Star Crossed, Part 8

Characters: Dunstan Kordieh

(Warning: This log contains some intense incidents of violence. Safe for work, but a few paragraphs made me feel a bit queasy, and I wrote them. –jamie)

Dunstan Kordieh had been so occupied with maneuvering his heavily loaded anti-grav sled out of the marketplace that he didn’t hear the Narn toughs behind him. When one of them hit him on the back of the head, he had time for one thought as the world went gray around the edges: Gonna have to take that class over.

Then the gray tunnel turned to black, and fell in on him.

He came to as a bucket of cold, foul-smelling water was thrown over him. Sputtering and blinking, he looked around. The room was dim; only a few rays of deep orange sunlight came in through small windows high in the walls lined with mud brick. He was tied, hands behind him, to one of several concrete support pillars. It was a cellar of some kind, the sun was setting outside, and he was a prisoner.

His captors, two tough-looking Narn, stood in front of him. One still had a bucket in one hand. “You’re stupid even for a Centauri,” the other said, speaking in Narn. “Surprised you made it this far.”

“I’m not a Centauri,” Kordieh replied in the same language. G’Fen left me with one good thing, at least – how to speak his language. “I’m a human. From Earth.” He tried to sound unconcerned, even irritated – though it was difficult to force the words out through a throat that was suddenly tight.

“Human? Think I crawled out of the pouch this morning?” the Narn with the bucket said, swinging it at Kordieh’s head. He ducked, but not quite far enough. A line of white-hot pain flashed across the top of his head, and as he straightened to glare at the Narn, he could feel blood running down his forehead. Scalp laceration. Going to bleed like tout l’enfer.

“Le cerveau il etait en option chez toi!” Kordieh cried, then took a deep breath. “Yes, human. Let me go now and we’ll just call this a mistake, and no hard feelings.”

“I don’t think so,” the other Narn said, swinging the short club he held. It struck Kordieh in the right side just below the armpit. He gasped, suppressing a groan with an effort, then gasped again as a slight movement brought a sickening grinding sensation and a second blaze of pain.

The Narn who hit him looked back at his companion, clearly puzzled. “He oughta’ve been wailing his head off,” he said. “I got him right in the babymaker, didn’t I?”

“Try the other side, a little lower,” Bucket suggested.

Before Kordieh could protest, Club complied. This time Kordieh felt the snap as another rib gave way, but he bit down on his lips and tried not to move. “I told you … not Centauri,” he said a moment later. “Anatomy … completely different.”

The Narns frowned at each other. “Tor’Kulu’s not gonna like this. We told him we had a good present,” Club said.

“We better go get him anyway,” Bucket replied. “Even if this guy wasn’t Centauri, he was getting into Tor’Kulu’s business. He hates that.”

Kordieh watched them go up a narrow set of wooden steps. The last rays of sunlight faded from the windows. He shivered. Not cold. Shock setting in.

He tried to think. His bindings felt like plastic, akin to zip ties. They were so tight around his wrists and ankles that they nearly cut off circulation. Not getting out of those. His link was gone. No way of knowing exactly how long he’d been unconscious. But surely Margaret would be coming after him before long.

If she could figure out where he’d been taken.

He had to stay calm, stay focused, and wait. His time would come. It had to.

He didn’t think he could manage a meditative state. But reciting facts would keep his mind focused. He thought of trivia. The World Cup List. He’d memorized it from the beginning, years ago. How does it begin?

He took as deep a breath as he dared, then said softly, “1930. Uruguay. Where it all began. 1934. Italy …”

“1970. Mexico. Pele –”

Several sets of heavy feet were coming down the steps. An overhead light snapped on. Club and Bucket had returned, bringing with them an older, heavier-looking Narn. He stared at Kordieh dispassionately. “Guess I can see where my boys might mistake you for a Centauri,” he said. “Not too many of you humans come to Dra’Shu.”

Kordieh blinked, trying to clear the crust of drying blood from his lashes. 1986. Mexico again. Diego Maradona. “Let me go, and no hard feelings. I promise,” he lied.

“I might just do that,” Tor’Kulu said. “But you’ve been cutting into my business. Taking refugees home without me. I can’t have that.”

“I promise you, let me go and you’ll never see me again on Dra’Shu. Ever.”

“You know, human, I think I believe you,” Tor’Kulu said. He took several steps closer, until he was standing behind Kordieh, resting one hand on his captive’s forearm. Kordieh tensed. “But I need to make absolutely sure you get the message. No one – whatever your species – puts his fingers into my business.”

In a sudden, brutal movement, he seized all four fingers of Kordieh’s left hand and snapped them, back against themselves. Kordieh screamed once and went limp.

Tor’Kulu snorted. “That’s a human? Not real impressive.” He turned to the others. “Leave him here. If he’s still alive at dawn, let him go. Dump him where you found him, either way.”


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