Prisoner Games: Colony 923
by Verve (verve294 at hotmail.com)
Consciousness wrapped around Slate in a warm prelude to the light
that shimmered from behind her eyelids. With a meek shutter two eyes flew
open, and then winced against the brilliance of the white, piercing sun.
She found herself lying on the softness of an earth that was so familiar,
but never so unwelcoming.
The air droned with something that could not be seen for the glare
of the sun, but the restricted movement of her head also meant an inhibited
view. She stared up at the sky from behind the protection of her lids and
the clouds that floated past were nothing more than dark smears. Muscles
reported hundred of aches and pains and other groaning soreness that
reflected in the pained crease in her eyebrow.
Slowly she opened her eyes again and the midday sun was not quite
such a shock to take a second time. Erica moved carefully to prop herself
up onto one arm, and then the next. Her stirring prompted a volley of
voices which grew out of the previous droning. In a moment she felt a
hand helping her up off the grass.
"Careful." The voice was soothing, but strange in her ears. Her body
was hoisted up, unwilling muscles screaming the entire way. In her side a
dull ache began to throb. She managed to rub her head slightly and weakly
thank the person next to her.
"Say nothing of it." She now identified the voice as male, and having
a light Spanish accent. Something very coarse and round was thrust into her
hands. She tried to clear her vision to see what it was, and identify this
person beside her.
"Who," she spluttered, "where am I?" Bafflement filled her voice as
the pounding in her head battled with a coherent thought process. The ache
in her side grew to a sharp pain.
"I will answer nothing until you have had some water." Something
pushed against the vessel in her hands. She sipped reluctantly at the rim,
but when the small wave of liquid crashed across her tongue she felt the
crackling she hardly knew was there subside and an urgent call for more
rang out throughout her system. "Drink well, but easy," the laughing voice
said next to her. "You have had a very long trip; no doubt you are thirsty.
All are dehydrated."
"All are dehydrated?" She came up from a long draught of water and
caught her breath anxiously only to ask the question quickly and turn her
head back down for another drink.
"Yes, often they - the Squillachi - they drop persons here. You are a
very strange one to be dropped alone; most times they drop many." He shook
his head sadly. "Hundreds." With clear sight she turned to her savior at
last and looked down to him. Indeed, she did look down, for he was short.
Maybe a meter and a half high, maybe less. He was a Spaniard, with dark
hair and lighter skin; sharp cheekbones that offered a slight shade to his
stubbled cheeks. His face was kind with two gentle black eyes that shone
out at her. "I am Fernando," Suddenly he flung an arm out in a gesture that
encompassed the entire landscape before them. "Welcome to Squillachi Penal
Colony Number 923. More lovingly, it is titled New Walden."
A strange new world fell at her feet. They were situated at the top
of one of many rolling hills that were dotted with strange twisting foliage
that sprang up like glittering crystals against a deep green grass. The
plants were unlike any she had seen, and by a quick glance at several of
the leaf structures she could hardly make out any familiar signs of earthly
phylum. The sun was directly overhead, but on the horizon two milky moons
hung quivering in the daytime heat against the pale blue of the sky. The
horizon line directly in front of her was cut close by a range of small
mountains that grew from the hills about three kilometers away. A quick
glance behind her showed a landscape that flattened out significantly,
turning into a field of lush, alien timberland.
"My God, it's...." The words wouldn't come as she stood with her
mouth open over the terrain, eyes glistening.
"Unlike anything you've ever seen?" A clear voice rang out behind
her, with an accent that she could hardly place. Whirling around, she saw
a group of five cresting the hill, the man who had spoken in the lead. They
walked in a loose "v" formation, the two other men holding up the rear. One
had a larger build, with richly dark skin and a piercing through on eyebrow.
The man across from him was relatively older with a bent-over posture that
made him look as if he rolled over the ground instead of walking. A surly
expression was etched on his face, and though his hair was entirely white
he moved up the incline with ease.
Next, two women took up the rear of the leader. One woman was young
and wiry, pale freckles dotting her entire body, though the rest of her skin
remained pale. Her long blonde hair was coarse and thick, tied back at the
nape of her neck. The woman by her side was a touch older, and much more
shapely. A strange tattoo was emblazoned on her forehead just over her brow,
which met with her curling red hair exotically. Erica saw all of them in
one moment, but as yet none of it registered consciously.
Instead, her focus remained on the leader who had spoken. She said
nothing as they approached, but felt very weak.
"What's the matter?" Fernando whispered at her side, putting a
helping hand at her elbow. He could see she was going weak. "You're pale
as if you had seen the Holy Mother herself."
The man in front finally reached the two and held out his hand in
greeting. "Hi, Dwayne "Blue Eagle" Hunter, head of this outfit." His smile
was wide and sparkling as she softly took his hand.
"Yes, I do believe we've met." And, with a polite nod to the rest
of the 'outfit', she fainted.
Author's Note: I'm not going to say much except (a) this has
something to do with "Patriot Games",(b) it'll seem familiar to any avid
McCaffrey readers and (c) that I sincerely hope that you really enjoy it.
More is coming! (If you're not already so confused that you refuse to
read any more, that is....)
On to Part 2!
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