I awoke to the same thing I did every dawn, the blare of a badly-tuned trumpet. I groaned, and sat up. My brothers on the opposite side of the room also sat up, mirroring me. We exchanged glares, and got out of our warm, hard and uncomfortable beds.
Stumbling to the bathroom, I caught sight of the propaganda my mother had tacked to our bedroom wall in the night. She placed a different one there every night, to remind us to have faith and courage in the war effort. Today it read:
Reflect on the people you know who have fell, and remind yourself to be grateful for this wake-up call. Stay true to Keverican, and honour their lives, and not meet the same fate.
It was always the same kind of message; stay true to Keverican, and you will be rewarded with a carefree life and a place in the Aftermath, when the "Dark Ones" come to earth. I washed and brushed my teeth, before putting on my training uniform. A hideous grey vest followed by heavy brown trousers, and clunky black boots I stuffed with newspaper and propaganda, to accommodate my small feet.
I brushed my brittle hair, dyed regulation auburn, and went to our dining room. Max, Joel and Ethan were all there, dressed the same as me and eating cereal. I joined them, and we sat in silence. Mom had already left for work, she catered for the mess hall, and dad was still getting dressed. I'm surprised I even remembered what they looked like. I never saw them.
Outside, the sun was an egg yolk someone had thrown at the sky, barely visible behind the compound. Training was held at the compound, for ages 12-24, and that was where I was headed.
Despite the summer heat, the training centre was freezing. I jogged on the spot for warmth, and scanned the room. Sure enough, in the corner, was Faye. I grinned, and jogged over to her. "Mornin', Kate." She said, rubbing her hands together. This made her curly walnut-brown hair bounce, and I laughed.
I'm Kate. It's common, yes, but in Keverican, it stands for something. Kill. All. The. Enemy. It's a shame, that's simply not who I am. But names like Harmony and Serene were rarities in violent places.
"Alright, cupcakes! Single file, now!" Someone bellowed from outside the door. It was Ben, our trainer. He was also the culprit behind the out-of-tune trumpet playing that got blasted across the speaker system of the entire complex. There was a murmur of "yes, sir!" And the thundering of fifty sleepy eighteen year-old girls getting in line.
Ben stalked into the room. He was tall, and of average looks. His hair was dyed black, he was covered in scars and he wore his trademark scowl. Clearly, getting up at dawn wasn't really his thing. "Alright, cupcakes!" He bellowed, springing us all to attention. "Since you've all bothered to show your asses here now, I am going to tell you something! We have a unique learning opportunity today, and I know you are grateful for it, aren't you?"
"Yes, sir!" We murmured. He left the room, kicking the door open and turning left. I turned to Faye.
"What do you think this "opportunity" is?" I asked her. Faye crossed her tanned arms.
"We're going to learn how to bake cookies." She said dryly, not even bothering to roll her eyes. I smirked, along with a few girls around us who heard. Faye blushed and stared at the floor.
Ben attempted to kick down the door on his was in again, but this time he was escorting a handcuffed man with a sack on his head. He was wearing a gold trench coat, and I froze. He was from Yexterby, one of the two other "Organisations" we were at war with, along with Handfridan. Ben pushed him to his knees, and addressed us again.
"Alright, cupcakes! This here is a P.O.W, and I'm sure even you fairies can see he's from Yexterby. He's been giving the death penalty, but I've decided we're going to have a little fun first. Say hi, Sunshine!" He took the sack off of the man's head. A pale, blond-haired man stared sullenly at us.
"Now, I'm going to pick twenty of you cupcakes, and I'm going to give you a weapon. Then, I'll tell you a weak point on Captain Sunshine's body, and I want you to shoot, stab or thwack it! Do you understand?" The blond man's face paled considerably, and a drop of sweat rolled down his face. Guilt stabbed at my stomach, and I prayed I wouldn't have be one of the unfortunate twenty.
Ben began to walk down the line, yelling people's surnames at them and pointing his pocket knife at them, then pointing to a line beside the man. He got to Faye and I. "Dixon! Lucar! Over there, now!" He shouted at Faye and I, pointing his pocket knife at our faces. We joined the line beside the poor man, and my knees started to shake. I was going to put this man in so much pain.
Ben called out two more names, then strode over to the new line. "All you little fairies better pay attention, you'll be learning some valuable lessons, even if you don't get a stab at this bastard!" He spat. He then left the room, before returning with a sack of weapons. He dumped them on the floor, and began handing them out at random.
He handed Faye a crowbar, and I an Uzi. "One shot only, Lucar." He growled at me, before moving on. Faye and I looked at each other. Faye bit her lip and stared down at the crowbar worriedly. The gum was heavy and cold in my hands. As I looked down the line I saw twenty girls armed with pistols, baseball bats, knives and hammers. One girl even had a blowgun!
I looked over at my victim, soon-to-be human training dummy. His eyes locked with mine, and he stared at me, his eyes glassed over with sheer terror and anger. He was about to be tortured and humiliated by a group of eighteen year-old girls.
"Right, first cupcake, Adams!" Ben yelled. The girl, armed with a shovel, stepped forward. "Hit him in the left elbow. Make sure to use the sharp side!" He commanded. The girl tool a deep breath, before swinging the shovel at the man. It hit him just above the elbow, causing him to fall back and cry out. The skin was cut and bloody, already slightly swollen. The girl took her place at the back of the queue.
I couldn't watch this. The whole time I stared at the cold linoleum floor, listening to the sounds of swinging weapons, cracking bones, and horrible cries and screams. But still, more and more people took their place at the back of the queue. It came to Faye. "Dixon! Knees!" Ben dragged the broken, gasping and bloodied man to his feet. Faye bit her lip, then took her place before the man. They locked eyes for a second, then Faye glanced at his kneecaps. She gulped, then rose the crowbar above her head. She swung it down, causing the man to buckle and sink to the floor, screaming and cursing. She hit him again while he was still down, and joined the back of the queue. As she walked past I saw a speck of his blood on her face.
Then, it was me. I stepped forward, gripping the Uzi tight. Ben glared at me, and smiled. He knew that I hated to fight and hurt, so he likely saved something horrid for me. "Lucar! …" he hesitated, thinking. Then, he gave me the most menacing grin I have ever seen. "Groin." I paled, the world around me greying. I swallowed before turning to the bloody pulp of a man.
He was lying on the cold floor, groaning and cursing, clutching his knees. His arms and legs were covered in cuts and bruises, and at least his ankle, leg and elbow were broken. He glared at me, again. He moved his legs slightly, giving me my target. I swallowed.
Was I really going to do this? Could I do this? Slowly, I took aim. The gun was still cold and heavy, and it strained my stick-like arms. But I still aimed it. I took a deep breath and held it, pointing the gun at his groin. But, at the last second, I jerked the gun purposely upwards, between his eyes. He smiled slightly, and my vision blurred. I took one last look at the man, and I fired.