Griever Chapter 11

Breaking Point

By Larathia

He couldn't move, he couldn't open his eyes, he couldn't feel. Squall was no stranger to bouts of melancholy where such things might occur, but this felt different. For one thing, he didn't feel sad. Or even that strange empty emotionlessness that sometimes came over him. Somewhere, he was sure, he should be very very angry. But the only emotion that penetrated the numbness and fog was a vague curiosity.

He was vaguely aware of a heaviness in his head, a pain in his stomach. Then something changed, and there was pain all down his back, and on the back of his head. Vaguely, he felt this might mean he'd been dropped on something - but he didn't remember being carried, and couldn't seem to care much. He heard clicking footsteps, but the sound kept fading in and out so he had no idea where they were coming from. Then a voice, soft and feminine...concerned?

"Seifer, you ass," she said. "I gave you permission to injure him, not to trank him to death. How many shots did you use?"

The part of Squall's mind that could still think was wondering why the words were so angry when the tone was so gentle and concerned. The dichotomy was...disconcerting.

"Six," came the reply. He knew that voice, didn't he? What had the woman called him?

"Six," said the woman. "Two would have been more than enough, and you used three times that. He's no good to me dead, Seifer. Get Odine."

More names he should know. But the harder he struggled for consciousness, the more control slipped away from him. Was there something going on?.....

* * * * * * * * * *

Squall blinked, his eyes feeling as if they'd been closed so long they'd sealed themselves that way. Slowly, he shook his head to clear his thoughts. His head felt like it had been filled with lead, heavy and slow.

Things began to register in his mind. The first was that he was looking at himself. Not his clothes, himself. He was in a standing position, and the only thing he was wearing was his LionHeart pendant? He looked around. No, not just the pendant. He also had Griever, still on his finger. But all the rest of his clothes were gone. He was chained upright, arms and legs spread so that he looked like a human X, completely nude save for his jewelry.

This could not be a good sign. He tried to give the chains a tug, but there was no give. No give at all. The only part of his body he could truly move was his head. Otherwise there was only useless wriggling.

Then he noticed the size of the room - huge - and the disturbing array of glass windows along every wall he could see. And alternating every window was a mirror. He could see the whole room.  And the whole room could see him.

This was definitely not a good sign. Even the D-District prison had let him keep his clothes. Yet there was no sign of any racks of torture implements...not even syringes or latex gloves.

They certainly hadn't allowed him to wake up like this to offer him waffles drenched in syrup. He was almost positive that whatever his captors had in mind, he wasn't going to like it. The only thing he could find worthy of hope in the whole mess was he couldn't see Rinoa. Whatever else happened, they didn't have Rinoa.

"We did not want the Sorceress," came a melodic, feminine voice. "We wanted you. And we will have you for as long as we please, Squall Leonhart."

This was the woman who had spoken before. As she entered the room, Squall could see that she had long brown hair, brown eyes, and a petite frame. She couldn't be more than five feet tall. She smiled sweetly, as though he were a guest at a manor house. She came right up next to him, almost close enough to touch. Involuntarily, Squall tried to move away and found again that he could not.

"Don't touch me," he said before he thought.

The little woman laughed, a sweet cheerful sound. "Such a beautiful boy," she said, and reached up to play with his hair. He jerked his head to one side, angrily. "Ah, so delicate. So proud. Did it wound your pride, Squall, when Rinoa had to rescue you from the time-compressed world?"

She backed up, so that she did not have to look up so far to see his face. "Squall, you seem to misunderstand. I had you brought here; you will have nothing that I do not give you, experience nothing that I do not let you experience. It is not your place any longer to say what will and will not happen to you."

This woman is seriously crazed, thought Squall. To his surprise, her eyes narrowed.

"I am not crazy, Squall. You are hardly the one to make such judgements in any case, so lacking in courage as you are."

You can read thoughts? thought Squall carefully.

"Much more than that," said the woman. "I can read everything in your mind, just as it happens. Everything you think, everything you feel, is open to me. Thus I know that you were lost in Time Compression because you lacked the courage to reach out with your whole heart. It rests in your mind, so I know it - even though I was not there."

