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[JL Deniaud/Salieri] Lorelei-What Lies Beneath: The Box

USS Aldrin Lounge

by First Lieutenant Marielle Deniaud & Lieutenant Gideon Salieri
[Stardate ]

Login AUTHORS’ WARNING: The story involving Malahakir involves dark themes, adult situations, and coarse language. It is designed to be read by adults and not intended for children. Caution is advised if any of the above is offensive. WARNING TO THE WARNING: You’ve been warned.

[Deniaud/Salieri] Collaboration Log
Stardate: 1701.01 [01 January, 2017]
What Lies Beneath [XII]:
The Box

He did not know how long he was stuck in the box. The only way he’d fit was if he remained in the tight fetal position. His knees pressed tightly into his chest, and his toes were pushed up at an uncomfortable angle as his feet were forced to flex. An arm was pinned under his chest, the other around his leg. His strained to keep his head upright against the wall of the box. It bent in an inhuman angle while his head pointed the other direction. Even then, his muscles strained with the time spent in the same position for what seemed like hours. It could have been minutes, there was no way for him to know. It smelt of urine and of feces. Of vomit and of blood.

He faded in and out of consciousness as he tried to get his bearings. The pull of his muscles made it hard for him to sleep, not that he would have been able to really sleep. As he drifted between sleep and the waking world, he did know he had been knocked out and separated from Rayna. And when Gideon came to, it had been in the box.

“Lieutenant Gideon Salieri, Sigma Gamma Mu two four eight seven three,” he muttered. It was the only thing he’d said, as if repeating it would make it the only thing on his mind. It couldn’t have been farther from reality. Whether waking or dreaming, Gideon constantly saw the faces of the four officers killed. Jake Miller, Eyeri Mudan, Rentaki Mordecai and Jason ‘Shiloh’ Jackson. Four more letters he’d have to write, family to notify. They weren’t even his men, but belonged to the Trincomalee, the Geneva, the Lorelei. The thought brought a spasm to his muscles as he tensed against the confines of the box, releasing a stifled cry. Then there was Rayna. Gideon groaned. He could have sworn he’d heard her screaming sometimes. He’d failed her. He whimpered and closed his eyes. His only comfort was that Marielle had escaped, even though he had no idea how far but he had to believe.

The lock unlatched with a click, the lid flying back with enough force that the box rattled. The jostling pulled him from his dreamless sleep. He was unceremoniously dumped out as the box was tilted forward and away from his body. He’d almost failed to realize that he was liberated. Lethargically, Gideon unwound his limbs, cautiously stretching. His eyes had remained closed, maybe if he didn’t see, it would all be a dream? He didn’t want to think anymore. Grunting softly as vigor returned to him, body and mind, Gideon rolled forward onto his stomach. It had been safe in the box, at least he could pretend it was a nightmare. Now unrestricted, the possibilities were endless, and each one of them flashed in his mind as Gideon began to pant. The Betazoid mix was scared. He opened his eyes, finding them focused on a pair of olive boots.

There was a beat of silence. “Get him in the chair.” His voice was ice cold, low and gravelly. It was menacingly calm, rooted in a deep-seeded anger that was hard to place.

“No,” he whispered fearfully as a pair of hands grabbed his arm and pulled him upright. As reality started to settle back in, he was acutely aware of the throbbing in his jaw, the blood dried over a gash above his eye. He was forced into a chair, his arms pulled back and cuffed behind him. The strain on his shoulders pulsed through his arms. He blinked to clear his vision. Gideon panted as his gaze scoured the room.

The cell with matted grey walls and rust bursting from the rivets. Scratch marks, greyed scorches, and dried blood marred the dented walls. Black fuzzy spots lived in the corner where a burst pipe had dripped through the paneling. Neglect had allowed the organisms to grow and to flourish. The air was musty and vile. It reeked of blood and death. The very air was heavy with emotion and eerily silent. Light filtered from the single bulb above him, dangling chains casting ominous dancing shadows along the walls. “Merda,” he uttered. Gideon let his eyelids fall closed. Flashes of his life came and went as he shook his head, willing this all to go away. ‘Have you been trained for this?` Rayna asked him, the question echoed between his ears. The security officer whimpered as he answered her. “No.” Drawing in a sharp breath, Gideon raised his chin, glancing at the beings occupying the cell with him.

