1002 was tired. An understatement of the century if he had ever heard one. It was the sort of tired that came from seeing no end in sight, each day bleeding into the others with frustrating similarity. It didn’t help that each night he woke with a start, his heart hammering as he fought back nausea. He’d be forced to suck air in through his teeth, struggling to breathe around the tightness in his chest as the vividness of the nightmares passed. His dreams and nightmares had meshed into one, and he no longer knew where one started and the other ended. Sometimes, just sometimes, he felt as if his new life was in his reach and then he would wake with a start in a pool of his own sweat as the room loomed around him. At least they had changed his environment for him, and this time he didn’t wake with a start in his old room.

It was a confinement cell.

“Right, you’re a genius aren’t you, of course it’s a confinement cell,” 1002 dryly remarked to himself, taking in his surroundings. It was clearly a cheery room, well minus the fact that it was all the same depressing gray and the same old bricks. Thankfully it still had the same lacking amenities as before: a cot and a toilet. Both were bolted done with thick bolts to ensure 1002 didn’t get any remodeling ideas. One of the walls was reflective, most likely a two way mirror he suspected, and the heavy metal door was no surprise. They never could just give him a doorknob could they? They had taken the liberty of blocking the speakers and cameras behind a case, so he had no way to reach them and the sight of the additional protection against him was satisfying. He had caused this. After what he did yesterday it was no surprise they had shoved him into a new cell, keyed up and exhausted from his attempts at interfering, blocking off any method that he could get his hands on. The satisfaction he felt at their frustration quickly disappeared, driven off by the crackle of the speaker coming alive. It was a woman this time, but the static and monotone tone distorted her voice to the point he couldn’t pinpoint if he had ever met her before.

“1002 - to your feet.”

1002 eyed the speaker, sighing as the thought of ignoring the speaker crossed his mind once more. His rebellious thoughts never quieted even when his physical body ached, and currently his body most definitely did ache. He hadn’t recovered from the blows they had landed on him yesterday after he had launched himself at a guard, reaching for the radio in his hand. His fingers had scraped the guards wrist before a baton slammed into him, sending him to his knees. They hadn’t stopped there, landing strikes to his ribs and back until he was resting his forehead against the ground and taking stuttering breaths that were dangerously close to sobs. He had refused to cry, even when he was manhandled up and dragged to confinement, painfully aware of his fractured ribs. Now each breath he took shot a sharp pain through his body, limiting his ability to breathe severely. And he liked to breathe, thank you very much.

“1002.” The speaker repeated his number slowly, and he finally swung his feet over the cot and pushed himself up into a standing position. He nursed his right side, wrapping his right arm around himself and biting back a hiss at the pain the movement had caused. This was normal. Actually it’s not, his mind supplied but he didn’t let the words leave his lips. This was his normal.

“Hands at your side 1002.”

1002 wanted to remind the static voice that it was a hand, not hands, considering they had stripped him of his prosthetics as usual, but he still lowered both of them to his side. In the end his pickiness stemmed from semantics - not actual logic. The speaker didn’t remark on it, and he assumed that for now that was all it wanted from him. There was a buzz on the other side of the door, and he heard it slam behind whoever had entered. The speaker buzzed once again to life, with more instructions that he contemplated not following.

“Face the wall 1002, and hands behind your back.”

He wasn’t trying to be difficult - that was a lie - but 1002 raised an eyebrow at the cameras directed at him. He already had a glove on his right hand, cutting deep into his skin above his elbow. It ensured that if there were electrical impulses he came into contact with, he struggled to sense them, and it worked - unfortunately. His left arm, well it was a different situation. The speaker didn’t appreciate his sass and repeated the order with increased intensity. There was a clear warning tone in the women’s voice and 1002 sighed, deciding to let it be.

He turned to face the wall, placing his right hand in the small of his back and impatiently waiting. It would be any minute now.

Right on cue, there was a creak and high pitched whine of the door being unbolted. They had to manually move it, unable to use electronic door locks, thanks to his delightful self.

The door opened, the sound of steady footsteps until the guard slowed behind him. 1002 held his breath, waiting, until he felt his right arm get yanked and a cuff slapped on top of the glove. The jingle of the chain was all too familiar, and it was securely attached to the back of his outfit. With the guard standing to his right, 1002 tensed. He wasn’t able to see there, not even throw a sideways glance, and it always sent shivers up his spine. It made him feel vulnerable and weak because even with his hypervigilance they always tried to take advantage of his weakness. Bile rose in the back of his throat, and each second the guard spent adjusting his cuffs only dragged out the inevitable.

