Episode 4: Whispers In the Dark
The enclosed beach is silent. The sun is blinding at it emerges; it rises like a yellow balloon on the distant horizon. As the sun gradually starts to appear, a new day unfolds. As the gentle waves lap against the shore, a shoal of crowded fish dart to and frow. Seagulls swoop down from the sky determined to catch their unsuspecting prey. The never-ending golden sand stretches out as far as you can see, waiting patiently for people to leave there mark.
The silent echo of the lifeless sea is startling as the day begins; it was almost as if it had sucked out the souls of the nearby creatures. The relaxing atmosphere slowly starts to ease the mind, a gentle sea breeze rustles through the leaves of nearby palm trees waking small birds from their slumber. The beach is abandoned, nothing there apart from a few seagulls pecking at yesterdays leftovers, excited about what today might bring.
The golden blanket was outlining the silvery sea, a pod of large dolphins leaped out of the water, showing off to each other. Dancing from one place to the next, it is breath-taking. Every movement of the dolphins is picture perfect, the way they glisten in the sunlight and reveal that welcoming and beautiful smile of theirs.
Suddenly something changed. Out of nowhere and as if on the flip of a coin there was a storm a-brewing.
Boats began to roll from side to side and the temperature dipped all of a sudden. Dark clouds obscured the moon. They churned grimly in the night sky, as black as a witch’s brew. The moon’s mercury flush was painted silver by the thunderheads, casting down shivers of light with a ghostly glow. Underneath the moon, the rain moved towards him like a wraith’s veil of sorrow. A winnowing wind fermented and sighed, rippling the surface of the calm sea.
The boat heaved and tossed in the rising swell and he gripped the tiller with his naked fingers. He could just make out the figure of his wife standing on the shingled beach, lamp raised aloft to guide him home. Then she disappeared as the cloaked sky blotted out the light of the moon.
The rain-shroud passed by as streaky lightning emblazoned the sky followed by a startling clap of thunder overhead…
…there was no sea breeze or streaks of lightening. Instead, where there had once been a tranquil scene that had transitioned into a storm of ominous foreboding there was now nothing but a dull, metallic bulkhead. Only in the man’s dreams would he ever see such settings again, for there was no chance of such glorious views where he was headed.
Behind him, as he lay huddled on his mattress, he could make out a familiar voice that truly brought him back to reality. “I wondered when you would show your face,” he spoke quietly, his throat parched from lack of water.
“You’re lucky I’m here at all…” the dulcet tones of the familiar voice spoke in response.
Nathan Hunter rolled over and gently planted his feet upon the deck plating as he looked out through the invisible barrier that confined him to his cell. “Can I get some water?” the traitor queried, his hands resting on his knees and keeping his torso upright. He’d only been in captivity for a few hours but already he felt suffering. No doubt the exact wishes of his captor who…
Odd. She should have been stood there, so proud at the success of her mission. She had thwarted the malevolent Nathan Hunter, yet she stood there looking like someone had died. “What’s the matter Captain? Wondering if you made the right choice in tracking me down?”
Nilani shook her head slowly, her gaze never drifting from the face of her prisoner. “No,” she whispered as she stepped closer to the forcefield. “I’m just thinking of the countless millions you have hurt. The hundreds of thousands you’ve killed…” she trailed off as tears began to well in her eyes and she turned away, “the crewmates you betrayed and murdered.” She desperately tried to compose herself and to do so, she stepped away and replicated him a glass of water as he had requested. Eventually she reappeared at the forcefield and tapped at the computer console on the side wall, dropping the field as the nearby security officer stepped forward, his hand on the holster that carried his phaser.
The Trill slowly placed the replicated beverage on the floor just inside the cell and then turned to the guard beside her. “We’re okay here Lieutenant. You can wait outside,” she smiled and, as soon as he went to object, she scowled at him. The security guard nodded slowly and left the room with a single glance back at Hunter that left the prisoner with a clear picture of what would happen if he tried to hurt the Captain.
Leaning back on the nearby console and folding her arms across her chest, the Captain watched as the traitor hobbled to the glass and drank his beverage in one go. “Thank you, Captain. I never expected such kindness,” he responded, a slight air of sincerity in his voice.
“Kindness?” she smirked, “what do you know of kindness? You held a boy hostage to get revenge for something that wasn’t his fault,” she replied with more than a hint of disgust in her voice. “Were you demonstrating kindness when you betrayed and murdered members of your crew? Or what about when you stood by and nearly let someone kill me?” she queried.
“Hey!” he interjected firmly, “I helped you escape. Don’t forget that,” he scowled.
“Oh, my bad. I should be grateful that you helped me to escape from the clutches of one of your henchmen,” she glowered in response. “How kind of you!” she mocked as she began pacing slowly in front of the cell, her agitation levels clearly on the rise. “Tell me Nathan, what was your price? What made you turn your back on EVERYTHING you ever stood for?” she asked before swiftly adding “and don’t patronise me by claiming it was all in the name of revenge for something one man did. We both know there was something more, so what was it?”
