However! I'm in the process of writing another prompt for the DRiTC event, so there will be more free fiction for you soon. Plus the new releases, plus the Redstone that's already done, so I'm not leaving you completely hanging. Thanks for understanding :)
Title: Redstone Chapter Seven, Part One.
To be honest, Tamara was expecting the alarm to go off. She’d been situated in the guest quarters of Redstone for less than a standard day, but she was already expecting the alarm. This wasn’t a quiet, well-managed prison: this place stank of darker emotions that chem scrubbers couldn’t remove, filled with fear and anger and a pain so deep that it tugged at her blood just like the iron core did. Her father would have said she was imagining it all, but Tamara had been active in espionage for long enough that she knew there was more to a place than what your most obvious senses could tell you. She wasn’t a psychic, had never tested positive in any of her evaluations, but Redstone was so steeped in violence that apparently it didn’t take anything special to realize what a hellhole the place was.
The alarm wasn’t unexpected, and neither was the call to the warden’s office. Guests were few and far between and all of them connected to high-profile prisoners, so it made sense to pass on information. What Tamara hasn’t expected was for Kyle’s lawyer to corner her as soon as she walked into the office, so furious he was practically spitting with every word.
“Not even a day before you tried to get rid of him!” he shouted. “You couldn’t even give him a fucking day, you had him abducted out of the med unit and throw into that—”
“Mr. Gyllenny,” the sallow-faced man sitting behind his desk said coldly. “There’s no evidence that this was anything other than a mistake.”
“A mistake?” Gyllenny rounded on the warden and Tamara took a deep breath, slowing down her racing heart as she tried to figure out what was going on. “No, the mistake was leaving him alone in your custody for any length of time. Jerking him out of your Regen tank before his treatment was even finished and throwing him, completely unprepared, in with those wolves? That was completely deliberate, and I don’t trust her—” He thrust a finger back at Tamara, “or the son of a bitch she’s working for any more than I trust your damn doctor to keep order in his own med unit!”
“Doctor Kleinman assures me that the guard’s actions were done without his knowledge or permission.”
“So guards have constant access to the med unit without having to sign in or provide verification of their identity? You can’t even give me the name of the person who illegally and against all standing orders attempted to murder—”
“Don’t be dramatic, Mr. Gyllenny, there was no attempted murder here.”
“No?” he asked scathingly. “What would you call what happens in that holo?”
Tamara cleared her throat. “Excuse me.” Both men looked at her impatiently. “I’m sorry, but I’m completely lost. What’s going on with Mr. Alexander?”
“As if you don’t know,” Gyllenny snapped, but the warden—Harrison, Tamara remembered—inclined his head slightly.
“You should see it.” He tapped a finger on his desk and a holovid appeared above it. Tamara drew closer for a better look, and he started to play.
There was the med unit, a Regen tank…Tamara could make out Kyle’s face under the glass. Then the guard, in full uniform and helmet, came in and stopped the cycle. There was no alarm, no one came in to check on Kyle, and he was jerked out of the tank and hauled down the corridor almost faster than he could walk. The holo ended with a door opening into a narrow hallway, and the guard shoving Kyle through and shutting it behind him.
Tamara knew her eyes were wide, but she couldn’t stop it. This was bad. This wasn’t the plan “What happened next?” she demanded. “Is he all right?”
“What, now you’re pretending to care?” Gyllenny’s laugh was hollow. “Don’t bother.”
Tamara rounded on him before she could stop herself. “You can think what you want, but the fact is that I had nothing to do with this and I don’t want to see Kyle Alexander injured any more than you do!” She made an effort to modulate her tone. “He’s going to go to trial and he’s going to take responsibility for his actions, and acquit my employer in the process. It’s the only way President Alexander can remove the stain on his reputation, so why would I want to impede that?”
“Credits go a long way toward covering up stains and repairing reputations, and Raymond Alexander has the means to pay people in money or influence or blood,” Gyllenny replied, his intensity so fierce that Tamara felt heat rise in her cheeks like a radiation burn.
“Regardless,” Harrison broke in, his dry voice flat and even. “There is every reason to assume that Kyle Alexander is alive.”
