22 April 2007

Saskia's Trials - Chapter 1 Part 3

The Doctor looked at the other two men, his eyes bright with unshed tears. "And what had they done, the last person to receive that sentence?"
Dr Karg looked thoughtful. "That was a murder case, too," he admitted uncomfortably.
The Doctor glared at him.
"Doctor, I understand that you're worried about Saskia, believe me, we all are, but if you go and remove her from the Council's jurisdiction, you will be forced to take her away and stay away permanently."
"I don't care!" the Doctor exclaimed, a desperate look on his face now.
"Maybe you don't, although I'm not sure I believe that, but how do you think Saskia will feel? You will be condemning her to a permanent exile for the rest of her natural life. She's only 30. We Empathia have an average life span of 120 years. Do you think she will thank you for having to spend the remaining three quarters of her lifetime exiled from her home?"
The Doctor's shoulders slumped in dejection. "No, probably not," he answered quietly. "She might even come to hate me."
Dr Karg nodded. "She might. I think it's better not to risk that outcome except as a very final resort."
Dr Karg guided the Doctor back to the sofa, then looked over at Jeff who had been following the conversation anxiously.
"I'm going to contact the Council and see if we can arrange to see Saskia," Dr Karg said.
Jeff nodded. "Do you think they will?" he asked hopefully.
"If they don't, it won't be because I did not try to persuade them," answered Dr Karg.
Jeff nodded. "I'll go and make that tea," he said. The Doctor got up restlessly and followed Jeff out to the kitchen, leaving Dr Karg to make his call.

Saskia felt a kind of numb blankness as the security men shackled her wrists and led her out of her apartment, then down the stairs to their waiting van. Like all vehicles on Einfuhlung, it was environmentally-friendly, so it slid quietly through the streets of Valentia, its progress more silent than that of the brightly-dressed Festival-goers. The black van with blacked out windows was ignored by everyone - they couldn't see the six burly men and one woman who rode inside. One man drove, with another at his side to keep a close eye on the citizens who thronged the streets. The other four were in the back with Saskia, who was aware that their leader was watching her with curiosity. When she looked up, he smiled at her in a friendly manner and she stiffened instinctively, uncertain why he was looking friendly since she could not sense the emotions which he was shielding from her.
"Did you really kill six men?" he asked conversationally, his tone implying his disbelief.
"No." Saskia answered, who was already shielding her own thoughts and emotions in turn.
"I must admit, when I first saw you, I doubted that you had." He rubbed his hand thoughtfully across his chin. "And yet –" His tone was musing and Saskia found herself wishing he would shut up so she could gather her thoughts together. "There's a fiery spark in those green eyes of yours that suggests maybe you did do it," the leader said, watching Saskia's face carefully.
Saskia scowled but didn't answer. She shut her eyes and found herself wishing she could put her fingers in her ears, like a child who doesn't want to hear something.
The leader reached over and lifted Saskia's chin firmly in one strong hand, and her eyes snapped open.
"I like fiery women," he said, leering suggestively.
Saskia bit the inside of her cheek, determined not to give him the satisfaction of answering him back. He chuckled at the expression on her face and stroked her cheek, before letting go of her.
Saskia tried not to wince when she tasted blood in her mouth and concentrated even harder on shielding her thoughts and feelings.

The van pulled up outside a square building that was surrounded on all sides by a high wall topped with sharp metal spikes that curved inwards. The windows in the building were narrow and heavily barred. It wasn't a big building since few criminals were imprisoned on Einfuhlung – most were exiled to Abneigung, although crime was relatively rare anyway. Saskia had never been inside the detention unit, and had never expected to go inside it. She wondered miserably if it would be as horrible as she was anticipating. Then she wondered what the Doctor was doing now, and hoped it was nothing too rash.
The security man at the gate waved their driver through and they drove into a stark grey courtyard. The driver and his mate got out and walked to the back of the van, unlocking the doors. The leader gestured for the two men who were chained to Saskia to get out first, and she went with them, the manacles chafing her wrists. They followed their leader across the courtyard and into a white painted, blindingly-lit hallway that echoed with the sound of their heavy boots. The harsh glaring lights banished all the shadows and Saskia found herself wincing, before half closing her eyes.
"Captain Wachter reporting with the prisoner!" barked the leader to the man behind the desk at the far end of the hallway. Saskia wondered if shouting made him feel important; she could have sworn the man at the desk winced at Wachter's shout.
"Very well. I'll take her from here," said the man.
"Is that wise? She has been arrested for killing six men," Wachter said.
The man at the desk raised his eyebrows, disdainfully Saskia thought.
"The two men with her can bring her through," he said.
Wachter scowled but waved his men forward. He stepped in front of Saskia before they could lead her away. "I expect we'll meet again," he said in what she realised he thought was a threatening manner.
"Not if I see you first," Saskia retorted, finally goaded out of her silence.
His eyes widened in surprise and he drew his arm back as if to hit her, but the man from the desk intervened.
"That will do," he said sharply, looking first at Wachter then at Saskia.
Saskia lowered her eyes, regretting the fact that she had been provoked into answering. Just keep your mouth shut unless you have to speak, she told herself angrily.

