The Zoo: Kim's Republic Ch. 1
With Olivia Holt
By Harbinger
Tags: Kickin’ It, fantasy, adult themes
Disclaimer: This story is 100% fiction and for entertainment only.
A/N: This is an old Kickin’ It fanfic I wrote back in my freshman year of college. There is no sex in the first chapter, just story builder.

Work Camp 327

Population: 5,000 Criminals and Enemies of the State. 500 guards.

En Route: Captain Jack Brewer of the Emperor's Black Dragon Guard.

Reason for Visit: Inspection and Assessment of Operation and Prisoners.

Captain Jack Brewer rode up to the first guard house and waited patiently for a moment, under a minute, before the deep electric buzz that told him he had been admitted access. He passed under the gate into a courtyard of dirt, no trees, no green, no life. The symbolism wasn't lost on the young commander.

The second gate buzzed before his black horse could trot to it. As he rode in he saw barracks and sheds, outbuildings and infrastructure that the inmates lived in and were expected to upkeep. If they failed to do so, they would be without whatever that commodity had been. They were their only help and chance of survival out here in the middle of nowhere. The guards had their own supplies and shipments. They were solely there to make sure quotas were met.

Jack passed down the center street that ran between a clearly blueprinted for efficiency ghetto, and noted that it was deserted. Not a single sound could be heard down "main street." Where the hell was everybody? Where was anybody? Finally at the end of the ghetto, Jack saw the warden's palace at the very end of the street. The old stately mansion was the first building he had seen that wasn't concrete.

The damn thing had pillars. Emperor Ty's villa was the only other building Jack could think of that had pillars. Of course that was going in Jack's report. The white painted wood, the wide open front porch and the windows struck Jack as familiar. It looked like a Southern plantation house Jack had read about in State School. The plantation house had been an icon of slavery America. Again, this sentiment wasn't lost on Jack.

He dismounted and tied the reins to the hitching post just in front of the mansion. He climbed the small steps and didn't bother knocking, choosing to go in himself. Jack Brewer wasn't known for his recognition of formalities. This warden could kiss his ass. He was only one of one thousand other work camps. Work Camp 327 was the largest and most productive camp, but still just a number. The warden was just another Imperial pawn on the backside of Jack's ass.

"Stay where you are, don't touch my coat," Jack told the convicted butler as soon as he entered the house, a black leather gloved hand pointing at the surprised man.

"Shall I tell the master that..." Jack held up a hand, stopping the shorter, skinny and emaciated man.

"He isn't a master, he's a warden. And I can tell him myself I'm here. Appreciate the offer, though." Jack walked past the shocked man and climbed the wooden spiral staircase that was painted white. Just like everything else in this damned mansion.

At the top of the landing, Jack found himself in something of an anteroom, a massive portrait of Ty above a lone red door. The portrait was a requirement of every state building, above the main office.

As much as Jack hated announcing his presence, he was glad he did whenever he had to investigate a camp of any sort. There was just something the wardens didn't understand. These were criminals and enemies of the state, not sex slaves to take care of them for whenever their wives decided to cuckold them for whatever reason. The usual reason was because they were fucking their prisoners behind closed doors and the wife found out. Jack had walked in on it himself. Twice. So this time Jack knocked.

"Come in!" a voice answered instantly from behind the red door. "Ah, Captain Brewer. A pleasure," Warden Martin said as he rose, closing up his belt. Exactly why Jack knocked.

"Don't get up for me. I don't care about shaking your hand." Cold and to the point. That's why Ty liked Jack. "I'm here to evaluate and get back to the capital."

"Don't bullshit me, Captain," Martin chuckled darkly. Jack raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms, the black and red leather of the Black Dragon Guard gi pulling across his hard muscle. Martin's posture eased, but he tried to keep his voice tough. "If a Black Dragon is 'evaluating' it means it's an investigation. You heard something, and this camp survives or falls on your word alone."

"That is true. I already don't like you," Jack warned. "I can't tell you what I'm here to find, and you know that. You also know that you are effectively under house arrest during my evaluation."

