230: The Breaking Point

on June 3, 2008 in Book 8

In Which Mackenzie Learns Non-Verbal Communication

As Steff said the words, my poor, abused heart lurched and shuddered to a halt, and then died. I knew what she was doing… the same thing she’d try to do before, only now she was appealing to Viktor as much as to me.

From the avid way he’d led her on through it, it was painfully obvious what was going on. This was the torture. This was the real punishment. He was going to break us up.

“No!” I protested. It wasn’t fair. “It’s my choice! I don’t wa…”

Viktor let the heavy pliers drop where they were. “Where they were,” incidentally, describes a point in the air about six or seven inches above my clit. My outraged words became a cry of pain.

“So, what you are saying,” Viktor said, his sonorous voice carrying over my scream with the same slow, carefully measured enunciation he had used in the build-up on me, “is that you would give her up, throw away any chance to be with her, rather than allow her to take any further pain in your place?”

“Yes,” Steff sobbed. I couldn’t look around to see, but her voice seemed to be coming from a level lower than the table.

“You would pass on the opportunity to see her tortured and to torture her?” Viktor asked.

“Yes, yes!”

“You would give up the chance to walk with her, to hold her, to kiss her ever again?” Viktor asked.

At these words, I panicked. Didn’t Steff see that if Viktor let her do this, then it would all have been for nothing?

I could take it, whatever was coming, for her sake… but if she threw that away then what I’d already suffered would be wasted.

“It’s not her choice!” I insisted, straining against my bonds in spite of the pain it caused.

I didn’t see the blow coming. I didn’t know what he hit me with, but I don’t think he held back at all. It felt like my head shattered, and dazzling explosions went off inside my eyes.

Eventually the ringing in my ears cleared enough that I could hear Viktor, though it sounded a bit like he was underwater.

“…understand what you are saying?” he was saying. The ceiling of the room was starting to come back into focus, though I was seeing two of the light fixture.

“Yes,” Steff cried. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry… I didn’t mean… just… just… let her go. Punish me, and let her go.”

The blurry form of Viktor lurched into view. I heard a loud click and then the metal loop on my left wrist popped off.

“No!” I protested. Viktor grabbed my arm and jerked it down over the side of the table with human-bone-crunching force.

I was still screaming when he had undone all the bonds. He grabbed me by my hair, carried me to the door, and opened it.

“Wait,” he said, extending his arm and dropping me not quite on my feet just outside the door. “Steff will be with you shortly, after she and I have had words.”

Steff would be with me?

“What do you mean?” I blurted out, but Viktor let out a very unmodulated growl of frustration, grabbed the hair on the back of my head and slammed my face into the door frame before hurling me across the hall.

I hit the door opposite his and bounced. There was an indignant cry of “What the fuck, man?” from inside, but the door remained closed.

Maybe I was a slow learner, but it seemed like Viktor really didn’t like it when I talked to him.

But, what had he meant when he said Steff would be with me?

A few moments later, my clothes landed on me.

Before I had a chance to even pick myself up of the floor, to say nothing of them, Gwynedd came charging up and started kicking me in the head.

“Hey, knock it off!” I said, before I realized that she couldn’t hear me. I used my hands to try to block her next kick, though I could barely move my left arm.

It hardly mattered. She stopped kicking, grabbed me by my wrists, and hauled me to my feet. She started turning me around, with absolutely no concern for where she put her hands or what she grabbed to do so.

I lurched away from her, still dizzy and disoriented but more than strong enough to break her grip without trying.

“Fucking stop!” I said, pointlessly. I turned to face her. Viktor had spoken to her before, so she probably could read lips. “Stop it,” I said.

She didn’t listen, but grabbed me by the hurt arm and lifted it, jerking me around while she looked up and down my body.

Again, I pulled myself away from her. What was her problem?

“What’s your problem?” I asked. I felt like I was shouting but sounds were still kind of indistinct and I was trying to be distinct for her.

She held up her arm, running a finger over the letters cut into it.

“No,” I said, trying to make my mouth form the words as clear as possible. I don’t know how well I did, with my head full of fuzz. “He didn’t mark me.”

She raised her forefinger and gave it a twirl. I stared at it without comprehending for a few seconds, then sighed, and turned slowly around in a full circle, letting her see my body. I was feeling very wobbly. My head hurt and my eyes weren’t quite coming together right. It was like there was two of everything.

Part of me was glad for the distraction, no matter how absurd it was, of being made to dance like this for Gwynedd’s inspection… but mostly I wanted a chance to clear my head, to think, to puzzle out what the hell had just happened.

What had Viktor meant?

Well, I’d do what she told me now, just to get it over with faster.

She motioned for me to turn in the other direction when I came back around.

