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seaQuest: The Dawning
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Echoes Of Banaba
By Joceanna

Chapter 2

The car bounced off of the guardrail and spun sideways, finally coming to a halt in the flood ravine on the other side of the street. For a moment, there was silence, nothing but the hissing sound  of superheated steam coming from under the hood. Then, a gentle rustling, but it didn't come from the car. Through the Florida brush, a figure emerged, and when he came upon the twisted metal that was once Ford's car, he stopped. An expression changed his face, not one of shock and horror, but one of delight. It had worked.
“And the UEO said I wasn't good for anything.” He muttered under his breath, stepping over to the car.  Just as he had planned, Commander Ford lay motionless, his chest broken over the steering wheel. “Yes…” He hissed. Then, the sight of the dark curls pressed up against the broken windshield caught his eye. This he hadn't planned on. There wasn't supposed to be anyone else in the car.
     Headlights flashed across his face, and he turned, shielding his eyes as the van slowed down. A moment of panic filled his chest until he recognized the license plate. The driver shut off the engine and stepped out, slamming the door.
“Did we get him?” The driver asked. The man nodded slowly.
“Yes. And one other besides.”
“Yeah, I saw him at the house. Looks to be a friend of the murderer's. No matter, he's UEO. One more just makes this more fun.”

     The man nodded. One more wouldn't make a difference in their plans. It might even give them some extra leverage. He sighed and reached into his pocket. Slipping on a pair of thick gloves, he started to brush the glass away and reached inside the driver's window.
“Come on, let's get them out.”
Hidden by the veil of night, the two men drove with their precious cargo deep into the swamplands.

     When Miguel  slowly began to awaken, his head was throbbing so hard that he couldn't hear anything but the beating of his own heard. He groaned, and struggled to open his eyes. Something hard covered one eye and the other wouldn't crack open, no matter how he struggled. He moved to raise his arm to his face and the pain tore a scream from his throat. What had happened? He screamed in his mind. The last thing he remembered was being in the car with Jon. But then, he wasn't in the car now, he was on his back, on something icy cold. Was he dead? Gasping for air, he raised one hand to his face and winced in agony. He forced himself to touch his eyelids, and found that something like dirt had sealed his right eye shut. He wiped it away and struggled to open his eyelid. His panic momentarily overcame his pain as he stared up at a cement ceiling lit only by one bare bulb. He forced himself to roll onto his side and look around.
“Jon!” He gasped, seeing his friend curled up in a ball against a brick wall. Miguel crawled over to him, his broken bones crying out in protest. Gently, he felt for a pulse, and touched Jon's face.
“Jonathan…”
Jonathan felt the fingers on his face and winced in pain. He slowly opened his eyes, and looked up into the blood-caked face above him.
“Mi…Miguel..” He whispered, struggling to turn over. The pain from his cracked ribs was blinding, but he managed to face Miguel.
“Wh…where are we?”
“I don't know.” Miguel replied weakly. Jonathan turned and looked at his face.
“Oh God…” He reached up and gently brushed Miguel's curls aside to reveal a deep laceration across his head. “You need a doctor.”
“So do you.”
Jonathan looked around. They appeared to be in some sort of holding cell, brick walls on four sides and only one small wooden door in the far end of the room. There were no windows, no furniture, and no other source of light but the single lamp.
“Miguel…I think we're in trouble.”
Miguel didn't answer. His head hurt to much to think, so he leaned his head back and rested against the wall. Wherever they were, it wasn't a hospital. Jonathan saw Miguel's eyes close again and he reached over and grabbed his arm.
“No, you have to stay awake. A head wound like that, you have to stay awake. Miguel, look at me. Look at me.” He coaxed as Miguel's eyes opened once more. He nodded gently, and Jonathan stood up slowly, using the wall to brace himself. He took a few cautious steps toward the door, and hadn't move more than a few feet when the door swung open. Three people came into the room, two GELF men and a human woman in a white lab coat.
“Well, looks like the patients are awake.” One man said, stepping forward. Jonathan forced himself to balance enough to stand up straight.
“Who are you?” Jonathan demanded. The  man raised an eyebrow.
“You mean you don't recognize me?”
“Have we met?”
