“You tortured that poor man?” Oakley was more than a little surprised that Merrick would so readily admit that. He had expected a little remorse, or at least hesitancy.
“Incorrect. I interrogated a prisoner,” Merrick said, still as unmoving as ever.
“You interrogated him using methods that were banned more than a century ago.”
Merrick snorted in response. “The Third Geneva Convention? Worthless in the field. There is only the objective and the method to achieving it.”
“That doesn't excuse your actions, Mr. Hayes.”
“Perhaps not,” Merrick said, “but I got the information that we needed.” He paused for a moment, then added, “May I continue now?”
“Yes, go right ahead.”
The helicopter landed onto the compound where the Pakistanis were, and the SAS team got ready to get off. “Remember, Hayes, these orcs are going to be paranoid. They might have a psychic of their own with them, so watch it with the mind-reading,” the pilot said, before giving the standard briefing to the rest of the team.
“Of course, sir.” Merrick said, lying through his teeth. In reality, he couldn't control his mind-reading. It was the only part of his abilities that he hadn't yet learned to control. He wished he had, though. It was hard to sleep when you were seeing everyone's dreams.
“Can you sleep here, Mr. Hayes?”
“Yes, now that my abilities are blocked. Do not interrupt me again, Doctor.”
“O- of course. My apologies.”
The orc prisoner was the first to disembark the helicopter – rather, Merrick shoved him off. The orc quickly got up, in order to get as far away from the masked man as possible. Merrick walked off the ramp, followed by the rest of the SAS team. The scene they were treated to was a small group of other orcs, all larger than their prisoner, in urban clothing and carrying assault rifles. With them was one human, tied up and dressed in a similar uniform to Merrick's. This was MacGregor, a Royal Air Force pilot, and the reason this prisoner exchange was happening in the first place.
The unnamed orc immediately tried to rush to his comrades, but Merrick was too quick for that, and grabbed him by the neck and threw him back to the ground. Behave yourself, and perhaps you can see your friends again, he sent.
The other orcs reated to this action with haste and hostility. Most of them shouted in Urdu and pointed their rifles at Merrick, while two of them threatened MacGregor with a gun to his head while shouting at Merrick. In response, Merrick prepared his psi-energy, while MacGregor just looked on. It was clear that the RAF soldier had already been beaten beyond resistance, just like the Pakistani prisoner.
Coutts quickly stepped forward, and started to speak to the Pakistanis. Merrick couldn't understand Urdu, but his mind-reading allowed him to get the gist of it. Coutts was assuring the orc leader that their prisoner was unharmed, while the leader was demanding some other form of compensation in return for MacGregor's release.
It took some time, and Merrick grew impatient enough to ignore most of the thoughts he received, but Coutts was able to get the orcs to agree to release the RAF pilot, without any further conditions. The restraints on both MacGregor and the orc prisoner were released, and both groups started to file back to their destinations – the SAS team into the helicopter, and the Pakistanis back into the complex. The only one who stayed for a second longer than necessary was Merrick, who simply stood and stared through his gas mask at the freed orc. After that, though, he followed his team into the helicopter.
An hour later, the rest of the Pakistanis at the Karachi complex would receive a telepathic message: Transmitting location and layout of SAS base in Wales. And you may want to check on your refugee. Confused by this, all that the orcs did in response at first was check on the prisoner they'd just exchanged. They found him dead. His eyes had dissolved, and blood was flowing from the empty sockets, the mouth, and more than a few sweat glands.
They immediately made plans to retaliate.
“I... I think that will be all for today, Mr. Hayes.” Oakley was disturbed by the description of the young orc's body, he couldn't deny that. Nor could he deny his disgust at Merrick's action. Directly breaking an international law? For what purpose? He could only guess.
“Fine,” Merrick said as he stood up. “I will have the guard escort me back to my padded cell. I do not need your assistance.”
Once Merrick was out of the door, Oakley took a few deep breaths and locked the door. He went back to his desk, took a few more breaths to calm himself, and began his notes for this session. He had a lot of theories, but only time would tell which – if any – were correct.