Joey had been silent the whole trip. It didn't matter, Rabbit knew what he was thinking.
'Joey's a smart kid... knows the score...Of course he knows the score,' Rabbit grumbled inside. 'He saw the blast... he knows... he knows Geoff ain't coming back.'
Rabbit tensed as the van slowed down.
'Almost there...' He began rocking again.
The van made a few more turns as Rabbit tried to think. They needed a plan, something-- anything.
He looked at Joey, he had to make the kid understand. There was no way both of them were going to make it. One of them would have to stay behind and the other would have to make a break for it. Joey had to be the one to run. He had to.
The van stopped briefly and then continued forward. He tried to see out the front window- but his view was blocked by the bulky man sitting on the bench seat in front of them-- their guard.
He had no idea where they were-- but they had run out of options long ago.
He nudged Joey, and then stared at him. 'Come on kid- they want me alive, you've got to run,' he thought.
Joey looked at him, and then Rabbit nodded away. There was a pause as his message registered and then Joey gave a single nod.
'Good kid,' Rabbit thought with a grim smile.
When the van finally stopped, they were ready.
The General studied his two captives from the safety of his hideaway. The cameras in the van were quite revealing. Watching, he was sure now that he'd made the right choice. With any of the other 'brothers' Derrick Wilson might be willing to fight them, but with the elf's little brother, it was another story. Yes, Joseph Mays was the perfect choice in hostages.
It was obvious that Derrick would choose to protect him-- he'd already proven that when they had taken over the cabin. Now all he had to do was make sure Derrick understood the rules. It was a shame that he had to do things this way, but it was only a matter of time before Derrick snapped- and unless he provided incentive for the man to behave-- the sniper would be more of a hazard that a tool.
He looked over at the nurse.
"And this won't effect his performance?" He asked indicating the hypodermic the man was holding.
The nurse shook his head. "Not in the slightest. It should keep him calm, and he shouldn't be able to catch any stray thoughts... He's a really interesting case actually...."
The General waved off the nurse's enthusiasm. "I'll read your report," he said dismissively.
"Yes sir," the nurse answered, his tone only marginally deflated.
"If you will give the Hypo to Corporal Zentraden," he added. "I don't want you getting hurt when the subject attempts his escape."
The General knew he could count on Derrick to try and free the boy, just as he knew his men would foil the attempt. It would serve as a lesson.
As the van pulled down the driveway, he turned off the surveillance camera and moved into position. If Derrick was going to make his move- it would be here. Taking a deep breath, he signaled his men
He watched as his security team went from visible to electronically camouflage in 3 seconds. All was in order.
As the van stopped, his assistant opened the side of the panel van, then stepped to the side. The guard exited the van and then grabbed the boy by the arm and pulled him out. Without waiting for someone to watch him, he reached in, grabbed the sniper's handcuffs by the chain and pulled.
There was a moment's hesitation and then Derrick sprang, landing on top of the guard.
The General stepped back and watched, an amused smile on his face. He loved to see his men in action.
On Derrick's signal, the boy broke away and started running- but it was also the signal for his men to move.
His assistant applied the hypo to the sniper and his guards knocked the boy to the ground. The look of surprise on both their faces was precious.
"Gentlemen," the General called. His smile broadened as his men reappeared, surrounding the two prisoners. He let them be for a moment, allowing their failure to sink in before proceeding. When he saw the crestfallen look on the sniper's face, he knew it was time.
"Do it," he ordered.
On his command, the guard from the van held Derrick in a head lock and two others grabbed Joey's arms.
"Derrick Wilson," he stated. "You are a prisoner of war. I have no use for your 'brother' except for this. Your services are needed, and your cooperation is needed. Resistance will be dealt with harshly."
He nodded to the men standing next to Joey.
On his signal, one of the men swung his tonfa into Joey's mid-section. As the boy doubled over, Rabbit screamed and tried to break away from his own guards.
Two more men piled on top of him to hold him down as the guards forced Joey upright and repeated the process.
"Do you understand?" The General demanded.
The sniper sounded lost, but the General could tell the drugs were working. He was fully aware of what was going on. Aware and in control-- that was all he needed.
The General let his breath out slowly. "Do you understand?"
As the guard pulled back to hit Joey again, Derrick screamed.
"Yes I understand! Enough... Enough already!"
The General smiled at the guard who turned and hit Joey in the back of the head. He dropped like a rock.
"As long as we have an understanding," the General told Derrick, then walked away.
He couldn't help but smile. It was a shame to have to do this to the boy- but at least the sniper understood.
Rabbit was in hell, it was the only way to describe it. It was too surreal to be anything else. He ran a hand through his hair as he tried to figure things out.
That was another thing that made it so surrealistic- he was their prisoner, but because they needed him to be fully functional he was uncuffed and allowed free roam. There was no need for visible signs of his captivity, they had the best incentive to guarantee his cooperation- Joey.
They'd made it clear early on that any resistance would be punished- and since they couldn't harm him, Joey was the one who paid. It almost drove him over the edge, being forced to watch as he was, but they'd given him something. Whatever it was-- it was keeping MadRabbit from taking over.
