“You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.” ― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
The orchestra captivated her. Music was a language all its own and Mariah understood it. As the symphony spoke to her in whispers and emotional shouts, she dreamed of living in the age of romanticism. She saw herself in a studio as her artist labored to the flourish of the maestro’s baton. Mariah imagined her likeness on canvas in flowing strokes of Pianississimo and bold dashes of Fortissimo.
She leaned against Peter, holding his hand in her lap, their fingers entwined, and dreamed to the sound of music and the synchronicity of their breathing. The orchestra’s gradual rise to crescendo signaled the nearing end to her bliss. Mariah glanced down at her watch. Intermission was coming, and she wanted to beat the crowd to the restrooms and be back with Peter. She was afraid to be alone; the only Cybrid among the Dragons and their piercing stares.
“Peter, honey. . .”
Peter looked at Mariah and smiled at her slip in the protocol used when a Cybrid speaks to a Dragon.
“I’ll be back before intermission.”
“I’ll wait for you here,” Peter replied
Peter squeezed her hand. Every time she lifted her face to him he felt an urge to taste her lips. He resisted.
Mariah made her way to the ladies room and entered the stall. She paused for a moment and breathed to calm her nerves. She felt elated and lost at the same time. While she adjusted her dress, her skin tingled as if a small electric current raced across her body.
Puzzled by the sensation, she pulled the stall door open, stepped out and froze as she saw Gloria leaning over the counter reapplying her lipstick. Gloria’s piercing eyes looked out from the mirror at her.
“Oh, Mariah. How are you, dear?”
Gloria was wearing a halter dress with the sides split to the top of her hips. Few women could pull off such a dress. Gloria’s figure and bare legs framed in the slits were intimidating.
“I’m doing well, Gloria. The orchestra is divine, isn’t it?” Mariah tried to move toward the door as she spoke.
“What’s your hurry, let’s chat for a moment.”
Gloria cut her off and stood in front of her. She moved closer and looked at Mariah as she ran her fingers along her arm. Mariah winched like hot candle wax dripped down her arm. She leaned over and whispered in Mariah’s ear.
“We’ve gotten off to a bad start. We should become better acquainted, don’t you think?”
“Yes, certainly. I’d like that. Maybe we can meet for lunch sometime.”
“What’s the matter with now, dear?”
Gloria moved closer and put her hands on the back of Mariah’s hips and pulled their bodies together. She whispered in an intimidating tone. Gloria brushed her lips across the frightened Cybrid’s face as she tightened her grip.
“Don’t worry, no one will see us.”
“No, Gloria, stop!”
Mariah attempted to push Gloria away from her and leave, but Gloria had other plans for the Cybrid.
“Not until I finish what I came for, bitch!
Gloria moved so fast, it stunned Mariah. She felt the small of her back slam into the countertop, and her head snapped back from the force of Gloria’s attack. Gloria dug her thumbs into the nerves in Mariah’s armpits and clenched her fingers in the material of the terrified Cybrid’s dress. The Dragon Sentinel straddled the struggling girl’s leg. Gloria clamped down with her powerful thighs and twisted the ridge of her hip bone between Mariah’s legs parting her and crushing the sensitive spot hidden in the soft folds under her pubic bone.
Mariah screamed from the sharp pain of Gloria’s thumbs and hip bone digging into her flesh and grinding on her pubic bridge. Gloria forced Mariah’s body over the counter lifting her feet off the ground to prevent the Cybrid from gaining any purchase on the tile floor. The angry Dragon Sister bit down on Mariah’s lip and inhaled the air escaping her victim’s lungs.
Mariah’s mind was aflame with panic, pain, and confusion. She flailed at her attacker and tried to push her away, but the Dragon pressed her body down on top of her pushing the struggling Cybrid down on the counter with her head in the sink. Gloria smiled through her teeth, clamped on the girl’s lower lip. She pinned Mariah down and prepared to pulse the Cybrid with her energy. The Dragon ensnared Mariah like a python and surged a pulse of energy through her body.
Gloria held tight to Mariah as she convulsed from the current burning through her body. The Cybrid’s eyes stared wide at the ceiling, and her mouth froze in mid-scream with only the sound of a strained and desperate moan escaping her vocal chords.
The high energy pulse surged through the Cybrids engineered bone and microfilament nerve structure trapping the energy like a giant battery. Gloria let go and stumbled back. She stared at the Cybrid in disbelief. She gave the Cybrid bitch her best shot and still it lived. The fierce Dragon Sister had to kill the girl before her own exhaustion left her too weak to finish the job.
The Dragon grabbed the girl’s hair and threw her on the floor. Disoriented, Mariah held on. She looked up as the Dragon straddled her, pinning her to the floor. The room narrowed to a white tunnel of light as Gloria’s fingers tightened around her throat.
“Cybrids will not become Dragons as long as I live, whore.”
Mariah felt her energy surge as the insult rang in her ears. She had to fight back. If not for her life, for her brothers and sisters who lived as pets and slaves at the whim of the Dragons. Their abuse ended now.
The Cybrid’s arm traveled in a fisted arc faster than the human eye can detect. The impact released the stored energy in her body. An explosive crack shook the doors of the stalls as Gloria’s body slammed into the granite counter. Gloria fell limp to the floor and lay still as blood pooled around her body and head. Smoke curled up from her body as her skin continued to blacken and peel.
Master Ong nodded to Hei Long, the Black Dragon Messiah. The young man went inside as Master Ong stood guard by the door. He surveyed the two women lying still on the floor. Mariah was his biggest concern. No one knew if she would live through her transformation. The Masters chose to sacrifice Gloria to bring the change about.
The Messiah knelt down beside Mariah. Unseeing eyes stared at the ceiling with pupils dilated and fixed. He knew they had to get her back to the lab immediately, or they would lose her. He looked deep into the unblinking eyes and saw the small spark of her Cybrid wiring give off a faint glow that faded with each passing moment.
He went to Gloria next. She lay sprawled on the floor, her legs askew and her dignity as a mighty Sentinel of the Black Dragons ripped from her. She had a broken neck, and her skull looked fractured from a deep contusion that dented her head. He looked on as her once beautiful face swelled a light blue from the trauma. She was also burned, her skin black and peeling.
Hei Long believed in his role as the Black Dragon Messiah. Mariah’s transformation was necessary if their plan to change humankind had any hope at all for success. Still, his heart ached at the carnage. He leaned over Gloria and touched her cheek. She blinked, and the sound of a hurt child rang in Hei Long’s ears.
The young Dragon’s thoughts invaded his conscience. She was a warrior. It was her duty to protect the purity and safety of the Dragons. She was bred for her fierceness and power, and she was expected to follow her duty regardless of the consequence. Hei Long respected Gloria’s desire for Peter’s love. The wounded Sentinel responded as a woman protecting her man and a warrior protecting the Dragons. The Dragon messiah felt her sacrifice was a fatal weakness in the plan to achieve divinity through the Cybrids.
He would save them both. He swore he would. Hei Long walked outside to Master Ong.
“They are both near death. Have the team take them to the lab and tell the doctors to save them or pay my wrath in souls and blood.”
Master Ong bowed to Hei Long and left. The Black Dragon went back inside the restroom as the orchestra reached their seventh crescendo marking the transition to intermission. He knelt beside Mariah and continued to check her vitals. The Dragon Messiah’s hopes and Mariah were fading fast.