“Why?” I asked, even as I complied, which meant I was talking to myself, effectively. “It’s the same this way as the other way.” When I was facing her again, I said, “There, see? No cuts. No name. Nothing.”

She relaxed a little, though she was still looking at me like I was some half-drowned insect climbing up the side of a toilet bowl. Well, at least we were communicating. That was good.

“I’m Mackenzie,” I said, resisting the urge to point at chest as I said this. She knew Pax. She would understand the concept of “I am” without a visual aid.

She shook her head, holding up a thumb and two fingers and making a little sort of biting motion or something with it.

“Uh, yes,” I said. “I am. Mackenzie. That’s me. Or maybe you’ve heard of me as Mack?”

She shook her head and signed something.

“I don’t understand that,” I said.

She pointed between my legs.

“What?” I asked.

She jabbed her finger insistently, taking a step forward. I took a step back.

“Oh, right,” I said, rolling my eyes. “You think I’m a cunt.”

She made a little motion in front of her mouth.

“What, I need to brush my teeth?” I guessed.

She made the snippy-biting sign again, which I figured meant no. She tapped her chin a couple times and pointed at my pussy again.

“You want to eat my pussy?”

That one made her mad. I thought she was going to hit me, but she grabbed my face, pinching my cheeks with her finger and thumb to open my mouth while her other hand grabbed between my legs. She didn’t seem to have any concept of personal space. I lurched back as soon as she made contact down there, but I’d got her point.

“You want me to say it,” I said.

She raised a fist and “nodded” with it.

I sighed.

“I’m a cunt,” I said.

She signed yes.

“Happy now?” I said, then bent down to gather my clothes. She stepped on the pile and pulled it away. “Hey!” I said, straightening up. “Give me those!”

She ignored my protestation and stooped to pick the paddle out of the pile.

“Hey, don’t touch that!” I said. “That’s mine!”

I reached for it, but she stepped back and gestured for me to turn around.

“No,” I said.

She smacked me across the face with the studded side.

“Quit it!” I said. She was lashing out with it fairly wildly, hitting my chin, neck, and chest as I tried to fend off the blows one-handed. My left arm was hanging uselessly at my side, a mess of pain in the shoulder, wrist, and most of all the upper arm where Viktor had cracked it against the edge of the table. “That’s not how you use it!”

My feet got tangled up as I was backing away, and I landed on my ass. Gwynedd planted her foot on my chest and pushed my back down to the floor. She let the paddle drop beside me and stared down at me, grinning disconcertingly.

It seemed like there was a lesson in this, about going along with an unreasonable person to get things over with quickly.

The knowledge that I could have kicked her ass even with an arm that thought it was broken as long I didn’t mind hurting her was at the forefront of my thoughts, but I don’t think she would have cared. Her face was blank, except her eyes, and the only thing in them was scorn.

With a hall light almost directly overhead, she was blurrier than before, but it looked like she was repeating the mouth gesture.

“You want me to say it again?” I asked. “I’m a cunt.”

She nodded.

“I’m a cunt,” I repeated. “Okay? Can I have my clothes now?”

No, she indicated, I could not. She did take her foot off me and offer me a hand up. As soon as I was on my feet, though, she gave me a backhand slap across the cheek.

“Ow, fuck, what the hell is wrong with you?” I asked.

She was smiling now, her expression mirthful. She put on a questioning look, and made some kind of motion in front of her face. Even leaving aside the fact that I didn’t know the hand cant, it was hard for me to follow her moves after the pounding I’d taken.

“What?” I asked. She hit me again, then jabbed her finger towards me. “I don’t understand what you’re asking,” I said, and this time she balled her fist up and punched me in the throat. I reeled back, choking once.

She looked angry again now, like she thought I was being slow on purpose. She jammed a fingernail between my breasts.

“Who am I?” I guessed. “I’m a cunt, okay? That‘s who I am. A cunt.”

She stepped back, looking pleased… but then she smacked me again, on my sore shoulder.

“Ow!” I said. “What the hell is going to make you happy?”

She hit me again.

“I’m a cunt,” I said. “You just want me to say that?”

She signaled yes.

“I’m a cunt,” I said. She hit me lightly on the other shoulder. “I’m a cunt,” I repeated.

She raised her hand like she was going to slap my face again, but after holding it in place for several seconds, she lowered it and smiled.

“You know, if I get tired of you smacking me around, you could be in serious trouble,” I told her.

She punched me in my left arm, then slugged me in the stomach and brought her knee up to my face as I doubled over.

Okay, apparently there was only one thing I was allowed to say to her, in her mind. That was fine with me. I wasn’t looking for conversation. When the fresh stars in my eyes cleared, I told her I was a cunt and then I sat down against the wall with my knees drawn up and my arms folded on top of them. It hurt to move the left one into that position, but it was okay once I had it settled.