“Years ago. But I didn't look like this then.” He glanced back at his cohorts who nodded and shut the door. The woman walked over to Miguel with a needle in hand.
“No!” Jonathan screamed, moving towards his friend. He was seized by the two men as the woman plunged the needle into Miguel's collar and watched as his eyes closed. She nodded and stood up, walking over to a struggling Jonathan.
“What do you want!?” He screamed. He never heard the answer or felt the sting of the needle.
     The doctor surveyed her work. Two humans, strapped to operating tables, prepped for surgery. Both were unconscious, but that wouldn't last long. The sedative should be wearing off soon, and both men would be awake for the procedure. After checking their restraints for the hundredth time, she walked over and pressed a button on the wall.
“Linc, I'm ready.”
The door to the room opened instantly, and the two GELFs entered. Linc walked over to the doctor.
“Lara, they're supposed to be awake.”
“They will be.”
As if on cue, Jonathan opened his eyes. This room was different. The light above him was much brighter and as his eyes adjusted, he noticed that the walls were white. He tried to raise his arms and discovered that they were tied down. He moved his head to the side and glared at the trio.
“Who are you?” He demanded again. Linc raised an eyebrow and walked over to the table.
“Commander Ford, you aren't in much of a position to be demanding anything.”
“Fine. Then tell me what you want.”
“In short, commander, we want you.” For the first time, Jonathan noticed the white lab coat that the GELF wore, and the table of sharp looking silver instruments at his side. Desperately, he struggled against his bonds. Lara shook her head.
“It won't do you any good to struggle. I assure you that the bonds are inescapable.” She walked over to join Linc in staring down at Jonathan. “These men tested them personally.” A feeling of dread sank over Jonathan and he took a breath. He was in trouble. Linc slowly walked to the head of the table, and Jonathan followed him with his eyes.
“I wonder, Commander, why you don't recognize me. I've been thinking about it since the good doctor here began to prep you for surgery, and I think I've figured it out. The last time you saw me, I was screaming.” Linc grabbed onto Jon's head and pressed his face close to his. In fear, Jon watched as his eyes changed from neutral brown to glowing blue…the kind of blue that could penetrate the darkness of dreams.
“It's…it's you!” He gasped as the realization hit him. The man smirked and nodded.
“I see you DO remember.”
“I couldn't forget.” Jon glanced from him to the woman. The man released him from his grasp and moved away.
“I don't think that's the truth at all, Commander.” He said angrily, motioning towards the other man who left the room, shutting the door behind him. “I think it was quite easy for you to forget about us. You went about you life, climbing the ranks to a career that was based upon the agony and suffering of innocents!”
“No!” Jonathan gasped. Linc spun around to face him.
“No?” He asked. “Tell me, Commander, in the past 10 years have you even given one thought to the ones you left behind? To the endless numbers of us you helped strap to a table, much like you are strapped to now? Did you think about what happened to us when you left that room? Did you?!” He demanded. Jonathan couldn't respond, so Linc's rage continued. “No! So let me fill you in, Commander. When you walked out of that room, I was left struggling on the table. Two doctors came in, and the punctured my arms with IV needles. They dripped chemicals into my veins. You know what it felt like? It felt like someone was pouring acid into my bloodstream, but no matter how hard I screamed, they wouldn't let up. I could feel it moving throughout my body, burning everywhere it went, but leaving me frozen at the same time. Finally, it reached my heart. I felt my own heart stop beating! Can you imagine what that is like? Your entire body is dead, but your brain is still alive. You can't move, but every nerve in your body is raging like it is on fire. And when that last breath leaves you, you can't even scream anymore.” Linc leaned close. “I thought it was over.” He whispered bitterly. “I prayed for the end, hoping that death would come soon.”
He stood up.
“But it was just beginning. As the last of the blue water drained from the bags, they were replaced by blood so dark it looked almost black. And when that blood reached from its tube into my veins, I began to come alive once again. They pressed shock pads onto my chest, and as the fluid coursed through my body, they electrocuted my chest and made my heart, my dead heart, start beating again. The doctor's all looked at one another, clapping and congratulating one another on a job well done, while I lay there on the table crying until my lungs ached. Then, they unstrapped me, and I found myself in your care again on my way back to my cell. And you looked at me as if I was DEAD! I begged you to take me out of there, to take me away, or to take your gun from your holster and  kill me out of mercy, but you just looked ahead and kept on walking. You tried to pretend that you couldn't hear me, that it didn't matter. But it did.” Linc stepped back and sniffed.
