Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: [M|IC] A Treatise on the Nature of Genetic Experimentation [Hannelorian and Naming]

  1. #1
    Mistborn
    Namingtoohard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    3,376
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    320

    Default [M|IC] A Treatise on the Nature of Genetic Experimentation [Hannelorian and Naming]

    This story is rated M, for all of the usual reasons. Readers beware!

    “Hurry up.”

    Those two, curt words were all the warning subject 427 was given, before something hard struck him between the shoulders. Prepared as he was for the guard’s displeasure, the blow was still enough to send him sprawling. Pain blossomed across his back in a wave, sharp enough to drive the breath from his lungs, and make his vision blur around the edges. His legs seemed to refuse his orders, if only temporarily, and 427 knew he’d have another bruise to add to his modest collection before the end of the day.

    “That was supposed to be a warning, not an invitation for you to sit on your ass. Get up and get moving, or you won’t even make it to the testing chambers.”

    The guard’s dry, gravelly voice was thick with impatience. 427 could barely hear it over the rattling of his own gasping breaths, loud in his own ears. Even so, he was almost tempted to call the man’s bluff. He doubted the guard would actually kill him, and even if he did, death was likely a kinder fate than whatever waited behind the door at the end of the hall. The rebellious thought disappeared quickly, though. 427 had survived every other experiment they’d thrown at him so far. He could survive whatever today held too. In this hell, that was the only thing that mattered. He rose on shaky legs and began to stumble forward, moving at a marginally quicker pace than before, despite the pain.

    Every step 427 took down that hallway brought the far door closer, and his thoughts inevitably turned to what lay beyond. What were the scientists planning on subjecting him to this time? A lot of the options were painful, and that was always unpleasant, but it was still better than a lot of the alternatives. Anything but the little girl, really. Those days were always the worst. When they had her in there already, waiting for him.

    When the moment inevitably came, 427 slowed to a halt before the thick, metallic door. He knew that the testing chamber lay just beyond. One of them, anyway. Anticipation rose in his throat, threatened to make him sick. There was no delaying any longer, though. The guard swiped his ID card and pulled the door open, before shoving 427 inside. The man pushed it shut almost immediately, too, seemingly glad to be rid of him. The electronic locks slid home with a heavy clunk, confirming that he was trapped.

    The testing chambers were much as 427 remembered them. A wide open space – the largest room he was ever allowed to visit - defined by four metal walls. A large observation window sat at the far end; a screen of reinforced, foggy glass, with three silhouettes standing behind it. The ever-watchful scientists, really to unleash their newest torments upon him. A series of loudspeakers and cameras hung from the roof at regular intervals, well beyond easy reach. Less familiar were the room’s contents, which tended to change every time 427 came and visited. Today, they contained a large metal chair, locked into a partially-reclined position, and adorned with several leather straps. To one side of it stood another of the facility’s guards, accompanied by a tray piled high with several rows of neatly-arranged medical tools and syringes.

    It wasn’t the girl. He wouldn’t have to hurt anyone today. 427’s shoulders sagged as relief filled him, though it proved short-lived. Before he could do anything, the speakers overhead crackled to life. A woman’s voice echoed through them, almost unbearably loud.

    “Welcome back, Subject 427. Would you be so kind as to have a seat, please?” The scientist’s voice was calm. Friendly. Cheerful, even. As if he were a treasured guest, gladly received by a gracious host. 427 had no idea how she could talk like that, knowing what sort of horrors awaited him. He briefly considered another show of disobedience, but quickly squashed the notion. If he refused to cooperate now, they’d find a way to make it hurt more. They’d keep making it worse, too, until he gave in and did what they asked. He had learned that lesson a long time ago. Learned that the scientists’ proficiency was matched only by their creativity.

    He began the long walk to the far side of the room, head low, only for a flicker of movement to catch his eye. 427 turned his attention to his left arm, just in time to watch a small ink fox peek out from beneath the sleeve of his jumpsuit. Once it saw him watching, the fox rushed out to perch on the back of his hand. It’s fur was a mixture of the typical red and white, surrounded by a thick black outline. An impossibility, made familiar by the steady march of time. 427 watched on as the living tattoo pranced back and forth. It worked it’s small jaws, but they made no sound. The sight of it was almost enough to bring a smile to 427’s face. He had no idea how she could remain so optimistic, so energetic, in circumstances like these.

    “I don’t think now is the time, Sesta.”

    427 whispered the words, but it was enough. Sesta quickly got the hint. She abandoned her frolicking and disappeared beneath the edge of 427’s sleeves again. As soon as she was out of sight, he felt lonelier for it, but it was probably for the best. He almost imagined that he could feel her tiny footsteps against his skin, though he knew that was just a trick of the mind.

    Following more spoken instructions from the watchers, it wasn’t long before subject 427 was seated in the metal chair. He waited patiently as the guard tied him down, wrapping the thick leather straps around both of his wrists and ankles, before pulling them tight. He tugged against each of the bindings individually as the guard finished them, out of reflex more than anything, and found each one secure.

    “Today, Subject 427, we’re going to find out if physical trauma impacts your abilities at all. We’ll start by…“

    The scientist kept speaking over the speakers, but 427 couldn’t hear her. His eyes widened as the implications of what she were saying set it, and he began to struggle against his bonds again. This time, in earnest. “No. No, no, no. You can’t do that to Sesta. You can’t hurt her like that.” The protests flowed from his mouth freely, his words so hurried that they began to blend together. Physical pain was something he could endure, but that little fox was the one good thing that had happened to him in this place. He just couldn’t just let them hurt her, couldn’t lose her, couldn’t possibly allow them to try and take her from him-

    427 was so preoccupied that he didn’t notice as the guard picked up a scalpel from one of the carts, and stepped towards him.

    ~~~~

    When he was finally released, 427 had no idea just how much time has passed. Only that they hadn’t given him anywhere near as long to recover as they had spent hurting him. As soon as he’d found the strength to walk again, the guard had practically shoved him out the door, and back out into the walkway beyond. He didn’t doubt that the testing chambers were being cleaned already, so that they might prepare for the next experiment.

    427 trudged down the next hallway at a snail’s pace, cradling his arms against his chest. Blood had already soaked through the single layer of bandages that they had hastily applied to his new cuts, but they’d stopped dripping already, much to his relief. 427 knew better than to believe that they’d tended his wounds out of any sort of compassion, though. The scientists were only interested in treating him enough to ensure he didn’t die, so that they might get more use out of him. Even so, it was better than nothing.

    More importantly, Sesta had turned out to be okay. The small fox sat inside the crook of his left arm, tucked between two different sets of bandages. She was as quiet as ever, but watched his face with equal parts guilt and concern, despite his reassurances.

    The guard who was ushering him along now was more patient than the one from that morning, despite everything he had just done. He made no effort to hurry 427 as he stumbled down the hallway, moving as quickly as his body would allow him. This soldier spoke only once, to order 427 to turn left at the next intersection. The hallways all looked the same, but 427 had been here long enough to have most of the routes memorized, and soon realized that he was being taken to the meal hall. Well, that gave him a rough idea of how long he’d been in testing, at the very least. Would his usual meal partner be there? He couldn’t help but wonder. The two of them had never really spoken, but 427 liked to imagine they were friends. Hope was a futile thing in this place, but if he hoped for anything at all, it was that her day hadn’t started out quite as poorly as his.