Squall blinked, trying to ignore the sting of her words to concentrate on their import. This was worse, much worse, than nudity. He had spent his whole life behind walls and masks and shells. Now, all at once, he had none. For the first time, a tendril of fear uncurled in his stomach.

"I see you understand me," said the woman cheerfully. "You know the three parts of a living being? The mind, the body, and the soul? I can't touch your soul, unfortunately. And as a SeeD, you are trained to endure the punishment of the body. But the mind...ah, the mind. We all have our ghosts and demons, our fractures in the mind, do we not? I know where your fractures are, Squall."

All at once she was within a breath of touching him again. Squall could sense her nearness and it was not in the least bit pleasing to him. He wanted nothing more in the world, right at that moment, than to push her away with all his strength. He shuddered with sudden revulsion. She looked up into his face and smiled beatifically, as though she were a lover coming in close for a snuggle.

"Your mind I can break, Squall. And I will. Such a beautiful mind, so fragile. But do not worry, I will not allow you to die. You will live to see your Rinoa again."

The woman stepped delicately toward the exit, but paused at the door. She turned back to face him, still smiling cheerfully.

"And with any luck, you will kill her."

No...thought Squall. I will die first.

* * * * * * * *

Alicia evidently knew him as well as she said she did, for the session had begun simply by having some twenty men and women enter the room and stare at him. This had been very uncomfortable, given his state of undress. Squall dressed the way he did so that if people noticed anything about him, it was his clothes. But there was no such shield now, and these people were eyeing him with clear emotions playing on their faces. The men and women circled him, out of arm's reach - or at least, where his arms would reach if they were free, and completely ignored any sound or movement he made. Some were blatantly bored; that stung a bit even through the embarrassment. And some eyed him with a predatory gleam in their eye that made Squall very uneasy. How far would this go? Occasionally they spoke - always to each other, never to him, but loudly enough that he would hear.

"So this is the savior of the world?" asked one woman, scornfully. "Doesn't look like much. Looks like a rabbit in a car's headlights to me."

"Mmmm," murmured another woman. "Just the way I like 'em, long and lean. Do you think her ladyship will share him?"

"I hope so," rumbled one man. "There's precious little fun out here. Don't know why she asked me to bring my toys along."

Such fearful thoughts for someone who thinks himself a lion, came the brown-eyed woman's voice. I will give you to them, and you will please them in whatever ways I permit. It is a fitting punishment for one who cannot keep his promises, even to one he claims to love.

No! snapped Squall, but there was as much fear as anger in his tone, and both he and the woman knew it. One of his observers cocked her head and smiled, turning to her companions.

"She says we may touch," she told them, and moved for Squall. Instinctively he tried to back away, or fight, or do something to keep her away from him. But he couldn't, bound as he was. She reached him and began to run her hands around his chest; exploratory, loverly. Squall shuddered as everyone else caught up and did the same thing, on whatever part of his body they could reach. The press of bodies was so close that although Squall could feel hands on his buttocks, on his genitals, he could not see to whom those hands belonged. He could only feel them.

Don't touch me! rang in Squall's mind, over and over again.

And yet you know that your friend Irvine would be in heaven right now, came the brown-eyed woman's voice. Can it be that you are so much weaker than he, that such friendly touches disturb you?

Get them away from me! cried Squall, or tried to. He was horrified to find that his body reacted to the caresses even though he didn't want this in any way. This was not desirable; this was strangers treating him as though he were no more than a toy.  Lips and tongues began to join the caressing hands, everywhere from his nipples to sliding wetly between his cheeks, to his growing erection. He shook his head reflexively, trying to deny these people their fun. They were making his body something not his own, not under his control, and it was terrifying. Someone grabbed his face and forced their tongue into his mouth, kissing him roughly. Squall coughed and bit down hard, causing the man to fall back with a bleeding mouth.

They immobilized his head and jaw after that, and someone cast a float spell so that the man he'd bitten could shove an erection into his mouth as he gagged.

