Friday, July 25, 2014

There were supposed to be five lights

Enlisted Rank 2nd Class Beurrel was unjustly proud of his day-old promotion. He’d served in the Cardassian military for six month before receiving the first of, what he hoped, would be many promotions. His father was also an enlisted man, having served 29 years in the glorious service of the state.
Beurrel wanted to achieve more than his father. He wanted to accomplish more and see more. He wanted to lead a platoon of men. He wanted them to do as he ordered. He wanted to complain about his soldier’s boots not being shined, about their uniforms not being well pressed, about their plasma rifles not being maintained.
The young soldier wanted to strut around the barracks and have younger solders snap to attention and have them hang on every word of sage advice he had to impart.
Growing up the son of a soldier had been hard. His dad was often gone and his mother, a clerk at one of the cities many weapon’s shop had her away from the home a lot so Beurrel had spent much of his time alone. He wasn’t good at sports, had few friends and was not very good in school.
It wasn’t that the potential wasn’t there it was because Beurrel was lazy. He didn’t see it in himself, but others saw it in him. He was so like his father who was also the type of person who would do only as much as he was told and nothing more…and sometimes less. Beurrel’s father had been reduced in rank twice in his long career for failing to follow through on orders he was given.
Beurrel did not want to lose the rank he’d earned and vowed he’d worked to achieve more. He’d keep his nose clean and keep out of sight of the officers who were always around giving orders and making the enlisted personnel fetch some piece of equipment, replace a broken instrument, march in parades, fight in battles where people would be killed or mop some hallway.
Beurrel hated all of those jobs. He knew he was destined to lead, not be a lackey to the puffed up officers.
As he lay in bed, the first morning after receiving his promotion, he ignored Enlisted Rank Primary Stents when the lower-ranked soldier suggested the newly promoted Cardassian get up and make his bunk before the squad leader appeared at the door. He wanted to enjoy the ability to ignore the lower-ranking man.
Just as he’d pulled the single blanket higher to cover his head and hide the bright lights in the barracks, the squad leader entered the room. The man was a huge Cardassian with a single battle medal hanging on his uniform. He was missing half his left hand and was scarred along his face. Rumor had it he was one of the few survivors of a battle in which the Cardassians had been beaten soundly by one of the many foes the Cardassian Union faced every day.
The squad leader was never a pleasant man and this morning he was particularly testy for reasons known only to him.
“Beurrel!” the squad leader bellowed in a voice which everyone in the squad agreed would sound better on a female.
Beurrel jumped out of his bunk, trying to look like he was already in the process of getting dressed, but the squad leader knew better. “Get your lazy hide out of that bunk aand report to Glinn Venton’s office ten minutes ago. Get going! Hurry! Go, go, go!” the squad leader’s voice droned on as Beurrel dressed in his work uniform and pulled on his boots. The squad leader wasn’t going away so there wasn’t a chance to use the bathroom before being hurriedly rushed out of the barracks by the squad leader. He hadn’t even had time to groom himself as he knew he should, but Glinn Venton was only the assistant to the deputy for Gul Madred and had been busted in rank before coming to this station and was not as arrogant as many of the other officers. Beurrel knew the young officer wouldn’t be as attentive to his uniform this morning as it was still very early for everyone.
He arrived at Venton’s office just as the assistant to the deputy was picking up his satchel in preparing to go somewhere. Beurrel snapped to attention in the middle of the door frame. The door almost irised closed on him before the officer noticed him.
“Enlisted Rank 2nd Class Beurrel, reporting to the deputy assistant Venton to the Madrid, as ordered, sir!” He’s messed up his introduction, messed it up bad. It was too late to take it back.
The only good thing was it looked like the Glinn hadn’t noticed his botched introduction.
Instead, the officer nodded off-handedly in his direction while stuffing padds into his satchel.
“Soldier, I need you to take this,” he said reaching into his bottom drawer and pulling out a small device with a simple on-off switch, “and press the ‘on’ switch when you hear the cue from the next room.”
Beurrel took the device and tried it several times.
The officer slapped him. “Not now fool!” he screamed. “When you hear Madred in the next room ask the question ‘How many lights do you see?’ then you turn on the device!”
Beurrel had almost dropped the device when he was struck and he quickly turned it back to the ‘off’ position.
“I have to leave, but make sure you turn the device ‘on’ when you hear the phase ‘how many lights do you see’ and not before. Do you understand me?” The officer had leaned close to the young soldier to make sure he had his full, undivided attention.
“Yes, sir! I do, sir! When I hear Gul Madred say ‘how many lights,’ I’m to switch this to the ‘on’ position.”
“Good. Until then, do NOT leave this room!”
“Yes, sir!” the officer left the room without looking back at Beurrel.
After a few minutes Beurrel began to get bored waiting for anything to happen. He decided to look around the small office to see if there was something to interest him.
Through a spy hole near the back of the room he could see a prisoner dressed in dirty smock. The bald-headed human was clearly alone in the room. There was a single desk and the prisoner sat in a chair in front of the desk.
Beurrel watched for several minutes hoping the prisoner would do something, like try to escape. Then Beurrel could capture him and be a hero and maybe advanced in rank some more.
He watched long enough to realize the prisoner was sleeping.
Beurrel got bored of watching the sleeping prisoner. It seemed to be it was going to be a long wait so Beurrel started looking around for something to slake his thirst. Thinking about water made him remember he hadn’t yet gone to the bathroom this morning. The latrine was down the hall.
The officer had told him not to leave the room, but the more he thought about it, the more he had to go.
He looked back through the spy hole and the prisoner was still sleeping. He rationalized that no one would know if he slipped out for a few minutes to use the latrine. The longer he waited the more he had to go.
One last look through the hole to assure himself nothing was going to happen for the next few minutes, Beurrel left the room and dashed for the bathroom.

Madred entered the room with Capt. Jean-luc Picard destroying the control device that had inflicted so much pain that had been left on the desk. Their conversation wasn’t long. Madred had arranged for a fifth light to be turned on to make Picard admit there were five lights hanging behind his torturer and not just four. For Madred it would be a breaking of one of the strongest willed Star Fleet officers he had ever met.
For Picard, it would seem as if his mind had broken and that he really was seeing five lights.
“How many lights do you see?” Madred asked conversationally.
“Four lights!” the beleaguered Picard cried out. “There are four lights!”
Mardred knew then he had won. He knew his deputy’s assistant would have turned on the fifth light and Picard would see five lights. But the man was now just saying four lights as a parting shot at his torturer. There were three other officers in the room now who had exposed some of the lies Madred had told Picard about the destruction of the Enterprise.
Picard was being repatriated, but Madred knew, without a doubt, Picard had seen five lights and had lied. It would tear at his mind for the rest of the Federation captain’s days, that in the end, he’d seen five lights, just as Madred had said.
When Picard was escorted out of the torture chamber and the other Cardassian officers had left Madred alone, the evilness of his plan made him smile.
Madred turned, knowing he too, would see five lights.

Beurrel rushed back into the office he’d not been supposed to leave. He peered through the spy hole and saw Gul Madred staring up at the lights. He was saying something Beurrel could easily hear.
“Where in the Darkest Pits of the Worst Plague Victim’s Ugliest Festering Sore is the fifth light? I swear to all my ancestors, someone is going to die a painful, long and terrifying death for this!”
Beurrel knew he’d just screwed up. He dropped the device and ran.