"End this pain
give back her life
give me oblivion
and let my crying fade"
God, it more than hurt, there was no word to describe the excruciating pain that laced down his throat. He wanted to scream so badly, but it hurt just to breathe.
Damn sadistic old bastard. He thought, trying to articulate passed the painful blockage in his throat. What did he do to me?
"Slash? Slash, you okay?"
It took a moment for him to dare open his eyes. The one that hovered over him was, however, kind enough to block the light source with his body, easing on his dilated pupils.
He opened his mouth to speak, to ask who it was, but as the first syllable passed his lips, it set his throat on fire. He tried not to cough and gag against the pain, which only lead it to hurt more, clawing at his chest, trying to sooth his nerves.
"Here, here. Just rest. I'll take care of it." The figure moved, washing Slash in light and making him wince. The other, he heard, was tapping around a keyboard, cursing beneath his breath.
He squinted, trying to align his optical sensors correctly. The form was thin, willowy. His hair was so white it seemed to give off a frosted halo.
Freeze...? He wanted to say. Instead, his brother swore louder.
"I'm sorry." He said, deep voice soft. He turned to Slash with blue eyes so clear, filled with regret. "Wily-sama blocked all access to your pain receptors. You'll have to deal with it until the nanites integrate the chip with the rest of your system." It was fairly new technology, Freeze being the first to be built with partial nanotechnology. They weren't that powerful and could only integrate new systems with the main programs, or knit small wounds. Either way, it was a painful process.
Slash shook his head, grabbing Freeze's arm. 'Why?' he mouthed painfully. The elder was one of the most loyal Robot Masters created. He didn't have much of a spine when it came to those stronger than him and he was, more or less, the perfect lapdog. He did things without question, without hesitation, always looking for a way to help someone out. So why was he risking himself for him?
The ice master just smiled slightly. "I'm programmed to be a medical robot. I don't like seeing others in pain." He placed a pale hand on Slash's throat carefully. "I'll try something to numb the pain, okay?"
He merely nodded. The hand became cold, numbing down the nerves and deadening the pain along his neck. Slash shivered out a sigh of relief.
"Thank you..." he managed to croak, but winced when speaking still proved to hurt too much.
"Ne, Slash..." Freeze began, not really looking at the clawed robot. "You're not very popular around here at the moment. Because you kept sneaking out... Wily-sama... h-he put in a choke chip. In all of us. If we step off the compound or make him upset, he says that he'll... choke us to death." His hand twitched slightly against Slash's throat. "What's so great outside of the fortress?"
It wasn't much of a comforting gesture, it could probably not even be considered a brotherly gesture. But Slash placed a hand over Freeze's wrist. "I have..." he rasped, "promises..." He pulled the hand from his throat and sat up, trying to hold back another round of painful coughing.
"Slash!" Freeze was by his side, holding onto his arm. "Don't get up. You still need to rest."
"No..." he wheezed. "Promised..."
"Slash, please. Don't do this."
"I don't want -- "
" -- to shut you off -- "
" -- but..."
His hand, outstretched, fell limply over the table. Head bowed, he tilted lifelessly against Freeze.
"I'm sorry, Slash." He said, petting the long spiked hair. "I can't let you hurt yourself..."
After that incident, Slash was kept under relatively heavy surveillance courtesy of the friendlier, more compassionate group of Robot Masters.
It wasn't them that bothered Slash so much, though. It was the fact that he wasn't allowed in the outer area of the fortress. The only place he was allowed access anymore was deep within the heart of the base, never outside, even for training. He was becoming so overwhelmed by wanderlust and the need to see Sierra that his temper had become even shorter, he snapped at everyone, he refused to eat and would take out his frustrations on anything that got in his way. Walls, tables, random inanimate objects, even the occasional Robot Master.
But, what made him the most irritable was what the other Robot Master would do in retaliation.