How will your beloved Rinoa feel, to know that you have sired uncounted children on women you do not even know, when you will not even touch her without your gloves on? came the brown-eyed woman's gentle laughing voice in his mind.

The idea of Rinoa knowing anything of what was going on made Squall feel sick to his stomach. Fresh determination filled him as he tried to regain control of his body, and for a while he seemed to succeed. But this did not deter the hands, lips, tongues, caresses - if anything it caused them to intensify their efforts. He could feel the brown-eyed woman in his mind, carefully noting his reactions. When they reached near to the point of release, a woman straddled him to receive it, and Squall could not prevent it; even the pain of having a woman's entire weight on his standing body didn't help. He felt like he might pass out, from self-loathing as much as anything else, but the brown-eyed woman's hold on his thoughts forced him to face the world around him.

Which got worse. The laughing mob had not stopped their caresses, and Squall found his body encircled by large arms, and felt an erection pressing against him from behind. Squall was past vocalizing his horror by now, beginning to shake and hating himself even more for being unable to stop it. Fresh disgust and shame filled him as he realized that there were observers watching dispassionately from the windows.

That started a trend; men behind and women in front, touching and caressing and occasionally forcing themselves onto him, Squall's eyes blurring one stranger into another as he shook and trembled, though apparently his involuntary vibrations only spurred his captors on to new heights. He lost track of how many times they goaded his body to orgasm, how many women might bear his child. He tried to force thoughts of Rinoa from his mind, trying to keep her separate from this horror, tried to keep something free from the degradation.

You assume that she would have you now, came the brown-eyed woman's thoughts. Will she, do you think, when every woman that bears your child has black hair and brown eyes, just as she does? Will she believe your protests that it was beyond your control, as I parade the mothers of your children before her?

Did they? The faces blended together, and Squall was finding it harder and harder to think as time went on, retreating slowly into wordless emotional reactions. He tried to use the SeeD techniques for handling physical torture, tried to retreat into his mind, or force himself to sleep or pass out, but every time that woman would enter his mind and force him to feel every touch even more clearly than he already did.

Once, the sheer disgust forced him to vomit. He came to regret that his stomach was empty as the caressing hands touched him with it on their fingers, not slowing a beat. He retched helplessly for what seemed like hours, until someone threw a bucket of warm water over him.

Such a brave, stoic SeeD, came the brown-eyed woman's thoughts. So easily revolted, so very delicate. How would your companions feel, to know that they have followed such a weak man, and placed their lives in his hands?

Alicia turned to Odine, who was watching the experiment with his entire attention. "When may we begin the tests?" she asked.

Odine checked some figures on his clipboard. "He has remarkable endurance," he commented. "I vould haf thought him to lapse into unconsciousness hours ago."

"That is my doing, Odine," said Alicia. "I am holding his mind here. He has been trying to escape that way for a few hours now, but I will not let him."

Odine looked at her. "Then vy do you ask me ven ze tests begin? How is Odine to know ven he has reached his limit?"

"We only need to know the limit of his strength for now, do we not?" she asked sweetly. "Has he exerted strength greater than the recorded limit?"

Odine checked the readouts against his clipboard, and said, "No. He exerted his greatest strenkt...about two hours ago."

Alicia looked out the observation window, and smiled. Squall was surrounded by a sea of strangers, all touching him anywhere they liked, as hard or soft as they liked. She could feel the revulsion in his mind as he tried to reject their nearness, their intimacy. But he could not move.

He had not yet said anything, though the growls were getting closer to cries or whimpers as the hours wore on. Nor had he wept. Alicia would not let him weep; that was part of his torture. She did not need to keep him from speaking. He knew as well as anyone that there was nothing he could say that would make any of them stop, or go away. As she touched his mind, she knew that he didn't even have any words to describe the violation he felt. She could hear his thoughts, trying to rationalize the touches, the bodies, the caresses. Other people touched all the time, right? But to Squall, touching another human being was an invasion, repugnant. There was no reason for it; it simply hurt on some level to touch another person's skin for any reason. Only Rinoa had ever even felt his hands, and Alicia's insinuations on his doubts concerning Rinoa had confused him even more. And now, an army of strangers could touch places much more private than just his fingers. The sensations were unbearable.

