Fic: Redemption Song (Gaila - gen)

Title: Redemption Song
Author: igrockspock
Characters/Pairings: Gaila (gen)
Rating: R
Warnings: brief mentions of sexual abuse
Summary: No one is going to rescue Gaila. Except maybe herself.

At 8, Gaila is sold to the highest bidder and shipped to a pleasure station on the Beta Quadrant. The woman who birthed her does not say goodbye. Children are for making money, not for loving.

She serves so many men on the transport that she cannot remember their faces or the acts she performs with -- no, for -- them.

On the pleasure station, her chambers are luxurious -- windows draped with the finest Cardassian damask, sheets spun of purest silk, a wardrobe bursting with diaphanous robes made from cloth that whispers against her skin.

Early in the morning, when the pleasuring is over, she sits in a circle with the older girls, who give her gifts and stroke her hair.

"You'll grow to love it here," they tell her. "Every man in the galaxy wants us, and some of the women too! That's power, to have something that everyone wants."

They're wrong though. Freedom belongs to people who can say yes and no.

The truth is, she likes sex. She savors all the ways she can stroke a body, how many sensations she can evoke just with her tongue, the sheer variety of beings she can fornicate with. Madame and the older girls are right: she is made for this. She needs it like she needs food and air and light.

But she doesn't have food, or air, or light. The men bring her sweets to round out her ass and plump up her breasts, but her soul is starving. She cannot breathe: sometimes, her next client arrives when she is still panting from her last, and even on the days when she has "free" time, she can only oil her hair and rub her skin with creams to make it softer. She is reduced, pared down: a body with no mind. Worse, a body whose mind can be used only in service of others.

The only ray of light in her world are the men from the Federation. They are a flickering, uncertain light, equally likely to burn her skin as to illuminate it. Some of them are traders, coming to her after months alone. Their hands are rough, and they thrust into her so hard they make her bleed. Others are Starfleet officers, fresh faced cadets sneaking away on shore leave. These are the men she lives for. She seduces them, begs them to stay longer, flattering them with her thirst for their stories. They tell her of a world where everyone is free, where women can have sex and get an education. She'll go there one day, she tells them.

When they are gone, she stares out at the stars, making promises to herself: She will go to the Federation one day, and she will be a woman who chooses who she fucks. She'll make them serve her. Willingly.

And one day -- she speaks this only to herself, only rarely -- she will be more than sex. Her mind will be worth as much as her body.

She knows some of the other girls are as unhappy as she is. She sees it in their dull, flat eyes that prefer to see nothing. They let their hair grow lank and greasy, do the motions of their job without pleasing the men. After a few years, Madame will give up and find other jobs for them. They will bathe the men's feet, scrub their toilets, mop cum off the floors. And they'll think they're free.

Gaila adds another vow to her list: one day, she will help people see what freedom really means.

She used to dream that one of the baby-faced Starfleet ensigns would buy her out of her slavery, take her home with him, and set her free. That was before she found out it was illegal for them to be there. They will make sad faces and slip her a tacky souvenir ring or a few extra credits, but they will not help her. Now she hates them a little too, these men who come here singing about freedom and exploiting her slavery.

Now she knows there's no God, no angels, maybe not even people who believe in what they stand for. No matter. She'll be her own God. Goddess, actually. Her people have one thing right: women rule.

One night, six drunken Tellarites invade her chambers. She hates everything about them -- their piggy grunts, their assumption that she will please all of them at once, the way they force her to suck one while another fucks her in the ass and another fingers her cunt. When they are done, they drape gold necklaces around her neck and press platinum rings onto her fingers. Their touch makes her skin crawl, but she takes what they give her. It will be her ticket to freedom.

Or so she thinks. When they are gone, she rigs her garbage incinerator to overheat and places the jewelery inside, hoping it will come out smooth and flat, impossible to trace and easy to hide. Instead, the heat sets off the fire suppression system, and Madame knows exactly what she was planning as soon as she removes the necklaces fully intact from the bin.

"Silly girl," she cackles. "You'll never get that hot enough to melt platinum!"

Madame doesn't believe she'll try to escape again; none of the girls here have tried it even once, and anyway, girls who escape never make it very far. There is no punishment but the knowledge of her failure.

Gaila knows she has a choice: she can hope, or she can die. She's not ready to die, so she keeps hoping.

Finally, when she learns how to control her pheromones, she sees another escape: the men. She makes them want to please her, makes sure they never demand more than she wants to give. Most important, she makes sure they come back. With gifts. What she is doing to them is no better than the slavery they inflict on her, but she piles the bracelets and necklaces and rings in hidden corners of her room anyway, trusting that one day she'll know what do with them.

When the Cardassian sets up shop in a lonely corridor of the station, she sees her chance. This time, she brings the jewelery to him, asking -- begging -- him to melt it into thin strips she can tape to the bottom of her bed and conceal within decks of playing cards. It's slow going. He sees how desperate she is and takes half of what she brings, along with whatever sexual favors he desires. But her hiding places are flawless, and no one suspects what she is doing. When the time comes, she will be ready.

Late one night, the corridors are flooded with more Starfleet members than she has ever seen. At first, she thinks that salvation came from on high after all: she is being rescued. Then she learns the truth, that the helmsman of a starship has nudged the vessel just within transporter range of the station without the captain noticing. Nobody's rescuing her, but maybe she can rescue herself.

She rushes back to her chambers and pries strips of metal from between floorboards and playing cards and the undersides of all her furniture. When she is done, her fingernails are bloody and she clatters when she walks. How long? she wonders. How long before the captain notices their coordinates, realizes so much of his off-shift crew has sneaked away? How long before her chance evaporates? She is running now, not caring about being seen. Without even thinking, she knees a red uniformed man in the groin and swipes the phaser from his belt. Her body shakes harder with every step toward the transporter room. Just before she walks in, she nudges the phaser from stun to kill.

She whispers to the transporter tech even though there's no one to hear her. "Sound the alarm, and I shoot," she hisses. "Beam me to the starship and half of this is yours." He nods his assent and she flings half of her metal chips across the control panel to him.

Seconds later, she materializes on the bridge of the starship, surrounded by drawn phasers and warnings to raise her hands and surrender. Instead, she strides to the captain and says the words she's dreamed for years: "I claim my right to asylum and freedom."

Five years later, she is at Starfleet Academy, making good on all her promises. Every night she studies (or goes out drinking), every class she attends (or skips), every cadet she lies under (or on top of), her litany is the same: I choose. I choose.
Um. Whoa. This is so powerful and moving and incredible. Words can't describe it. Beautiful!
Beautiful. But heartbreaking. I like that you didn't make the Federation all lightness and sunshine. Seems more real this way. I also love that she freed herself. That takes strength.

Thank you. I'm glad you appreciated both the realism of the story and Gaila's strength. Those were both very important to me.
I'm glad you enjoyed it enough to save it. As soon as I read that the writers intended for her to be an escaped slave girl, I knew I wanted to write her story.
Wonderful. I've been wanting fic like this ever since I heard about Gaila being an escaped slave, and this is spot-on. (I still hope that she was assigned to the Enterprise and we'll get to see more of her.)
Thanks! I've been wanting to write this story since I read that she had escaped. And yes, I hope she gets assigned to the Enterprise as well. Her character is too good to waste!
Yes, oh YES! *This* is how I see it could have happened. Gaila being strong and making her own choices - her own freedom.

Thank you for crafting this and sharing.
Thanks. I really wanted to show Gaila as someone who rescued herself instead of being rescued by someone else. I'm glad that it worked.