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[2375-] Lessons in Humanity

[ Valyn Amarik | Prisoner Barracks | Dominion Internment Camp Epsilon Theta 816 | Cardassian Space ]
[ Ben Hewitt ]
It was cold. No it wasn’t cold. Actually it was frigid. The Romulan woman sat on the end of a bunk shaking her legs up and down to try and create a little motion to stay warm and could see her breath each time she exhaled. Her left eye was bruised to a nasty purple and cream color and her lip was split open but she didn’t look broken by any means, she just looked angry. Across the bunkhall was a pair of Klingons, muttering to one another in their native tongue. There was also a human man. He was tall. He was eating a piece of clearly stale bread, it wasn’t large but it was better than nothing. He had tan skin and dark hair, with dark eyes to match it. The shivering Romulan gave one glance at the bread and her stomach gave a growl.

She reached back towards the rear of her too-small bunk and grabbed some of the shreds of cloth that served as a blanket, making her pull it over her shoulder. The human man started to move towards the Romulan and in a flash the woman was on her feet, speaking in her native tongue. The universal translator that was supposed to be active, or that the Vorta man that was in charge of the camp claimed was supposed to be active at least, was in the barracks, was not functioning. “I don’t have anything to give you. The Klingons have already taken all my damn food, and the Jem’hadar already gave the rest of my shit to the humans in the other barracks.” She snapped at the man in Romulan, hoping to god he understood, if not at least her stand-offish body language would do the trick. He however held out his hands. Humans. What else did they want to take from her?

“Relax.” The man said dipping his head to one side, speaking Romulan in an absolutely awful human accent. She couldn’t place where exactly on Earth it was from initially but it was certainly strong. He broke the stale piece of bread in half and offered it over to her, “Here.” She looked down at the piece of bread, then back up to the man, as if expecting either the bread of him to bite. Then she looked over towards the door as if expecting half a dozen Jem’hadar to storm through the door next.

“What do you want?” She asked before she quickly grabbed the bread and took a step back, her back all but up against the wall, which she wasn’t fond of but it was better than being in his reach. She took a bite of the stale bread and watched him, paranoid and completely on guard. He looked far less battered and bruised than she did, that alone set her on edge. She’d seen him there just as long as she had been, so she wasn’t certain why he wasn’t beaten as badly.

Perhaps the Jem’hadar don’t have as much of a taste for tall, handsome humans.

He shrugged, “You looked hungry. Besides, it smells better over here.” He gave a nod over his shoulder towards the duo of Klingons. “I’m Ben.” He offered her a hand, still speaking in her language. Which was good because she didn’t speak a word of English without a U.T. She looked down to his hand and thought about it for a moment. She’d lost track of how long she’d been at the camp. She was the only Romulan there. Being the only Romulan there it was rather hard to come across friends. Klingons thought Romulans were cowards who joined the war too late, which was often an argument she didn’t disagree with. Humans mostly just ignored her. This was the first one that bothered to show her any attention, probably because they had to share a bunk space, she figured.

“Valyn.” She said and she took his hand. She didn’t take it for long though, quickly releasing his hand. She let out a breath and slowly sat down, still watching him as if he was about to strike out at her. Her guard didn’t drop for even a fraction of a second. However, she was freezing, and reached again for the shredded blanket, pulling it over her shoulder. “Where did you learn Romulan?

He gave her a wry sort of smirk and then just shrugged, “Picked it up.” He let out a scoff before he offered, “I’m a diplomatic officer, wrong place wrong time and here I am. Why don’t you know any English?”

“Never got around to it.” She reached for the piece of bread, telling a not-so-full truth.

“How about you start with-” he on a dime, switched to English, that thick accent sounding oh-so-much better in its native tongue, “Friend.” She gave him a little smile and then a nod.


