"Try that again and you won't even make it to The Inferno." Khai Zafara spat through clenched teeth as she slammed the cold saber against the throat of her latest prisoner transport. The aggressive movement threw him off balance for a moment, surprised, and he fell against the wall hard before he regained his footing. To her surprise, he laughed out loud at her.
"So, there is some feeling under all that ice."
"Keep it up and you'll feel something alright." Khai pressed the saber's beam harder against his throat.
"Don't tease me if you don't mean it, Lieutenant." He smiled at her again, the charm of it lighting up his face. He pressed back against her slightly. Tall as she was, he was taller and much bigger. It didn't matter. She'd escorted hundreds of prisoners, crazy, mean, dangerous though none of them ever actually laughed out loud at her and his only served to feed her hatred of the Rebellion and anyone involved. She narrowed her eyes at him and gave him a grim smile in return.
"Oh, I mean it." She flipped a tiny switch and the beam blazed for a moment, stinging him and throwing him back against the wall once more. A strangled sound escaped him and he sagged momentarily. Khai took advantage of his short lived helplessness to thrust the saber's beam blade between the cuffs that bound him and twist it hard. "Move it," she told him, shoving him down the hall from behind and resisting the urge to move him forward with her boot.
She stopped him at the last station along the hall, shoving him aside to complete the release of him into her custody en route to Borealis' prison sector, affectionately dubbed The Inferno by residents and military alike. She punched in his prisoner identification code and the screen lit up, flashing through faces until it recognized the number and his face and information appeared on the screen.
"Teyrnan Sajan, Prisoner Number 1475, Sector F9." The automated voice paused, awaiting further instructions. Khai eyed him as she punched in the codes without thought, by rote.
"Prisoner transfer authorization in process."
She waited again, staring directly into his eyes. They were dark like his hair.
"Huh?" She looked at the screen, blinking frantically at her.
"Five seconds before authorization cancellation. Re-enter information immediately."
"What?" She blinked back at the screen. This never happened; she'd never had to key anything in twice. Khai punched in the code again.
"Transfer authorization cancelled."
"Damn." She repeated the codes refusing to look at him again, ignoring the impression he was laughing at her again.
"Begin new transfer request?" the machine asked.
"Yes, damn you!" She slammed her fingers against the keyboard.
"One moment please." The computer coughed and hiccoughed and Khai stared at it disbelieving. She breathed out through her nose. After another moment, the computer spoke again.
"Transfer denied. Contact management personnel."
"What the fu -- ?" She squelched the urge to slam a fist into the screen. Stepping back she shot a furious glance at her prisoner, waiting for an opportunity to burn him with the saber again. He merely raised his eyebrows in mock innocence. Khai inhaled again and pressed another key.
"Contacting management personnel, one moment please."
A woman's face appeared on the screen, her hair angled into a triangle on the top of her head.
"Yes? How may I help you?"
"I'm trying to transfer a prisoner to Borealis but it keeps canceling my orders."
"And you are?"
"Khai Zafara. Lieutenant Khai Zafara."
"I'll have to double check the transfer authorization Lieutenant. One moment please,"
"If I hear that phrase one more time – "Khai said through gritted teeth.
"Irritating isn't it?" her prisoner said.
She glared at him, secretly agreeing.
"Alright Lieutenant," The female face reappeared on the screen. "Double checking the information now," she paused, staring at her own screen. "Teyrnan Sajan? Are you sure that's this prisoner's name?"
"I'm looking right at him." She yanked his forearm up to the screen and shoved his hand under the scanner. The woman frowned, looked down again and then looked at Khai.
"I'm afraid it's not showing up in my records. I'm going to have to turn this over to the Trans Planetary Protectorate Officer – "
"I am the Trans Planetary Protectorate Officer damn it and I am taking this prisoner to Borealis now."
"Not without orders. "
"Do you like your job lady?" Khai heard her prisoner snicker but ignored it.
"I – why?"
"Because interfering with TPP business is obstruction of military procedure which is a punishable offense regardless you’re part of the private sector. I can bring your ass up on charges in a nanosecond so I suggest you clear this prisoner immediately." She stood back and watched the woman debate with herself a moment. "I can also arrange for you to find yourself in the lower levels of The Inferno yourself in less time than that."
The screen went black and the scanner began whirring. Khai shook her head, snorted in disgust and then yanked her prisoner’s forearm up again and held it underneath the scanner eye.
"I knew there was an override function bitch," she snapped at the dead screen.
"Knowledge like that only comes from experience." Sajan smiled and batted his lashes in a suggestive way.
"I can make your stay – your permanent stay in The Inferno quite uncomfortable as well." She pressed her lips together in an angry smirk.
"Do you really think that would make much of a difference?" he asked, serious. "The Inferno is The Inferno. Nothing changes that fact."
Khai shrugged. He had a point.
The airlock door hissed and creaked open and Khai yanked him around toward it and shoved him through. She kicked it shut behind her with a boot and then kicked the ancient lever up to lock it again.
"Move." Now she did push him forward with her boot. There were no cameras from this point forward.
"I like it when you play rough," he told her as they walked the algae covered hallway, slimed from over two centuries of leaky compressors and broken pipes, walls and ceilings damp and stinking.
Khai managed a growl, shoving her boot against his rear once more, slowly growing both frustrated and enraged.
"Shut up," she spat at the back of his head.
"Hey, I’ve got an idea! There aren’t any cameras in this stretch. We could stop here and have a…romantic interlude. You could kiss – I mean kick me all you want. What do you think?"
Khai stopped and closed her eyes. She could actually hear his grin. Unfortunately she couldn’t think of any appropriate response that he couldn’t twist to irritate her even further.
So she said nothing, merely planted a high kick between his shoulder blades. He stumbled forward and down onto his face and she put her boot on the side of his head.
"You’re right. There aren’t any cameras here. I could accidentally kill you in self defense. It would be your word against mine and you’d be dead."
"You won’t," he managed between grunts.
"What the hell makes you so sure of that?"
"You kill an unarmed man? Not likely."
"Wanna bet Sajan?"
"Don’t have to. You’re one of those few who actually believe in fair play. Too bad your loyalties are completely misguided."
Khai removed her boot.
"What’s that supposed to mean?"
"You’re on the wrong side my dear."
"You don’t know crap about me."
"I know enough to know you’re not a murderer."
"Again how do you know that?" Khai leaned down and grabbed an arm to haul him up. Once standing, he turned toward her.
"I’d already be dead."
She stared at him a moment wishing she’d thought of that herself before keying in the transfer orders. Now she had to deliver him alive.