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velvet mace

Pawns

chapter 25.

Major Devers watched with satisfaction as the windows disintegrated, and a scattered
row of holes marred the outside of the cottage. His ears rang. He turned back
to the box that housed the field phone, and nodded to the soldier manning it.

The men and women with him took the time to inspect and
reload their weapons. Hopefully the show of initial force would convince those
within that they meant business and the hostage was not the bargaining chip
they thought he would be.

Devers sincerely hoped that the bullets had missed Ashfell.
He liked and admired the man, and serving under him had been enlightening and
enjoyable. But the military's policy on hostage takers was firm. Never give
in. If there were casualties, so be it.

The man at the phone nodded his head Devers way. Devers
signaled his people to resume position. He lifted his hand and they aimed. He
then looked at his watch and counted down the seconds.

At second 10 he heard some arguing. He allowed himself
a small, satisfied smile. By second 20 the arguing reached a peak. Then at second
28 something white was thrown out the window. A lace doily, Devers realized
with a smirk. He signaled his people to go back to a ready position.

"Tell them to throw out the automail and the guns. They
have another 30 seconds."

More arguing inside, but then first two guns, then the
automail arm was tossed out the window.

"Leg as well." He wanted Fullmetal thoroughly disabled
before he stormed the place. Even without an arm, Edward Elric was quite a fighter.
It had taken blinding and six men to bring him down the first time, and even
then two men injured. Devers didn't want any of his men injured this time.

The leg came out the window.

He signaled his people to rush the house. Dever's followed
at a more sedate pace. By the time he reached the front door, the house had
been secured. Almost disappointingly easy, thought Devers.

He looked at the three men lying prone on the glass-strewn
rug. His people were shackling Mustang's arms and legs. Elric's remaining arm
was being pinned back to his waist with a shackle and a piece of rope. As a
precaution Ashfell was being held down as well, but Devers people were less
certain about what to do with him. "Let him up," Devers said.

Ashfell rose and dusted himself off. He looked remarkably
calm for a man in such a position. Devers admired his composure. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine."

"Was ... IT... involved?" whispered Devers.

"Thankfully it hasn't moved to human trials yet, and neither
Mustang nor Elric were allowed to practice it on the animals. No, it seems Mustang
smooth talked Midnight into giving Elric back his arm, then Elric was able to
overpower their guard. They used alchemy to conjure up the uniforms, and then
they just walked out of the place."

Devers looked relieved. This almost fit the scenario he'd
been building. Then he looked around. "There should be another person here...
the guard..."

"He was another hostage," said Ashfell. "I convinced them
to let him go."

That didn't quite fit, but he let it pass for the moment.

"Is the facility secure?" asked Ashfell.

"Yes. There appears to be no physical damage. However,
the other Elric brother is unaccounted for, as is Midnight. "

"It's their day off, they could be anywhere. Keep looking."

"I thought they might be involved here. There were sightings."

"I didn't see either of them."

Devers frowned. He looked over the damaged house. "Well,
at least it ended well. I'll have Davidson and Ming mop up and start the investigation
here."

Ashfells eyes narrowed, then he nodded. "You do that.
My primary concern is to get those two back where they belong. Tell me everything
you know so far."

Devers went down the list of what he'd done in the last
four hours. Ashfell grunted occasionally, and finally gave his back a clap.
"Good job." Ashfell's hand moved up to his shoulder and squeezed. "Listen, Major.
It looks like they were pretty quiet about their break out. And since Central
hasn't been called up on this one, I'd like to keep this whole incident in-house,
if you know what I mean."

Devers understood entirely. The fact that Mustang and
Elric were able to break out at all reflected rather poorly on the staff. Since
the incident had gone down smoothly, sweeping it the rest of the way under the
rug was probably the most face-saving way to go. Of course, they would need
to do their own investigation to prevent a repeat of the same mistakes, but
the file could then be buried.

"The Fuhrer need not be bothered with this," Ashfell stated.

"I suppose then that the condition of the prisoners need
not be fully reported, either."

"Mustang will need to be presentable with the Fuhrer comes...
other than that..." Ashfell gave him a malicious smile.

Devers smiled back. "I will personally see to Mustang's
punishment." Ashfell just nodded. Devers signaled his people again, they lifted
the prisoners up like sacks and carried them to the back of the waiting van.

The ride back to the fifth lab was uneventful. Except
for the cries and moans and the periodic thuds and smacks coming from the back,
there was silence.

Torture

Roy regained consciousness again while being dragged down
a corridor by his wrists. He opened his eyes to see the periodic caged bulbs
against a sound-textured ceiling. He blinked and looked over to see the brightly
painted numbers on the side of the corridor.

He was home. 5th lab.

The cell they thrust him in was vaguely familiar. Dull
grey walls, suspicious outlets placed at waist height. The pipes. The steel
bed with built in manacles.

He'd been here before.

Even the people here were familiar. There was the Weasel,
for once not looking the least like he wanted to be Roy's friend. The man's
thin face was hard, and his eyes just slightly narrowed.

"Undress him and get him down," the Weasel ordered.

Roy's head swam as they jostled him about, removing the
uniform, shoes tossed into a corner, shirt pulled off so quickly and roughly
that a few of the buttons tore free and bounced. He tried to hold out his arms
to steady himself and keep from being slammed against the floor or the edge
of the bed, but his hands were grabbed and he was spun about. His head hit the
wall and caused bright lights to dance in front of his eyes.

Then they hoisted him up, pulled him open and strapped
him down. His fists were pried open and a soft roll shoved into each palm, then
wrappings used to enclose it all. They didn't didn't want him to be making arrays
with his blood.

Which meant that there would be blood this time.

The Weasel grabbed Roy's chin and forced him to look at
him. "You have to look pretty for the Fuhrer in a week. This limits me somewhat.
So I will be doing very shallow cuts, mainly to your torso, but other areas
as well. We'll start on your front, and then do your back. Your face and hands
will not be touched. When I'm done with that, you will be put back in isolation
again until the Fuhrer's arrival."

Roy steeled himself. There was no getting out of this,
but hopefully it wouldn't last too long.

"You are off the project, of course. I'm afraid Midnight
will have to finish those arrays on his own. For your sake, lets hope they aren't
too damaging when it's time for you to go under one. I'd hate to see you a reduced
to a drooling idiot."

Roy tried to move his head away, but the Weasel's grip
tightened. Roy didn't care what position the Weasel had in the organization,
he vowed that the man WOULD go under his array, and when that happened, he'd
take a moment to let it sink in before he let Al activate it. He wondered what
kind of face the man would put on then.

There was a muffled scream from nearby. Roy's heart suddenly
slammed.

The Weasel smiled and put a hand to his ear. "Ah, listen
to that."

"Who?"

"That would be your roommate. Edward Elric. I thought
you might wonder what had become of him, so I had him put in the room next door."

There was another heartrending scream. No that couldn't
be Ed. Ed never screamed. Not even when they attached his automail.

"Wondering what they are doing to him, I suppose," said
the Weasel. "Well I won't keep you in suspense. We decided that electrical shocks
would be the proper treatment for him. Once every thirty seconds, for various
durations and intensity. They should just be on his fingers now. I imagine by
the time they get to his automail ports he should be much louder. Of course,
that's not where they will end."

No. No. No. Ed wasn't supposed to get hurt. "Leave
him alone," said Roy. "I talked him into it. It's not his fault. Punish me instead."

"Oh, I believe you talked him into this. He should be
really angry with you for getting him into this mess." The Weasel's smile was
thin and sadistic.

Another scream. Louder this time.

Roy moaned and closed his eyes. He'd failed Ed. How would
ever make this up to him? How could Ed ever forgive him for this?

"Don't worry, though, we plan to punish you, good and
proper. But really what could be more punishing than hearing your lover shriek
and not being able to do anything about it. To know you were the one to put
him in this position in the first place.

"Or rather, I should say ex-lover. You'll not be seeing
him again. And even if you should pass him in the halls sometime in the future,
I rather doubt he will give you the time of day. I imagine he will hate you
for what you talked him into. I imagine he will feel good and betrayed, and
he'll carry that hurt around him for a long, long time."

