Inquisitor 28: My name is Ellinor Sevin
Greetings the internet, this is a fluff piece that follows Robin’s character in my I28 chronicle. It’s quite the chunk of writing weighing in at around 3000 words or something, so settle in, pour yourself an amsec and enjoy – Martin
More concerned with what was behind than in front, she ran headlong into someone with an ‘uff’ and fell heavily onto her rump, dropping her pistol which clattered away from her across the decking. The man had stepped onto the walkway out of a hatch that she hadn’t noticed in her haste to be away from the red men in the Room with their implements and questions and pain and questions, and always the questions and the pain.
She stared up at him, not knowing whether to try and get past him, as she still had her knife clutched in bloody fingers, or flee back the way she had come, but that would take her back to the red men in the Room, and this man seemed more surprised than angry like the red men, and he wasn’t red, he was, if anything an ‘uncolour’ he was pale all over, his hair was silver-white, his skin alabaster, his eyes, were such a pale grey almost to be white. It was as if he had been bleached from head to foot, even his clothes were pale, he looked like an old pict, that had been left in the sun for too long, or a projection from a failing holo-unit, if she had seen him, she may still have run into him he looked so ethereal she would be mistaken for thinking him some apparition haunting the corridors of this ship, or station or wherever she had escaped to.
As she sat on the deck, she noticed the blood she had left on his chest when she had slammed into him. An irrational feeling of guilt surfaced at that, the shirt had been so lovely and white, and now it was ruined. A sob bubbled up out of her, and she began to cry, the tears carving clean tracks through the dirt and blood on her face.
“Please help me Mister.” she whimpered, reaching out to him, then snatching her hand back as she realised that she had smeared more blood on the hem of his coat.
“I’m sorry I got blood on you!” She wailed “Please don’t send me back to the room!”
Hey crying had attracted the attention of some more men, she shied away from these as they turned onto the walk way to investigate the source of her shrieking. But these were just ordinary men, not red men, both wearing grubby green overalls and forge caps, workers of some sort, they both looked at the Pale man with quizzical concern on their faces. The Pale man shrugged at them. The red men would not be long behind her, she knew, she needed to move, but she was so tired, she just wanted to curl into a ball and sleep. Now that she had stopped moving she wasn’t sure if she could go any further. She looked back up at the Pale man, huge blue eyes, wet and raw, imploring him to help her.
The Pale man took a step towards her, making her flinch, she held up the knife involuntarily as she scrambled backwards against a bulkhead. He held his hands up, palms open to show that he didn’t mean her any harm, slowly sunk to one knee and reached down to pick up her pistol from where it had fallen. He held his other hand up to the green men indicating that they should come no further all the while keeping his pale eyes on her face, a reassuring smile arranged itself around his month, transforming his face, he now resembled a friendly neighbour or favourite uncle, utterly trustworthy, she felt herself relax slightly, the tension of her ordeal began draining out of her through the metal grille of the decking.
“That’s it.” He said, “Calm down, no one will hurt you now” His voice was educated and urbane, smooth like oiled silk. He deftly clicked the safety on the pistol back on and held it out to her, dangling by the finger guard. “Take it Sweetling,” he cooed to her, “it’s yours and I won’t keep it from you.”
She reached out and snatched the pistol from him, leaving more blood on his fingers where their hands had briefly touched.
“Thank you.” she said in a small voice, as she held the knife and pistol tightly to her chest and tried to get her crying back under control.
“And sorry again.” She looked guiltily at his hand, “for the blood I mean. I didn’t mean to do that and I’ll… I’ll…make it up to you… I’ll…” her voice trailed away into uncertainty, but the pale man shrugged as if to say that it was of little account.
“I know you will Sweetling, but let’s not worry about that for now.” His calm tone reassured her, and his face was full of paternal concern. “What has befallen you?”
The question set her to crying again, the huge grief stricken sobs of a lost child. She sobbed not because of what she had been through, though that was ordeal enough, but because she did not know how she had come to this pass. She remembered waking suddenly to pain and questions and the Room and the red men, but as to how she had gotten there she could not say. She had no memory older than that rude awakening and was as far as she could tell, no more than seven hours old and most of that time had been spent in the Room, secured to a cold hard table undergoing the rough interrogation of the red men.
“Who sent you?”
“Why did you assassinate the Administrarch?”
“Who do you work for?”
“What did you hope to gain?”
“Who are you?”
Their questions went round and round, always punctuated by a stab of pain. There had always been four of them in the Room, one would question her, while another operated a machine whose sole purpose appeared to be creating spasms of pain in the subject as the operator turned dials on its face. There had been cables leading from the machine to the table which she had been secured to with steal rings round her arms, legs, waist and neck, holding her immobile so that the torture machine could work its dark purpose. The other two men had been guards who had both stood by the door watching as she had screamed and writhed against her restraint. The guards who had changed regularly during the hours of her interrogation all had the same look in their eyes, that look had said that they thought she deserved to be here, whatever they thought that she had done, those men had been pleased that she had been caught.
