Short Dystopia Rising piece. I’m transferring my Jeanie from one chapter to another and because of it, I’m losing all of my item cards. I wanted something that could help explain what that looks like for Jeanie.
The plan had been to go down to Hayven. She was going to talk with Jarek and Nevada and Miss Cleaveland about some things for the Grove. They would be able to help her get started on some ideas she had. Plus, she had made a rover deal with Jarek to build him a Pulse Injector Unit. She wanted to update him on the progress of that. She also could have spent some time talking with Sparrow and gotten her research notes out of the Darwin book. Plus, there were the Dockworkers and Charles and Jimmy. She would spend time with them. Then, it was back home to the Grove. Everything would be settled and she’d move to her new home in the Mass, with Sliphox and the Summerwind and the Dockworkers.
That was what the plan had been. It’s not what actually happened.
She had left the Grove and tried making her way back down to Hayven. She tried making her own small hidey hole, like all the ones that Sliphox made to keep himself and Jeanie safe when either of them traveled. Only since they weren’t the good hidey holes that he set up, she tried to make sure they were set up so she could sleep in the day and travel at night. She couldn’t hide at night anyway, so better be awake and alert the whole time.
Only, she wasn’t feeling good. Radiation sickness. Don’t misunderstand, she wasn’t complaining about her body’s reaction to the holy green glow. That didn’t mean it was fun. She was tired. She may have overslept.
They had surrounded her by the time she woke up. Her glow made it rather obvious that she was an Iron Slave.
It’s rather harsh to wake up with blades pointed at your throat.
Part of Jeanie wished she had figured things out. Sliphox, Charles, Natasha and her were all trying to find ways to make sure she stayed free. Working on papers and things like that. When her original papers had been pointed out as forged by Al, everyone had gotten worried. There were lots of ideas. New freedom papers. Forged slave papers. There was even some talk about a new number brand, though most everyone immediately shot that down knowing just what it would do to the Iron. There had been a lot of talk. Beckett even helped her come up with an idea and it was great.
For when she was in the Grove.
Which she wasn’t.
And, just like Al, they didn’t believe the papers she did have. Claimed them as forged. Took them away. Bound her and carried her off to their caravan. Took most everything she had. Iron Slaves don’t need any of that shit. That’s what they said as they took every cred and chuck of scrap she owned.
She had nothing. Well, she had her tools and clothes. They let her keep her tools. Granted, her tools were super basic, nothing really special. And they “obtained” the information about how she needed them. She was an engineering unit after all. It wasn’t hard for them to get her designation number either. They already believed the papers a forgery.
Next time, remember the damn number written on the papers.
Turns out, they weren’t just a caravan of travelers. Definitely a merchant caravan. Merchants don’t think twice about carrying chains for slaves if they need to.
Jeanie sighed and looked down at the iron wrapped around each wrist. Her glow could be seen around the edges of the metal. So could the purple starting to form where the metal was rubbing her skin raw.
She’d almost forgotten what chains felt like.
She glanced down at her left palm. A white scar stretched from from the wrist towards the index finger, courtesy of the sword that Sliphox used. It was his promise, again, to never leave her. He made the vow after getting his head fixed. It let her finally try to fix the promise she had first made him after… that town… The scar was red with irritation and ached. The Iron closed her eyes and squeezed her fingers into a tight fist, the nails digging into the scar, trying to cause her even more pain.
The hope was that, maybe, if she was lucky, she could irritate it enough that Sliphox would feel it in his own hand, in his own scar. The hope was that maybe, he might know just how much she needed him right now.
“25,” a harsh voice broke through her thoughts. She opened her eyes and lowered their gaze to the feet of the individual standing in front of her. She wanted to get away, but she couldn’t do that if they found any other reason to be angry with her.
“Yes?” she asked quietly.
Jeanie quickly dared to glance up. A scrap metal plate was held out in front of her. Chains clinked as she lifted her hands to take the plate and then dropped her eyes back to the ground. “Thank you.”
They walked away. Left her alone again. She ate the bread and scraps of meat. They were at least kind enough to make sure she got food, though it wasn’t a lot. Ma Summerwind made sure she got more food than this. But Ma was a rover and took care of Jeanie ever since her relationship with Sliphox had started. So, that wasn’t a surprise.
Jeanie sighed and ate.
The chains clanked with each movement she made.
Then, Jeanie stopped and looked down at the chains. She twisted her hands around, inspecting the way they locked onto her wrists. She looked at how they were made (tinker’s workbench, obviously). All of the little details.
The Iron went back to eating, but the smile stayed.
She knew how to get out of them.
Now, all it would take, is the right moment, and then, she’d escape and get away and back to the Grove and back to the Summerwind Caravan and the Dockworkers Union.
All she had to do now, was wait.