  2. #2
    Member Hannelorian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    Mare Marginus
    Favourite Roleplay Genres
    Fantasy, Sci-Fi, all the things.
    Posts
    354
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    15

    Default

    With their signature hum, the fluorescent overhead lights turned on. From darkness into harsh light, it was the signal. The one that only meant another day had begun, and with it came the promise of pain and the potential for relief that would be her own death. The room was small and grey, cinder block walls were convenient and strong enough to keep whatever was housed within contained. The room, the inhabitant likened to a prison cell, it was a fitting analogy really. The space was large enough to house the cot that served as a bed, a small toilet and just room enough to walk about in a small circle, enough to stretch the legs, but not enough for any kind of meaningful movement. For her, this was her entire world, her refuge from everything that waited for her beyond the heavy metal door that confined her.

    "539" a voice boomed, coming from the old speaker that lived high up on the hall above the door. The woman inside the cell sighed softly, quietly, as quietly as she could. She lay on the cot, her knees pulled up tightly against her chest, arms wrapped around them, pulling them as close to her as possible. It had been another sleepless night. Was it night? She didn't know. She never knew. She had seen a clock here twice, in the hall. Both times the hands rested at 10:37, she suspected it had broken a long time ago. Or that perhaps it was meant as some kind of message that time no longer mattered to them, for their time was no longer their own. Every moment of their lives belonged to the scientists now. "Five. Thirty. Nine." the voice over the loud speaker repeated, this time louder, as though they were yelling, the tone had grown harsher. 539 understood in that moment that non-compliance would not be an option. She allowed her hands to separate her arms dropping to her sides, extended her legs now she swung them over the side of the cot and slowly rose to a standing position.

    "Very good 539. Very good indeed." The voice softened. She assumed she had done as she was meant to, despite the actual lack of instruction. Craning her head upward, she stared at the camera in the corner of the room. The camera that was always trained on her. The expression on her face was blank. 539 stood without moving, simply waiting for whatever was to happen next. It was usually nothing good. "We have a treat for you today, 539." A treat? That usually meant whatever was coming was anything but, it usually indicated something more brutal that what had come the previous day. She lowered her head, keeping her eyes on the ground now, taking a deep breath in, it was just a matter of time now. What was, in reality mere minutes felt like an eternity as she was left to stand there, not wanting to chance raising displeasure if she chose to allow herself to collapse back onto the cot under her own weight. The previous day had taken a toll, she had not yet recovered from her latest examination, which it had occasionally been referred to as. Perhaps it was more of a test.

    The sound of the door lock releasing was a familiar one. Each time she heard it, she could feel a chill run along her spine, the sense of impending doom growing within the pit of her stomach. She imagined it was like the old children's fables. The one where the boy who couldn't be bothered listening to his parents consumed some kind of seed and it took root within him, growing mightily, ultimately killing him, the ultimate price for his disobedience. Yes, that is what it felt like 539 thought. Except the sweet release of death never came from her. There was no end in sight for her. A thought that she found thoroughly depressing. As the door opened, 539 looked up, casting her gaze upon the face of the man who came to collect her. She recognized his face, despite the sunglasses they always seemed to wear, obscuring their faces ever so slightly. 539 thought such deception was comical, perhaps it was meant to be intimidation, which was an equally comical notion. She was always afraid.

    "Hands 539." He spoke, and she complied raising her hands to the air, demonstrating that she held nothing in them, predictively she turned around, her back facing the nameless guard. Her hands were together at the small of her back, ready for the handcuffs which were now routinely placed on her. When 539 first arrived, she had the will to fight, to resist. So she lost the 'privilege' if one could call it that, of having her hands free as she was escorted for one location within the complex to another. As the cool metal links were placed about her wrists she turned around and followed the guard out. 539 regarded him as the "kind" one. A rather strange notion she thought, there was no kindness, not in this place. There was on occasion, a lack of cruelty which might be the apt way to describe such treatment. It didn't matter that he didn't put the cuffs on quite as tightly, or that he simply did his job, to escort her, rather than poking and prodding at her, making snide comments as they walked. His lack of cruelty did not better this experience, it just prolonged the inevitable.

    She walked silently through the corridors, following the guard as she always did, day after day after day. Her mind had briefly stopped to wonder where he was taking her, what was her "treat?" 539 knew it was no reward, she was never rewarded for her 'progress.' Especially not after yesterday, no. The memory was still fresh on her mind. How could it not be? She felt the memory creep ever forward, until she relived the events as she was led to a mystery destination.

    She was led to the experimentation chamber, as she had been many times before, a cold, sterile room with metal walls. Only this time when she was placed inside, it was largely empty save for a single red apple on the floor in the center of the room. Hearing the door seal shut behind her, she waited for instructions as was the custom. When nothing came, she felt herself collapse to the ground, she rested then atop her legs, just staring out at the apple. And then it came, the voice. "Move the apple." 539 did not respond, she remained on the floor, staring blankly at the object. She was tired, unresponsive. Little good came out of resistance or defiance. "Move the apple." The voice repeated, and still 539 remained still. With the second act of disobedience, she heard the sound of the door opening and footsteps file in, she did not so much as turn to look. Two sets, two guards.

    "I can't" 539 spoke in a low voice, it was a matter of fact statement more so than a refusal to do as she was told. "Can't or won't?" the voice over the speaker questioned. "I can't" 539 repeated, this time sounding a fraction louder, more certain in her response. This had been a mistake. It was not a moment later that she felt it, the searing pain of an electrical charge coming into contact with her body. She let out a noise closer to a yelp than a scream, as the guard held the device to her. Were they cattle prods? She wondered. She hadn't ever seen in one life, but she assumed this was is what they must be. Just one more thing to remind them that they weren't human, but cattle, farm animals.

    "And now?" the disembodied voice asked. 539 shook her head, and suffered the consequences, another shock, followed by a swift strike to her ribs, the kind that ensured it would be exceptionally difficult to get up or to comply. 539 rested her palms against the floor, taking a series of shallow breaths, anything deeper and the agony from the wound just inflicted upon her would be too much. It didn't help matters further that she was already covered in bruises of various stages of healing from similar strikes. "Very well. We'll try something else." Once more the door had opened, another person had entered, this time the sound of dragging accompanying them, the guard dragged the object into the center of the room beside the apple, it was a person. A person clad in a jumpsuit that matched hers. Who was it? Were they alive? Summoning what she could of her quickly fading strength, 539 stood up and lurched forward toward the body. 539 felt the grip of one of the guards harshly around her arm, holding her in place. "Let 539 go. It's alright." the voice chimed in, the guard released her and she moved ever slowly forward until she was standing over the body that had been dragged in. Tilting her head to the side, it wasn't a face she recognized. 539 moved her eyes to look at the young woman's chest, it rose and fell steadily. The girl was alive, barely it seemed. 539 sank to her knees, and rested her hand on the young woman's arm. Another mistake. "The subject mustn't be allowed to touch it." It. Don't humanize the subjects. The guards began to run toward 539, now to restrain her, pull her away.

    "If you refuse to move the apple, you have to move the body. If you don't move the body, we terminate the subject and you will be punished. Do you understand?" 539 remained silent. The rest was a blur, there was pain, great pain. She could recall the parting words of the scientist who was running that particular evaluation as she was escorted out from the chamber. "Bravo. Well done 539, perhaps you aren't as useless you as seem. Perhaps." 539 felt the warmth of the tears running down her face, as she repeated the phrase "I'm so sorry" over and over again. Of the four people in that room, two subjects and two guards, 539 was the only one left alive.