"I understand that, too. I have arranged for a guard to come and give you the tour of my facilities."

"Lord Ty's facilities. Don't think you're more than a glorified babysitter with henchmen, Warden," Jack growled. "And I don't want some guard giving me some bullshit script you had him memorize. I've done this too many times for that kind of wool to be pulled over me. It's usually a thin act, anyway."

"This camp runs for miles, Captain. It's a two day ride from gate to gate. You don't know the ground," Martin argued.

"Set me up with a prisoner that knows how to ride," Jack shrugged, his shoulders visibly rippling under tight leather.

Martin sighed and keyed the intercom on his desk, "437, will you please summon 3794?"

"Immediately, Warden," a not too chipper woman on the other side answered.

“And if I find out you've been using girls for yourself, I will end your entire career and have you in one of these camps yourself,” Jack said flatly as he showed himself out.

"Let's go! Y'all wanna get back to our slabs and hit the hay, or do y'all wanna sit out here choppin' tree all damn night?" 3794 yelled as she heaved and hoed over a two-man wood saw. "We got five more of these fellas to fell and a three mile walk back to the slabs!"

3794 stopped and dragged a sweat coated arm across her forehead. It did nothing to displace the sweat, but the action made her feel better all the same. "4930, bring that chain over here! This one's ready to come down!" she shouted and the older man dutifully ran over.

He wrapped the steel linked chain around the tree and pulled it tight, two others grabbing the chain and tugged hard. They heard the telltale snap and the three ran out of the way. The tree fell and the rest of the cutting crews were able to continue work around them without stopping, thanks to 3794's guidance system. It also made it easier to move the trees, being able to just tug them along to an open field where they could easily be cut to length for whatever project they were going towards.

"Alright, four more to go! Y'all got this, I'm heading out to the quarry," she announced, checking her braid to make sure none of her blonde locks escaped during her back breaking work. She was the only day foreman, and the only of the two foremen that was willing to get dirty with her crews. They respected the hell out of her for it.

"Scorpion!" a guard called as he approached on horseback. "The warden wants to see you back at the palace. Don't double."

3794 sighed and rolled her eyes and continued towards her horse that she was entitled to as foreman. "This job just never fucking ends," she grumbled as she took off at a gallop next to the guard. “If he tries to touch me, I'll bite his dick off. You think I give a shit if I'm killed for it?”

Jack waited patiently, standing at ease in the anteroom as he anticipated the arrival of his escort. He heard the front door downstairs fly open and heavy footsteps clomping up the stairs.

"Evenin' to you too, 2674," Jack heard the voice say with no hint of sincerity. He really wanted to see what the attitude looked like, if it met the cocky Southern twang of the voice.

He wasn't disappointed when a short but strongly athletic blonde covered in sweat, dirt and sawdust came into the anteroom. He looked her over from head to toe, assessing her. Tattered work boots without laces. Torn overalls exposing nicked and cut, bruised flesh in some spots. An equally battered cotton work shirt that was probably white when she got it. Brown eyes that stared him down, small but work hardened hands resting on slim hips. She had an air of authority about her which was weird, given that she was a prisoner that couldn't have been a day over twenty.

"Can I help you, Dragon?" the girl asked, her voice not impressed by his station.

"You here to see the warden?" Jack asked, crossing his arms, showing complete indifference.

"Yeah,” she replied simply, copying his stance, even down to the ninety degree angle turn of her left foot. His eyes had been on her the whole time. She never once glanced at his stance. “This warden has a problem with offering ‘enhanced living arrangements’ for physical favors. I'm gettin’ tired of tellin’ him it ain't gonna happen.”

"Go on in. He's been waiting," Jack told her with a flick of his head, his hair had enough spray to it to keep it out of his brown eyes without it looking gross and obviously treated. “If he tries touching you, I want to know about it.”

"Must of been one hell of a dick he had to suck to get a guard Dragon," the worker-prisoner said with a smirk. It took all of Jack's training not to laugh. If he had any shred of respect for the warden, he would have put this young fireball in her place, but he liked her too much already. Between her and Jack's arrival, this warden had more than he bargained for.

