Even their prisons are soft, he thought.
Maltz glanced around his cell. It was clean, well-lit, and fairly spacious. His bunk was comfortable--something he was not used to; the sleep mats on a Klingon Bird-of-Prey being about as soft as granite. He also had a desk, a table and two shamefully luxurious chairs. He had tried and liked them, so now he sat on the floor when he sat at all. That he was a prisoner was bad enough; he would not sink to decadence.
He pushed away his meal tray. The brig's compu-chef had done a creditable job of preparing ghrIthlha(1). Its taste was just close enough to make him homesick.
Maltz lay back on the floor and closed his eyes in near despair. He would never see the homeworld of Kazh again. He did not deserve the honor of being Kh'myr; he did not deserve to live. But he didn't want to die! He had not taken his own life when captured, as was expected of all good Kh'myr, and then that wretched Earther, that Kirk, had promised to kill him, and he had lied! Could Earthers tell the truth about anything?
And now he was an outcast. He could never go back to the Homeworld again; he would be less than carrion. He would be ignored, ostracized, left to fend for himself and die as a non-person.
Maltz growled under his breath as he got to his feet and allowed himself ten tup(2) in one of the soft chairs. It helped to alleviate the boredom of days that blended one into the other without change.
He had stayed on Vulcan only a short while, locked in the brig of the ship. Then the Federation authorities had taken over, sent him to Earth, and now he was an inmate of the Federation's Maximum Security Detention Center on this island called Alcatraz.
He remembered the apprehension of the early days. He had not known what to expect, so he had steeled himself for the worst that the Kh'myr might have thrown at a prisoner of similar status. But no one tortured him. In fact, no one even touched him. No truth serums, no tuQDoq(3), no beatings. There were only questions, questions and more questions, but even these had tapered off as the weeks passed. His life had settled into a routine that, if dull, was at least mildly pleasant. Lately, he had been given the task of assisting a Starfleet linguist to develop a Klingonese dictionary.
He snorted. As if this linguist could actually understand a language as rich as pIqaD.(4)
He contemplated his meetings with other prisoners. There was the fat one named "Jones" who had sold the wretched vermin yIHmey.(5) The other was slightly less overweight, but even more a miscreant who had tried to sell him his own cell. Maltz was no fool. He broke both arms of the Human "Mudd" and tossed the scoundrel aside. Why Starfleet Security had not summarily executed either of the two Humans was a mystery to him.
Maltz noticed that the hum of the force-field outside his cell abruptly ceased. He leaped to his feet as the armored door cycled. He would not let a guard catch him enjoying his comfort.
Two Starfleet security guards entered, a male and a female. Maltz had seen the man before; his name was Matthews, but he had never before seen the female.
"Hey, Chocolate. You got company," announced Matthews. "This is Lieutenant Commander Stacey Saint James. She's got a few questions for you." Matthews turned to the woman. "I'll be right outside if you get into something you can't...er...handle. And remember, Big Brother is watching." He gestured to the monitor-cam mounted high in one corner of the cell, then he left.
In the corridor, two more guards waited. Lieutenant Brad Simmons was a seasoned vet who had just been rotated back home from starbase duty. Elaine Gardner was a stereotypical "green ensign" fresh from the Academy. She was newly assigned "to observe."
"Look's like it's Chocolate's lucky night, eh, Tom?" remarked Simmons.
Matthews smiled. "He'll never know what hit him."
Gardner looked puzzled. She glanced back and forth between the two men. "Excuse me, sirs, but are we just going to leave her in there with that...that...?"
Matthews and Simmons looked at each other and burst out laughing. "Listen, kid, Chocolate's the one who's gonna need help, not Stacey."
"But he's a Kh'myr!"
Matthews took in Gardner's cute, pug-nosed, freckled face with something like pity. Was I ever that green? "Don't worry, Ensign. Chocolate's a pussy cat. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be here. Those Kh'myr would rather kill themselves than be taken prisoner. He even admitted during his interrogation that his commander considered him a weakling."
"He doesn't look at all weak to me," challenged Gardner. "Anyway, why is she in there?"
A lecherous smirk transformed Matthew's face. "Why is she in there, Brad?"
Simmons chuckled. "Stacey has--how shall I put this?--a yen for xenos."
"She likes to fuck aliens," Matthews clarified, grinning as his words sank home.
"Oh, I see," said Gardner, her expression blank, her face crimson.
"You sure will," said Matthews, indicating the monitor screen.
Inside the cell, Maltz stood uncertainly, wondering if the Earthers had decided to change tactics. He had not had a female interrogator before, and though this one did not look capable of torture, he knew appearances...especially with females...could be deceiving.
She was pleasant enough for a Human, but Maltz even now had not gotten used to the smooth foreheads and light skin of Earthers. But the way she looked at him was more disconcerting than the way she looked to him. There was no fear in her eyes, but something else, a hunger, a speculation, put Maltz's senses on edge.
"I am not armed," she said. Her voice was more pleasant than her appearance, low-pitched, almost Klingon norm. "I know you could kill me now with your bare hands, but my friends are right outside the door, and they can see everything that goes on in here."
She pulled off her helmet, and let it drop beside her feet. Thick, black hair tumbled out to her shoulders. She slipped out of her body armor, then sat in one of the chairs to remove her boots one at a time. Then she stood, taking a step toward him as she tugged on the snaps on her burgundy uniform.
