Authors: Jeri Taylor
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Science Fiction
of our sensors."
"I most certainly am not. And it leads me to believe that
this "scientific' expedition of yours is really a military
operation for gathering intelligence."
"Forgive me, Gul Camet, but your statement has a touch of
paranoia to it." He smiled, but it was without mirth. "You
may be right. We are a society which has always distrusted
Unfortunately, that has always proven a necessity." He
gestured toward the physician, who had finished cleaning
and dressing her head injury.
"Please show the ensign one of our implants."
The physician reached into his satchel and lifted out a
round, flat device that was smaller than a communicator and
constructed of what looked like a skinlike polymer. Gul
Camet took it and held it out, inspecting it. "It's a
remarkable device. Implanted anywhere in your body, it can
receive commands from me which produce a level of pain
which can only be called astonishing."
Kathryn slowed her breathing, trying not to show her fear.
"How foolish," she said. "You must realize that one will
say anything under torture. It's a ridiculous method of
"Of course it is. That is not the purpose of our
techniques.", is the purpose?"
"Power. Control. The satisfaction of completely breaking
the will of another being."
Kathryn felt an icy chill. She knew he was telling the
truth, that once he began to inflict pain there would be no
stopping it, there would be no confession, no outpouring of
information that would make him stop. She was doomed.
"I regret that you have chosen to be so uncooperative. I
would have preferred to treat you as our guest, with
comfortable quarters and abundant food." He shrugged, a
delicate gesture that bespoke genuine disappointment. "But
as it is . .
The door opened once more and two guards entered.
Gul Camet nodded toward her and the guards approached her,
took her by both arms, and jerked her roughly to her feet,
hurrying her toward the door so quickly she was trotting to
keep from stumbling.
Down the long corridor they ran, Kathryn struggling to
keep her footing, but inevitably losing it and falling to
her knees, at which point one of the guards kicked her
savagely in the thigh, a sharp, painful blow that made her
cry out involuntarily. She scrambled to her feet as quickly
as she could and they resumed their headlong race, out of
the corridor and into the stone courtyard she had exited a
short time ago. The guards now flung her to the ground; she
got to her hands and knees and tried to rise, when one of
them ripped off the bandage the physician had just put on
her head wound and then drove his fist viciously into the
injury. It spurted blood which ran into her eye, blinding
her on one side. Then she felt herself shoved toward the
opening into the box, the pen, the cage, she had so
When the door was slammed behind her, the dark and the
quiet were a welcome haven from the guards'
cruelty. But she knew that sanctuary would be fleeting.
She lay curled on the ground, freezing, knowing the cold
earth was draining more of her body heat from her than was
wise, but too tired to do otherwise. She had spent several
hours on her hands and knees, then sitting, trying to let
as little of her body come in contact with the ground as
But the effort was too great, and she was exhausted.
She had to get some sleep. Her head had finally stopped
bleeding after she kept her palm on the wound for half an
hour, and had crusted over once more. But it ached with a
dull, throbbing pain. She tried to isolate the pain in her
mind, wrap it up, toss it out, and she succeeded in
reducing its impact. She felt a drowsiness come on her; if
she could sleep for a while she could recoup some of her
strength, and then she could concentrate on how to get out
of this predicamept.
Tlien the screaming started.
She bolte rl upright. cracking her head on the ceiling as
she did so. Someone very close by was screaming horribly.
She realizeij he must be in the stone courtyard just
outside. The sound was ghastly, a throat-rending shriek of
unendurable agony, and Kathryn instinctively shrank back
against the far wall of the little cubicle, as though
moving half a meter would get her away from the horrible
She put her fingers in her ears and began to sing: the
first tune that came, unbidden, to her lips was a lullaby
her mother had sung to her when she was small.
"Kathryn klein, ging allein, in die weite welt hinein . . .
but and stock stelat ihr gut, ist ganz wohlgemut . . . aber
mutter weinet sehr, sie hat keine Kathryn mehr .
. . Kathryn klein, ging allein, in die weite welt hinein .
. . his The words, she remembered, were about a little girl
who put on a hat and took a walking stick and set off into
the wide world alone. Her mother was sad that she was
going, but knew that her daughter had to make her own way.
Kathryn sang it loudly, then even more loudly, and was
finally yelling it, over and over, trying to create a balm
that would shut out the horrendous sounds of a man
It was quite a while before it occurred to her that the
screams she was listening to were those of Admiral Paris.
By that time she was somewhat numbed to the horror of what
she was hearing. She had been able to disconnect her mind
from the reality of the situation and objectify it; the
shrieks took on a surreal quality that made listening to
them a curious, hallucinatory experience that was, if not
wholly tolerable, a bit less horrendous.
were they trying to get information from him? Surely the
admiral would realize that withholding it was empty
heroism. No, Gul Camet had made it clear what he was after:
the domination and destruction of the spirit. And Janeway
had no doubt that he would achieve it-first with the
admiral, and then with her.
How could she prepare for this ordeal? were there any
mental exercises that might help her endure it?
Was quick capitulation the answer? She thought not-it would
be distrusted. Gradually she realized that nothing could
help her escape nightmarish cruelty, and with this
inevitability, she felt her stomach clench with fear.
