4380: Odette's War
Her eyes popped wide open as they did every evening when the Oxygen Recycling Fans started their evening cycle on the Melges Space Station. Since the first day that she had become a student at the Melges Institute for Children, day one thousand two hundred seventy seven of her life, she had heard the fans turn on at the beginning of the twenty second hour of the twenty four hour day and hadn't been able to sleep.
"Three thousand seventy three," she moaned pulling her bright red covers over her head trying to ignore the noise. It was cool in the room, cooler than she could stand in her institution issued t-shirt and shorts that served as pajamas.
At this point in her life, day four thousand three hundred and fifty, she should have been used to the sound of the fans turning on, but she hadn't adapted to it. Everything else that came along with being a student at the Melges Institute had become what would be considered normal. She didn't bat an eyelash now at the uniforms that showed instantly via Red, yellow and green colors, a child's age. While the military-style rankings that were used to organize the fifteen hundred student population didn't seem fair one hundred percent of the time, it did keep order and that was what she liked, order and reason and logic. Even her little cubicle that was her home on the station, a space that wasn't much more than the size of a reclining airline seat had all merged smoothly into her life, but the noise from the fans were a constant reminder that she was not at home on Dantidra, the planet that loomed just outside her tiny cubicle window.
When the fan noises didn't blend into the other sounds in her block she pushed the red blanket down and scooted herself up a little in the seven foot long bed. As she looked around at the other nineteen girls who were in various stages of REM, she reached to her right side, pushing the lever forward that engaged the motor that would raise her bed into its chair position from it's current sleeping position. It only took a moment until she was sitting up enough to extend her small table out and pull her computer screen into reach. She left the blankets over her legs to keep the cool air from her skin as she turned the computer on and typed in her screen name and password.
O-T-I-S-O-N. She smiled at the name. At least she had a last name, even if she didn't have the mother or father to go with it.
H-O-M-E. She smiled again. It wasn't the most creative of her passwords, but considering it would change in another few days, she considered it as her favorite password so far.
"Odette!" Martine, one of the green uniformed girl's across from her, yelled out in her sleep. Martine Lesueur was one thousand eight hundred ninety three days old. She wasn't the youngest child at the Institute by far, but she was a new transfer leaving her as the youngest girl in the Fifth Division, Charlie Company, Second Squadron. Her age would have put her at a disadvantage in any squadron, but it was especially hard since most of Second Squadron were older. The First Squadron were squad were more her age, but there hadn't been any room on that squad just yet for her.
"Martine," she said in a soothing voice as she quickly pushed her blanket out of the way. She stepped out of bed, feet covered with long white socks, into a red one-piece garment with full-length sleeves and legs like a jumpsuit. She hurried across the walkway to her young friend and held the girl in her arms as she cried.
Unlike herself Odette knew that Martine was an orphan. The Melges Institute for Children took in children who were parentless for one reason or another. Some were true orphans like Martine and some weren't, like Odette, who's parents left her in the institution all those days ago knowing that where they were going she couldn't go too. It had been a bad time on Dantidra and it was a common background for a student there to have.
"Did you have a nightmare?" Odette asked as she rocked the little girl and tried to sooth her crying. If she didn't get her to be quiet she was going to wake the others and that never was a good thing.
"Tell me the story again," Martine pleaded against her chest.
"Tell you the one about my parents?" Odette asked.
"Shut it," Ingrid Monet said from two cubicles away.
Odette couldn't see Ingrid's face due to the partitions that afforded each student a little bit of privacy, but she knew by just the voice who and where the voice had come from. She could even imagine the angry and mean look on the girl's face. It wasn't hard to since Ingrid Monet seemed to be the most unhappy girl in their company and liked to let everyone know it.
"Or I'll throw her out the trash tube."
Hearing this threat, to be jettisoned out into space with the trash, Martine squealed and hugged Odette harder.
"You leave Martine alone," Odette said pushing away from the small girl and standing up so that Ingrid Monet could see her face.
"Fine go ahead and lie to the little whiner." Ingrid moved her mouth in a mocking way. "You're not an orphan and your parents are going to sweep in here and save you."
"They will," she said defiantly.
"You're an orphan like all of us Odette Tison." Ingrid threw up a middle finger at her squadron mate. "Get used to it."
"She is not," Martine said standing on her own bed in protest. "Odette has a momma and a daddy and they are going to come and get her."
"No they won't," Ingrid said, "She's got thirty days before...