Part of him knew it was for the best-- MadRabbit would get them both killed... but to remain aware and detached like this was almost too much.
After that it was all a mockery of civility. The General had 'invited' him to join him for dinner, an invitation he couldn't refuse.
The General actually sat there discussing gardening with him- all the while making it clear that his behavior would be reflected in Joey's treatment. So he'd gone through the motions- ate what was given him, played the General's game, all the while seething.
Now he was supposed to rest- be ready for the 'big day.' A nurse had come in and given him another shot, but all it did was dull the throbbing in his head, and so the nightmare had continued.
The General looked at his watch and smiled-- everything was going according to plan. He wondered how long it would take for David Wilson to realize that there was no escape this time. Even if there was, it didn't matter. He had the Wilson he wanted. Derrick would do as he ordered and the Wilson's would take the blame.
He almost wished that good old Davy-boy would manage to escape so he could see the results of his plan-- but it was too risky. He was not going to allow the Wilsons to ruin his plans this time.
He was still smiling when he opened the door to the guest room and looked in on his visitor. It was strange seeing the freak's features on a normal human boy. It was too bad really-- he was doing this for the 'Joeys' of the world.
"Joseph," he called in a gentle voice.
Joey turned giving him a look that said it all. He'd torn the boy's world apart and there was no way for him to undo what had to be done.
The General nodded. "Sorry son. I know I'm the last person you want to see but, I need something from you."
"Then get it over with," the boy answered.
"I'm sorry you feel this way-- I understand, but I'm not the enemy here."
"You aren't!? You-- Killed my brother..."
"Your brother and those like them are a blight on the human race. If he had his way...."
"If he had his way, he'd live in peace-- you took that away from him.."
The General sighed. It was too late for this one. "You aren't old enough to remember how it was before the freaks showed up-- I can't expect you to understand."
Joey rewarded him with another glare. "Get to the point."
The General shrugged. "Fine... While you're my guest..."
"Prisoner," Joey corrected.
"Prisoner," The General agreed. "If you give me your word that you will behave-- I'll remove those cuffs. They can't be comfortable."
The boy's wooden response also told him what he needed to know-- Joseph Mays wasn't the type to simply accept what had happened.
"Are you sure?"
"You killed my brother-- what do you think?"
"Son, that freak isn't worth the honor you're displaying here."
"That 'Freak' as you call him is worth more than 10 bigots like you."
"I'm sorry you feel that way," Brighton sighed. "I would like you to think about my offer..."
Joey bowed his head. "If we're done here-- I'd rather be alone."
The General nodded. "Under different circumstances," he sighed. "Good night Joseph."
Rabbit watched the sun come up for what he was sure would be the last time. There was no way the General was going to let him live. It wouldn't be good tactics...unless he was supposed to take the fall for the General's ‘mission.' The more he thought about it, the more he realized that was the case.
He bowed his head in defeat. He knew that doing the General's work was the last thing he should do– but he also knew he couldn't take watching them hurt Joey again.
Joey was another matter though. Would the General let him live? Would he take Joey away since he was the only witness? It made sense– as long as the General held Joey, he knew he'd have Rabbit's co-operation.
Rabbit closed his eyes as he realized the truth– he'd do anything to protect Joey. Anything. The General had figured that out– and now Joey was trapped.
He dropped to his knees, praying for the first time in he had no idea how long.
Joey stirred slightly, smiling in his sleep. When he tried to roll over a shooting pain in his shoulders woke him up completely. Instead of his bunk in the cabin, he was laying in a dingy room, his arms cuffed behind him.
He sagged back against the mattress in despair. He didn't know how much more he could take.
"Oh good, you're awake," a man called from the doorway. It was the General's assistant.
Joey glowered at the man. It was bad enough being their captive– did they have to be so damn cheerful about it!?
"I brought you breakfast," the man announced as he placed a paper plate on the night stand. When he saw the other plate untouched he shook his head. "You really should try and eat..."
Joey's eyes flashed. "How am I supposed to eat?" He lifted his hands so that the man could see his cuffs.
"You're a bright boy... I'm sure you'll figure something out."
That said the man removed the plate from dinner and locked the door behind him. Joey tried to ignore the food, but he was getting hungrier and hungrier. He tried to think of all the things these people had done to his brothers and people like them– but in the end, hunger won out.
The General watched his prisoner with interest. As the boy ate, he smiled. It would be easier to deal with him now.
It was a shame to have to drug the boy, but it was the only option for now. If the Joey knew they were drugging him he'd resist them later– so he proceeded slowly. After he'd finished with the Wilsons, he'd work on the Mays boy.
They'd have to go slowly– rebuilding the boy's allegiances. Brainwashing was such a hazardous undertaking, but with the right balance of chemicals, and images... it could be done and Joseph Mays was a worthwhile prize.
Control the boy, control the money.
He smiled. The Archer's Fist needed the money more than the manpower and with the Mays' estate backing him, he could buy the manpower he needed.
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