The idea of a witch being bonded to a human was a queer enough concept, nor less bound in the same manner as a doll is to a witch, and yet, here she was.
It certainly didn’t help matters that she was a lycan witch; a 2nd class witch even amongst witches, blood filled with the primal magicks that made her unbearable to be around by her more-human counterparts. Every night was punctuated by the medicines and rituals necessary to contain her nature just enough to placate the world she lived in, the people she was forced to interact with. Her position as aid to a public-facing Matriarch was an even crueler joke, dealing with the masses on her behalf. Not a day went by that she wasn’t forced to deal with yet another insipid request, another bemused question about whether or not her fangs were real or ‘aftermarket’.
The conscription order would have come as a relief, if not for the division she was remanded to. Witches of her skill set were traditionally sent into logistics and administration, working their rites in the backlines to ensure a smooth war effort. Instead, the letter she received originated from the Lupi Humanitatem Defendere; a department she had only heard of through rumors and speculation, hushed whispers about what the human militaries were experimenting with. Humans had long thrown their lot in with the Choir and their tainted magicks, but as relations turned sour, some elements within their governments had turned towards home-grown solutions. Now, it seemed, she was being caught up in exactly that.
So here she was, sitting in an uncomfortable chair with a dozen other witches not unlike her, irritated by the stench of panic that had by now seeped into the carpet of the room from however many had come before her, listening half-heartedly to the presentation being given. She had little interest in the grand patriotic duty of fighting humanity’s once-allies, but she was growing increasingly concerned by this talk of being bound to a handler. It wasn’t even so much a question of dignity for her; that had been taken away long ago by her sisters. No, what concerned her was twofold; the fact that this had never been accomplished before, and the fact that this was an entirely human orchestrated affair. They had cooked up some combination of noxious medicines to replicate the ethereal process that soulbound dolls.
The days and nights following up to the ritual were as slow as they were painful. The suppressant medicines contraindicated the human variants; she spent the days unable to focus, the nights writhing with the increasingly inhuman energy building under her skin. The officers running the facility they had been sent to had little interest in teaching them anything; the classrooms seemed to be more a formality mandated by a sensitivity committee than serving actual purpose. Procedures, regulations, etiquette, none truly mattered. As far as the brass were concerned, the witches they were instructing were already little more than war dogs. What sense did it make to teach a dog to salute.
The night they finally came for her was on a full moon, as she suspected it would be. Humans were too tied up in their superstitions to understand the actual influence of lunar magicks on her kind. Two augmented soldiers hauled her from her bed, binding her hands behind her and leading her out of the barracks as she listened to the other sisters thrashing with their captors. It was a rough exit, but she knew better than to fight it; it was just for show. Just a reminder.
She was deposited on her knees in a chainlinked yard, the moon shining bright above her as she saw at her would-be handler for the first time. A soldier of indeterminate age, his uniform already deposited to the side of the court, holding a medicinal case in his hands. Her escorts murmured something to him briefly, something about her being unusually compliant, before leaving and locking the fence behind them. The two watched each other in silence for a moment, questioning each other’s expressions, until the handler finally sighed.
“Would you like to get to know each other beforehand, or do you just want this done with?”
She shrugged, becoming increasingly aware of the spasms beginning to form in her limbs. The restraints she was in weren’t going to matter much longer. “I haven’t had my suppressants in two weeks.”
“What does that feel like?” He knelt down in front of her, unlocking the case and inspecting the vials within. “I’ve always wondered.”
“Have you really?”
“I had a brother with the affliction. The techs say it’s in my genes.”
“It’s magical in nature. There’s no genetic cause. Sorry about your brother, though.”
“He’s still alive. Takes the same drugs you do.” He tapped the first vial into the autoinjector, breathing deeply before depressing it into his thigh. “Not all there anymore, though.”
“Is he a witch?”
“No, no particular talent for the arts. Just incredibly unlucky.” A second vial, a second click as it was received. “I heard that it’s a fae curse, why folks are born like that.”
