The trek from the bridge to D'vork's cabin seemed to take forever. Having spent most of the day on the bridge, with only two minor incidents that warranted his attention, he was deathly tired and ready for a shower and his bed. One of the incidents had been to do with the Quastorians who had run the prisoners into the ground and were asking for more. D'vork had squashed that idea in seconds and had even sent the first prisoners back to the pen. If they told the other prisoners of their horrific experiences that would make the others behave. He hoped.
His cabin door opened and he went through, his fingers already unfastening the straps of his shoulder pads. Not bothering to sit down on his settee and take his usual ten-minute wind down, he went through into his bedroom. Walking towards the shower unit, he said, "Shower, medium hot."and heard the automatic shower heads begin to flow. Then he turned towards his bed and froze. On the chair beside the bed lay a neatly folded orange jumpsuit. His bed had been stripped and the rescued prisoner lay, naked and shivering, with his wrists handcuffed to the wall above the pillows. A gag had been placed in is mouth but that didn't stop him squeaking out a muffle scream as he gazed up at D'vork with terror filled eyes.
As the prisoner squirmed and kicked his legs in an effort to break free, D'vork slammed his hand against the intercom and roared; "Commander U'lac, Lieutenant Commander L'gia, and Guard Captain A'bant to the Captain's cabin. NOW!"
Tad had never seen such a monster in his life until he had appeared in the pen, and he could only think he was going to experience a punishment worse than death. He had seen one or two Gpuchkians on earth but none as towering or fierce looking as this brute. He carried on screaming through his gag and felt his wrists become sore with all the struggling. Then there were another two of them, and he could only imagine what torture he would have to endure. But the taller Gornian ranted and raved at the other two and pointed to Tad. Cowed, they moved towards him and one produced a sort of key. He unlocked the handcuffs and Tad was suddenly free to rip away the gad and dive off the bed into the farthest corner of the room while the three monsters continued to argue. Slowly Tad 's mind took in what they were saying.
"I don't care where you put him; I want him out of here now. And you, U'lac,"he pointed to one of them, "can consider yourself under arrest for disobeying a direct order from your Captain. Lieutenant Commander L'gia, you are now my second in command and hereby promoted to Commander. Guard Captain A'bant, you were only following a direct order from Commander U'lac. Consider yourself due for a severe reprimand at the next staff meeting. Commander L'gia, take ex-Commander U'lac to the brig."
"But, sir, I only cared about your needs. Nine months is a long time to be without release."
"And you, sir, disobeyed a direct order not to interfere with the personal wishes of your Commanding officer. Captain A'bant, you will remove this prisoner from my quarters immediately."
"Where to sir?"
"What do you mean, where to?"
"There is nowhere else we can put him, except back in the pen. The prisoners you sent to the Quastorians will not just rape him this time. They will seek revenge and kill him. May I remind you, Captain, that we are duty bound to prevent loss of life at all cost, including the prisoners."
"All right, all right, I hear you. Look at him, U'lac; a pathetic morsel of humanity; and you have the nerve to think I would ever have something like that in my bed. You're more of an idiot than I thought you were. Get him out of my sight, A'bant, before I do something I shouldn't."There was a pause as footsteps faded towards the lounge area, and Tad began to think how he could escape, but where to on such an unfriendly and forbidding ship? He shivered, not from fear but from the cold. Then he remembered reading in his Geography data links, at school, that Gpuchk was an almost icebound planet, and its inhabitants were used to a much colder climate. Then the thoughts came back to him. The Captain was grouching to himself about having an uninvited guest in his quarters. For Great Gpuchk's sake, did U'lac really believe he couldn't take care of himself; he had two hands didn't he?
D'vork came back into the bedroom and shed his uniform. While Tad shivered in his corner and wept miserably, he heard the Captain take his shower, although he didn't hear any water running. What kind of shower did these monsters use? Then the captain came in the bedroom to stand over him. "Please, don't hurt me,"he sobbed. "I shouldn't be here."
"Of coarse you shouldn't be here,"The Captain growled, "You should be in the pen."
"No, sir, I mean I'm innocent. I didn't kill anyone. I was framed."
The captain grunted his disbelief. "That's what all prisoners say. You're no better than the rest. Now, I have had a long day and I need my rest. If you know what's good for you, you will stay quiet."The lights dimmed, and Tad heard the captain make himself comfortable on his bed. Tad wondered if he would survive the night in the cold, and remembered the jumpsuit. Well it would be better than nothing. He crept over to the chair and slowly pulled the jumpsuit off the chair, and carried it back to the corner. It took a little time to get the suit on, it rustled so much but eventually he got it zipped. "Have you finished now?"the captain's angry growl ripped through the silence of the room.
