Grimmier was a terrible planet. The weather wasn't bad, the people were once actually quite friendly and it had plenty of water. So what was the problem? Notice I said 'were once' when talking about the people. That was before they were taken over by the Usachi. The Usachi descended from the sky. The people of Grimmier were primitive compared to the Usachi. The Grimmier were just now into an industrial age. The Usachi were already in a space age. It only took one ship for half of Grimmier to surrender. The other half thought they could stand. The Usachi descended upon the other half with a fury. Despite half of the planet surrendering the Usachi enslaved all the people of Grimmier. After about 200 years of occupation the original Grimmier had all but disappeared. Instead the Usachi set up "Children's Institutions" on Grimmier. Children's Institutions were awful. How awful? Well, let's take this boy for example...
The boy was sitting in a cubicle. He did that 17½ hours a day. He even ate in there. He was however sent to a different room to sleep. He had long forgotten his name. He liked to call himself by the first three letters of his serial number, 101. So in a strange way his name for himself was 101. He stared at a screen feeding him information. There were cubicles all around him. The room he was in was absolutely huge. It was bigger then any Earth had probably ever seen. It was filled with hundreds of children and teenagers ages 5-18. However it was deadly quiet. All of the kids were heavily forbidden from talking. If they ever broke any rules whatsoever they were killed. No mercy. They were taught to speak and write up until the age of five. After that they were shipped off the institutions throughout the galaxy. 101 was one of these kids. The only solace he had was half an hour a day where they were actually in a classroom full of people their age. The Usachi believed even though children should not talk they still needed contact of some sort. So for 30 minutes a day they were in a classroom with a snobby teacher. Today however was going to be very different. Today everything would change for...101.
101 always sat next to this girl. At first she made him uncomfortable. Unlike everyone else she wasn't Usachi, she was Grimmier. She looked slightly different and she always had a sad expression when she came in and left, but while she was there she smiled. She would always look at 101 and smile. It made 101's skin crawl. As he sat in class silently listening to the snobby teacher he squirmed anxiously, everyone was. They wanted to speak. They were dying to do it. It was required that at the end of the lesson the teacher must ask 'are their questions?' Everyone would ask a question. Not because they actually had a question, but because they wanted to talk. As if to see if they still could.
While 101 was waiting for the teacher to say it the Grimmier girl did something abrupt. 101 was writing endless notes with one hand and his other hand was sagging towards the ground. As he was writing he felt something warm suddenly wrap around his hand. He looked down at it. He was surprised to find that the Grimmier girl had put her hand in his. He felt this strange tingle. He hadn't ever really felt this emotion. 101 looked up at the girl's face. She was smiling weakly. If the desks hadn't been against each other the teacher would've seen and they would both probably have been killed. Not only were they not allowed to talk they weren't allowed to communicate at all. 101 looked back and tried to pay attention to the teacher. If they ever failed a test they were sent off to cheap labor where they were never supposed to communicate at all. Despite all that 101 couldn't focus. The girl was now making him extremely nervous. What was she doing? When the teacher asked if there were any questions he forgot to ask any.
That night while 101 was laying on his cot he, for the first time in his life, had a hard time sleeping. He had the Grimmier girl on his mind. Wasn't she scared? Did she know? The Usachi had eyes everywhere. Even as he tossed and turned he could see the shining of the glass off the camera near the ceiling. At least they don't kill you for having trouble sleeping. Several other people in the large room were tossing and turning, but they did it every night. 101 usually never did. He hoped they wouldn't notice.
Everyday the Grimmier girl would hold his hand. After several days of this his nervousness began to wear off. Then to even the Grimmier girl's surprise he began to squeeze her hand back. One day 101 got the shock of his life. As he was holding the girl's hand and writing notes at the same time he heard a sound. It was different from the snobby teacher rambling on about glorious battles that Usachi fought and different from people shifting in their seats. It was a voice. The girl's voice. It was faint, very faint. So faint only 101 and the people directly around them could hear it. 101 couldn't even make out what she said, but that was irrelevant. She actually spoke. She could die for that. 101 stared at her. Several of the other kids were staring too. She spoke to another person other then the teacher. The people around them looked shocked and even jealous. 101 felt special somehow. This girl had trusted him with her voice. She trusted him completely. The girl smiled and squeezed his hand. Then she turned back to the teacher.
101 watched the information on the screen in front of him. He could barely pay attention. All his life the only thing that had been on his mind was the information given to him. Now this Grimmier girl had occupied all of his thoughts. What was he going to do? She always sat next to him...always. What if she tried to speak again? What if she got caught!?
...........And why did he care?
