This is the final section of the tenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.
I'm really not sure what I was trying for came off here in this one. Part of the problem was it's supposed to be not clear and that's kind of why it is what it is. Not good, but experimental and fun to write.
The hood was pulled off Iz
Iz had expected to be blinded by the lights of the room but instead she just saw the inside of a dull dark cell.“Ah, good to see your face again” It was the Queen’s voice. It carried on “Yes I’m sorry about the cliche of the two way glass, but it’s so effective don’t you think? Sets the right mood.”
Iz looked at herself in the mirror in front of her. Her first reaction was she looked tired, more tired than she felt. Her hair was a mess which made sense because of the hood, but her clothes looked loose on her body. Except for around her arms and legs
The Queen’s voice carried on “I’ve got to say I’ve been impressed myself at how well the guards have been treating you. Normally they’re a bit more primal when it comes to my prisoners, but they’ve left you alone. Robbed me of some of my entertainment, but I guess you put them off with your little display earlier”
Iz had a good idea what the Queen was referring to. She suddenly felt a lot less guilty about the harm she had done to the guards in the Queen’s quarters.
“So!” It appeared the Queen liked the sound of her own voice “There’s something here that does not make sense. You’ve not been totally honest with me. That’s good I like a surprise, so let’s have one. I think you’re on some sort of the mission for the Habitat and this is all a way to find out more about what’s going down here”
“Actually” croaked Iz, shocked at the sound of her own voice which had changed, probably the dehydration she mused “It’s more of a mission for me to find out more about the Habitat. By understanding what it allows, by finding the fringes of society or it’s outcasts i was hoping to find out more about it”
“Wow, good story. Almost believable as the whole truth”
“I don’t want to be tortured for something I have no reason to keep a secret”
“Who mentioned torture?” the Queen’s voice sounded almost gleefully amused by this question
“You seem to be a fan of tradition and seem to enjoy pain, especially in others, it was an obvious deduction. So why suffer the pain? I know I’ll give in eventually, I have no nation or family to betray by any knowledge you’ll get from me so why not tell you everything?”
“Wouldn’t tradition also require your first words to be a lie though?”
“I’m not traditional, I believe you are.”
“And would you deny me my traditions?”
“If they involve me and pain, if I could save you the trouble I would.” Iz was really getting fed up of taking to her reflection.
The disembodied voice of the Queen continued “If I don’t have to work for the information why should I trust it”
“Because I have nothing other to give? Because under coercion I would say anything to get you to stop and then you’ll just have bad data.”
“Which brings me nicely to what I have in mind” the Queen laughed, humourless and dry “What I have in mind, oh that’s a good one. Yes what I have in mind is your mind. You see part of moving to the Habitat is that every citizen here has access to whatever technology any of humanity has ever had. Well it turns out a century or so ago some secret government project developed an interesting technology where one mind could be imposed on another. Very very useful for interrogation. Of course the Habitat’s rules on personal freedom meant that in any decent free society it could not be used, well except in certain fetish situations but we’ll ignore those. Here though no such rules apply.”
“And the Habitat gives you this technology knowing you’ll misuse it?”
“It’s our society, it allows us to run it mostly how we want to.” The Queen laughed again “I know it’s a real mess isn’t it?”
The door next to Iz opened and a young woman walked in.
“Of course” explained the queen “Every brain is different., but a younger more flexible brain was found to be more compatible.”
Iz noticed a number of electrodes attach themselves to her head and her spine. She swivelled her eyes and noticed the young girl plugging herself in “You don’t have to do this you know.”
“Yes I do,” replied the girl “My family is depending on it”
“But” Iz started her thought and found it replaced with “What are you, who are you why are you here?”
Iz yelped slightly, her mind was her own again “Whoa what was that, you know who I am” there was that scrambled feel again your thoughts not your own thoughts, very disorienting ... who are you no wrong question, wrong wrong wrong, who am I? who am I? who am I? who am I? ... “Iz” she was back to thinking for herself she screamed “Iz you stupid bitch.”
