Fox gasped and coughed as the icy liquid hit her in the face, running down her neck and back. Her eyes shot open as she was jerked back to the present. She had been just drifting off to sleep. The guard who had brought her to the cell ignored her glare and turned, walking back to the door to drop the bucket that had held the freezing water now dripping down her face and back while he muttered to himself in Arabic. The only words Fox could make out were “no sleep.”
Leaving the bucket by the door he came back over to her reaching up to tug the cuffs on her wrists and kneeling down to do the same to those on her ankles; checking to make sure they were still secure. Satisfied, he stood and spoke to her in English in his heavily accented voice, “If you feel the need to talk to someone, yell out and someone will be in to listen.” Turning, he left the cell, taking the bucket with him.
Licking her lips several times, Fox caught a few droplets of water still running down her face, bringing the moisture into her mouth. That would help with her dry mouth at least a bit for now. Not much, but it was better than nothing.
A buzzing rang through the room, followed by the light panels in front of her flickering several times and then finally lighting up fully. The brightness from them momentarily blinded her. Squeezing her eyes closed she tried to block the light out, but her eyelids did not do much to shut the blinding light out. Blinking her eyes quickly, Fox waited for her eyes to adjust to the light. Moments later she was still seeing stars and tears were running down her cheeks from the strain of looking at something so bright, but her vision was clearing some.
Heat was slowly beginning to radiate off the light panels. Suddenly Fox felt a brush of air against her cheeks, not cool air, but warm. Great they’d turned the heat on as well. Again trying to make her as uncomfortable as possible, plus keep her awake. The combination of heat, light and the uncomfortable position she was in would most likely keep her awake and if she did manage to drift to sleep they would probably just wake her right back up again.
They were trying to beat her down psychologically by trying to make her as confused and disoriented as possible so that she would talk; possibly without really realizing what she was saying. Dehydration would also lend to the confusion as the heat was already causing beads of sweat to form on her forehead and she hadn’t had anything to drink since they left the palace. Depending on how long she was left in such a situation, Fox knew she was probably in for some hallucinations from both the sleep deprivation and dehydration.
Fox was worried about what kind of hallucinations she would experience in her current mindset. When they came - if they came - she would have to be careful to try to recognize them as hallucinations and not let any fear or anything show on her face. Hopefully all her training and her years of experience would pay off.
Even with anticipating all that happening to her, knowing that there was at least one camera trained on her she smiled brightly and spoke out loud for the first time since getting caught, “Well damn, it’s been a while since I’ve been to the spa. This will be like visiting a sauna and a tanning bed. And it’s free, imagine that!” She sighed happily for added effect. There was probably no way they were buying her chipper attitude, but it would likely annoy them. The more annoyed they were, the more likely they would be the ones to let some piece of information slip – hopefully something useful about Princess Aminah.
Her skin had already sucked up the moisture of the icy water from the bucket and now beads of sweat were rolling down her neck and back. She was going to have keep her thoughts in the present in order to keep her focus. Fox forced herself to think about the job she and her team members were facing.
They - or at least one of them - needed to figure out where Aminah was. If she even was being kept here that is. The best way for this to go down would be if the guards or the interrogators let something slip when they were talking to each other, or even the team members. This is why it was imperative that no one knew that they understood Arabic. Unfortunately it also wasn’t likely that this would happen. Not impossible, but not likely. Another way for Fox or one of the others to get Aminah’s location would be to pay very, very close attention to their surroundings during transport from her cell to the interrogation room and anywhere else they might take her. All the while seeming to not pay attention to her surroundings. She’d have to pay attention to open doors and any sounds that came from the other rooms. Prince Rasim probably didn’t have any females working in this part of the facility; so chances were if she heard a feminine voice coming from within one of the rooms that would be where they found her. This option wouldn’t be easy either and it could take forever; waiting to see or hear something that would point them in the right direction.
Probably her last option was the riskiest, although it would most likely get her the answer to the question of Aminah’s location faster than her other options. She could free herself of her cuffs, disarm her guard and escape her cell to wander the halls, searching room by room until she found Aminah. Getting out of her cuffs and dispatching her guard would actually not be that difficult. It would be after she got out of the cell that her troubles would begin. She had no idea how many guards and other workers Prince Rasim had in the facility or where they were located. Other than the three hallways she had seen on her way to her cell, Fox had no clue what the layout of the facility was or how large it was. So many variables. So many unknown variables.
