Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Help (02/20/06)
TITLE: Escape From the Melokians
By Debbie Sickler
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No crew in sight, she made a run for the first door on the left, hoping the room would be empty as well. The door slid closed behind her with a swooshing sound, but the lights failed to activate. Alone in the dark, Madison’s heart beat quickened out of hope, as a wonderful aroma filled her lungs and tempted her empty stomach.
“Lights on.” Madison hesitantly whispered with no response from the system. Stumbling forward, she tripped over a chair and cringed both at the pain and the sound of the disturbance. She froze in fear of being discovered, yet hunger compelled her to continue.
The remains of a meal were sprawled across a table in the center of the room. Madison normally couldn’t stomach Melokian food, but today she was grateful for the feast of remnants. Hurriedly, she shoveled in mouthfuls, wishing for two good hands to speed the process.
As her own needs were being met, Maddie’s thoughts turned towards her mission. The Melokians were known for being brutal to their prisoners of war. God please let Ian and the others be alright. Help me reach them in time and help us escape safely.
Madison remembered her light pen and retrieved it from her bag, along with the ship’s schematics, for a quick review of her plan. She gathered her things and proceeded to the door, which now also failed to activate. On a hunch, Maddie inserted a narrow appendage of her robotic right hand into the control panel, manually activating the door. Huh, I guess all things really do work for good. For the first time, she was grateful for losing her hand during interrogation.
Stealthily, Maddie entered the holding cell level. Foreign utterances invaded her ears and she ducked out of sight behind an armory case. A door opened and two heavily armed Melokians exited, reenacting with glee the pain they had just inflicted on their prisoners. Their guttural laughter sickened Madison.
When she could no longer hear their boots clanging on the metal floor, she cautiously approached the door. Maddie hurriedly connected her U.D.A. cable to the door’s control panel; the display flashed as it searched for the access code. Sweat beads dripped from Maddie’s forehead as she anxiously waited for the scan. The large door opened and she found her fellow Christians cowering in a corner.
“Mother! Is it really you?” Young arms wrapped tightly around Madison’s waist.
“Yes, Ian. I told you God would help me find you.” Emotions threatened to overwhelm her and she had to remind herself they were not yet safe.
“What happened to your arm Mother?”
“There’s no time for that now. We must hurry. Everyone follow me!” The handful of children all rose to their feet.
All, but one.
“She was only nine years old! How? Why?” Maddie’s heart sank as she knelt next to Kylie’s lifeless body.
The echo of approaching footsteps interrupted her sorrow. Grabbing Kylie as respectfully as she could, Maddie hoisted her over her shoulder and hurried the others out of the cell.
“This way!” The schematics indicated a waste chute directly ahead. Madison opened the hatch and urged the children inside one by one. She lowered Kylie’s little body down the chute gently, then lowered herself and Ian.
At the end of the chute, they were each automatically enclosed in small airtight containers. They were then jettisoned into space along with the rest of the ship’s waste containers, which were periodically set adrift.
Once she felt they had traveled a safe distance, Madison activated her headset. “Red Baron, this is Little Sparrow.”
“Go ahead Little Sparrow.” came the crackly reply.
“The nestlings have freed the coup and are ready to fly.”
“Great job Commander! We’ll have you all onboard momentarily!” Ecstatic cheers in the background almost made his response inaudible.
As she lost consciousness, Madison sighed in relief knowing that help was on the way.
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