“Are we going to have a drink together?” My speech is a little slurred. Probably the sedatives they gave me.
With a loud clang, the Amarr guard sets down a metal tablet next to my stretcher. On it a lemon, salt and a bottle of yellow tinted liquid. My neck hurts as I fight the restraints to see what is going on. The shot glasses are missing.
“I see the drugs didn’t hurt your humor.” The capsuleer smiles, seems satisfied. He is the one who shot me out of my Slasher yesterday and captured me. A Matari, probably Vherokior. A traitor fighting in the Amarr milita.
“Hello again Zone. That is your name, right? Mine is Hutomo Alatas, but just call me Hut, like all my friends do.” He comes over to my stretcher and shows a friendly smile. What a sick bastard.
“Thank you Sergeant, that is all for the moment.” he says over his shoulder. The guard leaves.
“Yes, we are going to have a little private party, my brother. Interrogations are so depressing. Let’s put a little fun into it.” A cold smile. “Whether it will be fun to YOU will depend on your attitude towards pain, however.” He smirks. “As you might have guessed it will be a little non-consensual.” His smile becomes a wide grin. His dark brown eyes sparkle in anticipation. Must be a pathological sadist. A total psycho.
“Don’t call me ‘brother’. You have no right to. You filthy boot licker! How can you fight for those who enslave our people? Do you know no loyalty to your own brothers and sisters?”
"Calm down. There is no insult you can hurl at me that I haven’t heard a thousand times before. You will not make me angry with nasty words."
He looks dreamily at the bottle. His eyes are a little reddened. Just fatigue or is he on drugs?
“This isn’t my favorite pastime either, brother. But like anything in life, I like to make this as enjoyable as I can muster.” He takes the bottle and opens it slowly, then suddenly takes a big gulp and quickly sets it down again.
“I can endure pain and your pervert little games. You will not make me speak. What can you do to me? I am a capsuleer too.”
“Oh sure, it doesn’t make sense to break your body when you have backup. I could break you mind… Trust me on this, I have done it before… But that’s not what I’m here for. I want to make you listen.”
“Spare me your stupid speeches! Do you really believe you can threaten a proud tribal warrior into submission to your slave masters? My people would spit in my face just as I want to spit into yours.”
“Yes, I know. That is a problem.” He comes close and puts his hand on my bare chest.
“Put your dirty fingers off me traitor!” I gasp. He just smirks again then suddenly pulls out a small throwing knife from somewhere. It is sharp and very pointy. He balances the ceramic blade between thumb and index finger.
I feel my face go pale and try to concentrate. He shall not see me flinch when he hurts me.
A sudden motion and the left side of my chest explodes in pain. I manage to catch my breath and look down. The bastard has cut my nipple cleanly in half. A small vertical gash through the whole areola that burns like hell. A small trickle of blood is seeking its way down my chest.
He studies his work. He must have done this many times before.
I gather my strength and speak slowly and as resolute as I can manage. "You … can … not … break me!"
The fucker gives me a fleeting smile and turns to the tablet. Cuts a lemon in half and holds it over my wound. I can’t help but watch how he squeezes. I see how the drop forms. PAIN. PAIN. Again PAIN.
I try to catch my breath and my senses again. I need to clear my thoughts. My eyes are so full of tears that I can’t see anymore. I blink until the tears run down my cheeks and I can see his ugly face again. He looks somberly into my eyes.
Then he takes the salt.
I will not simply endure this any longer. I scream as loud as I can and fight the restraints. I want to strangle this sucker. The restraints cut into my arms and neck. I can barely move a few centimeters. It hurts. I stop.
“Yes, … struggle! It warms your blood. Makes you more sensitive.” I feel my heavy breath, the pain in my chest has lessened.
“You need to listen. This is probably your last chance to listen and learn. Pain can clear the mind, make you think faster, make decisions quicker.”
He scatters the salt. PAAAAIN. It burns and burns…
This time it takes longer for me to recover my senses. I close my eyes as to not look into his hideous face again.
“Listen brother. We have at best a few days before you become useless as a prisoner and informant. Then my commander may kill you. Or order me and I will do it.”
He moves his mouth so close to my ear that I can feel his warm alcoholized breath. “You need to listen and learn.” His voice is only a whisper now. “You need to join us or you are lost.”
I just manage to groan back at him. This idiot really believes he is going to turn me with torture?
“I love you my brother. I want to save you.” I open my eyes again. He slowly and tenderly strokes his hand over my forehand. His fingers tremble a bit.
“The Republic will smash the Empire to pieces and free all the Matari tribes!”
“The Republic, the tribes? Tell me, where is this going? Everybody joins up? Do you envision all the tight-assed Caldari and the Amarr cowl whizzers to discover their tribal heritage, to let shamans paint them up? One big tribal love fest, hah! Or do you just fight for a Republic that is left alone in a corner of the universe to live happily ever after? And the big four respect their mutual borders and join up to
fight common foes. In what fantasy land is that going to happen?”
