Part Two

Chantel watched her sister from across the dinner table, and she knew instantly that something good was going on with her, though she couldn't imagine what. There weren't any guys here, except for the overseers and they were as old as water. Chantel wondered if Aimee met one of the tanks, after all, they were her age, eighteen, and Chantel heard they were perfect specimens so they'd have to be good looking. If Aimee found herself a tank then good for her, there wasn't anything wrong with them anyway, just that their navels were in a different place, that's why Mama said it was wrong to make slaves out of them and Mama was always right.

"Father," Aimee said. "How much money do the tanks have to make to get free?"

"Depends, they keep out of trouble, not as much, they get into trouble, it's more."

"What's the average?"

Simon put down his fork and glared at Aimee. "Why? You want to buy one?"

Aimee stopped herself from blushing. "No," she said too quickly and went back to her food. Simon didn't stop stareing at her, and when Aimee looked up, she found her father's eyes probing her.

"What?" she said.

Simon studied her. "Sure hope you're not turning into a tank lover."

"I just asked a question father," Aimee said calmly.

"It's probably over a million dollars," Chantel said.

"Not that much, but almost," Simon answered and kept his eyes on Aimee during the meal.

Simon fought to stay awake that night. He sat up in bed, listening for anything unusual. Then, he thought he heard it, movment in Aimee's room. He got out of bed and started for the door, then thought again and walked to the window. Minutes later, he saw Aimee jump from her window and rush out into the night. Simon fought back the urge to follow her, to see just who she was going to meet, but he stood firm. He knew who rather what she was going to meet and it sickened him.

His daughter was no angel, but screwing a tank was another matter.

Especially screwing one here, on Omicron Draconis where *he* was boss. If those fucking overseers found out, he'd be the laughing stock of the entire colony.

Damn Aimee, she was just like her mother, strong willed, disrespectful.

Simon didn't even notice that his hands had balled themselves into fists.

The next night, as Aimee made her way down the hall, at the usual time, she stopped in her tracks. Simon Robinson stood in front of her, there was something in his hand, but she couldn't see it.

"And just where the hell do you think you're going..." he growled.

"I...I..." Aimee stammered.

"You're going to meet *him* that filthy tank!" he shouted.

Aimee thought of Tyrus, waiting for her. Her father knew, about them, he was going to kill him, and from the look in his eyes, he was going to do the same to her.

Aimee took a step backwards, but Simon was quicker and grabbed Aimee by the wrist, and dragged her into his bedroom, slamming the door behind them, she screamed. He turned on the light and saw what was in his hand, a belt. He wrapped one part of the belt around his wrist. Aimee backed into the wall.

"Who is he," he said calmly.

Aimee realized her father *didn't* know just who she was meeting. He'd probably seen her sneak out, and put it together with Aimee's question about purchasing an in-vitro's freedom.

"I...I..." she stammered.

He came closer to her, the belt loomed in his hand. "I said who is he Aimee, I know it's a tank, I want to know his name..."

Aimee remembered what those horrible overseers did to Tyrus who was so beautiful and so perfect. "Why, so you'll kill him!" she shouted.

Oh yes, thought Simon, she was just like her, just like Sonia. Simon raised the belt and brought it down hard on Aimee's arm, the first hit was always the hardest, Simon rememberd. Aimee fell to the floor, screaming. Simon hit her again, and again, all the time shouting: "WHO IS HE!"

Chantel heard them screaming when they were outside her door and jumped out of bed immediately, memory jarring her brain. For a moment, she was back on Earth, it was two years ago and Father was beating Mama, but as she looked around, she remembered where she was and knew Mama wasn't here and the screams were Aimee's. Chantel rushed out of her room and passed her father's door, where she heard both her sister's pleas for help and her father shouting for an answer. Chantel looked around, then her eyes fell on her father's office door and she knew what she had to do. She ran into the office as her sister's screams grew louder.

"Father...stop...please stop! No!!! NO!!!"

Chantel found the safe underneath her father's desk and opened it easily. She'd memorized the combinaton since Father trusted her so, to let her see him open it.

"You're my good girl," Father always said.

"Yes I am Father," Chantel said as she took out the wads of cash, stuffing them into her nightgown. She left just enough, not to make him suspicous, closed the safe and rushed back to her bedroom. She threw the money under her bed and ran back out into the hall. "Father...father!" she shouted.

Chantel reached her father's door and banged on it. "Father...father...please don't hurt Aimee," she'd almost said Mama.

"Chantel!" Aimee screamed from inside the room.

Chantel turned the knob and opened the door. Aimee lay on the floor, sobbing, bruises and welts covered her legs and arms and probably everywhere else, only her face was spared, Chantel remembered that Father never hit Mama in the face either, someone might notice. Simon Robinson sat on the bed, holding the bloody belt in his hand.