    "We're here." her escort said, bringing 539 back to the present moment. Standing in front of the metal door, it opened with the swipe of a card, like all the others. It was a sterile looking room, a shower? Was this her treat? Within moments, two figures in hazmat gear had entered the room and she was stripped of the jumpsuit, placed beneath the shower head. The water was burning hot, so hot it felt as though she were being cooked alive. It was only then when the scrubbing started, she was reminded of exactly where she was. Hell. What felt like metal bristles running along her skin, brushing harshly over every single bruise and fractured bone. Metal that occasionally sliced deep into her flesh. All she could do was scream in the face of the pain, and watch the dirt from her body mixed with her own blood circle the drain and vanish into the ether. Then it was over and she was simply handed a clean jumpsuit to change into once her wounds had been dressed. 539 wondered if this was what they did to those who came into contact with radioactive substances.

    As they left that room, once more in handcuffs they followed a different set of corridors, she knew she wasn't being returned to her cell, at least not yet. It was instead the meal hall that was her destination, once inside her hands were freed and as usual she moved to her assigned seat. 539 looked now at the glass before her. The pane rose to the ceiling, ensuring an unobstructed view of the other side. Where was he? She wondered. Perhaps he was on his way? Being escorted at the very moment of her seating. She longed to see the face she had stared at every day, at regular intervals for... she hadn't truly known how long. 539 didn't know who he was, or how he ended up here. He reminded her that she was not truly alone in this place. In her head, she referred to him as her eternal "lunch date." He was just Lunch Date. She often spent those meals staring at him and making up details about him, about his life. She imagined the two of them anywhere but here. She wondered what his voice sounded like or if he was a kind man, a good man. Sometimes in the dead of night when the faint sound of screaming came shooting down the hallway, she would wonder if it was him. Would he be there at the next meal? 539 sighed softly and waited. Maybe today was the day when a new face sat before she. She didn't want a new face, a new lunch date. She had another face across from her when she had first arrived. It didn't last long, so he, lunch date was her only companion. It was maddening.
    Last edited by Hannelorian; 09-07-2021 at 06:54 PM.
    You don't need a reason to help people.

  3. #3
    Mistborn
    Namingtoohard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    3,376
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    320

    Default

    Thinking about his meal partner made the endless trudging feel marginally easier. It was a safe topic, a nice distraction that 427 could consider without the looming threat of more pain. Something to take his mind off the stiffness of his ribs, or the itchy wetness of his arms. What would she make of him, looking like he did? His pale, sun-deprived skin was nothing new. Nor was his short black hair, which had been hacked off by an unskilled guard not that long ago, and was currently little more than stubble. His pale green eyes and the sunken lines of his face were probably familiar sights to her by now, too. The bloodstained bandages were new, of course, but such injuries were par for the course around here. She’d probably dirtied too many of her own to consider them noteworthy. If she even cared. 427 liked to imagine that she did, but it was impossible to say for sure. This place could stamp out any semblance of compassion or self, given long enough, and she was just as likely a victim as any. Still, he had to believe otherwise. For his own sanity, if nothing else.

    Before 427 knew it, another trip through the facility’s endless corridors had come to an end. Much like before, his unlikely companion stepped forward to open the large, metallic door on his behalf. His distraction had worked, apparently. The minutes and the metres had both slipped past without him realising, and 427 wasn’t sad to see them go. Individual moments had very little meaning, when so many of them were the same. When in pain, the less he had to experience, the better.

    Forever obedient, 427 limped through the open doorway with little fuss, moving as quickly as his battered body was willing to carry him. He kept his head down, kept his eyes averted ,and kept his arms folded against his chest. He didn’t want to give the guards any reason to punish him further. He had learned the hard way that some of the nastier ones were very eager to see violence done, and would use any excuse, any perceived slight or disobedience, as a reason to inflict more pain. He didn’t see the big metal door swing shut behind him, but he heard the familiar sound of the latch clicking into place, of the locks sliding home. That was enough.

    Much like the testing chambers, the meal hall was familiar. After so long, 427 knew it like the back of his hand. He knew the glass panelling was in place, even if its transparency made it difficult to see sometimes. He knew the marks and stains upon his table and chair as intimately as he knew Sesta. The stories they told suggested that they had been here long before 427 had arrived, and that they would still be here, long after he was gone. It was a sobering thought, but there was no point in denying the truth.

    427 knew the place well enough that he didn’t need to look around. It was a good thing, too, because his meal partner was already here. The woman on the far side of the glass had survived another day in this hell, just as he had. 427’s eyes flickered across her familiar features as he lowered himself into his bolted-down chair, searching for any obviously new injuries. Once he had settled, his eyes met hers temporarily. A small smile, little more than the tiniest quirk of his mouth, flickered across his features. One of his hands, both of which rested upon the tabletop, twitched slightly; a small, innocent gesture that, by just a small stretch of the imagination, could conceivably be called a wave. A risk, albeit a small one, at odds with all of his attempts to remain inconspicuous and unnoticed by the facility’s guards.

    “No speaking. No touching the glass. No using your powers.”

    The words echoed within 427’s mind, so fresh, so realistic, that he imagined them in the guard’s voice. The muscles in his shoulders tensed in preparation for the blow he was inevitably about to receive, and he was shocked when none came. His small transgression had escaped notice, apparently.

    After that, 427 did his best to behave whilst they waited for the food to be distributed. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of Sesta, who often chose to ignore facility rules. The small inkwork fox poked her head out from beneath the collar of 427’s jumpsuit, and took a quick look around. Once she had established that the coast was clear, she wasted no time in running her way up the side of 427’s face, until she was resting on his forehead. The fox yipped at 539 silently for a moment, before turning her attention to one of 427’s eyebrows. She attacked it like a cat playing with a piece of string – exaggerated pounces and quick swipes of her paws. It was her small way of trying to draw a smile out of 539, and by extension, her own master.

    Had he known, there was no way 427 would have permitted such a show. He would have shooed her off, before any of the guards took notice. But the man was unable to feel or see Sesta’s presence upon his own face. And so, the act continued. For now, at the very least.

  4. #4
    Member Hannelorian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    Mare Marginus
    Favourite Roleplay Genres
    Fantasy, Sci-Fi, all the things.
    Posts
    354
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    15

    Default

    Time was a funny thing when one had no sense of it. Seated on that uncomfortable metal chair, bolted to the floor time seemed to slow down immeasurably. 539 assumed this was by design. Not once had both she and her meal partner arrived at the same time. The differences in arrival time varied each day. In a past life, she would have assumed this was normal. People were early, people were late, people were exactly on time. Things happened. Of course, such experience could be germane to this particular realm. Experiments went on, tests went on. Myriad of plausible reasons why two people might not arrive at the same location at the same time. Though in the farthest corner of her mind a more sinister thought had taken hold. They kept them apart, alone on purpose. Giving each of them just enough time to wonder if their constants had vanished. If the closest thing they had to human or compassionate interaction, and for just a moment the panic of the unknown would take hold. Torture enough at last. There is a price to pay for everything. Every. last. thing.