“I am Nurmeen.” There was no hint of emotion in his tone as his voice filled the room. Just facts. It was as if he had introduced himself a million times in the cell, as if he was reading a script. Like the rest of his people on Malahakir, the Teitekian was bronze with green eyes, lines of hazel softening the matted hue. If it wasn’t for the gleam of darkness in his features, Nurmeen would have been a specimen of manly beauty among his people. “Give me the information we want.” There was no bartering, no promise of relief if Gideon complied.

His body quivered without his permission, muscles tensing against the cuffs. ‘Name, rank and serial number,’ Rayna said. ~That’s not what they want,~ he argued with her. Gideon swallowed as cobalt orbs focused on Nurmeen. “Lieutenant Gideon Sal-”

His eyes gleamed at Gideon’s response as he set a closed fist into the security officer’s gut. The gurgling sound, the grunted release of air. It was echoed beautifully against the marred walls. He sent another fist into Gideon’s face, watching as his face snapped to the left. The two Teitekians flanked the door, their own matted green irises watching the beating. Nurmeen did not hold back, rage fueling every contact of his fist to Gideon’s body. “Tell me what I want to know, Starfleet,” he demanded. Even as his fists reached the security officer, there is no break in his breath. The calm was stifling. He sent blow after blow. It was only when a thin layer of sweat broke his brow that Nurmeen stopped. The Teitekian gripped Gideon by his collar, twisting the fabric tightly around the ball of his fist. His eyes watched the pull against Gideon’s neck as the fabric turned into a noose.

Swollen lips parted as he tried to pull air into his lungs, bloody saliva fluttering from his nose and mouth. His ears rang as spots danced in front of his eyes. His face was flushed with the warmth from Nurmeen’s assault, skin already pulling tight from the swelling. Gideon focused again on his captor, fully aware that he was going to get pulverized for the foreseeable future. ‘Name, rank and serial number,’ Rayna’s voice was calm and ethereal. ~Just live, Gid,~ he said to himself. His body could be repaired, life not necessarily restored. The shaking within him had calmed but his heart still raced with fear. Blood tinged his tastebuds, his mouth otherwise dry. His left eye was nearly closed. His voice rasped as he spoke quietly, “Lieutenant Gideon Salieri. Sigma, Gamma, Mu two four eight seven three.”

He released the security officer’s uniform. The slight twitch in his eye was the only betrayal to the sinister calm. Nurmeen gripped Gideon’s hair back as he sent a flurry of punches into the man’s face. Blood spattered on his face, and yet the Teitekian did not pause. He felt the security officer’s nose give way with a crack. A curl pulled at the corner of his lips as pride flared in his chest. The beating went on for hours, and he only disappeared when it was clear that the security officer would not budge on the information.

Salieri sat limp in the chair, breathing shallowly through his mouth since his nasal cavity was filled with blood. The copper taste had become something Gideon was used to by now. It was almost comforting - it meant he was still alive. Blue eyes were closed as his thoughts drifted in and out of consciousness. He was concerned for Rayna but didn’t want to ask Nurmeen. It would only give them more drive to hurt her to get to him. Guilt washed over him. He should just give them false information. But to what end? Would this stop? How long had it been? Was the Lorelei aware that they’d been captured? Surely they were. What was taking them so long? Was it normal to be this terrified?

He returned hours later. The two who had joined him earlier returned with him, one wheeling a bloodied cart into the room. The tools on the surface were haphazardly tossed together, silver stained by dried blood and rust. Nurmeen didn’t even speak as the two Teitekians forced Gideon to stand. Their hands grasped at the security officer’s collar and pulled. The fabric tore under the strain and his pips fell from his collar. The sound of metal clinking upon metal was lost in the sounds of shifting tools.

