[Shadowdancer] The Butchers--050106

On the one hand, Rissa felt bad for shutting Jawi out of his problems when 
she was obviously concerned that something was bothering him.  On the other, 
though, he was glad she knew him well enough to know that he'd tell her when, 
or 
if, he was ready to.  

The problem just wouldn't make itself obvious even to him.  At first, he 
honestly thought it thinking that Rem had a problem with him because of his 
age.  
That was settled after the talk with Micah.  I can't still be going on about 
that, he thought as he got ready for bed.  Nice guy--that Micah.  Smart enough 
to get my oversensitive nose back into joint.

Jawi was already in bed and, as he slipped under the covers next to her, 
Rissa felt her arms slip around him automatically.  He took comfort in her 
presence but he wondered what he needed comforting for.  As he eventually felt 
himself dropping off to sleep, Jawi's fingers brushed the scars on his arms.

~~~

The lash descended toward Theden's crumpled tiny body.  Rissa stood with the 
other workers, all of them paralyzed by apathy and a healthy amount of fear.  
They were all tired and dirty.  And hungry.  The mine workers were supposed to 
get decent rations so that they could maximize output for Maroc and his crew 
of butchers and, therefore, the Cardassian Empire.  The truth was that the 
Bajoran slaves were lucky if they got a single ration of food every other day 
or 
so.  They all shared what they had, the adults giving more to the little ones 
as often as they could, but it wasn't enough.  It was never enough.  Theden 
stole a loaf of parlaf bread from Maroc himself and got caught.  Maroc was 
going 
to make an example of the child.

Rissa's eyes darted left and right.  Nobody was going to do anything.  They 
were going to stand there and let the bastard whip a hungry seven-year-old into 
submission.  Probably to death, he thought bitterly.  That kid won't be able 
to--

"NO!"

Maroc's eyes narrowed even as his arm froze in midair.  "Who spoke?" he 
hissed.

"I did, you cowardly bastard."  Even as he wondered what fool was speaking, 
Rissa realized that he was the fool.  "He's just a child--a baby.  And he's 
hungry.  You can't beat a kid just because he's hungry."

Maroc stared.  This Bajoran was just as filthy and wretched looking as his 
peers but he was shaking with rage and not fear.  Maroc laughed out loud.  This 
one still had fight left in him.  This was going to be fun.  "And who are you, 
bold one?" he asked genially.

The others backed away from Rissa.  They'd all seen it before.  Even the 
strongest of them could crack under the strain of Maroc's cruelty.  The only 
thing 
a person could do was beg for the Prophets' mercy and to get away as quickly 
as possible.  To be close was to make yourself a target, too.  

"Eislin Rissa."

He looked to be about thirty Bajoran years old.  Despite his ragged 
appearance, Maroc heard the man's strong voice and saw that the life hadn't 
gone out of 
his eyes.  This is going to be a lot of fun, he thought.  I haven't beaten 
the resistance out of one of the strong ones in a while.  He chuckled out loud, 
telling himself that it was also going to set an example for the others.

"Tell me something, Mr. Eislin.  The theft needs to be punished.  Are you 
going to take the punishment in the boy's place?" Maroc asked in a deceptively 
mild voice.

"Yes."

He was dragged in front of Maroc.  The guards ripped his shirt away then 
shoved him to his knees.  The last thing he saw before the lash fell was the 
maniacal grin on the Cardassian's face.  The butcher's laughter echoed even as 
the 
lash bit into his back.  He didn't know how long it went on.  Didn't remember 
curling his body into a ball, covering his head with his arms, so that the 
blows fell somewhere other than his back.

The blows eventually stopped, though.  Maroc grudgingly gave Rissa some 
respect for not dying.  He would let the animal live but the lesson was still 
learned.  There was hardly a spot on the man that the lash hadn't laid open.  
He'd 
be a living example of what it meant to defy his rule.

~~~

During her time in the Maquis, Jawi learned to wake up very quickly.  She was 
out of bed and pulling on her wrap before she realized that the screaming 
that woke her from a sound sleep was coming from her own bed.

"Rissa!"  She knelt quickly and shook his shoulder.  "Rissa, wake up."

Dazed brown eyes looked into her blue ones.  It was the first time she could 
ever recall seeing such utter hatred in those eyes, eyes that usually shone 
with humor and kindness.  Now they were haunted and full of pain.

"I hate them, Jawi," he said in a choked sob as tears filled his eyes.  "I 
hate those Cardassian bastards for everything."

Jawi sat on the edge of the bed and took Rissa into her arms.  He was shaking 
and covered with sweat.  She smoothed back the hair from his forehead and 
rocked him gently.

"You're here now, Rissa.  You're here and they aren't.  There are no 
Cardassians here," she whispered softly, over and over, until he fell asleep in 
her 
arms.  Se held him a while longer, her own eyes tearing as she looked at the 
scars on his arms.  "Those bastards..."

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