Warnings: Language, discussion of racism, most likely (non-explicit) violence, and one SI character who, according to my English teacher, is perfectly fine, thank you very much.

Disclaimer: Any recognizable characters, themes, etc. are property of Paramount/Viacom. Other characters and the plot/themes of this story are mine.

A/N: I'm very proud of this piece, and I've been working on it for quite a while. I hope you all have as much fun reading it as I did writing it! Please leave some comments and/or constructive criticism. I'll update as often as I can. ENJOY!

Chapter One

As I awaken to the scratchy canvas of my mattress, I realize I was only dreaming. Still, I was here. Still, I was alone. Even though my five-year-old sister, Shoshana is asleep in the bunk below me, I feel alone.

Carefully, I climb to the floor, slide on my nightshoes and walk towards the window. I stop about half a meter from the sill and pull up the floorboard. Ten years ago, I built a safe here. You see, I need a place to keep my special things. I reach into the safe and pull out my slightly worn copy of 'Universe'. It's real paper, too. Not digital. It is my favorite book of spatial phenomena, and it was my mother's copy. If you look carefully, you can still see B. Torres written in blue ink and M. Paris-Torres in black underneath.

I want to find her. Or my father, assuming they're still alive of course. But how would I know? I look at Shoshana. She's not even my real sister. I met her four years ago, when she came here to the orphanage. Lady Chesterfield's Home for Female Orphans to be exact. I, personally think that's the stupidest name in the galaxy, but Lady Chesterfield seems to like it. I've been here eleven long, boring years. I'm fifteen now, so you can do the math.

There's not much I remember about my parents, or life before here in general. I have these really vivid dreams, so sometimes it's hard to tell if something is really a memory or just a dream. All I have is the name in the front of Universe, and I remember one other name, a place name, I think: Utopia Planetia. What or where that is, I have no idea. But it seems right.

I set Universe carefully on the floor beside the window. I return to the safe, and withdraw an ancient tool called a 'screwdriver'. (Doesn't that sound lovely?) I use it to pry off the glass from the long, narrow window. I return to the safe one last time to gather a long, frayed rope. (I found it lying around the kitchen a few years back so, naturally, I jacked it.) I throw the rope out the window and tie the other end to the empty curtain rod above me. After a few tugs to check the security of my knot, I grab Universe and slide out the window, to begin my forty foot decent.

When my left foot touches the ground, I am relieved. Ye Olde Crappy Rope has survived yet another climb. I walk until I reach a large maple tree. It is old and gnarled, but there is room enough between the roots for a hole. A small hole, just big enough for a candle and a couple of matches. (Also ancient devices used for starting fire, stolen as well.) I swipe the match against the rough bark of the tree once, twice, on the third try, fire jumps on to the phosphorus sesquisulphide tip and I touch it to the black wick of my candle. The light isn't much, but it's enough to read by.