Fox blew out a breath. If that was the way things had to go down, then she would first have to figure out which cells her team members were being kept in because she would need their help. If they all had keys and guns from their guards, it might not take too long to find out where Aminah was depending on how large the place was. Plus there was definite safety in numbers in that situation. There was still the problem of how many people they’d be up against, especially once it got out that they’d escaped their cells - after all there were only five of them - and they would still not know the layout of the place. Not to mention they had to figure out how to get out of the place and get Aminah back home when they had no idea where they were.
Damn. Double damn. This was the most dangerous, worst thought-out job they had ever taken. And that was saying something. Fox had known that when she agreed to the job, they all had. It was just another job. She didn’t really give a shit how risky it was, she hadn’t given a shit about anything for a long time. She wouldn’t let herself. Never again. All there was, was the job. And then the job after that. And the job after that.
As long as they got out of here anyway. They did have a tentative plan though. Cougar had said they were to sit tight and try the first two options first before they risked Aminah’s neck and theirs with the third option.
Her thoughts on the possibility of needing to escape eventually, Fox considered her ability to overpower her guard; who was not in any way a small man. Most men she dealt with were bigger than her, but she knew moves that could bring them to their knees without the need for weapons. If not flat on their backs. Cougar and the others had made sure of that. Her best weapon was the element of surprise because no one ever expected much from her, but she was stronger and more capable than she looked and wouldn’t even think twice about fighting someone more than twice her size if need be. Fox was not one to cower and hide in the corner.
It wasn’t that she was fearless; more that she had forced herself to not give a shit about anything or anyone for the last ten years. That and she had nothing to lose. If she didn’t have anything or anyone to care about then there wasn’t anything for her to lose.
Frowning Fox thought of her teammates. Unfortunately, as hard as she tried to not feel anything for them, after spending six years working so closely with them she was beginning to fail. They had begun to crack her shell and that would not do. Not at all. She couldn’t afford to care about anyone. She snorted, shit, no one could afford to get close to her. It was too dangerous. A sigh escaped past her lips. She would have to leave the team. It was the only way. She had stayed with them too long, longer than she had meant to. A sharp, stinging sadness filled her. Shit. She really didn’t want to leave them she realized with a start.
That just showed how badly she needed to get out. This would be her last job. They would finish this and then she would destroy the only phone the guys could reach her through and then disappear. Again. Fox really did not want to start all over again. Another new life.
She forced those thoughts out of her mind and thought again about her guard, mentally going over different techniques she could use to overpower him if she needed to. Thinking of her guard brought up flashes of images from ten years previous, images of another captor. Why couldn’t she remember what he looked like?
She remembered he was in fact male and so he always assumed a basic male shape in her flashbacks, but other than that all she could bring up was a faceless blob where his head should have been. She had managed now to remember every minute detail of those days, yet she had never been able to bring up an image of his face. She understood why she hadn’t been able to right after the fact because she was in shock for such a long time afterwards, but it had been ten years. One would think that after that amount of time, some memory of him would have eked itself out from wherever it was buried. But it hadn’t. It was because of her that the bastard had never been caught. It was all her fault.
Shaking her head clear of the dark thoughts, Fox wondered how much time had passed. Although it didn’t really matter that much how long she had been in there. She was definitely feeling the passage of time in front of the glaring hot lights, hanging there as she was. Her shoulders were sore as hell and felt about ready to pop out of their sockets, her throat was dry, her eyes burned and the lids felt somewhat swollen, and her lips were cracked.
Unconsciously licking her lips, Fox mentally cursed herself because although moisture from any sweat she caught on it would help her dry mouth a very little bit the salt from the sweat would just make her thirstier. God, she wished she had some water. Sweat. Now she had plenty of that. It was falling in rivulets down her face and neck now. The ends of her hair occasionally brushing against bare skin felt wet. Her tank top was drenched and clinging to her slim frame.
Was she uncomfortable and in pain? Hell yes, but she had been through a lot of uncomfortable and painful things and situations over the past ten years. For the moment, however, it was more annoying than anything.
Smirking to herself, she decided to annoy whoever was in charge of watching the video feed from her cell. Fox started humming. Very loudly. Then after a while she burst out singing. Very loudly. And not very well. Fox wasn’t the worst singer out there, but it was obvious she couldn’t carry a tune. At all.
