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The Me I Am Now

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Mick was starving and nearly feral when the hunters found him, and it still took three of them take him down with stunners and vicious kicks to his torso.  He woke up in a cell to find he’d been given food and clean water and gorged himself without a second thought.  Take every opportunity to fill your tank.  He taught Len that on the day they met.  Rage over Snart’s betrayal was at the forefront of his thoughts as they dragged him to the chair for the first time.  It didn’t matter what the Time Masters had planned for him. He would have his revenge.  Until then, Mick was prepared to endure any indignity.

How’d that word just pop into my head? he wondered

He knew the induction process was doing more than giving him headaches.  His thoughts were fuzzy, and somehow Mick knew that even if he could have found a lighter, the flame wouldn’t bring him relief.  He was scheduled for something called cognitive intrusion.  In Mick’s experience, complicated words like that never described anything fun.  The Englishman used big words.  He lied to get Mick and Len to go on his stupid mission; wanted them to kill and die for him.  Now Mick had a new mission; new orders to follow. It was better than having to decide for himself all the time. 

They drilled down deep into his mind, bringing old sorrows and pain to the surface, and in the process, making him into someone new.  Suddenly there were two voices inside his head. Sometimes he knew both belonged to him.

“I am Chronos,” he intoned.  “I serve the Time Masters.”

I-I was Mick. I still am, I think.  

Who we are does not matter.

As long as we kill Snart.

Obey. Do your duty.  Crush the enemies of the Time Masters.

Snart will wait.

Chronos was not the only hunter at the Vanishing Point.  They were all the tools of the Time Masters, though at times they were treated like toys with special costumes and new names chosen for them.  Chronos’ armor was lined with a light fabric that wicked away moisture and didn’t irritate Mick’s scars.  The helmet hid his face, which meant he never really had to look anyone in the eye.  It made eliminating time pirates a simpler task.  Clean up was easier as well since blood never really got on him.     

It’s possible that some of the other hunters were volunteers, but Chronos saw others treated like he was; stripped, shocked, and beaten.  They were all eventually brought to heel.  Once he’d overheard someone say that Chronos was different from the others; already broken.  All the Time Masters had to do was rearrange the pieces into the shape they wanted.   Deep behind Chronos’ dead eyes Mick knew better than to resist day-to-day manipulation.  He had to stay hidden until the time was right.  When he was ordered to the med bay he reported dutifully, disrobed and lay back on the examination table.  A masked technician restrained his arms and put his feet in stirrups. 

“This is necessary for your health,” explained a voice coming through an unseen speaker.   It spoke of Chronos’ success as a hunter.  He was of great value to the Time Masters, and they wanted to keep him in top condition.  He barely twitched when a cold fluid hit his balls and the tech probed him with a gloved finger.

What is the purpose of this?  Chronos was confused.

The voice said that this treatment was needed to prevent inflammation that could result from extensive time travel. The tech pulled a cart to the foot of the table.  Chronos couldn’t see what was on it, but soon heard the whir of a motor, and then there was something inside him, moving back and forth.  It was strange, and Chronos called upon Mick’s memories of the intake process at Iron Heights.  Prisoners were searched to ensure no one brought in contraband.  Inevitably someone would complain about the guard’s cold hands, setting off a chorus of snorts and stifled chuckling.  Chronos tried to convince himself that this was no different, but Mick knew that cavity searches, while unpleasant, never made him nauseous.  Thankfully it was over soon, and Chronos did not ask any of the other hunters if they had experienced the same discomfort.  Social interaction was not necessary to the fulfillment of his duties.

The next time he was ordered to seek to treatment he spread his legs without hesitation and kept his expression blank, while below the surface Mick’s panicked inner voice tried to make jokes. 

You’re not gonna buy me dinner first? You never called after last time.

Chronos was silent, concerned about the sensations of arousal caused by the intrusion.   Of course, it was irrelevant.  His body was vessel for the will of the Time Masters.

Why am I hard?

Awareness of his body’s response caused his heart rate to spike, and various monitors began to beep loudly. 

Be still.

The technician did nothing, but the disembodied voice informed him. “There is no need for concern, Chronos.  Your reaction is expected. You will not be punished.”   He ejaculated shortly thereafter.

During subsequent treatments he slipped into a trance-like state.  The voice droned while the machine did its work.  “You have served us well.  Pleasure is permitted.”  Following the moment of release there was a brief period of contentment as the technician turned off the machine and wiped him clean.   Once, when he was close to the edge, Mick met the tech’s eyes and held her gaze as relief and shame washed over him.  While donning his armor he found himself staring at her hands as she discarded her protective gloves. 

I can’t remember the last time someone touched me.

“Please.”  The word escaped his lips before Chronos could stop it.

The technician said nothing, but the voice had heard.  “What was that, Chronos?”

“Nothing to report,” he replied automatically.

Despite Chronos’ effectiveness as a hunter he continually failed to capture Rip Hunter and his crew. Chronos seethed, while Mick was curious.     

Did they leave Haircut behind?

It doesn’t matter. We failed to capture the Waverider.

They can’t just abandon…

We must fulfill our duty.  What does it matter that the crew is split? We pursue Hunter.

Time Master Declan put him through another round of intrusion, taking him back to the Soviet prison, refreshing his recollection of that agony.  However, this time Mick knew something wasn’t right about what he saw in his supposed memory.  He sat in his time ship trying to work it all out. 

Haircut wasn’t in a cell while I got beat.  He was right there next to me, shooting his mouth off.

Ray Palmer is irrelevant.

He’s a good man.  He took a beating for us, no, for me.  He said I was more than…

You are more.  You are-we are-I am Chronos.

I’m Mick.  I know I’m Mick Rory.

We serve the Time Masters.

Time Pigs is more like.  And I don’t work for pigs.

I am Ch…

Shut up! Just shut up already.  This is all Snart’s fault.  We need to kill Snart and then we can get out of this. 

We will kill Snart, and the Englishman

And then?

I don’t know.