     Suddenly, he lunged forward and grabbed a scalpel off of the tray.
“This is what you did to me!” He screamed, dragging the knife across his arm, hardly wincing as the blood began to pour from his severed arteries onto the floor. The woman didn't move, she just watched and waited.
Then, before Jon's eyes, the blood flow trickled and slowed, until only a small stream remained. Then, that too disappeared as the GELFs flesh healed. In another moment, it looked as if nothing had happened. Jon found that he couldn't breath.
“I didn't, I couldn't…I…” He gasped, tipping his head to the side and looking across the room to where Miguel lay. He froze as he met Miguel's eyes. Miguel was awake. He had heard the whole thing.  Jonathan turned back to the GELF.
“I couldn't help you, don't you see? There was nothing that I could do. Even if I had let you get away, we wouldn't have made it out of the wing. I'm sorry,” he pleaded, “I'm sorry. You think that I don't remember, but I do. I remember everything, and not a day has passed since then that I haven't wished I could have done something. But I couldn't…I couldn't…” A tear streamed down his cheek as he turned to look at Miguel once more. “Miguel, please, I'm sorry I got you into this.” Jonathan took a breath and stared at his captor.
“So you want revenge, is that it? You want to make me pay for everything that was done to you? Well, go to it! Take what you want from me, I don't care. I deserve this for everything I've done. But let him go. He had nothing to do with this. Just let him go.”
Linc laughed.
“Let him go? Are you joking? No! Don't you know that with two patients, the likelihood of one of you surviving the operation increases? Why do you think there were so many Banaba GELFs? Because whenever one of them was lucky enough to die, someone else had to be around to pick up their slack!”
     Operation. This was the second time this man had made reference to surgery, but Jonathan was just now realizing the weight of what he had said. This man was planning on operating on  them, subjecting them to the same tortures he once endured. Jonathan had to stop hit.
     Miguel watched the happenings with wide eyes, finally understanding what Jonathan had told him earlier. He now knew, without question, why Jonathan's dreams had been haunted for more than a decade. He felt terrified, and slightly betrayed, having never imagined Jonathan as capable of being a party to torture, but mostly, he felt pity for his friend. He knew how close Jonathan held his career, and he knew that the UEO could be very persuasive when it came to erasing records. Miguel closed his eyes and tried to center himself. Their captors obviously wouldn't listen to Jonathan; they viewed him as responsible for decades of misery. It was up to Miguel. He took a breath, forcing the physical pain to the back of his mind. He felt a flicker of calm, almost a shiver, rippling over his body. His spine tingled and he took a deep breath, feeling every molecule of oxygen coursing into his bloodstream. He opened his eyes.
“Wait…” he croaked, turning his head ever so slightly. He looked over at Jonathan, casting a look that let his friend know he was on his side. “You can't do this.” He whispered.
Linc cocked his head to the side and raised an eyebrow.
“Oh?” He seemed to be toying with Miguel. “And tell me, why is that, exactly?” He motioned to the room around him. “It seems I have the tools, and obviously the will to do so.”
“Because,” Miguel said, desperately struggling for a reason. “Because it wasn't right. It wasn't right for the UEO to support the experimentation, it wasn't right for the doctors to look the other way in the name of scientific research, it wasn't right for military personal to use humans as weapons to do their own dirty work. But most of all, it wasn't right, and it ISN'T right for humans to treat other humans with such cruelty.”
“I am NOT human.” Linc flew at Miguel, pressing his own face close to Miguel's. He almost growled. “Isn't that what you've all been telling us for years? That because we came from a laboratory and not a womb, we somehow aren't real people? That we are expendable?”
“No!” Jonathan said. “That isn't what we're saying.” He looked at Miguel and then back to Linc. “The UEO made those choices, they made those decisions. But I can't pass the blame solely to them, because you're right. I was there and I didn't do anything. My silence was compliance, and in turn, acceptance. I have had to live with the knowledge that I murdered and tortured all of you, and regardless of what you may have thought, I could not ever, EVER forget. But I am not the same man I was all those years ago.”
