Imperial troopers pace before the cell. Someone comes, deactivates the force field. She sits, shock cuffs on her wrists, saying nothing.
The man steps into the light. It’s one of the Watchers. Watcher 58… or is it 92? His face looks pale.
“Cipher 82, you’re under investigation for your relation to the Scinost Project. It’s in your interest to cooperate.”
Scinost… She feels cold. Numbers, schematics, read-outs fill the air in front of her eyes.
She squints at the man. “I…”
Nothing else comes out of her mouth. The lights flicker.
“What do you know of the Authoriter?”
Her eyes bulge. She begins mumbling softly. “Twenty-eight, thirty, ninety-seven, forty-nine open, seventeen, fifty, fifty-one, fifty-two…” Numbers, calculations, velocities expand and fill her view. Some come from now. Others from later. They cut off her air, filling in and closing her throat. She gasps.
“You will speak.”
A Sith she hasn’t noticed shocks her, the electricity shooting through her nerves. Her brain melts with blinding heat. Blackness.
She wakes up on a table, a pair of blood-shot eyes staring down at her.
“One hundred twenty-one, two thousand three hundred ninety-eight, four million nine hundred thousand five hundred forty-sev – ” The Sith slaps her across the face. His veins bulge, pulse with an unseen force. It’s the numbers. She feels blood running down her cheek.
It goes on for days. Weeks. Months? The numbers are too many. She can no longer count them. Electrodes. Pain. Shocks. There’s nothing but the numbers.
“We will break you. Until there’s nothing left. Vegetable. Is that what you want?”
The number of wires on the side-board, calculating hyperspace distances, the number of shocks, the number of veins in the Sith’s face, amount of blood in a body, the number of weapons in Laminar 3, launch trajectories, calculating mass of the charges, the number of murders, the number of surgeries, autopsies, severed connections, pickled fingers, the bodies, the lights, the synaptic passages, corridors, schematics, maps of the facility as they walk through it...
The numbers fill her senses. They obscure her sight. They’ve become gigantic and suffocating. They turn colors. They get in the way.
Why don’t they go away and leave me alone? She wonders. Why are the numbers expanding?
Never forget the numbers. A voice says.
“Of course not,” she says.
“Then talk, you fool!” It’s the Sith. He shocks her again. She gasps, feeling the pain shoot up her spine. What is the number of nerves in an average body? Depends on ratio…
Now there is a Chiss in front of her. Jairo? No, he’s dead. But No. He can’t be dead. Not really. How much time has passed? It doesn’t matter. She mumbles to herself as she counts the number of fibers in his uniform.
“What is your name?” he asks. Her eyes roam blankly, trying to find his face. There it is. He becomes clearer. He’s not hitting her. That’s a good sign.
“What is yours?” she asks.
He hesitates. Finally, “Tec’ans’nuruodo,” he says. She nods rhythmically. A fine Chiss name. She raises her hands to her head, gasping. The Chiss. Did they betray her? Of course not.
“Why are you here?” she says. “You don’t want to help. The numbers! They keep expanding.” Her eyes dilate, becoming wild. She remembers nothing else.