The cell phone in my pocket rungs once more. Anna and I stopped hugging, with both of us embarrassed by this. I reached into my pocket, pulled the cell phone out, and flipped it opened.
I said to it, "Hello?"
"It'S tImE," Keme said.
I looked at my watch and it said 7:09; more than seven and a half hour since he last called. It's amazing how much time flies as times.
"ThErE's An DoOr WiThOuT a LaBeL, rIgHt?" Keme continue.
"Yeah," I said. "So?"
"I wAnT yOu To Go ThRoUgH tHaT dOoR nOw," he said.
I looked at my friends for a bit and went to the door he specified. Slowly, I opened it and at the other side is some type of hallway, about ten yards long, with a metal door at the other side. I waved my open hand to my friends to signal them to follow me. We went to the other side of the hallway to the other door. When I looked at the door, I could see that it's not part of the hallway. I opened it and there's a room that all eight of it could fit into, but nothing more. Just a dead end, with no way to continue.
"Are you sure we're at the right place?" I said to the phone.
"YeS. SoMeTiMeS, tHe OnLy WaY tO gO fOwArD iS tO gO dOwN," Keme said.
"What are you talking about?" I said.
"YoU'lL sEe," Keme said. "EnTeR iT nOw."
He then hung up without giving an good answer. I shrugged my shoulders and looked at my friends right behind me. They all look nervous, but determined to continue this.
"Well then," I said, "allons-y."
We entered the room and looked at the walls, trying to see if there's a way to continued, but there was none.
After a bit Tim said, "Where do we go from here?"
Suddenly, I heard a door being closed behind me. I turned around and saw that the door we used to entered is now closed, but none of my friends were near that door. Anna rushed to the door and tried to opened it, but to no avail.
"What happened?" Anna said worriedly.
"Do you think that this was a trap all along?" Tim said.
Everyone here is starting to panicked now. Ethan is trying to reassured his brothers, but it's clear that Ethan is also scared. Kyler's trying to stay calm, but he's breathing harder and harder with each passing second. Anna ran up to me and hugged me, as if she was scared. Even Chris, who's usually calmed, is starting to attack the door to break it down. The only ones here that are calmed now is Karson and myself, though we're slowly losing it.
Suddenly, we felt the floor being lower. Everyone stopped momentarily and look around the room. This continued for a minute 'till it stopped and the door opened by itself again. We all rush out and saw that we're not in that hallway we used to get into here, but a wholly different hallway. Unlike the hallway we've used, which was straight forward, this hallway stretches from side to side that seems to lead to more hallways and doors.
"That wasn't a room," Kyler said. "That was a elevator."
The cell phone that's on my hand rung again.
I flipped it opened and said, "Hello?"
"SoRrY aBoUt HaNgInG uP oN yOu A fEw MiNuTeS aGo," Keme said. "I nEeDeD tO uSeD bOtH hAnDs To OpErAtE tHe CoNtRoLs."
"So this is the labs," I said. "I was somewhat expecting it to be guarded."
"It Is. ThE sEcUrItIeS aRe nOt As HeAvY aS iT uSeD tO bE. It'S mAiNlY bEcAuSe ThE fIrSt PaRt Of ThEiR pLaN hAs BeEn CoMpLeTeD aNd So ThEsE lAbS aRe NoW iRrEvErEnT tO tHeIr PlAn."
"The first part of their plans?"
"ThAt'S tHe PaRt WhErE tHeY tUrNeD tHe TeEnS oF tHe CiTy InTo AnImAlS aNd ThEn CaPtUrE tHeM. ThEsE lAbS wErE tO dEvElOpEd ThE mEaNs To TuRnEd ThE tEeNs InTo AnImAlS. BuT, bEfOrE tHeY pRoCeEd To PaRt TwO oF tHeIr PlAn, ThEy NeEdEd To ShIpPeD tHe AnImAlS oUt Of ThIs CoUnTrY."
"But what are they planning?"
"What does that mean?"
"ThAt'S tHe CoDeNaMe Of ThE pLaN. I cAn'T tElL yOu AnYmOrE tHaN tHaT, bUt He MaY cAn."
