Hope and more fear Edit
Other Centaurians weren’t surprised to see Purple wearing servile robes, they just assumed Purple was a slave about his master’s business but Purple sensed there could be trouble ahead. With his tentacles held apprehensively Purple approached a crew member and asked to see some Centaurian in charge. The sailor escorted Purple to a supervisor where Purple asked very deferentially if he could work his passage, (that means he hoped he could work instead of paying a fair) and explained that he was a trained engineer.
“I have two friends travelling with and respectfully I hope I can pay for them as well with my work.” Purple added, he didn’t realize Brownie could easily have paid for them all.
“Can you prove that you are an engineer?” the overseer asked suspiciously.
Purple realized he couldn’t prove anything as his master had kept all records Purple was given when he completed a course. The super fast submarine he had at the start of the journey would have easily taken the fugitives across any navigable ocean to wherever they wanted to go. As it was trying to go further with the old junk pile the tramp had brought was out of the question. Purple couldn’t pay his fair, his servile robes identified him, he wondered what would happen if he couldn’t work his passage. Would the three sort things out before the slave catchers got to them? The overseer didn’t want to waste company resources on some Centaurian who only pretended to be qualified but he knew the company considered former slaves, especially qualified former slaves good workers. Slaves were used to obedience, used to hard work and used to having little. What was company policy? The overseer checked on a nearby computer terminal and fortune was with them.
Purple came back and told the other two excitedly the captain would let him work his passage as an engineer so he wouldn’t have to pay.
“What’s the fuss?” the old tramp asked him, “They always take advantage of us poor homeless unemployed folk, they’ll make you work till your tentacles are ready to fall off and give you hardly anything for your work. You won’t like it, I warn you.”
“This is the first time in my life that I am choosing where I work and what I do.” Purple replied, his tentacles still rippled with the thrill. Young Blue Tentacles found his body changing colour. He was iridescent blue when he thought about freedom and about good things ahead in the muddy place the three hoped to reach but at other times his tentacles were close to slate grey as he thought about his mother, his Aunt Violet and other thing he valued that he was losing.
Very soon an engineer came for Purple and showed him the way to the section where the engines were. Then he opened a storage room where standard robes worn by lowest ranking sailors at the Galaxy Shipping Company were stored and gave Purple a set to wear.
“You’ll want to get out of those servile robes as soon as possible.”
“Most certainly!” Purple’s tentacles relaxed and sparkled with gratitude. Purple didn’t appreciate being identified as a slave and the Galaxy Shipping Company didn’t like it being too obvious they were helping a fugitive slave either.
They lead Purple to the main bridge where the ship was guided and asked to see what he could do with the engines. Few onboard paid much attention to a Centaurian in the robes of the lowest ranking inexperienced novice sailor but on the way Purple glanced at his reflection in a highly polished wall and for the first time in his life saw himself wearing the robes of a free Centaurian. The crew member with him noticed how thrilled Purple was and started speaking.
“If you work well we’ll give you ordinary free Centaurian robes to take with you before you leave. “he told Purple.
“I thank you most excellently!” Purple’s gratitude was totally intense.
“If you’re as good as you claim we’ll let the three of you sail to that luxury muddy lagoon you all want to reach.” the sailor wagged a tentacle as a warning while he said that “If you’re not really an engineer the three of you will be cleaning the decks till the captain is satisfied you’ve done enough to pay for your passage.”
Once on the bridge Purple ran his tentacles through some of the engines and tried to remember what he’d learnt about bigger ship engines on his various courses. Perplexingly most of Purple’s training was with land vehicles, small boats and the like though Purple was really focused on doing the best job he could.
Cleaning decks is degrading for Terrans but Centaurians simply can’t stand up with a long handled broom or a mop the way humans can. Soft bodied Centaurians have to stay low down near whatever dirty surface they are cleaning working with something like a sponge or other short tool. Even qualified slaves are sometimes given undignified work so Purple was used to it but he worried about young Patrician Blue Tentacles who had not experienced that degradation yet. Blue Tentacles had become inured to very much that was degrading and would have to get used any number of deprivations now that he was a homeless Centaurian. Still Purple hoped Blue Tentacles wouldn’t have to get familiar with too much at one go. What new Plebeian deprivations were waiting for young Blue Tentacles? How far would he need to learn endurance?
Can you imagine what it’s like to be dying in some dirty place with cockroaches biting you while you are still alive? I can’t though Scientologists let Lisa McPherson die that way and sadly that wasn't fiction. If you’ve the stomach for them here’s the Autopsy photos. Here's a further account of what happened,Death in slow motion: Part 2 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology
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