"Your sire was negligent, Vaek'Riov." Her voice was velvety, almost gentle. No humor echoed in it, though there seemed traces of a melancholic smile to hover on the Vulcan's features. Leaning back in the chair, relaxed as if she were at home and enjoying the sound of a fountain singing in the gardens, she watched her tormentor out of half closed, night black eyes.
As she had observed before, the mere mention of the Vulcan who had spawned him was enough to let hatred and fury blaze in tr`Saen's eyes, and he tensed as if to strike her or plunge the knife into her side at last. But he only gripped the soft curls at the back of her neck, jerking her unresisting head back until the almost dreamy gaze met his, hovering mere centimeters away.
Cold steel at her throat, traveling down at a leisurely pace.
"I will not debate that, lady Vulcan. But you did not merely say that to raise my ire and make me kill you. Because you know I won't. Not yet."
She was like a dozing feline in his grip, all supple, relaxed limbs and giving the impression that you might well pick her up and carry her away and she would not so much as bat an eyelash. For a moment, it seemed as if the dark eyed Vulcan might chuckle again, but then she merely exhaled softly.
There was no nerve in her body that was not in agony, no part of her that did not want to fight the pain, kill the one who inflicted it. Survival instincts clamored, urging resistance, demanding battle.
And were overruled, second by second.
Her low murmur, uttered barely loud enough for sensitive Vulcanoid hearing to be picked up finally succeeded in drawing every eye to the scene playing out in the middle of the cold room that smelled of blood, steel and pain.
"Yes indeed." Searching the mind-reader's unreadable dark eyes for any clue, tr`Sahen already knew he would find none. If anything, the woman seemed pleased? Sad? Amused? All of it, and none.
"He obviously failed to convey even the fundamental aspects of your heritage. Though it hardly matters, Vaek'Riov. I know what you want, and it is not merely Seleya and her schematics in my personal database." There were mutters and curses, most of them involving suggestions what to do with an insolent mind-reader, but the Vulcan only shook her head lightly, another glint of humor manifesting itself and dispersing. You hardly needed telepathic talents when you had a mind and the ability to use it.
Blinded by fury, she had not seen it. Reminded of what she was unintentional as it might have been - by poor, violated Savant it was as clear as morning over Llangon.
"And what is it I want, Vulcan?"
The razor sharp edge dug between her shoulder blades, cutting deeper than before, up towards that sensitive nape of her neck, the light, elegant curve and she merely exhaled again like a sigh, seemingly leaning into the knife.
She found it quite unnecessary to answer.
That supple sigh was a cascading backdrop, a sonorous cascade of pitch behind Savants' dread work. The Romulans' eyes had finally been averted from their tasks and their screens, and she could begin to unravel their prison from the inside. Her tools were meager, however - microscopic sensors and communicators had poor range and worse power. Not only that, but her local power systems were as dependent on the coppery green blood as any organics' - the plasma was loaded full of saurium krellide crystals and formed the reservoir of her endurance. While her cellular matrices also held some power on their own, they would not last long, and that lifeblood dribbled out of her as finally as any living beings.
So there was no time to waste- unlike a living being, she had no bone marrow to generate more blood when she needed it, nor did she rely on oxygen or other atmospheric gasses to survive, so every second counted as her time ticked down. She didn't concern herself with the administrations of her screaming tormentor. She had set up a simple routine to provide the right twists and yelps and screams amidst her meditative humming, and could save the bulk of her processing for more important things.
The wall. The Romulan security system was a monolith, a vast Trojan Wall with no gates or doors save those who knew the pass-codes. So she waited, and listened, and caught the transmissions as they flew by, picking them apart like a crab dissecting its prey. The secret would reveal itself soon enough. It was, after all, designed by organics, and they knew the waters of her world only in passing, by dropping in their lines and casting out their lures. They did not know how to swim in their dark waters.
Yyaio screamed, her impassive resolve broken some time ago. She did not demonstrate Sakarra's ability to subsume her pain - no, it consumed her instead, engulfed her in the fiery pain that Hanaj knew how to inflict all too well. He wasn't even asking for passcodes any longer - he was simply reveling in her agony. She fed it to him in spoonfulls.
So this was what it was like.
