Episode I: Diplomatic Talks
Chapter 2: Imprisoned
Captain's log, supplemental. After being captured and thrown into a cell, we've waited for hours for an opportunity to negotiate our release. The guards were brutal during our capture but have since left us alone in a dark, damp, and cold cell that seems to be deep underground. Our communicators, tricorders, and phasers have been confiscated, but Thomson says that, given time, she might be able to pick the door lock. I've decided it's better to try to arrange for our release in order to avoid further harm to Galinedorian relations, but we've been ignored thus far. While we have received a couple of bowls of water, we've been given no food and, apart from a brief interrogation when we arrived at this facility, no one has spoken with us.
The four humans and a Vulcan rested on the benches along the walls of the cell, nursing their bruises. Luckily, the Starfleet captain mused, no one had been seriously injured. They talked little and kept their voices low, hoping to hear the guard's approach. That is, if there was one. They had heard nothing yet from the neighboring cells, so they were beginning to believe they were alone in their part of the prison. However, the first officer's sharper hearing was able to pick up faint echoes before any of his companions.
"Captain, I hear steps in the corridor outside," Spock whispered.
Kirk stood and went to the door of their cell, intending to attract the attention of whoever passed by. Before long, he was able to watch through the barred upper portion of the cell door as a group of burly guards dragged closer someone who appeared to be severely injured. One of the guards struck his baton on the door and commanded Kirk to step back, which he did. They opened the door and threw the new prisoner inside.
"You thought we wouldn't find your spy," the leader said, laughing, "but we did! If we find any more humans around, they're dead."
The guards moved away and Kirk, with Hill's help, carried the man, bloody and unconscious, to one of the benches. The others stood nearby, curious about the newcomer but careful to avoid crowding him. The dim light from the single lamp inside the cell was barely enough to see his features. He was tall, thin, and very pale, dressed in some kind of brown suit over a cream-colored turtleneck shirt, brown trousers, and strange shoes with rubber soles. His clothes were dirty, torn, and bloodied. His hair was wild, sticking up and in one place, where he seemed to have received a nasty blow, plastered with blood. He was breathing with difficulty, and his lips were split from the beating he'd clearly suffered at the hands of the guards. Hill, who had field training as a nurse, began to examine him while Kirk stood to talk with Spock.
"Brutes!" he exclaimed, frustrated and angry. Taking a few deep breaths to control himself, he turned to his first officer. "Poor guy. They think he's with us. You've studied the profiles of the members of the survey team. Do you recognize him?"
"He appears to be human, but I do not think he is a member of the survey team. He is taller than any of the members of the team, and his clothing is in neither the standard Federation nor the local style. While in his condition it's hard to make a positive identification, his features are clearly distinct from the three male components of the team. I believe him to be a civilian, Captain, who somehow made his way to the planet. Possibly a trader or one of the fringe explorers."
"Galinedoria Beta IV is a quarantined world, Spock! No other citizen from the Federation should be here."
"I know that, Captain," said Spock, somehow managing to convey exasperation in spite of the flat tone of his voice. "Nevertheless, he is here. Perhaps he will be able to tell us more upon regaining consciousness."
At that moment, Hill stood. "I'm sorry, Captain, but I'm not sure he'll survive. Without a tricorder I can't tell for sure, but from his symptoms he seems to be in shock. He's unconscious, his pulse is erratic, and he seems to be suffering from severe hypothermia. He suffered a number of blows to his head and upper body, and he probably has a concussion, besides a number of broken ribs. It's possible he's suffering from internal bleeding as well. He needs immediate medical care."
Kirk went to the door to call for the guards, but ten minutes of screaming and banging on the door yielded no results. Frustrated, he turned to their fellow prisoner and crouched down next to the bench to look at his face. The man was not part of his crew, but he felt responsible for him anyway. He decided that, for his sake, they should try to leave the place sooner rather than later.
"I'm Captain Kirk, from Starfleet. Just hang in there, pal. We may have to wait a little while until the guards get bored again, but then we'll try to escape. You'll come with us."
Suddenly, the man began to groan and tried to say something. Kirk started, surprised, but bent closer, trying to hear what he was saying.
"Hello, Captain. If you just could move a bit to the left, please ..."
"Calm down and rest. You're in no condition to do anything now," said Kirk, assuming he wanted to sit up.
"No, you don't understand, I'm not in as bad a shape as it seems. I'm faking it. They're watching," he whispered, barely moving his lips.
Kirk quickly understood what he meant, so without turning he lowered his voice.
"How do you know? And, by the way, who are you and how did you get here?"
"Oh, you can call me Doctor, and it's not easy to notice but there are three cameras in this cell. One camera behind you, near the corner, another above the door, and the last one in the middle of the back wall. There are also at least two microphones. If you move slightly to the left, Captain, I may be able to do something about them."
Kirk noticed the man's left hand had moved into his suit, and did as he asked, moving his body to hide his hand from the camera presumably behind him. He wondered how the stranger had managed to identify the cameras when they hadn't, particularly so quickly after getting there.
The Doctor picked up a strange cylindrical instrument with a glowing blue tip. It began to buzz softly as he took advantage of the cover provided by Kirk to wave it a bit.
"I can disable the microphones, but not right now. It wouldn't be good if they got suspicious and just moved us to another cell."
"Doctor, what is that thing?"
"Ah, it's just my sonic screwdriver. I built it myself. I sort of like tinkering and building things."
"You hid it in your clothes! Very good. They took all our equipment and weapons."