"ThAt'S mY nExT pArT oF mY iNsTrUcTiOnS. I wAnT yOu To Go To ThE nExT fLoOr BeLoW uS aNd Go To RoOm 201. OnCe ThErE, yOu'Ll MeEt-WhAt'S tHe MeAnInG oF-"
I heard sounds, like a struggle, and then nothing.
"Keme?" I said. "Keme!"
"What happened," Anna said.
I closed the cell phone in frustration and said, "He got caught."
"We should head back," Tim said. "If they got him, they might find out we're here and look for us."
"And how do we get back?" Chris said. "'Cause I didn't see any buttons or switches in the elevator."
Tim become quiet for a few seconds, then said, "Keme did it. So there's a room where we can control it."
"But that could mean one of us is going to be left behind," Ethan said. "So who's willing to be REA new test subject?"
Everyone's quiet with no one willing to volunteer.
"There's only one way to go and that's forward," I said. "We'll go to the floor below us and go to-"
"Room 201," Kyler finished.
"Y-yes," I said, startled by Kyler answer. "But how did you know?"
"I overheard your discussion," the anthro wolf said. "Didn't anyone overheard the discussion."
"The only part of the discussion is Daren side," the anthro cat said.
"That's all I heard too," the anthro jackal said.
"Only two people should know the entire discussion and that's Daren and Keme," Chris said. "So how did you overheard it?"
"It was clear as crystal," Kyler said. "Why you guys didn't heard it too is beyond me."
"Like Kyler said," I said, "we should go to room 201 to meet someone."
"And where's that room?" the anthro coyote said.
"Well, er," I said nervously. "It's somewhere in the lower floor, but, apart from that, I have no idea."
"So how are we suppose to go there if we don't know where it is?" Chris said. "Especially since we don't where's the way to next floor is, let alone how big this place is. Do you guys have any ideas?"
"Simple," Ethan said. "We search this whole floor for the way to the next floor, then go from there."
"But-" Chris started to said.
"There's no time for 'buts'," I said. "It's either we stay here or we search the whole floor and I'm not going to stay here."
"Very well," Chris said, no longer hesitating. "We'll find the room, even if we have to search the whole two floors."
"Ok then," I said. "Allons-"
"Hold it," Kyler said.
"Kyler? What's wrong?" I said. When I looked at his face, I saw his ears are flatten back and a looked of worried in his face.
"The guards," Kyler said. "They're coming."
"They're coming?" Anna said. "But I don't see anyone coming."
"I'm not seeing them," Kyler said. "I'm hearing them coming."
"Let's get out of here then," Tim said, with his face filled with fear. "Before they kill us or worse."
"Too late," Kyler said. "They're coming from both sides of this hallway. There's no way out now."
True to his word, the guards appeared in the hallway from both sides, armed with M4 custom, sixteen in all. When they see us, they've aimed their weapons at us, ready to fire. We have our hands up, surrendering since we are caught with no way to escape.
I heard one of the guards said, "Fire."
It was a new person here that had said that. The guards immediately put their weapons at their sides and stand straight. The guards at the right end of this hallway, where the voice who said that earlier comes from, moved out of the way showing us their superior in the progress.
He’s like us, an anthro animal, perhaps in his mid-thirties. He looked like a leopard, but not completely like one. He has blue eyes, blond hair with black spots, and he’s wearing a black suit, a black tie, and a black overcoat that’s covering his tail. Also, due to his feet being digitigrades, he’s not wearing shoes.
“What do we have here?” he said. “You’re not our test specimens, so how did you got in here?”
“Why should we tell you?” Ethan shouted.
“Because I clearly have the edge over you all,” he said. “I’m Incertus. Adam Incertus. I’m the head of the security here and right-hand man of Earh Rego.”
“So?” Tim said. “That doesn’t mean you have the right to order us around.”
“Forget it,” Mr. Incertus said. “I’ll say my reasoning on how you all got here and you’ll tell me if it’s right. Since you’re not our test subjects, you’re someone from the outside. Perhaps you’re among those who’re supposed to be transformed into an animal, but something, or someone, had prevented that from happening. That would mean someone from here gave you the Animam and Anthro and the means to get in here, especially since that,” he pointed at the elevator, “was only known by the people like me in the REA. So tell me, who helped you get in here?”