Gideon watched the pips dance on the floor for a moment, barely registering that his torso was naked. He wanted to kneel down, pick them up. They were his religion, his identity. The Betazoid mix watched them, dazed as he felt Nurmeen’s helpers yank at his pants, his boxers. A brief glimpse of reality came to him and Gideon twisted, stepping back. “Stop!” He struggled against the cuffs, attempting to get away. The security officer was met with a twist of his arm, to which he laughed at himself. ~You’re making it worse, Gid.~ The laugh earned him a punch to the gut and Gideon doubled over.

They ripped his clothes apart to leave him bare to the open air. Nurmeen said nothing; his associates knew what to do. They’d done this before, the torturous dance that allowed them reprieve from the overwhelming rage that simmered. Each man took an arm, their hold tight as their nails dug into his flesh. “Give me that information,” his cold voice finally filled the cell. He was a man of little words, knew that fear was better fostered in silence. Fear was what would break the security officer before him.

Gideon let his tongue run over his bottom lip. His arms were sore, a dull scream of ache where the two men dug their fingers into his flesh. The Betazoid mix bent slightly at the waist, wanting to appear at least slightly contrite. He would only invite greater suffering if he stood defiant. The security officer tried something new. “I don’t know.” It wasn’t what Rayna suggested, but it wasn’t giving them anything, either. ~Who am I kidding, they won’t believe me.~ His eyelids fell shut and he repeated, “Lieutenant Gideon Salieri. Sigma gamma mu two four eight seven three.” It’d become like a mantra. He glanced at Nurmeen as the henchmen released his wrists from the cuffs, pulling his arms apart as if to be crucified.

Nurmeen only stared at Gideon, matted mixed green eyes meeting Gideon’s flawless blue. He held a thick metal rod by one end, black and textured in one hand, and he lightly tapped the other end against the palm of his hand. Teitekian walked around Gideon until he stood behind the officer. There was a pregnant moment of silence as Nurmeen considered his question. “What weapons will Starfleet supply to the Vlutalin Order?” he asked finally. The words were a whisper, a quiet threat lingered in his tone.

His breaths came quicker, chest heaving gently as he flinched forward away from the rod, twisting against the men holding him. Gideon’s head shook and he grunted as the fingers digging into his arm tightened. The security officer’s jaw clenched, his chin still wagging in a negative motion. “I don’t know,” he said quietly, his voice echoing between his ears. ~What is that thing? Gods protect me.~ Gideon’s eyes raised to the ceiling.

He stepped back, his bronze thumb swiping over the switch. The click was deafening in the silent cell. A hum soon followed and light pulsed from the rod, a brilliant ribbon of electric blue and white curled at his feet. His head bobbed once at the two Teitekians as he stepped back. He didn’t even wait until their already tight grip wrapped bruisingly around the security officer’s limbs. Nurmeen’s arm reared back, and the ribbon of light danced towards Gideon’s back. It moved like a wave through the air, whirling and heating the frigid atmosphere of the cell. When it made contact with the security officer’s flesh, it sizzled against his unmarked skin. Burning flesh filled the musty air. With a pull of his wrist, the electric ribbon dragged along the flesh before it was sent flying back with a snap.

He’d tensed at the sound of the hum filling the cell, a tight knot forming in the pit of his stomach as he raised anxiously to the balls of his feet. “I don’t know!” Gideon shouted as his body tensed further, leaning away from the noise just before the electric lash bit through his skin. His body jarred forward with the shock, eyes wide as his lungs froze. Pain snaked through the nerves in his back as he gasped for air. “I don’t know!” he screamed again, his voice panicked. He was held fast between Nurmeen’s helpers. The second strike crossed the first, his body recoiling again as Gideon released an anguished cry. He could feel his knees weakening as his head swam. His stomach heaved as he coughed, wanting to vomit but finding nothing to regurgitate. The third lash was met with a weak spasm and a faint cry as the pain overwhelmed him. The brutal lashings continued, the scent of burning flesh and drying blood overwhelming the stale air of the cell. They dropped his naked body to the ground when he lost consciousness.

