Rufus/Reno, Hojo. R. ~1000 words.
Rufus’s presence during the entire operation, from preliminary exams to the actual injections, is curious.

Rufus leans over the table, stroking shocking red hair back from the subject’s face. There’s a gentleness in his touch that Hojo might have said he’s incapable of, or at least intelligent enough not to openly display.

The surgical team is gone, dismissed as soon as the subject’s thrashing ceased. Hojo advised against it, but the President is more headstrong than his father. He knows the man on the table is a Turk, arguably one of the best for his apparent lack of anything resembling ethics, but didn’t bother to record his name.

Watching Rufus now, he sends an assistant to retrieve it. She scurries from the observation bay, relief clear on her face.

“I wouldn’t do that,” Hojo says into the intercom. Rufus pauses with his hand on the IV. “Waking him now could endanger the project.”

Rufus’s face darkens, but he takes his hand away from the second valve. The cocktail of drugs in the first bag keeps the man under, the other will bring him back to awareness, but suitably weakened.

“I believe I asked you and your team to leave,” Rufus says.

Hojo glances down at the clipboard his assistant hands over. He flips through the pages, pausing on the reports of materia stains in subject 0572′s blood and muscle tissue. The x-rays show significant bone scarring — the second, third and fifth ribs on the left, both arms, left wrist — all with the slight hazy glow indicative of accelerated healing.

Rufus’s voice crackles over the speakers. “Professor.”

“Yes, yes. What is it?”


Hojo turns part of his attention back to the floor. Rufus stands with one hand resting on the subject’s shoulder. An oddly protective stance for him, considering he insisted despite the Turk’s questionable candidacy for the procedure.

“Disorientation,” Hojo says, gaze flicking to the monitor readouts of the subject’s vitals. “A high possibility of temporary blindness and temporary loss of hearing. Expect an accelerated heart rate, highly variable and unpredictable moods, brief memory loss. Eventually enhanced abilities coupled with a lack of control, the latter also temporary, provided his body adequately adapts.”

“And the probability of these symptoms,” Rufus says, “is increased by waking him early?”

“That’s been my experience, yes.” Handing the clipboard back, Hojo takes the opportunity to observe Rufus’s attitude towards the subject. The young President appears to have retained his ruthless ambition, submitting the Turk to a procedure the man obviously hadn’t wanted. His presence during the entire operation, from preliminary exams to the actual injections, is curious, as well as inconvenient.

When Rufus reaches for the valve again, Hojo does nothing to stop him. The drip is slow, the drugs taking several minutes to bring the subject around. Familiar tension mounts in the observation bay, heavier than during the waking of a SOLDIER. While valuable, the termination of a defective SOLDIER is a viable option. Hojo doubts Rufus would allow his scientists to kill the Turk.

The monitors beep warningly just as the subject’s eyes fly open, wide and blank. Immediately, he begins thrashing again, wrenching at the restraints, his tortured, animal howl piercing though the grating squeal of the speakers.

“Reno!” Rufus snaps, his voice sharp, commanding, no trace of alarm. The man shudders violently, trying to shake off the slender hands pressing him back to the table.

“Leave them,” Hojo says, halting his team before they can assemble.

Rufus’s voice drifts into a low murmur, his tone still hard, cool. The subject’s struggles ease only slightly, his face turned to Rufus’s though the readouts confirm his blindness. While still heightened, the rhythm of his heartbeat changes.

Either out of a respect for the President’s privacy or simple disgust, each member of his teams looks away from the floor when Rufus leans down to kiss the subject. Hojo continues his watch.

The subject’s nostrils flare as if scenting the air, his hands curl into fists. Rufus traces the sharp tattoo on his cheek, urging him to turn his head with the slight pressure. The subject responds, not only accepting the kiss but welcoming it. A low moan, more akin to a whimper, echoes through the room. Rufus’s hand pushes beneath the thin blanket draped over the subject’s groin, and the man moans again, louder.

“Fascinating,” Hojo murmurs. “Record every last scrap of data these miserable machines can collect,” he says. “Begin detailed notes of your own, include all observations concerning the subject’s responses. Pay attention to the level of control Rufus asserts over him.”

“Professor,” the woman clutching the clipboard begins. “There’s obviously a bond between the subject and the President, the data–”

“Will be skewed to reflect that, yes, I know. That’s exactly the point, you idiot.”

The woman flushes and murmurs a hasty apology. Hojo ignores her, focusing on the monitor displaying a closer view of the subject’s face. The man’s lips are parted, eyelashes fluttering.

Rufus’s voice slips into a whisper, broken by a sharp intake of breath as the subject’s eyes open once again, the cat-green colour brightened with a hazy mako glow. The subject is still dazed, his vitals irregular, but as far as Hojo can tell, is quite comfortable with it.

Hojo licks his lips. “The subject’s profile,” he says, snatching it from whoever holds it out. Plucking a pen from behind his ear, he scratches notes in the margins of the subject’s psychiatric evaluation.

He’d pay dearly for a chance to analyse Rufus, but even when ordered by his father, Rufus was never cooperative.

“Inform the President that I require the subject for further testing,” Hojo says. “Immediately.”


One Response to “0572-03”

  1. Doomflower Says:

    I absolutely love this one, if only it were longer!

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