It’d been a week since we returned from Old Towne and we saw no more men with wolves. People were starting to relax slightly as the tension eased. We didn’t know what to tell them or to let them know that this was probably a reprieve before things started up again.
I was walking around aimlessly when I heard a howl of pain coming from near the gate. I picked up my pace as I heard it again, followed by laughter. What I saw horrified me and a spark of anger flared. Guards were torturing one of the wolves with the shock collar as one of the men was held back, screaming.
I walked up to them and yanked the control from the hand of the guard.
“What the hell are you thinking,” I yelled at him. “If we kill or hurt one of them, it’ll only cause more problems! If they find out we did this, they will rain holy hell on us! These people revere wolves and you’re torturing one of them in front of the man that is probably its handler!”
“Oh, come on, Octavia,” Monroe said. “We were only just having a bit of fun. We weren’t going to kill it.”
I whirled on her and stared her down, “Fun?! You call this fun?! Are you out of your sick and twisted minds! You were torturing it! You were driving this man to madness!”
“We’re sorry, Octavia,” Harper said, apologetically. “We weren’t thinking.”
“Damn right, you weren’t thinking,” I yelled as I felt an unfamiliar growl travel up and my lips curl into a snarl. “Maybe I should put the shock collars on you and see how you feel after five minutes of being shocked into a stupor.”
I was immediately surprised when Harper and Monroe immediately backed down and for some strange reason bared their necks to me. I looked around me and the prisoners around us were doing the same.
What the fuck?! What the hell is happening?!
Getting my composure back, I said, “Let that man go.”
They immediately let him go and he immediately ran over to the wolf and cradled its head in his lap. His hands fluttered over its body and he looked up at me tears streaming down his face. My heart twisted, and I felt ashamed.
I walked over to him and knelt down and said softly, “Let us take it. We’re going to take it to our medical wing and see how bad it is, okay?”
He gripped the wolf tighter, not wanting to let it go.
“Please,” I pleaded. “I don’t want it to die.”
He looked up at me and something in my face showed that I was being honest. He nodded and with a kiss on its head, he got up and moved away.
“Take the wolf to the medical wing,” I ordered. “And make sure you handle it with the greatest of care. If I find out you mishandled it, it will cost you dearly.
Three of the guards walked over and carefully lifted the wolf and headed to the bunker and medical. I watched them for a moment before turning on Harper and Monroe.
“You two, on me,” I said to them and then walked away.
They followed, not saying a word. We walked into the guard shed and I pulled out two shock collars. Without a word, I placed them around each of their necks and grabbed the remote. They started to back away, terrified, but in this moment, I didn’t care. Without remorse, I flipped the switch and they fell on the ground screaming at the pain of the electricity. It was a small voltage and I had it on for less than 30 seconds. I waited for them to regain control over themselves and squatted in front of them.
“That is what your definition of fun feels like, ladies,” I said with a low growl. “If I hear of any mistreatment of the wolves or the men, everyone who had a hand in this today and the next time it happens will receive the same treatment as you have, and it will be ten times more painful. Am I understood?”
They looked at me with fear and submission in their eyes and nodded. I removed the collars and they ran from the room. I put the collars back up and headed immediately to medical.
I found the doctors huddled around the wolf as they ran a body scanner over it, looking for broken bones, severed nerves, injured organs.
“Is it going to be okay,” I asked as I watched them work.
“We honestly don’t know. Its physiology is different from that of a normal wolf,” one of them said. “Look here, the bones look like they’ve shifted to accommodate a different shape. There’s multiple breaks, but they’ve been constantly broken time and time again. It’s as if the body is used to it. I’ve never seen anything like it. Even the nervous system is different. But, the most interesting find is the brain.”
He brought up the image of its’ brain and started pointing out different areas.
“These parts of the brain are active. Whereas, in a normal wolf there is no activity there. It’s been theorized in the past that those areas of the brain are where telepathy and strange powers lie.”
“But will it live,” I demanded.
“The heart has taken an alarming amount of shock,” he said, looking apologetic. “We’ve already noticed it skipping several beats and it’s slowed down considerably. We don’t know if it’ll make it through the night. I’m sorry.”
I nodded and said, “Do me a favor and find Bellamy and Clarke and ask them to come down here.”