Maltz came to attention, hands help rigidly behind his back. "What are you doing? he demanded.
Saint James did not answer. She peeled off her jumpsuit and stood naked before him.
Maltz caught his breath. He didn't know if this gesture had the same significance on Earth as it did on Kazh, but from her posture he thought it might. He ran his eyes over her body. The differences were not so great as in the facial features. She looked impossibly frail, but he found that it excited him. He wanted to circle her slim waist with his hands, wanted to run his thumbs over her... He had had no mate, and the Lords of Kh'eloz knew it had been a long time...
"I...I thought you had some questions for me." Maltz tried to bring his thoughts back to commonplace things.
"Yes, I do," Saint James purred. "My first question is--does my body excite you?"
Maltz sat on the edge of the bunk, gazing down at her. "Why?" he demanded.
After such a strenuous session, Saint James had trouble finding her voice. "Don't really know," she panted. "Ever since I joined Starfleet, I've had this...thing for alien males. I've made it with all kinds of xenos--Andorians, Orions, Arcturians, Romulans, even a Kzinti prisoner once. But you," she smiled, "are the gem of my collection. I mean, a Kh'myr Klingon! The most savage warriors in the Milkyway. I don't know of but a few Human females who've even survived an encounter with a Klingon, and they're not talking. I had to find out for myself. With precautions, of course." She gestured toward the monitor-cam.
Maltz made a sound that might have been a bitter laugh. "You do have the advantage. And I am by no means an exemplary specimen of the Kh'myr. Had you been taken prisoner by us, the last warrior to use you would have cut your throat, unless there was a further purpose for you to stay alive. I assure you that you would not have enjoyed it."
"You wouldn't have done that," Saint James spoke with conviction.
Maltz lowered his eyes. "No." His voice was almost inaudible. "My commander always thought I was a coward, sensitive to violence. I am no coward; I will stand and fight in any battle. But I see no need for violence and more violence. Killing only for the pleasure is repulsive. I fight and I kill, but only because it is necessary to survive, not because it is...fun! And so, I am still alive, but I am lost to my home forever." He dropped his head to his chest. Saint James almost felt sorry for him. He was a savage sight, with his heavily muscled body and covering of thick, dark hair. And his bony head and long, flowing hair with beads woven into it only added to his primitive appearance.
But, underneath, there was loneliness, even a type of sensitivity.
"Hey, big guy, don't worry about it. Now's the time just to enjoy yourself. You did enjoy it, didn't you?"
Maltz didn't smile. "It was pleasurable, Saint James."
"Then let's do it again!"
This time, he, too, stretched on the bed, trying to catch his breath. When she felt she could move, she rolled off the bed and picked up her uniform, shrugging into it quickly.
"I'm back on duty in just a bit," she said, her back to him. She turned. "But I'll be back. I have a lot of...questions for you."
"Call me Stacey."
"Sta-cey, then, I have a question for you. Why do they call me 'Chok-lit'?"
Stacey chuckled. "It's a play on words. Your name sounds a lot like malt--a Human word for a cold drink made of ice cream, milk and chocolate flavoring."
"'Chok-lit'. It must be like our rjuch." He frowned. "I don't think I like being called 'Chok-lit'."
"They don't mean any harm. But I won't do it anymore, okay? I really have to go now, Maltz. I'll see you later."
In the corridor outside, Matthews turned away from the monitor screen. "Pretty bizarre, eh, kid?" he asked Elaine Gardner.
But Gardner wasn't paying any attention to him. Her glazed eyes were riveted to the viewer, and her face was flushed again but with excitement this time. Her right hand was slowly rubbing the crotch of her uniform. Matthews followed her gaze, saw it was locked on Maltz's nude form.
Damn it, no! Not another one! he thought. It's hard enough getting laid around here as it is!
"Hey, Tom. I think we created a monster." Brad Simmons snickered. "We should've gotten a note from her parents before we let her watch that!"
The door to Maltz's cell swished open. Stacey Saint James walked past them, a blissful smile on her face, and disappeared down the corridor without a word.
Gardner cleared her throat. "Uh, sirs, could you watch the door for me, please?"
Simmons and Matthews glanced at each other, and, in unison, shrugged helplessly. Simmons patted Gardner on the shoulder. "Go to it, Tiger!"
Maltz had almost drifted off to sleep with the hiss of his cell door opening again startled him into wakefulness. He sat up quickly. Another security guard. Another female. Smaller than Saint James, younger, too, by her looks.
She tossed aside her helmet, pulled off her body armor, then ruffled her close-cropped red hair with one hand while the other fumbled with the snaps of her uniform. "Hey, uh--Chocolate, I was wondering. I--uh, that is, could I ask you a few...questions?" The uniform and undergarments dropped to the floor.
Maltz smiled almost wearily. Perhaps my captivity is not such a bad thing after all!
She approached him, an eager look in her eye.
Now if I can just get them to stop calling me 'Chok-lit.'
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1. A type of Klingon food made from targ ribs, akin to the Terran barbecued ribs.
2. Klingon unit of time, approximating a Terran minute.
3. Klingon expression for their mind-sifter.
4. The general expression for the written and oral language of the Kh'myr Klingons.
5. Klingon expression for "tribbles."
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