Authors: G.P. Hudson
Kevin sat in his cell. Waiting. He wondered about Singh. What happened to him? How could he betray Earth like that? He didn’t know Singh that well, but he never expected him to turn into a traitor. With jump system technology the Kemmar could launch a surprise attack against the Sol System itself. Singh had even promised to give them Earth’s location. Earth wouldn’t know what was happening until it was too late. They wouldn’t have time to mount an effective defense. The Kemmar could take the Sol System with lightning speed.
The only hope for Sol would be a Diakan counterattack, but the damage would have been done. Even if the Diakans could push the Kemmar out of the system, Earth would be in ruins. After the Wars of Liberation and all the hard work to rebuild, this was the last thing Earth needed.
Singh had to be stopped.
Kevin had already decided to escape, but now he needed to capture Singh as well. They weren’t leaving Kerces without him. He had to make a move, and he had to do it today. So he waited for the doctor’s daily visit. He had only one chance and he couldn’t make a mistake.
He didn’t have to wait very long. When he heard the door to the cell block open, he readied himself. He lay down on the floor and closed his eyes, listening to the footsteps getting closer. As he expected, the doctor and the guard soon appeared in front of his cell.
“Get up,” said the guard, clear menace in his voice.
Kevin didn’t budge.
Kevin stayed on the floor. The guard growled.
The doctor said something to the guard, but Kevin couldn’t make it out. He heard he guard respond, sounding angrier than normal. After the doctor finished speaking the guard touched his belt and the cell door slid open. Both Kemmar entered the cell and the door slid closed behind them.
The guard strode up to Kevin first and kicked him hard in the ribs. Pain surged through Kevin’s side, but he didn’t flinch. Another kick. Still nothing from Kevin. The guard kicked him two more times, the pain almost overwhelming, but Kevin didn’t move. He hoped no ribs were broken. He couldn’t afford anything slowing him down.
“I better examine him,” said the doctor. “They still want him alive.”
The guard grunted and the doctor bent forward to check Kevin’s pulse.
The act was working. The guard didn’t even put restraints on him. The doctor crouched down beside him, the putrid smell of rotting flesh on his breath. Kevin waited until he felt the hand touch his neck. Then he struck.
He shot out his right hand, fingers tight, and speared the doctor’s throat. The force of the blow sent the doctor reeling backward, gagging, hands clasping his neck. He fell into the wall and dropped to the ground, still gripping his throat, struggling to breathe.
The guard moved fast, surging forward at Kevin. But Kevin moved faster. He kicked a leg out and caught the guard on the side of his knee, sweeping his legs out from under him.
The Kemmar guard hit the ground hard, smacking his head on the cold floor. Kevin was on him. The speed of his attack surprised the guard, his eye slits growing wider than he had ever seen them. Kevin dropped a bomb of a punch into the Kemmar’s face. It felt good. He hit the guard two more times and the Kemmar responded with a weak swing of his baton. Kevin blocked the strike and stripped the baton from the guard’s hand.
“Let’s see how this thing works,” said Kevin.
He smashed the guard in the face with the baton, sending a powerful electric current into the Kemmar’s skull. The guard’s body convulsed. Kevin thought of Private Denney. Thought of how these animals ripped the flesh off his bones while he screamed. He hit the guard again and his body seized. Then again. And again. The blood splattered and squirted with each blow. The skull opened up before him. Again. He bludgeoned the guard repeatedly until there was no movement, no doubt he was dead.
Kevin got up, and heard the doctor gagging behind him. He turned to see the doctor still holding his neck. Kevin had struck him with intent to kill, but he didn’t want to take any chances. He stepped forward and the doctor raised a hand in a feeble attempt at defense. The first kick hit the doctor in the elbow. The satisfying sound of breaking bone filled the cell. The second kick finished the job. A powerful blow to the doctor’s throat, crushing whatever was left of his windpipe. The doctor’s head bounced off the wall behind him and then fell forward, blood gurgling from his mouth.
Kevin walked over to the guard, took off his belt, and strapped it around his own waist. He had watched the guard carefully, and memorized all the different ways he manipulated the belt. He touched the belt and smiled when the cell door slid open. Now he had to get his men.
Kevin walked out of his cell and looked at the row of cells. He touched the belt, half guessing this time, and all the other cell doors slid open.
The rest of the Marines walked out of their cells. They looked rough. Tired. Hungry. But not beaten. He knew that most had been tortured. He also knew they were tough. Well trained. The Fleet’s best. They knew how to stay focused under extreme conditions. There wasn’t a quitter among them. Each one of them would rather die than fail.
Kevin raised his hand, telling them not to make any noise. They had lost some good men, but there were still enough left to make this work. They needed weapons. Kevin had the guard’s baton, but that wouldn’t be much good against an energy weapon.
