Prisoner Games: Colony 923

Part 1

by Verve (verve294 at

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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