(BtVS/Overclocked) A History of Violence
Disclaimer: I'm poor. I own nothing
Notes: I've always loved PC adventure games, from the days where you had to type things like 'walk to tree' and 'pick up rock' to the point and click murder mysterious of today. The Space Quest, King's Quest, and Police Quest games are still some of the most entertaining series I've played, in any genre.
I found 'Overclocked: A History of Violence', despite its flaws, to be an enjoyable story and was inspired enough to weave it into a Buffy fic staring Xander's dad of all people. Now, if only I could think up a good 'Still Life'/'Post Mortem' ficlet. Or a Space Quest one. Roger Wilco in Sunnydale would just be fun.
Warnings: If you plan on playing 'Overclocked: A History of Violence' or are playing and haven't finished yet, you may not want to read this. Despite the twisting I did to the story, it will still completely spoil things for you.
A History of Violence
Anthony Harris could only look on in shock as he watched the surveillance footage. A large part of him could only wonder who would do this to these kids, and why. The rest of him had a damn good idea of what the answers were, even if he couldn’t bring himself to admit it out loud.
Tony’s work on memory reconstruction was well known and regarded in his field. So when five violent and armed, young adults were found bloodied and amnesiac in the same few New York blocks over a two day span it wasn’t unusual that he would be called in to help out.
The five had been the last patients at the soon to be shut down Staten Island Psychiatric Hospital and when he saw them Tony couldn’t help but think how none of them could be more than a year or two older than his son back in Sunnydale. He quickly pushed those thoughts aside and got to work.
Things quickly took a turn towards strange.
After the first couple of sessions it became obvious that these weren’t just similar cases, they were related cases. All five had apparently been isolated together at some sort of abandoned military compound. Given the level of paranoia they shared and the increasingly violent confrontations, it was a miracle any of them had made it out.
If that wasn’t enough, there was also someone out there who didn’t want him to figure out what happed to these kids. The pair of men who bagged his head, handcuffed him, threw him off the pier, and shot at him were a rather large hint to that.
His colleagues were no help either. Dr. Young and the nurse, Tamara, were the only two left at the hospital when Tony arrived; attending to its last patients. Neither seemed to particularly like him. Dr. Young made it clear he disapproved of his methods, especially when he took the patients off their medication and asked that Tamara not enter their rooms when she did her rounds. One of his patients, the most likely to make a quick breakthrough, supposedly committed suicide that same night.
To make matters worse, his wife had sent divorce papers to his hotel room, which resulted in a rather violent outburst and several broken pieces of furniture. Needless to say, the hotel, not to mention the other guests, were hardly pleased with that or the screams that accompanied his frequent nightmares. That didn’t matter anymore. After his credit cards stopped working and he couldn’t pay the hotel kicked him out.
The altercation he had in the bar next door, goading a local thug into attacking him before disarming the man and waving his own gun back in his face, probably didn’t help matters either.
Combine all that with the growing sense of paranoia and familiarity with the case and Tony felt like he was slowly losing his mind.
Fortunately it’s not paranoia if they really are watching you. The detective on the case, Moretti, was able to dig up some disturbing information. The hospital didn’t get its funding through normal means. Their funding came from the Department of Defence. He’d even managed to find the compound the kids had been at.
That had been only hours before Tony had found Moretti’s body in a dumpster at the docks they were meeting at.
Things had just gone to a whole new level and Tony had to get to the bottom of things and fast. First he had to make sure those kids were safe. Unfortunately when he got to the hospital the kids were doped up to their eyeballs and he’d had to chase Dr. Young and Tamara away by pulling out his pilfered gun. He quickly set about counteracting the drugs in his patients’ systems and sending them away.
The question had been what to do next. Its not like he could have gone to the authorities. At this point who would believe him? No, he needed evidence and he knew just where to get it.
Most of the equipment in the compound had been destroyed by the time he got there, but not all of it. He was able to find an intact, or at least salvageable, hard drive from one of the computers. Then he went to work on the surveillance tapes.
Eventually he found a tape of all five of them playing a shooter on the computer network upstairs and falling into a strange, trance like state. There were several key things about it that Tony recognized, but he could hardly believe. It almost looked like the simulator he had been working on back in his military days.
“Am I disturbing you?” a voice asked with a sarcastic edge and Tony spun around to see a man in an expensive looking suit walking towards him, right past the clear locked server case Tony had sabotaged earlier. “Nice to see you again Mr. Harris. Even if it is under somewhat deplorable circumstances.”
It only took a moment for Tony recognized him from his frequent trips on the Staten Island ferry and from seeing him leave the hospital. He couldn’t recall the man’s name, just that he supposedly worked for some sort of pharmaceutical company.
“What are you doing here?” Tony asked, though he knew the answer. When the shady businessman shows up at the secret research facility it doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together.
