If anyone called me ‘Temps’ again, after I got away from Cherise in one piece, I think I would have to kill them. I would kill them so slowly they’d weep for fucking joy when the god of death came to fetch their souls. My sister led me away from Mavic and into a small maze of dimly lit halls. At one point a Gray stopped us but Cherise sent him on his way with a sharp word. It seemed that she was someone to fear down in these halls and that did not bode well for my continued survival.
It was like I was watching my life as a movie again. I could see, I could hear, and I could think; however I couldn’t make my lips speak and I couldn’t make my body listen to my orders. I was the forced observer and I was out of patience with my sister. Her scheming made me sick. Cherise’s cards were on the table and she had a lot to answer for. I would make her pay for what she had done and I had no idea how much abuse she had doled out to others but I was willing to bet I was one of many unsuspecting victims. I wanted to know how many people I was going to kill her for.
Cherise Robins was no longer my sister. Civilian or not, I would send her to the Judgment Gates. I would greet death twice to keep that bitch away from those I wanted to protect and the innocents that Robins could trap in her web. I thought about Étta’s family and snarled inwardly. She would pay for putting them in danger. Robins was in deep shit and I just needed a moment to tear her apart.
I tried to use my Skill to do something, but it was a shriveled up husk after protecting Francene. I sent a prayer her way and turned my attention back to Robins. Something black moved just beyond my range of vision. I grinned to myself, knowing it was my god. Aksa was probably livid. For once I was in complete agreement with him. We both wanted this bitch dead, and if I had to take some more abuse from her to be her killer, it would be worth it. If she ever touched a hair on Étta… I refused to think about it. I would never let her near him.
After wandering the dim, dusty halls, Robins finally drew to a halt outside a door and scanned her card to get in. I was ushered through the door ahead of her and found myself in a small office. There was clutter enough there what told me she must have been using this room for a while and, as she told me to go through another door, even my body hesitated. If only for a moment.
The second room was much larger and bright lights and sterile white paint made my eyes hurt after getting used to all the flickering lights in the hall. When I could see properly again, there was another Red peering into my eyes. I didn’t know this one, though I bet he was as fucked up as my -no- as Robins was.
He looked up and greeted Robins with a nod. “Is this the one? Your main test subject?”
“Yes, Midwall,” came the reply. “Meet Temps Robins, my little brother.”
Midwall chuckled nervously. “I’m glad I’m not in that family of yours Robins. There is no ‘fun’ in your kind of dysfunctional.”
Robins came into view and pointed at a far corner where it was cleared of anything and the once white tile had a faint pink tint despite the probable use of bleach. I didn’t want to go to that corner, but Temps did when the Reds ordered it. “Now,” Robins said, looking down at a clipboard. “it seems like the BW’s on the Complex were rather creative, so I’d like to try somethings from what they did to warm up and to make sure Temps is under our control properly. He has been off of Siren for a little while now, after all.” Something made her pause and look over at me. She smiled when she scanned my arms. “It seems they are aware of his addiction. This could be fun.”
“How long does it take for the withdrawals to begin?” Midwall asked.
Robins shrugged. “I don’t know, but we can find out.” She walked over and removed the Med Band with a few quick taps. She tossed the device to the other Red, “Don’t lose that.” She turned to me, her silver eyes conveying a cold boredom. “Temps, take off your shirt and turn around.”
My body did as ordered and I had never felt so exposed.
“See how his tattoo is faded? I’m sure he used up all of his reserves when he threw that Yellow Card off the Wall. We have nothing to worry about so let’s not bother with the blindfold. Now, what’s first, Midwall?”
“I expect we should see to what extent he will hurt himself?”
“That’s what I was thinking. This one should last longer than Jill does, so we should be able to get a better understanding of Siren’s control. My sponsor is getting impatient, you know.”
“Ah yes, him. It will be nice to have an older subject for as long as this one lasts. I’ve got the devices recording, so feel free to start the orders.”
Recording devices? They were going to document this little hell? Midwall was going to die too. I was going to kill him and enjoy it.
“Temps, turn around and face me.”
“Temps, take this knife.”
“Temps, stab yourself in the leg.”
Anything you want, dear sister. It made me very glad I couldn’t feel a thing when I had a great view of my own hand, which looked a little thin and bony, plunging a five inch blade into my right thigh.