She reached out to him with her mind, knowing he would feel her walking in his thoughts. If a mind could shudder, his did. At the edge of his consciousness, Alicia could hear the single as-yet-unvoiced scream that would signal his breaking. Slowly it was growing louder.

He struggled, of course. The bonds chafed at his neck, his wrists, his ankles, but Alicia knew he was past noticing the pain. He struggled as fiercely as he could because there was no part of him that could conceive of not struggling, but he was growing weaker. She would not let his mind retreat into sleep, or unconsciousness, and this had been going on all day. She smiled at him, knowing he was past seeing anything but the mass of bodies all around him, his thoughts a jumble trying to deal with the physical invasion as well as the mental one. A lion, indeed, even if he did think of himself as a wolf. She laughed softly to herself. A wolf, a lone wolf. Wolves touch much more often than Squall, and have more faith in their pack.

She turned to Odine. "I think perhaps he is ready for the tests," she said. "Have you chosen a subject?"

Odine smiled and nodded. "Oh yes," he said. "I am thinkink maybe Carbuncle? Somezink he could not use to escape, you see."

The faintest hint of a frown pulled at Alicia's face. "You told me the bonds are strong enough to hold the Sorceress," she said.

"Zey are," said Odine. "I simply vish to start small. Ve vill haf time for ze more...dramatic GFs later."

"We only have a few days, Odine," she said. "The SeeDs will come looking for him as soon as they know he is missing, and I do not want them finding me yet."

Odine dismissed this with a wave of his hand. "I vill have ze strongest GFs for him ven he is mentally ready," he said. "If it is time to release him, a simple transmitter vill inform us of his progress. Zey cannot track a receiver."

Alicia nodded. "Very well, Odine." She turned back to her observation of Squall. He was trying to retreat into his thoughts again, trying to refuse the situation he was in. Ruthlessly she used her power to haul him back into himself, forcing him to feel every touch, dropping thoughts into his mind insinuating he was weak for trying to hide from them. She could see his muscles straining as he tried once again to break out of his bonds, fresh desperation spurring him on. She knew he could feel her in his mind. She didn't even need to read his thoughts to know how much that terrified him.

She smiled as she contemplated his pale, leanly muscled frame, knowing that not even Rinoa had been allowed to see and touch where every person in her complex now saw and touched. Such a reserved little star. Such a beautiful boy. Even when he reached thirty, he would still look so much like a boy. She supposed it was the lack of furriness. That didn't bother her a bit; she had never been fond of hairy chests, legs or backs. Thinking of that, she sighed and closed her eyes. It was but the smallest twist of her power to lock Squall in the moment. She could leave him now and attend to her other duties, and he would not know anything but that one second, replayed over and over in his mind.

She pressed a button that signaled to the people in the room they could take a break. As they filed out, she noted that some of them had had rather more fun with Squall than they should have. She noted their identities; no one had been told they could play - only tease. But that would have to be later.

She walked past several rooms in the long corridor. Her complex had once been a series of caves, but she had had them refined into a proper underground residence. She came to the door she wanted and entered the room. Inside was a large opaque tank with some tubes coming out. The metal of the tank limited her power at any distance. After making sure the connections were properly filled or emptied of various substances, she laid her hand on the tank's wall.

Alicia, let me out, please! I can't feel anything, hear anything, see anything please talk to me let me out please! I'll do anything you want, anything anything...

She smiled, but did not grace the mental voice with a reply. Seifer was so much Squall's opposite. Where Squall loathed human contact, Seifer required it. Where Squall was reserved and introverted, Seifer was reckless and impulsive. It even extended to their physical appearance; Squall a pale star beside Seifer's burning sun, each with that scar across the forehead and nose. It was fascinating; Alicia was almost tempted to include Seifer in the tests, just to compare the results. Hmm. She would have to discuss that with Odine.