Starting with belting out “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell, she moved to “It’s a Small World After All” by Robert and Richard Sherman followed by “Hot in Here” by Nelly. She was in the middle of about her twentieth verse of the “Song that Never Ends” when the guard opened the door to her cell, his lips tilted up at the corners just a little bit and his eyes smiling at her. Another man stormed furiously past him, scowling and carrying a roll of duct tape in his hands. He stalked straight up to her glaring up into her face while Fox widened her eyes and smiled sweetly back. The man worked off some of the tape, ripping it off and was about to put it over her mouth when she interrupted him.
Batting her eyes at him, Fox asked innocently, “How am I supposed to tell anyone I’m ready to talk if my mouth is covered?”
“Find some other way to let us know.” The man growled out in a heavily accented voice.
“How?” She asked, rolling her eyes at him and looking pointedly down towards her bound ankles and then up to her similarly bound wrists.
His scowl deepened and his nostrils flared as he fumed silently. “She is probably right.” Her guard spoke up from his perch in the doorway.
“Just stop with the singing.” The man burst angrily out.
Sighing dramatically Fox responded, “Oh, is that what the problem is? Good grief, all you had to do was say something.”
Fox fought to keep her face straight as the man went from fuming to ready to explode. His hands clenched and unclenched several times as his face turned from red to an alarming shade of purple. She was about to ask him if he was okay and if there was anything she could do to help him when he turned sharply on his heel and stomped out of the cell. Her guard, surprisingly, looked ready to burst out laughing.
“Well, geez, he sure is grumpy,” Fox said. The guard just shook his head and closed the door.
Fox decided to go ahead and stop annoying the man. Singing would just dry her throat out even more anyway; making her even thirstier than she already was. She really was parched. Bone dry. Unlike every other sweat drenched part of her body. Damn those lights are bright. Tilting her head downward Fox slid her eyelids closed to ease the effect of the powerful lights, but to now avail. It was as if her eyelids were tissue paper. She would almost swear that those lights had gotten even brighter over the time that they had been turned on. Most likely it just seemed like it to her mind. A few tears trickled down her cheeks and black spots danced before her eyes as they popped back open. Fox’s brain was already starting to feel foggy from the combination of her dehydration, sleep deprivation, the blinding lights and heat.
To help keep her focus, Fox created as much of the layout of the facility as she could remember from her walk from one cell to another and stored each detail away in case she needed it later. You never know what will be vital to survival. What little piece of information will become important. How many doors could she count? How far apart from each other were there? Could she guess the size of each room? Could she find any problems with the structural integrities of any of the doors? Were the locks kept on the doors a kind she could pick? The details went on and on; each one catalogued and stored.
Time passed. Fox had no clue how much. It seemed like days, but she found that unlikely. Not impossible, but not likely. Her tired, scratchy eyes felt like they were on fire. Her head felt ready to explode. Her throat as dry as the Saudi Arabian desert itself. Tongue swollen. Her hair plastered to her head, neck and shoulders. Her clothes so drenched with sweat they were like a second skin. The air was stifling. And the smell. B.o. and urine. Yay. Pissing oneself was not exactly dignified, but what exactly are you supposed to do when you are being suspended from the ceiling by a chain and not being released even for a piss break. Oh well. Not exactly the time to be embarrassed.
There were other things to worry about at the moment. What were those things again? Oh, right, the mission. Great, she was losing her focus. Fox realized she had been staring blankly into the lights for some time now; the mapping out of the facility floor plan completely forgotten. Damn it. She growled to herself low in her throat. How long have I been in here? She sat there pondering that question for some time before she realized that she was again staring blankly, at the floor this time. Damn. Her head snapped up, eyes squinting in her attempt to focus.
“What are you doing here?” Asked a far away sounding voice, startling Fox. The chains from the cuffs on her wrists and her ankles clinking together as her body jerked slightly.
“What are you doing here?” Came the voice again. A little clearer this time. It sounded familiar. Swinging her head to the left she looked for the speaker. What the fuck. No, no, no. It couldn’t be. Her body trembled ever so slightly. She was slipping away again. Damn it, not again.
“I asked you a question. What are you doing here Audrey?” The voice was much clearer now and then there he was. Right in front of her.