Gwynedd seemed positively delighted by my adoption of this posture, but I didn’t care. Fuck her and her whole comic shop full of issues, whatever they were. I put my head down and closed my eyes, shutting out the painful brightness.

“Steff will be with you shortly.”

Was he turning her out of the room? Maybe that was the final punishment for her disobedience. He’d already taken her key.

Or maybe it was for a last goodbye.

But maybe… just maybe…

But, then, maybe I’d misheard completely. I had just been hit pretty hard on the head.

Everything was dark and cool, but the coolness didn’t bother me. Then the door opened, jerking me back to awareness of the fact that I’d lost awareness of my surroundings.

I looked up, across the hall, and saw Steff. She looked very drawn and haggard, but the expression on her face was one of amazed relief. She looked like somebody who thought she’d lost everything and then found out she hadn’t.

As soon as I thought that, fireworks went off inside me. It was true. I could see it on her face. I didn’t understand it, but there it was.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. Tears poured forth from her eyes as she spoke, but she wasn’t sobbing. In fact, she broke into a smile. “Yes, it’s over. He… he was torturing me, not you.”

“Huh?” I asked. Once again, it seemed like I wasn’t quite hearing things right.

“You were just… well, you were the instrument. When I said I’d rather give you up than watch you suffer like that… that was what he was waiting for,” she said. “He said he wanted to find my breaking point, so he could show me that I had one… and then, I told him I was sorry.” She shook her head. “And I was. I am. I am so sorry, Mack.”

“We both are… but, you’ve hurt me yourself, before,” I said.

“Not like that,” she said. “I’ve thought about it, and I’ve dr… uh, dreamed about some pretty extreme things, but, to actually see you, laid out like that, cringing in terror…” She shuddered. “It wasn’t like I thought it would be.”

“Then, it was all a bluff?” I asked. “The knives? The waiver? Everything?”

“Oh, honey, I don’t think so,” Steff said. “I mean, he was gambling on how I’d react, but if I hadn’t… he’d probably have kept going and finished punishing you on principle. I mean, I didn’t ask, but I assume he would have.”

“So… does this mean… we can still…” It seemed like the answer would have to be yes, or Steff wouldn’t be smiling, but I was still afraid to ask.

“Viktor gave me three things to tell you,” she said. “Before I answer that.”

“Okay,” I said, bracing myself. I figured probably, if he was laying out conditions, then the answer at the end of it all would be mostly positive.

Probably.

Mostly.

“One, he wants you to replace the tongs you broke.”

“What?” I asked. He hadn’t even used the tongs.

“They kind of got all bent when they hit your skull,” Steff said. “Um, he also said you’re vulnerable to the symptoms of a concussion but you don’t have to worry about actual damage, according to his research.”

“Is that the second thing?” I asked.

“No, that was just something he mentioned,” Steff said. “The second thing is that he wants to have a meeting with you, me, and Amaranth, to clarify some things for the future. Um, this wasn’t one of the three things, either, but… you should probably practice keeping your mouth shut, you know?”

“That’ll be a productive meeting,” I said. “Why does he have to do that every time I talk? I mean, he doesn’t love every last bit of his culture.”

“No, but, it’s his culture,” Steff said. “It’s how he was raised. For somebody so far beneath him to speak without being told to… it bugs him.”

“I noticed,” I said. “I guess it’s lucky for Gwynedd that she’s mute.”

“Oh, no, she’s actually allowed to respond to him,” Steff said.

“That just figures,” I said. I sighed. “What’s the third thing?”

She smiled.

“He said to take me some place nice.”

“What?”

“On our date,” she said, and the smile became a face-splitting ear-to-ear grin. “Friday. Take me some place nice.”

“Then… we’re still can dating?” I said, the sentence coming out of my mouth in a delirious jumble.

“Oh, yes, Mack, yes,” Steff said. She threw her arms around me and squeezed tight.

“Ow!” I said. “My shoulder… my arm really hurts.”

“Shit, sorry,” Steff said. She let go, then asked, “Where does it hurt most?”

“Here,” I said, pointing with my right hand at the spot just above my elbow where it had banged against the edge of the table.

She reached out and stroked her fingertips lightly across the skin there, then more firmly. I winced at the fresh wave of pain at the first touch, then moaned at the second.

“Sorry,” she said, smiling ruefully. “I… um… I still like pain.”

“I do, too,” I said, blushing.

“I still want to, you know, play,” she said. “Just not quite like that.”

“Not like that,” I agreed, shaking my head. “So… now what?”

“Now, we get your clothes back on and I help you back to your room,” Steff said.