But Seifer had pushed his orders too far this time, bringing Squall near to death with that tranquilizer overdose. It had taken precious hours to counteract the effect. Seifer needed punishment, and sensory deprivation was as terrifying to Seifer as touch was to Squall. Still, Seifer was hers. She would let him out...perhaps tomorrow morning.

She would not want the burning sun to fade.

Alicia smiled and continued on her rounds.

* * * * * * * *

The next morning, they began the tests.

Squall had not been alone at all during that night, as Alicia sent his tormentors in shifts. He did manage to sleep, it seemed. At least, he was much more vocal as his numbed mind replayed the events of the day over and over again, his own mind tormenting him at least as much as Alicia did. Rising early, Alicia watched his dreams; he was trying to find a way to explain things to Rinoa. It was rather cute, really. If he'd had any control over the situation at all there would have been nothing to explain, but Squall simply couldn't accept helplessness. Hence his current dilemma; he couldn't believe that what was happening was not, in some way, his fault, therefore he had to explain it to Rinoa.

Odine filled a syringe from the vial marked 'Carbuncle', a bright green glowing material. Alicia signaled that her servants could take a break as Odine entered the room alone.

Squall still had presence of mind enough to recognize the ridiculous costume of Doctor Odine. The idea of Odine injecting him with something - for Squall could see the syringe - had put him into a blind panic; Odine had no regard for human life whatsoever when he was performing his 'experiments', and the woman who had promised he would live had said nothing about the kind of life she would leave him. But the chains held, as they always did, holding hands and feet and head immobile. He had agility enough to squirm, and that was it.

He tried not to remember, but he was losing control of his thoughts. He wondered why it didn't matter where he was touched. He knew most people simply didn't like being touched in the groin or the chest, but were okay with things like hugs or handshakes. Squall kept everything covered for the simple reason that to him there was no difference between a nipple or an elbow. Everything was sensitive. It had always been that way. Clothes were a necessary part of his shield. You will not see me, you can't touch me, you can't hurt me...

But they could. They could see everything, even his thoughts. They could touch everything, even his thoughts. And they were hurting everything, all the way into the private corners of his mind. Desperately he tried to focus on the real world, tried to see what Odine held...

Squall had no idea what was in the syringes. He knew Odine wouldn't tell him, either. It would ruin the experiment for Squall to know what was happening to his body. There was no part of him these people weren't going to try to claim. Odine grabbed his waist roughly, holding him still as he jabbed the needle into his buttocks, then tottered back to his booth.

Whatever it was felt cold, but in a way soothing. Squall hung his head, or at least relaxed against the restraints, willing to appreciate the known good effect since he couldn't do anything about any possible bad ones. Then the mob entered the room again, touching, licking, caressing. Somewhat to his surprise, the hands of his tormentors didn't bother him as much for a while. It felt like there was a thin shield between his body and their hands, like they were touching clothing and not skin. It was still uncomfortable, but it was not torture. In his overwrought state, Squall dropped off into sleep, back into his own nightmares.

Oh no you don't, my precious little moon, came the brown-eyed woman's voice in his mind. You are not your own, you are mine. You do not sleep unless I give you leave, and I do not feel like granting you that. Not yet, not until you prove you have more backbone than a jellyfish. As always, the hateful words were couched in gentle, pitying tones, and Squall shuddered - causing a man thrusting into him to moan in pleasure. The woman in his mind forced him to focus on the man's activities, forcing him to fully experience each rough thrust, and the man's hot breath in his ear as he panted. Squall retched, his stomach tightening with the desire to vomit, which only increased as the moans around him grew louder. The brown eyed woman intensified every sensation through the slight shielding effect of Odine's injection.

The man behind him pulled away, raising goosebumps on Squall's skin as he felt something trickling down his legs. Blood, or something else, he couldn't tell. His head was immobilized. He felt the shielding effect fade just as much larger arms grasped his body and a much larger body thrust into him, so hard that were he not being held so tightly his back would have bowed with pain. Squall almost choked on his tongue, fighting back a scream that he knew would never stop once it was given voice.

