The others returned in dribs and drabs, Faizah and Alison together, fingers touching as the entered, Maia as always alone, silent. Jessica alone too, her face clouded she called the squad together.
“Section Commander Rand has informed me there will be training before planetfall.” She lloked around at the faces of her squad. “It has been decided .. that the training will be counter interrogation “
There was a rumble of concern amongst the squad then, always bad news, unpleasant enough by itself it did not augur well for the mission. She watched their faces, Maeve disinterested as always, Dayna’s smirk hiding only perhaps a bigger smile.
Inwardly Dayna’s smile turned even more wicked. Oh yes... the counter-interrogation... she had the highest level of interrogation studies in the squad, and was almost always assigned to the counter-interrogation training sessions as chief interrogator. “This will be fun...”
“I’ve been given only one name for subject of the training, and that is...” Jessica paused, this was never good news, and today, she was not sure she approved of the selected candidate. “Trooper Kavan.”
Catherine’s wail of distress was pitiful to hear, as she turned and rushed away to throw herself to her bunk. The reaction of the rest if the squad was muted, her wail hiding Dayna’s snigger but eliciting almost no response from the other troopers, none watched her, relieved to have not been selected themselves, they waited to hear who had been assigned interrogator duties.
“Interrogator duties have been left to my discretion.” Jessica continued, Dayna could feel the excitement bubbling up inside her... oohhh Catherine and so soon, life is GOOD.
“I have assigned Corporal Lund. Training will commence at 21:00 hours ship time, everyone else, your time is your own.”
Jessica sat on one of the transit containers, as the others went to their bunks or left again, alone she watched Catherine, until she couldn’t any longer, and she too silently slipped away.
Dayna watched her leave, thinking now maybe she understood Maeve’s resentment of the little bitch, to deny her like that. She looked at Maia… Maia? Interrogator? What a joke!
Jessica found herself at the viewing deck again, looking out into the red and orange, billowing like clouds or smoke or flames themselves. She found she felt very tired, that she didn’t want to stand and so she sat, as the red light played across her small face looking up at times, unable to at others, wondering if the cat would come again.
It seemed like a lot of time passed, she found herself toying with her boots, was she waiting? Something hurt deep, deep inside.
Eventually there was that rich voice behind her again. “Ma’am… are you ok?”
She thought a moment, but refrained from reminding him of his rank, “Trooper Harrington.”
“Yes Ma’am.” He approached behind her, still thinking of the previous night, his finger tips gently touching her hair, but she leaned, twisted away at the light touch.
‘I pushed too hard, too fast’, the though flashed in his mind, it’s easy to forget when you’re used to taking what you want, or … or doing what’s expected of you. He still wanted her, wanted to touch her so badly.
Jessica leaned away, turned to look at him, her pale eyes wavering and then sliding away, how could she say she did not want to be touched, could not stand to feel human contact, tonight of all nights? How could she say how much duty hurt?
“Can I sit with you ma’am?”
She nodded, backing away to the viewing port, watching the man as he sat beside her, strong muscles, but lithe, smooth face, smooth skin, not pockmarked clear eyes, not the yellow , this man was not riddled with drugs like most of the grunts. Dark clear eyes. They sat, watching the red and each other. Several times he shifted, his anxiety palpable, no less than her own she was sure.
“Talk to me ma’am?” he reached out a hand to touch her leg, instinctively she pulled away, curling up to hold her shins and rest her chin on her knees.
How could she stand to be touched? She knew what Maia was doing to Catherine, what she had ordered Maia to do. Part of her almost wanted Catherine to snap, at least that would get her away from combat, get her back to Corps HeadQuarters, get her out of her own hell and out of the way of the rest of the squad.
“What can I say to you?”
“Anything..” he paused, “what hurts?”
“Life.” Her pale eyes flashed to him again.
“Then talk to me about life…how did you get here?”
“I was born.”
“Aw now ma’am, you know what I mean.”
Miyuki lay on her bunk and wept, she hated herself, hated her weakness, and her hatred.
Jessica was gone again, she should be protecting them, she hated Jessica too now, a Squad Leader should protect her team, but Miyuki had noticed that Jessica could hardly stand to be in the barracks, was gone whenever duties allowed, even at night. She had a feeling Jessica hardly slept anymore. Maeve was gone too, as soon as Jessica had left, had slipped out, she hated Maeve too because she knew Maeve simply didn’t care.
She lay and listened to Alison and Faizah, as they lay together on Alison’s bunk above her. Their light moans and soft sighs, the quiet whisper of their gentle brushing kisses and caresses. So different from what Dayna wanted.
She hated their care, their love for each other, their delicate wet sounds, their light breath, cooing calming voices, that they could love each other while she lay beneath them in fear and despair and loneliness.
