Lyria pounded her head against the cold white brick of her prison cell wall.
"Stupid. Stupid. Stupid," she whispered.
Five days had passed since Lyria landed her ship on Teron, a junker planet where ships and droids go to die. It's also a good place to scavenge parts for rubbish space crafts. The price is usually right unless one "accidentally" lifts a part. Which is the very reason Lyria ended up in Teron Block 9, a prison for thieves and looters. On Teron, broken machinery—down to the nuts and bolts—is currency, and living beings are nothing more than slaves. That's why murderers get off with a firm warning, but pocket so much as a screw off a rusty piece of trash, and the price is a swift-kick into The Death Pit.
"Bet you're wishing you stayed home with your mum-mum and dad-dad now, eh, girl?" A bore-like scoundrel, crouching in the corner opposite of her, exposed his tusks and snorted through his pig snout. He had overheard her desperately re-tell her story to the magistrate. Since then, his final mission was to pressure her to crack. She turned her head and closed her eyes; the scrofa species tend to get nippy with too much eye contact.
Now, in the last minutes of her life, she worried about the argument that erupted between her and her dad the night before she stole his ship and warped into the next galaxy.
"You will not marry that mixed-mutt alien and that's final!" he yelled.
After she snuck out, she had planned to send her dad a hologram from Zane's planet. It would break him to think she permanently disowned him—left him—for a boy.
Metal clanked on metal as the guard ran the barrel of his blaster against the bars. He dangled his giant key ring at her and grinned. If she didn't know any better, she might have confused him for an anthropoid with his hairy face and opposable thumbs, but his shiny copper eyes and jerky movements gave away the machine hidden beneath his skinsuit.
"It's your lucky day," he rasped.
Lyria kept her stone stare.
"You get to take a walk." He opened the cell. "Right to The Pit! Ahahaha!" he bellowed. Her cellmate roared. She rolled her eyes, as it was only the fifth time they'd heard it that day.
Her tough mask quickly dissolved as the cyborg cuffed and shackled her, then shoved her out into the cage-lined hallway. Prisoners reached for her and yelled blood-thirsty obscenities. For fun the guard pressed her against the tiny barred window of solitary to let the inmate pull her hair and bite at her face.
As she struggled and kicked she heard something screech above her, followed by a loud thunk behind the guard. He released his grip and turned. A tile in the ceiling was missing, but the guard didn't see it. Instead, he punched Lyria in the back to move her along. He dug his nails into the base of her skull and thrusted her forward. She shivered with each step closer to the pit and prayed for a way out. All at once Lyria felt the guard release his grip, and with a crash, he flew against the wall.
A cloaked man stood, holding a rusted piece of pipe over his head. The glowing prosthetic eye glaring from under his hood gave him away.
"Lyria!" He threw his weapon at the guard's head, causing a gash which revealed its robot skeleton. He removed the keys from the guard's belt and fumbled to unlock Lyria's restraints. "You're lucky you forgot to disable the transmitter on MY SHIP!" he growled.
Lyria gritted her teeth. Oh yeah, the transmitter, she thought. But this time, she was glad he could track her.
A lazy guard who had been watching the door finally realized the commotion and ran toward them. Lyria's dad grabbed her by the waist and hoisted her through the hole in the ceiling. With a fluid jump, he followed behind.
Her dad's rescue mission ended with blasting a few drone ships and jumping into hyper, all the while maintaining a seething silent treatment.
He jammed his finger stub into autopilot, threw the milk-chocolate Venus Bar he was about to bite into at the dash and walked away.
He stopped and turned. "THANKS... DAD?"
She crossed her arms and kicked her feet up over the control panel.
"You sneak out in the middle of the night and steal my favorite Solum so you can follow your boyfriend? You're still in S.T.A.R School. He's enlisted in the Universal Fleet. What the HELL were you thinking? And how did you end up on Teron!" he growled.
She stood and clenched her fists. "Your ship had a shoddy transmission!"
He grimaced. "It's a classic."
She would do anything to get off their moon and away from him, and she couldn't understand why he cared, because he hadn't. At least, not since they lost her mom in the accident. She didn't want to hurt him, but she didn't know how else to get him to let her go.
"I was trying to fix it. And maybe I don't want to do S.T.A.R School anymore. Maybe I'll enlist."
The veins in his neck pulsated. "You're grounded!"
It only took a couple days for Lyria and Balastor to fall back into their routine: cold breakfast at the table while he reads "The Post," and she stares at news feature about the war and ongoing peace efforts in the Andromeda Galaxy. Followed by a 12 hour work shift for him and school over the Universal Net her. After her chores, their house droid usually made dinner, which Lyria ate by herself in her room. By the time Balastor got home, she would turn out her light and pretend to be asleep until she was sure he was in bed. It didn't even matter that he grounded her. There was no one to go see and nothing to do.
"Your dad's right, Lyria. You can't enlist." Zane's black eyes and purple skin glowed brightly over the hologram. He ran his hands through his silver hair.
"Why? Because I'm a girl?"
"No. Because you almost just got yourself killed and your dad had to save your butt. You're not ready." He smiled, but she didn't think it was cute. "Look Lyria, had your dad not tracked you, and he wasn't part cyborg..."
Even though she had to nurse her dad back to health for six months after the accident, she was grateful for his bionic knee replacements. But she almost couldn't bear Zane agreeing with him.
"All I'm saying is you almost died. You're not ready."
"Ahem," her dad interrupted.
Zane darted his eyes to her father.
"Bye," she mumbled.
"Bye, I lo-"
She turned off the e-hollo and faced her dad.
"So he agrees with me? Huh?"
She studied him and tried to remember the last time he stepped foot into her room. She never did learn how to read him after he lost his eye. He sat down on the end of her bed and sighed.
Balastor sat on the edge of Lyria's bed, trying to remember the last time he had been in there. He picked at his grimy fingernails while he ran through what he had rehearsed in his head. Listen, I didn't know what to do with you after the accident—after mom died. I think I've made some mistakes. You're growing up and if you want to date another species, that's your decision. But it's not safe for you to fly halfway around the galaxy by yourself to see him. I'll take you to his induction ceremony.
He jumped up and cleared his throat. With his back turned to her, he mumbled, "What you did was stupid and irresponsible. I'll take you to see Zane."
"Um. Thanks?" she replied as he left her room.
He softly closed her door and paused. He could hear Lyria dialing Zane on the e-hollo. Their excited chatter rang through the hallway. He removed a folded brochure out of his pocket. It read: "S.T.A.R Reform for Girls." A picture of his deceased wife, which sat on a small table, smiled at him. He knew she would never approve of tricking his daughter into reform school, but he didn't know how else to keep her safe.
He exhaled. "She'll be better for it."
YOU ARE READING
Teron Block 9Science Fiction
Lyria pounded her head against the cold white brick of her prison cell wall. "Stupid. Stupid. Stupid," she whispered. Five days had passed since Lyria landed her ship on Teron, a junker planet where ships and droids go to die. It's also a good place...