The same thing happened as always. The Grimmier girl held 101's hand. The other kids were watching her intently. As if her voice was a gift and they all wanted to hear it. The teacher turned her back to write something on the board. The Grimmier girl leaned over to 101. 101 could feel his face flushing and his stomach churning. The girl said something. This time it was audible...but only to 101. As if she only trusted him.
"Lorelei." She said in a deep whisper. 101 took a deep breath. He was shocked at what she had just told him. The one thing their never, under any circumstances, supposed to say to other kids. The one thing that could get them both killed...or at least he thought it was. Then he just realized it was just her name...Lorelei. What he thought it was...was something even more forbidden then a name
About once a month all the kids were required to clean the building (no talking of course), mostly because the Usachi wanted to save money by not paying janitors. People were mopping, scrubbing and sweeping. Every move they made was being watched a guard or a camera. 101 was mopping through the endless rooms. His mind simply would not leave Lorelei. She was just so....different...and he knew her name! His brain was tumbling. As he entered the room where all of this unfolded he saw her. She was scrubbing the floors. She sat up and wrung out the sponge. 101 found himself watching her. His stomach was tied in a knot so tight he thought his stomach was about to burst. She looked different from the Usachi. Her skin was a darker color. The Usachi's skin was a white almost pale sometimes. She had a deep tan color to her skin. Her hair was black and curled lightly. Also unlike the Usachi her eyes were dark. The Usachi's eyes were generally a light color. Despite her being totally foreign 101 couldn't help but feel she was...she was... He almost said the word he thought. Instead his mouth moved as if he said it, but no sound came out. Lorelei turned and saw him staring. She smiled at him.
Suddenly one of the guards nudged him and gave him a glare. He hadn't seen 101 almost speak, only stop and stare at Lorelei. The guard was thinking that since the Grimmier girl was strange people couldn't help but stare at the weird and ugly girl. Of course most guards of the Usachi were boneheads anyway...
101 knew something was wrong. The seat next to him was empty. Lorelei was not there. Somehow he felt a gaping hole in everything. He missed her. He missed her even if he only saw her for 30 minutes a day. What happened to her?
The next day as they were lining up to go into the classroom 101 saw the guy who was next to Lorelei cubicle. He looked at him until the guy looked back. As they filed into the classroom 101 looked at the guy then at Lorelei cubicle. The guy got the message just before 101 went into the classroom. The guy communicated by leaning backwards and throwing his arms up. Lorelei had fallen over in her cubicle. 101 realized what happened. When she fell she landed outside of the cubicle. In order to enforce the rules automatic gun turrets in the wall had been set up to stop all those trying to disobey the orders. Automatic guns didn't know the difference between an accident and those disobeying. It almost seemed like mercy was an unknown attribute to the Usachi, and in truth, it was almost right. They would even do this to their own kind.
That night 101 tried not to move. He was having a hard time. His head was deep in his pillow. His eyes were red from crying. It wasn't fair. She was just so...he couldn't put his finger on it. It was something. She was something he didn't have a world for. He tried to make it look like he wasn't moving. 101 felt this great pain in his chest. It felt like someone had stabbed a dagger in his chest. Something was missing now. What...what was wrong with him?
A month later they were going to move the children. They believed if the children became too accustomed to one environment they would become inadaptable. The children were cleaning the building one last time. 101 was doing the same thing he did once a month, mop the floors. He went into the same classroom, the classroom where he saw her last...Lorelei. Instead of her there was a common-looking Usachi girl, light skin, light eyes, everything. 101 stared at her for a moment. As if willing her to be Lorelei...but it didn't work. She was gone. It didn't make sense.
"Honor for the king!" 101 quickly bowed his head and closed his eyes. It was indeed rare for the king to actually come and inspect the children, but it did happen. The children were never allowed to look upon the face of the glorious king...no one. It could even be true that the king had a son in the facility. Unfortunately the Usachi didn't know who there parents were until they came of age. The king, surrounded by guards and advisors, walked over the girl first. 101 could hear them muttering and inspecting. The kids they thought were not cut out for being scholars or soldiers were sent into manual labor. There was a grunt from one of the advisors. 101 could hear the girl being dragged away. She knew what this meant, a lifetime of hard work, no communication or freedom. 101 could hear her sob quietly as she was taken out of the room. 101 could hear the group walk over to him. At that moment he didn't care whether they kept him in the system or not. He felt as if he had absolutely nothing to say or do anyway. After much muttering 101 felt a hand touch his shoulder reassuringly. He was staying. It could have been the king himself...but 101 didn't care. The group shuffled off into another room. 101 stood back up and continued mopping. He didn't care about anything anymore. Not even his own life. He hoped while they were transporting them he crashed. That way he could see her again...he hoped.