Ever since the incident with Gemini in the mess hall, it came to be known that Slash was, in fact, not interested in guys. It was chalked up to the fact that Wily seemed to put down an animalistic base personality for the clawed robot, making him competitive for top spots and making him aggressive whenever another tried to challenge his position. Including being 'invaded', even in a relationship.
It wouldn't have mattered to the others so much, that is, if Slash hadn't become, during his incarceration, so adamant about his position on relationships that he couldn't even stand the sight of any of the others 'getting it on', so to speak.
The crueler, grudge-carrying robots labeled him as 'homophobic' and made it their business to mercilessly tease him. Either by enacting a loving scene purposefully in his presence, or jokingly trying to get him to join them.
However, because of the choke chip, Slash was unable to do anything to stop them. The first time he had, Wily, keeping a closer eye on him until he had shown signs of taming, activated the chip, leaving him gasping on his knees. That had only encouraged the others to continue their torturing.
And the others, those that kept an eye on him more for his protection, didn't do anything to help him.
Before, Slash's isolation was self-imposed. He knew that, if he really wished, he could shake off his hermitage and find friends among his peers. But this... He had no one to turn to, no one was willing to help him. It wasn't him that was pushing everyone away, but everyone else that turned their backs on him, that didn't want a thing to do with him.
His room was no longer a haven from the brain dead antics of the other Robot Masters. Now it was a sanctuary from the others. Curled under his covers, all communication channels blocked, all he could do was wish to be back outside again.
"Sierra..." he said quietly, flipping idly through a stack of bills he had accumulated to help pay for her operation. "I wonder what you're doing right now. I wonder if you miss me..."
"Man... I knew it'd cause trouble if we didn't pick it up."
"I thought it was destroyed."
"You mean you didn't know? That was the prototype for nanotech. Damn, just think of all the pain it went through the passed year."
"Explains why he's so grouchy."
He didn't really pay attention to the conversation as he walked in. The recroom wasn't his most favorite place to be in at the moment. But, he was the type that liked knowing what was going on with the world. And there was no way he'd be able to know it hiding in his room.
A handful of Robot Masters were there. All had stopped their activities to watch the view screen, turned into the local news.
On it was a scene of intense fighting. The main focus of the camera was the large, dinosaur that lunged about the place. The same one that, if memory served, Wily had placed in his last fortress, one of the many obstacles Rock had overcome in order to stop the doctor. Or at least, Slash assumed that it was the same one. It limped as it lumbered, mechanics clearly visible under the molted scales, torn and burnt from its previous battle.
The scene switched to a newsroom with a pretty young woman at a desk.
"For those of you just joining us now," she said, "we are currently showing a visual of the fight between Rock Man and a robotic dinosaur of some sort. It started in the country side, but moved its way west towards the outskirts of -- " There was a tremendous noise and the woman shrieked. On the screen, the small split screen that was the view of the battle lurched over suddenly, the world spinning around them before blacking out and becoming static. The woman, clearly shaken up and pale, sat trembling unsure of what to do. "W-We..." her voice was shaking, "we have just lost our camera. P-Please hold while we deal with the... the problem."
The Robot Masters were laughing, laughing at the display, making crude comments to the screen.
But Slash stood there, stunned, shocked, silent.
The camera, just before it broke, showed a shot of the area.
A commercial district.
It showed a shot of the Sister's Thrift Store just before it went out.
Owned by two elder women whose main light he had fixed.
Just a week ago...
His lungs tried to expel all the air out of him.
...fighting near the park.
...fighting in the market area.
...fighting near Sierra.
He left before anyone realized he was even there.
Skull Fortress was quite a ways off from the city, several miles, nearly an hour driving. But from its position on a hill, the city was in clear view, sprawled in along the trees.
And perhaps Wily had purposefully miss-instructed them all or it was Freeze's way of trying to keep Slash from getting into anymore trouble. Either way, the moment he stepped off the compound, he didn't stop, but kept running, throat clenched, expecting to be choked at any moment. But the pain never came.
