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Station 10, 2364, "How Colleen Escaped"

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Mar. 4th, 2006 | 10:14 am
posted by: mirror_odonnell in en_fanfic

This is a fanfic on how Colleen escaped from slavery. She was, at the time, twelve years old and living on Station 10. She knew Henry well, and they were in fact best friends. The ten-year-old Talaxian was a technical genius, and Colleen feared their intelligence would soon be discovered and they would both be taken and brainwashed, like her brother Matt had been.

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(no subject)

from: mirror_odonnell
date: Mar. 4th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)

It was an exhausting thirteen hours of endless work for twelve-year-old Colleen. She was expected to work as much as she could in Ore Processing, lifting whatever was light enough for her, shoveling Ore in tiny, inefficient quantities. Why would the Alliance put an undersized child in Ore Processing? Because that was this week’s rotation of manual slave labor. Last week it had been organizing medical supplies. The week before that, it had been sorting Cargo containers. And next week, Colleen feared, would be the week they took her away from her parents.

She had taken the test, just like Matt, only she had taken it later than he had. Her parents had protected her against it. They didn’t brainwash you in Ore Processing, even if they did break your back with work. But they did when you were taken because you were intelligent. Matt had been taken at eight, and it was only a matter of time before they discovered Colleen had a brain as well. And poor Henry Conner—Colleen was sure her best friend would be taken and brainwashed completely, if not killed. He was an engineering genius.

She would never forget the night Matt was taken, and her talk with her father.

“Colleen, you’re a very smart little girl,” he had said to her. She was only three at the time, but she still beamed with pride. “Now listen to me,” he had told her, gripping her shoulders as he knelt down so they were closer to the same height. “You can’t be smart around them. They’ll take you away from us, sweetheart. Don’t ever read anything in front of them. Don’t count. Don’t let them know you can learn. And don’t worry, honey…we’ll always know you’re smart.” He had been crying as he said it, and Colleen had been afraid. But what he said, even if she didn’t completely understand it at the time, had stuck with her. She hadn’t read, written, done math, or proven that she could think around the Alliance. But they had still given her the test when she was eleven. And it was only a matter of time…

But right now she didn’t much care. She was exhausted, and she still had so much work to do. She walked as quickly as her tired little legs could carry her into their slave quarters, where she sat on the dirty bed, and pretended to automatically be asleep. When people stopped staring, and she was sure they didn’t notice her, she got up slowly and slid the PADDs out from under the bed. The other slaves living in their quarters with them seemed to be too preoccupied to notice, and even if they did notice, they weren’t going to call her on what she was doing.

Fighting to stay awake, Colleen read her parents’ shuttle manuals. She had been working on this one for quite some time, and had nearly memorized the layout to it by now. She saw a small flaw in the engine that her parents had no doubt fixed by now. They were old, incomplete manuals anyway. But they were enough for a twelve-year-old to learn about ships. She knew all the steps to how to fly one, and how to fix one, but had never been in one. She was born here, on Station 10, as her fellow slaves called it. Henry said that wasn’t its name anymore, but what did he know? He was 10. He didn’t understand pride yet.

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from: mirror_odonnell
date: Mar. 4th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)

Colleen stayed up for hours past her bed time, and no one called her on it until her parents got back from their extremely long day, and found her still up, reading.
“Colleen, you have to get up and go to work tomorrow morning, what are you doing?” Erin asked her, though she could see from the PADD what her daughter was doing. She wasn’t about to stop her.

“Reading,” Colleen answered simply, and stuck the PADDs back under the mattress. Then, as she looked at her parents, who had moved into a more well-lighted place now, she could see that they both had new bruises on their faces, and defensive wounds on their hands. Without saying another word, she ran over and hugged them. “What happened this time?” she asked.

“It’s nothing, sweetheart,” her mother told her softly. The child didn’t need to bear their burdens when she had enough of her own. “It’ll be fine.” But she knew at that point that it *wasn’t* going to be fine. It could happen any day now that the agent arrived and told the Alliance their orders to transport Erin and Patrick to a new location. These were their last days in slavery, at least their last days as real ‘slaves’, even if they did enter the system later to infiltrate. The Project was transferring them—they were in danger of being discovered. And as the Project normally ordered, no children were to come along. Family got complicated, and they couldn’t afford to screw up such a delicate operation.

