Excerpt from "Sinful Regrets"
“A little ignorance can go a long way in
the direction of maximum harm.”
Iain was bodily thrown into a cell that already had four other men in it, three of his own crew, Joe, Greg and Harris, and one of the Dvorakies, David. Harris catching him was the only thing that kept the captain from ramming into the back wall hard. They all looked at his face and cringed. Harris reached for him but he pushed him away and punched his combadge repeatedly, getting nothing but static each time.
“We have already tried, sir, this ship must be jamming our signal,” said Joe.
“Right good mess we’re in now,” said Iain as he laid his head against the wall. He looked up as movement outside the cell caught his eye. He watched two more of the colonists, Tina and Lynne, and Bethany, Kassie and Sara being led into a cell across from them. His eyes locked on Sara’s and he saw the fear she was trying to hide clearly in them. “Damn it!” he grumbled under his breath and smacked his head on the wall behind him hard enough to make a cracking sound as it hit the metal paneling.
Iain waited until he felt the ship start to rise before he moved to the opening of the cell, the ladies in the opposite moved forward as well. He held a finger up to them and looked up and down the hall before he spoke, “I have no idea what we’re about to get ourselves into but I need to ask you all to be strong. One way or another, I will find you.”
“We know you will, Captain,” said Kassie with such confidence.
Iain smiled at her. Of all of them, she probably knew what they were in for. She and Kyle had essentially been slaves when Iain and Jaime had rescued them. The two still hadn’t told them the whole story of what had been done to them and, he guessed, didn’t want to either. His eyes again went to Sara. She tried to smile at him but he could see tears were welling up in her eyes.
Seeing this, Kassie motioned the other ladies back, smiling sadly at her and the captain.
Iain nodded to say thanks then looked back at Sara, “Told ya I’m right dangerous to be around, didn’t I?”
Sara started to open her mouth to say something but only a grunt came out.
Iain wanted to hug her just then but the bars kept him from it. He reached out and she did the same, their fingertips barely touching in the center of the aisle. He said just loud enough for her to hear, “Hold on Sara, we will get through this. Another thing about me you’ll soon learn is I always seem to find a way to get myself out of these situations just as easily as I get into them.”
She nodded but still looked absolutely miserable.
A noise down the hall made Iain motion the woman back.
A guard walked between the cells not seconds later. He glanced into each but lingered on the cell with the women. He didn’t stop though.
The captain felt the ship lurch telling him they had just gone to jump and knew they were leaving the atmosphere of Dvorak. He wished he had given the quartermaster some direction just in case of such but in his usual arrogance he hadn’t thought he’d need to; Jaime’s comment that he had a tendency to leap before he looked playing in his mind then.
Several hours into their captivity Kassie motioned Captain Bryce over to her, giving him a weird look when he got there.
“What?” he asked.
“Your face looks horrible, sir,” she said trying not to laugh at the look this got.
“Thanks,” said Iain indignantly, “You call me over just to tell me that, did ya?” he asked as he ran his tongue over the puffy scab that had formed on his lower lip where his teeth had bit through when the rifle butt hit his chin.
“I wanted to tell you some of what we might expect, sir,” said Kassie, getting a dark look in her eyes.
Iain didn’t say anything, knowing it would be hard enough for her to find the words she wanted and letting her have the time she needed to find them.
“We’ll be put through training first, to teach us how to follow orders without question, then sold off; most likely bought by someone like your character, Skeeter Boots, or sold to a brothel directly. We will likely not all get sent to the same place, sir.”
“Thought of that. We can do nothing about that just now,” said Iain as he began to hit his forehead against the bars, staring over at Sara, who had her head down on the top of her knees, which were folded up to her chest.
“Captain,” said Kassie.
His eyes shifted back to the pilot.
“I… I won’t let them touch me that way again.”
Iain didn’t like the sound of finality in that statement; he didn’t know anything he could say to make it better, either. He moved back, leaned against the wall and closed his eyes.
It was about midday three days later before Iain felt the ship drop back to regular space.
He sat up straighter, knowing their captors would be coming for them soon. His thought was right, within ten minutes Stark was walking up the hall with the man that had messed up his face so badly, both men’s eyes were on him, as if expecting him to try something again.
Stark gave the troublemaker a nasty look and said snidely, “Have you crashed yet?”
