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Five Days

By Sashet
Page 3 of 8

The garrison commander rose wearily from his chair and walked towards his latest prisoner. He hated those who thought they were above answering questions most of all, they weren't above anything. They were criminals and criminals were the lowest of the low no matter what their crime.

"Silence won't help you. I can tell you are an educated man but are you a brave man? I can make you talk if I have to. Do I have to make you talk?"

"You can try." It wasn't a challenge, just a statement of fact and it earned its speaker his first but certainly not his last encounter with a trooper's stun baton. The pain in the small of his back was fierce, intense even through the leather of his tunic. He felt as if his skin was on fire as the electricity pulsed through him. He arched his back slightly, trying to pull away from the hot tip of the stun baton just emitting a low hiss as the only sign of his discomfort. "But you'll have to do better than that."

The garrison commander had spent too many years in the field to be impressed or swayed by his prisoner's words. He had a job to do, he had to find out who this man was and what information he had gained from the computers. Then he could turn him over to the Justice Department and move on.

"Don't worry I will." Not a boast or even a threat more like a promise of things to come. The sound of an incoming communication took him back to his desk. Glancing down he saw the communication came from the Federation Security Central Command. "Take him to the interrogation centre and wait for me there." He glanced up briefly to see his unresisting captive being led away. He really hated puzzles. Turning his attention to the incoming communication his puzzle got more complex.

In the interrogation centre the prisoner was left alone in a small windowless cell, with nothing but a sleeping platform and the watchful eye of a security camera for company. He hadn't been mistreated, beaten, abused verbally or physically and he wondered why. The Federation wasn't known for their humane treatment of any of its citizens who strayed from the prescribed pattern of what passed as life and he couldn't see why he should be an exception. He knew it wouldn't last, it couldn't last. He still had to get off this planet, get himself noticed, get himself to Shrinker and that would most likely only be achieved by violence, either to him or by him. He lay on the sleeping platform absently fingering the cold steel around his wrists and working on a plan to achieve his goal.

He hadn't been there long when the door slid open and the garrison commander stepped inside. Swinging himself up into a sitting position he could see the heavily armed troopers in the hallway outside. `So', he thought to himself `this is where it starts'.

"I've just had a message from Central Command, it seems your little excursion into our computer files has got their interest. You're to be sent to... well let's just say you would have been better off if you'd talked to me." He waited for the reaction, expecting to see fear on his prisoner's face, expecting to hear him pleading to stay, begging to talk. All he got was a raised eyebrow and a faint ironic smile as his prisoner got to his feet. A puzzle indeed.

The ship that took him to the secret interrogation complex was standard enough. Each prisoner was secured to their seat by strong metal bands on their wrists, ankles and chest. They were watched over by surveillance cameras backed up by armed guards. He had been on this kind of ship before but this time he hoped there would be nobody to sway him from his mission. No crazy fanatical political activist hell bent on bringing down the Federation and changing his life forever. He shook his head and smiled slightly at the memories, he had a lot to both thank that man for and to hate him for. If he hadn't got mixed up with him and his messianic quest for justice then he would never have had access to the resources that had allowed him to find Shrinker. This was one time he had to thank the man and he hoped that his death hadn't been in vain and that his own death wouldn't follow. Who would take up the cause then?

This time his journey was uneventful. The prisoners were subdued and even he felt tired and lethargic. Since his last journey on a prison ship the Federation had begun dispersing low levels of chemical suppressants in the air circulation system. It kept the prisoners docile and prevented another unpleasant uprising. The drugs made his mind cloudy and he fought in vain to keep a clear head by reciting computer codes and picturing schematic drawings in his head. He needed his mind clear but try as he might he couldn't seem to concentrate properly. He was glad when the journey ended and they were marched off the ship in shackles, under armed guard and taken to the complex.

Soon after his arrival at the complex he was separated from the others from his ship and taken down a long well-lit corridor. There had been no words, no orders, no instructions, he had just been pushed that way by his guards and had fallen into step between them. His head was clearing slowly as the effects of the suppressants wore off and he wondered where he was being taken and why he was alone.

The corridor was lined with doors, behind which, although he yet didn't know it, were cells, one of which would soon become his refuge. Occasional sounds of screams echoed off the walls seeming to come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Despite his resolve not to show any fear he shuddered slightly at the sounds, the reality of his situation being driven home with every scream and every footstep. The corridor terminated in a bank of doors, before long he would know what horrors awaited him behind each and every one.