“Did they hire a new interior designer?” 1002 chirped, and proceeded to earn a blow to his side for his creativity. It had been a valid question. He stumbled from the pain, receiving another prod to his back for that, as spots flashed in his vision. With the additional blows, the pain in his chest only flared up - sharper and even more suffocating now. He took a hissing breath, relieved to discover that he could still breath. For now.

“Silence,” the guard snapped at him, and 1002 bit his tongue. The bitter taste of blood filled his mouth and he decided to focus on it for now to rein in his attitude. His ribs wouldn’t appreciate any more prodding, and he wasn’t particularly interested in being a masochist. They were at least moving now, with the guard forcing him out the door with ease. He didn’t protest, and kept silent as they moved down the hallway, passing metal doors and metal walls. 1002 wanted to comment that they could at least decorate the hallways with pretty pastel colors, but decided against it. It felt as if each time he was in pain his attitude only worsened and he was digging himself a hole with each comment he made. It was all he had however, his determination to push through no matter if each day sucked the life out of him. Even if he was cracking around the edges, he wouldn’t let it show.

They came to a stop in front of another metal door, and after the guard unlocked it he was shoved into the experimentation chamber. It was empty excluding the metal bolted down chair on the other side of it and the table to his right with a box. There was already someone sitting in the chair, tied down with heavy leather straps, and their face covered with a hood. Could they even breathe through it? 1002 stilled, wary of what they would ask him to do, as he eyed the body in the chair. It seemed to be breathing, judging on the slight chest heaves every so often he could see. The guard behind him unlocked his hand, sliding the metal cuff off, and also slid his glove off. 1002 angled his body toward the guard after a hand motion for him to do so, and waited. In the box as he had suspected were both his arm and eye, and he tensed for the upcoming procedure. They never took their time in ensuring that the artificial body parts went on painlessly. They cut corners, their only goal to have both the eye and arm in place for the upcoming experiment and by the time the guard was done - in record time - 1002 was in even more pain. His eye hurt, dry and irritated and his arm was chafed.

“Now, 1002, come in contact with your target.”

1002 slowly focused on his target, fighting back the desire to flee. There was a steady thrum within his body now, prickly needles under his skin from the sensation of electricity and as he scanned the body in the chair he determined they were most definitely still alive. Their heart was beating, scattered impulses that went in various directions throughout the body.

“1002. Come in contact with the target.”

He felt himself be shoved forward, placing his left hand on the target’s arm and feeling them flinch. They were warm, breathing, alive and he was being spurred into grabbing hold of the energy within them. They said it was to test his prosthetics, but he doubted it, stumbling away from the target and biting out a protest. The guard in the room with him didn’t hold back, slamming into his body the butt of the firearm he held, and 1002 yelped - the pain only feeding the festering hatred within him. They wouldn’t kill him, he knew that, and he told them bluntly that they wouldn’t dare. He was important. He had stuck around, survived whatever they threw at him, and given them valuable information. Well, at least he repeated that to himself every grueling day for his own sanity.

They didn’t kill him. It sure hurt like hell however.

~~•~~

1002 forced back a dry heave, being forced to stumble down the hallway. He was shaking, his body throbbing with the addition of new bruises he sported and limping. In the end he had submitted, toying with a living being’s signals to the sadistic desires of the scientists. He hoped the other subject survived, but the thought hurt to think about. Somehow he doubted it - unable to remember if the subject had been even breathing by the end. His head was throbbing, having struggled to hold onto the energy under his fingertips with the pain that was blossoming throughout his body. A part of him recognized that refusing had only extended the experiment, had only increased the pain he felt, but he squashed the traitorous thoughts. They went against his entire being, and he refused to let them take root.

As he kept stumbling down the hallway, he was let know by the guard that they were heading to the mess hall. Glad he was able to feast on budget cut impacted meals at least. The mess hall brought no sense of enjoyment to his life, even with the presence of another subject and pathetic meals. He wasn’t even certain if he would have the same meal partner as before, considering his outburst yesterday, but he didn’t care. Get in, chow down, and get out.

And repeat.