Meanwhile, below ground, sirens blare throughout Ten Tines Prison. Underneath the klaxons, Imogen hears the clangs of additional locks activating. From the clatter of boots, it sounds like most of the guards from the observation hub are headed out of the prison block. One, however, steps to the door of the cell where Imogen stands with her escort. “Everything okay in here?” Durian asks. “What’s going on? What’s this lockdown about?”
“This guy is missing,” Imogen’s escort replies, pointing at the empty bed. “He’s not there. It was some kind of hologram or something.”
“When was the last time one of you all fed him!?” Imogen demands, wondering how they could have not noticed Narurd’s absence for so long.
“We feed him all the time!” the escort insists. “We just push the food in through the door slot.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Imogen catches a hairless tail snaking under the bed. Clearly rodents are eating the food.
“Did you guys have proper medical checkups for your prisoners? Seems no,” Durian observes. “But we need to find him. When is the last time you confirmed he was here?”
“When is the last time someone actually spoke with him and heard his voice?” Imogen asks more precisely. The guard claims Narud would sometimes moan about not feeling well, so Imogen begins to search for additional devices. She lifts the mattress up off the bedframe and uncovers a stash of papers, which she quickly stuffs into the bag on her hip. Her escort is too distracted to have noticed, but it is possible that Durian saw her take them. That might be a bit tricky to explain to him later, but at least he is not commenting on it now. At a quick glance the papers looked like diatribes against the Dominion, but something else was scrawled across the back. Imogen saw the acronym UED in that mix.
“We better search this place and account for all the other prisoners,” Durian tells the other guard as Imogen pokes around the bed. “Gotta make sure this isn’t a multi-breakout.” But he keeps glancing over at Imogen, and finally her escort demands to know what is going on.
Imogen inserts herself before Durian confesses any connection between them. “You know, if there are problems here, if you’ve got to look for your prisoners and such, I can get out of your way. I’m sorry that we crashed on your facility, but you don’t need to burden yourself with me anymore. I’ll just go up and join them in righting our ship. There’s no one to treat here,” she adds, looking pointedly around the empty cell, “so you don’t need my medical skills.”
“Nobody’s going anywhere,” the guard tells her. “That’s what lockdown means. Something doesn’t add up here, and we definitely cannot let you go until this whole thing is sorted out. The only place we’re taking you to is the warden’s desk. You can talk to her, and she’ll figure out what’s going on.”
“Sure, I’ll be happy to testify about what I observed concerning your ability to maintain your prisoners,” she replies sweetly.
The guard is not intimidated. “You can say whatever you want to the warden, okay? There are too many coincidences. They’ve got to be looked into. If you’re free and clear, you’ve got nothing to fear.” Turning to Durian, he snaps, “You! New guy! Search the cell. Search all the other cells. See if there’s anything else weird. We’re going up to the warden.” Durian looks a bit stressed as Imogen passes him on the way out, but he does not say anything compromising. He has a job to do here, and he is going to do it.