I couldn’t believe my eyes. Standing before me, in flesh and blood, not to mention alive and breathing, but a woman. I’d heard of them and read about them in the archives, but I’d never thought I’d see a real one.
This morning I had arrived from a week long raid. I never excepted this, not now, not in the middle of the war. The war that had been started by a female scientist eighty years ago. Since then, all female’s had been band from military exports of any kind. Our civilization had reverted back to the old ages but technology boomed. No thanks to that crazy woman.
I blinked a few times, and each time she appeared before me. It wasn’t a pixelated hologram. She was here, in the Tarek, across the Safety boarder.
Her hands were bound in cuff links that shimmered red, notifying she was dangerous. I laughed a little. Her dangerous, it must be a joke, because she was tiny and wouldn’t stand a chance against any of the men in this room.
“What is your purpose here?” Garret, our Patrol leader asked in a gruff voice. He was obviously on his wits end.
I shrunk back against the wall, out of the way but to watch this event unfold.
Her head swung between her shoulders like a loose boulder on a cliff about to fall. Long tasselled hair was swept to the side to show the left side of her face.
Garret barked out a command, and grabbed, what looked to be a young girl, by the hair, and yanked straight up. She yelped and let out a groan. She winced inwards on her right ribcage.
I caught a glimmer of red trickle down her hip. My throat constricted and my muscles tensed as I watched.
“You have five-seconds to tell me why you’re here and who you are,” Garret shifted his weight to the side so his face was mere inches from hers. “Or, this lovely cheek will be marred forever with this blade.” He ran a callused finger down her pink cheek.
One of the Sentries from another raid team handed Garret a glowing orange dagger.
For some reason my body jerked forwards.
Pain erupted from the left side of my face. Tears rushed from my eyes only to intensify the fiery sensation below.
There was a shout from somewhere in the back of the room. I opened my eyes slightly but only registered a blur of dark shadows. An argument broke out and the pain in my head throbbed louder.
It seemed like an eternity before they stopped shouting.
“I don’t care if it came from Boa himself. This is inhumane.” A rich voice with a deep vibrato spoke.
“Inhumane, these creators are what almost wiped us out eighty years ago.” The familiar voice made my stomach lurch.
“We shouldn’t condemn them all for one mistake made by our grandparents.” Oddly enough his voice seemed to calm me. “A new era…”
He was cut off, “A new era? Are you mad Eura? There will never be peace, while these beasts are free to roam.”
“Even across the Safety?” Eura asked quietly. “Should we storm our troops into the eye of the storm and cut it off?”
The man grunted and was about to rebuff when the door slammed against the wall.
“I can hear the two of you bird brains all the way at the West end of the Tarek.” His voice was light and jeering.
“Garret,” he answered.
“I was just trying to explain to Eura here why we should lead a revolt into the enemies territory.” Garret said politely with great pain. “And how interrogating this measly creature will help us win this war.”
“Let her down.” Boa said.
Two men rushed towards me. One grabbed my arm and the other clicked a button, and I tumbled to the ground like a weed. The one holding my arm yanked me back up. I stumbled at the sheer force and fell forwards.
A large hand wrapped around my forearm and the other tilted my chin up. “I don’t see the threat.” He said while staring me straight in the eye. I had fallen into the man named Eura.
I felt a tingle along the back side of my ear as he tucked my hair back. I almost felt sorry for him.
They’d given me an opening by bickering about this stupid war. They were the ones stuck in the dark ages not me. I sprang forwards and dug my shoulder in and up under his rib. He keeled back and I grabbed the laser from his belt.
In a whirlwind of commotion, I ducked and pointed at the men in the room until only Boa stood. Or I should say stood with a Knife at my throat. The point pricked through my skin and I could feel the hot blood run down my skin.
He had a huge grin on his face, or perhaps a smile. “You are a feisty little one aren’t you?” He teased the blade down to the hollow of my neck.
I adjusted my feet according to his movements. We began a waltz around each other. I still had the laser trained on his heart.
“Not one for words I see.” He raised a black eyebrow. “A woman of action I presume? Well, perhaps you can defeat a room full of men but what about an Armament of Mercenaries? Ready to kill at my command. I would love to see you try but unfortunately I have an appointment to keep.” He lowered his blade.
In the midst of my hot headed escape I faltered. Strong muscles pinned me against more rippling bands of muscle in a secure lock. The laser was ripped from my fingers and I felt the cold shackles press against my wrists. I slumped forwards, not in defeat but because my head was swimming. I wanted to hurl and I did.