For any parent to leave their child in the care of the Alliance was almost to watch the child die. But if they didn’t cooperate with the transfer, they would be assassinated by the Project, because of the security risk, and what good could they do for Colleen then? At least this way they could look for her, perhaps rescue her later.

These were their last days together, and the Alliance wasn’t making it easy to combine schedules. But maybe that was on purpose.

That night, they tucked Colleen into bed, and kissed her dirty cheek. They knew full well that Colleen would not be able to hold her eyes open for another minute. This Ore Processing rotation had been the hardest yet on the child. She was twelve, yes, but she only looked about nine or ten. She had short red hair, and bright blue eyes, and underneath the grime and dirt, she had a very young-looking face. It had kept her with them longer, since the Alliance didn’t think she was old enough to take the test until just last year. They kept records of slaves’ birthdates, but they didn’t really care enough to spare time to research exactly how old she was.

As if the child’s workdays weren’t long enough, to come back to their quarters and read their old shuttle manuals for hours on end--*that* was exhausting. And her parents couldn’t have been more proud. They snuck some more of their old manuals into the crack in her mattress, for her to find later, before they went to bed.

They only got five hours of sleep before they were called to begin their work day. Colleen would sleep for another few hours, and then be called as well. This was why they never saw their baby girl—the Alliance had made it so parents and children didn’t get much interaction.

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from: mirror_odonnell
date: Mar. 4th, 2006 03:19 pm (UTC)

When Colleen awoke, of course, her parents were gone. She didn’t bother changing clothes, since she would only get her somewhat clean clothes as dirty as the ones she had on. But she did comb her hair. There were certain dignities she refused to give up. She left for breakfast with the rest of the children, catching up with Henry. “Hey,” she greeted.

“I was thinkin’ about your power cell idea,” he said immediately, but in a quiet voice so as not to attract the guard’s attention. “You could route power right into a messed-up one, and have it explode. It would be powerful enough to knock down any bulkhead.”

Colleen nodded. “Good idea,” was all she said, speaking mostly to him with her eyes. They told him how dangerous that was.

“I know, it might backfire,” the ten-year-old said as they sat down to their breakfast, which none of them could identify. “But at least we’d try.”

“I got a better plan. Can you make an energy weapon?” she whispered.

“I dunno. Depends on what I can find. A good power cell, a couple o’ springs. Maybe a targeting scanner, if I can swipe it,” he whispered back.

“Start workin’ on it. I might need it.”

The guard walked over to their table and stood over them.
“And did you see who she likes? She likes him and wants to *marry* him,” Colleen whispered to Henry, as she giggled.

“Eat, and stop whispering. You can gossip in Ore Processing,” he said gruffly, walking away.

Colleen took a bite of her unidentified food, and said, once the guard was completely out of earshot,
“I’m gonna make a run for it.”

Henry didn’t look surprised. “Be careful. They’ll kill ya if they catch you.”

“I know,” she told him. “I’m waiting for the right time. I don’t know how I can tell Mom and Dad…”

“Don’t. One more risk you don’t need,” Henry said. “I’ll start workin’ on that weapon. I can hide it with my cloaking device.”

She nodded. He had stolen the technology he needed to build the cloaking device, and they had hidden so many things with it, including themselves, on occasion. “I think something’s going on with my parents.”

“What?” The Talaxian boy asked, scratching his head.

“They’re acting strange. Sad, and all. I think the Alliance might have figured out they don’t like working for them. They might want to…to kill them,” she said with difficulty.

“No one likes working for them,” Henry said reassuringly. “Unless the Alliance completely has their heads up their buttcracks, they hafta know that.”

Colleen couldn’t help but laugh, and the guard came over again and kicked her chair out from under her. “I SAID no GOSSIPING!” He yelled, and kicked the chair away from where she had fallen on the floor. “Now pick it up, Terran. And eat quickly, or I’ll shoot you.”

Colleen stared with contempt at the Alliance officer, as she got up and brought her chair back over to where she was sitting. He walked away, and she said to Henry, “I hate ‘em.”

“Don’t we all,” he said, eating the last of his miscellaneous food. “He wouldn’t shoot you, though.”