They went through the door behind the desk and into a room which Saskia guessed was the infirmary. The two guards unfastened the manacles, then went outside as a hard-faced, short-haired woman came in. She nodded at the man from the desk, who also went out.
"Strip!" barked the woman.
"What?" asked Saskia, wondering if she had heard correctly.
"Are you deaf, or just stupid? I said strip."
Saskia obeyed, her hands trembling in sudden anxiety.
"Quickly, woman! I haven't got all day."
Saskia tried to hurry, terrified that this loud-voiced woman would forcibly strip her if necessary. She stood naked and shivering with apprehension rather than cold as the woman put on a pair of latex gloves. Saskia's eyes widened in surprise.
"What are you doing?" she asked, just managing not to stutter.
"Full body search!" barked the woman impatiently. "Lie on the couch."
Saskia turned and saw a couch against the wall. She sat down, then stretched out reluctantly. She forced her mind back to its blank numbness whilst the woman conducted the most thorough search of Saskia's body that was possible without surgery. Saskia began to tremble in humiliation and bit the inside of her cheek so that she wouldn't cry out or pull away from the woman's probing hands.
"Get up!" the woman said when she had finished, pulling the gloves off and dropping them into a bin. She picked up a bundle of grey clothing and thrust it at Saskia, who clutched it to her chest, her face still burning with shame and misery.
The woman gestured impatiently. "Get dressed then! I haven't got all day, you know."
Saskia dressed herself in the grey underwear and one piece jumpsuit, trying not to cry. The clothing was baggy in all the wrong places and made Saskia feel even more uncomfortable, which she hadn't believed was possible. She was given some shabby grey shoes which she put on whilst her own clothes were bundled up and put into a large paper sack that was labelled with her name, then shoved into a cupboard.

The woman opened the door, and Saskia's guards came in again. They manacled her wrists as before, then led her down a long corridor that was lined with doors on either side. Each door had a small, barred window in it and Saskia guessed this was to allow the guards to see into the cells. At the far end of the corridor they went through another door, this one heavily-barred and guarded, which led them into a much shorter corridor. There were only four doors on this corridor and Saskia immediately noticed that the lighting was more subdued in here. As she was pondering the significance of the dimmer lighting, the man leading them took out an electronic keycard and unlocked one of the four doors.
"You're in here," he said, gesturing into the room.
Saskia looked at him apprehensively. "What happens next?" she asked, hoping her voice wasn't shaking too much.
"Lunch. And after lunch you'll go before the Commander. Tomorrow morning your trial will begin."
"Oh." Saskia found she had nothing more to say and she simply waited whilst the two men unfastened the manacles around her wrists. She stepped into the room, blinking at the dim light inside. The door closed and was locked behind her. She remained standing just inside the door, waiting for her eyes to adjust. When they did she saw a plain wooden bunk with a pillow and a blanket lying at its head, and opposite that a rudimentary toilet. In the wall opposite the door was a small window with bars and some kind of fine metal mesh over it. Almost no light was getting into the room through the window, and the lightbulb overhead was at the lowest possible strength. Saskia shuddered slightly, then moved to sit on the bed. She picked up the pillow and hugged it tightly, willing herself not to cry. She remembered waking recently from a nightmare in the TARDIS and hugging a cushion until the Doctor had put his arms around her and comforted her. No! she told herself fiercely. Don't think of the Doctor or the TARDIS!

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