Bound

The first thing Anna woke to was the smell. It was a mix of rotting meat, blood, and filth. Her consciousness swam up from the depths of the tranquilizers that the Pack had pumped into her. Slowly she began to regain focus and take stock of her situation. Her hands and legs were bound with rope. She was tied to a wooden post somewhere inside a dark cave. A small fire in the center provided the light for the cave. And she wasn't alone.

Crystal was there, still unconscious, a small line of blood dribbling down from a head wound she'd sustained. She was breathing however, that was a good sign. However that was not all. There were three men, all of them dressed in similar outfits that looked like re-purposed space suits with padded shoes. Syndicate thieves. These must have been the ones from that caravan. Or what was left of them. They were whimpering.

Anna continued to scan the cave room, there was only one passage leading in and out. No door, she noted. Though they obviously didn't expect their prisoners to be able to flee. She tried to peer further down the passage but it was too dark. There was no sign of the Pack members who had captured them.

Suddenly, Anna's mind turned to Dastan. They had captured him too. And then the bitter image of Boston's dragon with its butchered wings sent a surge of anger through her. If they so much as touched Dastan...

No... wait calm down. That's what got you into this mess in the first place. You got pissed and didn't see that bastard with the dart gun coming. Anna took a slow breath and banished the fury she wanted desperately to unleash on these monsters. But survival came first. She had to find a way out. She looked to Crystal and tried talking to her. But she was out cold for the moment. So she decided to look over to the Syndicate thieves.

"How long have you three been here?" Anna asked in a hush tone.

None of them answered. They just continued to cower and whimper.

"Hey!" Anna decided to brave a louder tone. "Come on, talk to me. I'm a dragoon."

"It doesn't matter who you are." One of them said. "We're all dead meat."

"Look, I know you're scared but if we keep our heads and work together we can get out of here." Anna said.

"Too many of em. They came out of the walls." Another whimpered. "No escape. So much blood..."

"You'll have to forgive me and my friends." The third one finally said. "But if you saw what they did to the others..."

"Do you really want to end up like them?" Anna asked.

The third one shook his head and shuddered. "I wish it were that easy... but I saw the camp they've set up here. We're in the side of the canyon, a steep cliff with little paths carved into the side and some flimsy little rope bridges slung between the gap. We wouldn't get very far without being spotted, and there's a lot of them."

Anna began to struggle against her bindings. "Well I'm still gonna try. I'm not dying in he--" The sound of something scuttling down the passage made her pause.

A smaller person came scampering into the chamber, moving about like a small monkey crouched and hopping on all fours. It was a woman, Anna could tell because she wasn't wearing anything but a leather and fur skirt and a helmet made from an infant desert banth. She was also covered in some sort of body paint that made her skin look deathly pale with black marks. The female Pack member started crawling towards Anna.

Without even realizing it, Anna had began to hold her breath as the woman began sniffing her and making slight clicking sounds with her mouth. After a moment that seemed like an eternity to Anna the woman pulled away and scampered over to the three Syndicate members who continued to whimper and cower as the woman sniffed them as well.

Then she made a strange whooping noise when she sniffed the third man and suddenly another Pack member entered the room. This one was a man, large and muscular. He was carrying what looked like an oversized meat cleaver in his hand. The syndicate members began to scream as this man approached them. The female scampered off to the side and watched as the man went to the third thief and began to undo the bindings keeping him secure to his post.

The man began to beg and plead as the Pack member started to drag him off by his bound feet back down the passage. The female followed soon thereafter. Anna could still hear the man's cries as they grew fainter the further down the passage they went.

But soon Anna and the others were once again left alone in the chamber. Nothing but the crackling fire and the whimpers of the remaining two thieves were all that could be heard.

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