You see, you must enjoy this, my dear Squall, came the brown-eyed woman's voice again. For you know that once you give in to your screams, you will be released. And even knowing this, your pride will not permit you to surrender until you are forced to.

And it was a temptation to give in, just curl into a ball and cry like a baby as they did whatever they would. But he knew it wouldn't stop there. He couldn't let them break him, he couldn't let them make him into a puppet to attack Rinoa. He had to hope he could endure this, until his friends could find him.

Dreaming of rescue? The great Squall Leonhart, begging his friends to find him, he who hides in corners at every party, who refuses to ask for any aid? Would they even know you now, with your masks stripped away? Given the way you've treated them, do you honestly believe they would come to your rescue?

He couldn't tell whether the voice in his thoughts was the woman's or his own anymore.

Odine entered the room again, holding a syringe filled with a glowing golden material. He grabbed Squall as before, holding him immobile as though he were a squirming cat, and jabbed the needle into him, emptying the syringe. Then he tottered back to his booth.

This was not soothing. Squall was forcibly reminded of his time in the D-District prison, when his captors had run electrical currents of varying strengths through him until he was shocked insensible. Only this time the pain came from within his own body, not induced from outside, and there was no surcease. He moaned as it arced through him, even as his tormentors returned to lay their hands on his bruised body. When the first of them jerked back, shaking her hand as though shocked, the whole tenor of the mob changed. No longer teasing and coaxing, they began to behave as though Squall were some cake that they could simply tear pieces off of to enjoy.

When the current in his body faded, the crowd dispersed to allow Odine access. This time he had a glittering blue material in his syringe, and when he emptied it into Squall's body the effect was immediate; he felt like he'd just been dropped in a bucket of ice. He was left alone while that injection worked its way through his body; possibly because frost formed on his body from the humidity in the room. In the sense that it numbed his bruised and chafed skin, it wasn't entirely a bad thing. But the brown-eyed woman made sure he could feel the cold completely, even though it felt like he was entering frostbite. His teeth would have chattered if his jaw were not immobilized, and the muscles in his jaw ached from being forbidden that release. It felt like hours before his body quit shivering.

And once it did, of course, Odine re-entered, with yet another pretty color in his syringe. Squall didn't struggle this time, too mind-numbed to register anything more than the momentary absence of pain and contact. And once the injection was administered, the crowd returned. Now they had things with them, made of wood or leather or metal, and played elaborate games upon his body as the injections worked their way through his system.

So many men would kill to stand where you stand now, caressed by many women, gifted with power, came the brown-eyed woman's thoughts. I wonder how your rival would feel to have the attention lavished upon you with such care. And she dropped images into his mind; herself and Seifer together in bed, she moaning in pleasure as he thrust into her.

Squall didn't reply - not with his mind or his body. Though he still felt pain - whimpered with it, would have howled if he could - his mind was slowly slipping away from the brown-eyed woman's grasp. There was some satisfaction in that; that there was a place he could go where she was not completely able to follow. Yet he could not go there of his own will; the woman could sense that and pulled him back from it with gentle ruthlessness.

He no longer remembered Rinoa, or Garden, or even who he was. Reality had diminished into the simple knowledge that there was an infinite variety of pain in the world, and that he was being given a guided tour. Even orgasm registered as pain now. The only part of himself that remained was a stubborn determination not to scream; even the reason why was lost to him now.

* * * * * * * * *

It was time.

After 72 hours of non-stop degradation, humiliation, contact, Squall had cracked. Alicia had been waiting for hours for this, knowing it was near, knowing she had only one chance to achieve her goal, deftly playing on Squall's increasing doubts of himself to bring the moment closer. She had removed the restrictions she had placed on her assistants; they could play with him as roughly as they liked - and some of them were very rough indeed. Alicia found such crude methods distasteful, but she could not deny that the effect on Squall had been devastating. She wondered if rape was worse on the male mind than on the female; it was something she had never had an opportunity to test, but there certainly seemed to be an additional shock involved. Men were never raised to believe rape was a possibility.