It was not Nurmeen that entered a few hours later, but a young woman. She appeared to be around twenty years of age. The bronze of her skin was like the desert sand just before nightfall, shimmery and near golden. Her hair was black and straight, pulled into a tight yet messy ponytail. She dressed his wounds silently and flitted away as if she had never existed. If it hadn’t been for the small piece of bread she pushed into his hand, Gideon would have thought her a dream because all he could remember of her were her eyes - rich and dark emerald in the haze of his pain. He floated in and out of consciousness, but he remembered looking into her eyes once. He didn’t recall much beyond that - because they were so very much like Marielle’s. The same, yet different.

His dreams were filled with her laughter, the warm bell-ringing lilting laugh that sounded like seaglass chimes in the warm summer breeze. She reached out to him, her hair dancing around her face as she stood in the middle of a golden field. Gideon groaned softly to himself, hand reaching clumsily out to her apparition. He hadn’t wanted to think of Marielle, but since the woman’s visit, the engineer was all that was on his mind. ~Live,~ he reminded himself as the bread was pushed between his lips. “Mi dispiace, El,” he whispered to her smiling face. “Ho fallito troppo.” Her laughter rang in his ears and Gideon smiled.

The next day proved to be worse, and Gideon was left to wonder if there was a limit to their depravity. There was the Vovash bite on his hand. The venom that moved through the security officer had forced him into a state of euphoria - the visions of Marielle had been a blessing - while it allowed his nerves to feel every attempt they made to break his spirit. His jaw was numb from the extraction of his molars. His body was beaten as he was suspended from the ceiling through the metal they pierced through his muscles. They carved their ancient text on his back. It was only when Nurmeen injected him with the antivenom that they left.

She returned once more to clean his wounds, her bare feet silent as they padded over the dried pools of his blood. She carried a small bowl in one hand, a small dirty towel floating on the surface. A small piece of bread and half-eaten fruit were haphazardly balanced in the other. She took a moment to put the food on an unsullied portion of the floor; it had been a challenge to find such a spot. She moved towards his naked body, eyes never straying from his face. The cloth was lifted from the bowl, and she wrung out the cloth until it didn’t stream steadily. Carefully, she directed his chin up as she wrung out the remaining water over his lips and into his mouth. “My name is Morha,” she told him, the syllables rolling off her tongue smoothly. She graced him with a small guarded smile as his blue eyes fluttered open.

Gideon sighed softly, his lips parting eagerly to accept the water. He would have leaned forward, searching for more if he had the energy. The voice cut through his reality and cobalt irises focused on Morha. ~El,~ he thought, then frowned as he blinked heavily. ~Not El.~ His lips moved again, nothing passing before he managed to whisper. “Thank you, Morha.” His body ached, his brain pounding between his ears. Gideon wanted to talk to her, but he was so exhausted. ~Help me,~ he instructed her. She didn’t hear him. He hung, lifeless, as she flitted around him.

Morha said nothing more beyond her name as she squeezed water over his chapped lips. She was silent as she tore into the stale crusty bread and fed him small pieces that could melt on his tongue. She bit tiny pieces into the soft fruit and slipped them past his thinly parted lips. It was only when it seemed as if he had eaten all that he could did Morha once more wrung water down his throat. Her vibrant green eyes never strayed beyond the lines of his face. With what water she had left in the bowl, she cleaned the charred marks from his skin, careful not to press into the burns. Gentle fingers worked the cloth over the cuts, mindful of the sting that came with the friction. She was tender in her kindness and in her silence, gracing him with a smile whenever he was pulled into consciousness. “Your friend lives. Be strong,” she whispered into his ear, her breath ghosting over his flesh, when it seemed he was most awake and then she was gone.

