Iron Maiden


"Up and at em, Five."
The voice on the intercom forced the girl known to the Authority as RPC-016-5 out of bed, in the grey pajamas given to her, as a pair of guards opened her door, delivering the same breakfast the staff was getting today. An omelette, stuffed with peppers and tomato and sausage, much better than the mushy slop she'd been eating before. Once she had the tray in her hands, they left, sealing her in the small bedroom she'd been living in since they'd taken her. How long had it been? She couldn't remember, she'd lost count long ago.

She ate alone, like always, she'd asked for a friend a while ago, but the doctor had said no. The moment she dropped her fork onto her plate, the intercom came to life again.
"Doctor Alaric will be speaking to you today, 016-5, guards will escort you to the interview room." A different voice, not the one that woke her up every "day". This one told her she would be doing things different. Medical exams, tests, and now, a talk. What did that mean? It was new to her.

Guards came before she could even count to ten, followed by a janitor that wiped down her little table and took her plate. They took her through the halls after putting large cuffs around her wrists. It wouldn't help if she tried to break out, and everyone knew it, after she'd shown off a bit during one of the tests, but apparently it was part of procedure. The men in their blue guard uniforms led her to a small room, with a large glass pane dividing it in half, a table on both sides, holding a microphone and a speaker. She was unshackled, and allowed to seat herself, but the guards stayed in the room with her. On the other side of the glass, the doctor sat. She thought he looked like a cartoon villain, with the way the light glinted off his round glasses, and the smile he had was horrible, too toothy, like he didn't really know how to smile. He said something that she couldn't hear, then pressed a button on his table, and started talking to her.
"Hello, 016-5. Today we're going to do what we should have done a long time ago, and talk to you about your anomalous abilities."
"My name is Ashley Davidson." She shot it out as quick as she could, so her words couldn't be run over.
"Thank you for stating that for the record, but your official designation is 016-5. Now, tell me how your father created the object residing inside of you."
At least they knew now. Two birthdays had come and gone and they didn't even seem to care about her name. She only knew it had been two birthdays because the date on her tablet had said two had gone by. She didn't know if the tablet was accurate though.
"Answer the question, 016-5."
Ashley slammed back into reality, she'd zoned out again.
"Uh, my dad didn't tell me how he made it, the stuff he was working on in the basement wasn't something I was allowed to touch or anything. I don't really think I would understand it even if he had."
"That's alright. Can you tell me if he made more than the five we have in containment?"
"No, he only made them for us."
"Very good. Why can't RPC-016 take the shape of things that aren't weapons?"
"I don't know, dad said he was still tinkering with it. sometimes he would have us pull them out, and when we got them back, we could do more with them. It didn't always make guns, or float." She pauses, remembering. "He said that they might grow on their own if we got to practice with them a lot, so he made us fight."
It felt good, to talk about it, the pain had dulled, almost vanished, after so long, but it was still there, and even if this man didn't care about her, he was listening.
"Johnny was the best of us, he did-"
"That's enough."
She closed her mouth.
"Can you tell me why RPC-016 is made of steel?"
"Because steel is mostly iron, with a bit of carbon to make it tougher. And dad said we needed iron wills to survive through what was coming."
"And what was coming?"
"The Revolution, he wanted to overthrow the government, he never told me why, but my brothers said it was because the people in power were bad people, and needed to be stopped."
"Do you still believe that?" The man leaned in, now genuinely curious.
Ashley looked down at her hands, this place was run by the government right? This place that had killed her family, locked her in a box, this place that constantly put her through X-rays and needlework, and used to feed her grey slop. It was an awful place. But she understood it, somehow. How many people would have been hurt if her dad had taken them into a real revolution? A lot of people. More than the ones being hurt here.
"No, I don't. It's not perfect, but you and the government are trying to keep people safe."
He nods.
"Thank you, 016-5, we will continue testing next week."

The doctor stood, pressing a button on his table again, and left. Guards took her back to her cell, the hazy grey walls greeting her as they always did, with silence. The sheets had been changed, a fresh set of clothes lying on top of it, identical to the stuff she was wearing - grey long sleeve t-shirt with a little badge on the chest, holding her number, grey pajama pants, or sweat pants, same thing to her, grey slippers.

An endless parade of grays and whites, of washed out colors. She was certain there was a purpose to it, beyond white and grey being the cheapest colors. To make her feel sad, so she wouldn't have the will to break out. It had worked, after she'd stopped being scared of the guards, and she got better food and stuff to read, she hadn't cared much to try escaping. Something inside her rebelled against that mindset, but she'd been pushing it down. Today it was back in full force, writhing in her very bones, that iron Will her dad had given her, coming to the forefront.

As she changed, and sat on the bed, she pulled the metal out, suppressing a giggle when it tickled her palm, cutting it open to flow into her hand. One second, it was a ball, the next, it was a revolver, like the one her dad kept on the mantle, back home, but instead of being black and wood-brown, it was all silver, heavy in her hand.

For a moment, she pictured putting it to her head, just pulling the trigger before the guards could rush in and stop her, but she and the Iron Will agreed to cast that image out. That would be giving up. Instead, she looked up at the intercom.
"Doctor, can I have daily practice? Not like the tests, but something where I can, uh, play with it?"
There was no response, but this was how she'd asked for things before, they'd give her an answer with the next meal, no doubt. They would probably say no, or offer a few conditions, but at least she had something new to focus on.
Something new to help direct her Will.

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