Oliris 2018(7)

By: S Neff

Two large officers approached me, their faces stoic. Looking over my shoulder, I saw the green head of hair standing out in the back row. Rhyan sat with his arms crossed over his broad chest, no longer the skinny fifteen-year-old boy. Only slightly smaller than myself, he was intimidating with his bruised face. His expression was pinched, his jaw clenching and unclenching with every second. Watching my lover and knowing that I wouldn’t see him for four years almost broke me. We hadn’t been apart for more than a few weeks since we were fifteen and in juvie.

Before the guards could restrain my hands, I brought it up to my right pectoral and laid it over the tattoo under my shirt for his benefit. I knew he would understand the gesture. With a shake of his head, he got up and left the courtroom, the doors swinging shut with a loud finality.

Rhyan was gone.

The guards jerked at my wrists and cuffed them behind my back. Somehow, I had lost my best friend, my lover, and my home. I peered up at Robert, and he was looking at me with blatant anguish. The guards pulled at me and I growled, resisting their pull. Almost to the door, I heard his question:

“Sena, be safe?” Robert’s face was taut. I couldn’t help feel a flicker of guilt; I could only imagine what this was doing to him. I knew he loved me as much as a father should, and yet there he was, left with the horrible job of sending me to enslavement when my real father wasn’t even here to witness it.

“See you in four years,” I said as I was taken out of the courtroom.

Chapter 1—Indiku


Three years later

Bright—so bright my eyes stung as I looked up at the sky. My skin warmed under the double suns’ rays, sweat rolling down into my clothes, making them stick to my hot flesh. Of the two rotating stars, Oliris was by far the biggest, attempting to burn my body for a majority of sixteen hours. Indiku wasn’t like Earth. Its sun, Oliris, rises first from the west, then Bizi—a younger star that was far from the size and power of its brother—joins it in the sky. They then heat the planet together for a five-hour period, the combined efforts of the two stars keeping the massive planet warm.

In the three years I had been here, I’d come to enjoy this planet. Its extremes were a lot like my personality, which was comforting—in a strange way. It didn’t matter that my hands had been bloodied countless times while working in the flower fields. I had found a little peace on this planet; with the same routine every day, I lost myself in the mundane lifestyle. I harvested the healing flowers with the other inmates and kept my head down.

I ran my sweat-drenched hand over the white petals of the nearest flower, the strange petal absorbing the liquid. The leeri flowers towered three and four feet high, with thick green stalks that were at least comparable to a soda can in girth. The petals of each flower matched the size of my head and at times had been larger. They were the most precious item on this planet and the sole reason every prisoner was here. I swiped my hand over my forehead and into my black hair, pushing the sweat back into my hairline. There was too much damn sun on this planet.

“Rays!” The deep, inhuman rumble of the Indiku native made me look up. His face was gray, covered in skin similar to what Earth’s elephants looked like. A toothy grin was plastered on his rough visage, his bald head and large pointed ears all adding to a monstrous effect. He pointed to the northern mountains. Following his direction, I looked into the distance. Above the large, snow-peaked mountains, a massive beast circled. Its wings were splayed wide, and it arched and twirled in powerful swoops. Flames burst from its maw, and it danced in the sky, flying through its rain of fire.

I watched, entranced by the amazing display. The natives called them zanzi. To a human, it was like seeing a dragon emerge from old Earth myths. They didn’t come out often—keeping to the far side of the planet, away from civilization—but every so often, they would play above the mountains like they were doing in that moment, arcing over the mountain tops to swirl in the sky while breathing fire. Every time I saw them, my heart would race, and my eyes would track the amazing sight across the sky until I couldn’t see them anymore.