Disclaimer: I am not posting this story on StoriesOwnedBySimpson dot net, I am posting this story on Fanfiction dot net :)
My Original Characters play a larger role in this fiction than do any Canon Characters, but that does not make this an original fiction, and I claim neither profit nor credit for any part of the beautiful, wonderful world that this story takes place in. Allons-y
In the first days, Kyra prayed to be freed from the Hell that she had been trapped in.
Every soldier that came near her poisoned her mind by showing her some new fantasy of cruelty. Some prided themselves on how some weakness on her part must be responsible for the way that she had been hurt. Some wanted to see how close she could be dragged towards another mind-reader before the two gave each other seizures from the "feedback loops." Some wanted to murder other prisoners in front of her and to make her tell them what the victim was thinking: whether those who were bleeding would think differently than would those who were choking; whether those who had been taken from outside would think differently than would those who had been bred here; whether those of a reptilian race would think differently than would those of a mammalian race; what it was like for her when the person's soul was finally ripped out.
Some taunted her with plans to torture her in ways that even their own comrades would not accept as "research"; wanted her to know that nobody would believe her – or care even if they did – so long as their attacks against her existed solely in what they made her feel in their minds, with nothing tangible for the cameras to "protect" her from.
In the following weeks, she – Karen? Kayla? Kelly? Had she truly forgotten her own name? – prayed to understand why this had been allowed to happen.
The prisoners that the soldiers were most interested in making her read were the ones they called "Time Lords." This species did not exist in the natural world even to these peoples' knowledge, and every Time Lord in the compound with her had been cloned from DNA samples that even the scientists in this century did not completely understand. In theory, the Time Lords would be able to survive life-threatening injuries once the scientists figured out how to replicate the DNA perfectly, but so far none of the test subjects had been able to.
What they did get to work in the Time Lords included psychic ability. Where passive psychics like herself could not turn off the flood of information from the minds around her, these were actives who could not get anything without making a physical connection with a specific person. They couldn't even be read by passives like her under normal circumstances. Their minds were too alien for her to understand anything, which she found strange because she could still read people that looked more alien than the Time Lords did. The prisoners weren't allowed much interaction to begin with, but the Time Lords in particular were killed too frequently for her to get to know any of them very well.
In the following months, Subject K-438 prayed for the strength to endure.
They had stopped sending real people, human or otherwise, and were now using robots to force her from room to room. Perhaps she should've been thankful to not have to listen to the monsters anymore; however, as she was also allowed less and less time to interact with the other prisoners, she started to miss her previous connection – however horrifying – to her captors in contrast to this new isolation. She felt like she had known a word for such a condition when she had lived in her own world.
In the following years, she found herself praying less and less.
Finally, the door to June's holding cell opened. The man who entered, a human named LeValle according to his tape, appeared to be a Primary Lieutenant from the early-23rd Century Air Force, 4212th Castorian Valkyries if she was interpreting the uniform correctly. June tried to remember whether any war crimes were associated with this division. She couldn't think of anything.
LeValle wasn't heavy on the eyes: nice crew cut, bad-boy swagger, strong eyes, solid chin and jawline. Under better circumstances, June wouldn't have had a problem with him finding her handcuffed to a table. She noticed that Primary Lieutenant LeValle was wearing decorations for valor but none for injury in the line of duty. Perhaps he was more skilled at "office politics" than at direct confrontation?
June decided to take that chance and start on the offensive. "You'd better be interrogating me last, because if my crew have been isolated for as long as –"
LeValle didn't let her finish. "I'll be asking the questions here, Ma'am. You were caught trespassing on a maximum security Air Force base that –"
That was the best opening he could come up with? June was already disappointed. "And that's what happens when a secret base is kept secret very well: people don't know about it! You can't arrest people for trespassing when you've hidden the 'Keep Out' signs!"
LeValle seemed surprised that she yelled so loud instead of letting him finish, but he regained his composure quickly enough. "Ma'am, in case I wasn't clear, I'll be asking the questions. Please state your name for the record?"
He did not seem good at this; June just glared at him for a few seconds before saying anything else. "Captain June Harper."
LeValle didn't show any reaction to that name. Not only did he clearly not know of June herself – the poor bloke would've run screaming if he had – but if the Time Agency's system of "Captain J H" codenames in general didn't even register, then he clearly hadn't heard of them either. That was not reassuring. As ridiculous as the Time Agency's bureaucracy had been in June's experience, the people in this facility messing around with time vortices without the Agency's oversight sounded even worse.
June continued, "Born 5050 by the Earth calendar, graduated valedictorian in 5073 from the Scranton Time Academy on Delta Vega. Since 5077, I've been travelling too much for universal years to work as benchmarks, but it's been about 10 of my personal years since –"
LeValle cocked his eyebrow in disbelief. "Ma'am, you are aware that the present Earth year 2235?"
Unbelievable. "Yes, and are you aware that your apparently-not-supposed-to-be-a-secret Air Force base is built right under a cluster of temporal rifts?"
Had he really given away classified information just like that? Even June's natural charms shouldn't have been able to open him up that quickly. "Then why are you so baffled by the idea of a time ship from your future refueling from a time rift in your present?" June sighed, trying to sound as dramatic as possible. "If your comrades were at all competent, then they would've already scanned our ship, and they would've found that Arachne has a temporal signature that should not be possible with 23rd century human technology. Where else could we have come from?"
LeValle started to breathe more heavily. He didn't seem very experienced at keeping himself collected, let alone at keeping June from controlling the conversation. Had he never interrogated anyone before? "Ma'am, if you're not going to start taking this seriously –"
"You'll what? Kidnap my crew even more? If you people were taking this seriously, then you would've let us leave the planet before we could learn about you people in the first place!" June got an idea. "Wait a minute, isn't there a General LeValle in charge here? Yeah, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I did hear somebody say to 'tell General LeValle' about the 'intruders' right before the tranquilisers kicked in."
"Listen, I don't know what you're getting at –"
"I'm getting at how there's somebody in the base with your name, but who's old enough to have got to General. I'm thinking that your rank is either a reward for putting out for the General –"
LeValle's eyelids all but flew off of his gorgeous face. "Excuse me!?"
"– making this a kind of Cougar Cub patronage, or that the General is one of your parents, making it familial Momma's Boy patronage."
LeValle's eyelids relaxed; clearly the same name was a sign of parentage and not of marriage. Then again, June saw no reason not to take this a bit further: "Or any combination thereof."
LeValle pounded the table, probably not completely voluntarily. "Shut up, bitch! You are not in charge here, and I do not appreciate –"
"And I'm sure that an actual soldier, that had actually given blood, sweat, toil, and tears in actual battle, did not appreciate being passed up for some punk that has never seen actual combat!"
Seriously? What was this, bloody amateur hour? "Or were you valiantly hiding while the cowards were too busy fighting?"
"You listen to me –"
"News flash, bitch: you don't get hurt, it don't count."
LeValle was starting to sound even less collected. "What the Hell makes you think I haven't seen my share of action? I –"
"Would be wearing any decorations for injury if you had been given any?"
LeValle started to stand up, but June kicked him in the leg and he dropped back into the chair. That felt too easy. From just reading about military history, the soldiers of past centuries like this one had seemed like superhuman badasses; and yet to meet them in real life, they were always so fragile.
"See that? Injury. And your men have been through worse than that."
LeValle seemed too scared to say anything else.
"Do you really think that you have the respect of the soldiers under you who have actually fought to live as long as they have done? Do you really think that any of them think that you deserve to live above them?"
June didn't expect LeValle's face to pale so quickly.
"Are you saying my men want me dead?"
June felt herself start smiling. "If you can't survive the real world as well as they have had to, then I'm afraid I don't see why not."
The door opened again. This time it was a Colonel Leeson, also human. Thinner face than LeValle, very pretty cheekbones, and the way she held herself was a lot more professional than LeValle's showy-macho performance had been. Her uniform was plainer than LeValle's; June didn't recognise the design, but different uniforms clearly meant that a handful of different military units were sharing a single base. Despite the simplicity of Leeson's uniform, she struck June as a very "warrior-princess of Hell" kind of elegant; or maybe that was just June's admittedly overactive imagination.
She hadn't got the burn scar down her cheek and neck removed, even though June was sure that such treatments were available to soldiers in Leeson's position. Perhaps this was a survivor's guilt complex, an intimidation ploy, a court-martial punishment; in any case, Leeson certainly wouldn't scare as easily as LeValle had. Hopefully, she would have the real-world experience to listen to reason instead.
"Primary Lieutenant LeValle, you are relieved to the barracks."
He certainly looked relieved; he couldn't limp out of the room fast enough.
June decided to try starting out more friendly with this one. "Well, hello Colonel. You're a lot prettier than the last one I had in here. I didn't think such a thing were possible." She changed her mind and stopped smiling. "Where the Hell's my crew, Leeson?"
"Captain Harper, you have to understand –"
"I have to understand where my people are and when we can leave."
