From yours truly. It originally featured a warning that it is mildly disturbing, that warning still stands.
"The Big Bad Goodbye"
The Bynars prized efficency. Treated their slaves pretty well if they co-operated and worked hard. They appreciated the value of a good investment, keeping the stock docile and well bred. Not like those idiots the Klingons
, the Slavemaster thought to himself. He'd worked his way to the top of this sector by being more obsequious, genteel and efficient. When the Bynars said one string of numbers, he laughed. When they said another, he cried. He did such a good job they let him rule his fellow stock, and he did it well.
He did it for the perks. Perks like the Holodeck. No other member world of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance had anything
like what the Bynars had in the Holodeck... it was a thing to die for. Or rather, to betray your blood for. Tonight was Friday night. Tonight he hung his gallows high and kissed sweet murder. Every other night of the week the Slavemaster was just a toady called Picard. Tonight
... he was Cyrus Redblock.
The doors opened. And he stepped inside - outside. Grimy, concrete buildings of a distant world half remembered crumbling like elegies. Cyrus smiled broadly; wondering how glorious those claustrophobic pillars must have been before Earth was reduced to a ruinous slave market. He strode through the paranoid streets, he gloated in the fear of holographic faces as they recognized him. To be feared, if only by things that did not exist... he delighted in it. He lit a cigar and let smoke billow from his nostrils into the dark shadow of the alleyways.
But he'd tired of it after a while. So he'd asked for some... adjustments. Let living people in. The unruly, the sick. Whoever they didn't need anymore. Let them in to die. Finally the Bynars had agreed. They'd play their part, the Slavemaster would feel big, and he'd have the satisfaction of knowing he shed real blood each night...
Cyrus patted the cold steel of his gun with his gnarled hand, and the other threw a dime to a dirty-faced kid. He yanked a newspaper from him, and read the newspaper, immersed himself... then he saw something he didn't want to see. "POLICE HAVE SEVERAL LEADS IN THE BRUTAL SLAYING OF MRS. ARTHUR CLINTON BRADLEY." And there was a photo there... of Tasha Yar. "Damn," mumbled Cyrus. What was it she'd said?
He wondered. Oh, Slavemaster... if you
weren't the Slavemaster...
He grunted irritatedly. She was meant to be his
, not some holographic homicidal -
"Hey Boss." sneered a familiar voice. Cyrus looked over, disgusted at those dead, cold, fake eyes. That mannequin man, that blasted android
. Picard didn't fear the Bynars, he knew how to work them. But this sick, twisted thing, this sex-crazed, bloodlusting maniac... The Bynars might have had brains like computers, but they hadn't been built by a crackpot delusional madman. Yet they'd bought this piece of hardware and whenever they wanted to make an example, they sent someone to this thing. Picard could only imagine what perversions it had sent Yar through, how long it had let her agonize... those abhorrent pleasures that Picard
should have had....
"Data!" spat Picard. The android flicked the spittle from its face, unperturbed. "The name's Leech, boss. Felix Leech." Leech sneered, the accent sliding off his inhuman tongue. Cyrus shoved the paper in his face. "My two-bits don't kill dames." barked Cyrus. "That's my
"Sure thing, boss." Cyrus regarded the thing cautiously. It was being submissive. If not fear - could that thing feel
fear? - he had shown obedience. Yes, he could be... useful. The night was not wasted.
"We're putting the heat on Dixon, Leech." The android smiled slyly. Cyrus nodded. "Yeah, the big heat. He's got something we want." And the rain came down. The hard rain that doused his cigar.
He was a sniveling little wretch. A bookworm with a trenchcoat two sizes too courageous. He tried to light a cigar but he couldn't even keep his hand steady. At last, Cyrus gave him one of his. "What's your name?"
"Dixon Hill, Private -"
"I mean your name
"Whalen." He quivered.
"Humph. Yeah, I remember you. Lit-historian, isn't it? Fancy title for a slave. Always held yourself so high, like you was invicible. I guess the Bynars don't have need of those
"Uh, Picard -"
" And it was true. In here there was no Picard, no Slavemaster. They existed all week so that Cyrus could come out Fridays and slake his thirst. "Somehow, Dix, I'd expected you to be taller. But it seems to me you are being uncooperative. This is unfortunate."
"What are you going to do to him?" Demanded the woman. What a dish
, thought Cyrus, glad I've brought a spare...
"I'd be more worried about what I am going to do to you, Beverly." Cyrus leered gloatingly. To that pallor-faced Dix, he spat: "Where's the item?"
"Item?" quailed Whalen. "There never was
an item, don't you know that -" A yawn. A heavy yawn, a bored yawn. Cyrus' yawn. If anyone called it the yawn of death, nobody'd laugh. "Give him the works, Leech." Leech leaned over to Whalen, and began the slow kill. It wasn't about the item, Cyrus knew it was nothing. He even knew Whalen had no idea where it was. It was all about the death, the painful death, the beautiful torment. He might hate that android, but he had to admire its technique: Rumour said it'd kept its clinetele dying for weeks. And now to see such exquiste pulverizing in action... Cyrus felt he should be taking notes. He noticed Beverly's reaction - white as a corpse that didn't know it was dead yet. He chortled at the notion.
When Leech was done, Whalen's body was a piecemeal pattern. Almost at once its sly, life-less eyes darted to Beverly. "You've had yours." Cyrus angrily reproached him. "Get out." Leech hesistated for a moment, but only a moment. The android left, and for all its amusement Cyrus felt a weight had been lifted: Now he was alone with a terrified moll. He was in
his element. Billowing smoke in her face, Cyrus held her chin with his forefinger and thumb, leaned forward, and whispered with graveled assurance: "Let me have my way... and I'll get Jack out." Jack. He'd been the Slavemaster's friend for many years, but then he had the damn foolishness to lead a rebellion. He'd got imprisoned. And Cyrus knew Beverly loved him more than anything.
But his promise was a lie. Jack was probably already dead. And even if he wasn't, there was nothing the Slavemaster could do to save him. And he knew Beverly knew that, but he knew she had no hopes and no dreams. He knew her total desperation would turn lies to truth if they sounded right. And so she gave herself to him.
Aftewards, as they lay on the floor, Beverly asleep, Cyrus placed his gun to her temple. "Perfect postplay." The shot sounded, blood smeared itself across his face.