“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” the man asked with an arched eyebrow. The confident tone and posture on the smaller man was making Tony nervous. He had a feeling that even if he made it past this man, there were others in the supposedly abandoned compound now. “I have to admit, I’m impressed. You’re both persistent and resilient. I never would have thought you would make it here. The water off the dock is fifty feet deep. For a poor swimmer with cuffed hands, that’s usually deep enough.”
“Who are you?”
“Not Mr. Clarke from Dwight Chemicals obviously,” the man said pointedly, though it didn’t really mean much to Tony; he hadn’t remembered the man’s name to begin with. “My name is Warren Zane. I’m a project leader for Psychlops Industries. As you can see we’re working here on a few tests for a little piece of software. A further development of the simulators that you may well remember yourself.”
“You’re training young people to kill!” Tony spat, his temper briefly at the admission before he was able to reign it in. “Influencing them with supplemental messages.”
If the man’s notice his barely controlled anger it he didn’t show it. “Exactly right Anthony. You have an excellent grasp of things. Have you figured the rest out yet?”
“You work for the Pentagon.”
The man smiled a slimy sort of pleased smirk at him. “Yes, at least a faction of it. As I told you before, I work for one of the largest employers in the country.”
“And the Pentagon is testing the effectiveness of the manipulation software here.”
“Not only that, we are testing whether we can erase the memories of our test subjects. Dr. Young’s chemical methods helped us immensely. However, as we now know, thanks to your work, we have to improve it further still,” Zane paused and looked sharply at him. The gleam in his eyes sent a shiver down Tony’s spine. “We don’t just want killers Anthony, we want killers who can withstand interrogation. In today’s unconventional wars, memories are a hindrance. He who remembers nothing tells nothing and regrets nothing.”
“So your methods have failed then,” Tony pointed out tersely, though a nervousness began to seep through his anger. Xander would probably look at a situation like this in a movie and say it was a bad thing when the villain starts explaining his whole plan and that they probably didn’t expect the hero to be around long enough to use it against them. Tony was beginning to think that fiction might not be far off even as he continued. “My investigations at Staten Island are proof of that.”
“Ahhh, Tony…” Zane said with a shake of his head. “I believe you really are quite movingly naïve. Your results are very interesting to us. Your work is going to help us improve Goliath. The next version will resist any psychiatric method. You can count on that. Why do you think we entrusted these cases to you in the first place?”
“So I’m part of your experiment?” Tony asked, genuinely surprised as much as to drag things out.
“Of course. You were already a part of the forerunner experiments,” Zane told him, and that was all he needed to confirm his suspicions on his military work. “Have you never asked yourself where your aggressive outburst came from? Did you ever wonder why someone who, despite their topic of research, held such strong pacifistic beliefs as to not even defend himself in a fight, suddenly began to spiral into a rage so easily?” he didn’t wait for Tony to answer and waved his hand airily. “Of course you have.”
“You mean… my work on the simulator…”
“Yes, sorry about you’re wife and son.” And Tony thought he heard a note of remorse in the other man’s voice, but he doubted it was genuine. “We couldn’t have known our experiments would have such an unfortunate side effect on your family. However, we find ourselves at war, and, as you well know, in any war there are casualties.” Tony barely heard the rest of the confession or the excuses, it was drowned out in the deepening of his breath and the grinding of his teeth as he felt the rage welling up in him. They did this to him, to his family. Made him a monster that would haunt his wife and son for years. They couldn’t be allowed to get away with this.
“Which brings us to the… unfortunate part of our conversation,” Zane told him, oblivious to Tony’s thoughts as he pulled a handgun from his jacket and levelled it at his face. “I really am sorry, Tony, it’s nothing personal.”
The Hell it wasn’t! For Tony this was about as personal as it could get and somebody was going to pay. With a speed and ferousity Zane hann’t been prepared for, Tony knocked the gun upwards, away from his hand; latching onto the wrist even as the weapon went off.
The overhead light sparked and began to strobe, casting the room into an eerie slow motion like effect as the two men struggled for control. Again and again the gun went off, and it quickly became clear that the weapon was Zane’s only defence; obviously, like Tony, he was more military scientist that fighter. The difference was that Tony was a much larger man, not to mention younger, angry, and in better shape.
They grappled furiously, a flurry of quick movement made to seem oddly disconnected by the flickering lights. A vicious headbutt ended put an abrupt end to things, and Zane found himself looking up, past the barrel of his own gun, at the enraged face before him.
“Pull the trigger,” Zane taunted as he wiped at the blood pouring from his nose. “You’re going to disappoint me if you don’t. You’re a killer, Tony, you can’t do anything else. Go on. Do it,” he challenge, his face twisting into a bloody smile. “Get it off your chest. Like with your wife and kid.”
Tony was only too happy to oblige and squeezed the trigger…
…And stared in disbelief at the empty gun.
“You see, you wanted to do it,” Zane told him, the smirk never leaving his face as he stood up and pulled out a second gun. “You’re a success Tony. Thanks for all the help.”
As Zane started to pull the trigger, Tony closed his eyes. His last thought was that Jessica and Xander would never know just how sorry he was. Or how much he really did love them.