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[2374] Cardassia Prime – No Choice Without Consequence

[LT(JG) Arven Leux | Unknown Location | Cardassia Prime]

The cell was a two meter square space of dank misery, bereft of any comfort; bare gray walls – a metal cot – a pot in the corner that stank of piss and shit. There was no window, only a thin lume-strip that flickered to life whenever his captors wished; time was measured by the routine provided by them, and hardly consistent. After the day’s labor, they would escort him to the cell, then return to slide a bowl of protein filth through the door – then remove it in moments – whether he ate or not. Sometimes they came at random, if his skills were needed. All the while, he could hear the muted sounds of suffering and hopelessness from the other cells all around.

It was – in every sense of the word – hell.

Weeks had passed. He knew because he'd started to scratch the days into the floor – a paltry attempt to track the passage of time. The prisoner navigated by touch in the darkness, ears attuned for the sounds of booted footsteps as filthy fingers and palms felt about. The row of scratches were small, cut into the rock with dirty, cracked fingernails. He counted them out silently before adding another, then felt his way away from the stench of his own piss to sit in the opposite corner and try to sleep.

Sleep. Such a simple comfort, like all comforts – so easily taken for granted.

It had been a hard day. His lips pulled down into a frown, trembling as his eyes blinked uselessly in the dark. This was the hardest part; in the dark, alone and exhausted – his mind would replay the day’s events, the choices made, the atrocities witnessed and the faces of those he failed to save. The prisoner pulled his knees up to his chest, arms draped over them. His head rested upon his forearms. Silent, wracking sobs followed as precious fluid rolled down his grime-coated, spotted face.

Somehow, he knew that tomorrow would be worse. It always was.

They’d come for him hours ago; dragged from his cell to the ragged and run-down lean-to shanty they called an ‘aid-station’ – the only place they allowed him to care for the pitiful remnants of the Honshu’s crew. Arven couldn’t help but notice the trail of blood splatters they’d left on the dirt-caked ground; a trail of their latest interrogation victim. He hoped it wasn’t who he thought.

The guard on his left kicked the door open.

The woman on the table was smeared in her own blood; some of it had dried to crusty flakes, matted into once pristine blonde hair. The ragged remains of her uniform were soaked in it. Streaks of it painted the filthy table in mimicry of a snow angel; the evidence of convulsions or her own attempt to struggle against the monstrous perpetrators. They’d dropped her on her side, without pause or ceremony, so he could see the flayed strips of flesh across her back; the bruises, the malnourishment, the blackened scorch marks of electro-probes. Arven ground his teeth and rushed to her side.

“Commander! Mel, Mel,” he whispered, searching for vitals.

There were none.

“What are you waiting for,” one of the guards barked a laugh. “Do your job.”

Arven’s eyes slowly rose to the guards, as he withdrew his hand from the throat of the former XO of the Honshu; a courageous woman – a kind and caring soul that he had grown to respect with every passing day. He had reset her bones. He’d sutured her wounds. He’d done everything they asked of him, as the months had passed – after they beat her senseless, again and again.

“The others. Do what you can,” she’d mumbled to him. “Arven, please. Don’t give up. Do what you can for them.”

Now all that remained of her was a bloodstained wraith of the officer he’d known – the woman he’d come to call friend. An inspiration to all of them; something unbreakable that had been finally been broken beyond repair. Arven wasn’t sure how she managed to survive long enough to be dragged from the interrogation rooms. There was barely anything left of her; what was left was no longer living.

“She’s dead,” he growled, bitter and full of pain.

“Unacceptable,” another guard grunted suddenly as he dragged a prisoner into view – an ensign, barely able to stand – held by the throat. “Do your work, doctor. Now,” the Cardassian barked, then held a dirty knife at the boy’s throat.

Waters. Arven’s brows twitched in recognition. He’d wrapped the kid’s shattered ankle only days ago.

“She’s dead, t-there’s nothing I can do,” Arven croaked. He didn’t say it to the guards though. He said it to Waters.

“Pity,” the Cardassian sneered. The blade sliced. Blood jetted. Waters died. “Perhaps in the future you’ll be quick about your duty, Doctor.”

Arven held the ruination of Water’s throat, listened his life gurgle out while the Cardassian’s chuckled and walked away. There was nothing he could do. Impotent rage filled him, as life fled – slipped between his fingers in hot streams of blood.

Back in his cell, Arven jerked awake to the sound of heavy footsteps.

They were coming for him again.

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