‘It’s a trick,’ I thought. ‘If we say something like ‘Keme’ than that would only support his whole theory.’
As I was thinking about this, I heard Jon said, “We-“
I quickly stepped on his foot, trying to shut him up.
He looked down in shocked and pained and said, “Ow! Daren! What are you-“
“So,” Mr. Incertus said, “the red fox doesn’t want him to talk. How about a fight red fox? If you win, you and your friends can live. If I win, you must tell us all we need to know from you and then leave you to Mr. Rego mercy. Is that a deal?”
"How do we know you'll not go back on your word?" I said to him.
"I'll show you," he said. He then turned to the guards surrounding us. "Disarm!"
The guards lowered their M4s onto the floor along with their sidearms. They then pulled out a single-edge knife and lowered them onto the floor. Mr. Incertus then pulled out a revolver and tossed it to the side of the hallway.
He turned to me and said, "You see, just a simple fistfight. No weapons. Is this more agreeable?"
I looked around the room, starring at the guards. They may be unarmed, but they still outnumber us two-to-one and professional at this sort of thing. Mr. Incertus deal is the only way out of this jam. I then turned to my friends and they all have a look of feared and determations in their faces.
Anna walked up to me and said, "You know what you must do now. Just be careful."
I nodded and said to Mr. Incertus, "I accept."
"Excellent," he said.
He motioned me to come to the right end of the hallway, where there're no guards to interfere. I nodded my head and followed him over there. Once we've reached that part of the hallway, we've stopped and stared at each other.
"Tell me," Mr. Incertus said, "what's your name?"
"My name is Daren," I said. "Daren Virtus."
"Very well then Daren," he said. "Let's begin."
He didn't wasted time on fighting. As soon as he finished talking, he threw a punch to my face. I quickly moved to the side and threw one of my own. But he grabbed my fist and threw another punch at me. I was able to grabbed it in time. He then grunted and kicked me to the wall. A feeling of pained ran through my body from that kicked and the hit at the wall. I grunted as I got down to my knees.
"Come on Daren," I heard Jon said. "Don't let that leopard beat you!"
Mr. Incertus turned to Jon and angrily said, "I'm a ocelot! Not a leopard!"
I gotten up, mostly recovered, took advantage of Mr. Incertus being distracted, and punched him at the face. He stumbled back a bit before he tried to kicked me again, but I've moved to the side. He then, with such speed, punched me at the face and the stomach. The forced was very hard to the point that I was in my knees again, grunting in pained.
"Ha!" Mr. Incertus said. "Some fighter you turned out to be! I might as well beat up that silver vixen over there!"
'No! Not my Anna!' I thought.
Rage, long untouched for a long time, since that pool incident, begins to filled up my body. The pained begins to fade away as I stood up slowly. I looked at his face, glaring at him.
"So," Mr. Incertus said, "you want some more?"
He lifted his fist, saying, "This'll finish you!"
Time seem to have gone slowed now. The once fast fist heading towards my head is going slower and slower. I grabbed his fist and, before he could be able to reacted, I gave him a hard punch to the face. He stumbled back a few steps and, before he could recovered, I punched him at the stomach. He held onto his stomach, clearly in pain. Finally, I kicked him at his chest, sending him flying across the hallway and hitting the wall at the other side.
“Sir!” one of the guards said.
Four of them went to their fallen leader, trying to help him get up. The rest of them ran up to me and surrounded me at all side, ready to avenged his loss. I could handled three at best, but this is too much for me, even in my rage mode.
“Daren!” I heard Kyler said.
My friends come up to help me in this fight. Chris easily knocks out two by crashing their heads together. Anna was able to kicked one of them on the head. Ethan gotten on one of them and beat up the heck out of them. Tim grabbed one of the guards arm and threw him at the guard next to him. Jon kicked another guard at his Johnny. Karson shoved a guard and chokes him with his arm to unconsciousness. Kyler picked up one of the guards and tossed him to another while I finished off the last two by kicking one of them at the chest, sending him flying to another. By the time the rest of the guards and their leader realized what had happened, all twelve guards are down.
Two of the guards helped Mr. Incertus up from the floor while the other two protected him from us.