“Oh, indeed.” Lara scoffed. She smirked. “And how have you changed, eh? You still torture others for your own benefit.”
“No!” Jonathan exclaimed.  Miguel felt a spark in his head. It didn't hurt, but it felt as if someone had set a flash bulb off inside his brain. He closed his eyes and tried to block it out. Lara looked down.
“No?” She asked. “You and I both know that the UEO maintains it's stature by stepping on the lives of others.  Yes, Banaba experimentation has stopped, but that hasn't stopped the UEO from continuing to experiment. They just find new and interesting ways of wrangling permission from their subjects.”
With a pang, Jonathan knew that Lara spoke the truth. Tony  Piccolo had been given his gills as part of a prison early release program. He knew that Tony wasn't alone.
“You're right.” Jonathan admitted. “But how does torturing us help?” He pleaded. Miguel opened his eyes.
“Don't you see? If you stick those needles into us, then how are you any better than the Banaba doctors? You subject someone to experiments against their will, and when you are caught, and you WILL be caught,” Miguel eyed Lara and Linc forcefully, “you will be condemning yourselves and others like you to more torture. You are perpetuating the cycle. If you really meant what you said, if you really believed what you are saying, then you would put down the scalpel and let us go. You would find a legitimate way of fighting inhumane torture. Instead, you're too afraid.” He growled.
“Afraid?” Linc snarled. Jonathan looked at Miguel, his eyes wide. (What are you doing??”) He screamed mentally. Miguel nodded.
“Yes. Because if you let us go, you would have to admit the fact that you have the same capacity for evil that the rest of us do. You would have to admit that you are exactly the same as the doctors who tortured you, and the UEO, who let it happen.”
“I'm not at ALL like those doctors.” Linc lashed out with his arm, and the tray that Lara had so carefully prepared went flying. She jumped in fear. Up until this point, she had been watching in horror and odd fascination, secure in her belief that Linc was justified. Now,  listening to these men plead for their lives, she wasn't so sure. Slowly, she began to move towards the counter behind her, keeping her movements smooth and steady to avoid Linc's detection. She needn't have worried, he was still fuming at Miguel.
“I'm NOTHING like those so called doctors!” he raged. Miguel took a breath, wondering if he had pushed the GELF to far and had just sacrificed their lives. (Hell,) he thought. (he was going to kill us anyway, I'm at least giving him a fight. I won't go down so easily!) Linc reached down for the scalpel which had clattered to the floor.
“Don't even think about it.” Lara leveled the barrel of a semiautomatic hand rifle to his head. Linc looked up in surprise and slowly stood up.
“Lara…what are you doing?” he asked. She pulled the safety off with a beep.
“You said these men were your torturers. You said that you needed revenge on him.”
“I WILL exact my revenge on them!” Linc lashed out and slammed Miguel in the stomach. Miguel cried out in pain.
“No!” Lara said. “You won't!” She pressed the barrel into his flesh. Linc raised an eyebrow.
“So you've turned on me, too?” He said. “You humans are all alike. But what about them?” he nodded his head to the door, only to discover that the two GELFs standing guard had disappeared. He gasped.
“Looks like your game's over.” Jonathan said.
“You shut up!” Linc said, turning red. He stepped closer to Lara, pressing against the gun with his head. “What, are you going to shoot me now, Lara? You think you have it  in you? Well, go on then! Shoot me! Shoot me, shoot me, shoot me!” he screamed. Lara paused only for the slightest moment, and it was enough. Linc saw her weakness and spun around, stepping between Jonathan and Miguel. “This ends now.” He said, reaching for an IV line.
Lara pulled the trigger.
Linc fell to the floor.
“Yes. It does.” She said.

The door flew open and slammed into the wall with a bang. Before Jonathan could even blink, the room filled with uniformed officers.
“On the floor!” Jim Brody's voice rang out. He leveled a rifle at Lara. “Now!” he growled.
“No! Wait.” Miguel gasped. “She saved us.”
