I couldn’t hold my head up anymore, at least not for any measurable amount of time. After Tasha left, the Blood Raiders took over the efforts to convince me to give up the data. I continued to refuse to talk to anyone but Tasha. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. I did a lot of talking, because at some point everyone does. I just didn’t tell them what they wanted to know.
They had worked around the ropes cutting off the sleeves of my flight suit. There were long, blood filled furrows, everywhere my skin was exposed. I lost count of the slaps and punches. Each strike had been delivered with expert precision, maximizing pain and minimizing damage. So far they were avoiding my face, no doubt in an attempt to keep me from passing out. I did not know how long this torture had been going on, but we had to be getting close to the data release deadline.
When Tasha finally returned she motioned to the raiders and they scurried out the door leaving the two of us alone. I pulled myself together enough to look up at her. She was smiling again and shaking her head.
“You are always so hard headed. Why don’t you just tell me what I want to know? I can put you out of your misery then. Let’s face it hon, that is what you need. You have always been so broken and needy. I thought I was doing you a favor, really,” her voice was soothing and honest. Her words were like being slapped in the face with a silk covered hammer. She knew how to hurt me with words more than any of the pain I had suffered over the last few hours. She had always been a master of that.
“I just want answers.” I choked out the words. The hours of screams had dried out my throat. She walked over and got a glass of water then helped me drink it. When I was finished she put the water down on the little silver tray next to the chair and picked up a bloodied scalpel.
She sat down on my lap straddling my legs. Her face held that beautiful smile that always made me want to melt. The one that I would just fall into because it made me feel like everything was perfect. She grabbed a handful of my hair and pulled back my head. The smile never left her face.
She leaned forward, placing her face softly against mine and whispered into my ear, “I am really going to miss you baby. I’m glad we had this chance to see each other one last time.” As the last sweet word left her lips she took the scalpel and cut along the opposite side of my face. I screamed as it sliced deep along my cheek. She laughed and rubbed against me.
My mind burst into an animal-like panic. Pain seared my skin and the ropes held me down. I had to get free. Through the fright a cool voice in my head demanded that I calm down. If I did not control myself I would never know the answers. I rubbed my bloody cheek against hers. She responded with a little purr.
I dropped my voice to a low sexy whisper and said, “Just explain all of this to me baby, and I promise I will give you what you want.”
She stood and put the scalpel back on the table.
“I had a deep spiritual experience Laka.”
“You never believed in god, Tash.”
“Are you going to let me tell this story?” she asked, and then started pacing back and forth in front of me. I waited in silence as the blood flowed down my face.
“Once we graduated from training I did some odd flying jobs. You know, just trying to make some startup money. Then one day I lost my first pod. I woke up in the clone bay and I knew something had changed. It was like I was on the verge of some great discovery but I just couldn’t put my finger on it, you know?”
She stopped and stared at me until I nodded my understanding.
“So I kept going out and blowing myself up. I did it for hours until I was mentally exhausted. When I didn’t have the energy to pull myself into a pod anymore I rented a room. I had these vivid dreams and when I woke up I knew the answer. Laka, there is no God. We are the Gods!” She bounced up and down with the excitement of her revelation to me. I smiled and nodded, trying to fake some level of understanding.
“Don’t you understand? We can do what we want. I did anything that was necessary to get what I wanted. I felt dirty of course, at least at first. It didn’t matter though; I was always one exploding pod away from a clean body. My clones are as free from sin as the day I was scanned into the database.” She turned and absentmindedly picked up the scalpel.
“What about the Blood Raiders, Tasha?” I asked, as I tried to keep her talking and distracted.
“Omir’s power and resources was the last thing I needed. He leads an army of fanatics dedicated to my cause. His people believe that the blood of clones is the most pure. Of course it is! I offered him a way to increase the number of clones in the universe to virtually everyone, instead of a select few. Soon he will have so much blood and power no leader will rival him. I will be aligned with the most powerful man in the galaxy.”
“All you have to do is complete your research,” I whispered, as I realized how insanely evil she was.
“Exactly,” she said, beaming ear to ear at her new student as she walked over and slid the scalpel down my arm. I whimpered a little louder than I needed to and watched a shiver of pleasure travel over her body.
“And when I can offer everyone in the galaxy a viable clone I will be the wealthiest and most powerful little God in the known universe,” she said, as she sat back down on my lap facing me again.
I leaned over and pressed my lips against hers. She kissed me back hard, forcing her tongue into my mouth. When she pulled away I asked, “Why couldn’t I be in this with you? You know how much I love you.”
With a bitter laugh she said, “I gave you a choice. You chose your moral standards over me. You stayed on that station and defended Geklov’s people instead of coming with me. It was a test to see if you were capable of the spiritual enlightenment. No matter how much I love you, you picked them over me!”