She watched him from the corner of her eye as she passed him, waiting for some kind of reprimand. Instead, she was surprised when he pushed the door open for her.

"Do you no longer knock, 3794?" Martin asked, looking up from his quota ledger.

"I didn't open the door," she shrugged. "Your guard Dragon let me in. I've seen it all anyway. I remember what you did to 1452 to get her a spring mattress.”

"That Black Dragon is why I called for you," Martin began, completely ignoring her last comment.

3794's blood froze, but she refused to show it. "What's he got to do with me?" she asked, successfully keeping her voice nonchalant.

"He's here to evaluate and assess the camp, and he needs a guide," Martin explained.

"Get a guard to do it. These quotas aren't going to fill themselves," 3794 argued.

"The captain doesn't want a guard," Martin said. "He specifically asked for a prisoner, and you're the only one I trust not to do anything stupid," Martin said, but it was obvious to the girl that he didn't like it.

"Can this wait till I go check on my quarry crew?" 3794 asked, her arms crossed with eyes that told him this whole thing was a huge inconvenience. "I need to make sure none of them blew up. If they hit quota, I'll send them back to the slabs."

"They're not your crew," Martin snarled because he was sure Jack was still listening. "They belong to the Emperor."

"Really?" 3794 scoffed. "I haven't seen him here. Ever. I can't remember the last time I saw you in the light of day."

Martin leaned forward on his forearms, peering at her with complete hatred. "We are going to have a long talk about this after our guest is finished with his stay. You'd be dead by now if you weren't the only one that could see a quota filled out."

"With surplus," 3794 added as she left. "After you, sir," she said to Jack with a mock curtsey. This girl had guts, and he really liked it. She had her shit together and knew it more than most of the state workers Jack knew. "Where to?" she asked as they went to the stairs together.

"We can start with the quarry," Jack said. "So you're a prisoner-worker-foreman?" Jack had never heard of that combination, but he thought he'd heard it all.

"Yeah. I do a bit of everything around here. It's not that I like to, but you know what happens if a quota's not met," 3794 filled him in, referring to the overtime and rations cut to make up for it.

"So you work yourself to death for the good of the other 4,999?"

"Yeah, but they make it easier, believe it or not. They know I'm trying to make sure we're all okay. I've heard of camps where the workers starved because they went too many days in a row without hitting quota. The more they fell behind, the more they got punished until they couldn't take it. The work camp turned into a concentration camp."

"Where the hell did you hear that?" Jack asked, pretending he was shocked.

"Don't bullshit me, Captain. I know how Emperor Ty's censorship works. I know propaganda about how these camps reform and change lives, make better citizens but our time here just makes us bitter. I wasn't born in here," 3794 spat, leading the way to the quarry.

"If you keep saying that openly, you're going to die in here," Jack warned her, taking a hold of her reins to stop her.

"I know that and I've accepted that. I don't mind giving my life so the people that come through here get out in the best shape possible. Most of my people are 'enemies of the state.' Since having a free mind is a crime, I'm fine behind these walls," 3794 finished and took the reigns back.

This girl would be all too dangerous on the outside. As much as Jack admired her spirit, it was spirit like that that got people killed.

"This is the quarry," 3794 announced as they came on the site. "Here, we blast, pick, hammer and drill the cliff face for raw building material. The rock goes from..." Jack cut her off with a wave of his hand.

"Cut the tour speech. If I wanted that, I would have come with a guard," Jack told her with a glow in his eye she couldn't exactly place.

"What do you want from me?" 3794 asked suspiciously.

"I want to see this place from a foreman-worker-prisoner point of view. I want to know what the propaganda won't say," Jack told her honestly. "Even as captain of the Black Dragons, there's a lot of tape I'm not allowed behind."

"What does it matter to you how this place is really run?" she asked, still not trusting him. He understood that. She was a prisoner and he was the captain of the Emperor's guard.

