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The Dark of You

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KR-12’s breath is ragged in her lungs, each gulp of air rattling in her throat. She leans against the rough concrete walls of her cell, slumped against the floor, as she waits for them to come. Thick black blood runs from her nostrils and coats her chapped lips. Her entire body aches, just as it always does- as it always has-, but KR-12’s mind is elsewhere; floating in the clouds, protecting itself from the stress her body is under. KR-12 is an anomaly, a living wonder, that none of Lex’s scientists can understand nor figure out. Her genetic code puts too much stress on her mind and body; she’s built from beings that- genetically- cannot coexist; she’s been pumped full of drugs and injections to strengthen her unstable genetics and accelerate her growth; and yet… she’s still alive despite her constant agony and distress. KR-12 wraps her arms around herself, the incessant cold of her cell suppressing her abilities with the help of the shots and drugs the scientists have given her, shivering as her teeth begin to click together as they chatter violently. They don’t clothe her, they don’t give her the satisfaction of warmth and comfort. And why would they? KR-12 isn’t human, and in the eyes of the scientists KR-12 is only a monstrosity that basic human rights do not extend to.

The young hybrid wishes for death as she manages to drag her knees toward her chest, her body and muscles screaming against the movements as her bare feet scrape against the rough floor of her cell. Her own body barely generates any warmth for itself as she curls into a fetal position, a soft cry of agony leaving her parted lips as she slides to the ground in defeat. Just as KR-12 begins to drift into the dark abyss of unconsciousness, there’s a sharp click that rouses her sluggish senses. KR-12’s eyes slowly drift toward the outline of the door as it’s pushed open, the loud grating noise of concrete-against-concrete filling and hurting KR-12’s sensitive ears. KR-12 blinks as the men enter her room- four in black armor, their faces obscured by their balaclava masks, and two in their crisp lab coats- and approach KR-12.

“On your feet,” One of the masked ones snaps. He, along with another masked figure, grabs KR-12 by the arm and heaves her upward. Perhaps if she weren’t so weak, KR-12 would’ve complied; but her legs only buckle beneath her and she slumps downward again. Her intense, inhuman weight drags the masked ones down with her. They curse, and distantly KR-12 feels one of their boots connect to her ribs. She splutters against the blow, her blackened blood flying from her lips as the boot connects with her side again.
“On your feet!” The command is repeated, sharper this time. KR-12 isn’t sure how she does it, but she manages to push herself onto her feet. She leans against the wall again, her mind still reeling with pain, as the masked ones hold her steady- sparing no kindness or gentleness. KR-12 feels them loop the swivel-head noose of the control pole around her neck to keep KR-12 from bolting- not that she can really try to run from them anymore. The noose tightens around her throat, securing itself against her already bruised skin.


“Forward.” The one holding the control pole barks, tugging KR-12 as the masked people head toward the door. KR-12 has no other choice but to follow, her legs like jelly beneath her. They drag KR-12 into the pristine, kempt hallways. On either side there are number doors- and KR-12 knows her door is 12- holding other experiments, other prisoners. KR-12 can hear their crying and their anguish as the masked ones and the scientists tug her down the hallway… toward the single, unnumbered door that KR-12 knows to fear. It’s fear that clouds her mind right then and there, somehow replacing the unbearable pain that fills KR-12’s body. She plants her feet against the slick, shiny floor. Her defiance easily stops the masked one leading her, and she can tell he’s not happy that KR-12 is delaying them.


“Forward.” The masked one growls, pulling at the control pole. KR-12’s eyes are wide with unmistakable terror, and she shakes her head defiantly. She doesn’t want to enter The White Room, she doesn’t want to hurt anymore, but she has no choice. She tries to pull back and away from the masked ones, away from the room, but the other three advance toward her. The masked ones sweep KR-12’s feet out from under her, the noose around her neck digging into her skin as she crashes onto the floor. KR-12 cries out in pain, the sound strangled and wild, and lashes out to claw at the noose around her neck. The one holding the control pole steps forward to alleviate the pressure on KR-12’s throat, allowing her to breathe again. Her icy blue eyes slowly track upward to the masked ones, alight with rage and hatred, as her blood begins to run from her nostrils.
“Back on your feet.” One of the masked ones says, tugging at the noose around KR-12’s neck as he steps closer to her. She doesn’t move, she only clenches her jaw in what little defiance and pride she can muster and stares up at him. The masked one glares back for only a moment before he glances toward his comrade, the one holding the control pole, and nods.