“He’d get in trouble,” Colleen said. “And I’m at least a bit valuable,” She reasoned, nodding her head in agreement. “He’s just trying to scare us.”

“Have you studied the layout of the station?” Henry asked.

“Yup. I’m gonna use the ventilation system on deck 3. It’s broken, and no one wants to fix it. It’s been down for a few weeks now. I can get in and get out without suffocating.”

“You gonna steal a shuttle?”

“Somethin’ like that. I dunno. Maybe hide on an Alliance cargo ship that’s leaving port. I haven’t figured out all the kinks yet.”

Henry diverted his eyes away from her, indicating that she should stop speaking. Behind her, two older kids stared as they took their empty bowls to the disposal unit. When they were gone, Henry looked back at her. “Take me with you.”

She nodded. “I will. And if there isn’t time, and I gotta go without you, I’ll come back, I promise. And I’ll rescue you as soon as I got a ship o’ my own.”

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from: mirror_odonnell
date: Mar. 4th, 2006 03:19 pm (UTC)

He smiled. “I know you’ll keep all your promises. You always have. Here,” he said, reaching into his pocket when no one was looking, and handing something to her. “Don’t look at it right now. Do it when you escape. It’s something I made for you. Should help a bit. Don’t push the red button till you’ve taken it apart and seen what it is.”

She nodded. “Thanks,” she said as she stuck the little object in her dirty pants pocket. They got up and took their bowls to the disposal unit.

That day, the work was twice as hard, it seemed. It could be simply because her blisters from holding the shovel hadn’t healed yet, and were now breaking open as she hauled as much Ore as she could. It could have been because Henry was separated from her that day, and told to shovel another section. But regardless, Colleen was both relieved and terrified when a guard came and got her early.

“Where’re we going?” She asked, unwisely.

The guard hit the back of her legs, and she fell to the ground.
“Get up, Terran. And shut up.”

She got up, and shut up, but not without another look of contempt. He was leading her to the Intendent’s office. She knew the way, and she was absolutely terrified. She stuck her shaking hands in her pockets, and tried not to look scared.

They passed a docking ring on the way, and it was a completely unnecessary detour. They stopped in front of it, and waited for a moment. Then, down the corridor, an Alliance guard shoved her mom and dad violently with his weapon. They were able to keep their balance and keep walking, only to stop in front of the docking ring. They saw her, and they started to silently cry. Colleen thought she was going to cry, but she was able to stop herself. She yelled out, unable to control her temper,
“Where are you taking them?”

“Shut up!” The guard yelled at her, hitting her with his weapon. The little girl sprawled on the floor, and scrambled up despite the pain in her side from the weapon. She tried to run toward her parents, but the guard held her back. The guard responsible for her parents shoved them into the docking ring as they looked back at her in silent agony. The docking ring slid shut, and the guard pushed Colleen forward. “This way,” he said unfeelingly.

This was it. This was the point at which Colleen *had* to do something. Her parents were gone. The Alliance would soon discover the shuttle manuals. She would be transferred and brainwashed. This was it. She was alone, and unprotected.

The guard left her in the Intendent’s office, telling her to wait for a moment. She did, and only a few seconds later, the Intendent walked in. He smiled sickly at her and said,
“You’re very pretty…we’ll clean you up and then…”

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from: mirror_odonnell
date: Mar. 4th, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)

An act of divine intervention must of happened at that moment, because his console beeped and he had to answer it. It was some trader, dissatisfied with his transaction. The Intendent screamed at him for a few minutes, and then told him he’d be right there. “Stay here, make yourself at home,” he told Colleen. “I’ll be back in a few minutes. Try to leave, and I’ll have you shot.”

Colleen waited until he was gone, and then closed her eyes, envisioning where she was on the layout. The ventilation conduit was down the hall. She had to move *now*.

“I’m sorry, Henry,” she said to no one in particular as she ran out of the office, down the hall, and pried open the abandoned ventilation panel with all the strength she could muster. Her bleeding, blistery hands were throbbing in pain but she pried it open and climbed in, closing it behind her. Then she crawled, as fast as she could, to her destination. The shuttle bay.