He wondered idly if Wily did do anything to him, after all...
He ran, full speed, calling out his armor to give him the extra boost of speed and kept a channel open to a talk radio station, trying to find out more on the status of the fight.
" -- the authorities have evacuated the residence, but the panic is making it hard to keep order -- "
" -- several people are missing when the first of the buildings were destroyed and -- "
" -- wounded and dozens more presumed dead -- "
" -- wonder why this happened -- "
" -- robot of Dr. Wily and -- "
" -- another building -- "
" -- another building -- "
" -- another building -- "
" -- had just been destroyed."
He snarled, eyes burning. He diverted all power to his boosters, racing towards the city.
He had nearly made it into the outskirts, half an hour's run, when the choke chip activated.
It caught Slash completely by surprise, causing him to stumble, gripping his throat reflexively. Wheezing, he blearily looked around, trying to figure out where exactly he was.
He struggled against the chip, charging around the rubble that littered the once beautiful park. He ignored it. He had somewhere to go, someone to save.
But as he ran, the chip began to get stronger, sucking at his power grid to squeeze his airway.
But he couldn't stop.
His eyes glowed brighter, trying to drive back the foreign attacker in his body, trying to get him to his destination.
His vision swam, his lungs burned, he could feel several grids burning themselves out, but still he pushed forward.
He had to save her.
He had to get to her.
He had to.
Another rooftop crashed down around, smashing against his armor, sending him off balance, dust clogging his mouth.
He couldn't breath. He couldn't see. He couldn't...
Almost there... almost...
The building he remembered, rundown, but lively, lay in ruins. Half of it stood, threatening to crumble in on its on itself while the other half spilled into the streets.
She couldn't have died. He raped, reaching out with a trembling hand.
He was raising money for her operation.
He was making her a bracelet for her birthday.
She was turning 7 in November.
She was so young and intelligent.
The choking was wracking his body so badly, he stumbled to his knees, what could have been considered bile forcing its way through his throat.
Almost there... He was so close.
He didn't have the strength to stand up. He crawled, arm stretched to its fullest.
He blacked out.
A yard away from a young, broken hand protruding out from under the rubble.
He didn't know the time when he opened his eyes again. He could hear beeping and a couple others scurrying about. They were talking. Talking about him, about the chips he let burn out, about how much they had to replace in him.
He heard them call him an idiot.
He heard them call him stupid.
He heard them say Man was a waste of time.
He heard them praise the manic dinosaur.
He heard them say...
...they deserved their fate.
And he saw Sierra's calm face staring up at him, heedless of the death she had barely missed.
And he saw Sierra's wonderful smile against the cool of the park.
And he saw Sierra's home, struggling, but never giving up, her mother, tired, but with a silent grace that could never be beaten down. The kids in the street, destitute, but happy, begging him to play with them. The store owners, trying their best to make money in a market of the poorly paid middle class, but the friendliest people in the world.
And he saw the buildings broken, the people that he come to know bleeding and screaming and crying and others laying dead, faces frozen in shock, the homes and stores they worked so hard to keep a smoldering wreckage.
And he saw Sierra's hand, so tiny, so fragile, reaching out for him from the broken building.
The Robot Masters jumped at the sudden outburst, turning to see Slash, prone on the lab table. He snarled, roared, jerking against the shackles that kept him pinned to the table.
They knew that Wily had warned them that Slash would be barbarous when he woke up, he had instructed them to chain him down tightly. But...
He was like a wild animal, desperate and raging against the cage that oppressed him.
Snarling, he kept pulling against the binds, letting the hard metal crush against his wrist as he struggled.
One of the onlookers realized what he was trying to.
"He's trying to break the arterial tubing!" He cried, moving to pin the hand to the table. Another followed him with gauze and undid the binding in order to wrap the wound as yet another prepared a tranquilizer shot.
