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Five Days

By Sashet
Page 1 of 8

The sound of screaming wasn't far away, a voice pleading for its life.

"No Please! Please don't! Nooo!

The scream was cut off and the oppressive silence was once more complete. A door slid shut and slow footsteps moved towards the last cell on the row.

The occupant of that cell shivered slightly as the scream faded and rolled from his huddled contemplation of the stark wall. He knew all to well that soon his door would slide open and his nightmare would begin again.

The cell was simple and functional but, over the past few days, it had come to represent a sanctuary from the horrors he had endured and would no doubt continue to endure until he either achieved his goal or finally and irrevocably died trying.

The man's face was drawn, the skin pale, tired dark rings under his eyes, eyes that despite his fear still burned with a core of steel determination. He had never been large but the lack of proper food during his incarceration meant that the shapeless prison overall he wore hung from his frame.

Considering he had been held at the mercy of the Federation for ...what seemed to him to have been forever ... his skin was unmarked, there were no visible bruises or cuts. It hadn't always been that way, in fact, it had rarely been that way; usually he was left cut and bleeding, tortured to the point of death. He didn't believe today would be any different.

The door slid almost silently open and in the doorway stood a man he had not seen before. He was heavy set, his Federation uniform crisp and his face set with the look of a man who knew what he wanted and how to get it. He wasn't sure how much more his body and mind could take and he hoped that finally this would be the man he came here to find.

He had never considered himself to be a brave man but the past few years had changed him, changed him so much that at times he wondered if he even knew himself any more. He still wouldn't say he was brave but now he was resolute and unwavering maybe even fanatical, something he had despised in the man who had dragged him into the life that he now led. He took a shallow breath and steeled himself for what he prayed would be the final chapter of this deadly game.

The heavy set man smiled as he crossed the small cell, his pace slow and deliberate his tone soft, almost a whisper.

"They tell me you haven't been cooperating."

"No? What's the matter - did I bleed on the wrong bit of floor?"

The captive's voice was weak, he was too weary to be defiant any more, besides which all defiance had ever got him was another beating or... worse. But not being defiant didn't mean he would give them an easy ride, he still had a spark of his old pride left, the little piece of him that his captors hadn't yet managed to tear from his battered soul.

The smile on the face of the man who now stood over him never faltered.

"Good. Good."

"I'm glad you're pleased."

"I hate to waste my time."

"Don't let me detain you."

"I'm a specialist you see."

"It's written all over you."

"I specialise in uncooperative prisoners."

"And you love a challenge."

Now it was his turn to smile slightly, if this was going to be nothing more than a war of words then he was sure he could win. He was, well he had been once a long time ago, an important Alpha Grade citizen and was more than a match for a Federation thug.

"It's good that we understand each other," his antagonist too was enjoying the verbal sparring. From what he had heard and seen of the interrogation of this man he would more than enjoy being the one who finally broke him.

The captive raised his hand to the back of his neck, as if massaging an unseen pain. If only he could rid himself of the other pains and memories as easily. He looked at the man in front of him and took a gamble.

"You're name wouldn't be Shrinker by any chance would it?"

"You've heard of me?" Shrinker knew his reputation as the Federation's top enforcer was widespread. He was proud to be the one man who had never failed to get the information requested of him. He also knew he was destined for greater things as the seemingly unstoppable expansion of the Federation continued.

"I knew if I held out you would show up eventually" he said as he pressed his neck hard with his fingertips as if working out a tense knot.

"That says more for your nerve than your brain."

"You think so?" He'd try false bravado, after all, what did he have to loose now? He had found the man he came here for and now he just had to hope that the others, his fellow renegades would keep their promise and save him before it was too late.

They'd told him from the start it was a crazy plan and that most likely he would end up dead, but he wasn't to be swayed. He HAD to do this, he had to know. Had Shrinker tortured and killed her to get at him?

Had his carelessness killed her?

He pulled his thoughts back from that certain spiral of self-destruction to the job at hand. He had found Shrinker and soon rescue would be at hand. Just a little longer...

Shrinker was gloating now, he knew something that his captive didn't know and he couldn't wait to tell him. But first a little threat, after all he had a reputation to uphold. He smiled a cold evil smile that didn't reach his eyes.