KR-12 barely has any time to brace herself before she’s suddenly dragged across the ground, the noose around her throat cutting off her airways and digging violently into her skin. Her back slides easily across the perfectly polished floor as they pull her into The White Room and toward the table centered in the middle. The walls, the ceiling, and the floor are white; scrubbed clean after each experiment to keep their blood off the floor. There’s a cart that holds stainless, well-kempt operation tools, and above the table is the bright green light that burns KR-12’s eyes.


Once KR-12 is completely in the room and the heavy bolted door is shut and locked behind the scientists and the masked ones, the pressure on KR-12’s throat is loosened once more. KR-12 feels the masked ones hook their arms around hers and heave her up and onto the table. Once she feels the cool metal on her back, KR-12’s eyes widen and she begins to scream and resist. In her weakened state, KR-12’s attempts to free herself are feeble- but still effective. She manages to send one of the masked ones flying, but as soon as he hits the wall KR-12 feels a stabbing pain at the base of her neck. KR-12’s screams dwindle into enraged, exhausted groans and grunts as her struggling grows weaker. The remaining masked ones force KR-12 onto the table, using the noose of the control pole as leverage. KR-12’s hands fly to her throat, her back arching as she tries to wrestle her way free of the noose, but her movements are growing limited. The masked ones wrestle KR-12’s ankles into the manacles at the end of the table, securing her legs in place. The metal bites into KR-12’s skin, but she doesn’t care- not right now. She’s too scared. Something hard repeatedly slams into KR-12’s stomach- one of the masked ones’ nightsticks, she thinks-, knocking all the air from her lungs. KR-12 gags and gasps for breath, her hands releasing the noose around her neck just long enough for the masked ones to wrestle KR-12’s arms to the table and strap them down, too. The cheek plates of the manacles around her ankles and arms begin to whir and glow with the same burning green light as the light above KR-12, burning her skin and rendering her useless. After she’s secured by the glowing manacles; the scientists step forward and buckle thick leather belts around KR-12’s upper arms, legs, waist, and throat. The noose is removed then, allowing KR-12 to finally catch her breath. She wheezes for a while, choking and gasping on her back as she stares into the glowing light above her. There’s nothing KR-12 can do to save or help herself now.


“You were always the quiet one,” A familiar, sickly-sweet voice echoes against the white walls, “it’s sad to see you’re becoming troublesome like the others…” KR-12 recognizes this voice, she sees him leering above her. His mouth is obscured by a blue surgical mask, but KR-12 can see his eyes as doctor Dunne gazes at her. KR-12 knows his name, and only his name, because he’s the only one who’s bothered to make himself known to her- KR-12 thinks it makes his torture, the pain Dunne inflicts on her, more personal to him. Deep down, KR-12 knows Dunne enjoys hurting her… and KR-12 hates him more than anyone else. He takes a small cloth and dabs at an exposed spot at KR-12’s neck- supposedly this is supposed to numb her skin, but it does nothing for her advanced biology. Dunne sets the cloth on the surgical tray. He turns his back to KR-12 and grabs something else. When Dunne turns back to KR-12, his eyes are gleaming cruelly as he approaches with a syringe filled with a pale purple liquid.


“Do you know what this is?” Dunne’s voice is an excited half-whisper as he holds the syringe in front of KR-12’s eyes. KR-12, of course, doesn’t answer. She hasn’t learned to answer, not yet, but Dunne continues anyway, “It’s Kryptonite, dear. A hybrid kind, I suppose.” He laughs, a hollow sound, as he flicks the barrel of the syringe. KR-12 groans, glaring at him, and tries to break out of her restraints. Dunne only presses a gloved hand against KR-12’s forehead and shoves her head down. He plunges the syringe into KR-12’s neck, emptying the contents into KR-12’s bloodstream. A muffled, confused cry leaves KR-12’s lips as her muscles involuntarily relax themselves.


“A good, good benefactor of our operation gave this to us…” Dunne explains, though KR-12 doesn’t necessarily care… nor does she understand. “A synthetic blue-pink hybrid, I’m quite anxious to see how it’ll affect you.” Dunne places the empty syringe on the surgical tray with the discarded cloth. He grabs the scalpel from the tray once his hands are freed, the metal gleaming against the light of the room but KR-12 doesn’t notice much- her head is beginning to spin and her hands are shaking in their restraints. KR-12 does notice when the scalpel’s edge cuts directly into her chest, she notices when Dunne slices her open. KR-12 screams when she realizes what’s happening, she screams in terror and pain. Suddenly, KR-12 can’t breathe- no matter how hard she tries, KR-12 can’t get any air. Her body begins to convulse, her eyes widening and bulging outward- it would be almost comical, if she weren’t probably dying.


