Chapter 11
Friends on the Inside
Location:
Earth Union Detention Barracks, Pluto, Plutonian Sphere
Date: Sat 25 Apr 123
Time: UST 2146

Matt was lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Though there were nine hours between lights-out and wake-up, there were counts at midnight and 0300, so you could never sleep straight through the night.
There was a rapping at the door. What could it be?
"Hello there, Colonel Harold," a voice said. "It's an honor to meet you."
It was one of the guards. Only the guards never addressed the prisoners by name and certainly never made any acknowledgment of the former rank of military prisoners. However this one found out who Matt was, he surely did not have any good intentions toward him.
"No, I'm not trying to mock you," the guard said. "I know you're innocent of the charges against you. I'm here to help."
For a brief moment, Matt entertained a glimmer of hope, but he quickly checked himself. The only ones who would know about the false charges against him were the people responsible. Whoever was behind all this was not content to simply leave them to rot in prison. What could these people still want with them now that they were locked away in one of the most secure facilities on the farthest end of Union space?
"I suppose after everything they've put you through, you're not too apt to believe me," the guard said. "Actions do speak louder than words, don't they? Within the next 36 hours, this facility is going to have a critical systems failure. The doors will open and all hell will break loose. In the chaos, my associates and I will see that you and your comrades are extracted. We'll get you out, but we need your cooperation when the time comes."
It had to be a trap. Matt was not going to fall for it. He was not going to say anything either, lest his words were turned against him, though it was difficult to imagine his situation getting much worse.
The guard did not press him, though, saying only, "Think about it, Colonel, and be ready when the time comes."
Matt would be ready, not for some illusory rescue but for whatever ploy was coming next. If only he could warn the others. Hopefully no one would fall for this trickery in their desperation.

* * *

Date: Sat 25 Apr 123
Time: UST 2306

Unsurprisingly, Lydia didn't have any other visitors after the little incident with Jassa. She had a muzzle added to her restraints so she wouldn't be biting off any more fingers. 'Muzzle' probably wasn't the technical name for it, but that's what it was.
It was an off hour, but a nurse was going around checking vitals. She'd seen this one around before. In a place like this, there had to be a limited staff pool, so faces were starting to get familiar. She wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.
When the nurse got to her bed, he said in a low voice, "Evening, Lieutenant. How are we feeling?"
Was he mocking her or something? Whatever had happened to her, she was pretty sure she wasn't a lieutenant anymore or much of anything else than a slab of meat strapped to this damned bed.
She didn't say anything. She was still trying to pretend she was more out of it than she really was. Although it was odd for the nurse to address her as 'Lieutenant', basic pleasantries was typical bedside manner. They'd say their lines and move on, only the nurse didn't just move on.
"Give me a sign you're at least somewhat coherent."
This was getting weird. Was it some kind of trap? Who'd bother with stupid mind games in a situation like this?
She looked away, not thinking that the nurse would see the conscious effort for what it was.
"That'll have to do," he said. "Listen close because I'm only going to tell you this once. I'm on your side, Lieutenant, and I'm going to help get you out of here. When the time comes, I need your cooperation if this is going to work. Can I count on you to do your bit?"
Lydia continued to stare off away from him. She didn't know what his game was, but she didn't have a mind to play along.
"My job is to get you out," the nurse said, "but if you don't play ball, I'm dropping you. Are we clear?"
Lydia glanced at him and then looked away again. He was hard to read. She still didn't trust him, but it sure seemed like a lot of effort to waste on someone like her.
The nurse fiddled around with the console a bit and said, "I'm dialing down your dosage. That should help a bit. Try not to do anything crazy."
The nurse left to continue his rounds and Lydia was left still wondering why she was getting this extra attention. Was this all part of an experiment? If so, which would be worse for her: keeping up her act or playing his game? Did it even make any difference?