I suppose that’s one good thing about being detached from my body.
Blood welled up around the hilt and soaked into the leg of my pants. Without another order to make my body move, I stayed that way, watching the red stain spread then drip onto the floor tiles.
“He has promise! There was no hesitation at all!” Midwall was annoying in his excitement. Death was going to suit him well. “Is this from the continued doses that you had going? Or is it something else?”
Scoffing, Robins replied. “He may have good results, but he also burns off drugs faster than anyone I know, so he has expensive upkeep. The bright side of that is Temps should go into withdrawals faster as we bleed him out. So, Temps, stab your leg again.”
Temps ripped the knife out of my flesh without question, only to do just as Robins ordered. I was almost tempted to start a tally of my wounds as the Reds had me slice myself in the left leg, then in the hip. Robins wasn’t kidding about the drug wearing off faster as I bled. I’m wouldn’t lie, I was not happy when the mind-control thinned. The small hint of the pain I already had proved I going to be in enough pain to make me want to curl up in a ball. I could tell my right leg would refuse to hold my weight if I was in control, so I guess that meant Temps was an amazingly tough guy. Not feeling pain had some benefits.
Robins picked up a small electronic pad and made some notes, then spoke up. “So it’s safe to say that Siren blocks self-preservation and probably pain. I doubt there are few people that could handle this abuse and not make a sound. He stands without favoring either leg and his expression has yet to even flicker. Midwall, take the knife.”
The male Red stepped forward and pulled the blade from my hand, then Robins gave me a gun. I was confused for a moment until they brought in a little BW girl. She made no noise and acted like a puppet on strings. She could not have been more than twelve years old and they sent her towards me.
I didn’t want to be holding the gun anymore. I didn’t want to be faced with a frail child with a bruised face. Her tattered, thread-bare dress hung on her frame and I wondered how long had she been in Red hands. What did it say about the Directors of the Complex if there were little girls going missing? Would I be missed? Or would some sad story be concocted to appease my mother’s worry?
“Jill, stand over there and don’t move.” The girl wavered but did as she was told.
“Temps, aim the gun at her and shoot Jill in the head.”
The fact that I was feeling pain now meant that I should have some kind of control. Even as tired as I was, Cherise Robins was not going to get me to kill an innocent little girl without a fight. My hand started to raise up before I was conscious of moving, then I grit my mental teeth and held it there, pointing at the floor near Jill’s feet. I refused to listen to this bitch of a Red; I wanted to keep people safe. I didn’t want to kill kids.
“Temps! Shoot the girl,” Robins tried again to order me about. It still wasn’t going to work, I had enough control to keep this girl alive, and I was going to get her out of here alive, too.
Jill shook and stared at me with doe-like brown eyes. She hadn’t asked to be experimented on and -hell, I hadn’t asked for it either, but- I wondered if she was even aware of what was going on. Where was her deity? I knew I would go right to hacking the database to find the stats on this facility and how many others were caught by Reds and Grays when I got away. That was assuming I did get out, but it was either that or death.
Midwall wandered over to us and peered at me. “Why does he not follow the orders?”
Robins sighed, fiddling with the Med Band. “It seems he’s burning off Siren faster than going into withdrawals, so I’m going to set up a dose schedule with this. We’ll lock him up tomorrow and see the effects of going cold turkey then.” She joined us and fitted the Med Band onto my wrist again. The second it locked into place, my small semblance of control turned to ash and blew away. Stepping away and pulling Midwall with her, she gave the order again. “Temps, shoot Jill.”
My hand raised as I screamed inwardly. Temps was going to kill a child and I was helpless. The gun was aimed for a second before Temps squeezed the trigger. As the shot rang in my ears, the little girl fell to the floor and her bright red blood splashed those pink tiles.
The fucking bitch was going to pay for making me do that. I wanted to tear her apart for everything she had done and then some. My only comfort was that Jill would be going to her new Clan with no memories of her childhood. It made sense in a sick way that Reds would use BW’s for experimenting. No one would really miss us, we could die and join the workforce, while our former life would be forgotten completely.
It was then I realized I was going to die, or Cherise Robins was going to die. For Jill, she would die. For me, I would kill her. For anyone else, I would make sure she was no longer around to cause harm.