His head lifted slightly, whimpering as the breeze of her departure sent his body into a shiver. The shiver turned into a violent shudder, causing new waves of pain from the hooks in his arms and hands. A loud groan found his lips as his stomach churned. Gideon’s body rejected the fruit and bread and he convulsed, vomiting the morsels he’d enjoyed just moments before. The Betazoid mix panted, his stomach revolting once more. “Cazzo,” he groaned, managing to gather enough spit to clear the bile and blood from his mouth.

Nurmeen visited in spurts, the sessions lasting hours. The chains rattled at every blow they struck. Gideon lost his kneecap when the abuser lost his patience. There was a near desperation in how the Teitekian approached the interrogation attempts, and Gideon had to wonder if something was causing the rush. Hope dared to blossom, but it died when he was forced to watch Nurmeen slaughter the young woman who had dared to show him kindness.

“Stop,” he commanded, although his voice lacked volume and force. Gideon frowned, lifting his chin slightly to glare at Nurmeen. “Don’t-” His gaze flicked to the woman - Morha - pained expression turning apologetic. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “You don’t deserve this.” He whimpered as his voice raised, his dulled cobalt irises finding Nurmeen. “Stop! She doesn’t deserve this!”

She stared at the Betazoid mix as she screamed when the Teitekian pulled out a dagger.

“Run, El!” The shout came from deep within a memory. He sobbed, feeling more helpless than ever. “Merda, non è colpa tua.” Gideon began shaking his head again, eyes closed against seeing. It was far too much like the frantic plea over the video transmission that had them scrambling to Atlantis. Far too much like her cries for help when they rescued her - green eyes growing dull as they filled with tears.

Nurmeen slashed her throat in one single motion. His boot turned her lifeless body over as blood pooled under her neck. Her eyes remained open, her lifeless green eyes focused on the security officer.

“I’m grateful for your help, Morha. I won’t forget it,” he whispered softly. Gideon stared at her for a long time. After a while, he couldn’t tell if he was seeing the Teitekian or Marielle. Wincing at the thought, he closed his eyes, lowering his chin to his chest.

In his next visit, it seemed that Nurmeen was making a final stand. The Teitekian used his dagger to tease the security officer, offering to remove fingers and toes, even whole limbs.

He groaned harshly, unable to struggle as pain lanced through his body. A madness overcame Gideon as he uttered under his breath. “Vaffanculo. Pagani.” His eyes were dull and stared empty at the ceiling. “Io non vi dirò niente, quindi rinunciare.” The Italian language rolled from his tongue, consonants harsh but languid. A toothy grin split his face. “Ho avuto il suo primo. Non hai niente di tenere su di me ora. Fai del tuo peggio.”

“This is your last chance, Gideon.” It was the first time he used the man’s name. It left a bad taste in his mouth. Nurmeen grunted as the Starfleet officer simply shook his head. The Teitekian hissed and raised his right hand, burying the knife into Gideon’s side as he leaned in to snarl in Gideon’s ear. “Now you’ll die slowly. Maybe if you tell me what I need to know, I’ll make it quicker for you than I did Morha.”

‘Don’t you do it, Gideon Salieri!’ her voice reverberated between his ears. Gideon twitched within his sleep. ~There’s nothing left,~ he argued with her. ‘You’re not allowed to leave me.’ Fevered visions plagued him. ~They’re going to kill me. Why should I give that to them?~ ‘Your friend lives. Be strong.’ Gasping, he saw Morha. Her green eyes were wide, she was screaming. It was Marielle as she awoke after returning from Atlantis. Morha pleaded with him to help her. Marielle’s voice cut through him. ‘Come back to me.’ Groaning softly, Gideon opened his eyes, glancing around before blackness surrounded him again.

Copyright 2016. All works involving Mariëlle A. Deniaud, Rayna Elkhorn, Gideon M. Salieri, and Erik J. Vaeros, including character biographies and published stories, are the property of the United Space Federation and its authors. It cannot be reproduced, imitated, and copied without written permission from the authors. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction using aspects of the Star Trek universe as created and copyrighted/trademarked by Gene Roddenberry, Paramount, and their affiliates.
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