The Inner Fire
Laura awoke, remembering very little past the point she raised her hands over her head. Her forehead throbbed as if split in two. Her eyes saw only black stone walls, one of which she was bound to in heavy plexicarbon chains and manacles.
To her immediate left was Rose, who was also bound in chains, still unconscious.
Both were stripped of their uniforms, given ragged and tattered grey tunics and pants.
The room was so dimly lit by the tiny window in the heavy black cell door, that Laura could only barely make out the presence of a third person, one at the opposite end of the room, standing tall in front of a metal table. Tools of some kind were laid across the table, though her eyes could not focus enough to discern their nature.
“Barbaric, I know,” said a voice, one Laura once knew so well, “and certainly not fit for the standards of the Dominion. But it shall do, I think.”
“Who--” Laura could barely make out a word at first, realizing she had a tightened collar around her neck, leashed to the wall as well, “who are you?”
“I forget you must be a little out of sorts, Commander Laura Vinfield,” said the figure as he walked closer, allowing Laura to make his aged face out just a little better.
A face she recognized instantly. General Alvoa. Miya’s grandfather and one of her mentors in the Academy.
“General!” Laura said more alertly, “you have to get me out of here! I’m innocent, I swear--”
“You assaulted your own crewmate,” he scorned, “that she is my own flesh and blood is an aside. You then defected from the Dominion to join a direct enemy of Behraan. You also destroyed two Council vessels and captured their constables. Laura, truly, did you believe you could go as far as you have and not be caught?”
“No, General,” Laura shook her head, “none of that is true! Miya’s a T.M.M. Assassin! She tried to kill us!”
“The Trilithe? Preposterous!” the General shouted, “That sect had been wiped out by Admiral Sehra decades ago. I was there! Do not presume to insult my intelligence, girl!”
Laura shook her head, frustrated by the fact that Behraan largely believed that sect to have indeed been destroyed. It was frowned upon to even mention them. “General, please! You have to believe me!”
“I wish I could,” the General stepped away, “I truly do. You were so promising. It pains me to do this, but I must. You are both to be executed. Within the hour.”
“Executed!?” Laura shouted, struggling to free herself from the chains and being met only with a jolt of electricity that ravaged her entire body, forcing her to stop, shouting, “What is this?”
“This is the side of Behraan I did not want you to see,” said the General as he moved towards the door. Before he opened it, he stopped and turned to speak over his shoulder, “though I must admit, you and your crew were sent here, to Suragaa Three, with my fully knowing—that you would not be returning.
“You have an hour, Laura Vinfield. But take heart: you will not have to live it—alone.”
As he opened the door, he looked to two black-garbed Behraanese guards standing outside the door, their faces hooded. He nodded to them both, and they stepped in, closing and locking the door behind them.
“As to your crew and your ship,” said the General through the window, “worry not. They, too, shall meet the same fate as yours soon enough.”
“No,” Laura shouted, struggling and being shocked again, “Nooooooooo!!!!”
Rose remained unconscious, nearly lifeless.
“What first?” said one guard to the other.
“Well,” said the other, “we have two completely helpless and—delicious women at our disposal, and we have an hour with them--”
“Don’t you dare!!” Laura shouted and spat at them.
“Feisty, isn’t she?” said the first.
“Yeah, wonder what this does,” the second guard grabbed a buttoned remote on the table and pointed it at Laura, pressing a button and shocking her on its command. She yelped out and panted against her constricted diaphragm muscles afterwards.
“Oh, nice,” said the other guard, “do it again.”
“No, don’t!” Laura cried, to no avail. Once more, she writhed in agony, her body twitching each and every way it could, until the button was released and she fell upon her restraints, much of her strength sapped from her body. She gasped for air uncontrollably, trying as hard as she could to compose herself.
For a second, she caught a flash glimpse of the dream. The dream of standing on that rooftop, speaking to some version of herself.
She never missed.
At that very point in time, those headaches, that had plagued her for weeks, had suddenly lifted. With that lifting, she began to see clearly. Though what confused her the most was that the eyes she saw through were not her own.
She looked up, seeing herself, chained against the wall, burned and broken from the electrical charges. The skin contacting the manacles was badly seared.
Had she died? No, she breathed still. Yet she did not appear conscious.
In her hand, which she began to feel, was the remote. She began to realize that she wasn’t having an out-of-body experience, one many mentioned having so close to death. In fact, she was experiencing the body of another living being. The guard's.
“I doubt she’ll fight back now,” said the guard next to her, “you first or me? I haven’t had a pretty lady like this in a long time.”
“That’s enough,” said Laura—though her voice was not her own. She willed to say so, but the voice was clearly that of the other guard, the one holding the button. The one causing all the pain.
“Vel, you never turn a girl down,” said the first guard.
“I—had one earlier,” she said through him, “and besides, she’s a Behraanese Captain. She should have some dignity before she dies, right?”
The guard gave Laura a long look, then the guard puppet, “you’d better get your head checked man. You’ve been on duty with me all day.”
Enough. Laura looked down to the guard’s leg, seeing a plasmar holstered there. Quickly she made him grab it, and without a second thought, unloaded it into his partner’s. She screamed in a fiery rage, and so did her puppet.
Once Laura was satisfied that the remains of the guard were scattered enough, she had him shoot the chains holding Laura, then Rose. Finally, she had him stick the nose of the barrel under his chin and fired the last shot, spattering himself upon the ceiling.
For a fraction of a second, she felt that. She felt how he died.
Laura then began to see through her own eyes again, as she found herself limp and crumpled on the cold stone floor, the agony resuming in her body, but not in her mind. She panted, holding herself in a ball on the floor, marshalling just enough strength to muster a smile. A few strands of her hair from her bangs fell in front of her, changed from black to silver. She would have reacted, had she the energy.
She kept her eyes open. She kept breathing. Her body resisted her, but her mind resisted back. She looked up to Rose, still unconscious. She made out several blackened bruises all over her, meaning she must have fought back that much harder and that they must have beaten her into submission. She loathed to fathom what they must have done to her.
“Hold on, Rose,” said Laura weakly, reaching out to her friend to hold her hand, “hold on.”
As she did so, Rose’s eyes slit open, and she nodded weakly.
Laura could only reach out with her other hand to one of the plasmar pistols the dead guards had dropped, pulling it close to herself. She was by no means ready for a breakout then and there, and neither was Rose.
But soon. Yes, soon. She could feel the life within her begin to course again. Her cold body began to warm itself.