"You're not going to help me, are you?" Jack asked, his face cold.

"No, I'm not. This place is already hell and I won't tell you a damn thing to make it worse," 3794 said, stubborn as hell.

"We'll be spending a lot of time together during my evaluation over the next three days. Can I get a name instead of a number?"

She looked ahead, refusing to make eye contact. "The guards here call me Scorpion," she said. "I can have a temper and some of the prisoners have found out I have a pretty nasty sting."

"A little thing like you?" Jack asked with a chuckle as they entered the work zone.

"I love when people underestimate me. Also probably why they call me Scorpion," she said with a cocky smirk.

"Scorpion it is, then. Better than calling you 3794 all the damn time," Jack said.

"Agreed," Scorpion nodded. "Well this is the work sight. I don't see anyone, so they either really fucked up, or they're done with their work and they're chilling somewhere."

"Chilling somewhere?" Jack asked, an eyebrow tweaked. "Pretty calm language for a forearm."

Scorpion shrugged. "I'm still a young girl, Captain, and you can't be older than what, twenty-one yourself? This place has only aged my body. As soon as I let it age my soul, I've lost that fight. And I don't take losing well."

"Neither do I," Jack said as they continued just a bit further to where they found a string of wagons loaded with rock.

"Yup, they hit their quota. I told you I don't like to lose," Scorpion smiled and rode to the front of the wagon train. "If y'all are done for the day, head on back to the slabs. Get a bowl of mush and hit the straw," she ordered and the crew followed without hesitation.

"They really do respect you," Jack said in obvious shock.

"It's because I'm one of them, because they know I give a shit. If we don't hit production quota, I lose rations, I lose sleep time. As the foreman, if one crew rotation misses, so do I, but if they all fall behind, I get hit extra hard.”

Scorpion sighed and chewed her lip, her eyes focused on Jack.

"What?" Jack asked, noticing her contemplative look.

"Nothing. Something just feels... off," Scorpion said, not exactly sure herself. "Let's keep moving. It's getting dark and I'm hungry," she said, her eyes flitting around like she was searching for... something.

"Alright, we can head back," Jack said with a nod of his head. He had to try to keep some semblance of the idea that he was still in charge, even though he was sure they both knew they were working on her schedule. What better way to see this place than through the eyes of the woman that actually kept it running?

"What kind of meal do you get here?" Jack figured the smaller camps all had the same poor excuse of a meal plan, but he wasn't sure if this one was going to be any better, since it was the highest producer of raw materials.

"I don't know what Martin'll be giving you," Scorpion said with a scoff, finding it ridiculous that he thought they'd tell her that kind of thing.

"I meant what are they serving in 'the slabs.'"

"Oh. The same thing as every night. Stale bread and hot water with a sorry lack of meat and potatoes." Scorpion could go into how much they hate the sad excuse of an evening meal, but for what purpose? This was the captain of Emperor Ty's Black Dragon Guards. He may not be as cold on the surface as she expected, but she assumed he was an ice block on the inside. She was sure feed find their status “situation normal.”

"I ate on the road, but I have room for some beef water," Jack said as they took off toward the slabs. "Why do you call them the barracks 'slabs?'"

"I started calling them slabs. They're just giant blocks of concrete that were pretty much carved out and fit with more concrete for us to sleep on."

"You sleep on concrete, too?" Jack asked. This was different than the other camps he had investigated and even shut down. They had little huts with cots, but most camps were a fifth half the size of Camp 327. Jack had expected the premier camp to be a little better, not worse.

"I have a concrete slab with a hay mattress. So does the other foreman. The rest of us sleep in hammocks," Scorpion said like it wasn't a big deal. It wasn't if you lived it for years. “You can fit a hell of a lot of bodies in a slab when there's hammocks instead of ‘beds.’ We don't really get personal belongings, so we don't need storage space.”

"I'm guessing that doesn't make for good sleeping, a hay mattress on concrete," Jack found himself sympathizing aloud with the poor girl.

