By Carol Sandford


Chapter 29


The man that still held her tight against his chest, tightened his grip even more as he rose his eyes up from his huddled position in the cargo hold to look into the face of the gigantic Sindareen that stood in the oval doorway. In reality, Jeb guessed that the man was maybe six feet five or six, but against their smallness and the fact that he clearly had to stoop to manoeuvre around the ship's insides, he seemed gigantic.

Jeb felt the trembling woman in his arms stiffen when she'd lifted her own eyes and realized that he'd been addressing her. Her unconscious, whimpered, "No, please!" tore from her throat on a sob before she buried her face against his chest, pulling her limbs closer to her body in a valiant effort to somehow make herself disappear.

But her effort was in vain when she heard the thud of his boot as he stepped into the hold, reached down and dragged her to her feet by her hair, emitting a screech of protest and pain at the brutal handling, her hands instinctively reaching up to prise his fingers loose. It was a futile effort. His hands were like hard, ice-cold vices.

Jeb made to stand, to help her, stop them, say something - anything to halt whatever they had planned for his charge, but when that same boot landed upon his ankle, snapping it in one swift purposeful stomp, the sickening noise echoing in the shocked silence, he could do nothing more than slither back to the floor, crying out in agony as he felt the bone snap, his face draining of colour as he swallowed down his churning stomach as the pain surged throughout his body.

Deanna screamed as she witnessed the barbaric treatment of a friend who had become someone to hold on to, someone whose mental strength had saved her own sanity in this desolate and cruel time. "No! No! Leave him alone!" she cried. "I'll come quietly!" Spinning in his arms to face him, her eyes beseeching his, pleading for mercy.

The Sindareen let out a roar of laughter that made her blood run cold. But she didn't have time to reflect on her precarious position as he spun her around and begun to drag her out of the hold. And then suddenly he stopped, addressed one of the guards that stood watch by the door, pointed to Jeb and snapped, "Get rid of him."

Unable to stop herself, Deanna let out another ear-piercing scream, "NO!" she sobbed, making one more try at freeing herself from his grip, her pathetic attempt only producing another heinous bout of laughter from her captor.

She watched in horror as the guard stepped inside and reached down to drag her quivering, terrified friend off the floor, but the boom of anger from the man holding her made her jump out of her skin, "Not him, fool! The piece of scum behind!"

All eyes turned to the poor soul that lay half covered, bent over in a foetal position behind Jeb. The young man was dead. Deanna shivered with horror as she realized that she had sat within inches of a corpse. So wrapped up in her own grief, she hadn't noticed the dying man take his last painful breath and her heart broke as she pictured him dying alone without a hand to hold his as he passed away.

They all watched with morbid fascination as the guard reached down, dragged the man up onto his shoulder as though he weighed nothing at all, and passed them by, taking him out of the hold.

But horror turned to disgust when he dropped the man to the floor, reached down and released the latch on a hatch, pulled it open, letting a whoosh of air pour into the ship, making Deanna gasp with shock at it's frigidness, and then he simply, and without ceremony, or feeling, dropped the man through it, and then just as calmly, closed the hatch and bolted it down once more.

For a long moment, Deanna could only stare at the metallic hatch and imagine the poor soul free-falling through the skies, but she deliberately closed her mind and her eyes to the vision that would ultimately follow his arrival to solid ground, but as hard as she tried, Deanna couldn't stop herself, her face paling with the waking nightmare.

With morbid curiosity, the grinning Sindareen watched her face with interest, until at last, satisfied that his action had received as much revulsion from her as it could have, he laughed and moved on towards the ship's control room, still dragging her along by her hair.

Pushing her free of his hold as they reached the centre of the control room, Deanna momentarily stumbled with the suddenness of her release. Glancing around the room, taking in the three men who's backs faced her as they manned their own panels, she questioningly turned to face the big man, her eyes wide with fear.

Grinning sadistically, he studied her for a brief moment, and then pointed to the control panel behind her. Puzzled, Deanna turned and glanced at the unfamiliar set-up and then back at him, confusion etching her wary, tired, tear-stained face.

He laughed loudly for a moment, and then just as suddenly severed the action, and then with his overly deep voice, punctuated with venom, he snarled, "Beg for your life, Betazoid bitch."

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