Dissonance. That's a good word to describe the Mirage. There is a dissonance to the music, a dissonance to the chatter from those who live in the city within the city. The cacophony of silverware against glass is dissonant. The last call for drinks is dissonant. Footsteps are dissonant. Appropriate for the contradiction that is Eden City.
You walk past various diners, holding a glass in your right hand, before approaching the hidden turbolift that leads to the Reckoners' headquarters. As its doors open for you, you sense an overwhelming wave of fear from below, like a tide pulsing beneath you. Looks like you have a visitor down there.
The doors of the turbolift slide open and you step into the dimly lit vicinity of the headquarters. The Panic Room awaits you, as you step through the white corridor into the somber gray of the interrogation chamber. You walk in unannounced but expected, hearing the soft whimpers of a man cuffed to the wall, chest bare and pale face exposed.
Those already in the room bow to you. You curtly nod in return. One of your members gives you an update - this man is a proclaimed terrorist, responsible for killing one of the renowned Komturei, an advisor to the Ethnarc. It is likely that this man is part of a group, so information must be received, even if it warrants extreme torture. Rend, as an result, has given the go-ahead to do whatever you want with this man.
This is your first challenge. Write an interrogation scene in which you force information from this man. Who is he? Where is he from? What provoked him to kill the Komturei, and who does he possibly work with? These are all questions you must receive answers for in a one-page minimum fictional piece - 1st person point of view, present tense. Your test is to be original in your torture but make it so it is something your members can learn from; as in, show them the most efficient and quickest way to garner information. Lead by example, and only make the man suffer the most once the info is received. Good luck.
My boot heels click against the blinding linoleum of the Panic Room, a rhythmic march creating a fertile setting for contemplation. I have been informed by Ethnarc Rend that one of the Komturei have been murdered. They believe the culprit was not acting alone. He is a terrorist.
Anguish saturates my palate as I enter the interrogation chamber. The man restrained against the far wall of the room is clearly the guest of honor, his emotions ample and raw. He tries to restrain them. He can’t. I savor even that small amount of suffering. I can taste his lack of control.
Several of the others present offer their reverence, silently. With an inward sigh, I set my glass upon the table in the center of the room. The edge of my palm grazes it. Even in the humidity of the room, it’s marble surface is cool. Secretly, I hope this will be quick. I don’t wish to waste the remaining minutes to last call with such unpleasant company.
I look once more at my drink, promising myself not to do so again until I am finished here. It won’t be so bad, I figure. The others are hungry to learn. Their eagerness is nearly as pungent as the prisoner’s fear.
My unwilling guest’s skin is pallid, his flesh peppered with pink undertones that would be more visible were he not so intimidated. His eyes and hair are a typical shade of brown. He is unremarkable in every way.
“Who are you?” I ask the trembling stranger. It’s a formality, this time. I don’t expect him to answer. He doesn’t.
I raise an eyebrow at the other Reckoners. They’re watching anxiously. They have their own ideas about how to make this man talk. I will show them.
I consider the most unique instances I can muster, in my head. I almost grin. I try to imagine yanking every hair from the man’s body – from the inside. I discard the thought. It would take too long, I presume. I remind myself that my objective is intelligence. There will be time for recreation later.
Concentrating momentarily, I drag blackness around my figure. I say nothing as I am wrapped in shadows, and I watch the prisoner’s eyes widen. His pupils shrink. The theatrics are effective.
Now, prolonged silence is perturbing the detainee even further. His terror is robust, likely expanded by the terrible fancies of his own mind. He is fearing many fates, trying to prepare his mind and body for impending torment. I let him dream for another moment. His cowering shudders are pleasant ripples in the Force. An esoteric euphoria overwhelms me.
“Of course, you understand that your cooperation is not optional, hm?” I ask him, politely. There is something menacing about sophistication in the face of approaching doom. He responds with a gulp, swallowing the lump in his throat. I want to rip it out.
I stare at him, waiting for a response. It is my final warning. After a few seconds, he shakes his head in defiance. I am not disappointed.
I admire the shapely wrinkles in my glove as I remove a small controller from my pocket. Within a few moments, I open the door to the presence of a shimmering black globe, humming with a modulated whir. It’s presence alerts the sweating prisoner, who begins breathing with exaggerated heaves. The droid’s attachments adjust and engage, performing a vital scan of it’s subject. I make a formal introduction.
“Eyeteeoh, welcome! This is – well, we don’t know who he is. In fact, we don’t know much about him at all. Discerning this information will be your solemn undertaking for this evening. Are you prepared?”
The torture droid responds with a monotonous affirmation. I nod and give the go ahead. The prisoner starts screaming before the first needle pierces his skin, begging for mercy. I assure him that now is not the time for groveling. The chemical being injected is a mere truth serum and mild toxin. OV600. The droid’s long arm retracts, the syringe completely emptied.
I make inquiries that he struggles to answer. I smile as he begins writhing, spitting as a painful rash begins to sear his flesh. It is a painful itch that, due to his restraints, the prisoner is unable to scratch. Hives begin to cluster and burst through the surface.
“Ah, are you getting it? Your body wants you to tell the truth.”
The man peers at me as if I am a lunatic. He begins thrashing, desperately trying to escape his predicament. It is of no use.
“Eyeteeoh,” I call out, mocking “Can’t you see this man is in pain? That rash is uncomfortable. Please remove it.”
The horrible black globule rotates and approaches the prisoner, two of the droid’s arms unfurling by several joints. I watch in wonder as tiny pincers at the end of the mechanical limbs dig into his bare chest, slowly peeling the blistered skin from the shrieking prisoner’s body. Blood begins to seep through openings in flayed flesh.
As an originally provincial wound begins to expand beneath the droid’s passionless surgical expertise, I ask my questions. There is no urgency in my voice. I am serene. It is the prisoner who must race the clock.
My countenance becomes more grim, and the detainee breaks. A tattered corporation is behind the attacks. ESO. I try to remember where I’ve heard that. I demand more from the prisoner. He is screaming, and some of his words are barely audible. Answers become as profuse as the sustenance leaking from fresh wounds. I am thankful that the droid is recording the session. We will analyze it later.
“That’s enough, Eyeteeoh.”
The droid halts and saunters over beside me. I pet him, as if the praise makes any difference. The prisoner exhales with desperate breaths as tears pour down his face. He is relieved as he can be, considering the flaps of mangled flesh dangling from just below his pectorals.
With a nod, I smile at my victory. The other Reckoners crave my resolution. Words of wisdom. I sate their yearning.
“Time is of the essence,” I say to them, “and cannot be wasted playing games.”
My grin expands.
“However, now that I have concluded my investigation, you are free to experiment. Train. Practice makes perfect.”
A look of sheer horror rises in the prisoner’s features as the bulbous droid begins to do something. My team exchange joyous glances, as anxious children on the day of some gift-giving celebration. They are free to test the droid – and the murderer’s threshold.
“Excuse me.” I insist, politely.
I almost forget my drink as I leave the chamber. Retrieving it gratefully, I step out into the Panic Room. I won’t miss Piotr, as he told me his name was. As my footsteps sound against the linoleum, I can barely hear him screaming.
E.S.O. The name is unfamiliar to you. It does not appear to be a corporation located directly within the Yridia system, and none of the citizens you nonchalantly speak with under your assumed alias seems to know about it. It's when this happens that you need to find information from one of the best sources - right in the heart of Yridia II.
You make the simple trip to Yridia's capital to speak to Stanson Rend. The Ethnarc listens to the interrogation report with great relish, and it is when you inform him of the name "E.S.O." that a familiar chord strikes within him.
"Ah, yes, of course. Elkad Silq Organization." He rises from behind his desk in his overly ornate office and props himself against the fine wood.
"You know about it?"
"Used to be a multi-interest manufacturing conglomerate deep in the Minos Cluster," Rend replies. "Now it's nothing but a stinkhole of terrorists, mercenaries, and overzealous killers. They hand out overhyped weapons and black market scams like candy for a few credits. Guess they have to get by somehow."
"How did they go under?"
"Simple. They couldn't compete with me. By the time I became affiliated with your Kratocracy, I was advised to trade with foreign proprietors. E.S.O., as a result, took a hit. But you know how it is. Sacrifices have to be made."
You digest the information Rend gives you, but as you leave you feel a gnawing emptiness in your stomach. What you have received is not enough - poor business is one thing, but a terrorist emerging from the rubble of a corporation is another. If Rend is not able or willing to give you more information, you must work to obtain it.
This is your second challenge. Write an intel report either from the viewpoint of your character or another Reckoner, depending on who would be sent out to investigate E.S.O. How do you go about gathering data? What is the information you receive? Who are the people behind this operation, and what motives and goals can you uncover? Answer all these questions in detail in a report that is one page minimum, three pages maximum. Your test is to follow a data report format as well as practice writing detailed information and data while using minimal, technical language. Be creative, but professional. Good luck.