"Y-yes, s-sir,"Tad managed to say between chattering teeth.
"Then go to sleep, or you go back to the pen."
Tad tried to do as he was told but the thin material of the suit did nothing to keep the cold out, and he continued to shiver and clamp his teeth together to stop the chattering. He thought of his own warm bed at home and wished he was there, and the tears fell down his cheeks. He tried to stop the sobs but it was useless. He thought about everything that had happened; having sex with his girl; staring down at her body and the bloodied knife in his hand; his mother screaming and sobbing in court as she pleaded his innocence; the smirk on his step-father 's face as Tad was led to the cells. He never killed her; he couldn't have, they loved each other.
Suddenly, the captain reared up and turned the lights up. "What did you say?"
Tad cringed and tried to make himself as small as possible. "I didn't say anything."
"But I heard you. You spoke. Tell me what you said. By the Great Gpuchk, speak boy."
Tad wept. "I didn't speak, sir. I was only thinking about what happened. Please sir, I'm so cold."
He heard the captain rise from the bed and large hands gripped him by the arms and lift him into the air. He screamed and fought but the captain tossed him onto the bed. 'I 'm going to be raped. This is the end.' he thought. He scrambled across the bed to the edge by the wall and curled up into a ball, his tears falling unchecked. "Please, sir, I'm s-sorry. Please d-don't hurt m-me."
The captain lay down beside him and pulled him close. "I'm not going to rape you. You are cold and cannot sleep if you are cold,"the captain snapped. "I am too warm. You will be warmer; I will be cooler. I just can't understand how I can hear what you're thinking. This cannot be. Gpuchkians can only have mental contact with a chosen consort, which you will never be. Now go to sleep."
As he calmed down, Tad felt the heat, radiating from the captain 's body, warming his back, but he just couldn't shake off the fear that by morning his body would ..........Tad roused in the night to find himself unable to move. The captain's heavy body leaned against him and a powerful arm wrapped him in a warm cocoon. Trapped, he examined the parts of his body that he could feel. He could wriggle his toes, and he didn't feel any pain from his butt. But he was warm; so he relaxed and fell asleep, only to be shaken gently awake.
He rolled over onto his back and blinked up at a grey haired human male dressed in an old fashioned doctor 's white tunic and pants complete with a twentieth century stethoscope hooked round his neck. "Hello young man. My name is Inmahn, spelled with an H, and the captain has asked me to check you over and see to your needs. So, come on, up you get, there's a dear."
Tad stared at him for a moment while he fought the urge to laugh. How could someone as camp as this human come to be working on an alien space ship? Inmahn tossed his head and placed his hands on his hips. "Oh, I see; we've got a right one here, Percy."
"You may be right, Mr. Inmahn,"a cultured English voice said, although Tad couldn't see anyone else in the room, "but we must obey the captain's commands, no matter how it offends our sensitivities."
"Humph! It might offend you, Percy, but this is one of my own species. So less of your personal views about the captain's guests, and send some food in for the lad, and some warm clothes. If he doesn't get the latter he'll freeze to death and your culinary skills will be of no use to him."
There was a moment 's silence as Tad cuddled back under the blanket, before Percy spoke again, suitably miffed, "Very good Mr. Inmahn. What size does the prisoner require?"
Inmahn tilted his head to one side while he studied Tad. "Thirteen collar, a twenty-four waist, short leg should do it. And please be quick."
"Yes, SIIRRR!"came the effected reply.
Inmahn 's eyes rolled upwards. "Any more cheek out of that computer and he's ready for the crusher, and no mistake. Now young sir, out of bed with you and into the shower, and don't use too much water. Nine months is a long journey without fresh water. Every drop of liquid has to be conserved and recycled."
"Nine months!"Tad found it hard to breathe. "But....I.....where are we going?"
Inmahn turned to frown at him. "Weren't you told anything?"
Tad shook his head and sank back on the bed. "They just said I was being transported. They didn't say where. Now I'll never be able to clear my name."
The bed shifted as Inmahn sat down on the edge, his campiness gone as he said gently, "Why don't you tell me what's wrong, Tad. Percy and I may be able to help."
"How can you help?"
"My name is Inmahn, which is short for Independent Medical And Human Necessity Module, and Percy is my computer hence his name. In other words, I'm an android."
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