"They didn't-" He winced in pain. "They didn't think I might have inner pockets. They've kind of fallen out of fashion, haven't they, but I've always thought pockets are useful ..."
"Are you sure you're all right? You don't seem well."
"I'm okay … Well, not quite, you see, they were quite enthusiastic, and I couldn't fake passing out too soon. But we've been talking for too long, Captain. You should tell your people about the surveillance, but try to act normally. They expect you to attempt an escape, so you might try to distract them a bit. I have some information that you must know. I'll explain what I can later."
"Very well. Rest for a bit while I talk to my team."
Once the Doctor had hidden his tool, Kirk stood and called Hill to watch over him. He went to the other members of the away team. They'd been watching him talk to the injured man and were curious.
"He's not well. We'll have to leave soon if he's to survive, so waiting for a negotiated release is no longer an option," he spoke softly, but not too much, so the microphones would pick up his words. He motioned them closer and signaled them to follow his lead. "Right now, it's better not to move him, so we'll have to wait a bit and see if he can recover enough to walk out on his own. Any ideas?"
As they discussed escape plans in low voices, he continued using hand signals to communicate that they were being watched and listened to, and that they needed to be careful in what they said. The security code Spock had been insisting the whole crew should learn was proving to be very valuable and well worth their effort. Spock gestured back to confirm that he could also see the cameras. Of course, Kirk thought, once his first officer knew to look for them, his Vulcan eyesight would quickly spot them.
Leaving them to talk strategy, Kirk knelt by the bench to resume talking with the Doctor.
"Be careful not to overexert yourself. Our nurse has examined you. He said you have broken bones and possible internal bleeding, and we don't have any means of helping you here. We may have to move soon for your sake."
"Things are more dangerous than you know, Captain. They beat me because they were hoping to force you into escaping to try to save my life. They plan to kill us as soon as we try."
"How do you know that? Who are you?"
"Oh, just a traveler passing by, Captain. I wasn't planning to land here, really, but-" Another wince cut him short.
"We'll have more time to talk later," said Kirk. "Right now, just tell me what we need to know in order to escape."
"I heard them talking when they thought I was out. There are others here, outsiders interested in this planet. They plan to force your ship to fire on the planet, or if they can't, to fake an attack. Your deaths while escaping would serve as an explanation."
Kirk felt a shiver down his spine. If what the Doctor said was true, they had landed in the middle of a conspiracy to sabotage the diplomatic efforts of the Federation. Given the current political climate in the Federation council, the results could be explosive. Galinedoria Beta IV itself wasn't of great strategic importance, but it was a heavily populated planet, and such an incident there could have grave repercussions.
He looked back to the injured man and noticed he was watching him, as if measuring his reaction. The Doctor nodded. "Yes, Captain, it's a tricky situation. We must be careful or many will suffer."
"I suppose you have a plan."
"Yes. We should try to leave in three and a half hours, when the night shift is at its least attentive. The Galinedorians have a relatively inflexible circadian rhythm, you see."
"How do you know that?" asked the surprised Captain.
"Ah, just something I've heard in passing. Very fortunate, though."
"Very. All right. Thomson said she could pick the lock, but with the cameras we'll have to hurry. Even if they're half asleep ..."
"No. Listen, Captain. Don't worry about that. I can handle it. You should try to convince whoever is listening that we'll try to escape in the morning. Make up a good, believable plan. You've seen the room on the opposite side of the corridor, right?"
"Yes, we noticed that they left our equipment there."
"Phasers and communicators, yes. They want you to think you can use your ship's transporters to beam out, but we're too deep-" He winced again. "I can't hold it much longer, I must go to sleep ..."
"No you can't. You have a concussion, it's too dangerous!"
"Believe me, Captain, I know my condition very well." He looked into Kirk's eyes. "Don't worry, I know what I'm doing. There's a way we can escape while avoiding any confrontation with the guards. You just do your best to convince them that we'll wait until morning — that's some six hours from now. You should sleep too, and send your nurse. Hurry, please," he added, grimacing and turning his head.
"All right," said Kirk. He wasn't at all sure of their odds, but somehow he felt he could trust the man to know what he was doing. He stood and, not bothering to keep his voice low, told the others that the Doctor was resting and asked Hill to check on him.
As Hill bent to check his patient's pulse, the Doctor muttered something. He crouched closer and, clearly obeying the Doctor's instructions, moved to block the hidden cameras' view of the injured man's hands. Kirk understood, the Doctor was getting ready to disable the microphones. He gathered Spock and Thomson and resumed their discussion on escape plans. They were whispering, but they were close enough to one of the microphones to ensure most of their words would be heard. He suggested a morning escape attempt and they began hashing out the details. They ended up with a fairly reasonable plan. There weren't many viable options, but Spock's memory of the path they followed when coming down to the cell level was good enough to plan a couple of alternate routes. If they could get close enough to ground level the Enterprise's transporters would be able to beam them up. For good measure, Kirk mentioned that they were too tired to run right away anyway, so they'd have a better chance in the morning.
When they finished, he told the others to go to sleep. He really hoped that any listeners would fall for their ruse and relax their guard, and that the Doctor's plan, whatever it was, would work, because they had no other workable ideas except fighting it out, as their captors wanted, and hoping to survive. As they were moving to their bunks to try to sleep, he noticed the Doctor shifting to lie on his back and Hill coming to report on his condition. That was when he knew the plan was in motion.
He told Hill to lie down, and pulled Spock aside. He quietly told him what the Doctor had said and listened to his views on the situation before both went to their benches to sleep, or at least fake it.