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Entrapment: Part 2
Posted By: Arthur Wellesley<arthur_wellesly@hotmail.com>
Date: 6 August 2004, 11:35 PM

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0215 Hours, September 24, 2533 (Military Calendar)/
Plant Farrius V, Gamma-Onagus System

       The elevator at last stopped at what Shirley could only assume was the bottom floor of the facility. The trip from the top to the bottom had taken an unusually long amount of time. She must have underestimated the size of the prison she was in.

       Shirley stepped off the lift and followed Colonel Anderson, who was walking briskly down the hall. His walk seemed to suggest he was confident and eager as to whatever lay ahead. Shirley noticed with some discomfort that the their two-man escort, that had been with them since their shuttlecraft had landed, did not follow them and instead rode the elevator back up. She suddenly wished desperately she was going with them.

       Colonel Anderson stopped wheeled around on his heel to face a door with such abruptness Shirley nearly knocked into him. The door had a grim-looking guard with an rifle that was not safetied. Anderson slipped a keycard through a slit to the right of the door and it opened with a soft hiss.

       Inside was a hole of a room. It was freezing, it was dark, and cramped. It had the stench of vomit, excrement, and urine, but also the faint but certainly detectable smell of blood. In the middle of the small room was a rotting wooden table and a man seated at the far end. The man was filthy and inadequately clothed for the temperature of the building. His face was covered in grime, but Shirley could nevertheless tell the man was not handsome, but nor was he ugly. He was of medium build and medium height. Everything about him was average and seemingly unforgettable, but she somehow felt awed in his presence.

       The Colonel pulled a chair from the side of the room and placed it on the opposite end of the table. Shirley was left to stand.

       "Ah!" the man said with feigned friendliness. "My old friend."

       "Captain," Anderson acknowledged with a nod. "Why are you here, Tom? Fell into a hole and didn't like what was at the bottom?"

       "Why are you here, Anderson?" the man returned without answering. "I'm a dead man walking, so this seems to be waste of your talents."

       "But Tom! This is where I am most talented."

       Shirley leaned up against the wall, watching all of this in silence and confusion. She felt superfluous and out-of-place. She had no idea what was going on and neither men so much as acknowledged her existence. She was incredibly uneasy, however, for the Colonel's disposition was highly unusual. It kept her on edge with the feeling that at any second the seemingly friendly conversation would violently explode.

       "I've got nothing to say," the man called Tom said.

       "Everyone's got something to say, old friend," Anderson returned. "It's the just matter of getting it out of them." He placed his elbows on the table and pushed his face closer to Tom's. "Tell me what you saw, Tom. Tell me what you were told."

       "I've got nothing to say," he repeated laconically.

       Anderson nodded to himself and leaned back in his chair. With seeming absent-mindlessness took out a pistol from his belt and placed in to the table. His index finger tapped gently on the hilt. "I see," he said in a light tone, as if he had done nothing.

       Shirley almost smiled with relief. This was more like the Colonel Anderson she knew. Intimidation was the Colonel's expertise.

       Tom looked at the gun on the table, but did not seemed to be bothered by it. "You gonna shoot me, Colonel?" he asked in a steady voice that did not quiver.

       "What do you think, Tom?" Anderson asked. His tone had still changed from his uncharacteristic lightness.

       "I think that I'm dead no matter what I say or do," Tom said, a hint of anger now rising in his voice. "I think that what I saw or heard is unimportant. All you care about is who told me and how I know what I know." He rubbed his eyes tiredly. "You think I'm a total fucking idiot, Colonel?"

       "I think you misunderstand the situation," Anderson replied. "Think about it logically. You've got a better chance of survival if you just tell me everything you know. You either die right now, or you die in a couple of years... or not at all."

       "Forgive me if my faith in the system is limited," Tom said sarcastically, "but I can't say I believe you. I refuse to condemn my contacts to the same fate I must now face because of a misplaced trust in your damnable lies."

       Shirley was amazed. This Tom certainly seemed to know Anderson, and yet he was openly criticizing and belittling him. Shirley now knew why she was awed in his presence. This man was braver than any war hero that had ever existed.

       In contrast to his regular behavior, Anderson did not seem to be in the least irked by Tom's comments. "Oh, come on, Tom," he said, now twirling his pistol around on the table. "We're fighting a war against a vastly superior enemy and you're defending traitors to the UNSC. Ten million have died so far, and you're one man. We must make sacrifices for the greater cause, and you and the lives of the men and women you dealt with are those sacrifices."

       "Correct me if I'm wrong, Colonel," Tom said quietly, "but was that not the maxim of the Soviets? Of the Koslovic Regime?"

       Anderson ignored the comment. "You would do well to heed my advice, friend," he said, dropping the light tone and any other emotion in his voice. "Tell me: is this your final decision?"

       Tom lowered his head and his necked quivered ever so slightly as if he was silently wording a prayer. Shirley was sure he was going to give in, but when he raised his head, his face was as defiant as ever. "It is." He was resigned to his fate.

       "You always were stubborn," he said with a hint of fondness in his voice. Then he raised the gun on the table and fired.

       Tom's head exploded. A massive burst of blood drenched the cement wall behind him, speckled with darker bits of brain. The chair teetered on its back two legs, and at last fell to the ground. Tom's face, now staring up at the ceiling, looked calm and defiant even in death.

       Anderson stood up wordless and walked through the door. He looked at the guard and gave him a slight nod. Then he turned to Shirley. "Come with me Lieutenant."

       Shirley was not in so much shock that she did not obey the Colonel, but she did hesitate. She gawked for a moment at the gaping hole in Tom's forehead and his peaceful face. She then wiped a speck of blood from her chin and turned to follow her commander from the room that had just changed her life forever.