Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!
Sand blew across the small desert town, scratching against my skin like tiny claws. I pushed the kerchief higher around my chin, then used the mallet to secure the last tent stake. I grinned as I stared at the large white and red tent, Father’s name in swooping black letters. Rudy Riser’s Robotic Circus.
His robots were the most revered in the country. People even came from Mars and the space stations to watch his show. Robots, humans, animals, all interacting under one roof. It hardly seemed possible, especially after the Dark War when machines and animals took over. Father had managed to cut a deal with Prez, the top bot in the states. He’d run the circus and continue to create new weapons for Prez, as long as we could be free to travel the systems.
Prez agreed, and so I was marked as one of his. Most humans hated us, the robots thought we got special treatment, and the animals, well they didn’t care much either way, as long as someone fed them.
The low drone of Bray’s travel ship made me turn. I held a hand up to block the sun from my eyes and smiled. His dark hair curled at the nape of his neck, his mocha colored eyes fixed on me. He climbed from the land ship, his tall frame moved toward me.
“Kaye, your dad said to take you out for a bit. Get you something to eat.”
His hand caught mine, and he dragged me away from the tent. I saw the electric whip, fastened at his belt, the armored gauntlets attached to his billowy shirt. Bray was our lion tamer. He trained both the live ones, and the robotic ones. It was hard to believe he was only eighteen, a year older than me.
“What’s the occasion? Dad never lets us have time off.” I untied the bandana from around my face, and used it to wipe my forehead. Already, strands of blonde hair clung to my sweaty skin.
Bray didn’t answer right away. Instead, he climbed behind the wheel of the ship and waited for me to do the same. As soon as I was seated, he placed his palm against the dash and the computer registered his prints. Like a flash of lightning, we were flying.
“Prez stopped by. He didn’t look too happy,” Bray said at last.
Goosebumps dappled my skin, and I turned to him. Oh God. What had Father done? My grip tightened on the edge of the seat. “What’s going on?”
We passed two large RAM (Robot Army Men) platoons marching toward our tents.
“Don’t look back, Kaye.” He reached for my hand, his fingers entwining mine. “Rudy said to take you to Hank.”
Boom! From behind us, I heard the sound of explosives. Then screams. All the animals and robots and humans. Then silence enfolded the desert surroundings.
Tears streamed down my cheeks, and I scooted closer to Bray, burying my head against his shoulder.
“What did he do?” I demanded through choking sobs.
Bray pulled back on the steering wheel, lifting us higher into the sky. He released my hand, pushing a button to close the top of our ship. Oxygen blasted through the vents, and I fastened my seatbelt, as Bray triggered the warp-speed.
A small computer slid from the console. He typed in our coordinates, then switched to auto-pilot.
“Bray?” I said again, tears burning my eyes.
“Your father started a rebellion, Kaye,” he said. “The people, robots, and animals didn’t just work for the circus—they were soldiers. They planned an uprising against Prez.”
I swallowed hard. This couldn’t be true. Father wouldn’t have risked his life like that. Then I remembered the meetings, I wasn’t allowed to attend. The mail and disks I had to deliver on his behalf. Oh God. It was true.
“And you? You were a part of it?”
He touched my cheek, his fingers gliding over my skin. “Yes. I wanted a better future Kaye—a future where I wasn’t a prisoner of the robots. A chance to have a life with you,” he whispered.
“Now, we have nothing! Father’s dead. The others are dead,” I cried.
“Your father gave me money to take care of you. When we get to Hank’s, he’ll hide us and I’ll get messages to our contacts and let them know there’s been a change of plan. That I’m taking over the rebellion.”
Bray’s eyes begged me to believe him. And I wanted to. I’d been in love with him since I was eleven—after Father had first brought him on board to help. But I’d seen what’d happened to the others. Besides, how was Hank going to protect us? He was just a robot. A retired cowboy robot.
I closed my eyes. Bray was all I had left. My stomach knotted as I thought about Father, and his workers. They deserved to be remembered. They deserved to be avenged.
“Promise me, we won’t stop fighting until Prez is gone,” I said at last.
Bray leaned closer, his lips brushed mine. “You have my word.”
Our ship landed later that night, at an abandoned space ranch. Bray led me toward a cave like room, an old barrel sitting by the entrance.
“That you Bray?” A robotic cowboy head poked up from inside it.
“We’re here Hank,” he said.
“The others are gathered inside,” Hank said. Then his gears shifted and he glanced at me. If robots could cry, I knew he would. “I’m sorry about Rudy.”
I patted his metal armature. “Thank you.”
“I’ll take care of you, Kaye.” His gloved hand brushed mine, then he disappeared back into the barrel.
There was no telling what my future would harbor, but I knew the rebellion had just begun. Prez might’ve stopped my father, but his plans lived on—through us.