Title: Costly Parade
Rating: Soft R
Series: The Anitphon ( for back story, check theantiphon)
Notes: Random slice that vaguely introduces a new character I'd been planning on. This will probably only make sense to people who know who Sal and MRA are.
Summary: "C'mon Sullivan, fighting now zaps your strength for later." I step up to him, lean close enough that I know he'll be able to smell me, breathe me in. "Trust me on this one, Sir, you're going to want to fight me then."
The MRA unit falls first, a short burst from our specified EMP gun aimed directly at his lower back and he's down, stunned and unable to help. The Sullivan kid turns around, eyes wild and darting and I know he's searching for the robotic signature that follows him. I'd been briefed on that particular capability. He outstretches his arm for the wall of the building beside us and I aim and quickly fire another burst at his chest.
"Ah, ah, Sullivan. Can't have that," I cluck my tongue on the roof of my mouth. It really wouldn't do to have him send out a warning with that port of his. Not for the first time I wonder what my previous employers had been thinking when they installed him with it in the first place.
He shudders and his head rolls back on his shoulders, limbs spasming for a moment. It can't be a pleasant feeling and as far as I'm aware, considering the the port is his only form of sight it might just be terrifying. I want to grin. I do.
Two of my guards move to take up the gun I hadn't seen the kid pull, nearly snapping his wrist in half when they take it back. A mangled groan escapes his mouth but he bites it back before it can be really satisfying. Doesn't matter really, not the last time he's going to be hurting. The Robot Prince really doesn't have a lot going for him at all.
"C'mon Sullivan, fighting now zaps your strength for later." I step up to him, lean close enough that I know he'll be able to smell me, breathe me in. "Trust me on this one, Sir, you're going to want to fight me then."
He doesn't flinch and I'd swear the corner of his lips quirk up a little in a fucking smirk. My grin falls from my face and I barely resist the urge to smack him across the jaw. I'll save it for later. I gesture to my guards and kick the MRA unit as we pass his prone form on the floor. Just because I can.
"Guardy one, Guardy two," I sing song and wonder if the higher ups realize how unnerving it is that they helmet up all our units. I never know who is underneath but that's the way the system works. Trust no one, know no one.
They ignore me and carry on, following me down into the underground. Sullivan barely squirms, clearly having taken my advice. His face is a mask, pale eyes barely blinking. I wonder how many times he's been kidnapped in his life, or how many times he's kidnapped others. I know his record. He's the thorn in the underground's side with his robots and their fucking ability to mask themselves.
It had taken us months upon months to develop and EMP blast potent enough to even work on them, and we already knew that they'd just develop around it. Fuck, the bot topside had probably already logged it and shared the information with the other units, even immobile. They were a terrifying mess. This kid was responsible for them. I grit my teeth and throw open the prison door, gesturing again for him to be thrown in.
His wrists are promptly tied behind him and he's cast onto the floor. I walk across the length of the room once, twice, pacing and letting him stew. No change, no flicker. It wasn't entertaining enough. I smile and spread my hands though I know he can't see the gesture.
"So, here we are. Figured out what we want yet?"
The bastard has the nerve to smile slightly and tilts his head, turning his gaze to exactly where I stood, despite the echo in the room. Unnerving but not impossible after all.
"Information," his tone is bored, monotone, "which you won't get, no matter what you do. Although I encourage you to try anyway, I know you really want to." He pauses and tilts his head the other way, a sharp movement that makes something in my gut squirm. Creepy. I run my tongue over my teeth and chuckle.
His smile deepens "Or, you're sending a message. In which case, this is all bravado and I'll end up bruised no matter what I tell you, or how fast. It won't work, I'll cover it up. So. Figured out what you want yet?"
Oh, bastard. Though I kept grinning I felt my fingers flex all on their own, reacting to the surge of fury. It was something I couldn't help, my control wasn't perfect but Sullivan can't see it anyway. He smirks like he rules the world. He almost fucking does. Without really thinking about it I pull my favourite knife from it's sheath at my thigh, slowly so that Sullivan can hear the ring of metal.
I step towards him, drop into a crouch and jerk him close by the front of his jacket. I bunch my fist in the material, pulling it away from his skin enough to get my knife behind. Let him think the worst, the very, very worst for someone as fucking arrogant as he is. The blade slices his shirt and jacket so easily it almost surprises me, but then again, expensive fabric was never made for anything but looking pretty.
