I curled up on the edge of the couch, my head on Captain’s thigh. I felt better when we were touching. He crafted messages that seemed completely normal, until he showed me the code he used with his contacts. Then I could decipher the hidden messages inside them requesting more information on the current council and political maneuvering among the military.
“Hopefully these will yield results. They’ll go out as soon as we hit non-shielded space, before I approve Kekillill’s reports, just in case.” Captain stood, gently lowering my head. “I need to go check on the crew that’s on shift. You can stay here, or I can escort you to your quarters, or you can come with me.”
“I’d like to stay here.” It was an easy decision. I didn’t want to see the crew or any of the other rescued victims. And I liked my small room, but I liked being in Captain’s quarters more.
“In that case, here.” Captain handed me his handheld vid. “I’ve queued up my reports from the other missions. I think it’s important that you know what kind of life my crew lives. See how the missions can go.”
“You can let me do that?”
“These are my private files. Nothing restricted. It’s not all good. If it’s too upsetting for you, you can stop reading.”
He didn’t have to tell me that. I’d existed in that cell, other than when they were testing me, for years. I couldn’t have put a number on the eternity that felt like, until Captain and Deke had when they rescued me. People who were willing to make someone do the things they made me do…?
They were capable of anything. Everything. I watched as Captain moved purposefully around his quarters, changing into a formal uniform. The snug fabric hugged his body, leaving no loose cloth to get snagged onboard the close quarters on a spaceship.
“I’ll be back soon, Kohen. Use the vid if you need to get in touch with me. If you have even the smallest difficulty breathing, you page Aparoe and then me, okay?”
“I will.” I didn’t want to feel that suffocating darkness ever again, but I wasn’t ready to face the crew either. Most of them probably had no idea what was going on, but I couldn’t shake my fear that the Trepharo, Kemit, or Ss’merit had done something more than just that one attack. There had to be plans within plans within plans; the only way I felt safe was to hunker down and seclude myself.
That I could do it in quarters surrounded by the Captain’s scent was even better. From the beginning, I’d only felt comfort with him. As soon as the door sealed behind him, I lifted the vid. I was curious about his other missions; what had his crew done to free other victims?
The thought of some sensationalized story, the type told over cheap, homemade alcohol that burned more than it intoxicated, was far from the truth as I read Captain’s accounts of his missions. Pages of dossiers on station blueprints, scientists, guards, rescued survivors, and experiments gone wrong outweighed the short pages of battles to overcome the resistance and save the poor people being tortured in the Brox Consortium’s bid for power.
It made for some dry reading, but I faithfully flicked through every page, scanning and reading while some light music Captain must enjoy during his short leisure time played in the background. It was the only thing that kept me awake.
But Captain and Deke were right. This mission had been different. First, Captain had never been ordered to take a bigger ship before, or the augmented crew he had to use to run it. The Brox Consortium had their arm of the galaxy, but they wanted the center, the rich planets that were part of the Central government and lacking in most defensive capabilities.
What they didn’t lack was the funds to pay for soldiers or mercenaries from more outlying planets where violence was a way of life. So the rich and powerful stayed rich and powerful on the backs of loyal soldiers and those who respected the credits above all else.
It made me sick. They were willing to do anything. Looking through the files, though, I couldn’t find any other notes about the ports some of us rescued on this mission had. Those were different.
No on else had the extensive experimentation on their brains and bodies like I had. Worried about what would happen when we passed the radiation barrier, I focused on the mission reports post-rescue. I flipped through report after report.
A frown creased my forehead. “This can’t be right,” I muttered to myself. Captain didn’t seem like the type of man who’d just shove his problems off on someone else. I paged him on the vid.
“Are you all right, Kohen?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” I’d forgotten he’d warned me to contact him if I felt like our separation was hurting me. “But I had a question about your reports.”
“Okay. What is it?”
“After you returned to Central space, you and the crew were debriefed, then went off-mission. But the victims were taken for readjustment, you said? I think someone told me they are helped to go home or to start new lives.”
“Yes.” He looked at me expectantly, his face blank.
“Did you ever actually follow up with any of them? Do you know for sure that happened?”
Want more flash?