Author's Note: This is part of my continuing AU, taken from the middle of Not on My Watch. I will keep the chapters numbered as if you were reading from there, but I am starting this separate thread in order to rate this section M. This is for language as well as adult situations, but NOT for sex.
I realize this makes me look pretty obsessed with the whips and chains. Yikes. Maybe I am. I should also mention I'm feeling pretty insecure about this tangent. If you are brave enough to keep reading my foray into the bizarre, please, please, be generous with letting me know. You don't have to admit it publicly. PMs are fine. Just reassure me that you're there.
Lucas groaned as he opened his eyes. His head was pounding and his vision was blurry. His whole body felt like lead. He pulled his hand up to rub his eyes and was startled to hear metal rattling. The sound was immediately followed by the sensation of a restraint around his wrist and panic grabbed him full force. "No! Not again!" he gasped.
But the fact he had movement and the ability to speak meant this wasn't like Beauregard's prison. He used the other hand to explore the rattling wrist and discovered he was wearing a shackle attached to a chain that was in turn bolted to the wall. He rubbed his eyes, but his vision didn't clear. The room was dimly lit from above, like with a bulb the size of a Christmas tree light. He could barely see anything. The room seemed very small though. Smaller even than that cell on If Island.
It hurt to move, but he somehow managed to sit up. He reached out and touched the walls. The chain was only two feet long, but the room was only slightly larger than the lumpy mattress he woke up on, so he could reach it with the other arm. He estimated no more than 6x4 feet for the whole room. The walls and the floor were cold metal. There was a window in the door, but it was dark on the other side, not that it would have done him much good while his eyes weren't focused anyway. He tried the doorknob with his free hand, but it didn't budge. It was very similar to the hatch doors on seaQuest, except it had a regular knob instead of a wheel. His first thought was he was in an older undersea habitat. Of course, this dinky room was more like a storage closet and therefore hadn't been built to seal off and keep water out. But now he was standing on the floor, Lucas could feel vibrations, which meant he was on a boat or submarine of some kind.
"Hey! Get me out of here!" he yelled while pounding on the metal door with his free hand. He pounded for a good half-minute, but when nobody came, he slumped down on the mattress again. Someone had purposely chained him to the wall and locked the door and they weren't going to let him out just because he made some noise. His head hurt too much to continue anyway. Besides, some part of him couldn't forget what happened the last time he made noise to try to annoy a captor. He shuddered from head to toe just thinking about it. No, this time he was going to try to be more compliant and hopefully avoid unpleasant consequences.
How did I get here anyway? He struggled to remember what happened. He'd been in Honolulu, not on seaQuest. Ben and Katie were busy working at the shipyard. He remembered feeling empty and somewhat lost after Katie took over Jarvis. The memory was emotionally painful, like he'd lost an appendage or something. But that hadn't landed him here. He'd had a little chat with Ben and felt a bit better. Ben wasn't the same guy he'd known, but then again, neither was Lucas. While Lucas missed the happy-go-lucky guy who took him along on scheming adventures, he realized it was no more fair to miss what Ben used to be than it would be for Ben to be angry at him for wearing the science department uniform and getting a haircut.
Lucas shook his head gently, trying to clear the cobwebs of confusion. He needed to remember what happened. He and Ben had chatted about Katie and Juliana. That part of the new Ben he really appreciated. Before, Ben had been so superficial when he talked about women. Beach Babes of Barcelona hidden in his boots and all that. But Lucas got enough of that shallow tripe with Tony. Now, although he still appreciated pretty, Ben had somehow figured out that Katie didn't appreciate him talking about women like they were objets d'art. More surprising, Ben apparently found other qualities in Katie he could admire, like her astounding engineering skills and her sharp mind.
This new Ben was the kind of confidant Lucas needed to talk to about girls, someone who would 'get' why he wanted more than a pretty face, someone who wasn't going to push him to 'be stupid' as they'd once put it. Ben had sensed he wanted to talk about it; he'd hinted around about Juliana enough. Lucas felt badly he hadn't taken advantage of the moment. He should have told Ben what happened with Sandra and why he'd felt completely gun-shy about girls ever since. Ben probably would have understood and said something cheesy but profound that would have made him laugh and still feel hopeful all at the same time.
But Lucas had pushed for a beach trip instead. Ben was too busy, so Lucas had decided to go by himself to 'punish' him for it. There were at least fifty other things Lucas could have done to help Bridger Hitchcock SeaDesigns. He could have taken the high road, made himself useful, and gone to the beach the next day when Ben was available, but instead, he'd fallen back on old habits to try to make Ben feel guilty. Lucas mentally kicked himself. That stupid tactic had never worked with his father or mother. What had possessed him to think it would work on Ben?
Worse, why did he even think Ben deserved it? Ben and Katie didn't owe him anything. They could have paid the CAD's programmer to come help them learn to use it. Computer software that sophisticated probably had in-person tutorials as part of the purchase price, but even if it didn't, it couldn't have cost much more than fuel to go all the way out to the South Atlantic to pick him up and take him back, not to mention how much of Katie's time got wasted doing the flying. He'd been darned lucky they'd let him be involved at all. Far from ignoring him, they'd been concerned about his eating and going out alone (and in retrospect, with good reason) and they hadn't been offended when he had all but ignored them for four solid days, or was it five?
Running off like a spoiled kid still didn't explain how he ended up here. He was pretty sure he didn't stay out after dark. He'd promised both Ben and Katie he wouldn't do that and he couldn't fathom setting out to defy them. A mild little guilt trip was one thing, but he'd been trying too hard to act responsible and keep his word to pull something that childish. Yet, his memory was fuzzy about what happened after he went back to the condo, changed clothes, and then walked to the beach. Why couldn't he remember?
He stopped trying to remember the beach itself in an attempt to focus on why his memory was failing him and why his vision was blurred. He explored his skin to see if he'd been drugged. His inner elbows and the backs of his hands were clean. Okay, so no professional had started an IV drip. That wasn't comforting, but it made sense. If he'd been hit by a car and then attended by medical professionals, he should have ended up in a bright, cheery hospital with Ben and Katie's worried faces staring over him. Hospitals didn't tend to use locked closets or chain patients to the wall.
His headache didn't seem to be localized, which probably ruled out any kind of head trauma as the initiating force. So much for getting hit by a car. He found a painful spot on the back of his neck and touching it gave him a short burst of memory. He had felt a sharp sting and every muscle tensed up. He'd wanted to lash out with a roundhouse kick, just like Will had taught him, but he couldn't make his legs obey, couldn't turn his head to see who had thrust the sharp needle into his neck. Then everything went black.
He was making progress. He remembered the split-second before he lost consciousness, but where had he been? Surely if someone had stuck a needle in his neck on a public beach, there would have been dozens of witnesses. Someone should have seen him slump into a heap and collapse. He'd like to think lifeguards would come up and question anyone with an unconscious body. "Hey, what are you doing? Do you need help? Can we call an ambulance?" You'd think.
Had he been snorkeling, maybe? Maybe he'd been in a secluded cove or something. It didn't sound all that appealing to him right now. How could he have mustered up any excitement to go snorkeling when he could swim with Darwin any time he wanted to and he'd just taken a SCUBA dive off the Great Barrier Reef within the last month, and Bridger's Island the month before that? Why could he remember what he'd done two months ago and two days ago, but not what he'd been doing just before he passed out?
If he had been snorkeling or even just swimming, he could have been stung by a stingray or a jellyfish in the back of the neck, but it didn't seem too likely. He knew what jellyfish stings felt like and it wasn't a single sharp jab, nor would he have had to touch the spot for the pain to come back. That intense itchy burn could wake the dead. He'd never been stung by a stingray, but the logistics of how the back of his neck could ever have presented itself to a bottom-dwelling and fairly shy creature just defied all logic. Besides, although the flashback didn't tell him much, he felt pretty certain he wouldn't have had the self-defense kick impulse if he'd been in the water. He'd been standing and he'd been dry.
No, his gut told him this had not been any accident. Someone had used a dart or a hypodermic needle to shoot him full of something pretty strong, something that took effect immediately. He was actually relieved it hadn't been a hypospray. Beauregard had used the hypospray to the neck so much that he didn't even want Dr. Westphalen to use it on him again. He would leave Medbay when she gave other people their vaccines with that hissing monster. If he got out of this new predicament, he'd bring up his hypospray phobia with Wendy. Yeah, that ought to provide her some psychiatric fun. Loony Lucas and his hissing hysteria.
He jerked his chained wrist, twisting his hand as he tried to pull it through the far-too-narrow circumference. The chain links were quite solid and that shackle wasn't going to slip over his hand. He explored it with his fingers to get details his unfocused eyes weren't giving him. The keyhole wasn't old-fashioned, like the kind he could have picked with a hairpin (not that he had one anyway) but it wasn't digital combination either. No systematic number sequences he could busy himself trying. The triangular keyhole meant that it was the high security type of lock containing spring-loaded pins that met with little spherical dips drilled into a prismatic shaft. Duplicates would not be made by the kind of key cutters you found on every street corner. This lock would not open without the key it had been designed to accept. Period.
So who in the world was making shackles for human wrists with such sophisticated security? Lucas didn't think he wanted to know. In fact, he didn't like where this line of reasoning was leading at all. There were far too many unregistered mining colonies that wouldn't hesitate to employ unscrupulous labor practices including what amounted to modern-day slavery. The UEO had shut down four of those operations last year, but the report Lucas saw said for every one they shut down, there were probably another ten undetected, or worse, known, but outside of UEO jurisdiction. Sovereign colonies could do whatever they wanted and not even the UEO could force them to abide by basic human rights. The UEO had to have major economic clout to even get its toe in the door to look around.
Did he leave any clues behind Ben and Katie could follow? There was no toilet in this dark closet, which meant someone was probably going to unlock him so he could use a restroom. Assuming he was on a submarine or a surface vessel, there would be a radio he could use to get seaQuest's attention.
If Ben and Katie hadn't yet done it, eventually they'd be calling Captain Bridger. They probably would search on land first, but he knew his friends. Tim and Miguel would be looking for any clue he might send, even if they were in the wrong ocean and presumably way out of range. He could capture their attention through satellite bouncing or sonar relays easily enough, but both those methods were nearly impossible to backtrack. There would be no point to screaming for help if he couldn't tell them where to find him. And right now, he had no idea where he was or who had kidnapped him.
He wasn't sure how long he lay there, thinking and worrying, but at some point, he realized his eyes could focus again. It was still rather dim in the room, but now he saw a security camera near the ceiling, pointed down at him. He waved as if to tell his captor he was onto him. "Hey! I need to go to the bathroom!" he called while staring straight into the lens. Nothing happened. "Come on! I know you're watching me. You can't expect me to hold it forever. I gotta go!"
Then he heard movement from far off—a door opening and then footsteps in a long corridor outside the closet. The doorknob turned and he stood, backing himself against the wall. The door opened slowly and Lucas held his breath. He prepared himself for the worst: another Hans or Frans. But the first thing he saw were bony fingers curled around the door, grabbing it shakily before it swung slightly inward. A meek male voice came from behind the moving door. "I'm just the messenger, 'kay dude? I'm not gonna hurt you." He peeked out from behind the door: a skinny guy who couldn't have been much older than Lucas, maybe 20 or 21.
Lucas sighed with relief and Skinny Guy sighed with him. He stepped out from behind the door. Two things struck Lucas immediately: he wasn't just thin, he was gaunt, like seriously malnourished, and he wasn't wearing much, just a tattered, threadbare pair of shorts. And he reeked… badly. Lucas knew what it smelled like when someone hadn't bathed in weeks and this was more than that; this guy must have been working on the sewage system or something. But shocked though he was at Skinny Guy, he had problems of his own right now.
"Where am I? Who put me here?" Lucas demanded, yanking his shackled arm for emphasis.
Skinny Guy cringed. No, strike that. He cowered. Like Lucas's words had physically hurt him. He hung his head when he spoke. "Sorry, dude. If I tell you, Mistress'll punish me. I just brought papers for you to sign." He crouched at the foot of the mattress and set down a stack of paper and a pen. "Listen, you gotta sign these. If you don't, they'll leave you in here with no toilet and no water or food. In about five days, you'll die of thirst and they'll throw your carcass out the hatch to feed the sharks and then I gotta clean up all the mess you leave. You're good-looking, dude." He winced and then hurriedly added, "I mean, you got what the women like. You got a lot better chance on the Colony than here, man. But you gotta sign to go to the Colony."
"What colony?" Lucas said in a whisper.
Skinny Guy flinched. "You heard that, right? He asked. I didn't bring it up." He looked up at the camera as if it would answer him, but no sound came.
"Never mind. Don't say anything that'll get you in trouble. Are you allowed to tell me your name?"
The guy looked him in the eye for the first time and Lucas could have sworn he was going to cry. His eyes were so haunted and hungry. He shook his head slowly, then muttered, "My name's Shit Boy."
Lucas pretended he didn't think it was so bad. "I'm Lucas. Lucas Wolenczak. We're gonna get out of here. Trust me."
Skinny Guy shrugged like he'd heard that line hundreds of times. "Just sign the papers, Lucas. And forget you ever met me."