien.”
Nora grimaced at the condescending tone in Nani’s voice. Her shoulders slumped as she turned away from Nani’s skeptical gaze. She sighed, raising her hand to wipe it down her face in exhaustion. She’d been trying to get Nani to believe the story of her situation for the past several hours, and Nani was only becoming more and more unconvinced. Nora was becoming aggravated. She had wanted to hurry and leave to attempt helping Xander, and possibly Loni.