It’s the day's usual chaos. Everyone checking their gear, training, leaving for an assignment, or even coming back. That doesn’t stop them from trying to pick on one specific person in general. Slipping into the dining hall to jokingly, or so they think, interrogate him. Ruby eyes don’t so much as turn, towards those pestering him. Even as he eats the stoic expression he holds doesn’t leave his face. Touching him doesn’t even cause a change, except for one person.
“Raven, buddy, how are ya kiddo?”
“Remove your hand Dax, or I’ll do it permanently.”
“Still a stuck up piece of shit, I see.”
“You must not need that hand.”
Dax doesn’t move his hand fast enough to avoid nearly losing a finger. Raven swiftly shoves him aside. Standing and removing himself from the room. Dax’s bright brown eyes narrow on him before stalking after him.
“You think you’re better than any of us?! You’re a fucking freak! A genetically modified monster! And to top it all off your own parents experimented in you!”
“This modified monster fights better than you, heals faster, and can stay in battle longer. So, tell me again how I’m inferior to you. Tell me again how much better than me you are. I’ve been doing this since I was a child. Keep trying to put me down. I’ll do it literally for you.”
A dark look crosses over Dax before he rushes the snow-haired male, throwing Raven to the ground in a tackle. Despite being younger than him Raven manages to shove him aside with no struggle. Raven is swift to dodge a punch to the face, but not one to his gut, which he recovers from quickly, landing the base of his boot in the older male’s face. The sound of a nose breaking as Dax flies back disconcerting.
“Great, I’ve probably got a disease on the bottom of my shoe. Are you done being a waste of time? Or do you want me to realign your spine too while we’re here?”
Shaking his head as he stands Dax charges again, this time missing. A swift kick from Raven’s left leg sends him toppling to the white linoleum floor. Blood smears across the dark-haired male’s face and the spot where his face lands. By now the two have drawn a crowd. Many of which know not to try and step in. Those who are newer, hesitate, trying to pull Dax to his feet and away from the fight. After several unsuccessful attempts, they step back and look for someone in an authoritative position. Meanwhile, the two are left throwing punches back and forth, Raven looking more and more bored by the second. Dodging another blow to the face, he’s quick to grab the older man’s arm and snaps it in half at the elbow. The sight of torn flesh doesn’t bother him. The man drops to the floor his screams of agony shredding the tile walls to nothing. A pool of blood decorates the floor at a steady pace. Sighs are drowned out by pain and shouts for infirmary care.
No weapon was used, but that won’t keep him from trouble. Not even the fact that he acted in self-defense. As far as the commander goes, it’s excessive use of power. A calloused pastel hand brushes through his hair before falling to his side. Everything about this situation is going to have him frustrated for the next several days. A low growl emits from behind his teeth. Frowning he turns on his heel, stalking off down a maze of sharp twists and turns to his room.
Of course, this would happen. It’s nothing unusual. I’m used to this. Hell, it didn’t even have to be Dax. So long as anyone with a temper like that comes after me and I defend myself I’m the bad guy. There’s no winning in an organization like this. Not for someone like me.
“Raven, we know you’re in there. Open up. Or we can take the door off.”
Rolling his eyes he continues to remove the armor he’s been wearing. Eyes scanning the bruises forming across chest and arms. They aren’t bad enough for him to require medical attention. Ignoring the banging on his door he drops the armor to the floor. Staring at it blankly.
It only fits me, which I’d find strange if I didn’t know where it came from. The fact it’s not heavy or bulky is a bit odd too. Then again I’m no normal person and while the damn thing meshes to my skin it still manages to make it’s own compartments for weapons as needed.
“RAVEN MORTAQUE, OPEN THIS DOOR!”
One thin eyebrow twitches. Agitation reflecting on the image in the full body mirror he’s using to see the damage to his back. These are bigger, made to look worse than it actually is by old injuries. All there is to show that he’s alive and breathing is the marred battleground he’s had since a child. Whistling to himself, he grabs a pair of pants out of his dresser, slipping into them. Then proceeding to open the door just as someone goes to break it down, sending them rolling on the floor.
“Props for trying, Seige.”
“One of these days you’re going to take too long. Boss wants you.”
“What’d you do this time? You’re always in trouble?”
“Lyla, not a question to ask. Not unless you want him to show you. Anyway, it’s about time someone shut that asshole up.”
“If only I’d broken his neck instead.”
Seige, who stands a foot shorter than he, shakes his head a smirk besmirching his features, making him look older than he is. Lyla on the other hand just looks puzzled her almost childlike face masked in makeup and a raised eyebrow. Both have known Raven for the last 4 years.
“I don’t think I want to ask.”
Without so much as a word to the petite female, he steps around her into the hall and starts for the conference room. She’s quick to follow up with Seige on her heels. She scans the marks on his exposed skin, worry filling hues too gold to be brown and too brown to be gold. There’s no point in trying to get him to see a doctor or a nurse. He won’t go. “Genetics” is what he’ll tell her. Not that she’s aware of what he’s actually referring to. Last time she spoke to him about it he brushed her off. This doesn’t stop her from trying to be close to him the way so many others avoid doing. In her eyes, he’s a person just with a really bad disposition around certain people. Not that those people make it better.