I woke up to the smell of urine and a thick residual feeling of morbid human fear. I croaked as I tried to swallow and coughed so hard I thought my lungs would come up. How long have I been down here unconscious?
More than anything where? Nothing but everything they had said about the war made sense. Though, their lack of knowledge of the other side of the Safety was laughable. These barbarians with their knives and daggers, and primitive way of interrogation, they would be defeated in one fell swoop.
Their attraction of humiliating me and knowing why I’m here is quiet enticing. What is it about me that they find so fascinating?
“I was prepared to plead for your freedom.” It’s Eura.
I whipped my head around only to feel the tight muscles seize up. Eura sat perched across the bars on a bench.
“That stench is what you think it is.” He pulled a blade from his belt and examined it. “Many people have died down here.”
I glared at him.
“That won’t help your case.” He leaned forwards and his nose twitched. “Boa, the head of this Armament, wants to put you on trial, but there will only be one outcome, your death. Try as you might you won’t escape this time.”
Eura stood but I could sense his reluctance to leave. “If you don’t speak you won’t have a chance…” His voice trailed off and he ran a hand through his thick dusty brown hair.
For some reason blush began to fill my cheeks as his arm muscles flexed. I turned away and stared at the wall.
“Don’t expect food or anything.” Eura left.
I listened as his boots clicked across the cement floor and the sound of a distant door clicking shut.
Darkness came and gone, so did the days and nights, and no food came. Just like he had said.
I knew I could last longer than the average person but this is just ridiculous. Do they intend to kill me first and then put me on trial?
They came in the middle of the night.
I was pulled from the cold hard floor and my shackles were attached to a magnetic pulley that led me out of the brig and into long hallways. Lights flickered on and off as we walked by them. Bits of what had once been porcelain white walls reflected through the now grey chipped stone.
Four guards surrounded me, one on each side but as hard as I might, I didn’t have the strength to pull against the magnetic pull.
They led me up a few flights and into a sparse room with only a hose and a towel on a chair.
“Stand over there.” One of the men shoved me into of the distant corners.
Another grabbed the hose off the wall, while another turned the water on. White hot shards of cold water bolted relentlessly against my skin. I wanted to scream when they hit my ribcage and my face. The pressure was so extreme that I could barley gasp for air. I choked down some water. Thankful for some sort of substance to pass down my throat.
“She’s done.” The last man shouted and the water was turned off. “Lets go.”
I watched the fluffy towel lay unused on the chair as we left. They had put it there on purpose. A sudden swell of anger rose up from my gut.
I used my weight to lift myself as I wrapped my legs around the man in front of me. I squeezed and yanked to the side. I didn’t have the strength to break his neck but I did have enough force to push him head first into a wall.
“Hey, stop her!” One of the guards shouted.
Something hot dug into my back and the next thing I knew volts of electricity bolted through my entire body. I knew it was me that was screaming but it sounded so foreign to hear anything come out of my mouth.
I hung my head, my arms felt as though they would rip out of their sockets, as my body went limp below me.
“Come on lets get her there before Boa has our heads.” The guard said. “You, get him to the Medic.”
The pulley began to move on its own, pulling me along with it.
“Who knew they could be so vicious.” One of the two remaining guards said.
“I heard if you’re not carful they can claw your eyes out!” The other said.
This conversation continued until we arrived ten feet away from a large door. They tested the hold of the magnets and then left.
I half stood there for a while and half swaying. Until the doors began to open. The pulley started moving again but this time I conjured up the dignity to walk myself in. Even though my limbs felt like they weren’t attached.
I held my head up but didn’t bother to make eye contact with anyone in the room. I did however wince at the bright light streaming down through the glass ceiling. This room remained intact with its original beauty. With its clean white walls and floor, but the men looked out of place. Perhaps even out of time.
Whispers grew like a coming storm until the entire room was filled with thunderous accusations. The stares felt like spiders crawling up my skin.
I knew then and there. This is it. This is where it begins, and not where it ends.
The tall black haired man named Boa enters the atrium and a hush falls over the men. They all watch, as did I, as he moves across the room. His presence and authority fill the room like a plague.
However, his dark eyes are focused entirely on me. His smile, danced across his face, pouring doubt into my mind.