"Well, that's going to be a problem, Captain, because we only have two people in our custody besides you. We can't make any deals until we know what the rest of your crew knows about the –"
"Those are the rest of my –" June felt the table hit her in the gut.
"Don't interrupt me, Captain. Are you ready to cooperate now?"
June shook her head "no."
"Was that a 'yes'? Good, thank you. Now, we've never seen anything exactly like your ship before, so we're willing to consider that the piloting and sick bay could be automated at least, but the size of the ship still makes it look like it would need a crew of five or ten people to fly and maintain, not just three. All we have is you, Captain, two guys calling themselves Nathan Durst and Damien Mitchell, and that's it. Do you really expect me to believe that those three people make an entire space-faring crew?"
June felt herself start to spit. "Four."
"Four. Myself, ship's Captain; Nathan, ship's mechanic; Damien, First Officer; and Arachne – or as I like to call her, 'Ari' – our ship, navigator, pilot, sick bay, medic, weapon's officer…"
"Are you saying your ship has an AI?"
"I'm saying that she is an AI. There's a difference."
"And do you always take such distinctions so personally?"
June couldn't believe that that was a serious question. "Yes, because she's a member of my crew, not a sodding piece of equipment!"
"I hope you forgive me for my lack of imagination, Captain, but I was under the impression that it's mathematically impossible for mechanical computers – of any processing speed – to be as sentient as a biological organism."
"What about a biological computer?" June put on a look of exaggerated shock. "Really, would a mindless machine be able to enjoy any kind of art for it's own sake? Let alone decide that the works she enjoys the most tend to be, say…"
June wasn't sure which of Ari's tastes would get her point across the best: Silurian fashion and vehicular designs; Human film and literature; Gelth lightshows and dance; …
Then she realised that Leeson probably hadn't even heard of most of those cultures. She decided to go with Ari's favourite Human works instead: "… science fiction stories from 21st Century Earth? Arachne, on the other hand, not only decided a while back that a character from her favourite film series had a lovelier voice than she herself had originally been stuck with, but she even reprogrammed her own synthesisers to sound like the character instead. Do you think a mindless tool would ever do that?"
Leeson very pointedly looked at her antique wristwatch. "Are you almost done yet?" For somebody sent in as an interrogator, she didn't seem interested in using her ears to learn anything about the people being interrogated.
June imagined ripping them off of Leeson's pretty face. Possibly with fingers, possibly with teeth. "I'm sorry, maybe I'm just feeling extra touchy right now, seeing as you kidnapped my crew under the guise of arresting us for a crime that, by definition, we could not possibly have known not to do. And instead of just giving us truth serum, finding out that we hadn't known anything, then Retconning us and sending us on our –"
Leeson's eyes bugged wider than June was sure a Slitheen would've thought possible. "What exactly do you mean by 'Retconning,' Captain?"
"I mean drugging us with Retcon to make us forget the last few hours. All we would need to do first is record messages of ourselves saying not to come back. Then, when we woke up and Arachne showed us our recorded messages, we would trust our judgments and leave."
"Even with the rest of your crew missing?" Leeson's voice had none of the earlier bravado. At least she seemed to be holding out better than LeValle had done.
"If you would give us truth serum, then you'd know that there is no 'rest of' the crew."
"And if we can't do that?"
June pinched the bridge of her nose. "Look, even if you think that there are more of us, you could still Retcon us and leave us some to spy on when we woke up. If Damien, Nathan and I aren't the only people in the crew and we woke up not knowing where we were, then we'd first look for the others – since we wouldn't remember that anybody else was also looking for them – and then you would know their names from us calling for them. Or is that too reasonable for the likes of you?"
After some quiet deliberation, or at least a very good performance thereof, Leeson stood up. "Well, we do not normally take interrogation tips from suspects, but I personally felt that your suggestion sounded reasonable enough. I'll go to talk to my superiors."
June wanted to laugh at this woman's priorities. Finding out that people could travel backwards in time hadn't rocked Leeson's world, but finding out that other people knew about Retcon had shaken her from the offensive to the defensive? It was bad enough she was taking June's Bond-villain scenario seriously.
"And if they decide that it isn't worth a try, do you think that they're more likely to discipline you for taking a prisoner's suggestions and giving her control of the interrogation? Or do you think that they'll congratulate you for falsely gaining my trust, what with letting me think that I took control and got you on my side against the evil desk bosses?"
June tilted her head down and to the left to get a better look. "I mean, personally, if I was your boss and I got to look at that arse all day, I've got to say that disciplining it would be the more tempting –" She took another table-hit to the gut. Alpha-Bitch Leeson was back.