"She won't tell me who he is!" he said angrily.

Chantel rushed over to her sister and held her. "Can you walk?" she whispered.

Aimee nodded through her tears. "Come on," Chantel whispered, "he'll get drunk now, let's get out of here."

McQueen waited a half hour for Aimee, when she didn't come, he knew something was wrong. He quickly made his way to the house, and before he got within ten feet of the place, heard the screams. It was Aimee, and he recognized that type of scream. It was the kind a person made when they were being beaten, he'd heard that scream come from other's mouths, from his own. He could hear a man shouting over and over again: "Who is he!" McQueen knew the man was Aimee's father, and he was certain the *he* was himself. He stood there, not knowing what he should do, he remembered what Aimee did for him that day, but he was paralized with fear to stand up to a natural born.

So, he waited.

The sisters quietly left the room, closing the door behind them. Aimee leaned against the wall in the hallway. "I thought he was going to kill me...thank you Chantel..."

The younger sister smiled. "He used to do that to Mama, you weren't there, but I was. He thought I was too young, that I wouldn't remember, but I do. I'd always run in and stop him...then he'd get drunk..."

Aimee recovered a little bit of herself. "He'll find out, he'll beat it out of me eventually...and then...he'll kill him...I can't stay here...we can't stay here..."

"I know," Chantel smiled. She told her about the safe and what she'd done.

Aimee put her hand over her mouth. "Oh, Chantel."

"I want to go back home...I want Mama..." she cried.

"They're ships leaving every day for Earth, but they leave real early," Aimee said, "we could get on one tomorrow...before father knows we're gone...we...Tyrus...Tyrus...he's waiting for me..."

"Go find him Aimee, I'll pack your bag. We can take him with us."

Aimee smiled. "I'll be right back," she said.

McQueen was about to leave, to go back to the barracks, when he heard the figure come slowly from the house. He froze, thinking it might be Simon Robinson, but smiled when he heard Aimee's voice. They fell in each other's arms and kissed passionately. McQueen noticed Aimee's arms and legs were covered with welts, she also winced when he held her. Aimee moved away from him, he saw she was limping.

"Do I look that bad?"

McQueen stared at her. "What happened? Did your father do that?"

Aimee nodded. "That's why we have to leave. We're going back to Earth, to stay with my mother, me, Chantel...and you..."

McQueen blinked, overcome with a wellspring of emotions. "Me?"

"My mother's not prejudiced, she thinks my father's awful. He beat her, that's why they're divorced, the only reason I'm here is because some judge says me and Chantel have to come. Tyrus, you can't stay here...they'll kill you...I...I can't bear to think of"

Though the offer sounded good, McQueen knew he couldn't take it. He was under contract to stay, to work in the mines for five years, then he would be a free man. If he ran away, he'd be a fugitive, people would be looking for him and if they caught him, they'd kill him, string him up like a piece of meat, and torture him until he died; that's what happened to tanks who broke contract. It wasn't the torture that bothered him, it was the idea of breaking contract, a dishonor, no matter how unfair and cruel that contract was.

"I can't leave here Aimee...I'll never be free if I run away," was all he said.

Aimee's eyes widdened, she started to cry, but deep down, she knew he was right.

"Oh, Tyrus," was all she could say.

They kissed, pressing their bodies against each other, searching for release, knowing it would be the last time, but didn't have the time nor the energy to make love, so they held each other tightly and cried.

Finally, McQueen pushed himself away from Aimee. "You have to go," he said.

Aimee grabbed his hands. "Tyrus," she sobbed.

He kissed her hand then looked into her eyes. "When your father was beating you, was it because of me?"

Aimee didn't want him to feel guilty, but one look in his eyes told her he already knew. She nodded. "He knew I was with an in-vitro, but he wanted me to tell him who."

"And you didn't tell him...that's why he beat you?"

Again Aimee nodded.

McQueen looked down, then he looked back at Aimee, eyes confused. "How come you didn't tell him it was me?"

Aimee stared at him. "He would have killed you Tyrus."

Again he stared at her. Though he understood they were close, Aimee was a natural born, he was a tank, expendible, they could make thousands like him, at least that's what they said. Why had she put herself on the line, for him?

"I did it, because I love you Tyrus Cassius McQueen."

Tears filled his eyes as he heard the words he believed were reserved for natural borns. Aimee touched his face gently.

"You hear me, I love you Tyrus Cassius McQueen, and some day I'll see you again."

He kissed her one more time, then she was gone, McQueen stood for a while, then turned to head back to the barracks as her words permanately nestled themselves in his brain.

The End

Karen Evans 1996

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