But, once the shackle was open, Slash's eyes glowed fiercely, striking his palm against the underside of one's chin, then swiping them both aside with one sweep of his arm. With a roar, he unsheathed his claws and dug them into his own wrist, bare and clenched.
"Fuck! He's trying to kill himself!" The third gaped, then clicked open the comm unit. "We need people in the secondary lab! Slash is loose!"
He tried to get in close in order to give the give the shot to the clawed Robot Master, the other two attempting to hold him down, but...
Slash just threw them off of him, tearing one open from cheek to shoulder, breaking another's shoulder with a knife strike. And the third was pushed back with a palm thrust, the shot dropping to the ground, the bottle he held shattered against the computer panel he fell against. The liquid shorted out the system, plunging the room into darkness before the backup lights came up. The other three binds on Slash popped open.
Slash sprung from the table, lashing out against the security cameras hanging against the walls, frothing. Before the last camera hit the floor, he charged at the large computer banks attacking them mercilessly, sending sparks and shrapnel flying, small fires starting among the wiring.
Wily must have been watching. The computer screens, the ones that lined all over the walls and counters, all flickered on at the same time. Each one held a scene of the fight between the dinosaur and Rock. But it wasn't the fight that they showed, but rather, the destruction of one of the buildings.
Of Sierra's home.
He stood, still, arms trembling as the scene of the side of the building sliding down was replayed.
He roared angrily, attacking the view screens that dotted the lab. Smashing the screen, pulling at the wires, the gutted the lab in his rage. And when the screens stopped playing, he watched the destruction in his minds eyes.
He couldn't handle it. He couldn't deal with the emotions that raged inside of him, tearing him apart inside.
He gripped his head, crying, screaming, trying to make sense, trying to regain control.
He couldn't take it.
He couldn't deal.
He couldn't live like this.
He clawed at his eyes, trying to pry the pictures from his very head.
"God, somebody stop him!"
It was a scene of a macabre sort, watching him trying to dig his eyes from his face. By that time, Stone and Guts had come in. They didn't have to be told what to do. They charged at Slash's side, pulling his arms away from his face. One eye was already damaged, red fluid leaking into the whites, blood spilling over his cheek, the other, the skin was torn around the crevice, the plating beneath had buckled under the force of his fingers. He wailed against their grip, trying to shake away, jerking and pushing and pulling and screaming incoherently.
Slash was a hard one to keep a hand on, they struggled to keep him between them. And when Wily entered...
His eyes flared nearly white when he saw the doctor, they could hear his grids powering up, whirling in the sudden surge. He lunged out, almost slipping from the two Robot Master's grasp. They kept themselves between Wily and the raging robot, but Slash wouldn't let them defeat him so easily. He strained against their impressive bulk, legs quivering as pushed against them. The floor buckled slightly under the stress and slowly... slowly but noticeably, he began to push the two back.
They were startled, to say the least, and braced themselves down. But Slash felt them give ground, and with a roar, the mechanics in his legs beginning to burn themselves out, he rushed against them, sending them off balance and on to the floor.
Then... he charged at Wily, claws outstretched.
And his voice cut off abruptly.
Not just his voice, but his breathing.
He could feel the choke chip burning against his throat as it clogged his air passage, not letting air in or out of his body.
Slash staggered forward, collapsing at Wily's feet. He couldn't even make a sound, trying to claw the chip from his neck.
Wily just snarled at the downed Robot Master. "Pitiful." That said, he lashed out with a foot, catching Slash in the jaw, flipping the weakened 'bot onto his back. He watched him try to speak, try to breathe. "I told you, my dear child. It is much easier for me to destroy you. Much easier... than for you to try and kill me."
He couldn't speak, the world fading from his eyes again. He wanted to cry and wail against the futility of it all, but lacked the strength. He wanted die, he wanted it to end.
He wanted Sierra back...
In the end, all he got was the empty blackness that only held the tortured screaming of those he had befriended, tearing apart his mind each moment he closed his eyes, ripping away at his will until the time he finally listed away.