Fantastic. Midwall was getting excited and eying me as Robins stooped to study the small body. “Robins! What else can be done? He is willing to wound himself. He can kill when ordered. I’d like to see him kill himself, but you said something about that being saved for someone special.”
Cherise Robins stood and walked away to reference a stack of papers on a table. “Yes. I could see testing our theory on this one, though.”
“Yes. It seems that when we’ve had the BW’s take their own lives in the past, they did not Restart. I would be willing to test that again with this subject.”
“What about allowing others to hurt him? Can you order him to stay silent, or something along those lines?”
“Yes. Thanks to the data recorded from Temps’ time on the Complex while under the influence of Siren, we know that he will take such orders. The only thing that is still keeping our subjects unable to spy on the Complex Directors is that they lack the ability to converse.”
“However, we could use these subjects to enforce the danger of BW’s, right?” Midwall asked. “Especially if we had them kill a few Civilians.”
Robins nodded. “We’ve thought of that. It would have to end in a suicide to really do any good.”
“Hm.” Midwall moved in closer to me and the knife in his hand glinted in the light. “Temps, stay still and keep quiet.”
Robins looked up. “What are you doing?”
The Red next to me took my left hand in his and studied my face. “I want to see if there is any reaction, and I want to try something out, too.” He pulled a bolt cutter from off a nearby table and fitted it between my ring finger and little finger, looking me in the eyes. “I swear I see something behind the flat gaze, Robins.”
Dread encompassed me and I was choking on the horror as I hoped he was not going to-
With a snap, Midwall severed the base of my pinky from my hand. Had I been able to, I would have vomited from the shock. My finger fell into the puddle of blood around Jill and my own blood flowed out of the open wound, dying my hand crimson. There was nothing I could think of except that flowing red. I was bleeding so much. Too much.
I was never more relieved I couldn’t feel a damn thing.
Robins was there in a moment, shoving Midwall out of the way. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? We needed him in one piece! How much blood do you think he’s going to lose? Are you trying to kill our subject?” she snarled. Robins grabbed Midwall and dragged him away from me, towards the center of the room as my hand started shaking. Temps was finally going into shock.
Robins was talking again. I couldn’t hear her past the buzzing in my ears but she was directing Midwall around, and then went to another table to do something else. The two Reds were gathering supplies to patch me up, it seemed, and Robins had Midwall wrap my hand in a tight bandage to stop the bleeding. He also patched the wounds on my legs quickly before heading back over to Robins. He was mad, I could tell, but after years of getting to know Robins, she was livid.
Abruptly, Cherise Robins looked over at me and locked her eyes with mine. “Temps, shoot Alan Midwall in the heart.”
Gladly. My right hand snapped up and aimed the gun, still clutched in my grip, at the other Red. Temps pulled the trigger and blood blossomed on the man’s chest. He looked down, his tirade cut short. Surprise was etched on his face as he fell to the ground with a gurgle.
Robins laughed in satisfaction. “I was getting to detest him, Temps. Now,” she continued as she walked towards me. “I think we should call it a night. It really is a pity he had to go and cut off your finger. I could have sent you in to kill Mother and Father. If they see that, they’re bound to be suspi-”
The door from the office opened and Étta strode in with Aksa hot on his heels.
The Red looked over at them and scowled. “Master Tech, I was not expecting any visitors.”
He leveled a gun at her and sent her a virulent glare. Growling, he responded. “Let your brother go.”
“I hardly think you are in any position to tell me what to do with my family, Jrovin.” Her silver gaze glanced at me for a moment before settling on him as a sinister smile curved her lips. “Temps, shoot Éttienne Jrovin.”
Fuck! My hand was already aiming the gun at Étta as he looked over and saw me for the first time. He looked me in the eyes and I saw realization there the moment Temps squeezed the trigger.
My Blue fell back against the wall and hissed as blood quickly soaked his left sleeve.
‘Aksa!’ I shouted against the barriers of my mind. ‘Aksa! Switch with me! She’s going to make me kill him, too!’
I saw Aksa’s head swivel in my direction and his attention was so focused I was sure he had heard me.
Cherise Robins eyed Étta with distaste. “Temps,” she started.
‘Aksa, do it now!’
“Shoot the Master Tech in the head.”