    In her captivity, captivity that she could no longer speculate at the length of, she had lost many things. The days were gone, nights were gone, she had lost count somewhere after approximating she had hit her three year anniversary. Funny, 539 remembered thinking at the time that no one remembered to throw her a party. How she would have adored a sweet treat. Even her own internal monologue dripped with sarcasm. There were other sensations that were generally lost to her, entire feelings she knew the name of but could no longer describe. Happiness, hope... in realm of the more physical, 539 recalled that when she first arrived she felt eyes on her constantly. Cameras, guards, brutes more so than guards. Every moment of every day, she could feel her skin crawl as eyes made their way over her form. It had been so tiresome yet completely fear inspiring. Now? Now she barely noticed anything. She felt nothing save for the constant pain that plagued her body. 539 wondered how much longer it would be before her body failed her all together.

    In all of that nothingness there was a single pair of eyes she felt on her every time, without fail. A sensation she felt as she sat quietly, patiently with her eyes cast down toward the table. It was him. Lunch date. He didn't forget. 539 knew that remembering or forgetting had nothing to do with it, but somehow it made the experience more pleasant if she thought he remembered her, and that he too enjoyed this part of their day. At least, in terms of an experience that was generally devoid of pain or cruelty. Every meal, he did the same thing, he cast his eyes across the visible portion of her form, she didn't know exactly what he was looking for. Perhaps it was the same thing she was looking for when she finally looked at him. Raising her gaze now, she watched as he collapsed into the chair. Looking over him quickly, careful to move only her eyes, rather than move her head any more than necessary... bandages bursting with blood that had just begun to turn dark in color, those wounds were fresh.

    539 was doing what she always did, just watching him, his every slight movement. She noted that he often upturned just the corners of his mouth, just a bit...almost as though he were attempting to smile. His hands when resting on the table raised ever so faintly, she understood this as something of a wave. 539 knew they had to be careful, any movement too far would result in a shock, or a strike, or both. Anything perceived as more than an errant movement, but as a threat meant a beating. A beating that carried the additional penalty of having someone else watch. Another prison, a stark warning not to do as they had just done. Or that could be you bleeding on the floor.

    She could not bring herself to attempt the smile, but ever so slightly she nodded her head. As she looked up her face came into the fluorescent light. In an unusual turn, her pale bordering on ghostly skin was clean, owing to the "treat" from earlier. Small cuts and bruises dotted delicate cheek bones that drew definition to her face. Her brown eyes seemed kind as she briefly made eye contact with him before averting her gaze from being too obvious. Her chestnut hair, at this point still wet fell just past her chin, leaving 539 to believe it was only a matter of time before her next sheering. 539 had been beautiful once, and now she sat a shadow of her former herself, broken down into nothing but what her captors had wanted of her. 539 thought of her lunch date as she sat before she. She wondered if whatever they had done to him today had been especially brutal? Or was is just the usual cruelty? He was handsome, even like this... His eyes regarded her with understanding, compassion. Or so it seemed, which she imagined was why she always felt so seen by him, why she felt his eyes on her because he looked at her in a way no person or camera here ever had.

    Then of course, there was the one thing that set him apart from the others, at least visually. Sesta. A fleeting, sly fox that seemed to run along his skin as though it were the blank page of a notebook. In the beginning she had not seen the fox, this tattoo that seemed to be alive somehow. Perhaps it was hiding from her, or perhaps it simply hadn't been there at the time. When it did arrive, she noticed only in the corner of her eye. A small head, peaking out of collars, or the edges of sleeves. It was a shy creature. What exactly was it? 539 had wondered. As the creature seemed to become more curious over time, she wondered if it was actually sentient as it had seemed... or she wondered if it was just him, was it lunch date who controlled it? Had he been expressing himself through this creature? She didn't know. Naturally, that also left another possibility to mind. The chance that the fox wasn't real at all. That this was just her mind playing tricks on her, hallucinating. Could a figment of the imagination be so real? Could it really be that she consistently imagined this one very strange thing only with this one very specific person? It seemed doubtful but outside of the realm of possibility.

    However it is right now, in this moment, on this day that she came to a decision, or to a specific realization. The man across from her was not controlling it. Lunch date was cautious, almost to a fault, he was conditioned as they all had been. He couldn't bring himself to risk more than a hesitation as a means of waving, and in now, this fox had run across his forehead, batting about his eyebrows. She wanted to smile, but something else overpowered her. Fear. A sense of fear and foreboding was quickly rising in her. Turning her head to the right she noted the guard approaching with trays that contained their daily sustenance. There wasn't much time. Focusing with all of her might she stared directly at the man across from her, through the glass. 539's eyes widened in fear, she took a chance. 539 hoped this wasn't merely a hallucination for what she was about to attempt.

    In making direct eye contact, she hoped to catch his attention somewhat urgently. With her right hand she raised it to her forehead, over her eyebrow and patted it quickly, then turning to rub against her own flesh rather rapidly. It was her sincere hope that he would realize she was trying to tell him that this fox creature was fully visible, playing about. 539 had no idea if this would constitute a violation of the "no powers at the table" rule that was strictly enforced. Please, please understand her mind was screaming then, screaming at him.

    "What do you think you're doing?!" called a frantic, angry voice. There was no time now, hopefully she had only condemned herself. The swift impact of the prod in her side, the pain of electricity coursing through her body, 539 let out a yelp as she collapsed from the seat to the floor, she stared up at the face of the guard who had retracted the prod only to come at her a second and final time. "No sudden movements." The angry voice repeated before falling silent. Laying on the floor, groaning in pain, she noticed they hadn't shouted her number. They never did that, not here. Was it because to know the designation of another would give some kind of hope? Was it because they didn't want them to know how many had come before them? Was she the 539th test subject? Or was 539 just a random designation. Had 538 people come before her as numbers in a distinct sequence, or were they 538 randomly assigned numbers? Or was it a count much higher? The rough hand of the guard had reached down to her, grabbing her by the back of her neck and hoisted 539 off of the floor and back into the bolted chair as a tray was set before the both of them.

    What followed was a deep sigh, the kind that provided no relief, and leaning forward. An act which now was acceptable as it was generally harder to keep herself perfectly upright, she looked across through the glass and smiled at lunch date, and his fox wherever it had gone off to. It was worth it, she decided and looked down at the gruel before her. Her favorite, 539 thought sarcastically once more.
    You don't need a reason to help people.

  5. #5
    Mistborn
    Namingtoohard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    3,376
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    320

    Default

    The small nod 427 received from his meal partner was incredibly subtle. Just like his own attempts at a greeting, it looked like little more than a twitch. He probably would have missed it, had he not been paying such close attention to begin with. It almost felt like she had given him a gift of sorts. He had never quite managed to squash the treacherous voice in the back of his mind. The one that liked to whisper doubts, and feed off his uncertainty. It often suggested that his meal partner didn’t actually care, suggested that any comradery 427 thought they shared was actually just his own wishful thinking. The product of a strained mind, so desperate for attention that it was willing to latch onto any remotely friendly face. Small gestures like this helped smother those fears somewhat. There was no way his meal partner would risk punishment just to greet him, if she were truly so callous. That’s what he told himself, at the very least.

    In such a controlled and unchanging environment, anything out of the ordinary tended to stand out. That was what made their minor attempts at communication so extraordinarily dangerous. So when 427’s meal partner met his gaze, and raised a hand to her forehead, it was a clear sign that something was wrong. His eyes widened in realisation, but true understanding came too slow to prevent calamity. 427 had barely begun to lift his own hand when an angry shout reached his ears, muffled only slightly by the glass between them. His body’s reaction was immediate. Panic flared to life in his chest, primal, visceral. He could hear his heartbeat in his ears, and his next breath refused to come. His hands were shaking, and any attempts to still them proved futile. Pain was coming. An inescapable fact that eclipsed all rational thought, despite the fact that the guard’s anger wasn’t directed towards him.

