Making their way past the guards without any reaction, Jonozia Lex couldn’t believe this plan was actually working. The idea was simple; using the uniforms of stunned guards, Lex and Bower would lead Sheridan to the bunker as their prisoner. Once inside, they’d neutralise the smaller group there while most of the rest of the security team took out the contingent lining the approach. That way there was no way the teams could become overwhelmed or pinned down.
The only problem with the plan was it was completely unoriginal. The idea of disguising yourself as one of the nondescript troops of the enemy and leading one of your own as a prisoner into the enemy camp so that you could gain access to it was a cliché that had appeared repeatedly in earth’s entertainment mediums since the mid-twentieth century. That the sentries seemed to be falling for it spoke volumes as to just how observant the Optimum’s drugged up soldiers were.
But then this wasn’t really a period in history when subtly was anybody’s strong suit, ruminated Lex, it was more about how many people each side could throw at each other until one or the other won.
The trio reached the door to the bunker and for the first time were challenged by one of the soldiers.
“What dis den,” he asked, the permanent damage caused to his nasal passages from sniffing the narcotics affecting his speech.
“We found ‘er moving through one of der corridors,” replied Lex, mimicking the soldier’s speech impediment. “We dink she was lookin’ for de others.”
“Better get ‘er inside den,” the solider replied, opening the heavy door. “Der Colonel ain’t gettin’ much from der udders.”
It took all of Lex’s control not to react to that. The possibility of what had been inflicted on the members of Beta Team since their capture made his blood boil.
Once they had moved inside the guard closed the door behind them with a metal clang. There was another solider waiting for them on the other side.
“Better bring her dis way,” he said.
Sheridan had other ideas though, slipping her bonds and hitting him hard across the top of his back. The soldier went down hard, out cold. The attack caught the attention of the other two guards and they began to move towards the group, raising they’re weapons as they did. Lex and Bower were quicker though, pulling their phasers and stunning them before they moved more than half a meter.
“Kate, see if you can find Lisley and the others,” said Lex as Sheridan drew her phaser too. She nodded and headed further into the bunker. Lex pulled a stun grenade from his belt and moved back towards the door with Bower.
“On my mark, open it and them close it again,” he told the security officer. Bower grabbed the handle and signalled he was ready.
Lex pulled the pin on the grenade and counted, “1, 2, 3, Mark!”
Bower pulled the door and Lex threw the ready to discharge grenade through the momentary gap. Bower then pushed the door closed again and it sealed with a clang, just as they heard the whine of the grenade’s phased energy release.
“Let’s catch up with Kate,” suggested Lex, knowing that the grenade had also been the signal for the rest of the security team to clean up.
Elizabeth Lisley’s head jerked back, recoiling from the pungent odour of the smelling salts used to revive her again following her latest blackout. Her whole body ached from the beatings. The left side of her face was badly bruised and swollen, making it difficult to open her left eye, while blood from an inch long cut on her forehead had earlier run into her right eye below, causing it to become temporarily blind. It had now begun to clear, but everything was still a blur on that side. There was dried blood on her lower lip where it had split and her ribs felt like they had been fractured or broken in several places. Her left side hurt with every breath and a disturbing gurgling sound accompanied every exhale.
Through her damaged vision she could make out a figure lying motionless on the floor in front of her and memories started to flood back. She remembered the soldiers dragging Lieutenant Charlotte Jones into the room, a look of terror on the young officer’s face that was unparalleled by anything Lisley had ever seen. She didn’t know for sure what the guards had done to her, but the terror she displayed gave her a good idea.
The Colonel had forced Jones to kneel in front of Lisley and ordered one of the soldiers to take position behind, his mini-machine gun pointed at the back of her head. He’d then turned to Lisley.
“How many more of you are there?” he’d asked, his voice level but forceful. He was used to getting what he wanted.
“Lisley, commander, serial number OE-765-8119-VT,” was all she replied.
The Colonel didn’t give her another opportunity to respond to his question, he simply nodded at the soldier and he fired. The look on Jones’ face as she died would haunt Lisley for the rest of her life.
“Good, you’re awake.” Lisley recognised the Colonel’s voice immediately. “Let’s try this again: What do you plan to do with the Argus?”
Lisley head started swimming again and she started to question her sanity.
Did he just say Argus? Isn’t that Lex’s starship?!
Out of habit and conditioning she started to give the only answer she could, “Lisley, commander, serial…”
The Colonel back handed her across the face sending waves of pain through it, but Lisley found she could no longer cry; her tears had all dried up.
“ECON scum,” muttered the Colonel, before splitting on her.
He was about to hit her again when a sudden commotion at the room’s entrance drew his attention. The door suddenly caved inward and Kate Sheridan burst through, phaser firing, dropping the Colonel and the soldier where they stood.
“My God,” said the familiar voice of Kate Sheridan in horror before Lisley once again succumbed to the pain and blacked out.
Kate Sheridan saw Lisley slump in the chair she was strapped to and rushed to her side. She checked her pulse first and then her breathing, both of which were present but weak. Satisfied that Lisley was stable, at least for now, she turned her attention to the other Starfleet uniform she’d briefly seen while bursting into the room. It only took a quick look to tell that they were now far beyond any help that Kate, or anyone else for that matter, could offer.
Why would someone do this? She asked herself in disbelief.
Torture as a means of interrogation was pointless unnecessary violence, especially in the way it had been employed here. People were more likely to say anything the torturer wanted to hear just to get them stop, making any information extracted untrustworthy at best and completely misleading at worst. But then Kate didn’t think that regimes like the Optimum were very interested in the truth all that often.
Kate looked to the person who had caused this next, the colonel now lying stunned on the floor, and felt her anger boil beneath the surface, building, ready to explode. The hatred she felt for the man who had overseen the atrocity she saw before her was unlike anything she had ever seen before. On Tyra III the Jem’Hadar had been brutal, but they had taken no pleasure in killing for the sake of it. She could easily imagine the man who had done this boast that he was an artist and this was a work of art if he wasn’t lying out cold on the floor.
Kate upped the setting on her phaser and took aim. The world could only benefit from his removal, temporal prime directive be damned.
“Kate. Don’t,” said a calm and understanding voice from behind her and the moment passed.
She lowered the weapon and turned to look at Jonozia Lex, who now stood at the room’s threshold. There was a look on his face that told her that he had wanted to do it as much as she wanted to do it, but that he knew that she couldn’t and she knew it too.
“That’s him isn’t it,” she said. It wasn’t a question.
“Yes,” Lex replied anyway. “That’s Colonel Adrik Thorsen.”
She was right. The world would have been a better place without him, but that was no guarantee it would still be a better place three hundred years later.
<-- Chapter 12 | Coverpage | Chapter 14 -->