“Steady her,” KR-12 can barely hear Dunne say, his voice crisp- and somewhat annoyed- as the masked ones return. She’s hardly aware of their hands on her body, forcing her downward as her body shakes, as her vision begins to dim and darken.


“You can’t run, you can’t hide…” The distorted, mechanical voice whirs as the cloaked figure drifts through the all but destroyed laboratory. Broken glass litters the floor, though it easily breaks beneath the figure’s heavy combat boots.


“You come here,” the scientist cries in anguish, “you ravage our laboratory, you demand-”


“Ravage?” The figure coos, a cruel laugh rolling through their voice modifier. “I rather like that. Call me that, why don’t you?” The figure- Ravage- flexes their fingers, the metal- and somewhat rusted- claws attached to their gloves grate together with a violent, metallic sound. The claws sink into the surface of a table, ripping it from the ground and flinging it across the room to clear a path to the scientist.


“S-stay away!” The scientist cries, his shoes scrabbling against the floor with a loud squeak. He grabs a graduated cylinder from the table nearest to him, shaking it at Ravage like it’s going to do something bad. Ravage only laughs again, bringing their clawed glove upward as if admiring it. The metal is already stained with the blood of the scientists’ colleagues. Ravage clears the way to the scientist with ease, ripping apart any obstacle that stands in their way. The scientist only huddles against the wall, his eyes still wide with fear, as he waves the cylinder at Ravage once more.


“You must take me for a fool.” Ravage’s distorted voice coos. The scientist swears they’re amused, but it’s rather difficult to tell. Ravage easily bats the cylinder from the scientist’s hand, the glass shattering on the floor just a few feet away. The scientist gulps, scrambling to try and evade Ravage as their glove whips upward and closes around his throat.


“Please!” The scientist croaks, clawing desperately at Ravage’s arm. Ravage’s grip only tightens, the metallic claws digging into the scientist’s skin. Luckily, they hadn’t drawn blood… yet.


“You’re only delaying the inevitable.” Ravage growls. Despite the golden, demonesque mask the figure wore being completely emotionless, the scientist can still practically see Ravage’s hatred and annoyance. “Tell me what I want to hear, doctor, and I’ll let you go.” The scientist struggles in Ravage’s grip, his eyes practically bugging out of his head as Ravage squeezes his throat. He frantically taps at Ravage’s wrist, trying to indicate he physically can’t speak. Luckily, Ravage loosens their grip.


“I… I d-don’t know what you’re t-talking about!” He stammers, his voice hoarse. Ravage, apparently, doesn’t like this answer.


“You know perfectly well what I’m talking about, doctor Gordon Freeman.” Ravage snarls from behind their mask, their grip tightening once more. Freeman gasps for air, his hands gripping Ravage’s forearm as the masked figure begins to lift Freeman into the air. Freeman’s back presses against the wall with unfathomable strength, his form denting the drywall and causing something deep within him to snap.


“P… ple...ase…” Freeman gasps, writhing against Ravage’s grasp. He can feel the serrated, lethal claws at the back of his neck; ready to plunge into his skin at any moment. Ravage tilts their head, the empty sockets of their mask like a deep abyss that Freeman can’t look away from. They’re like two soulless, empty pockets drawing Freeman in; but his gaze is torn away when Ravage sends him careening across the room. Freeman’s body crashes into the remains of his colleagues, their blood staining his lab coat. Freeman looks toward the deceased scientist to his left, and immediately he begins to scream. The deceased is his wife, and she’s been gutted like a fish- her entrails spilling over what’s left of her abdomen. Ravage clears the room within seconds, rage radiating from their hidden form like a second mask. Ravage sinks their claws into Freeman’s belly with a sickening squelch. They lift Freeman into the air again as he cries out in pain, but Ravage ignores his cries.


“Where is he?!” Ravage screams, their hidden face inches from Freeman’s. Freeman doesn’t answer, he just raises a shaking hand toward his fresh wounds. Freeman’s mouth is twisted into a terrified, shocked ‘o’ as his eyes slowly move to look at Ravage’s face. Slowly the hand rises toward Ravage’s face, the scientist’s palm connecting with the smooth, cold mask. Freeman’s hand falls, leaving a bloody trail down the left side of Ravage’s mask. Slowly, Ravage lowers their hands. Freeman slides from Ravage’s claws easily, his body hitting the soiled ground with a dull thud.


“Useless.” Ravage snarls, glancing at the scientist’s torn, ragged body. “Absolutely useless.” They turn on their heels, their boots squeaking against the bloodied linoleum floor, and head toward the exit. At least they can cross Lord Technologies off their list now.