"I can't remember the last time I woke up and my back wasn't sore," Scorpion admitted, her hand caressing the small of her back to suppress phantom pains. Jack found himself frowning a little, but did away with it before Scorpion could catch it. There were prisons, and then there was this camp, where you were as likely to die as you were to get out.

Scorpion and Jack got back to the slabs just before dark, and Jack could hear her stomach rumbling like thunder. How long had it been since she last ate, let alone ate enough?

"This is my slab," she said as they dismounted. "That slab over there," Scorpion pointed to the one kitty corner from them, "Is where the other foreman stays. We try to avoid each other."

"Why's that?" Jack asked, finding himself oddly curious, considering this probably had nothing to do with the evaluation. Jack also remembered that this wasn't a run of the mill evaluation, it was an investigation.

"Different management styles," Scorpion shrugged. "He's lazy. He doesn't help his crews because he's the foreman. He just rides around and tells people what to do. I hate a man that barks but won't get dirty himself.”

"And you lead by example," Jack said what she didn't. “I respect that.”

"As much as I can," she confirmed. She stopped and looked at Jack with puzzlement for a moment. He opened the door for her. Martin would stand on the outside looking in until someone opened a door for him, but here was the captain of the Black Dragons holding the door for her?

"Are you going to stare at me or are you going in to get something to eat?" Jack asked none too politely. He refused to make this a big thing. Scorpion stepped in without a word, not even a thank you. He wouldn't get that from her. Jack just smirked at the working girl's feisty attitude. Again, he found himself really liking it.

They walked up four flights of gray concrete steps before they came to a thick, you guessed it, concrete door. No unnecessary expense was put into this place. Jack found himself agreeing again with Scorpion on the name of the place. It really was just a slab. This was no place for human inhabitants. At least the other camps had wooden buildings.

"This is the mess floor. The dining hall and kitchen take up the entire top floor. The floors below us are all sleeping quarters. That's all this place is," Scorpion explained as they walked through the crowded mess together, passing stainless steel picnic-like tables cramped with hungry prisoners devouring their less than meager rations like the animals they were meant to feel like. It came to Jack that this camp wasn't about reforming or "reeducation" as they were explained. In the case of Camp 327 at least, it was all about humility. The only thing you could be proud of was busting your ass, the products of their labor went to the people that put them in here. It was more bleak and soul breaking than Dragon training.

The work camps, what they really were, was the Empire's best hidden secret.

"Scorpion, why is everyone staring at us?" Jack whispered.

"Probably because you're a Black Dragon, Captain," Scorpion said with a chuckle, letting her blonde hair down for the first time since that morning. "You're the only one in this slab not wearing a stained beyond belief work shirt and torn up overalls. They're staring at me because they've just associated me with you. They probably think I'm selling them out somehow."

"There's one thing I don't get, Scorpion," Jack said, leaving the thought there to see if she gave a shit.

"And that would be?" she humored him.

"I can feel the daggers staring into my back. But you haven't been warm or cold to me. Why?" Jack left no room for her to avoid answering.

"Extra water, please," Jack joked when they got to the man behind the line with a big ass cast iron pot next to him. He made sure to have an extra emotionless face as he gave Jack the exact same serving that every other man and woman here got.

"We all get the same here. No matter who you are," the 'cook' said with a straight face. "Unless you're 3794, that is," he smiled at her as he gave her a somewhat strained ladle, taking care to give her a little more substance but not enough to cause a stir from those who didn't appreciate their foreman as much as he did.

"Thank you, 1638!" Scorpion said with a smile. She worked her ass off for everyone. She worked twice as hard as anyone to make sure the same amount of beef and potato went into that pot every night. If there was ever less, she wouldn't eat that night. She was appreciated and she appreciated that. Her status also meant she didn't get fucked with anymore. No one had to feel the Scorpion's sting.

"Scorpion, you never answered my question," Jack reminded her.

Scorpion rolled her eyes at Jack's persistence. "What good would hating you do me? You didn't put me in here. You safeguard the man that runs the fucked up society that sees me in here, but you're doing your job. I just want you outta here so I can keep doing my job.”