“Show me,” Tamara said, and a new holo sprang to life. This one was confusing at first, not a shot of the little corridor but of the central room in the prison, where over a hundred inmates waited hungrily by the doors, anticipating the new arrivals. Only then there was a sudden surge to the right, the crowd refocusing on a narrow door. Tamara used her mods for a quick facial recognition, searching, searching—there. The familiar face she’d been waiting to see, gone a second later through the little doorway. It took a few minutes but he eventually emerged again, with a nude body slung over his shoulders, and strode off toward the other side of the main room and out of it without being harassed any further.
The holo stopped. Tamara frowned. “No, keep it going.”
“The cameras only work in the shielded parts of the prison. That side hall isn’t one of them. It leads to the core, which is an unfriendly place for technology.”
“Unbelievable,” Gyllenny muttered to himself. “What about the man who took him? Who the hell is he?”
“Prisoner 2751. A separatist and terrorist from the planet Paradise, responsible for the deaths of more than twenty Federation soldiers in an explosive attack. He keeps to himself in Redstone, not a member of one of the established gangs. He sleeps close to the core, from what I understand.”
“You don’t understand very much about what goes on in the prison that you’re charged with maintaining control in, do you?”
Warden Harrison killed the holo and leaned back slightly in his chair. “Redstone handles the worst criminals in the whole of Federation space, Mr. Gyllenny. If I was given carte blanche in maintaining control, I would have them drugged to the eyeballs or placed in cryo sleep to serve their debts to society, but alas, that is considered cruel and unusual. So instead, we make do with the limitations of a system which allows them a certain amount of autonomy. Certainly, theirs is a mini-society of frightening consequence to them, but it has little to no consequence in the larger universe. By ignoring them, I render them irrelevant, Mr. Gyllenny.”
“What about their safety? What about their right to—”
“They have a right to life, and nothing further. If you were so convinced of your client’s innocence, then you should have fought harder to get him placed in a medium-security holding facility. Redstone is no resting place for the innocent.” Dark eyes calmly glanced between the two of them. “I’ll deploy bots to do a sweep of the whole of the prison tomorrow. You’ll have more answers then. Dismissed.”
“We’re not your employees, you can’t just dismiss us.”
“I am the warden of this prison,” Harrison said coldly. “And you are a guest here. If I determine you to be disruptive to the running of Redstone, I can and will have you sent offsite regardless of your connections. You make work for great powers, but I am the only power of note here.” He waved them out. “As I said, dismissed.”
As soon as they were in the hall, Gyllenny rounded on Tamara again. “I’m sure you’re pleased.”
“I meant what I said,” she insisted, not bending an inch now that she knew where things stood. Kyle was safe with Isidore, no matter how horrendously he’d gotten there. “I want Kyle Alexander to stand trial. I had no idea this was going to happen and I’m not any happier about it than you are.”
Gyllenny snorted. “Sure. Like his little brother dying in prison wouldn’t be a huge coup for the president.”
“Shockingly, he doesn’t share everything with his charity hire,” Tamara snapped right back.
“I’m a natural. And this is hardly the ideal environment for someone like me, so I’ve got a better idea of how it feels to be shoved aside than you do, probably. How do you think it’ll reflect on me if I fail to do my job here, which is to keep an eye on your client for my employer leading up to the trial?” It hadn’t been her original mandate, but Tamara had already received the communication from Raymond Alexander’s office that her return to Olympus was going to be necessarily delayed, that he apologized but knew she’s be fine there for a few more days, that he needed her eyes in his brother to keep everything looking as legal and above-board as possible. She’d been expecting, even hoping for this development, but it just showed how adept her employer was at lying right to her face. Bring you home, working on a cure indeed. Bastard.
Tamara straightened her shoulders. “I’m going back to my room now, but I’ll be standing outside the warden’s office first thing in the morning watching those bots on patrol, and if Mr. Alexander is anything other than alive and whole, there’ll be hell to pay here.”
“I don’t believe you.” Oh, but he wanted to; Tamara could see it in the way his hands relaxed a little, the wavering tension in his shoulders.
“You don’t have to. You’ll find out soon enough without me doing anything to prove it to you.” Tamara huffed and shook her head. “Goodnight, Mr. Gyllenny.”
“Ms. Carson. Tamara Carson.”