He bows his head over mine and stares into my eyes. "Open your eyes man! Open them much MUCH wider. The Amarr are probably not even the biggest threat to your silly Republic. Have you ever seen a Drifter battleship fight? And they are probably only the vanguard. Who knows what else lurks in Anoikis, around Caroline’s Star and beyond."
I feel relief as his disgusting face moves farther away again.
“Tribes, hah! When we humans face our real enemy we will need unity and we will need strength. We will need to be brutal and cunning. Cruel as only humans can be.”
“You sure live up to that part alright!” I snap at him angrily, but he doesn’t react.
“We are hanging off a cliff. The empyreans have given us more strength. But they have also weakened us. Separated us even more into baseliners and apparent demigods.”
He looks at me triumphantly. “Now, what do we need? What can unite us, bind us together, show us the path? Who knows how to rule, inspire loyalty, form a society, a social hierarchy that can survive and prosper? Not only for years or centuries, but for millennia. A a lasting cathedral to weather the storms to come. Erected of feeble humans, corrupt sinners with vain minds.” He takes the bottle again and drinks greedily.
His face becomes stern. “It is not only the Amarr who can lead. Tribalism, corporatism and even hedonism have their own impressive successes to show for. But only the Empire has a track record of millennia. About 15 of them as far as we know. Must be something about religion and strict social hierarchy that gives cohesion and stability.” He puts down the bottle and closes it.
“You are a disgusting monster. You justify your pervert actions with god. But you know nothing of humanity. Instead of compassion for your brethren, you only care about power, violence and cruelty.”
He nods, then tilts his head slightly as if to carefully gauge my words. “Yes, I am a monster. I was grown into one in the slums on Ammold IV. I am also one of my own making as I became a capsuleer and war fighter. We can not violate our fellow humans without becoming monsters. We have to bear that burden.” His face comes closer again. “What about you? Have you killed? Have you slaughtered?” I feel this evil demon grasping at my soul. I see a tear in his eye.
I clear my throat and speak up. “Yes, I have. Because it is the only way to freedom. We must fight and kill the slave masters and all that serve them. I believe it makes all the difference for whom, for what we fight.” Finally I can get back at him. My chest still burns, but I can overcome it. “Don’t you want to be free? How can you obey and submit to your Amarrian masters when you could breathe freedom instead?”
He flicks his middle finger against my cut nipple and I wince as the pain flashes up again. He keeps quiet while I try to concentrate. The moment I look him into the eyes he continues his lecture.
“Freedom? I am bound by many things. Most of them by my own choice. Loyalty, the orders of my commander, the rules of God and the Empire. My oath of retribution to those who killed my family. The stigma of being a Matari, a slave child fighting in the Amarr militia. The mindset of a slumdog.” His mouth twitches slightly.
“What are you bound by? Your militia, your tribe, your family, your superiors, your … tattoo?” He frowns. “Many things I am sure. Whether you realize or not.” He presses his lips together, then sips from the bottle again. His left eye twitches nervously.
"It sure sucks to be a slave - or a prisoner for that matter. You know what? It sucks to live in a slum in the Republic. To have to fight every day to earn enough respect to get your share of the scraps. Always to be on the watch to not get a knife between your ribs. I’m sure it sucks to work the mines or be a station rat too. How much freedom in that? There is plenty of coercion and bondage in the world."
He takes another sip and his head sinks slightly.
“Not that WE should complain. We are free of most of that. Not many freedoms exist that are unavailable to a capsuleer. What do we know about being a slave when we are so high above them. Why do you pity them so much? Do you REALLY care or is it just to make you feel better about your own pathetic self? The elusiveness of your silly ideals of freedom and tribal loyalty. The emptiness of your soul.”
I quietly moan as he speaks. My eyes fall on the bottle again and it is almost empty.
He notices. “It’s just to dull the pain a little. Prayers never worked that way for me, you know?”
“But time is almost up. Lets get to the crux of the matter. My commander will enter this cell soon - be it hours or be it days. She will ask you about what you know. She has lost loved ones to Matari warriors. And after killing many in return she is still looking for more retribution. Even the Faith can not soothe all the pain.”
He relaxes, his face truly calm for the first time. “My work here is done. Join us in the Reclaiming or go back to the forces of chaos from whence you came and be lost forever.” Reluctantly he stands up, ready to leave. “I hope you understand and can still turn around your life. I know it is incredibly hard to do so … in such a short time and in a prison cell. It would be a big sacrifice of almost all that you are and have stood for. To be saved at last. I do not have much hope for you brother, just the slightest shimmer it. But I love you as I love all my brethren and I needed to take the chance.” He bows slightly. “May His grace be upon you.”
Thanks to Daisha for the inspiration.