Chapter One

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"You betta get your ass movin', or the trash bots will cut your rations."

The gruff warning from the tall, beast of a woman behind Lucy wasn't meant to be helpful. She was simply hungry and wanted the tiny redhead in her way at the food line to move along. The woman didn't know what would motivate Lucy to cooperate, either, but meal rations were generally a good place to start. Lucy responded to her implied demand with an apologetic expression and took off towards the cyborg at the cafeteria's dining entrance for protocol validation.

She proceeded through the checkpoint per the usual daily procedure, but this time she was met with an alarm that brought the entire hall's attention square on her. "Violation! Violation!" metallic bot voices blared out in chorus. Her face turned a deep shade of pink, nearly matching the color of her nails which had triggered the commotion. She stood frozen, embarrassed, and unsure of what to do next.

"Here," the husky voice from the woman she'd been in line with before grunted, handing her a wet napkin. "Clean 'em off with that and they'll shut up," she ordered, indicating Lucy's polished nails. After obeying, the cyborgs went silent and allowed her to pass to the dining tables.

"Thanks!" she called after the woman as she went another direction to the gang of females she usually dined with. The woman didn't respond, leaving Lucy to wonder whether she didn't hear her or was ignoring her.

She glanced up quickly at the sign above the entrance, reminding herself that she was really at that dreaded place and not stuck in a nightmare where she slowly lost all ability to cope. It read, "Center for Female Youth and Adult Reformation Detention". The other girls called it the "Yard", and she'd followed suit doing the same, figuring that whatever she'd done to have been sent there, it must have been on a similar scale to everyone else. Thus, she should behave like them.

Lucy thought she'd only been residing at the Yard for a short while, but time had become impossible to track as her memory faded, the last sequence of events recalled being located at a party the night of her college graduation. What a night it must have been, considering that whatever she'd done landed her in her current circumstances. It must not have been terrible, however, if she'd qualified for reform treatment over permanent sentencing.

After a moment of further consideration and dismissal, she continued to her usual solitary spot near the janitorial room door. It seemed like an undesirable place to eat until one realized there was a window just inside the room that was visible every time the cleaning bots rolled in and out of it.

The momentary glimpses of Titan's hazy golden sky were a welcome contrast to the halls upon halls of metallic, tubular structures that made up the compound. As she arranged herself at her chosen spot, laying out her dining utensils in meticulous order, she heard the familiar clanging sound of the multiple bots that surrounded her daily take their positions in her vicinity. Like everything else at the Yard, they were constructed of recycled parts from various junk centers in the solar system, making her life there feel loud, smothered, and alone.  

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