A fist came crashing down on Ben's face and moments later his other cheek collided with the gritty metal flooring. He let out a loud grunt and Valyn took a step towards the ring. One of the Jem’hadar soldiers surrounding the ring gave her a glare and she shouted down at Ben, in English, and in Ben’s familiar accent. It was a southern US accent. Alabama. “Get up, Ben!” It was the only friend she’d made in the camp, and she wasn’t going to lose him another one of these damn fights the Jem’hadar were so bloody obsessed with. Ben was just a diplomat, he was not built for the pit.

The Klingon opposite Ben aimed a kick at his belly, and he took it like a champ, trying to crawl back up to his feet. He struggled through it, and eventually did get back up to his feet. He wobbled, his feet splayed out slightly over shoulder-width as he stared down the Klingon. One more hit and he’d be out like a light. In the ring behind them, the Jem’hadar officer fired his rifle into the unconscious body in the middle of the ring.

Valyn took her chance, and swung a fist at the Jem’hadar directly in front of her. When you can’t take the hit, cause a distraction. She ground her teeth and bore down tight. Within moments, she was gripped by both shoulders and a fist collided with her belly.

“Take him out!” The second barked at one of the Jem’hadar and pointed at Ben, who was way ahead of them, and already stepping out of the ring. This was not the first time Valyn had done this, nor would it likely be the last. The Jem’hadar enjoyed beating him down, and watching her step in, they got two for one. The Klingon was dragged out as well, and in his place a Jem’hadar office was thrown into the ring.

She caught herself as they launched her into the ring and she quickly shook her arms off, bringing her guard up ready to go. She continued to speak in English, still heavily accented like her teachers, taking the chance to practice while she could, “Come on then, you big ugly sonbitch.” She gave the Jem’hadar a wave of her fingers and he dove at her. He was not a second, nor a third, or even a fourth. He was a fifth, and very inexperienced. A fact which Valyn was very much aware of. Ben was a diplomat. She was an operative.

When the Jem’hadar came in for the first swipe, immediately for her neck, she dropped down and kicked out her leg, clipping him right in the shin. He didn’t fall, but he did stumble. He struck out with a fist and Valyn took the punch across her face, but continued on without much thought.

Pain is progress.

She repeated the mantra in her head. Her head rang like a bell but she fought through the haze. She flattened her palm and in a single, fluid motion she stepped on the Jem’hadar’s foot, drove her elbow into the side of his head, then gripped the base of his skull with one hand, using the flat of the other hand to give it a sharp twist. The fifth crumpled to the ground, dead. Within moments she felt a sharp burning sensation in the middle of her back, and the world went dark.

When she woke she saw Ben over her but the whole world was fuzzy, and her body hurt. “Did you have to kill him?” Was the first thing he said, patting her forehead with a frozen washcloth. She let out a grunt in response, reaching up to touch her face, which had a few cuts and bruises forming across it. Her torso had the worst of it. Clearly she’d taken quite a kicking.

“They were going to kill you, so. What’s the saying...eye for an eye?” She’d heard some of the other humans talking about it so echoed it. She looked up and saw a few other people looking at her and the Human, one Klingon that she’d been sharing the barracks with and a human that had joined them as well. “The hell are you looking at?” She barked at them. Before she coughed in pain at the mild exertion. “Besides, he made it easy.”

No doubt next time it’ll be harder.

“Thanks for having my back. Maybe don't kill them though, the only reason you're alive is because the first and second find you entertaining.” He offered as he continued to clean up the worst of her wounds. She slowly started to sit up though and brace herself up against the wall of the barracks.

“You’re welcome.” She offered, this time in her native tongue, devoid of that human accent she’d developed with the human language. This time it was thick with her own. “What’re friends for?” She continued, still in Romulan. “You’ve never told me why they pulled you in here anyways?” She questioned him, reaching under her pillow for a canteen of some sharp smelling liquid. Some sort of alcohol they’d been distilling off of the cooling unit behind the bulkhead. If the Jem’hadar were going to torture them with rapid temperature changes, they were going to take advantage of the mechanics of the unit at least.