Today though he was shoved through the door on the furthest right, his guards did not accompany him. The room was small and empty, brightly lit with a faint smell that reminded him of a hospital. Yet more doors lead off this room and on his stumbling arrival one of them had opened and several burly men had appeared. They wore the white clothing that universally designated medical personnel although they looked more like thugs than doctors. A smaller man made his way through the crowd, wiping his rimless spectacles on his tunic; his air of authority was obvious.

"Strip him and search him, they won't want any surprises later."

Quickly and efficiently the team of `medics' swung into action. They released him from his shackles and stood back. One of them spoke.

"You heard the Doctor, strip."

"No." Defiance laced his voice and he stood his ground.

He stood his ground until the first blow rocked him, knocking the wind from him and the second blow, to the back of his legs, sent him to his knees. The `medics' had obviously done this before and without the need for further instructions they were on him. They held him, beat him when they needed to and with careful and practised efficiency stripped him and then searched him.

Thoroughly.

He was left naked, sore and bleeding.

He was also embarrassed and humiliated at the treatment; he wasn't used to anybody seeing him like this. Of course the Doctor and his team knew the value of such treatment especially on prisoners like this one. They dragged him to his feet and manhandled him through one of the doors into a room that was the polar opposite of the one they had just been in. This one was large and filled with an array of equipment some of which he'd seen before and some of which he had no idea as to its purpose. He was forced to lie on a metal examination table, the steel cold against his naked flesh, and strapped in place by his ankles and wrists. He swallowed deeply and closed his eyes as they brought out a tray of instruments and continued their searching examination of him. He didn't want to watch, it would serve no purpose but to weaken his resolve to know what was coming next.

Some things didn't hurt, some things made him want to scream with the pain and cry with the humiliation. He did neither, squeezing his eyes tighter shut to push back the tears and blocking his screams with the force of his will. If this was just a search he didn't want to dwell on what the future held for him.

He didn't have time to dwell at all as the pain of another excruciating examination of his most private areas overwhelmed him, his mind shut down and he passed out.

The examination over the `medics' took him to his cell and the Doctor poured over the results. What he saw made for interesting reading. The prisoner had recently undergone surgery and had a homing device implanted in his neck. It was a good job to; the device was small but powerful and was sending a steady signal. He was obviously in contact with somebody on the outside, finding out who or why was not in the Doctor's remit but he was sure that before the contact was made they would have their answers.

The first thing he noticed when he regained consciousness was the cold. He was cold through to his bones and had been shivering when he woke. The second thing he noticed was the reason why he was cold; he was still naked and lying on the floor of yet another standard Federation cell. Sighing he pushed himself to his feet and began to pace the small cell his arms wrapped around him to try and warm himself up. He was stiff from the cold and had a few bruises and grazes from the hands of the `medics', certain parts of his anatomy ached and burned but he pushed the thoughts of what they might have done to him when he was unconscious to the back of his mind. He had to focus, he had to prepare and he had to be ready for whatever they did to him for as long as it took to get to Shrinker. He had to hold out for her sake, so that her death could be avenged and his nightmares laid to rest.

He was sat on the sleeping platform, his knees drawn up in front of him, his arms wrapped around them. It was both an attempt to keep warm against the pervading chill of the cell and also a protection against his nakedness. The baleful glow of the security camera light told him he was never alone. The door slid open and his nightmare began in earnest.

The guards who came for him were dressed in paramilitary style black uniforms and shiny boots. Their uniforms bore no Federation or rank insignia and they didn't wear helmets. They had expressionless faces and big hands. Hands that dragged him to his feet, forced his hands behind him and encased his wrists in steel again then marched him down the corridor. This time it was the door on the left and this time his guards came with him.

The room was empty apart from a single chair in front of a mirrored wall. He knew the mirror was two way and that whoever was conducting the interrogation would be watching him from the other side. As usual the room was under the constant surveillance of cameras. Nothing would be missed; anything he said could be taken and manipulated to be used against him. Yet another reason why he needed to keep his silence.

The guards pushed him into the chair and withdrew to the back of the room, where they stood at a relaxed parade rest waiting and hoping they would be needed. They were men who loved nothing more than inflicting pain on others and over the years had developed an array of interesting and inventive ways of doing just that.

The naked man tried to look relaxed as he sat in the chair although in reality his heart was thumping in his chest and his hands were clammy with sweat. The little voice was back telling him that this was crazy and that he was crazy and that the best outcome would be life in prison and the worst would be his death. He knew the little voice was right but he knew his conviction was stronger, the belief that when the time came so would his crew was stronger and so he sat back as best as he could with his hands bound behind him and waited.


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