    When his lunch date was jabbed with the cattle prod, 427 almost jumped out of his seat. Almost. Had he been a new guest at the facility, naïve to its ways, then he undoubtedly would have. He would’ve thrown himself at the glass, shouted and banged his fists against it, in protest. He’d made that mistake in the past, back when his sense of compassion had outstripped his sense of fear. He had learned very quickly, however, that such displays would do nothing to stop the tragedy unfolding in front of him. The guards would reward him with near-fatal punishment of his own, after they were done hurting her. And so, he did nothing but watch, helpless, as she was punished for Sesta’s transgressions. His transgressions.

    Speaking of Sesta, the small inkwork fox had enough good sense to flee when the commotion started. The guard’s yell alone had been enough to send her scurrying for refuge. For the safety that his clothing provided. 427 had no way to confirm her movements for himself, of course. Not without giving himself away. He could only trust in her good judgement, trust that she would do what was necessary to avoid him getting hurt. That would’ve been easier a few moments ago, before her foolishness had caused his lunch date’s suffering, and put him at risk besides. The two of them would definitely have words later, once he was tucked away in his cell, and there were no guards around to overhear. Whether or not she would listen was another matter entirely.

    427 schooled his facial features into a carefully controlled expression of impassivity when the guard pulled his lunch date off the ground, and shoved her back into her chair. The brute took a moment to look at him through the glass, searching for any more signs of disobedience. His scrutiny was so powerful that 427 imagined he could feel it. A physical force that promised agony if he did not meet its standards. He adopted the same vacant, thousand-yard stare that many of the guards used within the testing chambers, to try and distance themselves from the atrocities that they bore witness to. There was no hiding the shimmer of his eyes, which threatened to spill over with tears. After a long moment the guard turned away and meal distribution resumed, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. In a way, it hadn’t.

    Even after his meal had been placed, 427 ignored his plastic tray, and the dull grey slop it contained. He didn’t reach for his small plastic cup, or his single, flimsy plastic spoon. He had decided ages ago that the facility’s managers likely served them with dull plastic so that nobody could try and use them as a weapon against the guards, if they dared. It seemed silly, given his powers, but perhaps a lot of the others weren’t as ‘lucky’ as he in that regard. Regardless, he kept his gaze fixed on his meal partner, whilst silently apologizing. As if she might hear him, if he tried hard enough. Telekinesis was not among his gifts, unfortunately, but he felt a little better for trying.

    And then, despite everything, she smiled at him. Actually smiled at him, despite the punishment she had just received. It was nothing short of astonishing. How could she bring herself to break the rules again? To risk yet another punishment, so soon after the last? Where did she find the willpower, to disobey them like that? 427 was awed by the unexpected display of strength. How long had it been since he’d nursed a similar rebellious streak? How long ago had they managed to stamp out the last vestiges of his resistance? How did she manage to keep going, despite everything she had endured? Despite his own better judgement, despite his attempts to stop it, 427 felt the corners of his own mouth quirk upwards slightly in response, just briefly. He offered her a small nod of encouragement, not entirely unlike the one she had given him earlier. Then, feeling as if they’d had enough excitement for one day, he turned his attention to his meal good and proper.

    The gruel seemed tasteless as 427 spooned it into his mouth. He probably would have likened the experience to chewing wet cardboard, had he any sense of such things. It had been so long, he’d effectively forgotten that other tastes existed. Sweetness and spiciness were concepts beyond his comprehension, so long had he been trapped here. They seemed as unreachable as memories from his time before this hell. He ate only because it was demanded of him. Because if he refused, they would likely find a way to force him. One that was worse. Anything to ensure his survival, so that they might continue their tests.

    Once he had finished his meal, the guard on 427’s side of the glass was quick to approach. The man motioned for him to rise, and he was quick to comply. The remnants of his meal were left on the table, to be cleaned away later. He chanced one more look at the far side of the glass, at his meal partner, and then he was gone, hurried on wards by the silent threat that was the guard’s presence. The hum and thunk of the electronic locks opening and closing was all the fanfare his departure received, and then he was gone. Surrounded by endless hallways again. Would he see his lunch date tomorrow? 427 couldn’t help but wonder. He wanted to believe that the answer was yes, but there was no denying the cold, harsh realities of this place. Any day could be her last, and he would have no idea, until a new face seated themselves in her place.

    The walk back to his cell proved uneventful enough. 427 had lost any urge to resist once his meal partner was out of sight, and his well-practiced obedience was enough to forestall any further reprimands. For now. The guard did make a point of shoving him through the open doorway, hard enough to make him fall, but that was a cruelty so small it wasn’t worth remembering.

    The familiar cinder-block walls that greeted him were the closest thing to a home that 427 had ever remembered, and he found a small amount of solace within. Whilst the room was bland, the furnishings sparse, he knew that he was safe for now. Safe, until they returned for him again. That small comfort was enough to help him relax, if just a little.

    By the time 427 picked himself up off the ground, the door had already locked behind him. He didn’t bother to double check, as he might have once upon a time. Instead, he wasted no time flopping down atop the thin piece of fabric that served as his mattress. He allowed his eyes to flutter closed, and the temptation to sleep dragged 427 downwards. It took him several moments to gather the resolve needed to open them again, and glance down at the small sections of skin on his arms and legs that were visible. Predictably, Sesta was nowhere to be seen.

    “Sesta, can you come out? We need to talk.”

    He spoke the words softly, just in case the guard from before was lingering outside the cell door. And then, 427 waited. After a few moments, it became apparent that Sesta wasn’t going to reveal herself, despite his request. She was probably off sulking somewhere he wouldn’t be able to see, upset that her plan hadn’t worked, or fearful of the scolding he wanted to give her. No matter. The two of them were stuck together, and time was the only thing he seemed to possess in abundance, barring the possibility of his imminent death. She’d have to come out sooner or later, and he could wait for as long as necessary.

  6. #6
    Member Hannelorian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    Mare Marginus
    Favourite Roleplay Genres
    Fantasy, Sci-Fi, all the things.
    Posts
    354
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    15

    Default

    539 felt the familiar pain shoot through her body that came with each breath. The pain that came from simply existing in a body that had taken one too many beatings, a few too many shocks with the prod. A body that felt fundamentally broken. At her core 539 knew she had been changed, altered in some way that she didn't understand. Transformed from what she had been into this, a kind of monster, a creature who existed to obey the commands of others, to destroy life. For a few moments there, as she sat recovering, the profound numbness that she felt had gone. The pain of simply being in some ways was a pleasant reminder that she was still alive.

    It had taken several moments for 539 to register that she had been smiling. Why was she smiling? This was an act of defiance, this was yet another reason to deprive her of what little dignity she had left. She could feel the corners of her mouth turn downward to a more neutral expression. One that would be less likely to get her in trouble, she centered herself and turned her eyes upward to look through the glass at her meal partner. The fox that had run across the features of his face was now gone. Hiding. It would appear that she had succeeded at least in a sense. A small part of her wondered, once again, had she made it all up? Was that punishment received for what had always been a figment of her imagination?

