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Glass and Steel, Part 14 - Brainwash
Posted By: Random 14-Year-Old<i-rule-2008@comcast.net>
Date: 19 May 2006, 6:57 am

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Glass and Steel

Part 14: Brainwash

Ren thrashed his body across the medic table, gripping the chains that so bound him in place. The constant yelling filled the small room with chaotic noise that pounded in Ren's ears like thunder.

"Stay in place, hold still!" the surgeon shouted.

"Tell me where Ariana is, now!" Howard yelled, and slapped Ren across the head.

"I'm telling you, I don't fucking know!" Ren screamed at the top of his lungs. "This needs to STOP!!"

Silence fell across the room, a deafening silence so sharp that Ren was able to hear the surgeon's tweezers fall to the ground. The surgeon bent down to retrieve them so he could finish his gruesome job.

Ren let his muscles relax on the medical table—the only part of him that was still moving was his chest, which heaved up and down as he caught his breath. He leaned his head back on the table and looked up at the ceiling—but Howard was there, leaning over him with a frown of dissatisfaction.

"We had a deal," Howard whispered, his reeking breath floating into Ren's face. "You will tell me where Ariana is, and I will have your legs fixed." He glanced at the surgeon, who had retrieved the tweezers and was now picking away at the dead tissue in Ren's right leg.

"You bastard," Ren seethed. "It's your goddamn lackey that did this to my legs in the first place. I'll start cooperating with you once I can walk on my own two feet again—"

"Listen to me, Ren Basely, listen to me!" Howard began to yell again. "You don't get it—I cannot believe you don't understand by now! I don't know what has led you to believe that you have power, but let me give you a news flash—you might as well be dead! You are nothing! It doesn't matter if you can walk on two feet or are paralyzed from the neck down, because you and I, as members of the human race, are powerless on this chaos-stricken, Covenant-infested, godforsaken planet!"

Ren looked away from Howard. He could not ignore the reasoning behind it all. Here he was, chained to a medical table with no usable legs, inside a base that would probably be bombed within the next twenty minutes, on a planet that had been annihilated by a superior alien race. He really was a worthless ant—and nothing mattered—

"Ah, but there is hope," Howard mused. "Of all the worlds that fell to the mighty Covenant, this one—Planet Luther—will go down in history."

A searing pain rippled through Ren's right leg as the surgeon mechanically sewed up the flesh. He felt his leg coming together, like pieces in a puzzle—except this puzzle was so painful he almost wished the surgery had never begun.

He remembered a book he had once read, in which the main character had traveled so much her feet had swollen and paralyzed themselves. But the feet only had to be massaged and—with some excruciating pain—the blood started flowing again and her feet were back to normal. She was told an interesting truth: "Anything dead coming back to life hurts."

Ren was stolen away from his memory by Howard's ranting. "A great uprising with spring from the shadows and crevices of the planet, and we will strike back at the Covenant! We will be marked down in history as Luther's great defenders who rose up and took back our planet from the Covenant!"

Ren rolled his eyes as he turned his head over on the table. As soon as his legs were fixed up and these chains were broken, he was going to escape from this place and find Ariana. He would not be able to go on living without knowing her whereabouts—and if he came across her rotting corpse, at least he would know she was safe in Heaven. But for now, he had one goal and one goal only—escape and find Ariana, and possibly kill Howard Gaffer if the man got in his way.

"Ren—" Howard said soothingly with a fake tone of compassion in his voice. "Join me—join me in retaliation against the Covenant. This fight is not over, not yet."

Ren kept silent, patiently waiting for the surgery to reach completion, when he would be able to escape...

"Join my forces, Ren—your acquisition is necessary to our cause. The fact that you can be the defining factor in this war is the only reason I had a helicopter pick you up in the middle of nowhere. Everything around you had crumbled in the wake of the plasma blasts, yet you had survived—albeit severely burned—but you survived nonetheless. We can harness your ability, Ren, and together we can strike back—"

Ren had heard enough, and his legs felt strong enough now to get him from point A to point B. He looked around the room—a plain chamber with shiny steel walls, and a rather weak-looking door at the end of the room his feet were pointing towards. Yes—perfect. He was betting on the assumption that there weren't any guards outside that door, so all he would have to deal with were Howard and this surgeon...

"Ren, are you listening to me—"

Grabbing hold of the sides of the table he was chained to, Ren heaved his body upward, lifting the table off the ground—and with a violent jerk he threw the table on its side, falling with it to the ground. Just as he had hoped, the edge of the table landed on the chains around Ren's left wrist, and the chains shattered into pieces.

"What the hell—no!" Howard yelled.

Ren threw himself to his feet and quickly made use of the medic table still chained to his right arm. He spun in a circle, swinging the table around and around until he hit something—

"Damn it, Ren!" Howard screamed above the noise of falling equipment. "When will you learn?!"

A gunshot split the air, and for a second Ren clenched his teeth to prepare for the pain—but instead of a bullet piercing his flesh, he felt the medic table break away from his arm and fly into the wall. Ren fell onto his side—partly out of confusion and partly because his legs were still weak—and he looked down at the ground in front of him. A smoking bullet was sitting in a pile of broken chain links.

"Nice shot," Ren snarled sarcastically.

"You'll never get it," Howard growled, and he bent down and violently grabbed Ren by the hair. "I have avoided saying this outright until now—but Ren, my boy, you are my slave. It still escapes me as to why you continue futile attempts to escape. It bewilders me even more how you don't seem enthusiastic about fighting the Covenant. Do you not want revenge? Tell me, Ren. Tell me what your motives are, and what you plan to do if you escape from me. Tell me—is there a party going on that you must attend?"

Ren jerked his head to the side, but Howard held a firm grip on his hair. "Is that supposed to be your sense of humor?"

Howard slammed Ren's head against the wall. "Tell me what you plan to do."

"I told you already," Ren said, giving in. "I don't know where Ariana is—so I plan to find her. Now, I told you—let me go."

Howard made a motion to the surgeon, who started shuffling through a case of dark cylinders. "No, Ren. I will let you go once you have served your purpose—" The surgeon handed Howard a needle, which was attached to a syringe filled with a substance Ren didn't like the look of.

"Get that away from me—" Ren protested, but Howard stabbed the needle into Ren's neck and pressed down on the syringe. Ren watched as the substance left the cylinder—and he felt an overwhelming prickly numbness spread through his body.

Howard smiled. "Now maybe that purpose will be clear for you."

Ren tried to grab the needle and remove it, but he lost the strength to lift his arm and his whole body fell limp against the wall. He was losing consciousness—no—he could fight it—fight it—

But there was no point in fighting. Within moments Ren's brain underwent a transformation—he felt strange emotions pulse through him—optimism, confidence, and bravery to name a few. Ren could feel his mind changing gears, reworking his thoughts, hopes, and dreams. His goal of finding Ariana was clouded, masked by a new goal—to terminate the Covenant attackers. He fought to hold on to the memory of Ariana, but the more he tried to protect the memory the more it slipped away. So many clouded thoughts, and so many artificial emotions—the mind-numbing confusion—clouds—murkiness—


The clock struck 2 o'clock.

Ren hopped out of bed and saw General Gaffer standing in the doorway, waiting for him.

"Two-minute shower, and we're down at the demo arena," Gaffer ordered.

Ren looked him straight in the eye. "Make sure my MA5B is ready for testing."