She had wondered, idly as one can describe a Vulcan theorizing about improbable events, when first Sakarra had learned about some of the surprises that might slumber in the complex, beautiful double helices within her cells. Just as the colour of her eyes was a visible indicator that one of the beings contributing to her unique set of genes had been a Betazoid, the texture of her hair so rare for a Vulcan, and more often than not attributed to her gentle, good humored father as well gave any on the desert planet circling Nevasa a vital clue.
Wild stock, they had called it, in ages past. Less derogatory today, descendant of an obscure desert clan. The implications were the same. Every generation, a few would surface in the houses that still carried the traits of an ally long vanquished.
Wild stock. Desert bred. Rumors, whispered during long evenings. Uncivilized creatures, running barefooted over the scorching sands, laughing like children with their tangled, matted hair. They do not know written words, but when Sandfire kills every living creature they become one with the enraged elements and survive. Their minds emptied by the unforgiving heat endlessly hammering the Forge, most inhospitable part of an already unforgiving planet, they roam the night side by side with the Le-Matya and the predator's poison is as mother's milk to them.
Nonsense, most of it, exaggeration, simple survival techniques and evolution wrapped in legend and superstition. Many creatures reacted to shock and trauma with the release of hormones that would prevent the system from a fatal breakdown. Neurotransmitters flooding a body that is threatened in its survival, acting not only to counter the pain but as opiates. Nothing mysterious about it. And if by some of those quirks of evolution that had a tendency to crop up wherever cells divided and life refused to be vanquished there sprung up a group of creatures who out of necessity took that established trait one step further it was, in the end, only logical.
Modern Vulcans understood such things. And nodding silently, they went their way. But sometimes, idly perhaps, they might wonder.
This was what it was like.
No, she did not quite lean against that blade which cut another line of fire over her skin, a curious kitten swatting at the flame which hurts a first and then makes you feel so strange. But she did with the part of her mind that was not floating on waves akin to euphoria follow the path it took, estimated the angle of the steel, the additional blood loss this would cause. Oddly enough, none of the many injuries she had incurred in her life ever had quite produced this effect. Perhaps this was what it took, the prolonged exposure, the unceasing, ever returning bursts of agony rather than just one brief shock did not those who survived Sandfire for long enough to tell of it that it was a slow, cruel torture that in the end would make you yearn for death?
Or was it that you needed to remember, to give in, to stop fighting?
Even Savant, poor, screaming Yyaio seemed removed, sensed only through a veil of sparkling emerald, and her voice was like the howling of the storm, assaulting your ears until it becomes part of the tapestry of life, something that always has been
"Weak." Somewhere, a voice spat the word in disdain, but it did not belong to the being whose fingertips trailed over an upswept brow, who cupped the Vulcan's face in his hands, playful, inquisitive.
"Look at them. One howling like a thrai in heat and the other playing dead."
"Not quite dead yet." Another unfamiliar voice, clear and sharp and Sakarra realized she had indeed stretched her aching limbs, languidly as if waking from a fitful slumber.
"No, not quite." This voice she knew, once more hovering so close she could feel the hot breath tickling her nose. Blinking against the brightness, she opened her eyes only to find a curious, violet gaze examining her face.
Be it reasonable deduction after observing body language, intuition, or some part of the heritage he reviled that still enabled him to sense what no non-Vulcan could easily detect or a combination of all.
He knew very well she was far from dead, or pretending to be.
The gig, as her human colleagues liked to say, was up.
If only the being that was Savant and not, a Vulcan and none, were indeed one to whom she could reach out in silence and ask a single question. What do you need me to do or do you already have what you came for?
Sakarra refused to believe the being's presence was for her sake. Not even Savant, amiable, solicitous, concerned Savant would waste time and resources in such illogical manner.
Pools of emerald mingled on the polished floor, but other than the poor, tormented creature next to her Sakarra already felt the oldest of her wounds closing, the steady trickle ceasing, leaving only thin lines of crusted blood and a dull, hollow burning.
One of those wounds was briefly reopened when fingertips brushed over her collarbone, pressed into warm skin and laid a trail of green across her chest.
"He failed to tell me many things it seems. What an interesting development."
The knife had been preferable to this.
LtCmdr Sakarra Tyrax
Aka Yyaio the insolent Vulcan
Vaek'Riov Itsak tr'Sahen