    To take this kinds of risks wasn't like her, not anymore anyway. Why had she let herself so feverishly try to warn her lunch date? It had suddenly dawned on her, that she would feel lost, completely untethered without him there. Lunch date was the most normal part of her day, the only thing she would have remotely looked forward to. She would rather bring misfortune upon herself, than see it happen to lunch date. A man she didn't know, who she had only made up stories about. The only who she knew in this place who understood what had happened to them, what was still happening to them even now. She wondered if this was part of the plan, if this was exactly what they, their captors that is, desired to happen. For two subjects so otherwise dejected to have these shining moments. Shining only because this was an opportunity for a kind of tortured connection. A time for quiet reflection, for sustenance. And just when a subject begins to feel secure in this routine, they cut the tether and just let the survivors drift into the absolute chaos.

    The two of them following this event found themselves staring at one another from opposite sides of the glass. For a brief moment, she could almost, almost see him smile back at her. Having spent so much time staring at his face during their captivity, her captivity she knew most of his expressions and had guesses at what they meant. Most of the time she settled for blank stares, but here and now, she could see in his face, his eyes, that he had felt something, likely he was sorry about what had transpired. She had only hoped he hadn't blamed himself for the choices that she had made.

    539 had no interest in eating. She seldom did, the slop served to them on a plate with pathetic plastic cutlery left much to be desired. On the other hand, 539 saw little value in prolonging her existence through the consumption of food. Yet here too, there was no control over this. If she didn't eat, they would force her, and so she holding the plastic implement she brought the gruel to her lips. The meal was devoid of taste, or perhaps she had lost her sense of taste. It was hard to tell. It wasn't that 539 had any express wish to die, but she did long for a day when her suffering would come to an end. It seemed incredibly unlikely that there was any other escape from this place.

    As quickly as they had been seated, lunch date was gone. Whisked off the moment he finished. 539 understood she was not to be far behind. She rested the utensil down, and stared into the plate. If she stared into it long enough, it felt like it was staring back at her. Something someone had once said about an abyss, but in this place where everything may as well be an endless void a plate was as good a thing as any to get to lost in. Would there be more today? Or was this is it for her?

    It felt like hours between the time her meal partner left, and when they came to take her. Ages sitting alone, simply staring off. With a swift tug on her arm, she was pulled up and rushed out the door and down the corridors to her cell. Wandering along through paths that all seemed the same, she found herself wondering how many had been through them today? It didn't matter. As the door to her cell opened, there was a push through the door, the sound it slamming and locking behind her. There was a part of her that considered pushing the limits of what she had done at meal time. Could she have done more to resist? Should she be doing more?

    Once upon a time she had thought to resist, but she had never tried. It seemed so pointless, this power that had been cultivated within her, forced upon her. It had been made clear that those around her had no idea what it was, or how it worked. She had no idea how it worked, not really. Over her time she had begun to understand a few basic principles. Namely, that she seemed to function when they provoked her, but she could seldom obey them when they had asked her. It was hard to explain, it was even harder for her to watch. During this experiments it felt like she was outside of her body, watching as she did things, horrible things, things she didn't understand why she was doing them or how.

    Collapsing into what passed as a bed, she lay motionless and awake, staring at the wall. Thinking of everything and nothing all at once. It would be less painful to simply close her eyes and give into the permanent exhaustion she felt. No, staying awake seemed senseless. 539 gave in to the voice in her head that told her to just let go, so she did. With her eyes closed, she drifted into the world of sleep, the world of nightmares that came night after night. There was no difference to 539 between sleeping and waking hours. Every minute was torture, forever and always.
    You don't need a reason to help people.

  7. #7
    Mistborn
    Namingtoohard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    3,376
    Mentioned
    15 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    320

    Default

    Now that Sesta was doing everything in her power to avoid him, and delay their inevitable confrontation, 429 had little else to do. He knew the contents of this room as intimately as he knew the back of his hand. He had counted the bricks in the walls and rivets in the door so many times that he knew the numbers by heart. He had uncovered every secret that these four walls had to offer, no matter how minor, so long had he been here. Now, without Sesta to keep him company, that familiarity became a curse. He had nothing else left to help block out his thoughts. No distractions that could help stop his mind from grudging up the worst of his memories, or subjecting him to its worst predictions.

    429 did little but stare at the wall and think until the lights suddenly switched off, signalling that it were officially his bedtime. The sudden darkness was absolute – even after his eyes had begun to adjust, he couldn’t make out even the most basic shapes. 429 had always considered this to be a mixed blessing. He often saw things in the darkness, and was never entirely sure which ones were hallucinations, and which ones were nightmares. And yet, dreamless sleep was the only respite he ever seemed to find in this place. It was the only time he didn’t hurt, or worry. If death were much the same, as he frequently imagined it were, then perhaps it really wasn’t the worst thing that might happen to him here. Perhaps it was a blessing he should welcome.

    With nothing else to do, 429 lay his head down upon his mattress, closed his eyes, and waited to see what this particular night would bring.

    ~~~~

    Just like every other day, the lights flickered back on without warning, filling the air with their usual hum. 429 wasn’t entirely sure how long it had been, but his body insisted that it were much too soon. He squeezed his eyes shut tight against the invading luminescence, a low groan slipping from his lips. The human experiment rolled onto his side and raised one of his bandaged forearms against the light, trying to shield his eyes. For a brief moment he considered pulling his threadbare blanket up over his head, so that he might delay another terrible day, if only by a few minutes. It wouldn’t be long until the speakers came on, however, and 429 didn’t want to be lying down when they did. And so, with a considerable amount of reluctance, he threw his blanket aside, and pushed himself up into a sitting position.

    Even the simple act of climbing out of bed felt like a behemoth of a task, but 429 persevered. He swung his legs out over the edge of his mattress, before taking a few seconds to summon up the strength necessary to rise. Once he were standing, the experiment raised both of his arms above his head and arched his back, a soft yawn slipping from his lips as he stretched out his tired and cramped muscles. He had just enough time to step over to his toilet and finish relieving himself before the speakers crackled to life, just as he knew they would.

    Good morning, 429. Nice to see you up on time. The voice was more distorted here, the speakers older, or more damaged. Even so, the experiment thought that he could still hear the good cheer in the scientist’s voice. Just like the testing chambers yesterday, and almost every other day before. 429 looked up at the camera that sat in the corner of his room, but didn’t bother to acknowledge the voice otherwise. ”We know you’re still a little bit sore after yesterday’s success, so we’ll make today a training day, okay? Your escort will be there shortly. Don’t forget to put your hands up!”

    The speakers switched off with an audible click, but 429 paid them no mind. His attention had snagged when the lady had said he would be training today. At the same time, his whole body broke out into a cold sweat. He had been around long enough to know what that meant. He feared their so-called ‘training’ more than he feared the cold bite of the scalpel, or the guard’s boots. 429 could deal with physical pain. He knew the shape of it. The sharp edges and the blunt curves. The mental anguish that their training brought him was another story, however. The screams that those sessions produced were those that filled his worst nightmares.

    429 almost forgot about the guard that was coming to fetch him, until the electronic lock on his door clicked open. He practically jumped out of his skin, and only raised his empty hands a fraction of a moment before the metal slab swung open. The guard beyond stared at him in silence for a moment, before flicking his head expectantly. It took 429 a moment to muster up enough willpower to move his legs, and step out into the hall beyond the door. He waited patiently as the man closed it again, before marching onward, his body moving on autopilot whilst his thoughts spiraled.

