If you missed the start of Alien Secrets, Flight of the Kestrel book 2, here is the link. To help your imagination, I can’t show you a picture of Reuel, because he is Altairian, but here is my idea of Parks. Vigo Mortensen.
'What's this pain-giver?' Hoy asked Parks.
'Did you see the blood on the back of my shirt?' said Parks with a shudder. 'They fit a device over the top of your spine which directly attacks the nervous system. The bastard just plays with a little button and the results are excruciating.'
Reuel gasped. 'Tanu had blood on his shirt too, they must have used it on him,' he said. 'We must take him with us, sir.'
Hoy shook his head. 'We’ll need to help Parks as it is. We can’t possibly take Tanu - who knows what state he'll be in when they bring him back?'
'I’m stronger than I look, I’ll carry him,' said Reuel.
Parks spoke up from the mattress. 'Who is this Tanu guy - did you learn anything about him? I wouldn’t be happy leaving anyone to the “tender” mercies of the Bokans.'
'He only said he was an explorer,' said Reuel. 'We really must help him, if we can.'
Parks understood Reuel didn't want a life on his conscience.
Reuel looked around. 'This water container is quite flimsy, but the bread plate is metal. Maybe we can hit one of the guards with it while we stick the knife in the other one. If we put them out of action and take their weapons, then you can help Parks and I can carry Tanu.'
'Now you’re starting to think clearly,' said Hoy, 'but you're taller than me and I'm stronger. You help Parks and I'll carry Tanu.' He turned to Parks. 'Eat some of this disgusting bread and then get some rest. We need you as fit as possible for the escape. Reuel and I will sort out the details.'
'Listen,' said Parks, 'these Bokans may look humanoid, but they have different anatomy. Their rib cage is deep, so it's easier to reach the heart from the back, up under the rib cage and across in front of the spine.'
'Thanks, sir. Now will you rest? I’m hoping you can help Tanu while we’re dealing with the guards.'
Parks pulled a face and turned on his side, his back to the wall, while Hoy took Reuel to the other side of the cell to make plans.
As he watched them, Parks thought Hoy and Reuel made a strange looking pair. Hoy, from Earth, was slim, wiry and short, like his Asian ancestors. Reuel was born on Altair, where the lower gravity made people tall and slim. His skin and cranial spines were bright pink.
According to their files, their fighting styles were very different too. Hoy took great pride in mastering the old martial arts of his ancestral heritage. He often took opponents by surprise, and the grace of his movements belied the power behind them. Unlike Hoy’s disciplined grace, Reuel learned to defend himself in the back streets where he grew up. He fought low and dirty, so he could be just as surprising in a fight - especially in low gravity.
At two metres tall, Nathaniel Parks towered over both of them, but he wasn’t going to do much towering in his present condition. Parks' stomach clenched with worry. He didn't know the Kestrel crew well, so he hoped Hoy and Reuel were good fighters, because he was too weakened by the torture.
The beating was bad enough, but the pain-giver had finished him. His nerves felt as if they were on fire, and he couldn't stop trembling. The mattress wasn't comfortable, but he closed his eyes and forced his tense muscles to relax. He needed to rest.
It was hard to tell how much time passed, but it seemed to Parks like quite a while later when the door bolt rattled. Instantly Hoy was on his feet and standing by the door, leaning casually against the wall on the side where the door opened. Reuel leaned down and helped Parks to sit up, holding the metal plate behind Parks' back.
The guards entered, carrying a barely conscious Tanu between them. As they came through the doorway, one guard became suspicious and let go of Tanu to reach for his weapon, putting the other guard off balance. At that moment Hoy jumped behind the guard nearest the door, put his hand over his mouth, and slid the scalpel into the guard's back and up under his ribs.
Reuel swung round and caught the other guard in the throat with the edge of the plate. Reuel grabbed his opponent around the neck with one arm and covered his mouth with the other hand. He twisted the guard's head so hard they heard the crunch of his neck breaking. Both guards went down with barely a sound. Unfortunately, one guard fell on top of Tanu. Reuel dragged the guard off, grabbed the weapon and went to guard the door. Hoy was investigating outside.
Parks staggered to his feet and roused Tanu, who moaned and looked around wildly.
'It’s OK,' Parks reassured him, 'we're escaping, but I need you to get up.'
Parks tried to help Tanu up, but Tanu struggled. He trembled violently and Parks couldn't get him to his feet.
Hoy came back into the cell. 'It's clear, and we’re not far from an exit. Come on!'
Hoy grabbed a security badge from the nearest guard and lifted Tanu over his shoulder. Parks went to Reuel, who slotted himself under Parks’ shoulder. Hoy closed the cell door behind them and pushed the bolt home.
The corridor was bare and dirty, of similar construction to the cell. Parks looked left and right. To the left were two more cell doors ending in a blank wall. To the right were a handful of doors on either side sloping up towards the rooms at the entrance where they had been brought in. That end of the corridor was closed off with swinging doors.
Hoy eased one door open and checked, the space beyond was empty. They pushed through and turned left into another corridor which also sloped up, towards a rear exit. This one was much better appointed, with a beige tiled floor and walls painted light green. It was strange to have offices and cells so close to each other.
As they moved along they heard voices as someone opened an office door but was still turned towards the person he was talking to. Hoy pushed open a door on the left and led them through, the door closing quietly behind them as the voices came out into the corridor.
They found themselves in a dark room. There was just enough light from the frosted glass window to see it was a kitchen, with ovens and hobs. Parks sat down with a soft groan and signalled to Hoy to put Tanu down.
'Looks like the kitchen is closed,' Parks hissed. 'See if you can find food and water. We don't know when we'll get more.'
Hoy moved to investigate.
Parks' mind raced with possibilities and unknowns. Stay here a while or go? How long before the guards are missed? Why is the kitchen dark? One of the voices in the corridor called 'Goodbye!' If it was the end of the day, the building might soon be a lot emptier. If it was the end of a shift, there might be a whole lot of new people coming. Meanwhile, Tanu was flailing about on the floor, trying to get up. Reuel went to help him.
'No!' Tanu cried and pushed him away.
'Keep him quiet,' Parks whispered. 'Knock him out if you have to.'
Reuel leaned across Tanu, with his hand over his mouth, and looked into his eyes. 'It is me, Reuel, remember?'
Tanu was too far gone to think straight and was trying to scream behind Reuel's hand.
'I am sorry, my friend,' said Reuel, and hit him.
Hoy returned. 'Everything’s locked away, but I found some fruit and more fungus bread.' He pulled a face and handed it out. 'Put it in your pockets, we don't have time to eat now. There's nothing to carry water I'm afraid. We'll have to move you and Tanu to the tap.'
Reuel turned his body to show a large wet patch down his left side.
'What!?' Hoy exclaimed.
Reuel grinned and pulled the crumpled water container out of his jacket pocket. 'I thought we might need this. There was no way to stop it spilling, but there is quite a lot left.'
The three Kestral crew drank, then Reuel refilled the container and squeezed it back into his pocket.
Hoy looked at Parks and frowned. 'Are you fit to command, sir?'
Parks shook his head. 'Proceed.'
Hoy listened at the door and then opened it a crack. The corridor was silent. There was no way of knowing when the next person would pass. He closed the door and came back to pick up Tanu over his shoulder again.
'Now's as good a time as any. Let's go.'
Reuel helped Parks to his feet and ducked under his shoulder. With Hoy in the lead they slipped out and made for the exit, twenty metres away. The door opened at a touch of the security badge against the panel.
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz