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Train to Anguish

By: S.E. Isaac

Train to Anguish

Copyright c) 2018 S.E.Isaac

Proofreading and Edits: M.R.Wallace

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems – except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews – without permission in writing from S.E.Isaac.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this eBook with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person or use proper retail channels to lend a copy. If you are reading this eBook and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Dedicated to all of those in my life, who helped me follow my dreams.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without your kind words and nudges forward.

Some nudges harder than others. Smile.



Train to Anguish

Light beamed down on my face, as we passed through the ten-mile tunnel that led to Lynx Canton. The half an hour train ride seemed to last an eternity. I was the only one in the train car. I had no other passengers to pass the time with to ease my nervousness. I was filled with nerves, confusion, and rage on the inside but kept an emotionless composure on the outside. Emotions were my enemy. I had known that since day one.

The Academy of Anguish was an all-male war academy. The word academy is just another way of saying canton without making it political, but everyone knows Academy of Anguish is a lifestyle not an educational system. The males left the walls of the academy, conducting themselves in a variety of ways, often in a warrior way. When they caused trouble, they weren’t questioned by the law, simply returned within the walls to receive whatever punishment was deemed necessary, if any. This is why no female would be foolish enough to subject her body to the agony, torment, and suffering that may wait within those walls. With the academy, there was no guarantee of survival.

The academy reached out past their walls to the Nevan government, because they wanted a female test subject not of Lynxan blood. It was decided that I would be the one to go in exchange for a political alliance agreement. My father had selfishly signed my fate away to the unknown and with only a care for their people in mind.

The academy provided an outfit before my departure. Black pants, black boots and a black tank top. I was told I would not need to bring anything with me. I was to simply get on the private train at the Nevan train depot and everything else would be taken care of. My father tried to hug and kiss me goodbye, but I ran to the arms of my mother, who kissed me swiftly and whispered, ‘I love you’. I found the strength somehow and walked out the door. I never looked back.

Now, here I am sitting on a train to doom and not a friend in the world. Most females would be bawling their eyes out in my current situation, but I knew better. Even when you felt like no one was watching, there was always someone watching. And I refused to be seen as weak.

The train finally reached the end of the tunnel and the glow of lights from the academy walls could be seen. The Academy of Anguish was much bigger then I had imagined. It looked like a fortress that went on for miles and miles. The train began to slow down, as I continued gazing out the window in amazement. My focus came back to the train when I was jarred forward as it halted. I stood up from my seat and looked at the exit doors. I knew once those train doors opened, there was no turning back. I’d be forever marked.

Chapter One

The Plunge

I stepped off the train and spied a tall male wearing black workout pants and a white sleeveless shirt. He was leaning against the wall, but stood up when I stepped off the train. He appeared to be possibly ten years older than me, had golden hair, and a scar above his right eyebrow. His skin was olive color, his arms were very muscular, and he was easy on the eyes. He showed no sign of emotions because I could not see his eyes.

“Kaitlyn Armistice,” he asked in a deep and husky voice. Not an unpleasant deep but a manly deep.

“Yes,” I said with my head high and eyes on his. He grinned.

“Let’s get you to Anguish.” We walked down the dark empty streets in silence. We finally reached the academy. It was bigger than I had imagined. He opened the doors. I followed him inside the walls and did my best to keep my composure when the doors closed behind me. There was nowhere to run back to now.

I kept my pace with the mystery greeter, as he walked us through different corridors. The academy was dimly lit, but I was still able to make out paintings on the wall and luxurious statues. We came to a stop in front of metal doors with a key pad next to it. He entered the code and the doors opened. It was an elevator. We stepped inside and the doors quickly closed. The floor shifted, and we were on our way down. I kept my eyes focused on the metal wall in front of me.

“You never asked me my name,” he finally said. I turned my head to face him.

“If I was meant to know it, then you would have told me,” I turned my head forward but not before catching a smile.

The elevator pinged notifying us of our arrival at our destination, and then the doors opened. I was instantly hit with the sound of chaos. The sound of males laughing and shouting could be heard. We stepped off the elevator and made our way toward the chaos. There was another door. Within, I could see a room full of males - hundreds of them. They were all dressed in black and sparring. My escort once again entered a code and the door opened. The room instantly fell silent and all eyes were on us.