Now the screaming subsided, evolving into a series of low
moans which weren't comforting, but which perhaps indicated
that whoever was torturing the admiral had, for the moment,
stopped. Did that mean they were coming for her'? She drew
great tortured gulps of air. Suddenly she was aware of a
tiny sound behind her. She shifted awkwardly in the cramped
space and turned to see a small glowing dot appear in what
was the back wall of the pen-a dot that traveled swiftly
down from ceiling to floor.
Was this the beginning of some form of torture? were they
going to bake her in this metal box? She drew more deep
breaths, striving for calm, fighting fear, yet feeling
utterly vulnerable in this dark, cramped space.
And then there was a ripping noise and she felt arms reach
in and grab her, hauling her roughly through the back wall,
now bent outward. She gasped and started to cry out
involuntarily, but a gloved hand was clamped firmly over
her mouth. She felt herself dragged along over rough
terrain, the sudden intake of fresh cold air telling her
she was now outside.
She tried to get her footing, but it was impossible;
whoever had her in his firm grip was too strong, and too
fast. Afraid of twisting an ankle if she kept trying, she
finally relaxed and allowed herself to be dragged. Then she
was hauled upright and jammed up against what felt like a
large tree. A faint glow of starlight provided some
illumination, and Kathryn realized she was indeed outside,
held in the grasp of a man dressed entirely in black, hand
still pressing on her mouth. Then his mouth came close to
her ear, and a voice whispered to her-a voice that sounded
strangely familiar: "Be quiet. Understand?" She nodded, and
the gloved hand came away from her mouth. She was aware of
a lean, hard body pressed against hers, the mouth still
near her ear. "Wait here. Don't make any noise. Be ready to
run when I get back." And then she realized it was Justin
Tighe. She nodded and he released her; she felt him moving
away from her, was vaguely aware of other dark shapes
moving with him, back in the direction from which they'd
come. And then she understood: these were the Rangers, the
elite commando corps Admiral Paris had spoken of.
Her partner, the intimidating Lieutenant Tighe, was one of
They had rescued her, and now they must be going back for
the admiral. That would be a far more dangerous feat, she
realized, involving combat with the Cardassians, who would
then be alerted to their escape and would marshal all their
forces to capture them all.
She began looking around her, trying to divine the plan,
wanting to be ready for anything. She seemed to be in a
dense woods that was damp and uncomfortably cold. Somewhere
nearby she could hear water, a sound between a drip and a
gurgle; she couldn't identify it.
Her eyes were adjusting to the darkness, and she could
distinguish individual trees. She knew she could see well
enough to run through these woods. And the sounds she now
heard indicated she'd have to do just that. Voices, calling
out, yelling, the sound of phaser fire-the Rangers had
engaged the Cardassians. Did that mean they had Admiral
Paris? Or had they been attacked before they ever reached
She was disconcerted to realize that the sounds of the
skirmish were moving away from her. What did that mean? Was
she being abandoned? Did the Rangers have a transport site
somewhere? Could she find it if she were left alone? She
struggled against panic. This was at least a situation in
which she could function: she could take action, she could
make choices, she could do something. As the sounds of the
voices receded yet farther from her, she stepped away from
And was immediately slammed inffby a man whose approach
she had not heard at all.
"I told you to stay put," he hissed, grabbing at her arm
and starting her in motion through the trees.
She broke into a run behind him; he wove his way through
the trees, zigging and zagging in what seemed like a
planned pattern. Her breath grew ragged; she realized
fatigue, hunger, and thirst had all taken their toll on
her. She ignored the burning of her lungs and kept running.
And suddenly stumbled onto a dark form on the ground and
went sprawling. She realized it was Justin she had fallen
over; he was curled on the ground clutching at his ankle.
She crawled toward him and saw his face was grimacing in
"My ankle . . ." he rasped. She realized he was lying just
beyond a large root that poked up from the ground; he had
caught his foot on it, and now it was twisted at a
grotesquely unnatural angle: it was broken. "Keep going,"
"Transport site . . . thirty meters ahead . . . clearing .
"Why can't they beam us from here?"
"Transgenic field . . . have to get to site .
. . stop asking questions . . ."
Kathryn heard voices behind them, drawing nearer.
The Cardassians were right behind them. There was another
sound, too-an unearthly howling from several bestial
"Go, was he said, in a tone that brooked no questioning.
"Those are Toskanar dogs-they'll tear you to pieces."
But Kathryn had another idea. She had discovered the
source of the water sound she had heard earlier-a marshy
swamp a few meters away, surrounded by reedy growth.
Grabbing one of Justin's arms, she dug her feet into the
ground and began pulling him toward the marsh. "Get out of
here," he protested. "You have to make it to the transport
site before they reach us."
"Stop giving me orders, Lieutenant. This time you'll have
to listen to me." He was lean, but well-muscled, and in her
weakened condition she struggled to drag him. He helped as
best he could by propelling himself with his other arm, and
in this 200
way they lurched the several meters toward the marsh.
She pulled him into it behind her, then released him to
snap off two of the reeds that grew along the bank.
"We're going under," she announced, giving him a hollow
reed and then pulling him far enough into the mud that they
could fully submerge. She could hear the voices of the
Cardassians and the eerie wailing of the Toskanar dogs;
they weren't far behind now.
She put the reed into her mouth and saw Justin do the
same; she lay backward in the mud and forced herself under