"Don't push your luck, Harper. I'll be back in a few minutes." Leeson turned to the door.
"Why bother? I don't know if the mikes are on you, the table, or in the walls, but either way your superiors already heard everything we've both been saying, right?"
Leeson stood still.
"Are you admitting that you and Cryboy didn't actually have any questions worth asking, in which case my crew should've been released hours ago? Or did you just forget the questions you were supposed to be asking, and you didn't want to hurt your control image by having to be reminded in front of the prisoner?" June couldn't stop herself from laughing.
Leeson stared at the door – or possibly just away from her – for a few seconds of very loud breathing, probably either scowling and/or foaming at the mouth, before sitting back down to face June again.
"Fine, let's start over. You want us to believe that you're a time traveller from… when did you say, 51st century?"
"What tipped you off, the time ship, the pheromones, or just me saying so?"
Leeson's jaw dropped. "Pheromones? Did you really just say 'pheromones'?"
June tried, and felt she succeeded at, smiling again. "OK, so if that wasn't it, then I appreciate you thinking that I just naturally smell like this. Was it instead the time ship from the 51st century, or the fact that I specifically said that I was from the 51st century, that tipped you off that I'm from the 51st century?"
Leeson seemed to need a second to get the pheromone conversation out of her head. "Captain, we understand that you claim you're from the future. We just don't understand how you expect us to believe you, seeing as time travel to arbitrary destinations in the past is impossible. Only wormholes that go between specific times and places can be used."
"Yeah. Maybe in the present." June made a "did that just blow your mind?" gesture that she believed came from the 22nd century, maybe 20th or 21st. It was rather difficult to do without breaking the handcuffs, but she felt that she managed well enough. "Seriously, haven't you scanned Arachne yet? Does the kind of radiation on her match anything that's found in this universe besides the temporal rifts above us?"
"I'm afraid I haven't had the chance to be told anything about your ship since I came in here… what do you think that was, five minutes ago? If the boys in engineering have learned anything new since then, how could it possibly have been passed on to me?"
"Maybe through the ear-piece that you should be wearing in case somebody outside needs to give you pointers about new questions that should be brought up?"
Leeson looked like she was getting tired of June knowing so much about interrogation procedure. "We don't actually use those here. We found that it undermined the questioner's 'control image,' as you put it, to have them interrupted by ear-pieces that carry the associations of unwanted distraction. Just having somebody else walk in with a folder to go over is more effective at reinforcing the proper chain of command."
June felt a part of her brain die hearing that answer. A captor explaining her tactics of manipulation to the intended target of said manipulation would've undermined the captor worse than any equipment could do. Was this some kind of mind game on Leeson's part: a single interrogator alternating between the good cop, the bad cop, and the beautiful-but-incompetent cop to keep the prisoner off-balance?
June realised that if that was Leeson's intention, then it was working: she was indeed starting to feel exhausted by the amount of stupid she'd been exposed to in the last half hour. Had LeValle been a brilliant actor playing a bloody idiot the whole time?
June made a mental note to try that technique sometime, but this still meant that it would be even harder than she'd thought to deal with her captors directly. "Well then it's too bad that you ruled out truth serum just now. You want to know where we're from and how much we know about the base, I want you to know that that we didn't know anything. Sounds like that would have been a win for the both of us."
Leeson shook her head. "Captain, if we used truth serum every single time that some –"
"Oh, really?" They'd had truth serum this whole time; they just hadn't felt like using it.
Leeson scowled put her palms to the edge of the table.
Very well then, if they were saving it for extreme circumstances, June would give them extreme circumstances. She grinned and licked her lips for dramatic effect, looked Leeson straight in the eye, and pulled the handcuffs apart.
Lesson jumped back. She put her hand to the baton on her waist, but a flicker of realisation danced across the delicious look of fear on her face. Clearly, she had just figured out that if June was strong enough to break the restraints, then June was also too strong for the baton to protect her. Leeson's previous appearances of passivity had almost certainly been mind games, but June was sure that this new fear was genuine.
A drumbeat of footsteps outside the room drew closer to the door. Reinforcements were on their way, and the interrogation was clearly over.
June didn't care that whatever shackles they put her in next would be stronger. This was a waste of time, and hopefully a show of force would work where reason hadn't. "Are you going to give us the truth drugs, or not?
AN: I'd like to thank the beta readers who've worked with me so far on making this story presentable, and I'd like to thank any community readers who've made it to this AN :) Please review! I hope to update 1 chapter per weekend.