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45 Novoslobodskaya Street
The chair was a throne. Comfortable. Padded. His weight sank heavy. The skin on his face sagged. His blood was sluggish, pooling in his feet. Lids lowered. The room fell dark. His mind fuzzed with static. When Marcus addressed him, a jolt shot through his brain. Ryker startled, eyes flaring hot and wide. The few seconds of sleep was briefly invigorating. His willpower was rubbed raw. He didn’t care about games. Didn’t care about winning. Survive. That was the end. Survive. Evade. Escape.

His voice was raw and raspy. Forced from someplace empty. “I didn’t want to. I wasn’t going to. Could have done it at Almaz. Didn’t. Could do it any time. Too busy. Then she did to me what I do to Brandon,” as he spoke, his voice slurred like he was drunk.

“She wanted it. She wanted the pain. Sick bitch.”

As he swayed in his seat, his eyes closed once more, sleeping straight up.
Marcus kept his face smooth as his mind switched gears- all pleasure at Ryker's broken demeanor vanishing- and processed what he said. The man seemed delirious and out of it, but through the haze, the words provided the clues. As if of its own volition, a mentat projection began, a vortex drawing in every related piece of data: Ryker's service in the US, his capture in Ohio, the meltdown, the burns on his face; an apparent pardon that had to come from Ascendancy himself; his appearance at the the Ball; Oriena and her games; the Almaz and her keeping Giovanni in her thrall; the Grand Ball and her possession by the Ijiraq; the barbed words designed to whipsaw back and forth, yanking people this way and that, trying to get a rise; his first time touching the Force- a Jedi mind trick.

Multiple projections spun out.

Projection 1: Ryker had been pushed to attack Oriena by her use of the power.
Projection 2: Ryker had been in Ohio neat the time of the meltdown. The scars on his face were a result. The CCD and the Ascendancy had been behind the collapse.
Projection 3: Ryker knew where the "bodies lay" but was too valuable or dangerous to merely disappear.
Conjecture: Ryker had used the Force on Ascendancy and had been pardoned.

That last intrigued him. Ascendancy was a merely a man, for all his power. He could die, could be killed even. Marcus had watched him nearly die. It was too soon, yet, for that to happen. But...Ryker had an influence on him, at least of a sort. He could prove to be a useful tool. It would be a one off and thus all the more valuable. It had to count, if and when it came time to use him.

He stifled the exciting possibilities that began to pop up in his mind. Ryker was indeed far more important then he had realized. Which meant Marcus had to own him, body and soul.

Kindness and compassion appeared on Marcus' face and he leaned forward a fraction. A touch of warmth entered his voice. It had to be subtle. The man was open and weak. Too strong and it would set off suspicions. "I am sorry you are suffering Ryker. I cannot release you, not yet. But perhaps..." a hint of a smile, as if shared only briefly and only to him. He waved a guard over. "Please allow Mr. Petrovic to have a night of peace. And a meal." The guard nodded once and then left.

Marcus nodded in satisfaction before looking back at Ryker, observing carefully. Just like that. So simple. A small act of compliance and a big reward. Nevermind that Marcus was the reason for his suffering. No, what mattered was that Ryker saw that Marcus made the suffering go away.

After a moment, he frowned and looked thoughtful. "Tell me about Ms. Ruseyev. Why do you think she wanted you to attack her?" It was designed to distract him, of course. But she also intrigued him. He wasn't sure she was a tool or not. A good one, anyway, had to be predictable, and she seemed anything but.

Well, that wasn't true, actually. She was predictable in her unpredictability. Chaos. As such, she still could be useful. In any case, it was worth thinking about.
The world fell quiet as Ryker dozed in and out of consciousness. Only the mention of a hot meal fluttered his eyelids. However, Marcus dangled the carrot and took it away. Dropping in Ryker’s lap a far less tempting morsel. Why was he so obsessed with Oriena? Ryker could probably figure it out if he gave even half a rat’s ass.

“Fuck if I know. Revenge? Attention? Distraction? Maybe she’s into that bondage shit and can’t afford the classy places. Got any better ideas?”

He swayed in his seat and dozed again.
Marcus hid a grimace. Ryker was having trouble concentrating. He'd expected something like it, of course. The studies he'd read- especially the classified stuff- painted a true horror picture. Minds broken beyond repair. Violent and uncontrollable. Those early Soviet doctors had had to put down most of their subjects, with the exception of those few kept for longer studies.

None of them were alive now, though. This was Marcus' first exposure to it in person. It did pique his interest. His days as avenging angel were over. He knew that. The lack of any comment from Malik only served to cement that fact. His old life was well and truly over.

Still, for those who needed it, it could be useful. He filed that away.

The matter at hand. Ryker. The man had drifted off again. Very likely, he would not remember their speaking moments ago. The man had to know him as friend and savior. Owner.

He seized the force, weaves for the Jedi mind trick forming. He learned forward, hand on Ryker's- the first touch of human kindness he'd have felt in what had to have seemed months- and spoke quietly but insistently, threads of the Force lacing through his words and into the man's brain. "Ryker. Wake up. I came to help you."

The timing was spot on. The squeak of the door announced the guards return- that and the smell of food wafting from the tray. Marcus had eaten but in this place, even he had felt hungry. He smiled, looking genuine. "Ryker, I have food."

He waited for the man to come to.

[[Up to you whether the weave works. Also the food choice is yours.]]
His groggy gaze found the consul. Ryker was obviously delirious with a glaze across his eyes thicker than blood. Yet he kept his attention on the handsome face across the table. Marcus was young, so young. But a menace emanated like shadows. Ryker grit his teeth, wanting to dismiss the other channeler with all his might, but instead, he could not look away. The pat on the hand curled a sour taste up his arm. The disdain was writ plain on Ryker’s face, although the reason was unclear.

Food was presented, and Ryker managed to put some in his mouth, spilling some down his shirt as he devoured it.

After some time, he finally spoke. "What do you want with me?"
Marcus stifled a sense of frustration as the man seemed to shake off his weave. He knew it was petty. The man might be bending but he was not broken. Reading between the lines of his jacket, interrogation resistance was likely part of his training. Add his Force abilities and the will it required, well it was only expected.

Time. It would just take time. He relaxed and leaned back, giving the man space and leave to eat ravenously. To his question, "I want you to be someone we can rely on, Ryker. Simple as that. As to whether that happens...." he trailed off.

He stood slowly. "Enjoy your meal Ryker. I will visit again."

On his way out, he left instructions with the guard. "Two days, give him food- not prison swill, mind- and plenty of it.. And let him sleep. Then..." he paused, unable to help to small smile that formed on his face. Then.. start it over again. No sleep. Little food. Solitary. Keep it up until I come again."

Let him marinate. Marcus had other things do occupy him in the meantime.
The days blurred for Ryker. He pulsed from sick one moment to furious the next. But not even his hatred for this place and these people gave him the energy to put up more than a pathetic fight. Eventually, the fight ran out and he just waited. Maybe something broke. Probably something important, but he didn't care. To breathe was inhaling fire. To drink was to swallow nails. His sole consolation was the isolation. In the larger confinement rooms, he didn't stand a chance.

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