"Long before I've finished with you, you'll be begging for death."

His captive rubbed his neck again.

Now...

Shrinker knew the time was right to spring what he knew on his captive.

"Don't worry, it's sending alright."

"What are you talking about?"

"The implant in your neck."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"There's a homing device implanted in you neck."

"How did you know?"

He wasn't sure he kept the waver out of his voice. Maybe he had been naive to believe that he could have endured all the torture and horror without it being discovered. Maybe he had been naive to think that there wouldn't have been torture but there was no time for self-recrimination. There was only time to hope it still worked.

"We detected it as soon as we picked you up and we've been monitoring it ever since. It's been sending steadily for five days."

Five days? It had only been five days?

To the battered and almost broken man it felt like five lifetimes.

"Five days? Is that how long I've been here?"

A rush of thoughts, memories and emotions flooded into his mind as he recalled the last five long days.

******** It had been relatively easy to find the location of the Federation's supposedly secret interrogation centre. Easy for a man who was as adept with computers as he was and who had the available resources that he did. All too easy really but that thought never entered his head he didn't, couldn't allow anything to stop him.

He had been plagued with dreams, nightmares of her that left him shaking in the night, her name on his lips. He knew she was dead; she had to be... didn't she? He also knew that by rights he should have been dead too. It was only because of luck or fate or something he couldn't quite believe in that he wasn't.

But it should never have got that far.

They should never have been discovered, his plan was foolproof, every detail had been checked and double checked, there was no way they could fail. And yet fail they had and he had been shot and left bleeding in the street like a common criminal and she, well she was dead.

During his time in hiding, recovering from his wounds, he had had nothing but time to think and wonder how it all went wrong. Only the two of them knew all the aspects of the plan and only the two of them could make it work ... or make it fail.

He had done everything he had to, kept his part of the deal and he believed she had done her part too. Yet it had still failed.

How?

All his thoughts brought him back to the same conclusion.

Someone had betrayed them... but whom? Had he made a mistake, trusted the wrong person? He had only trusted her and she would never betray that trust.... She'd loved him and that was proof enough.

Somewhere in the plan he must have got careless, left a trace and they had found them. He knew they had been looking for them before he got shot and left for dead. As they didn't have him, they went after her. He lived.

She died.

It was his fault, he was to blame. There was no other explanation.

Now he needed closure, he needed answers but above all he needed revenge. The thought of getting his hands on those responsible was the stuff of his dreams and lately his waking hours too. It wouldn't bring her back but maybe it would ease his guilt.

They had planned a new life ...together... with enough money to keep them hidden from the prying eyes and ears of the omnipresent Federation for ever. They would have been happy together, he knew they would.

It had become an all consuming passion now to find the answers, to know once and for all. He used all his spare time to search through Federation records, looking for clues until he found it.

He was so tired he had almost missed it, the tiny reference to a man named Shrinker. Back then he was an enforcer with the Federation, a foot soldier in the ranks of the interrogation teams that roamed the galaxy rooting out dissenters and malcontents but he was an ambitious young man and kept himself up to date on the latest `important' prisoners. Those who, if he came across them, might help him to further his career within the Federation, the political prisoners were of special interest to him. He knew that they had been considered political, even though at the root of their crime was nothing more than greed and avarice.

Now Shrinker was the Federation's top interrogator a man who had never yet failed to get the information he needed. Shutting down the computer the man sat back rubbed his eyes and smiled.

If he could find Shrinker then he could find his answers.

One way or another.

For the first time that night his dreams were not haunted by her, her life and her death.

The best way to get to Shrinker was to allow himself to be captured and hope he could hold out long enough for him to appear. It wasn't a prospect he relished. He hadn't enjoyed the Federation `hospitality' in the prison on Earth or on the journey to Cygnus Alpha, but now he was a changed man. Now he had a reason to endure whatever he had to, to get to Shrinker.

His crew told him it was a crazy plan that he would most likely end up dead. They said the Federation would almost certainly torture him, maybe even kill him. He knew that and he knew that just as he would have given his life to save her back then, he would again if it meant getting the answer, if it meant they would be together again.


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