"They hate me. They see Emporer Ty in me, and they hate me because I represent him. They see my gi, and they see the police that put them in here," Jack said, knowing it to be true. He had to deal with that since the first time he put the leather on.

"See, you get it," Scorpion said with a fake ass smile.

Their dinner conversation was broken up by a lot of shouting downstairs and heavy footsteps. A group of guards broke through the door and rushed straight for Jack and Scorpion.

"Captain, Warden Martin has been murdered!" one of the guards shouted, leaning on the table out of breath.

"WHAT?" Jack shouted as he shot up from the table. Scorpion was up just after him. He took off at a run, Scorpion on his heels. Jack took the stairs five at a time, Scorpion taking three.

They broke outside and down the block of slabs, pushing past hundreds of workers blocking the paved road to Martin's mansion.

"What happened?" Jack shouted as he and Scorpion forced their way inside and up the stairs to Martin's office.

"He was stabbed, sir!" a guard said from behind them, the same one that delivered the news.

"Who did it?" Jack asked as they got into the office and he stared down at the bloodied body. "Did anyone see anything?"

"No sir, not a damn thing," the guard cursed under his breath.

Jack grabbed Scorpion by the forearm and damn near dragged her to Martin's private quarter. "What do you know about this?"

"I don't know shit!" Scorpion yelled back just as loudly.

"Everyone here loves you, respects you. There's no way nobody told you. Did you plan this?"

"No Captain, I didn't. I had no fucking clue you were coming today. Today was going to be just another day but I had to play tour guide! If I didn't, maybe I would have gotten word of this."

"Are you trying to tell me this is somehow my fault, Prisoner 3974?" Jack growled.

"No, but it sure as fuck isn't mine so get off your high horse before I kick it out from under you," Scorpion threatened and Jack began to see the camp myth's venom.

"Did you forget who I am, girl? Don't fucking threaten me!" Jack billowed and attempted to strike her, but Scorpion was quick and threw up a right hand front block, her eyes fiery and her face twisted into a snarl.

"Well I have my answer as to why I'm really here, what I was here to find out," Jack said with a predatory smirk.

"And what's that, Captain," Scorpion spat, refusing to lighten her glare.

"I'm here to investigate rumors of prisoners here practicing karate, and teaching it after they leave here. Now I know who the primary source is," Jack told her triumphantly.

Scorpion's face fell and she looked terrified. She should have let him hit her.

"Karate is forbidden. Capital offense you know, Scorpion. Forbidden for anyone who isn't a Black Dragon. A name is coming to my mind..." Jack trailed off.

"No. No no no no," Scorpion pointed at him. "Don't."

"Kim Crawford. The Black Dragon that was disgraced for attempted mutiny," Jack paced back and forth, his hands behind his back. "So you're what, training a rebellion from the inside, hoping to have enough warriors to lead when you get out?"

"Jack, I'm not trying anything! I practice my form by myself! Someone must be watching me and passing it along!" Kim tried to explain what she couldn't prove or confirm. “Maybe others have watched me defend myself, but I'm not holding classes!”

“I could drag you back to the capital right now,” he warned, backing her against the wall, his arms pressed against the wood on both sides of her head, caging the little bird.

“They'll kill me and you know it, Jack. Please!” she pleaded for the first time in her life, her brown eyes threatening tears. “Let me keep doing what I'm doing here.”

"We'll talk about this later, Crawford, but first order of business is finding who killed Martin, and keeping this place on track. If we don't, Ty will make this a living hell like I have never seen. Will you work with me?" Jack asked, holding his hand up and out, looking for that strong, bonding hand shake.

Kim shuddered as Jack gave her space back but kept his hand out. “You aren't… you won't bring me in? You're not gonna try to… ‘make it worth your while?”

Jack shook his head. “I'm a lot of things, but I'm not a rapist.”

Kim nodded and swallowed thickly. “Yeah, I'll help you,” she agreed, shaking his hand. “Thank you, Captain. You have far more honor than I expected.”