I let the blade nick his skin just deep enough to bleed in several places and bask in the slight hitches in his breath. It's not enough so, while he's distracted by the sluggish way his blood slides down his chest, wondering where the blade will fall next, I lift my free hand and hit him hard and fast across the jaw.
This gets a sound of pain but he quickly snaps it up, clenching his jaw and turning his head back to me. His hair is falling out of it's slicked style and I note that he's sweating.
Recalling our conversation, I hum and press the blade to his cheek "I know what I want, Sullivan." He breathes in sharply and I wish that I was allowed to scar his face. I draw the knife away before my arms try to do it all by themselves. I drop it to his throat instead, dance it past his collarbone and slice. His groan is the best thing to happen today, quickly followed by the easy way blood slips and slides, mingling with the sweat over his chest. It pools at the waistband of his pant, slick wet marks across his skin.
I rock back on my heels and wipe the blade in his hair.
"So," I cluck my tongue again and watch the way his chest rises and falls, faster, the pulse in his throat visible now. He's afraid. It's what I wanted. I reach out for a moment to drag the blade down the center of his chest and I swear that he tracks the movement with those unseeing eyes of his but it's impossible.
I shove him back hard, tossing the blade aside. He was right on the second point and I know he's figuring that out, can see the realization on his face even as I shove my boot down hard over his shoulder, hearing a satisfying pop. He screams and I let my eyes close to the sound. He deserves this, this and so much more and I can't help it. I grind my heel down against the quickly purpling skin just because I want to see him writhe.
He does, lips parted in silent agony.
I'm not allowed to hurt him too badly, but the higher-ups won't be paying that much attention as long as he doesn't show up dead or disfigured. I get my fingers clenched in his once neat hair and jerk, forcing the kid back up. I watch him struggle, watch as the movement makes his heart beat faster, watch as it forces more blood out of the small wounds.
"You're a sick bastard, Sullivan. Do you know how many people your bots have killed?" I hiss and it comes out as far more righteous than I meant it too. Whatever. I force him forwards, bent over until his cheek touches the ground and I grin at the way he seems to be getting more and more panicked. I force his arm back and revel in the sick crunching sound it makes going back in.
He doesn't scream but it's close enough to count.
He doesn't respond to my words but I didn't really expect him to. Who would? If I were a heartless murdering son of a bitch would I give a shit? Doubtful. Sullivan looked pained but that was an easy write off, he had to be in a lot of fucking pain. The rest of his skin had been unmarked when I started. He either had a fantastic fucking surgeon or --
"Oh, Sullivan," I purr and stroke my fingers over his cheeks "Am I your first?" I flutter my eyelashes but he can't see it anyway. Shame, really. He smiles and without thinking I punch him square in the jaw, hard enough to make him cough blood. I take a step back, knowing distance was better if I wanted him to live. He coughes again and spits out a mouthful of red flecked looking blood, watered down with saliva. It's kinda pretty in an abstract, disgusting way.
There is a loud slamming sound and shouts from the hallway above us but I file it away for later. If it's serious I'll get buzzed over the radio, threats don't make it past the third level guards.
I bite my lip hard at the sight Sullivan makes now, he doesn't look broken enough but I know how to fix it. He's sprawled now, chest heaving even harder and it takes nothing at all to step over him, grab his hair again and slash the knife lightly across his brow. Facial wounds always bleed the most and I laugh low as it spills over his eye, forcing him to close them. That'll scar, I think. Another memory of the underground. Only this scar he can't use to fight back.
It occurs to me that Sullivan hasn't been fighting back, hasn't even struggled beyond what the body does naturally. The noises in the hallway above have stopped. I tilt my head and note that Sullivan does the same and -- he relaxes, just slightly. Despite the fact I could slit his damn throat in two seconds, he seems completely sure.
I tap my radio twice, call a check in with the first level guards. Nothing but static. There is a loud crash, screams and they're right outside the door. It's the MRA unit, it has to be and I turn around just in time to see the heavy set metal doors slam open as the MRA unit forces his way inside, sleek and deadly. Sullivan twists beneath me and I step away from him, barely noting as the kid forces himself onto his knees, bleeding all over himself.