Ben took the canteen and took a drink before handing it back to her. She drank in turn. “I was on the U.S.S. Perikles when we got hit. We were on our way to drop off some troops and I was there to try and make nice with some of the more difficult Romulan generals.” He gave her an apologetic look, “Because god you people can be a pain in the ass, particularly when it comes to the Federation.”

“The Federation hasn’t exactly given us years and years of reasoning to trust them, either.” She offered in response, “Nor have we but…” She shrugged. “The Romulans that is.” She corrected, distancing herself from the word ‘we’. “What’s Starfleet like?” Slowly, at some point, she’d moved from Romulan and again into English. Perhaps subconsciously.

He gave her a small smile and opened his mouth to speak.


It was cold again. The Dominion had stopped bothering to use the temperature unit to cycle the temperatures and instead had just left it at ‘cold’ for a while. Valyn and Ben were actually next to one another, fast asleep. It was the only way to keep some semblance of warm. Both were still shivering but it was the best they could manage in the circumstances. Even the Klingons were sleeping in a tightly knit circle in the corner of the Barracks. The other humans were close to Romulan and Ben. Each group had formed a sort of posse within the barrack, tightly knit  for their own safety both from one another and from their captors.

At 0400 local base time, the alert klaxon sounded. Valyn, Ben, and the whole of the barracks all shot to their feet. It was an unfamiliar situation. It had never sounded before, not once. Not for a second. Outside the door, groups of Jem’hadar soldiers could be seen running past the door, rifles raised at the ready.

“What the hell-” Valyn started before she saw a Vorta outside the door, flanked by Jem’hadar. She stepped to the front of the group of humans. The door whooshed open and the Jem’hadar entered first, rifles raised. The Vorta merely looked in, then went on his way.

“Move.” The Jem’hadar ordered. Like cattle they were rounded up and forced from the only safe place they had. Even then, the barracks were only safe by a thin margin. They were marched to the pits, at gunpoint by the Dominion soldiers, disruptor barrels close at their backs.

“The fuck is going on?” Ben said through gritted teeth at Valyn, as if she was the one with all the answers.

“Your guess is good as mine.” She replied.

“Quiet!” The Soldier behind them barked, roughly jamming the rifle between Valyns shoulder blades, causing a pang of pain to shoot down her spine.

Once they had reached their destination, the pit, they saw the Vorta. He was standing on a small platform made of cargo boxes, the Klaxon volume having been lowered, he looked ready to speak.

“Friends!” He bellowed, an eerie smile plastered across his pale face, reaching up to the ridge of his ears almost, “The time has some!” he reached his arms up into the air, as if reached out to grasp them all in a big hug.

Valyn and Ben gave one another a glance, a mix of fear and apprehension.

“The war is over! Cardassia - is falling!” He snarled the word, angrily. “The treachery of the Cardassian people only proving that the kindness shown to the alpha quadrant was a colossal waste of resources. The Foundaers have spoken. He let out a breath and lowered his arms. “Now, I have been ordered to…” He rubbed his cheek then flicked his fingers out over the gathered people, “Liquidate this facility and gather all dominion belongings before falling back to the fleet. Which I would be selective about under better circumstances however, I have just been informed that a Federation fleet is looming on short range…” He gave them all a frown, and then a bow. “It has been a pleasure to be your friend.” He smiled again, then hopped off his platform.

The Jem’hadar all raised their rifles.

Then the whole facility rocked.

“Down!” Valyn shouted, grabbing Ben and dragging him to the ground. Disruptor fire ignited the pit. As she hit the ground, she looked up to see the facility shielding pulsate, and saw an Akira class starship make a pass over the facility. She started to crawl, this time towards one of the Jem’hadar, “You stay down!” She called to Ben, in English, southern strong.

It didn’t take her long to reach one of them, and when she did, she rolled onto her back, then kicked her feet into the air to launch herself up. She didn’t know who she was going to come face to face with. When she reached her feet though, her heart sank. It was the second. The first was across the way defending the Vorta from the rioting crowd, which wasn’t saying much given that none of them had weapons. It was a slaughter. They needed to turn the tide, and quickly.

