Chapter 10
Bullying a Dragon
Earth Union Detention Barracks, Pluto, Plutonian Sphere
Date: Fri 24 Apr 123
Time: UST 0649

Once morning PT was over, the female prisoners were formed up in groups of 48 and marched to the showers. It worked like an assembly line. A group went into the first changing room to undress, then to the showers for exactly five minutes and then to the second changing room to dry off and get dressed before being marched to morning chow.
The service had a way of breaking down a lot of people's taboo on public nudity, but it never worked that way for Ally and it was even worse now that she was in prison. She was all too aware of her vulnerability as she stood there holding her crumpled-up jumpsuit in her arms, dwarfed by all convicts around her. So far, no one had made any moves against her, but she knew it was just a matter of time.
A buzzer sounded and the light above the doors turned from red to green.
Over the intercom, a guard's voice said, "Group, for-ward march!"
The doors opened and they marched into the showers. There were four rows of twelve open stalls. Once the first rank reached the end, the voice on the intercom said, "Group, halt! Files one and three, left face! Files two and four, right face! En-ter stall!"
"Enter stall" was certainly not a command you'd find in the D&C manual, but even in basic, the showering routine wasn't so tightly regimented. This was the hell Ally had to look forward to for the rest of her natural life. Of course, bad as things were, they were about to get worse.
"Mornin'," a voice said just after the first rinse from the waterjets ended.
Ally turned to see a lean-muscled woman standing right behind her, flanked by a few others. The woman's predatory grin told Ally all she needed to know. Her turn had finally come up.
"I don't think we been innerduced," the woman said. "They calls me Sassy. What's yo name, Tiny?"
It was only going to make things worth, but Ally replied in a weak voice, "Please... Just leave me alone..."
Sassy laughed at this and looked over her shoulder to her companions.
"Ya hear that, girls? Tiny here jus' wants ta be left alone."
"Aw, that ain't no way ta be," one of the others said.
"Ain't no way ta be t'all," another added.
Sassy turned her attention back to Ally and leaned into the frame of the stall, not entering it, not yet.
"Lissen here, Tiny," she said. "Ain't they tole ya how it works here? Ya see, we's all locked up in here tagether. Ain't no good bein' unfrien'ly. Ever'un needs frien's, 'specially in here. Lil' fishies come inta our pond, we lets 'em a swim a bit, see what they is. We's fair, ya see. Fishies get ta pick who they wanna b'lon' ta. If'n they don' pick, though, they's community property. Ya swim with me an' mah girls, we treats ya real nice, but if'n ya think ya kin swin alone, ya's gonna get it rough from all sides, an' that goes double fer us. Ya see, I don' take kin'ly ta folks throwin' mah offer a' frien'ship back in mah face. It's jus' plumb rude. So what's it gonna be?"
Sassy gave her a look of false pity.
"Aw, that's a real shame now. I'd've treated ya like a lady, but now you's jus' meat."
As she stepped into the stall, Ally retreated, but there were only a few senches between her and the wall. Without looking back, Sassy told her companions, "Girls, make sure we ain't innerupted. Y'all kin have ya's turn once I'm done teachin' Tiny here a thin' or two 'bout manners."
"No... Stop..."
In a sudden brutal movement, Sassy punched Ally hard in the gut, catching her before she could fall over. She then slammed Ally into the back wall.
"I don' want no lil' mousey squeaks now," she said. "I wanna hear ya scream nice an' loud. Mah hearin' ain't what it useta be, so ya's gonna hafta really belt it out."
Taking hold of Ally by the chin, Sassy tilted her head up to get a good close look at her face.
"Them's some pretty eyes, Tiny. Ya coulda been mah new fav'rit."
Ally should have been afraid. She should have been terrified. Instead, her fear melted away as her consciousness faded. It was happening again.

* * *

Date: Fri 24 Apr 123
Time: UST 1322

Ally woke up with a start, but she barely even lifted herself a centimeter off the bed. She couldn't move.
Looking down, she saw that she was in a hospital bed under restraints. As she was looking, a strap on her forehead tightened. If she was going to look around, she was going to have to keep her head still.
She was in some kind of sickbay. The walls were lined with beds with the curtains all pulled back. There was a guard at the door and a nurse making the rounds. The steady beep-beep of EKGs was the only sound until someone suddenly started screaming.
Ally squirmed around a bit, but this only caused her restraints to tighten. They wanted her to be still. They probably wanted her to be quiet too, but Ally wanted to know what was going on.
When the screaming patient finally quieted down, she tried getting the nurse's attention.
"Nurse, Nurse."
"No talking!" the guard shouted.
The nurse gave the guard a dismissive wave and walked over to Ally's bed.
"What is it, Twenty-one Eighteen?"
Ally hated being reduced to a number, but this was not the first time it had happened. She couldn't worry about that now, though. Maybe the nurse would actually be willing to give her some answers.
"What, what happened? Where am I?"
"You're in the Aught-Two Infirmary of Alpha Block."
"But I'm, I'm assigned to Delta Block."
"Not anymore. After the stunt you pulled this morning, Alpha Block's your new home now."
Ally could already guess what happened, but she needed to know all the same.
"W, what stunt?"
The nurse glanced around a bit before replying, "Doc may have my ass for this, but, sure, I'll tell you. You killed three people and put six others in the infirmary. Wonder you're not on a block in the morgue."
Sassy and her gang were only four people. Who were the other five? Perhaps she was best off not knowing. Perhaps it would've been better if she didn't know anything at all.
"How long will I be in here?" she asked.
The nurse shrugged.
"Depends on the docs. You should be healed up in two or three days, but they may want to keep you around a while longer."
"Thank you."
It went without saying that expressions of gratitude were rare in a place like this. The nurse gave her a bit of a pitying look and replied, "Sure thing."
The nurse went back to his duties and Ally decided that she would try to sleep. There wasn't much else she could do here, but even if she was able to go to sleep, she wouldn't rest easy, not after what she'd done.