Routines of nothing

Prison is all about routine. You wake, you do nothing. You eat, if they actually give you food. You use the evacuation chamber. You go to sleep. Niko had served time before, at very different places than this. At those, he'd had to be on his guard to not get shanked or eaten by other inmates. He would wheel and deal in the yard, make friends, keep enemies at bay, and in more than one instance, make credits. Prison always had it's own currency and he'd been in and out of them since he was 10.

This place had no 'yard' - no intended interaction between inmates. Most of the place seemed to be run by droids, so while the initial cost and setup would have been high, it would have been a lot cheaper in the long run. He also figured this was the sort of place people were sent to be forgotten. He surely had been. His "friends," if he could call them that, had let him do what he did. They'd have no way of knowing where he went and would likely be unable to mount a rescue mission. That was highly unlikely so he needed to get out on his own. Well, not on his own. He had... well, had whoever that Cathar was.

Time had little meaning here - no windows, no clocks. No guards changing shifts. Just an eye in his cell, staring down at him. Only an occasional electronic shuffle when a meal came, which being only once in the whole time he'd been here, he had no idea of knowing its regularity or what part of the day it lined up with.

Out of no where, he heard a rustle, saw the panel between their rooms open again, and the Cathar appear. "Now, tell me your idea. You have thirty seconds - that's only as long as I can create this sort of opening where we can see each other, move from cell to cell, and talk without being heard. Twenty seconds..."

Thankfully, Niko had spent every moment thinking of a plan.

"There are things I need to know... can you open a panel like this on any other side of your cell?"


"What if you could on mine?"


"Because if you can, it might be our ticket out."


The Cathar just reacted and put the pieces back together.

Time passed, a meal came... a bitter-flavored bar that only slightly satiated his hunger.

Later on, the panel moved again. The Cathar was through the hole, into his room, and checking every nook and cranny. He seemed to find something on one particular wall. He fiddled with things a bit and almost had it when the beeping started. He had to rush extra fast but as no one came knocking, no alarms went off, and they were still alive, he assumed he'd made it.

It felt like an extra long time before he was fed again. Had they figured them out and were punishing them for trying anything? The food came, was eaten, and Niko waited. Nothing. He heard a sound like a door opening, but it wasn't his own. A few moments later, the same sound. Then silence.

Three more bitter bars were delivered and still nothing from the wall.

When he was about to give up hope and his mind began to race with possibilities, the wall opened. The Cathar was there, but was badly injured. "Did they figure us out?"

"No, routine beatings. They usually work their way down one ward at a time, so if you're slated for one as part of your punishment, they'll be coming for you any moment. I've been barely conscious a while. How many meal bars did I miss?"


"They differentiate when they deliver them so we have no sense of time here, but assume that they are never more than 36 hours apart. Few years back, I took to counting between mean bars. It drove me batty staying awake between them for a few cycles, but it's how I know."

"You still with me?" Niko asked.

"Of course, but if you still can't get me out of here, I'll kill and eat as much of you as I can before they get in here and stop me."

"Fair enough."

"Take care. If I hear your door open, I'll check if you're out and wait three meal bars before I check in again. I don't trust the sensors without you being here, never had to factor that in before."


The Cathar went to work putting the wall back.

"What's your name?" Niko asked.

"Grok...and I don't want to know yours until we get out of here."

And he was gone.

And now the anxiety set in... wondering if someone was coming to enact a 'routine beating'...

To be continued...

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