She felt guilty for a second seeing the look in the young girl’s eyes, then loosing control again ... sorry, no mustn’t say sorry, you must do as I say, no, I must do as I say, no wait.. you can hear me when I think? I don’t have to speak ... No, I mean yes I can hear you but I can make my thoughts your thoughts ... but you can’t read my mind ... no, only you know how your own brain is organised all I can do is stimulate yours and allow your brain to fetch the information, think of it as fishing ... I’m really fed up of people forcing things into my brain Damn I shouldn’t have thought that, think about ... what do you mean? Who’s been playing with your brain ... no-one ... so a thing has been in your brain? ... Yes you have don’t think about ... I know, oh damn I interrupted you then about to think who was in it, wait it wasn’t a who it was a what ... no-one I met .. you’re being evasive ... yes where the hell is it ... where is what? What has been in your brain and will be again soon? ... nothing. Stop thinking about it, think about something else. Thirsty. Think about something upstairs, think about the outside think about Martin, think about fields, thirsty, think about rabbits, think about that drone. where is that drone ... a drone has been inside you ... you’re too young to have thoughts like that ... this isn’t about me, and that wasn’t a no ... it wasn’t a drone no ... are we going to have to play twenty questions here? right what was happening to you in the room where you fought ... Iz had a feeling of the flash of the feeling of omnipitence and power that she had inherited ... Interesting ... Damn it thought Iz as long as she didn’t think about the shield ... you have a shield? Think about the shield ... Took over her body is it after something else? Thirsty. What does it want, no damn it two can play at this game what about you? ... I’m not important .. everyone is important, you been bullied or something you said your parents needed this? ... No that’s nothing to do with this ... Iz was back in control of her mind again but she had got an image of her interrogator’s parents being helpless before the queen ... That’s not true they’re free ... then why are they here? why not move to the rest of the Habitat? ... It’s not their fault, family is here ... Thirsty. Then what?
“Damn it will someone get this woman something to drink.” said her interrogator “She can’t think straight for that. You physically torture her and you torture me, I’m getting all the signals from her body’s deficiencies”
Iz waited while she was brought a drink. There was nothing she could do while she was strapped down here. She dare not think about her plans, dare not plan a way out. She needed to run interference until this woman got tired of her and had to break off. But they could work her in shifts too. For all she knew even if there wasn't anyone in the interrogator’s chair they could just switch her chair to be linked up to another in another room. As long as these electrodes were attached to her head she was vulnerable and she was in trouble. Ah the water was arriving, she drunk as much as she was allowed. Better she thought ... Good I’m glad you think so, now we were talking about this shield or something you called it ... No we were talking about your parents and why you are here against your will ... No the shield, the shield will save you, the shield will protect you the shield will get you out of here ... damn right. Damn shouldn’t have thought that ... No but it was what I expected. Now I’m guessing that it is embedded in your clothing, but since that’s all now in another room then it can’t really help you ... Iz was highly confused she was still wearing her own clothing she still had a chance.
“Thank you,” said the young girl “Guards you may want to strip her, the shield is embedded within her clothing”
“If you’re so scared of this thing, this shield then now is when it will have to activate to save its own attachment to me” for once Iz almost felt like laughing like the Queen. The guards came up to her and removed her from the chair. Iz struggled and fought against the four of them as they manhandled her out of the chair and began to strip her. Removed from the neural connections to the chair a memory came hot into her mind.
“No it’s still too soon. Your body hasn’t recovered.”
“I’m dead without you” thought Iz
“No” continued the memory “survive this for another ten maybe twenty minutes that’s all you need.”
“Damn you I should just tell them all they want to know”
“Do that and they will fully separate me from you, as long as they think you control me they’ll keep me nearby. That is your hope.”
“How the hell did they get this cursed technology” she thought to herself cursing the situation
“As they said, how else do you think we got the technology to meld with your mind like I am doing now.”
“Your connection to me is the same way theirs is using?”
“Exactly that’s how you control me”
“I don’t control you”
“That’s how you control me”
The conversation went silent as the belt was removed. Iz looked at her pile of clothes thrown in the corner. Naked she was strapped again into the interrogation chair.
“You know” said Iz “It’s an old trick to humiliate your captor, to at least try and make them feel exposed. It’s nothing new. You should probably try and rape me if you’re going textbook.”
“Oh none of the guards are brave enough yet after your last show.” came the Queen’s voice, she continued “Hopefully we’ll be able to break you down though, having frightened guards is not good in the long term”
“Well I think I” ... respect the Queen ... Iz glared at the young girl “Damn it will you stop that while I’m half way through a thought. I don’t even know your name.”
“Identity here is unimportant” commented the Queen
“I don’t know yours either”
“You know all that I care you to know and all that matters. Now tell me where you got this shield and what it will allow you to do.”