She lay alone on her bunk beneath the gentleness and tenderness just inches above her and hated herself… she knew where Catherine was now, and what Maia was most likely doing to her, and she felt shame, Catherine had the right to fear and hurt too, they all did. She lay on her bunk her face damp, the fear tight in her chest, she had resented Catherine’s fear and despair when she had been at Dayna’s mercy and wished her suffering onto Catherine, and now it was, she hated herself all the more..
Each time the probe approached flesh and the arc of bright energy burst from the probe’s forked tip to flesh with a snapping sound and the smell of ozone, she flinched.
So uncomfortable, so distressing…so… disappointing, Maia was doing it ALL WRONG. Dayna shifted uneasily as she watched Catherine scream under Maia’s probe. There was no menace, no threat, just Maia’s calm voice and the briefest of touches on Catherine’s skin, she’d only taken the probe near Catherine’s nipples twice since they’d started.What kind of anti-interrogation training was THIS?
This wasn’t counter-interrogation training, this was tickling.
She couldn’t take it any longer, stepping forward and touching the probe, she looked into Maia’s empty eyes, before finally feeling the relief of turning her attention to Catherine.
“It’s time for foreplay, precious!” She touched the probe to Catherine’s hood.
Jessica watched him, why would she talk to this man? She sighed and looked at her boots again, one leg falling to the side, he shifted again uneasily, did she not know what she was doing? And yet she seemed unaware, absentmindedly grabbing a narrow impractical heel. Why should she not?
“Corps took me from Gauda Prime.”
He nodded, shifting his position to face her, the red behind her, silhouetting her small frame, as she continued.
“My parents settled there before I was born, took one of the Government settler loans like everyone was encouraged to, testing themselves on the New Worlds, extending humanity’s frontiers.
“Life had been hard for them on the inner planets, everyone said the frontier worlds offered new lives, new opportunities, they took the loans to pay for transit, tools, a one room housing unit, seed, fertilizer, everything they thought they’d need. Set off full of dreams and hope, my sister Rebecca barely walking.
“Except...” she looked up, he could see it was a difficult memory, but her eyes were dry. “Except there was no food on Gauda Prime nor earth enough to grow any, each year there was not enough to sustain us let alone repay the loans. My father bought more land, more loans, cleared the sparse shrubs, tried to grow enough for us to live. But all that grows on Gauda Prime is moss and lichen and shrubs barely wider than my arm.
“We ate the moss, we ate the lichen, even tried to eat the bark and small animals.
“But there was never enough, no matter how much we worked or how far we searched. We had to scavenge, looking further and further from home. I learned to forage and to track, and to hide.
“When my younger sister Rachel was lost, we never knew what happened, whether one of the gangs had… had taken her... “
Nick looked up, “The gangs?”, but a sharp shake of her head told him not to press the point, he saw her shoulders rise and fall in a silent sigh. He wondered for a moment why this woman was different. Why he felt differently.
“Or… or the indiginous Skrell.
“We cried, we searched, it broke our hearts, broke my father’s spirit, we all cried but there was almost relief in their eyes even as they fought against the thought… of one less mouth to feed.
“Then there comes a day when any money lender stops lending and wants their money back.
“There was no food to live, let alone to sell, there was no money to buy more land, no money for tools, or fertiliser or seed, but EarthGov wanted payment.
“My family had nothing, the house barely kept out the wind let alone the driving Gauda Prime rains. My elder sister Rebecca took the fever and died that winter, but Earthgov still needed payment.
“I was all they had left.
“And that was when EarthGov took me. To pay my parents debt.
“That was how I last saw them, on that barren grey land, Rebecca gone, Rachel lost, alone, but finally debt free.”
He wanted to touch her, hold her, but he could see the futility of that.
“I was lean, wiry, agile, even then, and Earth needed troops, needs troops, and since they... they owned me, they could do what they wanted, they took me into the Corps… and there they taught me…
“They taught me to survive.”
Finally the pain was too much and Catherine passed out, Dayna’s frustration overcame her, she held the probe against Catherine’s clitoris, her body twitching under the crackling energy but there were no more sounds, no more cries, or gasps, no more whimpers, she held the probe longer, until.. until a draft of steam wafted the smell of burning flesh to her nostrils.
That was some consolation, she started to push the probe inside when a thin pale hand took hold of her arm. Her head snapped to the side to see who was daring to interrupt... blue eyes, dead eyes, she was still convinced nothing lay beyond them, and yet, somehow she knew it would be a mistake to resist, Maia wordlessly took the probe from her, placing it in her own belt.
Instinctively Dayna took a step back as Maia moved between her and her toy, silently covering Catherine’s nakedness again and releasing her from the restraints. She lifted the tiny girl from the framework and carried her away.
Nick sat, still watching, but Jessica seemed to be withdrawing again.
“I’m a kite, the wind blows me and I follow where it takes me… but always held, always on a string all the same.”
When she turned away again, he knew their second night was over, he slipped silently away as the red played on her features again, he paused a moment though to watch her from the darkness, but he had nothing to say.
(Chapter Three to follow when images are completed)
(Chapter Three to follow when images are completed)