    Much like his morning wake-up call, the end of their walk seemed to come much too soon. Trudging through the endless corridors was dull, but it was better than what waited beyond. 429’s dread heightened when they reached the door to the testing chambers, and the guard stepped forward to unlock it. He even considered making a break for it, but where would he go? He was hurt, and tired, and probably wouldn’t make it more than a few meters before the man noticed, and put a bullet into his back. Still, maybe that would be better than what waited beyond. 429 remained there, perched on the edge, paralyzed by his indecision, until the door was open. Impatient, the guard shoved him onward, and then his chance was gone. He was inside, the guard directly behind him, and the only door sealed once more.

    For the most part, the testing chambers were exactly the same as they had been yesterday. The only difference was that the chair and the tools were gone. They had been removed, as had all traces of his blood. Erased so cleanly that 429 might have doubted their existence, if not for the fresh wounds on his arm. In their place stood a small girl, no more than ten years old. Much like 429 himself, she wore her own jumpsuit, and her hair had been shaved close to the skull. Unlike him, however, no guard waited by her side. She stood up straight, but even from across the room, 429 could see her hands trembling. Her fear was palpable, so thick and heavy he could taste it in the air.

    The speakers overhead clicked on again, but 429 wasn’t listening this time. He didn’t need to. He already knew what the scientists would say. They’d ‘introduce’ him to the girl standing across the way, and inform him that she had her own supernatural powers. Specifically, regeneration. Her young body could mend its own injuries so quickly that she was effectively immortal. Whenever the scientists wanted to test his abilities on another human, they used her. The perfect target dummy. They’d order him to put his own powers to use attacking her, despite the fact she was so young. Despite the fact that she was helpless. They’d tell him to not worry about the harm he might cause, and just let loose. The mere thought of hurting her was enough to make 429 feel sick to his stomach…but then, what choice did he have?

    “No. No, no, no. I…I can’t do it. No. You can’t make me hurt her. No.”

    The words slipped from his tongue unbidden, flowing over his lips and into the air before 429 could stop them. The guard’s retribution was immediate. Pain. Blistering, searing pain flooded the experiment’s body as the guard pressed his cattle prod into the space between 429’s shoulder blades. His words lost their shape, becoming a formless cry as he fell forward. Only instinct kept him from landing on his face, by making him throw out his hands instead. His body convulsed against his will, his limbs twitching for several moments, before the guard finally lifted the prod, and waited. 429 hadn’t quite regained control of himself by the time the speakers delivered their next message.

    “You know better than to hesitate, 429. Summon the bull so that we can begin.”

    “…No.”

    429 regretted the word as soon as he had spoken it. He hadn’t even intended to refuse. Hadn’t the presence of mind to form regular thoughts, let alone plans of resistance. He had given in and done as they wished so many times before. What made this time different? Why had his mind subconsciously decided this was his line in the sand? 429 didn’t have time to consider any of these things as the cattle prod was pressed into his back once more, and the smell of burning flesh filled the air.

    He couldn’t remember falling any further, but the next time 429 knew anything other than the bite of the prod, he was lying on the floor. He tried to rise, or to curl into a ball, but his limbs refused to obey. He could see one of the guard’s boots, directly in front of his face, but didn’t have the strength to lift his head, and look at the rest of him. Beyond his boots, he could see the girl on the other side of the room. She had sunk down to her knees now, had huddled against the far wall, as if she might hide. Her eyes were wide, her mouth agape. Their gazes met, just for a moment, before, the voice returned.

    “Last chance, 429.”

    He lay there, motionless.

    “How disappointing. No matter. Guard, administer the adrenaline.”

    A rough hand seized 429 by the collar, and dragged him to his feet. The experiment tried to pull away, but a sharp, acute pain in the side of his neck let him know that it was no use. He hadn’t even seen the guard put the prod away, or pull out the syringe. His body’s reaction was immediate. It felt as if someone had injected pure, liquid energy into his veins. 429 gasped sharply, his head tipping back. He could feel his heart beating itself into a frenzy, and suddenly, standing on his own didn’t feel impossible anymore. When the guard released him, he staggered a little, but managed to remain upright on his own.

    More importantly, black wisps began to rise from the surface of 429’s skin, billowing up out of his right sleeve and into the air like smoke. Eyes wide, he pulled up his sleeve, revealing an inkwork bull on the upper part of his arm. The creature was made from the same strange ink as Sesta, and looked as if it had been drawn by the same artist, but was much larger. It served as the source of the smoke, which rose from its edges, as if it were evaporating. What started out as just a few small wisps quickly began to intensify. The muscles in 429’s arm went rigid, and he grasped at it with his free hand, just in time for a huge plume of black smoke to billow upwards.

    Unlike the rest of the smoke, this cloud didn’t dissipate immediately. In fact, the opposite seemed to hold true. The black cloud seemed to condense, sinking towards the floor just in time for it to form into a large bull. A mirror image of the one that had perched on his arm a few moments ago, but alive and present in all the ways that a tattoo could never be. Indeed, if anyone had the presence of mind to check 429’s arm, they’d see that nothing remained of the inkwork bull but a messy grey smudge. As if the creature itself had somehow leapt from his skin, and taken form in the physical word.

    Everything seemed to freeze as the bull took stock of its surroundings. It’s gaze quickly settled on the guard, who still held the empty syringe in his hand. He took several hurried steps back and started to reach for his gun as the bull tossed its head, snorted, and stamped its hooves. Just as the man pulled his weapon free, the beast charged. It closed the small distance between them in seconds. With a toss of its head, it gored the helpless guard, and threw him to the ground. It trampled the man without hesitation or mercy, its hooves doing nothing to drown out the sound of the man’s bones snapping, or his screams. 429 might have inadvertently summoned the creature, but he didn’t even try to stop it as it reduced the man before him to bloody red pulp.

    “Very good, 429. Now, the girl.”

    The voice emanating from the speakers didn’t sound all that displeased by the guard’s death. A quick glance at the far side of the room revealed that the other experiment was still huddled in the corner. She looked even more terrified now, if such a thing were possible. Indeed, she’d scrambled along the far wall and pressed herself into the opposite corner, as far as she could get from him. Afterwards, he turned his gaze towards the inkwork bull. The monstrous beast was watching him, 429 found. As if it were awaiting his orders.

    “We have plenty of guards, 429. Begin your training, or we’ll send the next one in.”

    More pain for him, or another death on his conscience. Or he could give in, and hurt the girl. 429 found himself unable to choose. And so, the bull chose for him. The animal swung its head towards the girl, lowered it, and began to charge again. 429 was supposed to be in control, supposed to command it, but the bull paid him no mind. He tried to recall it, but the adrenaline rushing through his veins wouldn’t let him try. In a matter of seconds, the bull crossed the room, and the carnage began anew.

    429 could feel bile rising in his throat. Unable to watch any longer, he turned away and sunk to his knees, with his head bowed and his eyes shut. Once he was sure that he wasn’t going to vomit, he clamped his hands over his ears. He began to rock back and forth, muttering softly to himself, as if he could drown out the little girl’s piercing screams.

    It was never enough.