He crept up to the door at the end of the hallway, the Marines following close behind. Sergeant Henderson came up beside him. He looked just as tired as the rest, but his eyes were fierce. A tiger freed from his cage. Kevin whispered, “I saw two guards stationed on the other side of this door. They’re armed with energy weapons. I can open the door with this belt. When I do we need to take them out fast.”
“No problem, Chief,” said Henderson. He turned and gave a couple of hand signs to the rest of the Marines, letting them know what was going to happen. He nodded. They were ready.
Kevin took a deep breath. There was a pain in his ribs where the guard kicked him. They were only bruised, not broken. It wouldn’t slow him down. Already the adrenaline coursed through his veins, numbing the pain. Reviving him. He bent his knees. Prepared to pounce. He touched the belt and the door opened.
Henderson moved first. He had always been quicker. The Sergeant unleashed a flurry of strikes at the guard to the right of the door. The element of surprise worked perfectly, and Henderson obliterated his target, disarming him before he could fire a shot.
Kevin, a split second behind Henderson, struck the other guard in the arm with the baton, the electric shock forcing him to let go of his weapon. The guard seized up and Kevin’s arm firing like a piston with another strike to the back of the head. The guard dropped to his knees. Three precise strikes followed with lightning speed, all to the back of the neck. The guard fell to the ground. Limp. The vertebrae in his neck broken beyond repair.
The rest of the Marines were flooding through the door. They quickly took positions to secure the room. The guards had carried two energy weapons each. Kevin and Henderson each took an energy weapon and gave the other two to Burke and Reynolds. The guards also had ion blades which were given to two more Marines. Kevin passed the bloody baton to a third.
Kevin checked his weapon and nodded to Henderson, who was doing the same.
“At least we have a fighting chance now,” said Kevin.
“Yeah, and the element of surprise,” said Henderson.
“They aren’t wearing combat suits.”
“Uh-huh,” said Kevin. “That gives us an advantage. We need to move fast before they figure out what’s happened.”
At the other end of the room were more doors. He remembered the route to and from the interrogation room. That was their first stop. He stepped up to the doors and the Marines took position along both sides. He leveled his weapon. Henderson, Burke and Reynolds did the same. He pushed a button on the belt and the door slid open. There were no guards on the other side. The Marines entered the room like a quiet brook filling a pond.
“Through the next set of doors it’s gonna get busier,” said Kevin. “There’s a corridor that branches off. We stay to the right. That’ll take us to the interrogation room.”
The door opened without Kevin touching the belt. Four Kemmar appeared, two walking toward them and two walking away. The first two saw the Marines and raised their weapons, but the Marines fired first, hitting both Kemmar in the chest with multiple energy bolts. Hearing the discharges the other two Kemmar turned to face the Marines, but were hit before they could act.
The Marines raced down the corridor. The four fallen Kemmar were stripped of their weapons, and Kevin was starting to feel better about their chances now that they had some firepower. They reached the interrogation room without further incident and gathered outside the door.
“Chief Engineer Singh might be in there,” said Kevin. “Make sure you don’t kill him.”
The Marines nodded and Kevin opened the door.
“I don’t think this one can be trusted,” said Lynda.
“Why?” said Singh.
“Who are you talking to,” said the Kemmar interrogator.
“He plans to use you so he can improve his position,” said Lynda. “He’ll let you rot in here. Don’t tell him anything.”
Singh looked at the interrogator and said, “I need to speak to your top engineers.”
“You can speak with me,” said the interrogator.
“No. Only an engineer will understand. It would have to be someone very advanced.”
“I think you are crazy. I do not think you have any knowledge to share.”
“That is a mistake.”
“So is not telling me everything you know. You obviously need motivation. Have you ever had needles inserted underneath your fingernails? I consider that mild persuasion.”
“Your superiors wouldn’t be happy with you if you harmed me.”
“My superiors aren’t here,” said the interrogator, showing off his teeth. “It is just you and me.”
“Don’t be afraid,” said Lynda.
But he was afraid. He was not a Marine. He hadn’t been trained for this. He knew he couldn’t withstand even the mildest torture tactics. He also knew the Kemmar saw right through him.
The interrogator looked at the two guards in the room and said, “Seize him.”
They grabbed his arms, holding him like a vice. He frantically tried to move, futilely wasting energy.
“Don’t panic,” said Lynda, her cool blue eyes reaching out to him.
He tried to borrow her strength, but he didn’t know how.
“Look at me,” said Lynda. “Focus on me. On my voice.”
“Hold his hands down on the table,” said the interrogator.
Singh tried to resist. Tried to hold his arms back, but the Kemmar were too strong. His muscles strained as he tried to pull away. A cutting pain surged up his forearms, across his triceps, right up into his shoulders. The pain was so great he thought his ligaments would tear. Yet with all that effort he couldn’t break his arms free. Each guard took a hand and steadily moved it forward, forcing it flat on the table.