It all made sense to her. She loved me and it was ok that she had used me, tried to kill me, and was now torturing me for information I had offered to give her for free. She was so smart, beautiful, and totally insane. These were the best answers I was going to get. Even in the end, no matter how dead I became on the inside she could still hurt me.
I didn’t know how much time had passed. I needed to distract her for as long as I could. I leaned my head in to kiss her again, but this time she pulled away. So I kissed up her chest instead. She tilted her head back and let out a sigh as she pushed the blade of the scalpel all the way into left bicep until the metal handle hit my flesh. She slowly started flexing it back and forth. I let out a scream with the initial cut, and little moans each time the blade moved. She laughed with delight each time I made a sound.
“God, I am going to miss you baby. I promise to drag this out as long as I can.”
“Don’t you want to know where the data is?” Panic squeezed at my throat. She was having such a good time torturing me that she might accidently kill me.
“Oh, yes I suppose we should take care of that first.”
It was then that an explosion ripped into the adjoining room and gunfire filled the air. I could hear members of the Amarr defense force calling out for the people in the room to surrender. Tasha jumped off of me and ran for the door. I set there until one of the marines came in and cleared the room. He pulled out a knife and cut me free from the chair.
“You ok, Ma’am?”
I love marines. “Yes, I’m ok.” He helped me up, and even though I felt a little wobbly I was able to stand. I could see Jaz and Vicky through the doorway talking to some of the station police. Tasha and two Blood Raiders were against a wall being frisked. I stepped toward the door to the living room when all hell broke loose again.
I dove to the floor as more Blood Raiders spread into the living room. Bullets ripped into the doorframe above me and shards of wood filled the air. The marine jumped over me into the smoke filled room. Within seconds the showdown was over. I looked up to see Tasha, running toward the kitchen as the few remaining participants in the shootout continued to empty their guns.
I crawled into the living room to see a mess of downed troopers and raiders. Vicky and Jaz were near an overturned table helping a young marine. I stood grabbing a gun from the floor and dashed toward the kitchen, adrenalin helping mask the pain in my legs. The smoke was clearing through a private door in the kitchen that opened into the access hallway.
I stuck my head out in time to see Tasha make a right turn at the end of the corridor. I heard someone call my name, but I didn’t look back. My soul purpose left in this life was to get to Tasha and end this. I sprinted down the hall after her, slowed by my beaten body and blood loss. I rounded the last corner to find her waiting for a private lift not far from the public one I had come up in from the hanger. Lucky for me it wasn’t there yet.
“Drop your gun and turn around,” I yelled.
She turned slowly, but kept a tight hold on her pistol. She faced me, bringing the gun level with my chest.
Never in my life would I have thought our relationship would come to this. It was then I felt the doubt start to sink into my skin. I didn’t think I could shoot her. I franticly turned to the part of me that was a cold killer. But the pirate was just as tired as I was, and loved her too. Maybe it was time for both of us to rest.
Tasha leaned forward as though she was going to tell me a secret, “You know what I hate most about you Lakasha?”
I shook my head no.
“You always want to be the hero.”
Without a thought I let my gun drop to the floor. I watched her arm tense as she pulled the trigger. Her shot went wide and tore into my arm near my shoulder as her head exploded into vapor and a hole the size of a fist appeared in her chest. Confused, I stumbled forward and stared down at her decapitated body lying on the floor.
Vicky Jackson, you are an enemy of the Amarr State, drop you weapon and wait for security detainment.
Jazzmen Barnes, you are an enemy of the Amarr State, drop you weapon and wait for security detainment.
The alarms were going off. I realized someone was shaking me and pulling my arm. I looked over to see Vicky yelling something at me. The lift had arrived and Jaz was standing in the doorway trying to keep it from leaving. After a few more shakes and a rough grab at my shredded arm I followed Vicky inside. I took one more look at what was left of Tasha as the doors closed.
Vicky kept trying to talk to me. She was concerned that I had lost too much blood. Something about that struck me as funny and I started laughing. Jaz spent the lift ride bitching about how long it was going to take her to raise her security status. All I could think was I should probably shoot myself, but I didn’t know where my gun was.
When the lift opened Jaz ran out toward the hanger. I slid down the wall to the floor as the room started to spin. I fell into the vortex of thoughts that I had managed to keep at bay for days. I struggled to breathe as the universe collapsed on top of me.
The next thing I knew Vicky was on her knees in front of me. She cupped my chin in her hands and pulled my head up so I was looking into her face.
“I know you have been through a lot. Please, for us, come on! Let’s just get out of here and we can figure it all out together.”
Vicky was my friend. She was a Hellcat, and she needed me to get up and go. I held on to that thought as best I could as I tried to stand up. Vicky slid her arm under my left side and helped pull me off the floor.
Once we got to my pod she stood there and waited for me to plug in and close the canopy. From there on out it was all instinct. The pod launched into space and I set my destination to Vit. With any luck I would die before I got there.