Good 17-V

You Ain’t No Good.

Shoulder injuries are the worst. Sure, others can hurt more, or seem like they're a bigger deal at first (I'm not counting things like dismemberment or stuff like that: those aren't injuries, they're backstory fodder). But the thing about shoulder injuries is, they have the best/worst pain/inconvenience ratio. You don't realize how much you use your shoulder until it suddenly hurts every time you do. So you either have to disable an entire, fully functional arm by putting it in a sling just because the shoulder is injured, or you keep using it, push through the pain, and injure it even further.

Or maybe I'm talking nonsense, who knows.

I slowly swam my way back into consciousness, feeling like a bag of bricks that had been hit by another, larger bag of bricks. Something cold was wrapped around both of my wrists, digging into the skin with a chill edge and holding my arms above my head. Sagged to the side the way I had been, most of my body weight was on my left shoulder, and I could tell right away that it was bad. I tried to move, and a bolt of searing pain shot through it, causing me to cry out. I clamped down on the sound almost immediately, but it still rang out.

My feet dangled below me, brushing against rough concrete. I suspected that if I managed to straighten up, I'd just barely be able to stand. But doing that would require moving my arm…

Fuck it. I clenched my jaw, mentally preparing myself, then pulled myself upwards, using my right side as much as possible. The same searing pain still came, but I managed to not scream. My feet scrambled weakly on the ground, and slipped for a terrifying moment, but I managed to get them underneath me. I was right: they only barely touched the ground at full hang, so I had to stand on my toes to take some weight of off my shoulders. Not great, but better than before.

Well, no time like the present. I took the plunge and dragged my eyes open, eyelids feeling like they were made of lead. Thankfully, all that was revealed was an empty room. A perfect, empty, concrete cube, with a single steel door opposite me, a lightbulb mounted firmly into the ceiling, and… a grate, in the centre of the room. Oh boy.

I tugged experimentally at the chain attached to my right hand, which I could now see was attached to a bolt driven firmly into the ceiling. There was no give in the chain or the shackle; both well-made and secured properly, it seemed. If- when I got out of this, I was going to figure out how to do that freaky thumb dislocation trick you always see in movies.

The hinges on the door squeaked, and it opened to reveal Santa Claus, in full regalia and carrying a big sack of presents over his shoulder! No, of course it didn't, that's fucking stupid. It was Edith. Who else was it gonna be? She'd ditched the body suit, and was now wearing a baggy black t-shirt and jeans, hair hanging loosely over her face and shoulders.

“Nice kill room you've made yourself here, E,” I said, as conversationally as I could manage. “I'm sure municipal water really appreciates having entire human bodies’ worth of blood being poured into their mains.” The humor was a bit strained; so sue me, I was in a lot of pain.

Edith said nothing, stepping into the room and closing the door behind her. I couldn't even see her eyes behind her hair, and combined with her emotionless movements, it made for a pretty discomfiting sight.

“Also,” I continued, “where do you even buy manacles and chain these days? Is there someone on eBay who does that? Heh 'for sale, steel manacles, never worn’. Suck on that, Hemingway.”

She walked right up to me and punched me in the gut.

It hurt.

As I wheezed, trying to double over but prevented by the chains, she spoke. “This is how this is going to go. I am going to hit you. I am going to keep hitting you, until you tell me where the datapad is. Then I'm going to hit you some more, for screwing this all up in the first place.”

“So basically,” I managed to choke out, “you're going to keep on hitting me no matter what I do? Great plan, E. Really working that grey matter.”

She hit me again. Same spot, but it actually hurt less this time.

“See,” I continued weakly, “everybody knows torture doesn't work anyway, because people will eventually just tell you whatever you want to hear just to get the pain to stop.” I paused for a moment, expecting a blow that didn't come. “But you've removed that incentive as well, so now you're just hurting me for the sake of-”

The face this time, right where the Disciple had hit me earlier. She said something, but my head was ringing so much that I couldn't actually hear it.

“Could you repeat that?” I could barely even hear my own voice. She growled, and her lips moved again, but the ringing was still too loud. “You know what, don't bother.” I giggled, a little woozily.

Her scowl deepened, and she turned away from me. Posture and movement indicated she was talking, and as the ringing began to fade, I could hear what it was again.

“...could have found her. It was everything I needed, after all this time. And you just had to come in and ruin everything, didn't you?! You ruin everything.”

“I think blaming this on me-” I coughed roughly. “Oh hey, blood. Blaming this on me is a bit of a stretch.”

She spun back around to face me again. “That datapad was the key, Flint! It would have led me right to her. And you took it away, and now you're going to give. It. Back.”

“Okay, back up. One. How did you even find out about this datapad? Two. Why are you so convinced that it's going to lead you to Eve? It's just random scrolling text.”

“So you do have it,” she snarled.

“Was that ever in-” I tried shrugging, and immediately regretted it. “Oh god, I think I'm going to throw up.”

“A reliable source,” she said coldly, “informed me of its existence, and of its contents.”

“Oh, and what reliable source was this? Some random hobo off the street?”

She… blushed? No, that was rage. Bad read, Flint. “He had enough power and influence to appear in front of me, on a job, on camera, and not attract any attention and not appear on any footage, so no. Not just some random hobo.”

I sighed. “Are you kidding me? Some random person appears in front of you, gives you free information, and you trust it?! I cannot believe we ever dated.”

“Neither can I,” she shot back immediately. “And what would you have done, Flint? Offered the first lead in a long time, what would you have done?”

“Well, I wouldn't have brought every knock-off Illuminati and their pals to New Chicago by immediately stealing some of their stuff,” I said sarcastically, “that's-”

A whirling blade of salt was suddenly half an inch from my eye. I froze perfectly still, staring straight at it.

“Do. Not.” Edith said. Slowly, she moved the blade away, and I allowed myself to breathe again. “Sooner or later, Flint, you are going to tell me where that datapad is. You'd better hope it's sooner.”

That's gonna be a bit tricky, I felt like telling her as she turned and stalked out of the room, considering I have no bloody idea.

“Fuck,” I said quietly to myself.

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