“Why are you two following me?”
“Orders. Are you going to go to the infirmary after?”
“What for? I’m fine.”
Lyla scowls at the response, shooting Seige a look to try and encourage the other male. Only, even he ignores her silent request.
“Because your back looks bad.”
“Looks and it actually being bad are two different things. I’m fine. I know better than anyone what I can withstand.”
“Just because you were born with a higher pain tolerance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get it looked at.”
“I think you should stop following me. Maybe go do some research on who you’re talking to. There’s no way you’ve been here four years and are that stupid.”
A cynical laugh sings in the air, stopping her in her tracks. He doesn’t so much as glance back, but continues on his way. Bare feet barely touching the cold floor for too long. Finally, he reaches a hall where a single door resides solely by itself at the end of it. Noting that it’s open he steps in with no caution or even a knock. A large desk sits in the center of the room. Practically buzzing with energy from the virtual screen that it’s displaying.
“Good to see you didn’t have to be dragged down here. Have a seat.”
Behind the desk, a man with dark gray eyes and auburn hair watches a security video play out before him. The very fight that had taken place not too long ago. An instant replay of Dax’s arm being broken in half.
“I think I’m fine standing. Sitting isn’t going to change what happened.”
“At least you’re taking responsibility for your actions. You realize breaking his arm was over the top, don’t you?”
“So was him coming after me, but I’m the one getting in trouble.”
“Raven, you’re stronger than them. You have to learn to hold back.”
“Maybe you should tell them to keep away from me instead of provoking and attacking me.”
“You can’t isolate forever. Learn to hold back. These are still your teammates.”
“No, they’re people you keep trying to stick me with. People who see me as a monster, a freak, or whatever else they want to say. Yet you want me to be the lax one. I have more discipline than some of the adults you’ve brought in here. Just because I’m a freak of nature doesn’t mean I’m not feeling. Teach your men to back off when they’re told to.”
“This isn’t up for discussion. Learn to control your strength. Humans are naive and reckless.”
“News flash, despite the chemicals in my body, I’m just as human as they are. Teach your men to act like civil beings.”
“I won’t say it again Raven. Learn to control your strength. Now, if you’re done trying to tell me how to run my facility I need you to have a look in the underground lab again. There are complaints about noise coming from down there and I want to make sure nothing is caving in or sinking. There’s information down there that is still very useful and we need it pulled up if that’s the case.”
“Ask someone else. I’m not going down there. Stop sending me.”
“I’m not giving you a choice in the matter since you clearly don’t know how to act in groups yet. As soon as you’re properly dressed you can head on down. Oh and so you know, you won’t be getting out of writing a report this time. My son isn’t your report writer. Do it yourself. You’re dismissed.”
Scoffing Raven turns and exits the room, slamming the door shut behind him. It rattles and some passing the hall skitter off. Not wanting to be anywhere near him should his temper explode. At the moment all he can see is red. That place is hell. It’s a nightmare on earth and he’s long since refused to be down there after that happened. The trauma of waking up in darkness, with nothing but sparks, a flashing red light overhead, the smell of copper, and decay. For a moment he’s trapped in there beneath dead bodies and debris. Covered in blood that doesn’t belong to him, maggots, flies, and other insects crawling across the ground and over him.
It’s freeing himself that causes a struggle. The weight atop him, different from being in a fight. Still, he struggles to pull the lower half of his body from beneath everything, until finally, he’s free. He’s not sure how long he’s been down here, but it’s long enough that the sound of the alarm is broken. How no one has heard it is beyond him, although with the above ground building isolated off it’s not too surprising. One of his open wounds looks infected, but not enough that it will kill him. He looks around trying to find some way to clean it out and get it covered. Amethyst eyes scanning everything. Fingers prying shelves open at the risk of being bruised, cut, and scraped. Some of the shelves require more force, meaning he has to tear doors off to get inside. Standing, he moves to another room, doing the same. Looking, for supplies. That is until he hears voices.
“You think they would’ve cleaned the place up or disposed of the bodies properly. It’s been a week.”
“Look, we’re here simply to find the research that was being worked on by Doctor Hyle. There have to be answers to why the government did what they did.”
“Can we try and shut off this damn alarm then.”
“If you can find the main system yeah. Be a miracle though. They made sure to not even leave survivors.”
“Fucked up if you ask me.”
The young boy is swift to find them, firing several shots in their direction from a gun he found lying around. Instinctively defending the only home he’s had despite the way it looks. Both men throw themselves against opposite walls before glancing in his direction.
“Get out or die.”
“Aren’t you a little young to be carrying a gun?”
“Aren’t you in a bad position to be asking questions?”
“Fair enough. Mind telling us how you got down here?”