“Of course, Octavia. We’ll leave you alone with the wolf,” he replied, and they filed out of the small room.
I walked and pulled a chair closer to the wolf’s head. It looked at me with pain filled eyes and I felt tears prickling my eyes. I reached out hesitantly, but when it didn’t move, I stroked its head. The fur was surprisingly soft, and it closed its eyes enjoying the feel.
“I’m sorry this happened to you,” I whispered. “They shouldn’t have done that. I punished the girls that started it. I shocked them to show them the pain that you’d felt. I hope I did the right thing.”
It opened its eyes and let out a soft huff. I smiled and leaned in closer. It reached out it’s tongue and licked my nose, making me giggle. The lips pulled back as if it smiled and then it closed its eyes. I watched as it breathed, my hand never leaving it.
Bellamy and Clarke came into the room and stopped just inside.
“Octavia, what do you think you’re doing,” Bellamy demanded, and I heard a soft growl coming from it. I shushed it and it complied. Opening an eye to watch me.
“Some of the guards were torturing it. Shocking it,” I said angrily. “I had it brought down here to have the doctors look it over. I don’t want it to die.”
“No, dying would be a very bad thing,” Clarke said as she stepped closer.
The wolf watched her but didn’t make any noises or move.
“The doctors don’t think it’ll live through the night. Its heart is skipping beats and slowing down,” I said sadly. “I don’t want it to be alone.”
“Why’d you bring us down here,” Bellamy asked, and the wolf growled again.
Clarke and I looked at each other in surprise and Clarke asked, “Bellamy, say something again.”
But that one word was enough, it growled and tried to get up. I pushed it back down and stroked it until it calmed down again.
“I don’t think it likes you,” I said curiously. “It’s like you’re getting the same treatment as you did in the city, but it considers you a threat.”
“You’re joking, right?”
It growled again, louder this time.
I leaned down and whispered, “It’s okay. He’s my brother. I need you to stay calm, okay?”
I leaned back and looked it in the eye. There was a slight nod and it relaxed.
“You know, I’ve noticed something when I’ve walked near the prisoners,” Clarke said.
“What’ve you noticed,” Bellamy asked, and the wolf didn’t respond which surprised Bell.
“When the guards walk past them, they all sneer at them. Some even spit at their feet. I thought it was because they were prisoners and the guards were guards, but what if there’s more to it than that?”
“What do you mean,” I asked, curious now.
“In the city, Bellamy was looked down upon just by his mere presence and ignored whenever he spoke. The prisoners almost seem to be acting in the same way to everyone else.”
“But why didn’t they act the same with us? I mean, you and I were treated courteously and were answered promptly whenever we asked questions.”
She shook her head, “I don’t know why, but I want to try something. An experiment if you will.”
“What kind of experiment,” Bellamy asked.
“I want Monty or Raven filming first me walking by the prisoners and then you and couple of the guards. I want to watch their reactions.”
“You know what,” I said thinking about what had happened earlier, “Have Harper and Monroe follow the guards. Something strange happened when I yelled at them. Even the prisoners acted weird when I yelled.”
“You think there’s something going on, don’t you?”
“I think so, but we won’t know until you try it.”
“Fine,” Bellamy grumbled. “I want to know the answer as much as the two of you. Are you coming, O?”
I shook my head, “No, I don’t want to leave it.”
Clarke’s walked closer and peered at the hind legs, “It is not an it. It is a she.”
“Oh, duh. I didn’t think to look to see what sex it was,” I said slightly embarrassed.
She moved her head and took my hand in her mouth and gently squeezed. Almost as if it was saying it’s alright, but don’t do it again. I smiled at her and nodded my head in understanding. She let my hand go and closed her eyes.
Bellamy and Clarke left, and I stayed in my seat, letting her know that she wasn’t alone.
Two hours later, everyone came into the room, though Harper and Monroe stayed in the back.
“I take it the experiment’s done,” I asked.
“Yeah, it is,” Raven said as she plugged the camera into the largest screen in the room. “We haven’t watched it yet. Clarke felt that you deserved to watch it with the rest of us.”
“Thanks for keeping me in your thoughts, Clarke,” I said sarcastically.
She smiled at me and Raven pressed play.