“Right, they’re right…” I stopped and looked around.

They should have been kind of strewn about the middle of the hall, but they weren’t. Then I noticed for the first time that Gwynedd was gone.

I had a moment where I thought my clothing had departed with her, then I twisted around and saw they were all neatly folded right next to where I’d been sitting.

I did not understand her.


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10 Responses to “230: The Breaking Point”

  1. MadnessMaiden says:

    Love the Victor scenes. Hope to see more of ’em!

    Current score: 2
  2. Arkeus says:

    Urgh, and that Mack scene with Gwynedd now ranks as amongst the most nauseating scenes of the serials so far with some of the nastier Soonie scenes.

    Current score: 3
  3. Arakano says:

    What the fuck is wrong with Gwynedd, really? And the FUCK Mack, Amy ordered you to not let people abuse you, which was one of her better orders. Bad toy!

    Current score: 7
    • zeel says:

      Bugs me too. Light your eyes/hand on fire. Heck, she is naked, she could light up her whole body. Bitch isn’t going to slap something that’s burning.

      Current score: 0
  4. Psi-Ko says:

    Remember the middle ground thing, Mackenzie? There’s a median point behind having the shit kicked out of you with no resistance, and killing your attacker.

    Current score: 2
    • Anthony says:

      Exactly. If you’re strong enough to seriously hurt someone, you’re strong enough to immobilize them as well. If I’d been in her place I’d have held her down with her hands pinned behind her back until she calmed down or Steff showed up.

      Current score: 0
      • Athena says:

        Strong enough to, yes. Capable of does not actually follow directly on from that.

        For instance (and this is the closest correlation I can think of), I learn a move in ninjutsu, which allows me to lock out someone’s arm, or if I so desire, dislocate the joint.

        If I practice it once, and then go out and try to use it outside of practice… well, I probably won’t succeed in using it at all. If I practice it fifty times and go out and try to use it, I will probably succeed in using it to achieve the desired effect.

        If I practice it five times and go out to use it though, I will likely succeed in using the move… but my lack of skill in it will mean I don’t have enough control to stop from dislocating their arm, most especially if they try to struggle or fight back at all.

        In this case the little bit of technique is standing in for a noticeable starting strength advantage, but the point still stands.

        Restraining someone who is trying to struggle and fight back most certainly *can* be done with strength. But doing it without seriously harming them? That doesn’t take strength, that takes *control*. Granted, if the ability is derived from technique rather than strength control requires a lot *more* of knowing what you’re doing (because a half-assed technique is a recipe for disaster), but even just muscling it out, you need to have some clue what you’re doing. Otherwise, they need to not be resisting all that hard.

        Granted letting Gwynedd struggle against Mack’s superior strength until she broke or dislocated all her limbs probably would effectively immobilise her, but I’m pretty sure Amaranth and Mack would both agree that this also falls under the “too extreme” heading along with killing. Even one limb probably would, and that assuming Ms Nutso there would let a single incapacitated limb stop her. As for killing… necks are kind of on the fragile side to begin with, so while a little less likely it’s still possible than any real attempt on Mack’s part to immobilise the maniac could quite unintentionally lead to Gwyn’s death, because Mack *has no idea what she’s doing*, a fairly well-established fact by this point.

        With someone more sane, this might be less of a concern, but does Gwyn not seem especially attached to sanity, and a show of strength would probably not make her reduce her struggles out of fear for serious injury. If Mack were better trained there would certainly be a middle ground here. As it stands, the chances of her inflicting serious injuries attempting to do more than fend of Gwyn really are very high.

        Also, y’know, pain is pretty damned distracting. As has also been established, Mack may be invulnerable but she *can* be incapacitated, and she essentially had a broken arm and a concussion *before* Gwyn started whaling on her. This does not predispose one to quick thinking or reactions.

        Current score: 5
        • Reb says:

          Also Mack has spent her entire life learning to be passive in the face of aggression, to ensure her own survival. Not saying it’s the best technique, or that she should use it now, but it worked for her and she did it for so long, she is hardly going to be able to unlearn it quickly, and it’s not surprising to see her default to her ingrained behavior in an unfamiliar and difficult/scary situation where she is alone.

          Current score: 3
  5. Sahsa says:

    And this chapter has cemented my hatred for Viktor. BDSM I’m okay with. Straight up torture, especially of the emotional/psychological kind? Hell no. I get that it’s part of ogre culture, but regardless of cultural differences it is something I find abhorrent.

    Also, am I the only one that noticed that the duration of the contract was left unspecified, allowing Viktor to remain legally immune to the specified actions indefinitely?

    Current score: 2
    • Leishycat says:

      No, Mackenzie noticed it too.

      Current score: 1