Chapter 10 <cont'd>
He struggled upwards towards awareness as flickering memories jumbled together with the earnest demands of his subconscious to wake up and do something!
He saw the towering mushroom cloud reaching skyward above Melos, he witnessed Donald Sandhurst’s broken body fresh from the Baron’s captivity, and he watched his own hands snapping the neck of a Cardassian teenager on Lakesh.
“Welcome back,” Ramirez’s voice came to him with startling clarity, bringing full consciousness with it.
He whispered something hoarsely in reply but it was unintelligible.
“You’ve looked better, Pava, I have to admit.”
Lar’ragos opened his one remaining eye, finding Ramirez standing over him where he lay on the day bed in the ready room. An alien medic from a species Lar’ragos was unfamiliar with was tending to his wounds. A pressure bandage had been applied to his right eye, and his other injuries appeared to have been sutured via protoplaser.
He grunted, angry with himself for yielding to his injuries instead of standing in defense of his ship and crew. “So,” he rasped, “what now? What’s the grand plan here?”
Ramirez moved around the room to take a seat behind his desk, making a show of kicking her boots up onto the tabletop. A representative from yet another unknown species stood by the door to the bridge, cradling a dangerous looking rifle of some kind.
“Hurting the people Donald cares about was part of the plan,” she offered with a self-satisfied grin. “So, from that standpoint, it’s well underway.”
“That’s it, then, revenge for some perceived slight?” He laughed, or tried to, choking on the effort. “How mundane of you, Liana. You've never demonstrated a talent for mediocrity before.”
Ramirez was turning a decorative bauble that had belonged to Sandhurst over in her hands, but paused following Lar’ragos’ critique. “Careful, now. You really don’t want to make me angry again.”
He turned his head far enough to be able to see her with his good eye. “That’s all you can feel anymore, isn’t it?” It was phrased as a question, but his voice carried the timbre of certainty.
She sat up suddenly, the computer terminal and various padds and data flimsies falling to the floor from the desktop. “Don’t you even dare
presume to know me, Pava.”
“Too late,” he replied with genuine sadness. “He left just enough of the real you in there to suffer every time you take a life, but it’s the only time he lets you feel anything at all. Agony as reward… making pain preferable to utter emptiness. I didn't give the Baron enough credit.”
Ramirez gestured hotly to the guard at the door, who stepped out onto the bridge briefly. He returned dragging a bloodied, struggling Juneau with the assistance of another of Liana’s pirate crew.
Juneau was bruised and battered, but her eyes still blazed with defiance when she strained to raise her head. “Cap… captain?” she asked, concerned with Pava’s welfare above that of her own.
“Touching,” Ramirez growled. “Still, I can’t believe you made this mewling little thing your XO.”
“She’s done me proud,” Lar’ragos parried. “She’s eager to learn, and she’s got more courage than I’d ever imagined.” He focused on Juneau. “Hang in there, Olivia.”
Ramirez drew a wickedly sharp combat knife from a sheath on one thigh, before stepping around behind Juneau and jerking her head back by her hair. The former XO held the blade to her successor’s throat. “I want you to feel the same helplessness I felt on Velkohn, El Aurian.”
Lar’ragos’ expression was caught in the no-man’s land between disbelief and outrage. “I
expected to die on Velkohn, Liana! It never occurred to me that Donald was capable of what he did until after he’d done it.” His eye fixated on the razor-keen knife. “It should have been me. Is that what you want to hear? Fine, I admit it, it should have been me!”
He looked up at Ramirez, pleading, “Please, don’t do this. There’s no reason.”
Juneau began to weep quietly, her emotional reserves exhausted in the face of so much unnecessary death and anguish. “Please,” she begged, tears coursing down her cheeks. “Please don’t kill me, Liana.”
Lar’ragos did not flinch. He did not close his eye as the deed was done, but instead kept it locked firmly on Ramirez’s own. It was not quick by any means, and Juneau thrashed and suffered terribly. After Ramirez released her grip on Juneau’s hair and let the other woman’s body collapse to the deck, she raised the knife and inspected it closely as Juneau’s blood dribbled from the blade and speckled the carpet.
“Kill me now,” Lar’ragos said in a voice completely devoid of emotion. “If you don’t, then both of us will know the reason is that you need
me to end this torment for you. I… surely will. But I’ll show you the mercy you denied Olivia. Your death will be a quick one.”
It boiled up within him, surging past all his painfully erected defenses, making a mockery of his new Vulcan discipline. The predator’s smile spread slowly across his lips like a flash frozen field of ice.