Lynda stood close. So close he felt he could kiss her. How he longed to just kiss her. She said, “This is a test. That’s all. You can do this.” Her eyes were calm, soothing. He wanted to lose himself in them.
The interrogator approached with a handful of six inch long needles. He took one and held it close to Singh’s face. Touched his cheek with the sharp point. Sliding it up the side of his face and then circling his eye.
“Do you like it?” said the interrogator. “As I said, this is one of our milder techniques. But that does not mean it is not fun.” He bared his teeth again, snarling.
Dread climbed up his spine, its cold fingers filling him with terror.
“Don’t listen to him,” said Lynda. “Stay with me.”
He tried, but the cold point of the needle pressed against his cheek kept his attention. His hands trembled, even with the guards holding them in place. He wanted to cry out. To scream. But he couldn’t even draw in a breath.
The interrogator lay the rest of the needles down on the table, in between Singh’s hands. He released the pressure against his cheek and showed him the needle again. “You are going to be very surprised to see how much of this I can get in under your fingernail. I can make it go right up your finger to the knuckle. It took some practice to perfect. At first the needle kept piercing through. Your species has very thin skin. But, fear not, I have perfected the procedure. The needle will remain inside your finger the whole time.” He bared his teeth again at Singh and let out a chilling growl.
Singh couldn’t look at the creature. He turned to Lynda, trying to avoid the interrogator’s gaze.
A strong hand gripped his chin and pulled his face back so that he was looking at him again. “Are you not impressed?” said the interrogator.
Singh tried to look away, but the hand wouldn’t let go.
“I understand. You believe in action, not words. An admirable quality. Very well. Action it is.”
“You’re going to get through this Raj,” said Lynda. “Believe me.”
“I believe you,” said Raj.
The interrogator turned around. “Who are you talking to?”
Raj didn’t answer.
“I admit, it will be interesting breaking an already broken man,” said the interrogator, placing the tip of the needle under the nail of Singh’s index finger.
Explosions could be heard in the distance and the building shook from the power of the blasts.
“What was that?” said the interrogator.
One of the guards accessed a computer link on the table. “We are under attack, Lord.”
“Yes, Lord. There is a squadron of fighters firing on us.”
“That makes no sense. Where did they come from?”
“There is a warship in low orbit, Lord. The fighters launched from the warship.”
“How is that possible? The human ship was destroyed.”
“This is a different ship, Lord.”
“Our fighters were destroyed in the battle with the human ship. As were our towers and batteries. Our forward units are responding with mobile ground to air weapons.”
The interrogator turned his attention back to Singh. “It appears our conversation will have to be postponed.” He snarled at Singh, showing off his teeth again.
An energy bolt hit the interrogator in the shoulder, spinning him around. A second bolt caught him in the back, in between the shoulders, sending him face first into the floor.
A barrage of energy bolts ripped through the two guards, dropping them before they had a chance to return fire. Marines surged into the room, several weapons now pointing at Singh.
“Don’t move, traitor, or I’ll burn a hole through your goddamn face,” said one of the Marines.
Chief St. Clair marched passed him, heading for the interrogator who was still moving, trying to reach for his weapon. St. Clair took the weapon from him, rolled him over, and pointed the weapon at his muzzle.
The interrogator growled when he saw St. Clair.
“Still hungry?” said St. Clair.
St. Clair fired the weapon, sending a crimson bolt tearing through the interrogator’s face.
“See? You made it through,” said Lynda, a bright smile on her face. “Didn’t I tell you would get through this?”
“Yes, you were right. But it’s not over yet,” said Singh.
“Stop being so negative,” said Lynda.
“Who the fuck are you talking to?” said the Marine pointing the weapon at him. “Chief, I think the traitor’s lost it.”
St. Clair turned, reached Singh in two steps and drove a heavy fist into Singh’s solar plexus. Singh collapsed. On his knees, hands on the floor, gasping for air. He couldn’t remember ever being hit that hard before. He desperately tried to suck in some air, but nothing came. He panicked, wondering if he would suffocate to death.
St. Clair pressed the muzzle of his weapon against the back of Singh’s head. “Fucking traitor. I should just execute you now and get it over with.”
Lynda knelt beside him, making eye contact. “Don’t be afraid Raj. Remember what I said. We’re going to get through this together.”
He wanted to tell her he loved her, but he couldn’t breathe, let alone speak. He believed her now.
Chief St. Clair pushed his head down with the weapon, almost to the floor, but Singh knew he wouldn’t fire.
“Chief,” said Henderson. “We’ve got to move.”
“I should kill you,” said St. Clair. “But I might need you.”
The pressure on the back of Singh’s head eased and left as St. Clair pulled his weapon away. He also felt his diaphragm filling, and relief washed over him as he was finally able to take a breath.