|janecarnall (janecarnall) wrote,|
@ 2008-11-08 08:41:00
The Players: Dana
This is part three of the second section (seven parts) of the story (part one, part two) that began with The Games (six parts) and continued with The Network (one part).
The story may be regarded as fanfic set in poisontaster's Keptverse. It is being written as part of wrimowrimo.
The Players: Dana
Dana liked Willow: the girl tried hard. Giles had arrived with a reputation as some kind of hotshot trainer, but although Giles certainly knew a lot of tricks at close-quarters combat, he couldn’t teach them except to another expert: he’d get exasperated and lose his temper if his student didn’t pick up everything, first time, only time.
Gerard was standing by the door watching them both: Willow saw him just after Dana did, and her final pattern was the best one of the day. He came over to the range and looked at their targets. “You’re getting good at that, young lady.”
“I’m not a young lady,” Willow said.
“I was talking to Dana,” Gerard said, without a beat. “Willow, your numbers are good: the governor congratulated me today on the performance of our team.” He sounded out every syllable. “Not that what he thinks means a damn thing, but if he’s saying it in public, it’s because his political advisors told him what he thinks, and you know where they get their numbers. Fine work.”
“I got them arrested,” Willow said. “Those families…”
Gerard shook his head abruptly. “No, you did not. You give me the numbers, I give the orders, I make the decisions, you are not responsible. Pack up your gun and go home. Don’t forget to clean it. I already told Giles and George to go. Dana.”
“Not you.” Gerard waited until Willow was out of the door. “We’ve got a delivery tonight, about three am, warm bodies.”
“Five.” They had not had five at once before. “We’re their final destination. I want you and Adam to stay over.”
Dana nodded, once. Gerard was eyeing her.
“Check the supplies in the clinic. I don’t know their condition, but we’re supposed to get some kind of closing information out of them. I’ll give Adam the case files. Any of them we can package up to go, there’s a foreign delivery Friday night. Got it?”
“How much is Willow hurting over this?”
“It’s the first time we’ve run a big case using her numbers only,” Dana said slowly. “Even if you tell her it’s not her responsibility, she’s going to feel it.”
“Whose idea was it to do target practice this afternoon?”
“Giles,” Dana said, after a moment, disentangling the conversation: it had been an almost casual aside from Giles. “He seemed to think it might help.”
Gerard rubbed his face with the back of his hand. “Did it?” He waited for an answer, but Dana didn’t have one: after a moment he turned away and left Dana to clean her own gun and put it back.
Everyone was leaving – well, Ray and Benton had evidently already gone: Gerard was packing Giles and George out of the door with Willow. “Take her out to dinner. Don’t let her get drunk, she’s armed and dangerous.”
Adam was leaning up against the door to the lounge with his hands tucked deep in his pockets. He had looked like a graduate student in his twenties when she first met him, and he still did: deceptively harmless.
Gerard closed and locked the door, and turned: his eyes went first to Richard, Dana saw, who was standing in the middle of the hall, his hands palming his legs, looking – now she was noticing him – far more tense and unhappy than he had appeared to be earlier in the day, when Adam and the others had begun using him to run for coffee or soup. He was a doctor, she remembered: a vascular surgeon. Respected and wealthy and well-connected. Until he brutally murdered his wife.
“Well, kids, let’s get dinner,” Gerard said. “Richard, pick up whatever dishes they left in the lounge and bring it through to the kitchen. Mugs, plates, anything. Don’t touch anything else.”
“I can do that,” Adam said mildly.
“No, let Richard do it,” Gerard said, and moved, brushing directly past Richard on his way down the hall.
Dana had briefly wondered how Gerard meant to manage dinner for the four of them – Melissa would have told her she’d read too many wealth-fantasy novels, but Dana had seen how the kind of person who owned slaves expected to be able to treat them, and making them kneel in the corner to eat was the least of it.
But Gerard told Richard, when he returned to the kitchen with both his hands full, to stack the dishes in the washer, and sit down. When he told Adam to put the bowls and plates out, it was clear he meant Richard to be included. Dinner was beef and vegetable stew, and Gerard was – as he always was, at times like these – perfectly charming: as if he was just a courteous host, as if nothing else was happening.
“Drink?” he said finally.
“No, thanks,” Dana said. “Not if I’m working.” She glanced at Richard, and saw for a an instant his eyes, wide and dark, meet hers: his look flinched away, and he sat with bent head. He hadn’t, Dana realised, said one word all evening – not so much as a yes or a no.
“I’ll take one,” Adam cut in. “All you need me for is the heavy lifting.”
“I still have to wake you up.” Dana didn’t feel amused.
Gerard took down the bottle of 10-year-old bourbon, put three glasses on the table, and poured a small shot in each: he handed one to Adam, pushed one across the table to Richard, and picked the third up himself. “Dana, if you can’t wake Adam, come get me and I’ll see if he can sleep through a Glock in his ear.” His voice changed, jovially false, as if he were talking to a politician. “Drink it, Richard.”
Richard picked up his glass and sipped at it. Gerard nodded and sat down again: he sounded normal again, cheerful and friendly. Dana had never heard him use that voice at this table.
Not ten minutes later, Richard’s head jerked back and up suddenly, as if he were about to fall asleep as he sat. Gerard stood up, interrupting conversation, as if this was something he’d been waiting for. “Good night. We’re going up to bed now.”
Adam lifted his eyebrows at Dana: Gerard had took hold of Richard’s arm and was quite literally walking him out of the room. When they heard the two sets of feet climb the stairs, Adam stood up, noiseless, and moved towards the door. Dana shrugged and followed: she was curious, too.
Upstairs, they heard Richard say something, too quietly for the words to be understood, but they both heard Gerard’s reply, stark and crisp “You’re lying to me, Richard. Don’t do that.”
The holding cell door shut and locked. Gerard, when he went on to his room, did so alone.
“So he isn’t screwing Richard,” Adam said, back in the kitchen. He spoke very quietly. “George said he probably wasn’t.”
“Well, not tonight,” Dana said. “Why?”
Adam gave her a faintly exasperated look. “Because he made such a big deal over it being none of our business if he was.”
“But Sam’d say that anyway.”
“George was right, though.”
“He always is,” Dana pointed out. Before Gerard hired Willow – Giles had proved an unexpectedly useful bonus – George had been the analyst who called the numbers. Willow did it with a set of software algorithms she fed all the available names into: George just used to read the information, think about it for twenty-four hours, and come back with a list.
Adam shrugged, evidently not thinking it worth while to argue the obvious. George might have said the problems were getting too complicated for him, but he never had made a mistake.
It hadn’t been midnight yet when she and Adam had gone to sleep: Dana woke to Sam Gerard prodding her quilt-covered shoulder, not gently. “It’s almost three, Doctor,” he said when her eyes opened. “This is your wake up call.”
“Okay,” Dana said. She sat up, clutching at the quilt. “I’m awake.”
Gerard was fully dressed, and armed, both shoulder and ankle holsters. He went round the bed and prodded Adam, just as hard.
Adam stirred, blinked, and sat up, hand swinging out to grab Gerard’s arm and stopping halfway. “God. Okay. I’m awake.”
“Are they here yet?”
“No, they’re due. I got a call. Dana, I want you in the clinic. Adam, you’re with me. Get your ass in gear and get downstairs.”
Adam drew in a breath, and said, with dignity. “Get out of here, Sam.”
Gerard laughed. He turned to go. “Get your ass in pants, and get downstairs, bambini.”
“I thought you were going to set the alarm.” Adam was scrambling into his clothes.
“I did,” Dana said, just as it went off. “They’re early.”
Five bodies, strapped to gurneys. All of them were still breathing. Gerard and Adam brought them in, one by one. Three men, two women.
There was a set of things Commerce interrogators did to prisoners. By this time Dana could have written the handbook: she was fairly sure that Commerce had one. It wasn’t for information: if they wanted information, they sent the prisoners to someone like Dana or Giles before they battered at their mouths and hit them about the head, before they used some kind of blunt tool to violate them at mouth, vagina, and anus, before they were repeatedly beaten across the back and breasts and stomach –
They did these things to their prisoners when they didn’t care what information the prisoners provided, they wanted their other property to see the example.
They were not conscious: they’d been doped for transport. They were all still alive when Dana finished checking each of them. Their names were written on wrist tags. Two of them had the same name, coincidence or clerical error.
Gerard didn’t say anything. He looked at her, waiting.
Dana swallowed, and began to tell him. Elliot, John, Melinda, Casey, John. It niggled at her, in a stupid kind of way, that she didn’t know if they had been separately tagged John or some stupid person had been writing down names from a list and written this down twice.
Elliot, John, and Casey were probably going to live, if the beating hadn’t shut down their kidneys.
Melinda and the other John were going to die. The resources of a hospital might have saved them, but one doctor and a clinic that had officially been stocked for the emergency treatment of deputy marshals was not going to do anything useful for them.
Dana explained this to Gerard, trying to avoid too much technical detail, even knowing tonight Gerard was not going to cry “Bullshit!” and make her say it again, needing to make clear to Gerard’s grey bleak face that this was all they could do.
“Okay,” Gerard said. He nodded, slowly. “Okay. Those two, we OD, now. Give me the bullets.”
“I’ll do it,” Dana said.
“I give the orders,” Gerard said.
“They’re my patients.”
Adam had found the bullets – the narrow silver one-use lethal doses – and held them out to them. “One each.” He stepped back.
They stopped breathing.
“Do we have information on what the other three were given?”
Gerard shrugged. “Yeah, we know… it was something stupid.”
“Then I’ll stay here till it wears off, whatever it is,” Dana said. “When were they dosed?”
Gerard glanced at his watch. “Couldn’t have been less than three hours ago. Not likely it was more than nine.”
“Thanks.” Dana closed her eyes briefly. “I’ll stay here till whatever it is wears off, then I’ll try to figure out what kind of regimen we can put them on. I need to catheterise them.”
“Are we going to be able to question them at all?”
“I’ll let you know. I doubt it. They used …whatever it is they use, on their mouths.”
“Show me,” Gerard said.
Bending this low over each face: Dana could hear Gerard’s breathing, hear it check as he tried not to inhale. The prisoners’ breath was foul.
“You can see it was the same thing in each one. The lips and teeth are damaged in the same way.”
“Yeah.” Gerard straightened up. “Okay. They send us prisoners who can’t speak and ask us to juice them. Adam, tomorrow morning, it’s you and Willow on this: you got to find some way of us juicing these guys for all they got when Commerce knows they can’t talk. Everything we can give them won’t be too much, but you can figure Commerce knows they’ll all be dead by the end of the week. Dana, I’ll get Ray and Benton back, you can spell each other, but that’s all the help I can give you: can you do it?”
“If their kidneys haven’t been irrecoverably damaged,” Dana said. “I’m going to catheterise their bladders and measure the urine output.”
“Yeah, yeah. Okay. I’m going to make some calls, wake some people up. Adam, you stay here, do whatever Dana needs you to do, okay – I’ll be back when I’m done raising hell.”
It was an hour before Gerard came back: he sent Adam off to bed and came over to look, again, at the three live prisoners. They had been catheterised, vein and bladder. Dana had set up bags for intravenous feeding. The dead ones were bagged and stacked.
“Can we do it?” he asked.
“If the kidneys are functioning, everything else is …cosmetic,” Dana told him. It was the wrong word, hopelessly wrong, but nothing about this was right. “But if they develop an infection, it won’t be – they won’t live through that. They’ll need to be under constant observation. It would be easier with four.”
“If I’d got four, you could have four.”
“You could let me have Richard,” Dana said. She had been thinking about this since before Gerard had left, though she hadn’t said a word to Adam about it. Even if he hadn’t practiced in five years: Benton and Ray were both good assistants, so was Adam, and any of the others would lend a hand – but Doctor Richard Kimble was a resource being wasted.
“No,” Gerard said without a beat. “Richard doesn’t get to this side of the house.”
“He’s be better at this than Ray or Benton – ”
“He’d probably be better than you. But you can’t have him.”
“Are you challenging my decisions?”
“You still can’t have him. This is what he used to do in the arena. Also, what we do with these guys is not something Richard needs to know about. I brought coffee.”
Gerard had brought two coffees, and a vanilla frosted doughnut, which he cut meticulously in two. “You will not discuss these prisoners with Richard. You will not ask his advice as a hypothetical. He is a very smart guy. He is not a very sane guy, but we’ll discuss that some other time. Richard doesn’t know these prisoners exist, and that’s how it’s going to be.”
They drank their coffee. The doughnut was too sweet, and a long way off fresh. “If we can’t do this, we can’t,” Gerard said finally. “But I’d like to think we can. Commerce weren’t expecting us to give them anything, they’re impressed we think we can. These guys got out of a company store, killed three guards on the way, the company wanted them split and ripped, Commerce wanted to put on a show, we can do ourselves a lot of good if we can give them more than they expected to get.” Gerard shrugged, slowly, tiredly. “But that’s not your problem. Don’t bust a gut over it, just do what you can.”
“Do you ever mind,” Dana asked, after a long while – the three prisoners were still breathing, still alive “ – that we do this for people who are the ones who least deserve it?”
There was a pause before Gerard replied. “How do you mean?”
“Killers. These people. Richard.”
Gerard looked at her, steadily, for a moment. He smiled. “No, I don’t mind.”
to Part 4