“Why are you doing this?!” Avni cried.
“You insult our family! You put all of us to shame wanting to not get married and living the life you do! You’re a disgrace to any Indian family!” Her father slapped her, and shoved her against a wall. Avni didn’t move, dazed and in tears.
“I haven’t done anything wrong…” Avni sobbed.
“Shut up!” Her father instantly pulled out a pistol and pulled the trigger.
Avni felt the bullet go through her chest as pain shot through her entire body. All she could do was cry and gasp for breath as she heard running in her directions.
“What the…” A voice spoke. “What did you do?”
“What needed to be done.” Her father said. “If you help her, I’ll shoot you as well.”
“Well in that case, we understand each other.” Avni heard something click. “Drop the gun.”
“You’re going to shoot me? You’re only remaining flesh and blood?” He laughed.
“Don’t make me use this on you. It’s inhuman and wrong that we invent laser and plasma weapons to defend ourselves from hostile extraterrestrials, only to end up using it on people because they’re evil and screwed up in the head. Now back off and drop it!”
Avni could barely speak as she felt the familiar arm of her cousin gather her up into his arms. She struggled with every breath to be aware what was going on around her as she felt him tear open her shirt and shove a cold gel into her wound. She felt the bleeding stop and heard him continue.
“953, need pickup now! Avni’s down!”
“What is wrong with you? You stupid people and only wanting your girls to marry and have kids. They don’t fly fighter jets; they don’t go to space unless they live in America, and if they want to do something different than what you think, you kill or disown them! For crying out loud, you ditch over a million girl babies on the roadside every year! ”
“Avni will pay for what’s she’s done,” Her father answered.
“Fighting in space to defend this world from monsters that believe we are an offense to their fake deity or they think we’re lab animals is wrong? Serving as a communications officer’s aboard a spacefaring starship is wrong? Are you blind? Can’t you see that your own daughter and my cousins are sacrificing more than you’ll ever imagine, even our very lives to make sure people are safe, even you?”
“Do not mention Britney! She deserves the same fate as her sister.” Her father snarled. “It’s indecent for her and Avni to spend so much time among unmarried men.”
“Well then, it’s a good thing I crashed the wedding party after all,” Her cousin replied. “And for your information, Britney’s a pilot you never want to cross in a dogfight. I’m not some stupid feminist, but I certainly think how you treat women is wrong. And honestly, any respect that I had for you as my uncle is gone now.”
Avni could hear a roar become louder as she recognized it as a Talon-class VTOL jet used by the United Earth Alliance. She could feel herself becoming cold and starting to tremble from shock as she felt her cousin carry her into the jet.
She could feel the brightness of the lights inside and heard the doors close, knowing that her father would never accept her.
“Neil…I now understand how you feel not having family anymore…” Avni struggled to speak.
“Take it easy, Ensign. We’re not out of the woods yet. The Commander may have stopped your bleeding with a stimpack, but we still need give you a hyposhot to get you out of shock.” A corpsman said.
Neil took her hand and held it tightly. “You still have me, okay? And Brit; she cares for you a bunch. And I know it hurts to think, but your parents are alive.”
“But they don’t love me anymore…” Avni wanted to cry again.
“She’ll be fine. We’ll give her better care once we get back to the spaceport.” The corpsman stuck a needle into her hand and pulled it out.
Neil cradled Avni to his chest as she cried softly.
“Why are we like this? Why does our culture reject us for what we do?”
“I don’t know, Avni. I don’t know...” Neil felt like he wanted to cry too. “But keep fighting. For those that do accept us; and for this world….”
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