Silently we watched as Clarke walked across the screen. The prisoners all inclined their heads as she passed them. Next came Bellamy. As he walked past, their faces showed disdain and hatred. No few of them spat at his heels. The guards were treated the same way. Then came Harper and Monroe. They were treated like Clarke, but at the same time treated differently. It was almost like they treated them on a lower level of deference then Clarke but were still respectful.
“Here’s the fun part,” Raven said.
We watched as the camera was handed off and Raven walked across the screen. Raven received exactly the same way as Clarke had. Then the camera was handed off again and we watched as Monty walked by. Again, the prisoners treated him as if he were at the same level as Clarke and Raven. That was when the video ended.
“So, we know it not a female thing,” Clarke said. “There’s something different about the five of us that gives us better treatment then the rest of our people.”
Thinking, I said, “I’ll tell you something else. I growled when I was yelling. A low growl and for some reason Harper, Monroe, and some of the prisoners bared their throats in submission. Like they were recognizing that I was stronger than them?”
“She’s right,” Harper said. “When she yelled and growled, I wanted nothing more than to show her my throat, like I was offering it to her. I almost felt like I needed to whine to. It was so weird.”
“Yeah, it was,” Monroe agreed.
A soft whine broke through our conversation and we all looked down at the wolf. There was so much pain in her eyes as she strained to breath. I laid my hand on her chest and I could feel it skipping beats and slowing down. Tears sprang up and I knew she was dying.
“Guys, she’s dying. I can feel it,” I said, my voice choked with emotion.
They watched as I stroked her and whispered softly in her ear. When she died her body let out a long shudder and then she was no more. I leaned down on her body and cried. Harper and Monroe came up and laid their heads on her as well and started crying. The others remained silent, mourning the loss as well.
When my crying subsided, I looked up wiping my tears away and said, “I need to let that man know that she’s gone. Make sure that her body is placed in the morgue so that we can eventually return her to her people. And for god’s sake make damn sure that the doctors don’t try and open her up. They were absolutely fascinated by the body scans.”
Clarke nodded, “I’ll make sure it gets done, Octavia.”
“Thank you,” I said standing up.
“We’ll come to, if you don’t mind,” Monroe said.
I nodded, “You should see the end results of your carelessness. Come on.”
We left the room and walked over to the man who was working in the fields. Harper and Monroe stayed back as I approached him. He saw me, and he crumpled down to the ground, sobbing. I ran to him, knelt down, and took him in my arms. He grabbed me in despair as I comforted him.
“I’m sorry,” I said near tears again. “We did everything we could to save her, but the damage to her heart was too severe. I stayed with her to the end. She wasn’t alone.”
He nodded and continued to sob as I held him. The other prisoners neared us and as I looked around they kneeled on one knee and mourned the loss of her as well. Harper and Monroe approached slowly, and the air was filled with low growls. The girls backed up quickly and looked ashamed.
“It’s alright,” I said over the growls. “They’ve been punished. They only wish to pay their respects.”
The growls subside, and the girls neared again and took a knee a few feet away from us. I don’t know how long we stayed like that but when the man had stopped sobbing, I let him go. He got up awkwardly and held out a hand to me. I allowed him to haul me up and then he kissed the back of my hand and placed it in the middle of his forehead and then over his heart. He smiled sadly and let go and joined the other prisoners. They circled around him, comforting him. As if something was released, the wolves let out a mournful howl and sang the loss of a member of their pack. I felt the urge to join in their song and looking at Harper and Monroe as they swallowed several times, fighting the urge to do so as well.
I told the guards to release all of them for the day, wolves and men. I also told them to let the wolves stay with the men and give them a chance to mourn together. They didn’t like it, but they did as they were told.
Wearily, I walked back down to medical and made sure that she was in the morgue and in one piece.
Bellamy came up behind me and gave me a hug. I turned in his arms and sobbed into his shirt.
“Oh, Bell,” I said through my sobs. “You should have seen it. It was like a part of them had died. Like they lost more than a member. It was like they lost family.”
“We could hear the wolves in the hallway,” he said. “I’m sorry, sis. I know this wasn’t easy for you. You care so much for everybody. Just like mom used to.”
I nodded, “Thank you, Bell. That means a lot.”
