Johnny and Chico followed Rottie back to her throne. She pawed at a lever that opened up, revealing a hidden underground tunnel.
“Just how many secrets does this place hold?” Johnny asked.
“More than you know, Handler,” said Rottie.
Down they went, down the tunnel. Down, down, down. It seemed like ages to Johnny.
Johnny began to grow impatient. “How far are we going? Where are we going?”
“Just a little further…” said Rottie with a grin on her maw.
Johnny whispered to Chico, “Do you know where we are going?”
“Not a clue. Just be patient,” said Chico.
After several moments, the group came to a halt in the center of a massive room. There were terminals, all of which were damaged—save for one. Broken doors were noted; off track, decrepit, while some housed rubble on the other side.
“What is this place?” Asked Johnny as he surveyed the area.
“This—this is a former hatchery,” Rottie growled.
Johnny turned to Rottie. “What do you mean a hatchery? For What?”
Rottie growled. “This is my home. Where I was made into what, I am, what you see before you.” She then sighed. “It’s where most of my ‘people’ above came from. Where we were experiments.”
“That’s incredible. A lab right here so close to town.” Johnny gazed in awe of the former lab.
“Yes, incredible…” Rottie stared off.
Chico tried deflecting Johnny’s statement. “Johnny, it may be insensitive just to say—”
“It’s alright. It’s not the only one, nor am I the only experiment those assholes did.” Rottie growled.
“Agreed. We both are experiments as well—Johnny and me,” said Chico.
“is that supposed to make me feel better, runt?” Rottie stared Chico down. “I bet you’ve grown accustomed to your new form. Do you even remember what it was like being human?”
Chico stared down at the metallic ground. “I do…and I miss it every day.” He looked up at Rottie and stared hard into her eyes. “However, that is why we’re here. We want to get those affected—get their bodies back.”
“Why should we help you? In fact, why should I help you?” Rottie asked.
Chico’s chest swelled with emotion. “We want to restore everyone and ensure a new way of life. To get back at those that did this to us…to have a real shot at life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a dog forever.”
Rottie thought on this for a moment. “No.”
Chico’s heart sank. “Please, I ask you to reconsider.”
Johnny finished looking around the lab. “Do you have a lot of memories of being human, Rottie?”
“What kind of question is that?” Rottie bared her fangs. “Of course, I do!”
“What do you remember,” asked Johnny.
“My name is Trisha Kilpatrick. I was a gang leader back on Rikers. I had united most of the gangs there. Then I got chosen…chosen by our government to become something ‘better’ supposedly. Rottie motioned to spit on the ground and growled in frustration. “How is this being better?!”
Johnny pressed for more. “How did you become what you are?”
Rottie sat down. “I awoke to this. I awoke to see my body in stasis, while in this mutt’s body. I was told it’d be temporary. Then there was the rebellion, and all hell broke loose. My body was destroyed. So, since I was human no more I figured I’d go into my new walk of life…gain vengeance, regain my following. Live my new life…as Rottie.”
Johnny walked over and crouched in front of Rottie. “Then if you really want to take charge of your life and gain vengeance, you’ll help us. Sitting here or up on your throne of lies isn’t going to help you, or your people.” Johnny stood up and looked down at the Rottweiler. “So, you can either stand with us or stay out of our way.”
Rottie thought a bit on Johnny’s words. She looked up with a grin. “You know what? You’re alright, kid. We’ll do what we can.”