Damned if I know thought Iz, well speed and some sort of forcefield ... You’re lying you don’t know that ... I was told it was ... Yes, but you’ve never used it for that ... Why do you do this? ... Why are you here? ... to learn, to prove a point ... a point, to a friend? ... to myself. To the world ... That you’re good enough, that you can do things no others can? How pathetic ... I agree that would be, I’m trying to prove the Habitat wrong ... So again you wish to take on a force stronger than that of Man, you wish to challenge the god of modern times ... I never called it a god, I called it arrogant and dangerous and a problem ... Yet you serve it ... I do not serve it, it serves me .. Then why are you here trying to destroy us ... I’m not, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, possibly save all of mankind ... You think the Habitat is a threat to all humanity? ... Well why else would it do this? Why is it building all these things both here and in the asteroid belt? ... For us, Damn no this is not the question, why are you here? ... I tell you because the Habitat is up to something and it’s not just in the belt, it’s building near the sun. ... Really? No you’re supposed to answer me, what are you doing here, why do you want to destroy us? ... I don’t.
“Enough” cried the girl “She’s telling the truth she’s not here to destroy us, she’s not here on a mission from the Habitat, she’s just here for herself. maybe she has some help from the Habitat but if she is on some mission then she’s being used and not aware of it.”
“I say when enough is enough.”
“I’ve nothing more to get out of her. She is what she is and I know she’s not here to hurt us intentionally as much as if it were me.”
“You will go back in and work her down.”
“There is nothing else there. That shield unit of hers is almost as much a mystery to her as it is to us. It has some form of intelligence itself, but she knows no more, they have kept it from her”
“Remove the girl then. Guards, the intruder is helpless and yours” The Queen sounded almost gleeful “Please make it entertaining.”
“You want some popcorn with that?” asked Iz watching the guards coming towards her “Come on you’re not going to wait for the girl to leave?”
“Educational I would say” replied the Queen’s voice.
Iz felt the probes that were attached to her head withdraw themselves. At least her head was free to move even if the rest of her body was clamped down. She tried kicking her legs but they were strapped at the ankle. The first guard approached her and removed her chest strap. She tried reaching forward with her now freed head to bite or head-but any of the chest's of the guards. Laughter came in response. To each side of her a guard appeared removing her hand from the wrist clamp lifting her up by the arms so that two more could grab her ankles. Freed from her chair she thrashed around trying to free one of the guards grip.
“Oh this looks like a first timer” laughed the guard holding her right arm.
“It’s been some time” replied the left leg.
Iz felt herself lifted up and being carried away from the chair where she had any hope of getting some purchase. Come on she thought, the shield must intervene soon. Can it do that? Does it need to be attached to me to be powered. Is it too far away? She looked at her pile of clothes in the corner and winced, there was no way she’d be able to reach over there with where she was being carried.
Think, thought Iz, how could she get over there. She felt herself weightless for a moment as all the guards dropped her at the same time, laughing to themselves as her back pounded on the floor. Freed for a second she scrambled around into a crawling position trying to get towards the shield belt.
“Oh I think she’s starting to like it” laughed one of the guards, Iz believed it was right arm guard “Kinky”
Iz felt a foot placed either side of her leg and guessed what was going to happen next. With that she spread her legs as fast as she could. Her ankles caught each of the guard’s legs and knocked him off his feet. With this Iz spun around so that she was lying on her back and with a swift kick extended her middle leg so that she kicked between the now prone guard’s legs.
A scream filled the room but even if that guard was disabled she still had three more to take out. On her arms she dragged herself forward to the next guard and took a deep bite out of the guard’s leg.
“Bitch!”came the guards voice. The two unharmed guards laughed at this
“Wait.” asked Iz hearing the bitten guard’s voice “You’re female?”
The bitten guard hopped briefly n her injured leg “Takes all kinds bitch.” and kicked Iz in the stomach to punctuate.
Iz curled up briefly in a ball nursing her injuries. No, no time for that they’re coming back towards me she thought. She felt the two uninjured guards opening her up and positioning her on the floor. Just as one was getting himself prepared she made one last kick against the readying guard knocking him off his feet and the rebound from this propelling Iz towards the pile of clothing in the corner of the room. The last remaining uninjured guard and the first one nursing his crotch strided towards her. She reached within the pile of her clothing and found the belt underneath.
As her hand touched it a memory flooded to her “Sorry, safety feature, I am deactivated when I’m not in contact with a person”.
Before she had time to think a response she felt that slightly familiar feeling of losing control of her own body. She felt her legs and back muscles start to work and lift her upright.