Squall no longer thought of himself as a lion, or a wolf, or even worthy as a human being. A worthy human being would not have doubted Rinoa, would not have been trapped in the time-compressed world, would not have lost faith, would not have needed to be rescued from that world as he needed to be rescued from this. Nor would a worthy human being be tormented by the touch of another human being. He was hanging on to sanity by the thinnest of threads; all that remained to him was that he had not yet screamed.

Alicia let her henchmen use their private toy collections on him. She watched in fascination as Squall was whipped with soft leather straps until his body confused pain with pleasure and grew erect, watched as that erection was bent double and bound, and Squall moaned in a voice hoarse with lack of water and the many cries he had made. Then her henchman took a long and thick metal rod, attached a battery to it, and with one quick thrust shoved it into Squall's body. He struggled feebly, but without direction, aware of pain but not registering anything beyond that. The henchman grinned and removed his toy, evidently desiring Squall's body for himself. Alicia smiled as she considered that even bruised as he was, Squall was still quite the most beautiful man she'd ever seen. The dark bruises only seemed to add to that beauty, as though to make him seem fragile and delicate. Squall's body jerked forward with each rough thrust, blood trickling down his legs.

Another man joined in, removing the straps binding Squall's erection and backing himself onto it; not the best position, but given that Alicia wasn't going to lie Squall down the best that could be managed. A third man got a float spell cast on him and took advantage of Squall's mouth, immobilized just open enough to make it worthwhile.

Alicia took the opportunity to shoot one more barb: Look at yourself, o would-be lion, and know that Rinoa will never love you now.

And around the human gag, Squall screamed.

Alicia locked him into that precise moment, that tiny space wherein all that defined Squall Leonhart was shattered into uncounted pieces. He would relive those seconds over and over for as long as she pleased.

Locked into that 'present', that 'now', Squall had no knowledge of anything going on around him. Alicia dismissed her assistants to their quarters for much-needed rest, once the three currently occupied with him were finished. Then she sent guards to lock the doors of those who had gone beyond her instructions. She would not bother breaking them; she had another purpose in mind.

She turned back to Squall, smiling sweetly. He still struggled against his chains. There was no longer any connection between his mind and his body, and his body had been trained as a warrior.

That was why she had wanted him. Well. One reason, anyway. Gently, delicately, she kissed his face, standing on tiptoe to reach it. It was a motherly kiss, a sisterly kiss. She had admired his endurance, but she'd never been much attracted to the moody types. Their allure was their mystery, and with her power they had none. Still...he really was quite a beautiful boy, even with his body covered in the bruises of his tormentors and the periodic injections. Beauty, pure beauty, was so rare in men. She sighed. A pity she could not have a statue made, to admire it. But Seifer would not understand, and she still had use for Seifer.

She left the room and called Odine, who was delighted to know that the tests could enter the second phase.

"All results are excellent," he enthused. "The diluted injections increased his strengkt fourfold, und faded exactly as ve hoped. Vich GF vere you zinkink ve should infuse him vit?"

"Leviathan," said Alicia. "The area hereabouts is in need of water, and it would be nice to see it bloom."

Odine raised an eyebrow at her, as if he found it hard to believe she would care about flowers. But he didn't object, merely ran his hands over a rack of vials until he located the one he wanted. When he pulled it out, Alicia could see a swirling, glowing, blue material inside.

"I shall gif him less zan ze dose reqvired for permanency," said Odine. "Ve shall vait to test zat on Seifer."

Alicia nodded. "How long will this less than permanent dose last?"

Odine shrugged. "Zere is no vay to know," he said. "Zat is vy ve experiment." He filled a syringe from the vial, and trotted into the chamber where Squall was held.

Alicia smiled to herself. There was no way to know if this injection would be more painful than the others. It was undiluted essence, but it was still less than what their theories said was needed to make the effect permanent. She wondered if it would have been wiser to begin before Squall had broken; they would at least know if it would hurt.

She dismissed such regrets. She had assistants enough who were in need of punishment. And a single human could only bear so much. Besides, Squall's tolerance for pain had to be well above the norm, or he would not have become a SeeD.

