It wasn’t long before Darian was able to leave the cell for lunch and exercise. The first time he entered the mess hall he was absolutely amazed that a room could be so large. He vaguely recalled that rooms did come in this size, and could be even larger than that, but the memories didn’t seem to be able to solidify into something tangible.
He heard other prisoners complain about the size of the place. Incidentally, space stations were not known for being roomy, but that didn’t particularly matter to Darian at this particular point. Devin made a few tentative sidelong glances at Darian’s look of wide-eyed wonder but made no comments as usual.
In Darian’s defense, he did the best he could to hide his bewilderment, knowing that it would make him noticeable. The shards of memory left in his head along with his instincts told him that prison was a dangerous place and that he should remain quiet and discreet if he wished to continue to live unharmed.
It was right after lunchtime on the second day he had been allowed out of his cell that the same guard he had spoken to previously approached him. He was performing his rounds again, walking up and down the cells checking and ensuring everyone was present. He kept glancing over at Darian’s cell as he performed his duties while Darian waited patiently.
Devin was partially asleep, lying on his bed with a book on his chest. Darian felt like whatever was going to happen next was important, although he didn’t know if it was some part of his intuition or merely a natural feeling. Eventually, the guard approached him, stopping in his tracks. After a few moments, he sighed and turned towards the cell glancing at Darian.
“How…” the guard coughed, looking embarrassed for a second before regaining the confidence to continue,” How did you know?”
“About the girl?” Darian asked questioningly.
He didn’t know about a girl, but he had presumed by the conversation he had had prior that a girl might have been involved. Darian realized that he couldn’t remember what girls looked like. It was a rather silly thing to think about. He knew men spent a really long time concerning themselves about women, but he had trouble remembering why.
“Yes, yes, she loved them, her favorite color she said, but how do you know, well, anything?” the guard said, a tinge of annoyance in his voice.
Darian ran through the possibilities in his head and compared them with whichever direction gave him the best feelings. He could tell the guard about his intuition, but he realized it wouldn’t be something the guard would grasp very easily. After all, he wasn’t exactly seeing the future, he was just seeing what the best words to say at the right times would be.
“I’m psychic,” he said bluntly.
The guard blinked, but after a few moments, he began shaking his head up and down. Darian avoided sighing in relief.
“My stepmother occasionally goes to a psychic. I always thought it was crap, but every now and then she comes up with something unexpected that her psychic told her, and it turns out to be true… Have you…?”
“My whole life,” Darian lied, “In fact, that’s how I ended up in here, told a woman her husband was going to be cheating on her, turned out he was a noble.”
The guard burst out laughing, “Isn’t that exactly like the nobles!” he put his hand to his lips and lowered his voice,” you didn’t hear it from me, but tough luck on the chances, must have been a higher noble, no, no, I don’t want to hear who. The last thing I need is to become an accomplice.”
Darian forced a grin as well. He knew it was strained, which probably helped contribute to his charade. He found himself uncomfortable with lying. He was actually a tad surprised at how easy it felt but wasn’t particularly fond of it. Still, his instincts told him to lie. He considered this as he touched his side, which was merely a dull ache at this point.
“So…” the guard looked around nervously,” We have a second date tomorrow, do you have any advice for me, to you know,” the guard blushed nervously.
Darian chuckled before responding, “Well…”
“Wait,” the guard interrupted, “Do you need to read my palm or something?”
Darian blinked; he had never considered that physical contact might help. Perhaps he could see things more clearly if he had a physical connection to the person he was “reading”. The guard put out his hand and Darian grabbed it. He noted the level of trust the guard had already put in him just by putting his hand into a prisoner’s cage.
To Darian’s disappointment, there appeared to be no additional insight by touching the guard’s hand. He knew nothing more than he knew before, and the instincts he seemed to be letting guide himself were no clearer. Nevertheless, the guard seemed to be more comfortable with a reading that fit his views of what a reading should include, and that was enough for Darian.
Nothing came to him, which was a little frustrating. Should he lie? His instincts told him nothing as he stood there, squinting at the guard’s hand. As the seconds rolled into minutes, a look of irritation began to form on the guard’s face.
“Your name is Joseph,” Darian stated, trying to stall.
The guard shook his head up and down enthusiastically. Darian had heard one of the other guards call him that, but desperate to believe, the guard was willing to suspend disbelief.
“This girl, she’s pretty…” Darian struggled onward, Joe the guard becoming increasingly excited.