“I can’t speed up the thought process for you this time. That would break your body again and we have too much to do. I can however use your body to defend itself.”
Iz was now standing upright facing her first attacker. Her hands were out of her control strapping the belt on . The guard advanced and she felt her leg muscle bunch swinging up and kicking the guard on the chin. The inertia from this caused her upper body to swing backwards but her hands were still busy fastening the belt. She realised she was completely out of balance and her head was about to hit the floor as her spin from her kick left her upside down. Strange that it's now she should notice the girl tucked up in the corner. They had planned for her to watch to learn a lesson on the need to be controlled. Not sure what this would teach her but Iz was sure she'd remember it.
Finally her hands were freed from fastening the belt and flicked down just in time to catch her fall, feeling like her muscles were on the edge of snapping as they absorbed her fall with a kick from her left leg against the back wall she sprang back with her right leg kicking the next charging guard. She landed upright and had a moment to check out the situation. The female guard who had kicked her in the stomach was re-grouping herself with the one remaining standing guard. The two who she had just kicked in their faces were not out of it, but still lying prone. The female guard and the standing guard both finally - why did she think finally questioned Iz to herself - removed their truncheon from their belts and slowly walked towards Iz holding a defensive posture.
Iz looked towards the young girl still in the corner “Learning anything yet kid?”
The male guard with the truncheon interrupted before the girl could answer “Yeah, it helps to have machines on your side” and swung at Iz with the truncheon.
Don’t fail me now thought Iz trying to will the thought at the shield as her hand reached to catch twist and redirect the force of the swing. With a grab and a sidestep she was able to tug the truncheon out of the Guards hand.
“Thanks” said Iz, adjusting her hold on her new weapon.
Whilst she was saying this the female guard was swinging for her. Iz quickly swapped the truncheon into her left hand and used it to block the swing. The room echoed with the smack of hollow carbon on carbon.
The guard looked at Iz almost as if she were trying to work out what to do next. Iz took the chance to take a deep breath and work out her exit strategy. The two guards who she had disabled earlier with the face kicks were pulling themselves up and she realised if she didn’t act fast she’d be back to facing four guards again rather than the one and a half she had at the moment.
“Can’t you help me more” Iz thought to the shield.
“Not as much as you want no,” came the memory “I can guide your hands in certain ways but to take full control of your body takes its toll so I have to leave you to handle most of this. I can give you muscle memory of being a skilled fighter but nothing more.”
So much for my saviour thought Iz. She saw permanently taking out the two prone guards as her first target so jumped towards them aiming to have her foot land square in their chests in order to wind them for long enough to take them out of contention. As she jumped forwards and her foot headed towards the first guard she realised she had jumped too hard and her landing point would not be the guard’s chest, but his neck as she tried to move it out of the way her foot would not change its course and her heal landed first square on the neck of the first guard then her next foot on the neck of the second guard accompanied by a crunch and a gagging sound.
“Damn you” thought Iz “I wasn’t trying to kill them”
“You haven’t” came the reply “they’ll live”
“You didn’t have to change my attack”
“I thought you were chickening out of what had to be done. Don’t blame me, it’s a perfectly natural human reaction to not want to hurt others.”
Iz now faced the two guards who were fully mobile one disarmed the other fully armed and now charging towards her. Iz moved her legs to brace herself and jammed the truncheon forwards first to knock the oncoming attacking baton sideways then to jam the truncheon into the stomach of the charging guard. The inertia of the guard remained coming towards her and so as the guard impacted her chest she rolled onto her back legs jammed again into the guards stomach and flung the guard into the wall behind her.
“Why do you mooks only ever attack one at once, you’d be far better off all charging me together” Iz looked at the remaining guard realising she was led on the floor completely vulnerable to attack, muscles aching and barely able to move “Come and get me then. No please do, a clean sweep would be about right. And what about you Queen, go on order him in.”
Iz waited in the silence, waited for some response when none came she carried on “thought so, now get the hell out of here” the guard and the girl both ran leaving her in the room by herself.
Iz pulled herself to standing and started over into the corner to retrieve her clothes.
“No time for that now” came the memory “You need to get out of here before they get back with guns”
“I’m not running through here naked.” she said to the room at large
“Then you’re leaving here dead, now run. Fast” Iz thought for the moment it was the shield that had dropped this in as a memory but realised it was the Queen gloating from behind the mirror “yes run, run”
Iz scooped up her clothes in her arms and bolted out of the door.