Mr. Incertus lifted up his head and said, “You were lucky! We’ll meet again!”
As the other guards took him away from us, the anger that flowed through my body started to fade away. Now, without the rage feeling, there’s nothing that would prevented me from feeling the pained from that fight earlier. That fight injuries took me out more than I realized because, as soon as I calmed down, I felled onto the floor and slipped into unconsciousness from the pained.
“He’s coming to,” a voice said.
“Are you sure?” another voice said.
“Yes, look,” a female voice said.
I opened my eyes to my foxy muzzle and to all of my friends. I moved my head, trying to looked around the room I’m in. This room seems to be a type of resting room where people have a break when they’re tired. There’s even a couch, which I’m on right now.
I slowly gotten up, trying to remembered what had happened earlier. It then slowly comes to me, the captured, and the fight with Mr. Incertus, and even that rage mode I was in. Guilt had filled up my body, but I had hidden it well.
I looked at Kyler and said, “How long I was asleep?”
“About four hours,” the anthro wolf said.
I looked at my watch and it said 11:39PM.
“What happened?” I said.
“When you’ve collapsed from that fight, we all rushed in to help you,” Chris said. “We knew that if we stayed there, then the guards would find us, but we don’t know where to take you since we don’t know this place, being unknown territory to us all. That’s when we found this.”
He hold up some type of papers and said, “This is the map for the underground labs. We think that one of the guards must have dropped it in those fights. So, using the map, we took you to room 115, one of their break rooms for their researchers. We then waited until you’re up.”
“Daren,” Ethan suddenly said, “why did you collapsed then? You were doing well before.”
“I think it’s because of that fight with Mr. Incertus took more of a toll on me than I’ve realize,” I said.
"I've always knew that you were fast," Kyler said, "but you were like sonic speed when you've gave him that three hitter."
"I was?" I said. "But that was my usual timing. Twelve seconds."
"Daren," Anna said, "that was one second when you've finished him off."
"One second!?" I said. "B-but that's couldn't be! I may be fast compare to some, but that's too fast for me!"
"That was definitely one second," Chris said. "I should know, I've been to many fist fights in my life."
'But one second?' I thought. 'Then again, thinking about that fight right now, Mr. Incertus did became slow when he was trying to hit me. But how did that happened?'
"Come on guys," the anthro jackal said. "We have someone to meet now we have a map of this place."
"One moment Jon," I said. "I need to rest a bit more."
"Is anything troubling you Daren?" the anthro silver vixen said.
"I'll help Daren now," Karson suddenly said. "Just leave us alone for a bit."
Everyone, including me, looked at Karson for a couple of seconds. Then the others left the room, leaving just us two here.
As soon as the door closed, Karson said, "Is anything bothering you?"
"It was that fight," I said.
"You mean how you managed to defeat Mr. Incertus in one second flat?" Karson said.
"No," I said. "It was how I let my anger get the better of me again. People may think that I'm a cheerful, funny kind of guy, but they don't realized the type of anger I have. I know... that if I let my anger get ahead of me... there's no stopping me."
"I guess you have a bad experience with your temper?" Karson said.
"Yeah," I said. "It was during a game of Marco Polo at my friend, Mason, pool. I don't remember what had happened, maybe they were teasing me or I'd got something on my eye. But whatever it was, I gotten angry about it. I've intended to hit the pool wall with my fist, but what I hit... was Mason little sister. I was so ashamed of myself for what I did, I-I left and never returned again."
"What did your friend think of it?" Karson said.
"Mason and his little sister had forgiven me," I said. "But the only one who couldn't forgive me for that event seven years ago... was me. I swore to myself to never let my anger get the better of me again. But, at that fight, I let it happened again. Even if it was to protect my friends. I'm a beast to let it happened."
"Daren," Karson said, "It's ok. Just because you have a temper, doesn't mean you're a monster. Monsters are those who does evil things without regret. You've regretted those times you let your rage, so you're more human than monster, even though you're a anthro fox."
"Hey," I said.
"You know what I mean," Karson said.
We're silent for a moment, then I said, "Karson, thank you."
The door opened and Kyler pokes his wolf head through the opening. He said, "Are you finished talking?"
"Yes," Karson said. He then turned to me and said, "Ready?"
