22 April 2007

Saskia's Trials - Chapter 4 Part 3

Saskia made her mind as blank as possible, then unlocked the door and stepped out. There was a tray on a side table by the window, which she guessed was her promised breakfast. She tried not to look at Wachter, who was wearing a dark blue bathrobe and a very self-satisfied smirk. He gestured at the side table.
"Your breakfast my dear."
Saskia gave a small nod, then sat down to eat. There was a bowl of fruit salad, a plateful of buttered slices of fruit loaf, and a pot of tea. Wachter lay on the bed and watched her eat. She ignored him, and concentrated on the taste of the food and tea, eating slowly. She didn't want to eat it too quickly, in part because she thought she might be sick after her enforced fast, but also because she wanted to give herself as much time to enjoy her current freedom as possible, just in case her plan didn't work. She knew she wouldn't be able to forget this breakfast for a long time, and that she might never want to eat fruit loaf again if this didn't work as she hoped. Then she suddenly wondered if she'd even have the chance to try to forget this breakfast.
As she put down her empty tea cup, Wachter got up off the bed and Saskia got up from the chair. Wachter pulled open his bathrobe with a flourish and Saskia forced herself to smile as she stepped towards him, then she swiftly lifted her right foot, and kicked him on the side of the knee. As he fell with a moan of agony, she clasped her hands and chopped them down on the side of his neck, before diving in a roll across the bed. She pulled the door open and ran full pelt along the landing, then down the stairs. She paused for a moment to get her bearings, then raced down the passage towards the door that she knew led outside. Unfortunately for her Oscar stepped out of the lab and she crashed into him, sending them both flying. Saskia scrambled back to her feet and tried to jump over him, but he grabbed an ankle and pulled her back down to the floor with a crash that winded her. Oscar threw himself on top of her, pinning her to the floor, and yelled. The two guards who had brought her here the day before came racing out of another door and dragged her up from the floor.
Ten minutes later Saskia was again lying strapped to the bed in the lab and Wachter was glaring down at her. She glared back defiantly, even though she knew her failed escape meant that she was condemned to the worst that he and his horrible friend could think of to do to her.
"I'm seriously disappointed in you," Wachter said heavily. "I thought you were going to be sensible. Since you're not, I'm going to leave you in the very capable hands of Oscar. I'm sure he'll make you regret not co-operating with me." He turned and limped away, leaning on a cane.
Oscar moved into view, a malicious look on his face. "I don't like women," he said, "So I'm not going to do to you what Donnie planned to do. But I am going to hurt you."
Saskia tried to shrug, but couldn't manage it.
He attached the helmet to her head again and showed her the memories of Jeff and the Doctor being attacked by Jackson's thugs. Then he attached electrodes to her head and body. Saskia tried to struggle but he just backhanded her across the face, leaving her head ringing. She lay still again until he switched on the current and a charge of electricity jolted through her body. She screamed in agony and terror. He turned off the current and showed her the same memories again. The second time he turned on the current it felt even worse, which she hadn't believed was possible. After he turned off the current again, she lay panting and gasping, tears running uncontrollably down the sides of her face. He showed her the memories a third time, before turning on the current again. Mercifully she blacked out soon afterwards.

After breakfast, Dr Karg had insisted on taking Jeff and the Doctor out to his estate to have a look round and for some lunch until it was time for the Council to reconvene the court. The Doctor admitted, as they took the tram back into town, that it had been a good idea. He had actually managed not to spend the entire morning fretting about Saskia and the results of her tests. The three of them got off the tram in the Council Quarter and headed directly to the courthouse. They took the same seats as before and waited, increasingly impatiently in the case of the Doctor, for the Council members and Saskia to arrive. Finally the Council members filed in behind the President and took their seats. Then Saskia was led in; the Doctor immediately noticed that she was moving slowly, as if she was in pain, and he frowned in concern. He also noticed that the guard who was escorting her wasn't their friend John and wondered at the change.
The President banged his gavel on the arm of his chair. "This court is now in session," he said. He waited whilst everyone except Saskia was seated. "We have received the results of the tests carried out on Saskia Scolere, and we are ready to give sentence."
The Doctor found himself unconsciously holding his breath and exhaled slowly.
"We sentence the accused to ten years in exile on Abneigung, following corrective micro-laser surgery to neutralise her empathic and telepathic powers."
There was a moment of shocked silence, then the Doctor sprang to his feet. "NO!" he shouted, a look of horror on his face. "You can't! That's monstrous!" Jeff and Dr Karg tried to hold the Doctor back, then two guards closed in and hustled him, still protesting, from the room. Jeff and Dr Karg followed hurriedly.
Saskia hadn't fainted. She had known since that morning what sentence she would receive after her escape attempt had failed. She hoped her friends would calm the Doctor, and that he would soon find someone else to travel with him. The guards led her out of the chamber, took her quickly out of the building by the back door, then drove her to the hospital.
The Doctor was practically incandescent with fury as the guards dragged him into a side room, his face contorted with rage as he yelled at them. Then John appeared in the doorway. He saw the Doctor and made a beeline for him. He quickly explained that Wachter had taken Saskia away the previous day, not the Elders. "He knocked me out and I was unconscious in the hospital until half an hour ago. I had to insist they let me out so I could come straight over here to tell you."
"So those test results were probably rigged," the Doctor said.
John nodded.
"Right, I'm going to talk to the President. John, you're coming with me, so you can prove the truth of what I'm going to tell him. Jeff, Dr Karg, get over to the hospital and stop them from taking Saskia in for that surgery.
The four of them hurried off.

Saskia lay helpless and terrified on a bed in the brain surgery unit. They had injected her with a muscle relaxant earlier, just enough to ensure she couldn't resist them or simply get up and run away. Unfortunately the muscle relaxant didn't stop her from thinking and now she lay on the bed knowing that it was far too late for the Doctor to do or say anything to save her from this. When they finally let her go from here in a few days the Saskia he knew would be gone, wiped out by some very precise surgery.
She thought back to the moment, just a few days ago, when her life had suddenly been wrenched very firmly out of her control and wished she had taken Jeff's advice.
Just as the nurse was approaching with the anaesthetic, ready to knock her out for the surgery someone knocked hastily on the door, then hurried in and spoke rapidly to the surgeon.
"Nurse, we won't need that injection. It seems the young lady has been reprieved."
Saskia looked at him, expressions of hope and disbelief warring on her face. He pulled off the face mask he wore. "You'll need to wait a couple of hours or so for that muscle relaxant to wear off," he told her, "but after that you're free to go."
Saskia felt dizzy with relief. "Thank you."

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