“Your room is over there. The one with the orange light,” he pointed to the far end of the room. “Welcome to Anguish,” he said with a chuckle and stepped off the platform and in to the crowd, leaving me by myself to be gawked at by a room full of men. My heart began to race, as I stared back at all of them. I took a calming breath and rolled my pony tail up in to a bun. It was now or never.

I looked around me and there were steps leading down to the floor where they stood. I should’ve chosen that way, but instead I jumped off the platform like mystery greeter had done. A few males moved out of my way, but for the most part they stood their ground. I said nothing. Simply kept my head held high, eyes front, and walked towards my new room.

They weren’t making it easy on me. Most of them I had to shoulder by to make them move, but I finally made it. When I approached the door, a blue beam scanned me and the door opened. I stepped inside and the door closed. The room was spartan. It looked very much like a cubicle for a detainee. There was a single bed connected to the white walls. On the bed were a white pillow and a black blanket. I examined the room more closely and there were drawers built in to the walls. I pulled them out and they were filled with black articles of clothing to include black under garments. In the corner, there was a desk with a black folder. I grabbed the folder and reluctantly sat on the bed. It was as hard as a rock.

I opened the folder and began reading over the contents. There were pages and pages of instructions. There was a set schedule of when I was to be at certain places and allotted times for hygiene and down time. There was also a map of the compound, as the page called it. The map highlighted the dining hall, training area, restrooms, and bathing quarters. I was assigned a set time to use the bathing quarters and if I missed those times then I would have to wait until the next assigned time. I was to use any restroom marked with an ‘A’. My hair could be worn in any style I wished, but no makeup and no perfume. All hygiene products were located for me in a locker with my name on it. The code for the key pad was my birthday.

It seemed like they had everything down to the most minute detail. It even included biweekly health exams and weigh-ins. There was no doubt about it, I was their test subject.

Chapter Two

Welcome to Anguish

I fell asleep shortly after the males outside my room went to their respective rooms. I woke up startled by a banging on my door. I quickly sat up and looked at the window on my door. It was mystery greeter whose eyes were staring back at me. I rose out of bed and made my way over to the door. The blue beam scanned me and the door opened.

“Get ready, your training begins,” I nodded my head and stepped back into the room with the door closing inches from his face. He seemed annoyed, which made me smile on the inside. It’s the least I could do to him, since he left me by myself in the lions’ den.

Without paying any mind to him staring in at me, I stripped down and put on a clean uniform and laced up my boots. I used the small mirror on the wall to fix my hair and I was ready to go. I had used the restroom in the middle of the night, so I didn’t have to worry about voiding before beginning my unknown day.

I stood at the door and it opened once more. Mystery greeter looked me over from head to toe, smirked and began walking. I caught up with him and walked beside him. Many of the males were coming out of their rooms and stopped when they caught glimpse of me. I paid them no mind and continued walking.

“Not being vain will get you far in here,” mystery greeter whispered with his eyes still forward. I didn’t bother replying because I knew it wasn’t an opening for a conversation.

He led me to the dining hall, which was already half full of men dressed in all black. Silence fell over the dining hall as we walked in; seemed like I was a conversation stopper. We stood in line and received our food, if that’s what they called it. It was loaded down with meat galore. My stomach churned as I stared down at my meat covered tray.

I took a deep breath and followed him to a full table. When we approached two males were gestured by him to give up their seats. They did so without argument. He took his seat and I remained standing. He looked up at me.

“You may have a seat,” I took a seat and they all began eating.

“What’s her name,” a male with dark skin, shaved head, and a body the size of a truck asked.

“Her name is Armistice,” mystery greeter said continuing to eat. The male nodded his head in approval.

“Peace,” he said looking at me. The rest of the table seemed confused. I smiled and nodded my head.

“Peace,” I said and he smiled. He went back to eating and I stared at my tray of carnage.

“Do they not eat meat where you are from,” my escort asked, gaining the whole table’s attention.

“Meat is not something my body requires,” I said simply.

“You will need meat in order to survive training and to keep your energy. You need to eat,” he said firmly. I nodded my head and cut a piece of meat. I took a bite and did everything within my power not to heave.

“Five leros says she blows chunks everywhere,” the male with red hair said laughing. The whole table erupted with laughter except mystery greeter, who was looking at me with a ‘don’t you dare’ look on his face. I took a deep breath and swallowed. They were all staring at me.