Her heart was beating faster than it ever had before, and she wondered if she’d hyperventilate in here, away from any medical attention, and simply die. Would it be so bad if that happened? If she got caught, she’d be killed anyway. It was this or nothing. No going back.

An alarm sounded, and Colleen knew she was missed.
“Damn it,” she whispered, swearing for the first time in her life.

She was outside the shuttle bay, and could see what was going on through the cracks. Alliance officers were called to some meeting, by another wonderful act of divine intervention. She didn’t care how it happened, she just cared that it did. The shuttle prepped and ready to go was guarded by one single officer, who looked thoroughly exhausted and a little sick, Colleen thought. She might have a chance…just wait here a bit longer, and…

She was right. He found a chair and fell asleep in it, still ‘guarding’ the shuttle. Now was her chance. She slid the panel off of the wall, as quietly as she could, and then set it down so as not to make any noise. She crept up to the still sleeping officer, and yanked his weapon free with lightning-fast reflexes. As he awoke, Colleen shot him before he could make a sound, not caring what setting the weapon was on. She took his equipment from his belt and opened the shuttle door, as well as the shuttle bay launching doors. She powered up the shuttle, sealed the door shut, and put the weapon down in the chair next to her. Then, lifting the shuttle up as she had read how to do, she yanked back on the throttle, accelerating at top impulse speed out of the shuttle bay. Then, going to warp, she tried to mask her ion trail but was unable. In fact, she was unable to keep a steady warp speed. She was wavering to the left and right because she didn’t have proper control over the yoke. It was, after all, her first time.

She dropped out of warp near an asteroid belt, and saw something horrid on her sensors. Two things, actually. One was that, after only ten minutes off of Station 10, sensors had tracked two Alliance shuttles following her. And the other was that there was a nasty ion storm up ahead, going through that asteroid field. If there was a chance she could hide in it, if she didn’t die first, she would take it.

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from: mirror_odonnell
date: Mar. 4th, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)

She accelerated at full impulse to the asteroid belt, and approached the ion storm. The shuttle yawled and rolled, but not very well. Either the shuttle was damaged, or Colleen didn’t know what she was doing, and she suspected the latter was true. She was able to get through the asteroid belt with only a few nicks and scrapes, keeping the shuttle somewhat steady, and approaching the ion storm. She powered down so she didn’t conduct any electricity and stayed there, a sitting duck in space.

After a few hours of anticipation, worry, and boredom, Colleen remembered Henry’s gift. She pulled it out of her pocket, and saw that it was a little black diamond with a red button in the middle. She took out her pocket knife, that she had stolen off of the guard, and opened the diamond up. Inside were electronics she would look at later, but most importantly, a piece of paper that most certainly would have caught fire if she had pushed the button and conducted any electricity. She unfolded the paper, and read:

“Dear Colleen, you have probly eskaped if you are reading this note. I made this for you. I named it the H-rekorder, H for Henry. You can rekord all the stuff you do when you eskape. You are going to have adventers and lots of fun. Come back if you can, and take me and my mom out of here. We can go live on a planet, or in your ship, like we talked about. And we can have adventers together. I’m going to miss you. Your friend, Henry.”

Colleen had to smile at the misspellings and immature style of writing, but more so at the thought that went into putting this little device together. She looked at the chip he used, and determined that it could hold about five hours of her speaking. No more, however, so she’d use it sparingly. She put the device back together, and stuck the note in her other pocket. She would have to ditch this shuttle soon, so it wasn’t safe to put anything in it, but she would get another ship. She’d travel the galaxy, have adventures, like Henry said, and then she’d return back to Station 10 and rescue him. She would definitely rescue him, even if it took her a few years. He was her best friend, and she wouldn’t abandon him and his mother.

Colleen stayed in the ion storm for a few days, before she had run the power cell on the replicator completely dry, and needed food desperately. Then, carefully and slowly, she edged out, and determined that no one was looking for her still. She zoomed at warp speed to the only place she really knew to go: Yanna IV, where she was pretty sure there was a sanctuary for kids like her. She had heard about it, at least. She would only stay a few days. Touch down, get some food, and then take off in another shuttle. She had to keep moving, or the Alliance would catch her.

Thus began her great adventure, her free life, and her fight to stay alive.

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