|USF Personal Log|
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( Special thanks to Marielle Deniaud for her assistance in writing this series. )
After three days in the pit and an overnight stay in the infirmary, Gideon descended the stairs with the intention of eating breakfast. There was no ‘light duty’ order, so he knew he would be expected to go to the mine. His arms were crossed over his chest tightly in an attempt to keep warm. He’d noticed that a chill seemed to linger within him no matter how he tried to stay warm. Less than two weeks into a life sentence and the half-Bajoran could feel all desire to continue slipping away. He was silent and withdrawn as he collected a tray of food and made his way to an empty table near the door. His body dropped into the chair and he leaned over his tray to eat.
The Ferengi watched from afar before he nodded to the Trill beside him. Together, they picked up their trays and made their way towards Gideon and Fregg plopped down into the seat next to the half-Bajoran while the silent spotted man sat across from him. “You’re out, hoo-man.” He grinned and nudged him with his pointed elbow before taking a spoonful of his gruel. He sighed and wrinkled his nose. “Damn Klingons. What I would give for some tube grubs.”
He grunted quietly at the nudge and glanced over at Fregg before his gaze shifted to the Trill. Eritas was his bunkmate and still had yet to say a word to anyone in Gideon’s hearing. There was a brief moment of respect when their eyes met before the half-Bajoran tuned his chin back to look down at the Ferengi. He was silent for several moments and then he simply returned to eating.
“You kept your mouth shut. That’s a good quality in a friend.” Fregg scooped up a good portion of the gruel and forced himself to eat. “Kanks goo-mun.” Spittal and gruel flew as he spoke with his mouth full.
Gideon paused from slipping the spoon into his mouth and grunted softly. “Mi riscalda il cuore per essere tuo amico, (It warms my heart to be your friend.)” he replied sarcastically before putting the bite between his lips. ‘What good is it?’ As he moved the gruel around his mouth in an attempt to enjoy the taste his eyes lifted toward the ceiling. His eyelids closed and he was in their shared quarters with a candle on the table between them. Fresh French bread smelled like her and the fettuccini was drowning in the vodka cream sauce they enjoyed making together. ‘I miss your cooking El.’ He laid the spoon down and propped his elbows on the table.
The Ferengi chuckled. The sarcasm was lost on him and the words more so. He bowed over his tray as he shoveled food into his mouth. He swallowed big bites, pounding on his chest whenever the sticky mess clung to his throat. He chugged water as he glanced around. “You should be thankful you and I are friends now, hoo-man. They don’t like Starfleet in here.” As if to highlight his point, Fregg’s chin lifted just enough to point in one direction and another. “But I like Starfleet. Starfleet has been good for my business.”
Several tables had men of different races keeping their heads together. They stole glances at Gideon and whispered amongst themselves. A few sneered, a few snickered. Some looked curious.
“Are you going to protect me?” he asked Fregg derisively as his gaze lingered on the men who apparently did not like him simply for being a former Starfleet officer. Gideon had noted them before but they seemed to more openly show their dislike for him since the entire colony had been made aware of his past affiliation with the Federation’s naval fleet.
“Safety in numbers, my friend.” Fregg shrugged. “You want to survive? I can trade for your protection.” He took a larger than necessary bite of his gruel and grunted at the taste. “The rumour is that you killed your female. They say she was a good woman,” answered the Ferengi with a snicker. “You’ve got a mark on your head.”
His chin dipped so that he could rub his hand over his face and he sighed heavily. “Non l'ho uccisa, (I didn’t kill her.)” he repeated softly. Gideon bowed his head and clenched his fingers into his hair. “Senza di lei prendersi cura di me, non voglio sopravvivere. (Without her to care for me, I don’t want to survive.)” His breaths became heavier as emotion overwhelmed him. It took a few moments and some pulling at his thick strands to ease out of the spiral. The tray was pushed away from him and he stood without looking at either of them. When Fregg and Eritas remained silent, the half-Bajoran walked away and toward the tram to the mine.
Little did Gideon know that Fregg’s offer would be necessary. As he waited for the tram to fill with prisoners, a body approached him from behind and slapped a hand over his mouth. Another arm twisted his hand behind his back to incapacitate him as fists and feet assaulted his person. A final punch to the jaw sent him to his knees and his attackers melted into the gathered crowd. The half-Bajoran sat back against the wall of the shuttle as he recovered from the attack. He was barely able to get off the tram when it arrived at the mine. It was a long day.