WARNING: First half contains VERY graphic violence. Quite a bit of cussing and some gruesome descriptions. If this bothers you, skip down to the second half, and just assume that Squall got free and beat them up.

Pleasantly Depressed

Chapter 13 - Of Chair legs and Hallways

By Skandranon

Red dripped from his lip in a steady rhythm, like a leaky faucet, like a base guitar. Drip drip drip drip. Four beat pattern. Beat beat beat beat.

The haze in his mind wouldn't let up. Muted shades of anguish and the burning of his skin. Make it stop...

His wrist snapped as it broke free of the handcuffs, and it snapped again as it broke the leader's nose. A quick twist of the hips and the chair cracked against the blond.

An abrupt kick and the chair splintered in two.

Make it stop...

The leader held the morale of the team, and was the obvious first target. A jab to the neck pressure point, a kick to the groin, and the palm of his hand smashing up into his jaw. Leader down. Shove him down, step on the neck, twist to make sure he stayed down. Still have the edge of surprise; still have the time for superfluous movements.

The throbbing caught his breath, and he surged. Fucking bastards thinking they could take him down, he'd make them pay. Tear them apart, make them scream. Where'd they put that taser...

...Shiva, have to find Shiva. Can't think, can't breath, it hurts...they took her, locked her in a sphere. His legs spasmed as he collapsed to the floor.

And he was up, and facing the tallest of the men. He had brute force and height as an advantage, and the others were hanging back. Morale was down. A feint left, but the man knew that trick. Never mind, follow through with it. The man grabbed his arm and pulled it out of socket, but the other arm was wrapped around his neck and squeezing.

Suffocating too good for you, bastard. Slice you open with those cards you love so much. Paper cuts of death, and forget pouring salt on the wounds, let's go for the battery acid. Make you shred your own vocal cords screaming.

His veins had electricity running through them, jarring his bones. His chest convulsed, and he swallowed to keep the blood back. His vision blurred... darkened... they were standing over him, the concrete so cold... need Shiva...

He shot a hand out and gripped the youngest man's leg. A swift yank and he went down yelping. A twist and the bone broke, and now he was screaming. He kicked out and took another in the knees, the pop of a dislocation audible. Pushed off the floor and used inertia to swing backwards, get away from the group and get some room to move. With them having the advantage in numbers, he couldn't let them surround him.

Like dogs, all of them. Bloody curs growling for a bone. He could grow too. He could roar. Wolf pups thinking they could take on a Lion. He'd send them yipping home for their bitch He'd already taken down their alpha, and now he'd finish off the rest of them. Slowly.

But it hurt so much. His fingers twitched with the pain, reaching for something that wasn't there. Have to... have to...chest pounding...head pounding... make it stop, someone make it stop...

Block the punch, turn into the motion, and a chop across the back of the neck sent the taller man reeling into the wall. Throw the table at him to keep him there. The black haired man was next, the only one with any fighting training worth speaking of. He'd hung back so far, observing with cold eyes. He needed to be taken down before he could learn enough to have the advantage. Pick up a fragment of the broken chair, edge sharp...

...And charge. A snarl left his throat as he flung himself at the man. You did this to me, you sick bastard. I'll rip your balls off. I'll break your skull. Hold still, let me put this shiny object through your spine.

The man parried and knocked his legs out, and the cold concrete stole his thoughts. He could hear someone yelling. A glint of blue to his left... Shiva...

He clawed at his attacker's face, and snapped his teeth for the throat. Blood streaked in lines as the man cursed... damn right you should curse. I'll tear your eyes out. Make you eat them.

A punch in the soft side of the skull took the black haired man down. Pushing the metal stake his back kept him down.

His head ached so. He found himself longing for aspirin...morphine... a gun...

The short one had his gunblade, the little prick. He was trying to use it to shield himself, but he could barely lift it. It was enough to make you laugh. So he did.

Gunblade met the rest of the chair, flung from a distance. Books followed, and a shove had the bookshelf toppling over. The short one dodged, but that put him in the path of an attacking SeeD and his handcrafted weapon. Duck in under the clumsy swing of the gunblade and...

His heart was screaming at him...oxygen, pain killers, Something! He moaned and wrapped his arms around his middle, and he could swear his eyes were bleeding -

Roll into the blow to his back, somersault out of the way. Tuck a leg around the man's knees and pull him down. Bend of the spine, and you can reach to put the stake through his eye. Plunge, tear out, plunge in the other eye, tear out, drop the stake, hands on either side of the head, a quick twist. Short one down.

Something in his head was screaming. Something was dripping. Something hurt. Something was missing. But he couldn't find it in the pain. Hyne, it hurt. Make it stop...

And now the loud one's all alone. Poor puppy, all your friends are bloody pools around your feet. Look at you, hiding in the corner, trembling like a puppy in the cold. Scared, aren't you? You should be scared. You baited the lion. Lions eat puppies like you.

Squall picked up the taser.

He was decidedly lost.

Irvine trudged down the dull, featureless corridor, which bore a remarkable resemblance to the last twelve he'd trudged down. You'd think they'd put signs on the walls, the place being as large as it was. Bathroom 2 kilometers to the left, kitchen 3 kilometers to the right.