“She’s a Brunette?” Darian saw a look of confusion in the man’s eyes,” but she dyes her hair…”
Joseph gasped, “Amazing… I didn’t know she wasn’t a natural blond, but now that you say it, it seems pretty obvious, but the date, what can I do to amaze her?”
Without thought, an answer emerged from Darian’s lips, “Dorek Do.”
Joseph’s brow furrowed, “What?”
Darian wanted to hesitate, but his instincts had already pushed him forward. This didn’t come from a need to impress or get through the conversation with his skin. He simply believed the answer to be correct.
“Dorek Do, take her to Dorek Do,” Darian responded.
The guard’s face became very solemn, he pulled his arm back away, a look of confusion on his face, quickly followed by a tinge of disappointment. After a moment he shook his head and walked away, muttering to himself as he left. Darian cringed. That did not go nearly as well as he had hoped. His instinct has been so sure that time.
Devin, awake from his nap, came up beside Darian as the guard walked away.
“Giving him more advice?” the old man asked.
“I told him to take his girlfriend to Dorek Do,” Darian responded.
Devin chortled, “Well that explains the look on the guard’s face!”
Devin burst out in laughter, slapping his knee as he walked back to the bed to sit down.
“What is Dorek Do?” Darian asked.
Devin’s eyebrow rose, “Sometimes I forget how spotty your memory can be. But you probably should have thought of that before you recommended it for a date. Dorek Do is the name of a fighting championship. It’s an extreme sport, very bloody. Also, very geared towards young men. Scantily clad women in cages, large quantities of alcohol, frequent crowd fights; most certainly not the kind of place for a first date.”
“It’s technically the second date,” Darian mumbled.
Devin laughed again, “Well then, she might give him another chance after he messes this one up by taking her to Dorek Do, but I suppose that depends on how good the first date was, now doesn’t it.”
Darian joined him in the laugh. Inside he contemplated what he learned from this encounter. His instincts helped him, sometimes, other times it flopped. So what was the point of having them when they seemed to be only about as effective as flipping a coin?
Later that day, Darian had the chance to stretch his legs in the gym. The gym was easily twice the size of the mess hall, causing Darian to once again have to readjust his perceptions of the size of an enclosure. Prisoners were routinely circulated by wing to the gym twice a week for three hours.
The gym had areas to use weights, a track to run, and a few other areas. Groups of prisoners sat around and talked or worked out to build muscle. Darian decided to take several laps around the track while Devin mostly sat in a corner and kept to himself.
After a few laps a group of prisoner approached him. There were three in all, a taller, larger man taking the lead. He had long hair, an earring, and a grizzled look to him.
“You, you’re the guy that came in a few months back?” the man asked while his companions waited back a few steps.
“Yeah…” Darian responded flatly.
“I heard about the beating you got. Five guards at once, they say you didn’t even provoke them. They just felt like it.” he replied.
Darian nodded, wondering where this was going.
“Tough break man, but hey, anyone who can take a beating like that and keep on going is OK in my book, the names Frez,” the man responded.
His companions nodded their heads with him, each giving their names. Frez slapped Darian on the shoulder a tad harder than Darian would have liked before turning around and walking away, his followers joining him. Darian turned back and was able to do another lap before the next group came up to him.
That is how it went, with one group after another coming up to him and offering him their condolences. Not every group was as well informed as the first. Some reasoned out that he had fought back, or even taken down a couple of guards in the process.
In one story he had seduced one of the guard’s daughters, in another he had spit in the Warden’s eye; still another he had poisoned several of the guards. The fact that the roster of guards on the station remained the same seemed irrelevant for that theory. Either way, the story seemed to grow in size and intricacy with each telling. By the end of the gym period, he had taken down the five guards single handedly, and would have escaped too, except that he was betrayed by a comrade. However, he claimed his vengeance and the comrade was never heard from again.
For all of this, Darian just smiled and nodded. The pain in his side seemed a little less as he began to realize that being attacked by the guards had somehow validated him to just about every prisoner. If he was an enemy of the guards, he was a friend of the prisoners.
So it was starting to seem like his instincts did have a method to their madness. Perhaps the reasoning was not immediately clear to Darian, but the effects would undoubtedly come out in Darian’s favor. At least he hoped this was the case.
When Darian and Devin returned to their room, the cell across from them was now occupied. Darian immediately recognized the man from the vision he had previously had. So this was Beiromon. He knew very little else besides the name. This could either mean that he doesn’t ask Beiromon any questions in the near future, or that if he asked, Beiromon wouldn’t answer. Devin, whom had been steadily growing more introverted as time progressed, lied down on his small bed and closed his eyes. He seemed to be sleeping a lot more of late.
Beiromon was a large man. He had bushy graying side burns that traveled down the side of his face to his chin, almost long enough to be considered a beard. He wore the same jumpsuit as any other prisoner and also had the same hunched over, beaten, persona that Darian had seen by most of the people here.
Despite that, he also had a regal air about him that seemed unfitting for a prisoner in this place. The way he sat and moved seemed abnormally formal. Darian fought the urge to speak to the man. The words formulated in his head a dozen times, but right before he spoke, something told him to wait and not speak. Darian quickly began to get irritated with himself. He wanted to speak to the man, and he was starting to become irritated that his instincts always seemed to disagree with him. It was a strange kind of internal struggle. He felt the pull of the internal premonitions devising him what he should do, but his own stubborn desire to do something else.
Just as he opened his mouth to speak, he really was going to say something this time, he found himself interrupted by a guard. It was the same guard he had spoken to before, Joseph. He broke his eye contact away from Beiromon, who was starting to notice his staring, to acknowledge the guard. He realized that Joseph was not alone, but had another guard along with him and they were having a conversation in front of his cell.
“This is the guy I told you about Tifran,” Joseph spoke excitedly.
The other guard was quite a bit fatter than Joseph. Darian had not seen the man before, there were a lot of guards and he lived in only one wing of the massive space station that housed the prisoners. He had small pinpoint eyes that sat narrowed as he eyed Darian suspiciously. He ran his hand through what was left of his hair before sticking a hand in the pocket of his guard uniform, which was a two piece tan outfit that all of the other guards also wore.
“I don’t know,” he responded in a nasally voice,” I’m not too convinced he wasn’t pulling your tail.”
“No, No,” Joseph defended himself,” I swear it’s legit. You remember Pheony?”
“The pretty girl with the long legs you somehow convinced to go on a date?”
“Yeah! I spoke to this guy,” Joseph pointed at Darian,” and he advised me to take her to Dorek Do.”
“No!” Trifran gasped, “You didn’t?”
Joseph began nodding and Tifran laughed out loud, “You fool, how did that go?”
Joseph began to form a grin that continued to grow.
“No, you’re kidding me?”
“A total nut, she loves the stuff, can’t get enough of it, I’m telling you, she’s a wild one that girl.”
“A nice girl like that?” Tifran shook his head in disbelief.
“Best night of her life, she told me, we’re going to the shuttle derby next week, but I’m telling you man,” Joseph turned to Darian with a large smile,” wouldn’t have been possible without this guy right here.”
“I don’t know, I still say you just got lucky,” Tifran shook his head again before looking at Darian, “Alright, psychic boy, winning lottery numbers, cough them up.”
Before Darian could blink Joseph let out a strangled cough, “You can’t ask him that!”
“Well, why not?”
“It’s complicated; my step mother says it’s about balance, if a psychic told you that, it would have to balance out the good with the bad. Something that big, you might win tomorrow then wake up the next day dead, it’d be irresponsible, that.”
“You can’t wake up dead, Joseph.”
“Well, you can if you’re a Wraith!”
“A Wraith? Now you’re going to bring children’s stories into this, why don’t you just start bleating about the ‘stars’ disappearing while you are at it?”
“Stars?” The question left Darian’s lips before he could control himself.
He could see Beiromon’s head tilted toward them. He was listening, but wasn’t trying to look like he was listening. The guards started, as if surprised to hear him talk.
Joseph grinned and leaned towards Dorian as if to whisper through the bars, but when he spoke it was clear enough for anyone to hear, “True story, there has been talk that there are not as many stars in the sky as their once were, don’t roll your eyes at me Tifran, it is true. Planet hunters who travel amongst the stars, spending centuries traveling at near light travels, often say the sky looks… Different from when they left. Emptier.”
“That’s just space sickness, Planet Hunters, something’s wrong with their heads, every one of them, have to be after defying time and living that long.”
“No, that’s not it, even my great grandma, before she passed away, the lord and lady bless her, said that there were a few stars less in the sky than there once were. That’s why there are less and less planet hunters these days, afraid they will head off towards a star and it won’t be there when they arrive.”
“Like I said,” Tifran replied,” a bunch of superstition and wives’ tales.”
Joseph shrugged uncomfortably, “Believe what you will, but Prisoner A79 helped me a lot and I will vouch for him first hand.”
“You,” Joseph’s stocky friend barked, “So what can you tell me then?”
“Darian,” Darian replied.
The guard blinked, taken aback for a moment, “Alright… Darian, it better be good. “
Darian took a deep breath, ready to try to manipulate and fumble his way out of this new situation.
The door clicked open and Darian’s eyed the dark shadow in the doorway. His head still throbbed from the beating he had received before.
“Come on, it isn’t safe,” the voice in the doorway said.
The voice was that of Beiromon. He hadn’t heard Beiromon’s voice before, or had he? He shook his head, which just caused the ache and dizziness to hit him particularly hard. He would have stumbled if he had been standing up.
Beiromon walked over to him and helped him to his feet.
“I’m not saying I believe you,” Beiromon said, “but these riots are getting pretty bad and I might feel some guilt if a prisoner smothered you in your condition.”
“I’m alright,” Darian responded, he mouth feeling like it was full of cotton, “What’s going on?”
“Prison Riot,” Beiromon responded, eyeing him up and down, “Looks like you were right about that.”
Darian started, and then stood up straighter, “Ok, then where are we going?”
“Away, we don’t want to face the wrath of the guards when they get things under control, and we don’t want to face any of the rioters either, that can get messy. We find a closet with a lock, and we lock it, keep it simple.”
“Run away?” Darian asked incredulously.
“Rule one of engagement,” Beiromon responded, “Don’t. Not if your do not have to.”
They had made it half way down the hallway towards the exit door when it burst open. Several guards poured through as Beiromon cursed. He crouched down to the ground, taking a submissive pose. Darian should have copied him, a guard came up to him and hit him with the blunt of his gun. A flash of white light and pain scorched Darian’s mind. He collapsed to the floor in a heap. He was vaguely aware of talking as the guard yelled things at Beiromon, who remained submissive and made calming gestures, protectively trying to keep the guard from attacking Darian further.
With effort, Darian managed to back up to Beiromon, placing himself into a similar submissive position. After a few moments the guard turned away. He did not recognize most of the guards that had entered into the hallways, but Tifran was among them. Just as the guards started to reorganize themselves, the door burst open again; the two guards that had been standing in front of it were shoved towards their friends, knocking several of them down.
Tifran had narrowly avoided a falling comrade, he lifted his gun to fire, but before he could react he stopped short with a sudden jerk, he fell forward to the ground. Darian could barely see the red tip of the knife that had struck him sticking out of his chest.
“Darian,” a voice called.
Darian ignored it, staring at the lifeless eyes of a man that had just been in front of him, perfectly healthy, a moment before. A moment before? The man was over there, dead, he had not just had a conversation with him. Did he?
Darian jerked, his eyes regaining focus as Tifran and Joseph stood in front of him. Tifran glared with an annoyed expression, clearly not happy at being ignored. Before Darian could think to stop himself, his hands leaped out from between the bars, grabbing Tifran.
“A prison riot,” he shouted, “You’re in trouble, you’ll die, it’s…”
Joseph had finally stopped starring in stunned silence and leaped in, pulling Tifran from Darian. Darian fell back onto his bottom, landing hard. Tifran’s face now wore considerable anger; he glared at Joseph for a moment, whom looked down sheepishly before turning and storming off.
“You have to believe me,” Darian pleaded to him.
Joseph looked at him. He did not seem angry or upset, just mildly confused. After a moment he sighed and shrugged.
“I believe you, I might as well, I’ll look after him, but I don’t think you’ll get any better treatment from the guards after this.”
Darian nodded and Joseph turned and walked away. Darian looked out the cell, noticing he had gotten a great deal of attention from several of the other inmates who were watching him. Several of them looked a little angry. Beiromon looked more curious than anything. Darian turned and walked back into the depths of his cell.
“Always the rat, what a hypocrite you are,” Devin muttered angrily from under his covers.
“Excuse me?” Darian responded.
“There was a riot two weeks ago, why on earth do you think there would be another one so soon.”
Two weeks. Darian took that as a confirmation, now he knew exactly when it was. Would Tifran die? Could he prevent it? He had no clue what he could do. Last time things occurred exactly how he imagined them. However, what would the point of having a vision be if he couldn’t change it? Would he have time to change it? He’d have to be diligent.
“You aren’t making any friends continually siding and helping the guards,” Devin continued after a moment of silence.
“Yeah, but you’ll always be there as my friend,” Darian responded.
“Friend?” Devin responded with incredulity, “You’re not on again about that are you?”
Darian nodded and smiled at him. This caused Devin to glare at him. After a few moments he put the blankets back over his eyes. Darian could hear him muttering quietly under his blanket.
After a brief silence, he spoke up again, his words muffled by the blanket, “I hope you know what you are doing.”
“Me too, ” Darian replied, “Me too.”