Force Field by Markstrom Benson Insofar the only person who?d come to see Markstrom was some guard with a tray of food. They spoke twice: the guard telling him that he didn?t have to be in here, and Markstrom telling him that if he was exposed to only half the facts he would be in his own little cell in an act of protest as well. The guard, in response, didn?t really have one, so he left the volunteer prisoner alone in the brig. Alone with that awful gurgling breath down the hall. He knew who it was, and had things to say, but was nervous of the repercussions. The meal was a sandwich, with turkey and provolone and a dire strip of lettuce. No condiments, nothing to ease the coarse intake of meat and bread. He ate this slowly, sipping at the supplied canteen with every bite. Whoever replicated this meal for him even had the common courtesy of a dessert: a flat, dry, and hard chocolate chip cookie. Markstrom never understood the saps who liked their cookies this way, because in no way was the condition of this delicacy a mistake. When he wanted a cookie, he wanted something thick and soft, plentiful and sweet. This tasted like something his grandmother, may she rest in peace, would have done by horrible accident. He never wanted a glass of milk more in his entire life. Then he thought, Why the hell am I complaining about a cookie in a jail cell? So he crammed the remainder of the desperate little wafer into his mouth and washed it down with the rest of his water (another combination that he despised), finishing his?lunch? Dinner? What the hell time was it? Time had deserted him. It left him questioning the length he?d been in there, the count of the hours and minutes, and what he had left. Maddened he stood, pacing and playing a weird form of soccer with the lunch tray, hearing it smoothly scrape along the metal floor and make that unaccustomed sound as it collided with the forcefield. Energy forming a solid surface always baffled him, as simple as it scientifically was. To appease his curious brain, he therefore went to the forcefield and placed his hand against the imaginary wall, rapping his fingers like a piano trill. A wall that was neither hard nor soft, neither firm nor forgiving. And to top off his sense of symbolism, it was something he couldn?t see, but something that was so evident that he couldn?t ignore it. Stop analyzing things and relax. Someone will be here with Hayes to let you out. Markstrom resumed his game of Kick The Tray with his hands in his pockets, bunching up the fabric inside and pulling them out like a street urchin. All for the sake of boredom. It wasn?t until Team Back Wall had a one-point lead over Team Force Field that Markstrom noticed how grimy his hands felt, so he called time-out and went to the sink to make his hands feel clean. While the water ran he heard a voice, so he immediately shut it off and turned around. ?What?? he called out, still unsure of who said it, or from where. ?I said it?s about time you stopped making that annoying racket.? It was Admiral Ramirez, growling from down the hall. ?You can make no peace with simply sitting and waiting. That makes you weak and stupid.? ?You sound like shit, sir,? Markstrom called back, sardonic with the pleasantry. Nothing replied but that breathing, which was subsequently what he?d been trying to drown out by making the annoying racket. ?Hey, I have a question for you.? Still nothing. ?Do you know my name?? ?That?s funny, Mr. Benson. And here, all these years, you thought I had not a care of who you were. It comes with being in charge of the ship. Even if you think someone is an annoying, do-nothing sack of guts, you have to at least know their name.? ?So you still think you?ve been in charge of this ship all this time, I see.? ?And who else would you have in mind? Hayes McQuarrie? Even if Starfleet law mandates that I am merely a passenger on this transport, common sense would mandate that he is not fit to lead this ship in the simplest of circumstances. The remainder of the command is also unfit, having resorted to being the captain?s own personal sluts. Someone with the authority needed to take charge, or the Coldstream would have just floated around with all of its crewmembers fornicating until the population on board squeezed out the airlocks.? All of its crewmembers? Markstrom thought, reflecting on his own involuntary abstinence over the past four months or so. ?Well that?s in the past now, bucko. Hayes is charge now. It?s a whole new ship with a whole new purpose.? ?We?ll see about that, Mr. Benson.? ?I have another question for you. Why did you almost wipe out one of our colonies?? ?You saw firsthand what kind of beings are inhabiting that world. They needed to be stopped.? ?Have you read the Prime Directive lately, Admiral? I don?t remember the article numbers or anything, but in the event of extreme defense from a world, the action of the Starfleet vessel is to abandon, and only if pursued beyond the confines of the world is the vessel to take aggressive defense. If the explorer ships had wiped out every civilization that didn?t roll out a fuckin red carpet when we showed up, the Federation would have fallen apart from a liberal uprising fifty years ago.? The Admiral retorted, ?But it was not a new world. It was a colony of ours that they invaded.? ?How the hell do you know that?? ?Because those colonists would not have been there if those creatures had lived there all along.? Markstrom laughed. ?Leave it to the bigwigs to ignore the details.? He continued, ?Admiral, there were borders set up, borders that Trilo and I found while looking for the security team. Those dudes with the black eyes probably have an unspoken border agreement with the colonists that?? ?That beam that fired up and destroyed the Primo Morire came from one of those beings. That?s how powerful they are. Something like that needs to be?? The Admiral stopped and so did the breathing, and the eerie silence crept forth and slept. ?Needs to be what, Ramirez? Needs to be what?? Markstrom taunted him, now discovering that his entire body was pressed up against the unseen wall that had the lack of sure texture. ?What were you going to say, Ramirez? Something powerful needs to be destroyed? Wiped out? What word or phrase were you going to use, Ramirez? What word or phrase were you going to use to describe the elimination of something whose only threat is their ability to outstrip the most powerful reaches of Starfleet? Come on, Ramirez, I?m waiting. I?m waiting, Ramirez. I?m waiting, Ramirez, you imperialistic fuck! Come on! Tell me! Say what you want to do to anything that?s more powerful than you! Say it! Say it, you pussy! Say it!? With each exclamation point, Markstrom pounded the force field with his fist, relentlessly. But it didn?t give, and neither did Admiral Ramirez answer. == --------------------------------- Don't pick lemons. See all the new 2007 cars at Yahoo! Autos.