Ice cold metal, a black abyss and the never ending silence. The same unbearably familiar components which greeted the ex-Turk every time he managed to force his eyes to open. Vincent grunted softly as his body began to awaken, something he would have fought desperately to prevent but now, simply didn't waste his time trying.
The pain would come soon. The pain of countless weeks lying helpless like a lab rat in one of Shinra's hidden laboratories, exposed and at the mercy of the man who had taken everything from him.
He had no memory of how he'd arrived in this living hell. His last thoughts were only of her. Lucrecia. Her face caused waves of warmth to shimmer briefly in his mind, only to shrivel away as if they'd never been. For Vincent, memories had become just as dangerous and painful as the scalpel used to slice his flesh.
The first few nights, he would have lay in agony, a mixture of emotional and physical pain consuming his form, tearing him apart. Night after night, torture that knew no end until eventually Vincent gave in to the torment, allowing it to devour his mind and body, accepting that this was what he deserved, his punishment for his mistake, his sacrifice for her.
Time became useless, he could have lay here for days or even years for all he cared. Nothing mattered. He obviously wasn't going to die as his tormentor's sick experimentations had proved. And today would be yet another reminder of that fact.
Muffled footsteps echoed softly in the darkness. The lock scraped and clinked as a key was forced through the rusted metal followed shortly by the familiar creaking of ninety year old door hinges as the heavy iron was pushed inward.
No matter how much Vincent prepared for the sudden change of surroundings, he always flinched noticeably as the blinding light of the lab burst forth, illuminating the bleached white walls and cold, metallic work benches that greeted him with their own sadistic pleasure.
He listened, unmoving as the door slammed and bolted, once again trapping him with his captor for another daily dose of suffering and anguish.
The footsteps drew near and his stomach churned as the cracked voice of Professor Hojo broke the peace he had accumulated within himself during his solitude.
The whirring and clicks of a tape recorder, as always, indicated the beginning! "Experiment #44, Vincent Valentine." There was a brief pause as Hojo surveyed the man before him, probing lightly yet with force at Vincent's pulse and abdomen and, despite his defiance, managed to lift the man's eyelids to view the glistening, hate filled eyes beneath. "Time is 06:05. Subject's condition is stable and is showing no signs of ill-effect of previous experimentations I shall therefore press onward with my thesis." There was another set of clicks followed by the snap of elastic gloves.
"So Vincent…You slept well I trust?" The Professor's voice dripped with anticipation and Vincent couldn't help but feel the urge to tear his throat out. He lay silent as Hojo circled to his far side and placed a hand on his left arm. An unexpected pain sliced through the limb from the touch and Vincent's back arched in shock.
"Still tender I see, no matter, we'll have it sorted soon enough!"
Vincent watched the professor as far as he could. His body was strapped with metal braces across his upper arms, wrists, ankles and just above his hips meaning he could only lift his head several inches from the table and after such a long time, even that required too much energy to waste. The rest of Vincent's body, much to his embarrassment and disgust, lay bare and unprotected to Hojo's onslaught.
Now Vincent depended on his ears to tell him much of what was happening. Long, cold nights left in solitude had trained his senses. His ears were keen to the slightest noise and his eyes sharper than any human's. Of course it could also be due to the countless amounts of drugs that had been pumped into his system while Vincent had remained the favourite guinea pig, although he tried not to think about it. Right now, he was more concerned with the fact that he'd been upgraded to the new favourite lab rat!
At the moment, the man could detect the sound of metal scraping metal and he knew Hojo was loading up a fresh tray of instruments for today's so-called research.
He watched, almost casually, as the Professor returned and placed the tray somewhere near his head. He couldn't see just what had been chosen for today's session, but he knew they weren't going to be pleasant, they never were.
Coolly, Hojo removed his first piece of apparatus, normally some form of intramuscular injection. Vincent waited with bated breath as the instrument disappeared from his sight range and, several moments later, pierced painfully into the flesh of his right arm. He clenched his jaw in obvious discomfort, fighting the urge to lash out as he felt the galling sensation of liquid oozing through his muscles, spreading an agonizing numbness wherever it trailed.
The very first time he was introduced to this, Vincent had thrashed about so much that the needle had detached itself from the syringe and embedded itself beneath his skin. Of course to retrieve it, Hojo had sliced the flesh from Vincent's elbow to wrist just so there was no risk of the utensil breaking. Bastard.
Anger welled up from the memory but he pushed it aside as the injection was retracted and placed delicately back on the tray.
"Congratulations Vincent," Hojo smiled, "your hand didn't even twitch, you're learning." Vincent glared hatefully up at him, his bloodshot eyes only adding to the fierce, wild look he had acquired. Since he had become Hojo's new pet, his hair had grown long and untamed and his ribs pushed up noticeably against his skin due to the lack of proper meals.
The Professor simply smiled, still somewhat amused at the ex-Turk's defiance.
His fingers reached out and snatched a small blade from the tray's centre then guided it slowly to the centre of Vincent's chest. "I think it's just about time for another update don't you?" His lips turned up into a sadistic grin as the blade tip pointed inward.
Vincent's eyes widened with anger. Already his skin was crossed with numerous scars from Hojo's twisted survival tests and each time was the same. Excruciating pain, no death. The man's teeth gnashed together and he barely managed to growl out his protest as the knife tip sliced straight through his flesh, muscle and bone, piercing just beside his heart. Vincent's scream resounded heavily in the room, beginning as a forced gasp until it excelled into a roar of agony as the metal twisted full circle. Blood pooled and flowed from the open wound as the blade was removed, streaming across pale skin in crimson rivers until it fell to congeal in puddles along the table.