  8. #8
    Member Hannelorian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    Mare Marginus
    Favourite Roleplay Genres
    Fantasy, Sci-Fi, all the things.
    Posts
    354
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Rep Power
    15

    Default

    The sun had risen high in the sky welcoming those beneath it's warm rays to another afternoon. The gentle breeze that swept through the glade carried a sweet scent reminiscent cherry blossom with a tinge of freshly cut grass. The low murmur of conversation pervaded the atmosphere of what appeared to be a beautifully temperate Spring day. When 539 opened her eyes, she found herself standing in the middle of this unfamiliar scene. Every which way she looked there was what felt like an endless sea of plush grass. Where was she? What was she doing here? This new world a far cry from the one she had just left behind. There were no walls to confine her, no threat of punishment for ill behavior. Raising her hand to her forehead with palm down and stretched flat, she instinctively moved to block the sunlight from her eyes. It felt harsh against her skin, the warmth as the beams of light danced across her skin was entirely foreign to her, but welcome. Is this really what the sun felt like? 539 could not remember.

    Allowing that same hand which had acted as visor rest against her temple, she curiously walked her fingertips up to her head, her hair felt neatly done in some sort of up-do, though without a mirror she had no idea it truly was. It had an odd feeling of fancy to it. "Hey! It's starting soon! Come on!" A voice. Her hand dropped now to her side, her neck craning in the direction of the sound, there was a figure in the distance. Just far enough away that 539 could not make out the details of their face. It appeared to be a suit clad man, that was the best she could do. The sudden distraction had caught her off guard. Looking down now, the full picture was becoming slightly clearer. There she was, standing almost alone in a field garbed in a floor length black evening gown, matching heels and a diamond bracelet on her left wrist.

    Clasping the fabric of the dress in her right hand she raised it, holding it in place as she began to walk toward the sound, uneasy at first, trying desperately not to trip over herself. Who wears heels in a field? 539 thought to herself. The ground was solid and dry enough at least that she wouldn't feel the heel like a dagger stab and sink into the ground, trapping her. This must be another experiment, some kind of hallucination... was she truly so self aware? Never in her life before this hell had she owned such expensive clothes, let alone diamond anything. The closest she could recall achieving was the box of Diamond Crystal brand salt that sat upon a countertop in the kitchen day after day, week after week. 539 closed the gap between her point of origin and the man who had called to her, as she drew nearer the muddled sounds of conversation became clearer, and another sound still grew even louder. Was it... music? The organized sound of orchestration was unmistakable, one instrument singing loudly above the others... a cello?

    Yes, yes! That was it she thought, it was a cello. The melody was beautiful, nearly intoxicating to 539 and desperately familiar. The euphony coming from the rest of the instruments swelled in support. Yet in this, there was something dour, dark almost foreboding. Was this some kind of warning? Had she missed something terribly important? As the orchestra came into view, they were seated on a raised wooden platform, it was then it hit her. Elgar's cello concerto in e minor. 539 knew the piece well, having spent many afternoons listening to it over and over again. She was surprised she could still remember such a piece. Or was she really in a room somewhere, strapped down, drugged beyond belief with the piece simply playing to lull her into a false sense of security.

    All around 539 were people similarly well dressed with smiles on their faces, all conversing with one another about something. 539 had no real interest in engaging, that seemed all too dangerous a thing to attempt. None of this could be real, none of it at all. Turning her attention behind her there stood rows and rows of white chairs arranged in two principal sections with a long aisle separating them, and at the end some kind of pergola adorned with flowers on a raised platform similar to the orchestra's. A wedding? Overwhelmed by the circumstances and the unending assault of external stimuli, she ambled her way over to one of those little white chairs and let her body collapse into it. What felt like hours later there was another voice, this time from beside her. Someone must have entered the row of seats from the other direction.

    "May I sit here?" the voice asked in a soft, warm tone. 539 now bathed in the shadow of this man looked up and directly at him. 539 felt her jaw go slack, and drop for just a moment before she shook her head indicating approval. That face, she had looked at that face every day for years now. Lunch date. Every feature, every detail of his face was exactly as she remembered it. Was he really here too? Were they in some sort of collective experiment or hallucination? Or was he just another figment of her imagination, as she once thought his little fox had been. Dressed in a simple black suit nearly identical to every other man here, he was handsome. With nearly every seat on either side of the aisle empty, he had chosen to sit directly next to her, intently watching her as she had been watching him. "You look like you've just seen a ghost." He spoke with that same tone. Was this what he really sounded like? She had no way of knowing.

    "Something like that." 539 replied almost shyly. "Do you... do you know what's going on here? Where are we?" she asked now, not at all concerned that if this were somehow real, it would be an exceptionally strange thing to ask. "It's a wedding ... we were invited." There was a strange pause in his response, right where her name would have normally fit in to a sentence. It was almost like an old film where some editor had spliced out that single bit. Lost in her own thought, she was brought back to 'reality' when she felt his hand reach out and touch hers, moving deftly to intertwine their fingers. "Don't worry ... there it was, the odd pause or jump again. "This will all be over soon. For all of us." Just as 539 was about to ask what he meant, she heard it. The sounds of screaming and gunfire. Turning feverishly to look back, the familiar uniforms of the facility guards seemed to emerge coming seemingly out of nowhere. "Run." Lunch date said, with his hands now placed on her shoulders, drawing in her gaze, he repeated himself, looking directly at her, she tugged at his jacket, but it was too late. Lunch date had been shot, she felt him collapse onto her lap, she could feel the warmth of his blood spill against her legs.

    539 wrapped an arm around him, and inhaled deeply. "Not without you." her voice had grown faint, almost exasperated, and on that last exhale she had raised her hand straight into the sky, announcing her location, her presence. The sound of thunder as the bullets began to strike her, extinguishing her life at long last.

    539's eyes shot open, the harsh florescent overhead light filling her eyes, her body covered in a cold sweat, breathing so hard she was almost hyperventilating. It had been nothing but a dream, a dream of her own creation at that. She had never had that dream before, it was almost pleasant. Almost. Catching her breath she sat up in the mess that was her "bed" resting her hands against the cool concrete of the wall she pushed herself up to a standing position, and casting aside her physical pain she now felt the sudden rush that was her own mental anguish. Scream, 539 told herself. Scream and release your pain. 539 had listened now to the voice in the back of her head and let out a scream, an uncontrolled primal scream of pain. She knew that for this, there would be consequences. She couldn't hear the clicks from the camera as it turned on its little mount to get a better view, but she could feel it trained on her.

    The magnetic lock to her cell released, and in rushed the guard she had been expecting. Baton in hand, he spent wasted no time in laying assault to her body in an attempt to subdue her. 539 fell back to the floor, looking up now at the man, she smiled. 539 could taste the blood that was now falling from her noise and cracked lip. Closing her eyes for a moment she rested both of her palms on the floor, pressing her weight into them. When she focused she could feel it now, feel his blood as it flowed through his veins and arteries. All of her energy, all of her attention now focused on this one person, she said nothing, only opening her eyes to stare at the satisfied face lording above her. Pressing into the floor as though she were trying to hold back the waters of the great falls, she knew she had done it. The guard stopped moving, and began struggling, shaking almost violently, gulping for air, clawing at his neck as he fell to his knees and began to seize on the floor. Now she understood what she was doing. Stopping the flow of his blood, stopping re-oxigenation of the living giving fluid, sending his organs into a desperate plea for life as they slowly began to wither...

    "As 539 is feeling so cooperative with her abilities..." the crackling voice emerged over the speaker. "We'll begin today's examinations immediately." The sound of two additional sets of boots fell over her, just before the blow to knock her unconscious and safe to handle. The light fading from her eyes as she felt herself being dragged away. What had she done?
    You don't need a reason to help people.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •