She sat in the cell quietly, observing her captures for what felt like hours until a guard came and took her a small, dimly lit interrogation room. Aria was placed in a small chair and her arms and legs were strapped down to the chair. She could only see one Romulan officer in the room with her but she knew not to trust the shadows.
“Lieutenant Swenson,” the Romulan began. “I see that you are the protocol officer on board the Enterprise. What is the protocol officer doing on a shuttle craft alone with her Captain, hours away from her ship?”
“We were on our way back from a conference on Malrata,” she replied, trying not to give away too much information.
“But why were you alone with the Captain, Lieutenant?” he asked a bit more insistently.
“I am the Captain’s interpreter,” she replied. Aria knew that they could of easily gotten this information from the shuttle’s computer.
“Interpreter? Do you understand Romulan?”
“Not much. Just simple things like ‘where’s the bathroom’ and ‘do you know where the hotel is’.”
“I don’t believe you,” the officer said angrily and he hit her across the face. She could taste the saltiness of her blood in her mouth.
“What purpose do I have lying to you?”
“Because you are a Starfleet spy, trying to get the Chowattas to build an alliance with you and gain their technology,” he said her as he hit her again.
“Please,” she begged. “I don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t think Starfleet would risk the capture of one of their most trusted Captains just to make some sort of deal that a true diplomat would make.”
“Then why did he need an interpreter at a conference? Shouldn’t the universal translator been sufficient?”
“Because there were a few races there that have a visually symbolic language that the translator can not handle.”
“So you learn quickly.”
“Yes, I speak most Earth languages and I don’t know anything that you would be interested in.”
“You translate on board your ship?”
“So tell me Lieutenant Swenson, why were you really on the shuttle craft with the Captain?”
“I already told you, we were returning from a conference on Malrata. Check the flight plan on the shuttle if you don’t believe me.”
“You don’t think that I am going to fall for that. Those records could be easily forged to say just that.”
“It is the truth,” she stated and the Romulan slapped her again.
“You are very stubborn, Lieutenant. Things could be a lot easier for you if you would just tell us what we want to hear.”
This interview went on for over an hour, with the Romulan occasionally taking his frustrations out on her. When she was returned to the holding cell, the Captain was already there, looking a bit relieved as she was returned.
“Lieutenant, are you okay?” he asked as he looked at her. The Romulans had really done a job on her. She had a black eye, a swollen lip, bruised cheek and some drying blood that ran from the corner of her mouth. Aria’s hair had always been perfectly groomed, but for the first time it was messed up. All he had was a bruised cheek and was a little dirty.
“Yes, sir. I’m fine,” she replied as if nothing had happened to her.
Quietly he asked her, “What did they ask you?”
“They wanted to know why you and an interpreter were out all alone in a shuttle craft. They wouldn’t believe me. They think we were trying to make a deal with the Chowattas for their technology. Why do you think they are doing this to us?”
“I do not know, but we have to try to escape.”
“I’m with you Sir. Just tell me what to do.”
“We’ll figure something out.”
She felt a little better, knowing that they were in this together. They were guarded around the clock by at least one guard which made was going to make their escape harder to plan.
Slowly, over the week and a half, they planned their escape. There was a daily pattern that they noticed. They were usually fed three times a day and interviewed four or more, usually right after they ate. Eventually, Aria was throwing up when ever she would get back from her interviews. She attributed it to the stress and physical abuse. She tried to eat after she returned but that meant they had to hide rations and eventually that didn’t work either. Aria had begun to loose weight quickly and Picard was getting very concerned for her health because she basically stopped eating. He realized that, for both of them, they had to get out soon.
Picard was doing much better than his companion. He had been roughed up a bit, but Aria was much worse. He figured that they were beating her up to break him so he could protect her. Every time she came back from her interviews, he would ask how she was. She would respond that she was fine. He sort of believed her until their ninth day of capture, when her eyes were beginning to sink into her head and her color really didn’t look good.
He decided they would to try to escape on their tenth day after their capture. He couldn’t take much more of their abuse inflicted on Aria. Their second meal was delivered while they were both in their cell. While one guard was delivering the food, a second held a phaser on them as the energy shield was down. Aria’s job was to distract the guard with the food, so Picard could take care of the second. Aria ‘accidentally’ spilled the tray of food on the guard and tried to help clean him up. Picard then had his chance to lunge at the other guard, catching him off guard and took his phaser. By the time the first guard, still covered in food, realized what happened to his friend; Aria had taken his phaser out of his holster and held it at him. They shot the two guards and ran from their cell, not caring if they were only stunned or dead. All that mattered was escaping.