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SB 214: Mischief served: Echo of the Past

Posted on Mon Jul 9th, 2018 @ 5:59pm by Gunnery Sergeant John Stryker II & Petty Officer 2nd Class Bettina Davies EMTP/PO2
Edited on on Mon Jul 9th, 2018 @ 5:59pm

Mission: Mission 27: Reclaiming SB214, the work begins
Location: On Starbase, deck-210
Timeline: 2 March 2392, Late Night

ON:

The others had settled in, but they were younger, most hadn't been abandoned or orphaned for a long time so they were more readily trusting. But for Echo, that would be hard-won, she had been too long on her own, had been too many times betrayed by those older, and she wasn't going to give up that trust easily.

She knew this station well, at least the back corridors and access shafts, and she wasn't about to be confined to anywhere, so she was out now, in the 'small' hours when most the crew was sleeping. It had taken some experimenting, but eventually she'd found her way out of Sickbay and had gotten around the Marine guards.

Funny, though, she wasn't looking for escape, she just wanted to know there was a way out, to know she still had that option, just in case. But for now, she was clean and fed, content, really, but still suspicious and wary, expecting betrayal.

She was thinking she was pretty smart as she crawled along an access corridor that paralleled the main hallway leading to Sickbay, but as she pushed aside the access panel to crawl out, her hand landed on a shiny boot, and she looked up...

Stryker looked down at the young girl, and automatically his hands went to his waist. “Hello again, Echo. Making a break for it?” He asked, suddenly realizing that his body language was that of a scolding adult, so he relaxed, dropping his arms to his side.

"No!" The retort was snapped, automatic and defensive as the girl glared at him, ready to fight or run as the situation developed. But instead of grabbing or hitting, the big man relaxed and extended a hand.

“Here,” he offered his hand to her. “No need for you to be crawling around on the deck. You’re not a prisoner here, you’re a welcomed member of the ship's company. Honest. I was just on my way to see the Captain about you. You’re a hero you know, saving those kids and helping to get them to safety.”

"I didn't do anything," she growled, but she took his hand and allowed him to help her up, although she immediately withdrew her hand and took a step away. "Don't tell the Captain, please. We just..." Well, the fewer people who knew anything about them, the safer they were.

“Alright, if that’s what you want. We can keep this on the down low.” Stryker responded.

"I don't..." Unaccustomed to actually having a conversation with anyone much older than she, much the less a soldier.

“Don’t what? There’s no shame in doing the right thing for those other kids. None at all.” He reassured the girl. “You know, I’m a lot like you when it comes to people wanting to make a big deal out something I’ve done. I’d rather we just moved on.” He paused. "So what has you out here, away from the others?”

Echo's chin went up defiantly, but then she relented and decided to be honest, to see what kind of man he really was. "I need to know how to get away if we have to," she admitted, "so I can keep them safe." She shrugged. "They are mine...they need me to take care of them.'

"But Echo, they are being cared for. Starfleet is taking care of them." Stryker offered. "And the Marines are protecting all of you, so if you need to get away, Marines will be leading the way for you and the other kids."

There was another shrug, then a very faint admission. "I want to believe..." But how?

"I want you to believe, Echo. I want you to relax and trust in us, we're here for you." John promised. "Those kids, they look up to you, they trust you. If you trust us, then they will too. I know it's hard for you right now, but have a little faith. Everything is going to work out just fine."

"They need help, their parents were...taken. We hid." She looked up at him with a anguished expression. "There were more that I couldn't hide..." [i]So many more.[/i] "What will you do with them? Where will we go?"

"Taken?" He asked astonished by her response. "What about the ones you couldn't hide? Where are they?" He wanted to know. "Echo, we'll make sure that the ones you have saved will be cared for, that this station takes responsibility for you, and we'll keep looking for the others if there are others on this station hiding." Her revelations about the others appalled him. And where were the parents taken to? What of these others that echo couldn't hide? There was something more than met the eye going on aboard this station, something terrible, something John Stryker wanted to find and put an end to.

"The Talarians...when they came here they took the adults...the parents. I don't know where they are, I don't think there are any more little kids, just the older ones who steal and ruin things."

Of course, she didn't consider what she did to get food 'stealing', that was just surviving.

Stryker was still nearly dumbfounded at the child's explanation. "The Talarians took the adults, but what about the rest of the children?" He wanted to know. Something disturbing washed over him. Slavery? Or, something else. And why just the adults? "This is a lot to take in Echo, a whole lot. I'd like to try and find the adults and those other children too." He paused. "I just need a place to start the search."

"They are gone," she shrugged, "aren't they? The Talarians...did something with some of them, but you...your people have the rest, don't they?" Under the name of 'rescue', but Echo was still dubious of their intentions. "Same with the other kids, I guess, given away, sold...maybe still with their family?"

She really hadn't had a chance to keep track of that, she'd been too busy making sure that her little band stayed out of trouble and had what they needed.

'Sold,' the word hit him like a force field. The idea of selling children chilled his blood. "So, it sounds like there's no real starting point to search for them. You think they were spirited away by the Talarians? Or, did they sell or trade them from here with their kind, or others, maybe?" He was searching for any clue as to what happened to the missing, both children and adults.

"I've seen some, but I don't know." She shrugged. "Those places weren't safe, I tried to keep the children away." Sure, on occasion she'd sneak into the areas where the Talarians kept their 'prisoners', but only when she was sure she could get in and out safely, and she was desperate for supplies.

His reaction, though, reassured her that he was appalled at the news, and that he, and his companions, likely could be trusted.

"We're safe now?" She took a step closer to him. "Will we stay with you?"

"You are safe Echo. We'll make sure of that." He responded with what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "Now we best get you back with the others, they'll need your guidance as we move forward. You're their leader and they'll look to you first." He held out his hand to her.

For a few seconds she hesitated, then Echo reached out to take his hand and walk a couple of steps beside him. But after only a few paces, she suddenly turned and hugged onto the man, stifling sobs against his uniform...

"Hey, hey, hey, it's okay. You're safe, people to take care of you and the kids you saved. Everything's going to be just fine." He paused. "C'mon, let's get you back with the others." And hand in hand they walked down the dimly lit passageway.

OFF:

PO2 Bettina Davies, EMTP
Echo, Lost Child

 

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