Lara let her gun drop  to the floor and slowly raised her hands in the air. Jim looked from Jonathan to Miguel. Jonathan nodded his head slowly as a security guard came over and began to unbind the restraints. For the first time, Jim looked around the room.
“My God…what happened here? What did they do to you?” he asked, never taking his aim from Lara's chest. The guard helped Jonathan sit up. He held his head in his hands and winced painfully.
“N..nothing…yet.” He said. “Other than work us over pretty good.” He looked over at Miguel. A team of guards surrounded him.
“We need a medevac now, sir. He needs a hospital.”
Jonathan stepped onto the floor and nearly collapsed in his attempt to get over to Miguel's bed. A guard grabbed him in time and braced him.
“Miguel!” Jonathan called, suddenly terrified when he didn't hear an answer.
“He's lost consciousness!” A guard called.
“Get him out of here!” Jim slammed Lara against the wall and bound her hands behind her back with a piece of arrest wire. The guard picked up his PAL.
“seaQuest, this is Lieutenant Torturro. We have 2 injured men, one is in critical condition, we need a medevac immediately!”
“There will be a chopper there in 2 minutes!” Nathan Bridger's voice rang out through the PAL. Jonathan watched helplessly as two guards strapped Miguel to a backboard and carried him out of the room. Jonathan leaned on the shoulders of his crewmates as they led him out of captivity and into safety.

     Ten days later, Jonathan knocked on the doorframe to Miguel's hospital room. Miguel turned and looked into the doorway. He smiled weakly when he saw his visitor.
“Hey.” He said softly. Jonathan smiled, glad to see that Miguel was sitting up, though propped by pillows. His head was still bandaged with thick gauze, but the rest of the scratches and bruises had begun to fade.
“Hey yourself.” Jon said, stepping into the room. He pulled a chair up beside the bed and sat down. “You're looking better.”
“Feeling better, too.” Miguel grinned. “Er, except for the food. I'm even starting to miss the mess.”
“Well, I brought something to help you with that.” Jonathan grinned, revealing a paper bag he had hidden behind his back. He tossed it to Miguel, who caught it one handed.
“What's this? Oooh…” Miguel opened the bags. “Chocolate Cream donuts!” He tore open the bag and took a bite. “Thanks, man.” he said, his words muffled by the chocolate cake. Jonathan chuckled.
“You're welcome.” he said. Then he sighed and looked down. “The MP's been here?” He asked.
Miguel finished his bite slowly and swallowed. He nodded.
“Yes…every moment the doctors couldn't fight them off.”
“What…what did you tell them?”
Miguel shook his head.
“I told them that three militant GELFs and a human sympathizer went rogue and tried to take out their psychoses on two UEO officers. And that the human turned at the last moment and saved our lives.”
Jonathan breathed a sigh of relief.
“So you didn't…”
“Tell them about you? No. I didn't.” Miguel sighed and looked over at Jonathan. “Look, Jon, everything that happened back there…it doesn't change anything. With us, I mean.”
“But you know…”
“Yeah, I know. And frankly, I don't know how you've made it this long knowing what you know. You can't just keep tying this all up, you know. It's going to tear you apart.”
“I know.” Jonathan groaned. “I know.” Then he took a breath. “So, where do we go from here?”
“Back to the seaQuest. Back to our lives. But you,” Miguel said, pointing. “you have to work through this. I know you can't tell anyone, least of all Dr. Smith and Captain Bridger. But you can at least talk to me, now. If one good thing has come from all this, that's it. I'm not a doctor, but I can at least promise to listen. Agreed?”  
Jonathan stared with an amused grin.
“You know, you're getting pretty bossy for an enlisted man.”
Miguel chuckled.
“Yeah, well, I figure you can't throw me in the brig if I'm in a hospital bed.” he smiled. “But don't try to change the subject. Are we agreed?”
Jonathan took a breath and let it out with a groan.
“I….I agree to try.”
“That's all I ask.” Miguel grinned and reached into his paper bag. “Donut? Chocolate heals all wounds.”
“Yeah, sure.” Jonathan said, reaching for the bag. “Thanks.”
“Anytime. Well, as long as it doesn't mean that one of us in in the hospital. I don't think I could take this drama again.”
Jonathan just chuckled and took a bite.

THE END