“She will be fine,” mystery greeter said and went back to eating. The others continued to stare at me, while I took my next few bites. The meat was not settling in my stomach agreeably. I kept taking deep breaths between bites and before swallows. I wasn’t even in full training and already had met my match.

The men devoured their food and stared at me while I attempted to finish half of my tray. Each one of them kept a grin on their face.

“Stop, Armistice,” mystery greeter said and stood. “Let’s go.” I stood up and grabbed my tray. We disposed of our trays and he led me out of the room and down the hallway. He stopped at a restroom marked with an ‘A’. I quickly looked at him. “Go puke, but at lunch, your task is to keep it down.” I didn’t bother saying anything, just nodded my head and ran into the bathroom.

I barely made it to the toilet before I threw up. I held my hair back out of my face and continued to void my stomach of the repulsion. I found toothpaste and a toothbrush in one of the open lockers. I didn’t care whose it was at that moment, I needed a clean mouth. After washing my face and brushing my teeth, I made my way out of the bathroom. He was leaning against the wall across from the restroom waiting for me.

“Impressive. Figured you’d be in there at least five minutes,” he grinned. “And I see you found the toothbrush we put in there for you,” he winked and began walking down the hallway. I was once again forced to catch up with him.

Everyone we passed came to a halt, moved out of the way and gave a greeting to him. I was slowly gaining intel about who he was. So far, I gathered that he was not only a training officer, but a Captain over Diablo Regiment. His last name was Taylor and he grinned every time he didn’t know what to say. Everything else would come in due time.

“Are you even listening, Armistice?”

“No,” there was no point lying. He stopped walking and faced me. I figured he would yell at me for intentionally not paying attention, but he grinned. He kept his eyes on me for quite some time.

“What were you thinking about,” he whispered.

“Just observing the things around me,” he frowned.

“But ignoring the task in front of you?” I shrugged my shoulders.

“You were talking about how there were three rules to being Anguish. One never shows your opponent weakness. Two never run from a fight. Three never quit.” He seemed surprised by me recalling his words.

“Thought you weren’t listening?”

“I wasn’t.”

“Then how did you know what I said?” I shrugged my shoulders. “You have a copy memory. “I wasn’t sure if it was a statement or a question. He finally smiled, which let me know that it was a statement. “I’m impressed, Armistice.”

We continued walking once more until we reached training arena 12. The doors opened and we entered. The room was completely red. There was currently no training going on. All the males were sitting on the floor looking at us.

“Here at Anguish we don’t believe in baby steps,” he said looking at me. I nodded my head. “To the center of the mats and remember what I said the rules were.” I nodded again and took my place in the center of the mats. “Matthews, you’re up!”

Matthews was a pale white man, who was almost one and half feet taller than me, outweighed me by at least two stone, and looked like he could eat me for breakfast. On the inside, I wanted to find a weapon to give me an advantage to this fight.

Matthews walked to the center in front of me. Much to my surprise, he seemed reluctant.

“Sorry,” he whispered.

“I am honored to fight you,” I bowed my head slightly. He in return bowed his head to me.

“Enough dancing,” Taylor shouted, “fight!”

I don’t know why I thought that Matthews would go easy on me. His first move was a kick to my stomach. I flew halfway across the mat and landed on my back. I slowly rolled over and stood up. He was already closing in on me and fast. I repositioned myself, trying to place plenty of room between us. No matter where I stood, he closed the gap swiftly.

“Armistice, make a move,” Taylor shouted catching me off guard. I took my eyes off Matthews for one second and this time received a hard blow to my left cheek. I fell to the ground. My stomach and face were both throbbing. I held back the tears and stood wobbly back up. “Give up?”

I didn’t bother giving him an answer, I charged Matthews full force and slammed him to the mat. The room filled with uproar. I began punching Matthews in the face. He grabbed me by my wrists, twisted and flipped me on to my back. He was now on top and choking me. I began to see stars dance and my vision darken. He was not giving up. I could see Taylor out the corner of my eye looking at me with disappointment. I racked my brain for an option to get myself out of this mess.

“Sorry,” I said to Matthews with a hushed voice.

“For wh…” before he could finish asking me, I kicked him as hard as I could in the groin. He fell off me grabbing himself in the affected area. The room filled with cheers. I knew the fight wasn’t over and there was no way my tiny hands were fitting around his neck. The only choice I had was to wrap my legs around his neck and choke him. I lunged at him, brought my right leg around his neck, locking it with my left leg and fell on to my back. He was instantly trapped in my hold. He tried standing up with me, but I tightened the hold. He grabbed at my legs and no matter how painful it was, I didn’t let him go. I arched my back and tightened even more. Finally, he went still between my legs and the room filled with cheer.