Iain looked at him like he wasn’t sure what he was talking about, which he was satisfied to see made the man hesitate to say whatever else he had intended to say at least.
Stark stood waiting, between the cells, as two more of his men came up. He motioned for the ladies’ cell to be unlocked first.
They had frightened looks on their faces and each of them looked at Iain as they exited.
The captain tried to act as if he hadn’t noticed this but he couldn’t help but, and he saw Stark had noticed it to.
That was bad.
Once the ladies were well out of the hall and two more guards were in it the door to the men’s cell was opened.
Iain held back so he would be last out; this turned out to be a mistake though, as soon as Harris, who was just before him, was out, Stark stepped in and pushed him hard against the wall.
“I don’t know what your ticket is but I will punch it if you cause trouble,” said the thug as he wrapped his hand in the man’s shirt.
Iain was pulled forward forcefully then slammed back against the wall hard enough to punctuate the statement. The captain tried to put an innocent look on his face as he said, “I won’t cause no trouble.”
“We’ll see,” said Stark.
The man used Iain’s shirt collar to pull him out of the cell then pushed him down the hall, he managed to stay on his feet, but just barely.
Iain allowed himself to be led from the ship and to be loaded onto a hovercraft with the others without trying anything. At least this time, while he was being held hostage, he was kept with his friends. One of the guards was riding in the back with them so he couldn’t say anything to the others but he gave them each a meaningful look and was sure most of them understood it.
The hovercraft was moving through a busy street of vendors, most smelled like they were cooking refuse. Iain hadn’t been to all the major planets but most he could recognize from land-marks, this one didn’t seem to have any. He strained his neck to see any buildings or street signs that might allow a connection but saw none.
They were coming up on a large city so he knew they had to be within the First Tier, they hadn’t been in jump long enough to have gone into the Inner Tier and not many in the Second had cities this size. A billboard was beginning to discern itself from the glass and steel panorama around them, he could see the words Welcome to clearly on it. He strained to see the rest as the craft disappeared into a dark warehouse.
More men, holding laser rifles, were waiting for them inside the building when the craft came to a stop by a loading dock.
A very curvaceous woman with cat-like green eyes and dark hair, pulled back severely in a bun, dressed from head to toe in skin tight black leather, including laced up leather boots with six inch stilettos stepped out a door opposite them and slunk over to Stark.
Iain didn’t like the looks of her and only partly because she reminded him a bit too much of another woman he’d known, one that seemed to be haunting him since her death.
Stark climbed out of the front of the hovercraft and spoke with this leather clad woman, pointing back at them several times.
The captain saw the man’s eyes stop on him several times and with a sick, sinking feeling, knew what he was to be in for.
Once the two had finished he saw the woman motion to one of the men that had been standing with her. She spoke to him a moment and pointed to them. The sinking feeling got worse when her dark eyes stopped on him and stayed on him.
Realizing they wouldn’t be alone for long he turned and whispered, “Try to be strong. Phoenix is likely right behind us so we won’t be here long enough for anything truly dreadful to happen…” He paused, knowing this wasn’t a time to bring false hope, “I’m not gonna sugarcoat this, I can’t say what we might be about to face or for how long we’ll have to be here, though I think we all have an idea… hold out as long as you can but don’t do anything foolhardy. We’re worth more to these people alive than dead, they will not harm us anymore than they have to, so let’s not give ‘em reason.”
Kassie, Bethany and Harris looked at the captain pointedly at that statement.
“Yeah, I know, take my own advice,” he said as his tongue again touched the scab on his lip. He looked at the colonists with them then and said, “Sorry I got you all into this.”
They all nodded but said nothing.
Iain was proud of Harris, Greg, Joe, Bethany and Kassie, who all looked a little nervous but also looked ready to do anything he might ask of them. The colonists looked like they were scared to death and about ready to be sick. His eyes shifted to Sara. She didn’t look scared or like she was about to be sick, in fact she looked numb. He started to speak to her when the butt of a rifle hit the back of his head – making tiny stars appear before his eyes. He saw her react to that but mouthed ‘No’ quickly to her. He looked back to find one of the leather-clad woman’s men looking at him.
“You will not speak again until you are asked from this moment on, understand?”
Iain put a hand on the back of his head, rubbed the bump that was forming, and nodded.
The man nodded back and motioned them all out of the craft.