“Was never a curse for me. More of an inconvenience for the folks forced to call me sister.” She tensed, her vision beginning to blur and sharpen at once. It’d be mere minutes now. “If you’re gonna stab me, should do it sooner than later.”
“I’m told the process is disorienting, for the both of us. Emotions start to blend. Memories seep over. You may not feel grounded to reality.”
“My matriarch ripped out my soul when I was ten as punishment for not cleaning my room. I’ll survive human poison.”
“If you say so.” He shrugged, pressing the injector against her thigh and-
The world came ablaze for her. All the latent magicks that had bottled up for untold months since the last time she had turned, all the anger and fear of her situation, all came to life at once. She broke the restraints immediately, leaping atop her wouldbe handler and smelling for the first time in so long the richness of blood in the air as claws took blessed form and ripped a gash down his chest. Before she could finish the job though, she spasmed again, falling off to the soldier’s side as she felt her stomach twist. Try as she might, she couldn’t keep herself from collapsing, throwing up into the dirt beneath her and choking as the blasted process continued.
A hand pulled her back up, some distant sensation entering her head as she felt at once the pain of her hair being grasped and the feeling of her hair in her… hands? She retched again, body continuing to shift as the handler let her drop back down, feeling now the welcome comfort of paws on the soil below. Memories flooded her head, blurry glimpses of a life that wasn’t hers, scenes of battles she’d never fought. To a human, it would have been maddening. To her, it brought her to the brink, the temptation there to simply give into it and lose herself in the process of it all. She could use some time feral after all of this.
A thud brought her out of the musing, her counterpart collapsing on the ground beside her as his own medicines took effect. She could feel his pain now, the familiar strain of a body ill-suited for the magicks within it fighting to be released rushing through the fresh bond. He would be lost to it, if she couldn’t pull him back from it. For a moment she wondered if that was actually worth it, though the witch in her reminded that if he died, it would likely mean her own death as well. Growling, she forced him to his side, bones still breaking and reshaping themselves into new positions as she sniffed the man’s face, trying to focus in on where he was in the process. And here he had the nerve to question if she could keep herself grounded to reality.
With what could be considered a sigh, she bit down on the soldier’s shoulder, eliciting a yelp as the pain brought him back to the present. The same sensation burned itself into her shoulders, but it only encouraged her to bite harder. No half measures.
“Release!” He finally yelled, pulling himself back as she instinctively let go. There was some amount of confusion that came over her as she stood, blinking at how little delay there was in her response. Gods, did they actually perfect the process to that extent?
The handler looked himself over, his clothes now thoroughly drenched in sweat and blood, slumping back as the residual pain began to catch up to him. The witch whined, pattering up slowly to him as he coughed up even more blood, before he finally looked up to her.
“Never actually been this close to one of you, turned that is.” He smiled weakly, ineffectually wiping his face with a stained scrap of his shirt. “Really are just big dogs, huh?”
The witch growled in annoyance, nuzzling his shirt aside and licking at the wound she’d left at the start of the process. If anything could be said to be an advantage of the magicks she possessed, the ability to weave without words or hands was certainly one. Quickly enough, the soldier’s skin began to reknit itself together, the last drops of blood squeezing themselves out as the gash vanished under faint scar tissue. She turned her attention to the bite, inspecting the mixture of fluids seeping from it before giving a shrug.
“Is that going to turn me too?” He asked, getting another annoyed look in response. “Don’t look at me like that, this is unchartered territory for the both of us.”
Her head turned to the crowd that had now gathered outside of the yard, dozens of soldiers and officers alike peering in to see if the handler had survived. Whispers reached her ears, a mixture of surprise and disgust at what had been witnessed.
“So you can’t talk when you’re like this, can you?” A bark in response. “That’s what I thought. But I can… feel your thoughts. Something like them. Your emotions?” Another bark. “Gods above this is going take some getting used to.”
With a grunt he finally stood up, finding his balance for a moment before looking to the lycan witch that now came only to his waist. “Well. Better get you your new uniform, huh?”
A final annoyed growl, but the witch fell in beside him nonetheless, the two walking out of the yard, together.