She would catch snatches of their conversations as she swam in and out of consciousness. The would talk about her, and she had realised, that something had gone wrong and they were starting to panic.
“…gone, I told Franklyn already!” an exasperated voice had said at one point, “look at the readouts, her neural signature has completely changed!”
“Don’t give me that Coll, you nearly had it! Get it back! Now!” The second voice had been high pitched and querulous.
“I can’t Fipps! It’s gone! Look!” She had heard a moments furious typing, then “See!?”
“That cannot be correct, her neural signature has completely changed”
“I just bloody well said that Fipps, you… Hold on, she’s awake” there had been a pause as the machine operator came back into her field of vision, she had felt such terror then as she realised what was to follow.
“Subject: L.7. Regained consciousness, time-mark twenty-eight-oh-three-four-delta. Resuming interrogation.”
She had begun pleading then, begging them not to hurt her anymore. She had told them that she didn’t know anything, she didn’t know who this Administrarch was, she didn’t know who had killed him, or what they hoped to gain, or any of that other stuff. But all her pleading fell on deaf ears, and her hopes of an escape from the pain were dashed with the hum of the machine powering up. Her pleas had turned to screams then with the return of the pain and the questions, none of which she could answer because she knew nothing, nothing at all.
“I don’t know” She said in a tiny voice once she had her sobs under control again. “I don’t know why they did that… I mean, they shouldn’t have done that… But they did and I don’t know why… I don’t know anything…” Her slim body shuddered as a racking series of sobs burst involuntarily from her chest, and she fell silent again, not trusting her body not to betray her again should she continue to speak.
“Hush now Sweetling, it okay” She found the Pale man’s soothing tone reassuring, and calmed a little in response. “They really have done a number on you, haven’t they my dear?” he said sadly. He reached out slowly to stroke her hair and she pressed herself back against the cold hard metal of the bulkhead, humping her head as she flinched away from him. She grimaced at the pain in her skull, and favoured him with an apologetic smile. The Pale man sat back on his heels and regarded her with his grey-white eyes.
“Where have you come from child?”
“A ship… I think”
“And this is where ‘They’ had you?
“Yes” She liked these questions. She knew the answers. The Pale man would be pleased that she could answer them and he wouldn’t hurt her. Absurdly, her smile became bright and a small giggle escaped her lips. The Pale man blinked at that.
“How did you get away?” She felt her smile die, and her mouth became a tight line.
“I… Escaped…” She said. How to explain how she had achieved that feat, she didn’t truly understand it herself.
Her escape had been a surprise to her as much as to the Red men. She did not know how it had happened, but her body had acted on its own, without her conscious thought. It had happened when she was being removed from the table in the Room. The one named Franklyn had arrived to question her, he had arrogantly stated that he did not wish to interrogate her while she was shackled to a table, the one named Coll had advised against removing her restraints, but the one named Fipps had overruled him, saying something about her current state, he had laughed scornfully at her as she lay limp in her restraints, barely hearing their conversation.
The two guards had removed the clamps securing her to the table, and hauled her roughly to her feet. She had tried to resist them, feebly struggling in their meaty hands until the one holding her left arm had cuffed her round the face so hard she had been ripped her clean out of his partner’s grip.
Her body’s response was immediate. While her ears had still been ringing from the blow, her right hand lashed out on its own, connecting claw-like fingers to the side of the guard’s eye socket with a crack. At first she hadn’t understood what the dull impact had been, assuming that she had fallen and stuck her hand on the floor, the cracking noise must have been her fingers breaking, they must have been very badly damaged given the amount of blood which had been coating them. But the screaming she heard hadn’t been coming from her, and there had only been pain in her face from the guard’s fist, not in her fingers. It had been then that she realised that the guard that had struck her was screaming on the floor, boot heels drumming as he clutched his face, blood oozing freely though his fingers. There had been a moment of shocked stillness in the room, during which time the three robbed interrogators and the remaining guard stared horrified at the guard on the floor and she stared horrified at something soft and warm clutched in her blood-slick fingers. The moment was broken when the second guard had made a grab for her, her body had swayed her out of his reach, and her hands had delivered a flurry of blows to his ribs and knocked him unconscious with a brutal elbow to the temple. Fipps and Coll came at her together casting recriminations at each other, both attempting to grapple her to the ground. Fipps got to her first grabbing her flimsy robe with his slender fingers, her hand had reached up and snapped his thumb with a jerk, forcing a high-pitched shriek from his lips. Her body had twisted and thrown Fipps into Coll’s path as he came on, tripping him. As he fell forwards, her hands reached up, her fingers formed fists in his hair, assisting his downward motion and her right knee drove itself up into the centre of his face, once, twice, three times, obliterating his nose and cheekbones. She had dropped him gurgling on the floor as a curse from behind her had alerted her to the first guard regaining his feet. His face had been awash with blood from the blow she had dealt him, one eye had been ruined, and the other filled with hatred as he spat obscenities at her. He had been pointing a pistol at her face. Cobra-fast, her body had whipped her to the side as he fired, narrowly dodging, the round had buzzed past her ear and clanged off the far wall. She had been on him then, and her hand had slapped the pistol aside as he fired again, sending the round thudding into Fipps’ chest as he struggled to rise, her interrogator had flown backwards and tumbled over the table. Her other hand had lashed out driving the blade of her hand into the softness of the guards throat, as he had slumped backwards choking, she had deftly lifted the pistol from his numb fingers and put two rounds though his forehead. She had turned hearing Franklyn’s panicked footsteps disappearing out the door and stood looking at the wreckage of the room. She had done all of that. She had no idea how, but it had been her, her body at least, she had simply reacted in the moment, her instincts taking over. She had stood stunned for a moment, knowing that she should move, but not knowing where to go. Some tiny voice in the back of her head was telling her to move, screaming at her to go after Franklyn, he would be calling more of the guards, she had known that, but found that she was frozen to the spot. It wasn’t until the other guard had stirred on the floor with a groan that her instincts had kicked in again. Her hand shot out and fired a round into the back of his head, the loud bang seemed to galvanise her into action and she had run for the door. That had been two or three hours ago as far as she could tell and she had spent that whole time, running, hiding or fighting.
