The Dark Stripped Bare 2

The world came alive in fragments of pain and confusion. Someone was trying to lift my head and I felt water dribble down my chin.

“You need to drink.” A female voice said. There was a hint of annoyance in her words.

I tried to open my eyes but they were gritty, sticky and not co operating. I was aware that I was in pain, that my face ached and my head pounded but it was all still very distant. I felt some water trickle down my throat and realised I was very thirsty. I stopped fighting against the person trying to get me to drink and swallowed the small amounts of water gratefully. She laid my head back down and spoke to someone else in the room.

“He used too much feynoxinol. She’s dehydrated from vomiting so much. I told him to go easy on that stuff.”

It was a man who answered. “Captain said she would fight and she did. She’s stronger than she looks.”

“I suppose someone thought smashing her face would help with that?”

The man snorted. “You can complain to the Captain about that, he hit her. No messing about either, just POW and she went down like a drunken Rodian. He wasn’t kidding about her abilities though, she damn near incapacitated Brit when she kicked him in the groin.”

“No need to ask who hit her a second time I guess.” She said with a sigh. “Brit’s temper needs to be checked. What’s the Captain’s deal with her anyway?”

I managed to get my eyes to open but everything was a dim blur. The room I was in was brightly lit, the light hurt and all I could make out were the shapes of the two people speaking.

The man shrugged. “Dunno actually. He says she has vital information about the Imps and that monster but I think it’s personal. He wants her up and talking by tonight.”

The woman barked a laugh. “What the hell does he think I am, a doctor? She’s had the crap beaten out of her, she’s been doped on feynox for days. She’s dehydrated and lucky to be alive. She needs to heal. What does he think this is, some Imperial interrogation Center? If the General finds out about this he’ll go ballistic.”

“Look, I got no idea what the deal is, all I know is he wants her talking.”

She sighed. “Who is she anyway?”

“Don’t know that either but judging from that dress, she’s part of the Imperial Court. Brit said she was at some fancy to do for Fete Week and with some Imperial Naval officer when she got to the flat, maybe she’s one of the palace girls, they hear all kinds of stuff.”

“What happened to him, the Imp she was with?”

“No idea, he wasn’t with her in the apartment.”

The woman sighed. “Glad I am not in her shoes, but seriously Dag, she needs time to heal. I can’t give her any more medication till the feynox is out of her system, can’t mix feynox with a truth teller. I won’t be responsible for her death.”

The man named Dag made a grunting noise. “That’s between you and the Captain, Valdia, and I wouldn’t cross him. He’s not been the same since Rothana.”

“What the blazes happened there anyway?” she asked.

“No idea, but he lost good people on that little trip.” Dag said angrily. “Came back changed and won’t say a word about it either.”

Valdia shook her head. “What ever it is he better deal with it, it’s eating him up and not doing us any good. We ain’t the Empire, and he’s been a real pissant to work with.” She said angrily.

“Better you tell him than me, then.” Dag grunted. “I’m going for lunch, see you later.”

I heard him leave, open then close a door that sounded metal and heavy. She sighed again and turned back to me. She had a wet cloth in her hand and she used it to try and clean up some of the blood that had dried and caked on my face. Her touch was light but it hurt anyway. I moaned in pain.

“I’m sorry who ever you are.” She said sadly.

I opened my eyes again and looked at her. My vision was clearing more and more. She stopped what she was doing when she caught me looking at her. My left eye was very swollen.

“Where am I?” I croaked. My mouth was dry and my throat was very sore.

“Safe.” She said but she didn’t sound very convincing.

“How long have I been out for?” I asked.

She shook her head. “I don’t really know.”

“What day is it?” I asked.

She told me and I closed my eyes again. I had been gone from Coruscant for four days. I had lost four whole days.

“How do you feel?” she asked.

I told her.

“It’s the side effects of the sedative they gave you. Should ease off in a day or so then you won’t feel so nauseous. I can’t give you anything for the pain though, feynox doesn’t mix well with anything else out there and we don’t have any bacta bandages for your face.” She was lying about the bandages. “You need to drink water, you are very dehydrated. I’ll leave a jug and glass by the bed for you. You probably won’t be eating much for another twenty four hours, though; you’ll just throw it up. I’ll arrange for you to have some soup or broth later. There is a ‘fresher in the corner of the room, just a chemical toilet I’m afraid, and a small sink for wash-up, don’t drink the tap water it’s recycled and not potable.”

I nodded slowly to show I understood. She adjusted the blanket someone had tossed over me. I was freezing cold and shivering.

“Look, I don’t know who you are or why the Cap’n wants you here but do as he asks. He’s a good man but he doesn’t mess about if you know what I mean.” She said getting up. “You should try to sleep some more.” She added.

I nodded to that as well and watched as she left the room. The lights went off after she had left and the door has shut. I sighed. The room was very dark with only a small amount of light sneaking under the door. I didn’t want to move, it just hurt too much. Instead I lay as still as I could and tried to put all the pieces of the conversation I had over heard together. The slow sickly sensation of knowing who might be behind all of this wormed its way through my brain but I didn’t want to believe it. I did as the woman named Valdia suggested. I closed my eyes and slipped back into a restless, dream filled slumber.

I woke to the sound of muted arguing. The voices were coming from outside the room I was in; one was female and the other male. I had no idea how long I had been sleeping for. Time shifted forward in a sneaky way. I had woken up several times disoriented and scared only to slip back into the oblivion. This time I did not go back to sleep. I tried, slowly to sit up.

My head still ached but the fierceness had subsided. It took me a moment of deep breathing to get past the dizziness that hit me. I looked for the water and was grateful the glass had been filled. I wasn’t sure my shaking hands could actually hold the jug steady enough to pour. I sipped the water slowly and began to take stock of where I was.

The room was dark but my eyes had adjusted to it. There was enough light sneaking in from under the door that I could make out shapes and size. It was a tiny room, and true to Valdia’s word there was a chemical toilet in the far corner next to a small sink. There were no windows. I was on a small camp cot and that was the only furniture in the room. There was nothing else. I touched the wall beside the bed and noted its smooth texture. Bi-state memory plastic. This structure was temporary. I wondered exactly where here was, with a structure that could be collapsed at a moment’s notice, chemical toilets and recycled non drinkable wash water, I was betting this building was not on a planet but maybe an asteroid or something like that. It was just a guess but it was a place to start.

I was about to try and get up and see if standing was something my legs would let me do when the light came on and the door opened. I noted that the light switch was on the outside of the door and not on the inside. The light was brilliant and hurt my eyes enough that I had to shut them and I didn’t see who it was that came in. I heard the door close and footsteps come to stand in front of me. I squinted up at the man standing in front of me. I couldn’t see his face clearly.

“Hullo Mouse.” Said a voice I never thought I would hear again.

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