Nathan shook his head slowly as he felt his strength return to him following his drink. He would not be goaded by the pathetic Trill before him but he would answer her question. Se had beat him after all, the least she deserved for that mean feat was the truth.
“My price, Captain?” he smiled as he watched her pace like a captive lion before him. “My price was relatively cheap. I wanted to see Starfleet suffer,” he revealed, “for years we tried to exert our will on others. Oh yes, we preach the prime directive and we try not to interfere… but only until it suits us.” Without realising it, he had begun to work himself up and was now mimicking her movements as he began to pace the cell. “Starfleet throws its weight around, trying to impose its will on people who have no interest in our mandate, in our philosophy. The people of the Gamma Quadrant don’t want to join the Federation! They don’t even like the Federation, but everyone in the Federation is so blinded by loyalty to the cause that they can’t see the damage they are causing,” he declared.
“Not quite everyone…” she responded quietly, having come to a standstill and glaring at him, a stance that caused him to do the same.
“No, not everyone,” he smiled. “My friends, they can see past the lies of the Federation. They know the insidiousness of the organization; they know that Starfleet needed to be stopped,” he revealed.
“Is that why you tried to seal the Wormhole?”
The former Captain was about to respond when he stopped and let out a cheeky smile, waving a finger at the commander of the Nogura. “Nice try Nilani, nice try,” he smirked as he returned to his seat at the back of the cell. “I have nothing more to say,” he declared.
“NO!” she exclaimed, stepping forward angrily. “No! You don’t get to take a vow of silence. You don’t get to dishonour the memories of the people you’ve killed, you sick… twisted bastard.”
“Sticks and stones Captain,” he smiled sadistically, “sticks and stones.”
“Not sticks and stones,” she frowned as she lifted her phaser from its holster and adjusted the power setting before pointing it at him, “more like phasers and burns.”
Nathan scoffed as he watched her movement. “Please! You expect me to think you’re going to shoot? Where would be the justice for the people I’ve hurt if you did that?” He slowly got back to his feet and tiptoed over to her until, as he had before, the nozzle of the phaser was planted in his chest. “You don’t have the guts, little girl,” he mocked.
“Maybe not,” she smiled as she lent in closer, their noses practically touching as she whispered, “but there’s only one way to find out,” and with that she swiftly brought up her right knee and connected with his genitals with such force that he instantly hit the deck, writhing in pain and clutching at his damaged self.
As he writhed, the Trill stood, towering over him with her weapon pointing at him again and for the first time, he looked nervous as her hand trembled and the weapon shook with it. Could she actually be capable of murder herself? But as scared as he was, he found himself smirking. “Go on Captain,” he whispered through the pain and writhing, “You want this, don't you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your phaser, use it. I am unarmed. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment that you let me live you betray those that I killed, so end it. Now.”
The Trill’s tattooed hand continued to tremble as she listened to his evil, twisted words and she found herself actually contemplating pulling the proverbial trigger…
"Yes, go ahead," another voice came from behind Nilani. Tara had just come to see Nathan only to find Nilani over him with a phaser, no doubt set to kill. "Go on, he deserves it, and I have no doubt that with the right explanation that you could get Internal Affairs to rule it a good shoot, but just consider the price it will exact from you. You'll probably lose any and all chances for further advancement in Starfleet, and regardless of his crime he is still a defenseless prisoner so you will likely suffer guilt... Are you really going to give him the satisfaction of becoming just like him? Are you really wiling to let him goad you into sacrificing so much?"
The Captain played the words over in her head, almost in a trance like state until it suddenly dawned on her - Tara was actually there. Why? Shaking off her dazed state, the Captain turned her head to look at her fellow Trill with curiosity and then back down at her prisoner. "You'd like that, wouldn't you? To feel the satisfaction that you had ruined yet another life," she chided, "No. Not this time. This time you go to prison. It might not be hell, but I'll do my utmost to make you wish it was..." and she lowered her phaser, taking a step back and across the threshold of the cell, slapping a hand to the wall and raising the force field once again as she holstered her sidearm.
"No, you don't need hell," Tara said as she stepped closer, her hands clasped behind her back in that old familiar manner as she looked down at Nathan. "As I understand it, he still isn't talking, or at least nothing of value, so... If he won't talk, then we don't give him anyone to listen to his self-destructive gibberish; just a small cell with no contact with another living being, day in and day out, slowly going mad until finally death truly is the only escape..."
"And even then, death will be too good for someone like you..." Nilani scoffed, turning away in disgust and heading for the exit.
"You may have captured me Captain," the man called after her, "but the Consortium lives on. I just hope you get to live long enough to witness their victory."
Tara looked to Nilani as she walked alongside her fellow Trill. "See, this is the gibberish no one needs to listen to," she said as though Nathan wasn't even there; she wouldn't validate his ramblings by acknowledging it directly. "It's a bit unpleasant, isn't it? Like an old dying razorcat yowling," she remarked.
Nilani and Tara exchanged glances as they departed and left their traitor behind. Gibberish and silence was all that remained.