What was mostly relieving and slightly worrisome was that he hadn't run into anyone since his escape. Their attackers must either be short on manpower, or really stupid. Irvine was praying it was the latter, since they clearly had a rocket launcher. He shrugged to himself. There were no windows in this place; maybe it was nighttime. Maybe they were all asleep.

He occasionally heard shouts echo in the distance, and he'd jump into the shadows, clutching his flimsy pocketknife fiercely. But then they'd fade again, and after a tense moment or two he'd try to figure out which direction they had come from. If the attackers were shouting, then they didn't consider themselves in any danger. Probably goofing off, having a party or something. And even the infrequent sounds had lapsed an hour ago. Maybe they really were all asleep.

He couldn't find the exit, he couldn't find the baddies, he couldn't find Squall... how was he supposed to rescue him if he didn't even know where he was? He came to another fork in the path, and automatically took the left fork. That was what his teacher back in Galbadia had told him to do in situations like this. "When lost in a mazelike interior, always turn in one direction." It had certainly come in handy in the Unknown Tomb; it could come in handy here.

A sound up ahead, and Irvine darted for the nearest cover, a wall reinforcement beam. He pressed himself into the shadow as best he could, thanking his luck that this part of the bunker was poorly lit. If it couldn't see him, it couldn't shoot him. As he held himself still, the sound sharpened into the distinct tread of boots, walking at a steady pace in his direction. Finally, he'd run into someone.

The steps remained at the same speed, and he tried to decipher the sound. Large person, or someone carrying something heavy, from the deepness of the echoes. Casual slow pace, so probably a patrol. The person wasn't expecting trouble, which meant they hadn't spotted Irvine yet. This was good. The "carrying something heavy" part was what worried him. Automatic weapons were heavy.

Five feet... three feet... the person walked by the beam, and Irvine snagged his shoulder, bringing his knife up to the throat... and found himself staring at an even bigger blade.

"Squall! Hey! Great Hyne, what happened to you?"

Squall looked like something the wendigo got to, as the saying went. Clothes torn to fragments, blood everywhere... surely not all of it was his. Burn marks? One eye swollen shut, a choco egg on his forehead... hey, that was his hat! Squall was wearing his hat! And grinning like an imp. What in the world...

"Hey Irvine."

"What happened to you!"

Squall shrugged, blinked, and the grin dropped. "Nothing. Let's go."

Irvine snatched his hat and nearly missed the red orb tossed his way. What the... oh, a GF sphere. "Heya Ifrit." He drew, and felt the familiar burning in his head. Ifrit was glad to see him too, no doubt.

He had to drop the empty sphere to catch the next item, which turned out to be his Exeter. He quickly planted his hat on his head to free up both hands for his baby. "Don't you be throwing my gun around, these things are fragile! You can't just resharpen them like a gunblade."

"Let's go."

"Bet you didn't bother to bring me any ammo."

"Let's Go."

"Right, right." Squall on a mission was not to be bothered. Irvine took his obedient place in line, falling into step as he checked his rifle over. No damage, thank goodness. Someone had even thought to polish... someone had been polishing his baby! If they were still alive, he was going to...

"Don't suppose you left me anyone to shoot?"

"They're all dead. Let's go."

"Got off lucky," he grumbled, and patted his baby comfortingly. "S'allright, sugar, Irvine'll take care of you when we get home."

Squall stopped and glared back at him. "What?"

"Hush, I wasn't talking to you."

"Oh." Squall blinked, and turned around. "Let's go."

Irvine grinned, his spirits looking a lot better than ten minutes ago. "Course if I was, I wouldn't call you 'sugar'. You're not feminine enough for 'sugar'. I'd call you 'darling'."

"Put thought into this?"

Irvine swallowed the 'yep' that wanted to be said. "Just saying, is all. Hm, maybe you are feminine enough for 'sugar'."

He found a gunblade at his throat a moment later.

"I'm not your sugar."

"Easy easy! Didn't say you were! Hyne, Squall, put that down!"

Squall blinked, then lowered the gunblade and stalked off down the hall, turning the corner just ahead. Rubbing his neck, Irvine followed and winced as the light hit his eyes. "Agh, what... hey, how'd you know how to get us out?"

"I memorized the map," a voice somewhere ahead said. "Let's go."

Irvine opted to wait until his vision cleared, and soon the barren exterior came into focus. It included an impressive amount of jeep debris. Noticing one of the tires nearby, he stalked over and kicked it. "They killed the jeep."

Squall was busy dragging a bag out of the wreckage. "No transportation. What did you do with the radio?"

Irvine groaned. "It was in the jeep."

Squall nodded, and dug out the remains of the map. "Esthar is three days walk west of here."

"Walk to Esthar!"

"You have a better idea?" Squall growled. He flexed his fingers on his weapon's grip.

Irvine meekly shook his head.

Squall blinked, and stood up. "Three days. Let's go."

"Let's go let's go let's go, I'm going, I'm going. Sweet Mother."




Author's Notes That "always turn left" rule really did work on the Tomb of the Unknown King. Also helped me figure out the sewers under Deling.

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