Challenge #02588-G031: Find-a-Family

He had stolen a lot of items before he was caught. He wasn't a pirate, he didn't go raiding ships, but they treated him nearly as badly as if he had been one. He would sneak aboard stations with lax standards, swipe small but expensive items from cargo holds that were in the process of loading, and escape. Problem is, all thieves get caught sooner or later. And a teenager like him, homeless and no longer caring, didn't normally have a future in this galaxy anyhow. At least that's how he viewed it.

He was young, not unintelligent, and he wasn't crazy, he'd just given up living any other way. He was a perfect candidate for their new trial prison. Bought into a building with no bars on the windows, no locked doors, he was stripped down, made to thoroughly wash, then dressed in what appeared to be very comfortable pajamas. He was laid in a pod bed with a hood of electronics that slipped over his head covering his eyes and ears. He felt the slight sting of a shot in his arm and then.. when his eyes opened again, he realized he was a small child again, but in a home. A home that loved him, something he'd never experienced before. This was the experimental Virtual Prison. While the prisoners slept, the special pod keeping their bodies healthy and clean, the virtual helmet with its careful programming, gave the prisoners at rehabilitating into a new life. This was a new, humane, place with no violence, no cruelty, and the condensed virtual program meant the prison terms, which often in normal prisons could last decades, needn't last more than a single year. -- Anon Guest

He was thirteen, borderline starving, and unhealthy for certain. Filthy, wearing clothing that fit only on a technicality. Rags protected his feet from anything too sharp or too cold, though a solid layer of horn-hard epidermis grown in defense of the world helped with that. His eyes darted back and forth as he tested the chains and their hold on him. The cold metal desk he was chained to was bolted to the floor, and so was the slotted chair he crouched in. Anyone looking at him could see that he was a lost cause.

The Human who entered was clothed in Public Services grey, striped with Security Purple and had highlights of Maintenance Orange. Their identity patch had the Multilingual White boundary. This, the child could read. The letters on it meant nothing to him, they were just... shapes. This, to the boy, meant A Person Who Must Be Avoided. A Hazard. He flinched and failed to escape. The chains held him fast.

"You speaking GalSimple?" cooed the Hazard. They had a small object in one hand. Round, golden brown, and smelling fresher than anything he'd grubbed out of a refuse receptacle. He watched in terror as the Hazard carefully placed it on the table within his easy reach. "You having name?" The Hazard retreated, putting their hands up and away from their body. "Is good. Is food. Is good food. Nom nom?"

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