“My fellow Mercenaries, welcome!” Boa’s voice booms across the atrium. “Today is a day we thought would not come for many a generation. A day of reckoning and time of redemption. It is here, is this room that we will raise the charges against not this one woman, but for all the crimes of every woman.”
A roar of shouts and hollering echo off the walls. Boa raises his hand for silence. I could feel all eyes turn to me as Boa approaches. I feel the need to hide, something about this man frightened me to no end. His eyes draped with a shadowy curtain look me over from head to toe. I shift uncomfortably in my wet clothes and his eyes dart back to mine. His smile never faltered. If anything his delight had increased.
“However, we as mankind have an obligation.” Boa begins by catching a loose strand of hair and tucks it gently into place. “We have to be better than those before us.”
A murmur broke out. Confusion riddled each mans face. Even I don’t know where he’s going with this.
“We have a chance to right the balance of humanity.” Boa stares deep into my eyes and somehow begin to see his idea unravel into place. “With this,”
He leans forwards and plants a feather light kiss on my temple. I want to hurl again but this time I had nothing to come up. He couldn’t be serious could he? Could he?
“Wait a moment.” A man from the crowd shouted. “You want us to reconcile with this creatures?” His words contorted on his face as he spoke them.
“No,” Boa says quietly. His eyes pull away from mine. “We will begin again. This time our way.”
My heart falls, and I suddenly feel naked with all eyes on me. There’s only one of me and how many of them? Scratch that! I don’t have time for this. This couldn’t possibly be what I was meant for. Not to repopulate a sadistic race of men.
I shudder and pull against the magnets holding my hands above my head. This couldn’t be happening. Not when the open sky is only meters above me. My freedom now gone all because of one man.
“How does this help us fight against the other side of the Safety?” Another man in the crowd asks.
“This will be a slow attack.” He gestures towards the wall. “Our fore fathers all but failed. Leaving us in ruins. Almost extinct.”
The wall he pointed at was etched with names. My guess, everyman that had died in battle.
“These names represent our past and not our future.” Boa turns back to his men. “We need to forge through this new era with our honour intact.”
Many of the men hooted with exuberance but many of them sat there either confused or unimpressed with taking a new tactic. But it was enough for Boa.
I narrowed my eyes. I will not stand for this. I kick my feet into the air aiming for his chin. I miss by a hairs length as he smoothly doges my attack. I breath hard, my blood now boiling, and I glare at Boa. If it wasn’t for these restraints I would snap his neck backwards. A smile pulled at my lips.
Boa walked towards me. I could see anger seeping through his calm demeanour.
“I do not appreciate being threatened in front of my comrades.” He hisses through his teeth.
I spit in his eye. His smile now gone is replaced with a vile grin. “Do not mock me fair child. As I will not spare your life. Even if we must begin again.”
He turns on his heels and leaves the atrium. Many of the men gather into groups and begin to chat among themselves. Others leave.
My arms are aching from being strung up, but I doubt they will let me down. I have to escape. I tug again at the connecting magnets but they don’t budge an inch.
“They are filled with Palladium.” Eura says from behind me. “They will not move even if you weighed a ton.”
I arch my head to the side as far as possible. I stare at him with accusing eyes.
“Easy there, you don’t have to hate me.” He reaches up and clicks a few buttons. I begin to move across the room. He says as if reading my mind, “We are headed to the bay lab.”
This time we cross the halls in silence, and I do not try to break his neck. Even though the temptation of his bare neck lay exposed for the taking. There are no guards anywhere to be seen.
Eura stops, hesitation falters his steps. “I have to transfer you onto a new line.” He looks at me hard. “I trust you will not harm me?”
I see through his words and recognize he is trying to help me. I don’t understand. Last time he said I was to be condemned to death. That hadn’t happened. Well, not entirely.
He clicks a few more buttons and feel the magnets release. I almost fall face first into the walls as the sudden return of blood flow makes me dizzy. I catch myself mid stumble and turn to Eura. He gives me a faint smile before I deck him in the jaw with my cuffs.
The angry red glow emanating from my wrist lights the way as I run through the halls. He had said bay lab. Even though the correct term would be sick bay. I come to a halt as the halls divide off into multiple sections. Sick…sick…sick… I repeated the word in my head but there were no signs anywhere.
I was about to give up and run any which way when I hear the faint swell of water crashing against a cliff.
Bay! It was the bay I had come in on. The one that had swept me to this forsaken land. The men here refer to it as the Safety Boarder. To me it was treacherous and almost taken my life if not for that fishing boat.