I got control of myself and led him back to the room where she had been.
“I need to show you something,” I said as I turned on the screen that showed the body scans.
“What all this,” he asked as he looked at the screen.
“The doctors did a body scan looking at everything,” I said as I pointed to her skeleton and zoomed in on her leg, “Look, her leg’s been broken and rebroken in the same place multiple times. The doctor said, that it looked like her body broke the skeletal system to compensate for some kind of shift.”
“And this,” I said changing the screen to show her nervous system. “This is just as different, but they couldn’t tell me why it was.”
“Then there’s this,” I said showing her brain scan and zoomed into the portions that the doctor had pointed out to me. “This area of the brain isn’t used, but other scientists have theorized that this area is where telepathy comes from. You know, speaking mind to mind. And here, is where they think that other powers come from. This is a recording of when she was still alive. Just look at it, it seems to grow and then crumble only to do it again and again.”
“So, the doctors believe that it can speak to other wolves using telepathy and that it has strange, superhero like powers.”
“Yes,” I said excitedly. “It means that these wolves are definitely more than they appear to be. This could be an entirely new species of wolves. Maybe they mutated after the nuclear blasts.”
“It’s not impossible, but I find it really hard to believe,” he said unbelieving.
“What if we examined another wolf? One that hasn’t been shocked to death.”
“I’m not sure Clarke would go for that.”
“It wouldn’t hurt to ask, and we’ll show her this too,” I asked, almost pleading.
“Alright, O. If this is important to you, we’ll go get Clarke and ask her,” he said with a soft smile.
“Thank you, Bell. It is important,” I said as I tugged him out of the room.
When we left the room, Bellamy led the way heading to the hospital ward where the adults that had been struck by the gas attack were monitored.
Opening the doors, I inhaled deeply and let it out slowly. It was tragic seeing them laid out on the beds, all suffering in one way or another. I kept my eyes on the back of Clarke’s head as we walked down the aisle and tuned out the moans and groans that spread throughout the room.
We stopped at the edge of the bed while Clarke spoke softly with her mother. It wasn’t long before Abby fell asleep and Clarke got up, wiping tears from her face. She looked up at us and surprise and worry creased her brows.
“Is everything okay,” she asked tentatively.
“For the moment, yeah,” I said softly. “I let the prisoners and the wolves go back to their barracks to let them do whatever it is when a wolf passes.”
“That was nice of you. I heard the wolves howl before I came in here. It brought tears to my eyes just listening how mournful it was.”
I nodded, “Well, it was more emotional being right there. But, that’s not why we’re here. I’d like to show you something the doctors discovered when they examined her.”
“Alright, what is it,” she asked as we left the ward.
“They did complete body scans of her; skeletal, nervous, and a brain scan. They found some distinct discrepancies between her and the wolves that were around before the apocalypse.”
I nodded and once again, showed them the various scans and explained what the doctors had told me.
“We should show this to Jasper,” Clarke said thoughtfully. “He would know what to make of this.”
“I don’t want to,” I replied. “If he sees this, I’m afraid that he’ll want to dissect her brain and I refuse to let that happen.”
“I understand how you feel, O, but trust me; he’s the go to on this one.”
I gripped the bridge of my nose and closed my eyes as I felt a bubble of anger rise in my chest and said, “I got it, Jasper needs to be brought in on this, but I want to do something first.”
“What is it?”
I opened my eyes and looking at her with all the seriousness I possessed, “I want to do a body scan on another wolf and one of the prisoners.”
“Why a prisoner,” Bellamy asked.
“Because of how they reacted when I told them about her passing. There was so much non-verbal talking that it really looked like they were communicating with one another, between themselves and the wolves.”
Clarke nodded thoughtfully and said, “Okay. We can do it, but I want Jasper here to watch the screens.”
“Seriously. If he’s not here, we’re not doing it.”
I huffed in indignation, but relented nonetheless, “Alright, but not tonight. We’ll do it the day after next. Give them a chance to recover.”
“Deal,” she said and walked away, with Bellamy in tow.
I stayed there a while longer, just looking at the brain scan and watching that one spot where the section of the brain seemed to move in a very odd motion. Finally, the emotional turmoil that had plagued me all day caught up and turning off the screen, I went to bed.