She didn’t waste time. She took her palm and swung it forward, aiming to jam his nasal bone into his frontal lobe. She was not successful, he blocked the strike with a swat to the left, and swung forward with a fist, his rifle dropping to the side, caught by his sling. She too, dodged, simply stepping to the left. To anyone watching it likely looking like a well practiced, choreographed dance of fists. She reached up with her knee to connect with his belly, which it did, causing him to stumble back for a second, he however, backhanded her across the cheek.

She twisted her torso to the side and used her momentum to launch herself into the air, aiming to roundhouse kick the second across the head. Again, succeeding. She used the forward motion in the air to land on his shoulder and wrap her legs around his neck, choking the second. He however, did not take kindly to the attack, and slammed her onto the ground, drawing a knife and falling upon her. The knife was mere centimeters from her chest, with the soldier pressing down on her. With one hand she pressed up on the knife, with the other, she reached for the rifle, and domed him over the head with it.

He fell back.

When he fell, so did the knife. She fell on it, taking it up on her hand. It felt...familiar. A quick glance down to it and she saw it, she saw the insignia on it. Tal Shiar. It was her knife. The Knife that she’d entered the facility with and that had been stripped away from her. She ground her teeth and flung it forward like a bullet. It impaled the soldier through the right eye and he fell to the ground. “That’s mine.” She stepped on his throat for traction, and yanked the knife back, the removal creating an awful cracking and squelching sound within the soldier's skull.

She stuck the knife in her boot and picked up the rifle. Then she started firing. It was quick, and it felt good. Months of torture and beatings came spilling out. Each pull of the trigger on a soldier felt better than the last. “Get their rifles!” She shouted, firing on a Jem’hadar who was strangling some Human woman. The shield that had been giving the pit a faint blue hue, finally fell. Once it did, Starfleet soldiers immediately began to fill the pit too, firing on the rest of them.

Valyn looked up and saw two things. To the left, she saw Ben, locked in a fight with a soldier. He wasn’t a particularly skilled soldier, but neither was Ben. To the right, the Vorta running towards a transport ship with a handful of Jem’hadar. They were fleeing. She raised her rifle and started to the right, then she stopped. “Dammit.” She spit out. She turned on her heel and ran towards Ben. Never in a million years did she think that she’d save a humans life over kill an enemy.


She did though. When she reached him, the Jem’hadar was on top of him, standing up to gun him down. Valyn stood behind him though, and fired first.

“I told you to stay down.” She panted, before reaching down to help her friend, her only friend, to his feet. She gave him a hug, the only hug she’d given since she was a child, at least, the only genuine one that wasn’t part of a cover. Then she broke apart and started to move again, this time ensuring he was close by. “Come on, let’s go find some cover.” The battle was quickly coming to a close. The Federation forces overwhelming the Dominion to a large degree as they continued to evacuate but still, Valyn wanted to stay well out of the way of the soldiers.

The soldiers however, were not evacuating. They were regrouping. When they came back out in force. Valyn’s heart fell. A handful of Starfleet officers came running around the corner, “We gotta get out of here!” They looked at Ben. “We were told to grab the Humans and Klingons here. The Romulans said they’d send a ship in after us and to hold tight. The prison manifest slipped to us from a prisoner transfer.” In other words, it got smuggled out. Human ingenuity.

Valyn looked furious. “No-” Ben put his hand on her shoulder and shook his head for her.

“No they won’t. If they knew she was here, no they won’t. They’ll leave her here to die. She’s with me. She’s coming with me.” He looked to the pip on the collar of the Starfleet soldier, “I outrank you too, Ensign. She’s coming.” Ben knew what had happened. Why she was in the Camp, why they’d let her rot in the Camp. He was the only one that knew. Valyn looked up to Ben, taller than her, as the disruptor bolts flew over the crates they were taking cover behind. “What’re friends for?” He said to her.

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