"He's an amputee! Artificial Arms!" Sullivan suddenly shouts, and I realize about the same time as a stinging electrical charge goes up both of my arms that Sullivan could pick up more than his beloved robots with that eye of his. It explains a fucking lot but I don't have time to dwell.
My guards come pouring into the room almost too fast for the MRA unit to handle. I can barely see the blur of him, just the glowing blue outline of the EMP gun he'd used on me. I'm useless with my arms at both sides and duck behind two of my stronger guards, Sullivan surrounded by another four. My heart is pounding, adrenaline and I angle it so that I'm safer.
The sight of his master on his knees, half naked, bloodied and bruised does something strange to the MRA unit's face when he finally stops enough to see him. The android isn't panting, not exhausted in the least and it just reminds me of his inhumanity. The false determination on his face slackens when he takes in the form of Sullivan properly. It just strips and despite him being human all over on the outside he looks suddenly, terrifyingly inhuman. Not with rage, not with anger or fear or -- just aching, blank nothingness.
I manage a step backward and that's all the time I've got before the six guards that had been remaining are suddenly on the floor, dead or unconscious. I don't let panic grip me, I'm better than that, despite my lack of mobility. But the MRA unit correctly knows I'm not a threat at this point and merely gives me another one of his blank stares as he drops fluidly to check up on the Sullivan kid.
Surprisingly enough to kid doesn't budge when the cool hands come up to touch his face, recognizing immediately who it is. I file the information away - he has more sight than we thought. Much more. Enough to recognize my arms for what they were, enough to pick out the MRA unit from the simpler guard units I had outside.
Sullivan flinches when the MRA's fingers touch a cut too hard and I scoff, causing the MRA unit's attention to snap towards me. He almost looks like he's going to get up, and hello, hello, that's remarkably human for a robot but Sullivan jerks his arm out and grabs him, stumbling forward as he does.
The MRA unit catches him smoothly and continues his prodding, over the injuries on his chest, barely blinking at the blood though the wounds bled more than I'd been hoping for. I grin but don't make a noise, I'm not stupid and that android's more cowed to the Sullivan's influence. If I live through this...
"He didn't," Sullivan hisses when the MRA unit's hands pass over his lower back on their way down his spine. He's being thorough and I tilt my head at the implication. I'd meant it to look that way, but I only bloodied the kid up, nothing more, nothing less. Let Sullivan deal with the implied near-miss instead.
Sullivan puts up with the touches, closes his eyes and breathes ragged, slumps forward against the MRA unit and bares his teeth when he apparently jostles his shoulder too much.
The MRA unit stops, seemingly deciding that Sullivan is in condition enough to travel, or flee really, considering that the back up forces would be pouring through the doors at any minute. Permitting the fucking unit hadn't decimated them all. It strikes me that he probably has.
Rising with Sullivan still in his arms, just as fluidly as he'd knelt, he turns towards me and I wonder if he can kill me like that, still cradling his boss. I don't want to find out personally but it'd be a nice fact to know, all the same.
"Leave it," Sullivan says firmly, despite everything, despite the blood that's fresh and startling against his pale skin "He's not a threat anymore."
The Unit spares me a long look and I feel something like fear slide down my back. There was nothing in those blank eyes of his, nothing at all. And yet.
They left me there, the numbness in my arms fading to a tingle and I knew soon enough I'd have control back. I smile, the smile spreading wider across my face. Not a threat anymore? They'd given me more information than they'd bargained for and that was all I was really after. I hadn't counted on the MRA unit's - well, it wasn't fucking feeling but it was a close enough replica that he'd be trouble if Sullivan were harmed further. I knew already I'd made his mechanical black list and if he saw me again, Sullivan or no, I was dead.
But Sullivan, hm, Sullivan was a bleeding heart.
Unexpected, entirely unexpected with the things he was responsible for but then, he was only the puppeteer.
Unexpected but a perfect fit.
I flip open my radio as soon as my arms work enough and step over the crumpled bodies around me, sparing them half a glance before raising the radio to my ear.
"Casino here," I sigh and push at the closest body with my boot. The guy groans. "Yeah, job's done. Any casualties?" I laugh and step out into the hallway, squinting at the lumps of dark on the ground, on the stairs "You might want to come down here."