Roy spat at the Weasel and scored a hollow victory when
some drops landed on the man's forehead. The Weasel just wiped them off. "I
think it's time we got started." He reached down and pulled a large box from
the ground and set it up on a table within Roy's sight. He opened it up to reveal
a rather unpleasant number of knives and picks.

In a few minutes Roy was too busy listening to his own
screams to hear Ed's.

Screams

Ashfell watched them drag first Mustang, then Elric into
the adjacent torture cells. He smiled. It really was TOO BAD that Mustang had
to endure this. Really.

Part of him felt guilty. Part of him really longed to
protect his (master) leader, but part of him also thought that Mustang could
use a good humbling before he got too cocky with his arrays.

Ashfell couldn't protect him anyway. Devers wanted his
pound of flesh and he was going to get it. But he didn't need to get it from
the boy as well. Ashfell, opened the door to Edward's cell and motioned to the
torturer. "I'll be doing this one myself."

"Understood, sir."

"Alone."

A knowing nod and a wink. "Understood, sir."

The soldier left, leaving Ashfell alone in the room with
Ed. The boy—no, despite his size he'd be a man now wouldn't he—was in
a sorry state. Ashfell's men had worked him over pretty good, there were bruises
all over his torso, his thighs and upper arms. The face had been spared. He
was naked, automail uncoupled, about as vulnerable as a person could be. He
lay a little funny on the slab, being that he was only held by a single wrist
and ankle.

The electrodes had already been attached to his hand and
nipple, the specially made automail plugs had been readied but not inserted
yet. The rest of the electrodes lay in a tangle on the floor.

Ed glared at him. "What now," those eyes said. Still
defiant despite his position. Remarkable.

"So, tell me," said Ashfell in a quiet voice. "How well
do you scream?"

"I don't."

"Hmmm. You will. You will have to."

"I'm not going to scream for you. You can torture me,
but I won't."

"Oh, don't be stupid." Ashfell sighed. "Are you going
to force me to actually shock you?"

Those eyes widened questioningly at him.

"We have an audience, they are expecting screams. Now
either you can do your best acting job, or I can actually flip this switch.
One way or another, you are going to make noise—enough so that my second
in command next door can hear it."

The start of a smile crept across Ed's face. "Since you
put it that way."

Ashfell grinned back. "Good. Now try it."

Ed screamed. It wasn't much of a scream. "Oh, you can
do better than that."

Ed rolled his eyes and let out a louder scream.

"That's the spirit. Now the way this is supposed to work
is that I give you a shock every 30 seconds or so. Are you up for that?"

"Why are we doing this?"

"Electrocution is the SHORTEST of all the torture routines
we have. It's also one of the most severe. It satisfied my second in command,
and it gets you and me out of here and on to better things sooner. Now, scream
again... put your lungs into it."

Ed did.

Ashfell began removing the electrodes. "And again." Scream,
with just a bit of a wail in it. The kid was getting into this. Starting to
enjoy the act. Good.

Ashfell undid the manacle at the kids ankle. "Again."

Louder.

An answering scream came through the walls.

Ed jerked. "What... Is that Roy?"

"Yes."

Ed yanked his hand out of its strap before Ashfell could
get it properly undone. "You mean he can HEAR us?"

"Yes."

Ed snarled. "How dare you. He thinks I'm being hurt."

"He'll learn better soon enough."

"Why didn't you tell me?" said Ed utterly horrified. "I
never would have... my God, you are a SICK bastard."

The screams next door were more vigorous.

"Stop them. Whatever they are doing to him, make them
stop."

"I can't." Ashfell reached into a bag and brought out
the automail leg.

The kid's eyes pleaded with him. Mustang moaned. Ashfell
hesitated.

This is turning into a really lousy day for all of us
isn't it, kid, he thought. A really first class screw up of a day, and it's
not over yet. "If I could have prevented this I would have. It will get better
soon."

"Please," said Ed. "Do something."

Ashfells mouth was dry. "I'll... I'll see what I can do."

He lined the automail leg up with the socket and thrust
it in.

Ed screamed.