At first she had managed to evade the Red men, ducking into side corridors, or behind exposed piping as she searched for a way out. But eventually her luck had run out and she was taken unawares by two guards. Again her body had taken control of her, to see her safely through, the guards had exploded out of an air lock as she passed it, the first wielding a crackling shock-maul, which cracked into the side of her head from behind. The force of the blow threw her sideways causing her head to bounce off the opposite wall with a clang. Her vision swimming, she had been unable to think clearly, but she felt the pistol buck in her hand and heard the howl of pain from one of the guards. She had stumbled back against the wall of the corridor, trying to get some space between her and her assailants, her vision cleared in time to see the second guard coming at her with his shock-maul, her legs had dropped out from under her in time for the maul to slam into the wall where her head had only seconds before been, she had rolled past him picking up the first guards maul from where it lay and came up into a crouch as he turned. Her body didn’t wait for him to attack anew, and she launched herself at him, ducking under his clumsy swing she brought her stolen weapon round into his stomach, doubling him over and finished him off with a blow to the back of his skull. The guard crumpled to the deck in a twitching heap and she was away again, leaving the first guard yowling into his com-link while he tried to hold his knee together from the gunshot wound she had delivered in her daze.
Her flight went on like that, she would run and hide until she was discovered, then her body would take over and she would fight. At some point she lost the shock-maul, later she acquired a knife, over the course of her escape she fired all of the rounds in her stolen pistol, and had to appropriate another one, it never occurred to her to take any more bullets from the Red men she bested, she simply used the pistols she took from them and discarded them once they were spent. Eventually she discovered a maintenance hatch which she used to escape. The hatch led to a crawl space, which in turn led to the outside of the Red men’s ship, she shimmied down a maintenance chain onto a walkway and ran.
She had escaped. Somehow she had escaped. Somehow.
His face took on a sympathetic aspect, as he checked her over with deft fingers. She didn’t resist this time. If he was going to hurt her, he would have done so by now she reasoned, and she was tires and scared and wanted desperately to feel safe. The Pale man tutted.
“We’ll need to get you to a Medicae I think, this one needs a stitch or two.” He said looking at a gash in her hairline which had turned half her blond hair into a dark red tangle. She looked at him with her big tired eyes and nodded her assent.
“My Name is Nils” said the Pale man with a little bow of his head, “Nils Ander, how may I address you child?”
She opened her mouth to answer, but nothing came out. How may I address you? The question spun though her mind. How may I address you? How may I address you? A horrible realisation dawned on the girl, she did not know what her name was. How may you address me Nils Ander? Sweetling? Child? My Dear? They would do, but they were not her name. She thought back over a life, measured in hours. No one had called her by a name, the Red men had referred to her as Subject L7, indeed one of the questions that they had repeatedly asked was “Who are you?” and who was she? Who am I? Was she simply Subject L7? Am I? Is that all I am? She remembered the way the Red men has shouted it as they had hunted her though their ship,
“Where is Subject L7?”
“Subject L7, located, moving to subdue.”
How they had screamed it as they died.
“L7, in the aft transit corridor, assistance required!”
“She’s here, Throne save me! L7! L7!”
The realisation struck her that that must indeed be who she was. She tried it for size.
I am Subject L7. No.
I am L7. No, not quite right.
I am Ell Seven. Closer.
I am Ellinor Seven. Nearly.
I am Ellinor Sevin. Yes!
“Subject L7 located!” the shout came from along the walkway. The girl Ellinor Sevin, the Pale man Nils Ander and the two nameless Green men all turned to see two armed men in deep red flack vests and matching fatigues, approaching along the walkway from the direction the girl had come. The Red men had found her. One of them shouted.
“You men, step away from that girl. Now!”
“Nils.” The girl grabbed The Pale man’s hand, her red-wet fingers surprisingly strong. He looked down at her to find her huge, pleading blue eyes.
“My name is Ellinor Sevin. Please help me.”