Hojo watched with satisfaction, carefully noting the space of time it took before the blood began to cease to a small dribble from the torn flesh. Vincent's cries began to die down to a guttural breath, his chest rising and falling heavily.
There were several clicks as the Professor noted his new findings, momentarily leaving Vincent to his own thoughts. The gunman's fingers slowly unfurled leaving dark red half moons in his palms. Sweat was beaded lightly across his forehead and small shudders racked his body as he lay across the cold surface.
The inability to die was like another stabbing pain in Vincent's chest, a constant reminder of the agony he was condemned with.
There was another slicing pain, this time in reality, and Vincent's head turned to see Hojo un-strapping his agonizing left arm from it's metal bonds. For a long time now, or so it seemed, the Professor had been pumping his arm with so many different substances there was almost no point in counting and the pain now pulsating through the limb was almost unbearable, probably one of the reasons why the man trusted taking it out of the metal bracing. He held it firmly before him, out of Vincent's sight but high enough to conclude its condition.
"Very interesting," He mumbled, mostly to himself but then turned directly to Vincent. "Would you like to see?" He smirked.
Before Vincent could react, the man pulled his arm up into his line of sight and his jaw dropped in disgusted horror. Despite the awful pain now slashing through his muscular tissue, Vincent could only stare. His arm from the elbow down was horribly disfigured, staining from his pale skin into a sickeningly dark red blend. His veins seemed to bulge unnaturally from beneath the surface, stretching vine-like to his fingers all which had become seemingly longer, the fingernails dark and stretching out like talons. The digits seemed to twitch and coil of their own accord, almost demonic in their movements.
The sight sickened him and he was certain he would have thrown up had he anything in his stomach.
Pleased with the reaction, Hojo re-strapped the limb back to the table and moved to Vincent's head. Still in shock and even paler than before, the ex-Turk wasn't aware of what Hojo was doing until it was too late. In one swift movement, the Professor forced Vincent's head to one side and cruelly embedded a syringe deep into his jugular directly below his jaw. The man's throat convulsed rapidly as the Professor slowly took a small blood sample before ripping the needle from his throat.
Vincent gagged, his eyes blazing furiously. His vision blurred slightly, from tears or something Hojo had injected into him he couldn't tell but he refused to let his tormentor feel satisfaction from his agony. He coughed painfully, the hot, coppery taste of blood coating his mouth and it surprised him how sweet it tasted. It was almost a comfort to feel something pleasant after so much anguish and he relished in the brief moment. And it was indeed brief.
A burning sensation suddenly erupted across his right wrist where he could glimpse Hojo standing and, what he could only presume was pouring a strong smelling liquid across his skin. As the substance sloshed across the metal, Vincent suddenly realised how tight the metal bracings were. They were cutting deeply into his flesh so much so that his body had begun to heal around them.
"So you don't fuse to the table!" Cackled Hojo as he moved across to cover his ankles. Vincent's eyes streamed as the burning continued, forcing a small gasp from his throat. His body writhed internally as the Professor finished the bottle, the last of it being poured across the brace along his waist.
Standing back, Hojo surveyed his subject with a calculating expression, taking pleasure in the small moans of pain drifting from between clenched teeth.
"I think that should about do for now, yes?"
Vincent remained silent and for the first time that day, a frown crossed Hojo's face.
"I am honestly tired of your defiance Valentine." There was a scrape of metal and Vincent's eyes widened in pain as a blade was drawn across his upper torso.
"Do you understand?"
Vincent didn't move, his mind in too much turmoil to answer only to shatter once again as an even heavier slice was pulled across the same crimson trough as before.
"You will answer one of higher authority when you are spoken to Valentine, repeat it."
Vincent shuddered as the blade cut through him again, this time reaching bone. He nodded quickly in reply.
"I said 'repeat it'!" The knife crossed the wound again and Vincent cried aloud.
"I…I…WILL ANSWER….HIGHER…AUTHORITY…!" He gasped.
"Again." Hojo grinned, ruthlessly dragging the metal slowly across his victim's chest.
Vincent screamed, the words coming out in such a rush they were almost inaudible.
"Good. Now was that so hard?" Hojo dropped the utensil to the tray and moved them to the work bench.
Keys jingled lightly, the sound mixing with the convulsive gasps of his subject.
"Till tomorrow #44." He called pleasantly as the lights blacked out and the door slammed behind him, once again plunging the room into its former abyss.
Vincent shuddered as the long gashes across his flesh sealed over, the sensation of the healing the only pain he was actually grateful for. He lay in the silence, regaining his demeanour for today's next audience. Possibly a group of Hojo's aspiring students, or maybe the clean-up-crew. Although neither was preferable. The students would stand and stare as if he was a creature on display, maybe converse on how long they'd think he'd last while the clean-up-crew spent five minutes cleaning the lab and thirty messing around with the equipment, Vincent being included as equipment.
Either way, he couldn't stop the inevitable. He was trapped in what could only be described as worse than a living hell, his future obliterated.
Vincent's form began to tremble as anger and hate overwhelmed his mind, a red haze within him, dulling out the physical pain.
His body was broken, practically useless. The outside world had obviously forgotten of his very existence. But through the despair and the emptiness a light burned on. A light for her. He would find a way out of this nightmare. No one could control his fate.
He would get out of this madness.
He would get his revenge on the one who had taken everything from him.
He would survive.