"Subject: Pitch Black. Male, forty-six years old, seventy-seven inches tall, weighing eighty-three point five kilograms, received a five-hundred-milligram initial injection, has developed advanced tenebrakinesis and negatively-oriented empathic ability."

There's a voice, cool and female and emotionless, babbling away somewhere above him. The room smells of disinfectant and dread and the lingering metallic traces of blood.

"Subject has consistently rejected personality conditioning and, as of now, is officially designated a failure."

Kozmotis blinks open his eyes, has to shut them again. A brilliant halogen light hangs directly above him, and brightly-coloured afterimages dance across the insides of his eyelids.

"It is recommended that no future subjects be drawn from high-ranking military positions. Lower-ranking positions are, of course, still acceptable."

There's a wet, sticky cough, and another voice, this one male and deep and dismissive, says, "I've got no use for an uncooperative failure. Have it neutralized."

"Yes, sir," the female voice replies.

Kozmotis has neutralized enough hostiles in his day to know that this does not bode well. Whenever someone starts using that kind of language, it means that someone else is going to die. He moves to sit up, but meets resistance. He's tied to the bed, strapped down with fleece-lined restraints like something out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

He forces himself to open his eyes, avoiding looking directly at the blinding circle of the halogen lamp in order to see who else is in the room with him, what they're doing, what opportunities might be offered for escape. It's too bright in here for proper shadow, the whole room gleaming antiseptic white and stainless steel like a hospital operating room. Like in a hospital operating room, the people gathered around the bed are masked and gowned, except for three – a bored, mousy-looking woman in nondescript business clothes, a man in a tailored black suit which nevertheless hangs awkwardly on his powerful frame, and a small, round man, who only comes up to the woman's shoulder, dressed all in white and bald as a cue ball. No – that's not right, there's a single lock of platinum-blonde hair curling over his forehead. A peculiar fashion statement, to be sure, but not important. Kozmotis returns to scanning the room.

There's only one door, a sliding door that appears to lead out into an airlock. Locked steel cabinets line one wall, a stainless-steel industrial-sized sink set into the counter. No windows, white-washed cinderblock walls, and the ceiling is low. He must be underground. The vents along the top of the wall are too small for a cat to get through, much less a person.

There's a large grate in the very centre of the white tile floor, and the grout around it is stained a rusty brownish-red.

He swallows down the bile that rises in his throat at the sight. He's seen this kind of setup before, heard the screams that come out of this kind of room. It's part of the reason he joined the military, to help bring down authorities that spread terror and thrive on pain. He won't deny that he's killed, he's done things he'd never tell his daughter about, but this kind of cold, clinical, bureaucratic approach to atrocity is something he's never been able to stomach. He'd do anything to stop the monsters who commit these crimes, who take away people's humanity before they take their lives. And he has seen enough to know what anything really means.

The thought that now it's happening here, to his own people, and he's powerless to stop it, hurts worse than any torture ever could.

The man in the black suit sniffs, sounding more like he's got a cold than the dismissive noise he obviously meant it to be. "And would someone please sedate that or something? It's creepy, having those eyes watching me."

"It seems a shame to waste all of Mr. Shalazar's hard work," the small man in white interjects. His voice is surprisingly firm and carrying, for all its mildness.

"Mr. Shalazar's hard work is all over this damn compound. And this bastard's resisted reprogramming every time we've tried it. It's not worth the time or the money anymore, not now that we've got the other subjects," the man in the black suit shoots back, sniffling loudly. "Good riddance, I say. Miss Seward, handkerchief." He turns and walks towards the door, holding out a hand. The mousy-looking woman rolls her eyes and digs in her pocket, running after the man in the black suit with short, mincing footsteps.

The man in the white suit lingers for a moment, looking up and meeting Kozmotis' eyes. And then, so quickly that Kozmotis thinks he might have imagined it, the little man winks. The silver crescent-moon pin on his old-fashioned cravat winks, too, the light glancing off of it as he turns to leave.

Just as the man in white crosses the threshold of the door, the halogen light flickers. It's only for a fraction of a second, but for that fraction of a second, the room is full of stark black shadows.

When the light flickers back on, Kozmotis is free and the bed is empty.

AN: For a prompt on the meme. OP wanted a secret government experiment AU, and I have been wanting to write a secret government experiment AU since...pretty much forever. It was meant to be.