Part I: Yassal

[As Usual, Crossposted Here]

Many of those who hadn’t been on the away team who beamed over to Gul Maket’s crippled freighter found it hard to conceive this prim, fastidious Cardassian had tortured hundreds. They hadn’t seen the rooms, the tools, the logs. They hadn’t seen what remained of his ‘pateints’. Those that had were tight-lipped, pale and asked “only hundreds?”.

“I must say, Evlyn – May I call you Evlyn? So nice to meet a colleague. You have the most lovely green eyes. What do the Terrans call it? Jade? Yes. I would mount them on black velvet. Could I somehow let you still see through them? That would be the challenge, hmm..”

“Bold talk for a prisoner, Gul Maket. Captain Yassal will do.”

He seemed to consider this a second. “Am I?”

“Lets see. I could consult the manifest of the brig of *my* ship, or I could ask any one of those security staff behind me…” She looked theatrically back to her security. Stoic. Hands on phasers. They’d been on the away team, so the Gul’s delicate, mild manner was only pissing them off. “They would be inclined to agree.”

Maket unveiled a tiny, menacing smile. “For now, perhaps. My clients might be surprised at how -- damaging – what I know can be, and won’t not let you hold me long. I’ll be forgiving, of course, and only ask that you be remanded to my care to demonstrate the depth of their contrition. I have not interrogated as many Trill as I would like. I believe the torments that could come from making use of the receptors used for joining could be – most excruciating. But you wouldn’t be a suitable subject, would you? Those trilly-bits were lost in…other experiments, were they not?”

Yassal hid her surprise behind a sanguine mask as she casually examined her fingernails. His connections clearly ran deep. No wonder they were so scared of him.

He leaned across the table, his fingers steepled. “Why do they call you the butcher of Thieurrull II, Captain Yassal?”

Yassal thought, Because to the Tal’Shiar there’s more glory in killing the Butcher of Thierrull II than killing Captain Yassal. Because taking a phaser off maximum leaves a body for the next wannabe hero to consider their next move more carefully, and after a while enough of them gets noticed. Because ‘Someone who got caught in an intense firefight and did what needed to be done’ is too long a title. “Because story grow in the telling. Unlike you, I don’t enjoy my work.”

“Pity you, then, errand girl.”

Yassal crossed her arms, her lip curled in disdain at Maket. “And you serve some grand purpose? Is that why you record your…sessions?” The holo suite on his ship had been set up to shuffle through recordings of his “hobby” interrogations – part marketing, part performance art. The rumors he was recording all his sessions was the reason she’d been put on his trail.

“Instruction. Research. Self-improvement. Any common torturer can take a plasma torch to the bottom of someone’s feet. An true interrogator knows suspense. The time without pain is time for reflecting on has happened, and what will happen. Those crucial moments are just as important as the plasma torch itself.”

Yassal clenched her jaw until a high whine rang through her ears. Maket had made thousands of hours of recordings. While search teams inventoried the rest of his ship, and the bodies of his mercenaries cooled, she had taken a bottle of kanar into the suite, sat at the edge of the room and observed until the bottle was empty, and her head pounded with a raw ache from the soft words, the screams and the cloying scent of disinfectant unable to completely mask the others. Even butchers get tired of the smell of meat. But she had what she needed.

Gul Malek paused. “I know you need...information from me.”

“Do I?” She unlocked her jaw and forced her tone to be casual.

“I’m sure you’d like to know about copies of my recordings. Really Captain, you are transparent to me. “So many questions, but you lack the will for answers. You lack the imagination, Butcher of Thieurrull II. Hurt me? My nerves are dead. Shock me? Your horrors are nothing. I am immune to your worst.”

Yassal pretended to consider this. “I have little errand girl things to do, like run a ship. I will leave your care to experts. They might have questions, they might not.”

“Someone from Starfleet to talk me to death? A Betazoid? Please let it be a Betazoid. They find my mind…startling.” A figure started to materialize to their left. He glanced over.

To look at himself.

Gul Malek laughed, a high pitched titter that Yassal found grating.

“So we are not in the brig, but on your holodeck, and my interrogator is to look like me. Is that your grand ruse?”

Yassal shook her head. “Oh no. It *is* you. Or at least the you off those thousands of hours of holos.”

More copies of him materialized until a half dozen surrounded the seated Gul. As one, they steepled their fingers across their chests and then smiled to each other. For a moment, the real Gul Maket looked unnerved.

“You think this little trick is really going to *work*”

Yassal stood, casually walking to the door. “I don’t care if it does. Your information leaks and brings down some of my ‘masters’? Good. You did my work for me. Either way – you are the last to be interrogated by Gul Maket. Who knows? You might surprise yourself, considering who they see *you* as.”

She paused at the door, letting it slide shut as the simulacrums said to the Gul. “Hello, Captain…”

Grupiro slide by her side as she walked down the hallway. “The regulations being broken here come with…substantial cost.”

Yassal shrugged, already knowing the cost the Ferengi spoke of was not expressed in latinum. “Affordable. Just make sure the safety interlocks are enabled to prevent the Gul from killing himself, just in case he somehow manages to convince them he’s not me.” She glanced down at the back of her hand, and rubbed at series of wrinkles around a smear of small dark spots. Despite her rubbing, the spots remained. She frowned. Hoping not to see age spots for at least a couple decades yet.