The memory of that night crashes through me like the unforgiving waves. I had been on my way to the Farm Prefecture when hideous dark blankets of storm clouds changed our heading. There was four of us to control the sail boat, but that wasn’t enough time before the wave smothered us.
I had lost consciousness for maybe a few seconds but in those mere moments I watched as my traveling companion Alzrea plummeted to her death. If I hadn’t fallen under, I could have saved her.
I only had a moment to grieve as another wave rocked us precariously close to the waters merciless surface. I heard the shouts of the two others on board. I stood carefully and gathered a near by rope in my hands.
“Please help us!” One shouted. His fingers were turning white as he held onto the railing for dear life. His other hand held onto an unconscious woman. Through the rain and the thunder I could see the faint ting of read down the side of her head. “Please!” He shouted again. “She’s my wife!”
I brought myself too and hurried as fast as I could. I leaned over the railing when the boat rocked in the opposite direction. Quickly I tied the rope around his chest even though my fingers trembled from the ridged cold sea water.
Before the boat dipped us into the ice water. I ran to the opposite side to attach the rope to a sheet winch. I wrapped it around and began to crank it. After only a couple of times I could feel the burn in my chest. Again. My fingers slipped and the rope bit into my arm. I yelped but went right back to the crank. I didn’t have time to worry about myself. Again. I ushered all my strength into the crank and pulled. Again…again…again… until I felt the rope go slack. I panicked, had the knot I tied been too loose? I peered across the boat, through the thick sheets of rain, the rope lay on the ground. I was about to cry out in agony when I hear a voice.
“Noram! Wake up!” It’s him! “Noram, please!”
I race over to them. He’s knelt beside a limp body. Her lips were dark purple and her fingers were blue. I felt a shudder go through me. Not because I was cold but because I never knew how dangerous and unforgiving the sea could be.
My companion and friend, was now gone forever, and now Noram. I blinked back hot tears as they threatened to spill over.
I was about to look away when the woman’s chest heaved.
“Noram!” The man shouted over the storm.
The woman bucked again but this time sea water spilled from her mouth. The man sat the woman up and clutched her tight. It was as if a ragging storm was not surrounding them but a warm field of daisies.
“Hey!” I shouted at them. “Get inside!”
The man nodded, and hoisted his wife into his arms. I opened the hatch and helped lower her in. The man followed pursuit.
I yelled inside, “Make sure all the door and windows are secured!”
That was all I remembered, and after that waking up on the fishing boat. I hadn’t wanted to believe that I had been adrift in the Saftey for more than a few days. If so, I would have a hard time getting back. So far it had gone as I predicted but I couldn’t believe these men still believed in the war.
I cleared my mind and focused on my escape. I ran towards the bay, even though the very sound repulsed me. I took a right hoping a door with an exit sign would appear. Instead to guards stood at a large white door.
They saw me coming, but I had the upper hand. I back handed the first guy in the nose. Using his knee for a lever, I jumped and round housed the other guy in the ear. His head connected with the wall with a thunk. The first guys nose bled down his mouth and hot tears rolled around in his angry eyes. He regained his footing, while the other guy lay motionless.
“You bitch!” He yelled. “You broke my nose!”
I smirked. I hadn’t been called that in years. I motioned with my hand to come get me. He charged like an angry bull and threw himself into me. I felt a crack in my lower rib. The mend shattered and probably in more than one place. Pain ripped through me as he grabbed my hair and pulled me to my feet. He slammed my head into the wall. I tried to claw at his face but all I could see is purples and greens. He let go of my hair and just as I thought he would stop he lands a blow to my cheek.
A bright light flutters over my eyes. I try to open them, but my head throbs and my left eye feels like I had been stung by ten thousand bees.
“That’s some bruise,” His laugh sickens me.
He sits beside me and I sink towards him. I try to move away but my ribs screams in pain.
“You aren’t going anywhere fast my fair child.” I can feel him smirk. He leans down close so I can feel his breath in my ear. “If you try to escape again a few cracked ribs will be the least of your worries. You see the perimeter is lined with an invisible field. I faulty step and your fried.”
I wince at his choice of words.
“Come now, we have a good three weeks of getting to know one another.” He speaks low making me tremble. “Before you’re ready for testing.”
I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. I feared he’d say I’d have to start whoring around.
“Until then,” He stands and I’m grateful for the space. “We will get you better, and then start your training.”
“Training?” I wheeze through my sore throat.