"Lead on, cat boy," I said.
We're walking down the stairway linking the two floors together. While we’re doing that, I kept thinking the same thing over and over again. Why haven’t we encountered any more guards? Sure, this lab is useless to them now, but I doubt that they’ve taken all of the secrets out of here yet; secrets that would be better off to them if the public did not know. I would expected, because of that, they would’ve gotten more guards to stop us intruders. But why haven’t they?
“Daren?” the silver vixen said.
“Huh?” I said, jumping out of my thoughts. “”W-what is it?”
“Nothing, it’s just that you seem to be lost in your thoughts for a moment,” Anna said.
“Well,” I began.
“Ok, we’re at the next floor now,” Ethan shouted to us.
“Shh,” Tim said. “Keep your voice low. We don’t want to be capture,” Tim said to Ethan.
“Sorry,” Ethan said.
The next floor is like the last floor, filled with branching hallways that seems to go on forever, but there’s something different. The doors here are all wooden here; unlike the last floor which doors are made of steel. Some of the doors here have a corn symbol that’s a part of the wood of the door.
“Ok, now where’s room 201?” Jon said to Chris who has the map.
“According to the map,” Chris said, “room 201’s in the right hallway from here.”
“It’s strange how the doors here are wood,” I said.
“Different tastes,” Tim said. “Come on.”
We walked down the hallway to the right for about five minutes until we founded a door that’s label 201. It’s a wooden door, like the entire doors here on this floor, and one of those that doesn't have the corn symbol on it. In fact, I now founded this idea very odd. I mean, if this place is really a lab, then why should the doors here be made of wood? I mean, couldn’t that add in any extra variables?
The anthro jackal knocks on the door and said, “Hello?”
“Please,” a familiar voice on the other side said. “Go away.”
“That voice,” I said. “I heard it before.”
“Ok,” the anthro gray fox said. “Since this door is made the wood, then that would make it possible for us to break it down.”
“Who’s ‘us’?” the anthro coyote said. “Yes, I can break it down.”
Chris walked up to the front of the door and cracked his knuckles. He then punched the door, which then makes a rather large hole on it. He then pulled out his arm, ready to punched the door again.
"How could you-?" the man at the other side said. "That door is made of oak, so it's impossible for anyone to make a hole on it with just a punch!"
"Oak?!" Chris said. He then looked closer at the door. "Why, it is oak! I may be strong, but not that strong! I shouldn't be able to make a hole on that door!"
"You just did," Anna said.
"Ok, let's try again," he said.
He raised his fist to break down the door, but before he did, I stopped him.
"Wait, I got a idea," I said to him. I checked the doorknob and turned it, finding it unlocked. "Well, breaking down the door's pointless now."
I opened the door and entered the room, which's like the break room above here. I looked around and saw a man sitting in the corner of the room. When I looked closer, my eyes widen in shocked. He's Mr. Timeo, the one who handed out the MiracleX at my school yesterday afternoon.
"Mr. Timeo?" I said.
"What!?" Ethan said as he's entered the room. "You mean the one who went to our school and gave us the MiracleX?"
"And the father of a coward?" Jon said.
"What a minute," Mr. Timeo said. "The intruders are those students from ALPS? But how did you get in? No, how are you in anthro forms of animals and kept your memories? I didn't gave out the Anthro and Animam to anyone outside of REA."
"I want a piece of him!" I heard Tim said. I turned around and saw Tim struggling with Chris, who's holding onto Tim's arm and is nowhere near to letting go. "Just let me beat him up!"
But Chris said, "No, he may be the one who Keme instructed us to find for information."
"Mr. Timeo," Karson said, "what are you doing here?"
"I-I-I was in my in my office when I found a not telling me to come here this morning," Mr. Timeo said. "So I come here and waited for a while. Then one of the guards mention to me that there're intruders here and they're looking for them. I was scared for my life, but I feared that if I tried to leave here, I might be founded by them. So I just stayed in here, hoping that I won't get found.
"How did you get in here anyways?" Mr. Timeo said.
"We were sent to stop REA," Jon said.
"What!? By who!?" he said.
Here's the third(and shortest) part of Fines Malum. I hope you'll enjoy this.