“Shouldn’t you know the answer to that. Or were you coming to look for more of us to shoot down?”
Another shot goes off, small hands holding tight to the gun. He misses the man by a mere centimeter. Intentionally of course. Keeping a steady stance and watching both adults with angry scrutiny.
“Put the gun down. Let’s talk. We didn’t come down here to kill anyone. Didn’t even think there were survivors. No one made it out alive. So how did you survive?”
“And just why should I trust you?”
“We’re unarmed kid. You’ve been down here for a week. Surprised you haven’t died. Especially with an infection that bad.”
“This is nothing. It looks bad, but I’ve had worse. You being unarmed doesn’t mean anything to me.”
“How about we tell you a bit about ourselves?”
Jolted from his thoughts he finds himself standing in his room, unaware as to how he got there. In his hands the very armor that he’d had on. Just looking at it and thinking about where he has to go causes his mood to darken even further. There’s no part of his being that wants to be in that place. Having the memories alone is enough to get his blood boiling. Huffing he forces himself to put the material back on, slipping easily into his boots. Flipping the mirror, he treads quietly from his room towards a length of hallway that is all black walls. A memorial to the lives that had been taken and the facility that resides just beneath everyone. Names couldn’t even be carved into the wall. Instead, no rooms were placed down here and an entryway was made into the ground to get to old facilitation. Gently he lifts open the hatch, dread feeding his stomach and burning his throat. Each step down into the darkness wrenches at his intestines, paints blood across his vision, and kisses his skin with veiled parting words.
“You want a flashlight?”
“No, the suit has it’s own illumination system specifically designed for me to be able to see, but not for anyone to see me.”
“Alright, I’ll close it up behind you. Just be careful.”
Glancing up at the male above him he simply nods. There’s no amount of patience that can keep him from wanting to turn around and just leave. The hatch shuts and his eyes adjust to the light that the gear he’s wearing creates for him to see. Nothing has changed. Everything remains the same. Dust, cobwebs, death, decay, rot, dried blood, burns, and debris everywhere. Step after step he eases forward, careful of stepping on bones, rotted flesh, or in blood. Eyes catch on the smeared handprints along the filth covered walls, their true color hidden by overgrown vines and grime. Trained ears listen for movement that is not his own or an animal. Not a single sound echoes back to him. Only his footfalls and breathing, the scuttling of rats and mice the only indication of any life down here. The further he goes the quieter it gets.
I wouldn’t want to be near the epicenter either. Besides, the explosions, it’s where all the chemicals were. Doubt any of it has actually gone away. Not that it was cleaned up in the first place. Surprised the rats haven’t mutated.
A slithering sound catches his attention. Stopping him in his tracks. That’s not a sound he’s heard before. Tensing he looks around for the source, unable to find anything. He knows it’s not the slithering of a snake. It sounds too metallic for it to be. While familiar to him he’s still unsure of what it can be. Muscles move in caution to find the source before he’s suddenly yanked up by his ankle and tossed against the ground in a harsh fashion.
“Son of a bitch…”
“Well…this is rather odd… I’ve never seen you before.”
He’s being dangled upside down a sharpened cylinder digging into his calf. Instead of struggling he pulls a dagger from a hidden holster and slices through the appendage holding him. Shockingly landing gracefully on his feet.
“Just who the hell are you?”
“Why does it matter? I’m going to kill you anyway.”
“Or so you think.”
Unawares that another appendage tangles around him, slamming him repeatedly against a wall. The force of it shaking the crumbling ceiling above them. A gasp purges itself, just before he manages to get himself free. Wrapping the tentacle-like limb around his arm and yanking forcefully. Instead of coming loose it makes a whirring noise and he’s being thrown back the way he came, causing a cave in.
“Cocky are we?”
A groan later he’s pulling a gun from another well hidden a compartment and firing several rounds at whatever is attacking him. The squeal of a girl startles him but doesn’t stop him from defending himself. Thankfully he manages to avoid getting slammed around again, however, shooting blindly the way he is isn’t making things better. Yet, he’s not willing to risk wiping the blood from his eye or face. Above him, he can hear hurried footsteps. The cave-in must’ve drawn attention to what’s going on.
“Silly boy, you’re in my territory.”
The hatch above opens in time for him to dodge another attack and catch a glimpse of a girl in a torn tattered dress. Dark black hair and glowing emerald eyes scold him. Aiming between her eyes he fires, startled when one of the appendages that had tossed him like a ragdoll deflects the bullet. The more he looks at it. The more it reminds him of a tentacle except, it’s entirely metal and covered in spikes made of the same material.
“Raven- what the hell is that.”
“I’m not sure, just get out of here!”
His response only causes her to go after the voice above him, missing and collapsing the ceiling behind him. Agitated he glares in her direction, knowing she hasn’t moved. She’s managing to stay just out of reach of the light his suit creates for him. How she knows about it he’s not sure. Unless she heard him speaking about it.
“Shame you’ll die down here.”
“Wishful thinking on your part.”