Usachi transport ships for their children were interesting. They were round and fit for one person. The kids were first put into round metal cases and they were surrounded by a layer of frozen...stuff. It was unique in that when it went through the atmosphere the outer protective layer would melt. When the metal casing hit the ground it would also melt if the temperature got above 50 degrees. It was a very cheap and useful system, no messes. That's how they were transporting all the children at the Grimmier institute to a different one. The Usachi transport people made a mistake that changed the direction of the entire galaxy. They were unaware of inhabitants of a planet they were passing by. A mistake that had reverberations they could not imagine.
Hundreds of small round pods passed an insignificant little blue planet. Many of the children inside them were sleeping, some where not. The ones who were awake were likely to become scholars. Why? They were awake because they were fascinated by what they saw. That meant they had imagination and that meant they had the potential to grow. 101 was awake. He never slept while he was in space. It fascinated him more then any of the others. He also felt very sad and he had one thought buzzing in his head. Had Lorelei seen this? Doubtful, she was a Grimmier in a Grimmier institute. She had never done this. 101 knew she would have loved it. He touched the double glass layer. The area around his finger fogged up. When he moved his finger he saw a dot in the middle of the spot where his finger had been. He squinted against the fog to try and see what it was. He quickly braced himself against the craft. Then as if moving at the speed of light the object became huge. The craft hurtled at it. It would be familiar to the people below. They called it a "satellite".
A girl popped her head over the small crater. She saw the last of the steam leave the pod. This was all in the middle of the desert. A boy with strange clothes was lying in the middle of the crater. The ship had already completely melted. The girl tilted her head.
"Who is that?" She asked herself in English. She looked back at the sky. "Did he come from space?" She walked over and turned him over with her foot. "He must have wearing that." She looked up at the hot sun and back down at him. "Well, I guess I could wait on him to wake up, it is summer after all. Wouldn't want him to die." She calmly sat down and watched him. He kept muttering something in his sleep. Eventually she got curious. She moved her face in front of his face. She put her ear right up to his mouth. She could barely hear what he said.
"Lorelei..." The girl sat up and stuck out her bottom lip.
"Lorelei? Who's Lorelei?"
When 101 opened his eyes he thought he was dead. First of all the sun was in his face. He had not seen the light from a star since he was five. All he saw in institutions was fluorescent light or if they absolutely needed sunlight (for some reason) they would be exposed to special lamps. As 101 was staring at the sun a face suddenly popped into his. At first he thought it was Lorelei. Her skin was tan-ish like hers and her hair was dark, but as his eyes focused he realized her eyes were blue, not dark like Lorelei's. 101 scrambled backwards He scooted backwards until he reached the wall of the crater. The girl chuckled.
"Hi." She said simply. "You seem a bit tense." 101's eyes widened. He didn't understand a word she was saying, but she was talking so freely. She must not be Usachi...but was she... Suddenly 101 looked frightened. She couldn't be one of them! She couldn't be! "Oh! Don't be frightened!" The girl's eyes looked caring and compassionate. 101 relaxed. She couldn't be him. "What's your name?" 101 looked confused. He still didn't understand a word she said. The girl smiled and pointed to herself.
"Denise." She said decisively. "Denise." 101 took a big gulp and responded. What was strange though was that he was responding in Old Usachi not New Usachi. Usachi five year olds were taught Old Usachi first (because it was considered inferior to the newer one) and then New Usachi. By then they were about five and sent off to an institution. It was forbidden from being spoken...but...
"I have no name." 101 said in Old Usachi. Denise began giggling. She couldn't help it. She loved the language he was speaking. She though it sounded beautiful. It was a little guttural like German, a lot floral like French and a bit snappy like Spanish. Denise kept smiling brightly waiting for him to say something else. 101 saw that she didn't speak Old Usachi maybe she spoke new.
"Do you understand this?" 101 said in the newer one. Denise frowned. She didn't like this one. It lost the floralness to it and became more guttural and snappy. "Uh, never mind. I'll speak the old one." Denise smiled again when he changed back to old.
"That's a funny language." She said. "What is it? Hungarian? Oh, never mind." Denise stood up and held out her hand. "You can't stay in the sun like this. Come with me." 101 looked apprehensive. Where would this girl take him? Was she in contact with Usachi authorities? Denise thought for a moment. What could make him trust her?
"Um...'Lorelei'?" Denise said. 101 jumped a little. How did she know Lorelei? He cringed a little...but then began standing up. Denise smiled. She didn't know if Lorelei was a person or thing...but it got him to trust her. He calmly took Denise's hand. It was warm...warm like Lorelei's. Denise smiled again. "Uh...are you an alien? No, seriously."