//BIO-STORAGE, INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
May 12, 5:30am
YOU HAVE BEEN REQUESTED TO ATTEND THE AUDITORIUM AT PRECISELY 6:00AM THIS MORNING. AS THIS IS AN HOUR BEFORE CURFEW RELEASE, AN INSTITUTE EMPLOYEE WILL ATTEND AND MANUALLY RELEASE YOUR DOOR. FROM THERE, YOU WILL HEAD DIRECTLY TO THE AUDITORIUM AND BE SEATED.NON-COMPLIANCE IS NOT AN OPTION.::
Ansel yawned as the green words blipped across the wall from an overhead projector, causing a loud pop to echo within the room. As it did every five minutes, a myriad of needles and artificial arms perforated and massaged his skin. The doctors said that the acupuncture would promote his regenerative abilities; Ansel surmised that they were sadists desperate on exacting revenge for their prior mistakes.
Mistakes, judging by the drying blood on the walls, that had yet to be rectified to any meaningful extent.
With an orchestra of mechanical whines, the hundreds of little appendages dotted every inch of his skin until his nerves began to express no longer pain, but heat. Blood trickled from every pore before drying against the miraculously cool and crisp air, and Ansel exhaled as his nerves spasmed wildly. They worked overtime trying to register the cold and the blood and the wet and dry and everything in between but the needles finally stopped, if only to allow him a few seconds' grace.
His bonds pulled away from each other and stretched his body taut like string. As they did usually, little pops from his joints rang out first. Then came the slight burning sensation as the fibers of his muscles wore out, and following soon after would come the sensation of a hot, searing flash licking across his body. And that was what made all the difference. Back then, his once-built and impressively chiseled body in his first few months could throw a man across the room and could even crack the glass that teased the outside world. Had he preserved and built up his strength, he might have been able to stockpile his combat experience to a proficiency where he could manage a single-digit like #9 bare-handed, but such wasn't meant to be. A weapon like the Gestalt could not be self-sufficient, lest it break its allegiance to humanity. The doctors were obligated to make sure that could never happen
So why could he still smell his guards' fear when they filed into the room? The slight tinge of deodorant, sweat, and urine filled the air as Ansel knew one of the men (or women; there were at least two in the 8 that rotated) had just pissed themselves slightly. Antique shotguns loaded with rubber slugs had their snouts pointed at him as soon as their owners could get a whiff of the blood, and by the time Ansel's little massage was over, 4 guards filed into a firing line as the restraints were released via remote.
Ansel hit the floor in a moist, bloody heap. One of the guards, a smaller man nicknamed 'Uther', snorted and commented on something about a handball on wet concrete before being given glares.
"So the short guy gets the short straw..." Uther muttered as he inched closer. "Up, #10."
But the concrete floor was so nice and cool, and Ansel hadn't slept in days.
"#10, would you like to have Moses come here again? I'll gladly snap your fucking arms if complying's an issue."
"I recall eating yours last time you tried. How are the new ones? Soft as a babe's?"
Uther started, stopped, then let out a quiet huff as he tugged Ansel upright by the back of the Child's collar. The barrel of his shotgun was pointed right behind Ansel's knees.
"About as soft as this part, #10. I'm working on a new set of calluses."
"Back off, Uther," one of the other guards warned. The bite-sized sentry pulled away, but not before gripping the cold, smoothbore barrel with both hands. A quick swing to Ansel's gut put the Child to his knees, and not long after the wretched man (if one could even call him that) retched and released a yellow, bitter bile onto the floor. But the guards were unfazed and uncaring; they made no movement to help him up.
A little abuse wouldn't kill something like him, after all.
//AUDITORIUM, INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
May 12, 5:57am
Ansel could just barely see the small of his favorite sister's back as she slipped out of the atrium and into the auditorium. The holding block usually was a quiet place, even with dozens of children of varying dispositions out and about. Couple that silence with the reinforced walls and windows, and you'd have Ansel's view of the world beyond : a cyclical silent film, all with the same actors and actresses scurrying to and fro to the same places.
Even so, getting out into the atrium failed to yield anything more than a better view of the rust's progress on the support beams. If he got out by force, Children by the flocks and droves would hide themselves from him, and the entire facility would be blanketed in an incessant red. But there would still be that unbearable silence; it seemed as though Ansel would never hear the clamor of his more docile siblings anytime soon.
Today, however, was a tad bit different. A murmur bounced off of the rails and glass panes, a murmur that tugged at Ansel's eardrum for attention. The Child yielded, and pivoted his head to look at a guard, foaming at the mouth. His hair was falling off, and his eyes were clouded with cataracts. Odd, considering that he smelled like 30 years of age.
A cursory glance at the adjacent door took all the curiosity from Ansel : Number 14 was being an arrogant little misfit again.
"Ah, shit...was that Anderson?" Uther called out to a threesome of medics. A quick nod prompted Ansel to get shoved forward by his pint-sized guard, and off they went to the wonderful myriad of aromas. He could smell so many different different, wonderful flavors : the charred, the fleshy, the sweet, the flowery, the fruity, the sweaty, the sour, the mellows.
Most importantly though : Alma, Kassandri, Eli, Daniel, Lilith, Marshall, Kacey, Trevor...
They were all to be present at the auditorium as well, just sitting there like a buffet for a bodybuilder. He could already imagine the chewy tendons and tentacles, the soft melt-in-your-mouth fat around the thighs and derrière, the rich and meaty livers and hearts with all their own little queer variances to suit their unique biology. Ansel would be in a paradise all of his fucking own if he could just turn those seats red.
A silver thread of drool slid off the tip of his lip at the thought, so Uther smacked the stock of his gun hard against the back of Ansel's head. The loud crack that followed brought a brief silence over the atrium as the last few kids, guards, and medics glanced for a moment before returning to their normal business. It was Ansel as usual; he was easily one of the most dangerous and useless of the children, they might assume. Too unwieldy to work with, yet too valuable to kill off or recondition. He was best kept locked off in his room to starve and rot. He was by no means battle ready.
The auditorium, undoubtedly, was a choir of whispers between all the Children, Children that spoke of rumors and ideas as to what might this conference be about. It was getting late enough to expect the Head of Security or some other higher-up to make their way to the stage at a fashionably late time. That's how these things were supposed to go.
Why was Ansel sitting at the rear row of folding chairs, unaccompanied?