Odine jabbed the syringe into Squall's bruised body and injected the blue essence. His body reacted by increasing its struggles. Alicia watched the readouts. Yes...he was much stronger now. Stronger than the diluted version had made him, also. But they had expected that. She indicated the readouts to Odine as he returned. He clapped and rubbed his hands together excitedly. "Oh, go pick your target, Alicia," he murmured. "Zis is goink so vell, so vell!"

Alicia nodded, just as pleased as Odine was. She took a few guards, and walked down the corridors until she came to a room occupied by an assistant she needed to punish. The occupant turned out to be a large man, but he was backed against the wall, terrified of Alicia.

"You knew I would find your transgressions, Jek," Alicia said softly, sadly. "You knew I had said you were not to play with him yet. Why did you disobey me?"

"It was just a momentary lapse, Alicia, I swear!" babbled the man. "It's been so long, and he was so pretty..."

Alicia looked sad. "You knew those things before you abused him, Jek," she said gently. "You could have refused the assignment if you knew it was more than you could handle. You knew, also, that I would eventually give permission for you to play with him as you wanted. All you needed was patience. I am disappointed in you, Jek."

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," babbled the huge man, crying hysterical tears.

"I will not tolerate disobedience, Jek," said Alicia softly, gently. "But I will give you a chance to redeem yourself. Come with me."

Jek happily followed her back to the lab, grateful to have escaped her displeasure. When she returned to the control station, she noted that Squall had started shaking violently. She frowned. "Is he rejecting the infusion, Odine?"

"No, no, it iz not zat," said Odine. "His body, it iz adapting, zat is all. Look at ze readouts - you see?" As Alicia did so, she saw what Odine meant. His strength and endurance had exponentially increased, and the rest of his body was trying to cope with the increased power. All was indeed well. She turned to Jek.

"You will dress him, Jek," she said, "and you will be forgiven." Her assistant immediately reached into the locker where all that Squall had had on him when captured was stored. When he had an armful, he darted into the room where Squall was held.

Once inside, Alicia pressed the button that sealed the door behind him. Then she turned to Odine. "Ready," was all she said.

Odine pressed a sequence of switches. The chains that held Squall immobile immediately released and retracted into the floor and ceiling. Squall was free.

The first thing he did was leap at Jek like a wild animal, fist swinging. The enhancement of his strength meant that Jek would be hurled some distance, but the room was large.

As the punch connected, a torrent of water erupted from Squall's fist as though it were bursting from a firehose. The pressure of the torrent threw Jek against the wall hard enough to leave a trail of blood, which was quickly washed away.

Squall moaned and fell to his knees, arms wrapped around his chest.

In the control room, Odine was delighted. "Complete success," he said happily. "You saw? He summoned ze force of Leviathan vithout junctioning!"

"I note that he is also not doing anything much at the moment," said Alicia. "If the power is so incapacitating, it is no good to us."

"Oh, zat is just momentary veakness," dismissed Odine. "Look, even now he begins to recover. Vith a fully healthy subject, ve should not see zat veakness at all."

Alicia considered that, and nodded. She turned to her guards, and told them to bring all the others among her assistants who needed punishment. Squall would be released with the power of Leviathan in him, to wreak whatever havoc he would on the deserted continent. With any luck, his friends would find him before the power faded, and he would do some of Alicia's job for her.

As she watched the assistants take the full brunt of Squall's rage as they tried to dress him, she smiled again. So far, he had killed seven of the fifteen she had chosen, some being hit with that water strike, and a few simply torn limb from limb. She would not have bothered with clothing him - he was no longer aware of himself in any case - but she wanted him to look just as he always had when his friends found him. It would lull them into coming close, and he would then attack them with surprise on his side.

Once Squall was dressed, and released, they would try the permanent version on Seifer, Raijin, and Fujin, a reward for their service.

When the Sorceress came to claim vengeance, she would be taken easily.

Squall in Chains, by Edenne

Chapter 12

Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic