The guard eyed Crichton with suspicion, but stepped back and allowed him to walk with them. When they arrived at the Aurora Chair chamber, Crichton nervously eyed Scorpius, watching his reaction closely. The half-breed studied him for a moment, then turned his focus to Crais, his nostrils flaring briefly. His expression turned predatory and he stalked towards them.
"Put Crichton in the Chair," he instructed the guards, then he fixed Crais with a piercing gaze. "Captain Crais," he said quietly, "our captive has still not told us everything he knows -- I am going to let you run the questioning this time, since your...private interrogation has been equally unproductive."
"Frell," Crichton muttered under his breath, wishing he could see Crais' expression. Especially when Crais nodded.
"Very well," Crais answered, turning to look at Crichton, his eyes unreadable. With one quick signal to Niem the Chair sliced into Crichton's mind, and Crais immediately began grilling him about wormholes -- and only wormholes. Despite the agony it was almost a relief to be tortured strictly for information, even if it wasn't any information he could give. Almost a relief, that was, until Crais ordered the intensity turned up...
Crichton looked up at Crais, not sure if he had managed to keep the hurt and betrayal from showing in his eyes, and answered him, "I'm not...blocking...anything," then paused, alarmed by the laugh that bubbled from his lips before he finished, "about wormholes..."
They had dragged him back to the cell and thrown him in; leaving him alone with Stark and the voice in the back of his mind that ridiculed him for ever having trusted Crais. He had been dismayed to find Crais joining in the questioning, the cruelty the Sebacean had displayed hurting him far more than he had wanted to admit. Had Crais decided to cooperate with Scorpius in an attempt to escape the fate they had suspected would come? Or was this vicious, sadistic Peacekeeper the real Bialar Crais? Part of him wanted so badly to believe that it wasn't...
Waiting for the next round, he had discovered the truth about Stark's mental state, although he felt that his cellmate was in complete denial about the true longterm effects of the Chair on an individual's sanity... After all, he actually thought they could escape sometime during their lifetimes with his cobbled together device...
And then Gilina -- sweet, wonderful Gilina had contacted him, giving him the one ray of hope that existed in the bleak nightmare his life had become: she would try to do something to make them back off; to give him time to recover his strength. He could no longer fool himself -- he knew the Chair was doing damage every time he was subjected to it. It was only a matter of time until his will -- or his mind -- shattered. This gave him something to cling to, to keep him going. She would see what she could do -- and as a Tech she could be in the position to do something; especially when his next visit to the Chair was delayed by an overhaul mandated by Scorpius in an attempt to boost the power output. As if it needed any increasing...
By the time she finally contacted him, he had nearly given up that hope, too; her call coinciding with the return of his tormentors. Before he could say anything to stop it, Stark leapt up and began babbling at them, distracting the guards long enough for Gilina to pass on her message. Desperate for some relief; for somebody to trust, Crichton clung to her advice like a drowning man: Remember when we kissed on the Zelbinion.
He cringed as Crais savagely beat Stark back, his cellmate letting out a yelp of real pain as he was thrown against the wall. Remember the kiss! Whatever she had done, it was their last hope -- if this failed, Gilina would also be exposed -- it had to work. Remember the kiss -- I can do that...
Gilina disconnected just in time -- Scorpius entered the cell and sneered at Crais, then asked, "Have you finished?"
Tersely, Crais answered, "Yes," and then Scorpius approached Crichton.
"You see, Crichton...this is what I'm trying to keep you from," Scorpius said softly, pleased to see the conflict within him.
Staring straight ahead, Crichton said, "Yeah, Scorpy...you're all heart." Scorpius motioned to the guards, who hauled Crichton to his feet and held him upright between them. He tried to stand on his own, only to have his legs crumple beneath him, leaving him leaning entirely on the guards.
Scorpius looked down on him, savouring his helplessness. Calmly, he said, "You show me everything that's in your brain, and I won't torture you anymore."
Yeah, right, Crichton thought, you'll just rape me without having the excuse of information gathering... He swallowed hard and attempted to sound strong, but couldn't bring himself to look at Scorpius. "I've shown you everything."
"The chair indicates that you're holding back."
"Chair's wrong." Shit -- welcome to John Crichton's bluff-o-rama... He could feel Scorpius' gaze on him, but still stared off into the middle distance.
Scorpius moved even closer, his voice dropping even more. "What won't you tell me? I already know everything else. I know you're living on a stolen leviathan with escaped prisoners. And I know that leviathan is pregnant."
Unable to stop himself, Crichton asked, "You know who the daddy is?" and laughed madly. I really am losing it! he thought, alarmed by his lack of control.
Scorpius moved even closer, studying him intensely and sensing his discomfort. Did the human actually not understand what the Chair could do to him? "Why are you doing this to yourself?" he asked softly, studying his energy signature, intrigued by the conflicting flares of emotion he could sense. "What is so important...that you're willing to go through all of this?"
For the first time, Crichton lifted his head and met Scorpius' gaze, gathering every ounce of strength to answer, "I'm not blocking anything."
Scorpius stared into his eyes, easily reading the lie there. Continuing to hold Crichton's gaze, he ordered, "Bring him," and then turned to walk away.
The guards pulled him forward and he stumbled, giving Crais enough time to close the distance and lean close. Meeting the blue gaze, Crais purred, "I'm going to enjoy ripping the truth out of you, Crichton."
All he could do was stare up at the Sebacean, trying desperately to read him and failing...Part of his mind jibbered that if he wasn't about to have his mind turned inside-out by Crais, the Peacekeeper's stance and tone would have been almost sexy...And then Crais signaled to the guards, and they dragged him out of the cell...
He didn't know how she did it -- he didn't even know it was possible; but somehow Gilina delivered, producing a false memory that was utterly damning to Crais. Trembling in agony but so relieved he nearly fainted, Crichton saw the terror in Crais' eyes as Scorpius turned his ghoulish attention to him. Somehow, he managed to talk himself into ignoring the pain and betrayal that he could read behind the fear -- after all, it was only fair... The Peacekeeper tried to deny the events the memory showed, but there they were on the screen for all to see -- John Crichton and Captain Bialar Crais collaborating; the wormhole technology in exchange for his life. It was almost funny...
Tasting Crais' fear, Scorpius walked to Crichton's side and studied him closely, asking him, "What is that, hmm?"
Still twitching, every breath more a spasm of his diaphragm than a true intake of air, Crichton managed to answer, "I don't know. Kinda looks like an episode of 'Melrose Place.'"
Furious, Crais ducked under part of the Chair's frame and leaned in closer, demanding, "What do you mean, you don't know what it is?"
"I don't know."
"Tell him! What is it?" Crais yelled, first hitting the frame and then punching Crichton in the stomach.
Scorpius turned to look with disgust at Crais' display of temper, then returned his intense scrutiny to Crichton. The human continued to twitch, and it was more than obvious that his blue gaze was not focused on anything. Then, quietly, he asked, "Is that it, Crais? Is the game up?"
Crais stared at him, shocked, and asked, "What?"
Then, knowing the damage it could do but unwilling to suffer any further for someone he was now convinced had just been using him, Crichton played along with the false memory, softly explaining, "Crais... first found out about wormholes when I came through. I gave him the information disk in exchange for my life."
Scorpius turned to look at Crais, paying close attention to how he reacted to this. The mixture of fear and pleading in the Sebacean's eyes was most interesting -- almost as if he wanted to beg Crichton to be quiet...
Unable to escape the nightmare, but beginning to realize that somehow Crichton had rigged the memory in order to deflect some of the unwanted attention he had been receiving, Crais yelled, "That's a lie!" and backhanded Crichton savagely across the face.
Finding Crais' savagery distasteful, Scorpius looked away, missing the desperation in Crais' expression. Crichton spat out some blood from his split lip, seeing Crais' desperation but no longer caring. He smiled humourlessly, and said, "No, it's not."
Crais snapped, lunging at Crichton and grabbing his jaw in a painfully strong grip, as if he could squeeze the words out of the human's mouth. "He's lying! Damn you, Crichton! Tell him the truth!"
They left Crichton strapped in the Chair, twitching feebly with the lingering pain screaming through his nerves, while Scorpius expertly maneuvered Crais into a corner. Part of him regretted having to hurt Crais in order to buy himself some relief, but Crais had used him; had betrayed him by participating in his torture. There was no reason for him to care about the pain Crais would soon be experiencing -- after all, Crais hadn't cared about him...
And if, afterwards, Scorpius wanted to give Crais some of his special treatment, that was only fair, too. There was no reason to feel sorry for the Sebacean if Scorpius raped him; no reason to feel guilty for being the instrument of Crais' ruin...
So, Crichton thought as the guards dragged him back to the cell and others forced Crais into the Chair, Why don't I feel any better?
They threw him back into the cell and he lay there, shuddering and shivering until Stark scrambled to him and helped him crawl over to the wall. Stark propped him up against the wall in the weak sunlight coming through the filthy window, trying to get him as warm and comfortable as possible. Crichton coughed and said, "I don't know how she did it. But-- but she did it." He wanted to say more; about what he had done to Crais, but he just couldn't.
Very gently, Stark said, "Rest, Crichton." He could see the pain and turmoil in his cellmate, knew that there was more going on than just simple torture and Scorpius' sick games. The Peacekeeper captain, Crais, had reacted differently to Crichton than most jailors did to their captives...
Stubbornly, Crichton protested, "No. Nonono, we gotta do something. I got to get that door open." He tried to stand but his body ignored his brain's commands, nerves misfiring and muscles spasming, dumping him unceremoniously onto his side. Stark frowned and pulled him partially into his lap, trying to comfort him, desperately wanting to relieve some of his pain. Crichton had been the only one in two cycles who had cared -- he had to do something for him.
Steeling himself, Stark unstrapped his mask and revealed himself to Crichton, the warm glow bathing the human in his lap. "Here." He opened himself to Crichton, allowing him to feel the closeness he felt; the longing to keep his friend safe.
"Huh...What is that?" Crichton asked, looking up at him. He was amazed at what he had felt, and now understood why Stark had been willing to suffer so much to distract them when Gilina had contacted him. "What did you just show me?"
Stark explained, "I'm able to give a few thoughts, that's all. Rest, my friend." Feeling slightly selfconscious now, he put the mask back on. Then he stroked Crichton's hair gently, hoping that he hadn't done anything to upset the human.
Crichton lay in his lap, looking up at him in amazement as Stark explained about his people; how the Peacekeepers had killed nearly all of them, and about what he realized must have been the way he survived the past two years: "What I know deep inside, Peacekeepers will never see."
He continued stroking Crichton's hair, until the human finally fell asleep. He couldn't do more to take away Crichton's pain, but he could at least keep him as comfortable as possible; and hope that the Peacekeeper woman had managed to buy him enough time to recover his strength...