Toshiko Sato’s life as she knew it was over; she’d been branded a traitor to the country, thrown in prison without so much as a trial, and for what? For being a dutiful daughter and trying to save her mother’s life. She might have been angry if she hadn’t been so afraid.
The British Government called what she’d done treason, and they were most likely correct to do so; she’d stolen classified documents and built a device that, in the wrong hands, certainly counted as a weapon. Then she’d handed it over to… She didn’t actually know who they were, and at the time she hadn’t cared because they’d had her mother and she’d been given no option but to follow their orders. Wouldn’t anyone have done the same to save a loved one’s life?
She didn’t regret what she’d done either. Her mother was safe; she’d been grudgingly told that much. Tosh hadn’t been permitted to see her, hadn’t been allowed any kind of contact, but she could live with that far more easily than she would have been able to live with doing nothing and letting her mother die at the hands of her abductors. She had never for a second doubted they would have carried out their threat if she hadn’t followed their instructions to the letter; they’d been very persuasive.
Now it was over though, and she was faced with the reality of her situation; this cramped, harshly lit, unfurnished, stark grey cell would be her home for the foreseeable future, maybe for the rest of her life. She’d sleep on the cold, unforgiving concrete without so much as a blanket for warmth, her only clothing the ugly orange coveralls she had on. She might never see the sun again, the blue of a summer sky, the green of trees and grass. Might never hear anything but her own breathing, her heartbeat, except on those rare occasions when a voice issued orders from the grille in the ceiling.
Perhaps worst of all, she might never again get to do anything meaningful with her existence. Her life hadn’t been perfect; she’d been perhaps too reserved to make close friends, and her job at the Ministry of Defence, while interesting on some levels, hadn’t really stretched her intellect. There was so much more she might have done if she’d been more forward, if she’d had the self-confidence that came so effortlessly to her colleagues, but it was useless to think about that now; all the things she might have someday done were unlikely to be anything more than distant dreams, tantalising her in her sleep. It would be better if she didn’t dream at all, because the waking was always so much worse whenever she did.
Time soon lost all meaning; the light in the ceiling never went out. Food was delivered at intervals, and there were exercise periods, chained to other prisoners and marched in line… She tried at first to track the passing of days by scratching marks on the cell walls but gave up when one of her nails caught on the uneven surface and tore painfully, the red streak of blood shocking against the grey. After that she took to biting her nails to keep them short.
Then one day, when she had almost resigned herself to her fate, he came, Captain Harkness, a tall, handsome man in a long coat, his eyes bluer than any she’d ever seen, startling in their brilliance.
The Captain confirmed what she’d already begun to suspect, that she was to be held without charge forever. She hadn’t wanted to believe it, tried to insist that she still had some rights, but deep down she knew he was telling her the truth. He had no reason to lie.
But he had a proposition for her.
“Come work for me. Give me five years, I’ll get them to wipe your record clean.”
She didn’t understand why he would even bother to ask; surely if he had the power to get her out of here he didn’t need her consent, and anyway, how could he even consider employing someone accused of treason? But did any of that matter? He was offering her a way out, a second chance, and she didn’t care if that meant signing away her body and soul for five years of indentured servitude, or for fifty, because even that would be better than a lifetime spent wasting away locked in a cell, dying inch by inch. When the five years were up she might even gain her freedom, be able to start over with a clean slate.
He warned her it would be dangerous, but what was a little danger if it meant doing something useful with her life, helping Captain Harkness to protect people from harm? Maybe working for this man she could do some good, make amends for her crimes, and wasn’t that worth any risk that might be involved?
She accepted his offer almost without hesitation; it was one of the easiest decisions she’d ever made, and even when five years later she lay dying in his arms, red blood pooling on the white tiles of the autopsy bay, she still didn’t regret it for a moment. She’d taken that second chance, and she’d seen and done things she never would have imagined in her wildest dreams. It had been terrifying, and wonderful, and exhilarating; she’d learned so much, and she wished it didn’t have to end, not like this, not ever, but for five years she had truly lived.
If that was all she got of life then she couldn’t find it in herself to complain. It was enough.