This adventure takes between Farewell, Great Macedon and The Hidden Planet
"My name is Susan," she said, breaking the silence in the cell.
The Voord did not look up from the floor. "What do you want?" it asked, disinterestedly.
"Are you all right? They haven’t harmed you?"
This time, the strange triangular head twisted around to face her with a barely-audible creak of rubber. The deep, unnatural voice was intrigued. "Why should you care?"
Susan's temper flared. "I care if you’re being ill-treated!" she snapped.
The faceless mask stared at her for a moment. "I am treated well enough," rasped the voice, sounding almost philosophical. "There has been the occasional… unpleasantness."
It wasn't hard to imagine what that unpleasantness could be. The Voord had a ship full of angry, righteous avengers eager for its alien blood. It said a lot about the security that the prisoner had not already been killed while it was helpless.
"I’m sorry," said Susan at last, unsure if she was apologizing for his experiences or the fact she was allied with those who would inflict them on an unarmed prisoner.
"No lasting effects," the Voord reflected. "A few bruises only, I am sure."
"I’ll go now," said Susan, feeling slightly wretched for confirming her fears.
She hadn't reached the cell door when the Voord spoke once again.
"You’re not Hydran, are you?"
Susan looked back at the prisoner. "No, I’m not," she said honestly. Was the creature assuming her civilized behavior proved she was not a native to the planet? Or was it something else.
It was something else.
"Were you on Marinus also?" asked the Voord.
"How do you know that?" she asked warily, unsettled by the prisoner's knowledge.
"Your friend wished me to know he had defeated Yartek," replied the strange voice. "Although I should hope where Yartek failed, I would have succeeded," it continued and Susan was sure there was a note of wry amusement in the inhuman tones. The voice sobered with clear concern. "But child, you are sad," the Voord realized, almost upset.
Susan steeled herself and kept any emotion out of her voice. "Your attack killed my grandfather and a friend called Barbara," she announced flatly.
The jackal-like head nodded. "That explains it, then," the Voord said to itself.
"Won’t you even pretend to be sorry?" Susan shouted at him, losing her temper.
Had it been free to, Susan was sure the prisoner would have shrugged. "Death is a consequence of war," it reminded her flatly. "I doubt my own circumstance will end well..."
"But this is a war you brought to a people who wanted no war with you!"
"Immaterial," replied the creature without pause. "We bring the gift of Voord leadership."
"Gift?" echoed Susan, bewildered.
"Certainly. But enough," it sighed. "I am tired. You can leave me now."
The haughty, unrepentant superiority of a creature in chains was so infuriating, Susan forgot her curiosity or sympathy. If the prisoner behaved like this around the other Hydrans, it was no wonder they soon turned to violence. She, at least, could leave while she still had her dignity.
"Oh, I’m going!" she vowed and knocked on the cell door.
There was a humiliating pause as the guards outside unlocked and opened the hatch.
"And, girl?" called the Voord lazily.
"Susan!" she snapped.
"You may visit me again," the voice said grandly, as though granting her a great boon. But then its voice became kinder, almost human once more. "Goodbye," it concluded softly.
"Goodbye," said Susan in reply, disconcerted by the sudden respect in its tone.
Perhaps she would return to visit the prisoner after all...