I quickly released him and climbed around him. His face was dark red. I placed my head on his chest and checked his breathing. He was still breathing, which eased my heart. I smacked his face and still he didn’t move.

“He’ll be fine,” Taylor said standing over me. He extended a hand to me. I reluctantly took it and he lifted me on to my feet. He raised my hand into the air and the males were on their feet cheering. Taylor let go of my hand. “Not bad, Armistice,” he said. “Bain. Leonard. Take Matthews to the infirmary.”

Two guys were already on their feet and approaching the mat. They were both the same size as Matthews. They lifted Matthews and carried him out the door. I couldn’t help but feel bad.

“He will be okay, Armistice. Trust me,” I looked up to lock eyes with Taylor. I nodded my head. “Let’s go get you checked out in the infirmary too.” I shook my head.

“I’ll be fine,” I walked off and took a seat against the wall. Without argument, Taylor went on to call pairs to the mat. The fights were gruesome but at the end there were no hard feelings. I could only hope there would be no hard feelings between Matthews and me. When an intense fight was going on between Knox and Reagan, I took the opportunity to sneak out and head to the infirmary. I slipped through the infirmary door and found Matthews. He was awake and hooked up to monitors.

“You,” he said firmly when he saw me.


“You got one hell of a leg lock, kid,” he said laughing. My heart dropped in my chest and a huge weight lifted off me. “What? Thought I was going to hold it against you?”


“Naw. I will have to hear shit from the others, but hey, an opponent is an opponent, regardless of their gender,” he took a deep breath, “Just sucks that I got knocked out by a girl.” He laughed and a chuckle escaped my lips.

“I have to get back, but I wanted to make sure you were okay.” He sat up in the bed.

“You didn’t ask for permission to leave,” he seemed amused.

“They won’t even notice I’m gone. Knox and Reagan are fighting,” he nodded his head.

“Those two never hold back punches,” he laughed. “Well, thanks for checking up on me, kid.” I smiled and made my way out. Taylor was leaned up against the wall with his arms crossed waiting for me.

“Oh,” I said as the door closed behind me.

“Oh?” I nodded. He flew off the wall and stood inches from me. “You do realize that you are in a compound full of only males. They may seem like they wouldn’t harm a woman, but trust me, looks can be deceiving. Yeah, you held your own with Matthews, but what would you do if there was more than one guy? You barely survived Matthews. You are not to walk the halls unchaperoned. Do you understand?” He was beyond angry with me. I nodded my head. “Do you understand?” He shouted at me again.

“Yes, sir,” I said and walked off from him.

“Armistice,” he shouted behind me. I didn’t bother stopping, simply went back to the arena. All eyes were on me. I stood in the middle of the mat and said nothing. Taylor entered the room and his eyebrow rose. “Armistice?”

“I want to fight two males this time,” the room filled with laughter. “Any two,” I snapped at Taylor.

“Not two, just one,” he removed his jacket and stepped on to the mat.

“Oh, shit. He never fights lower level Anguish,” someone attempted to whisper.

“You are going to learn that there are rules here for a reason,” he said smirking. I removed my boots, then my shirt and tossed it on the mat. The room filled with cheers. I was now only wearing pants and a leisurewear bra. Taylor cocked his head to the side and raised an eyebrow.

“You have your means of fighting. I have mine,” I hissed. This he must have found amusing because he laughed. He removed his shirt and tossed it to the side. The males laughed. Taylor was built like a deity. His muscles were well defined and tattoos marked his body. I was now regretting removing my shirt.

“All is fair in war,” he winked. Next thing I knew, he grabbed me and flipped me onto the mat with great force. The wind was instantly knocked out of me. He was standing over me with a cocky smirk on his face. “Give up?”

“Never,” I spat. I flipped on to my feet and kicked him in the face. He stammered a few steps back, held his face then glared at me.

“Fine. Let’s go.” From that point on, he showed me no mercy. We went blow for blow. My body was in so much pain, but it was my stubbornness that refused to let me throw in the towel. After several minutes of fighting, I was exhausted. “Give up?”

“No,” I said breathing heavy. My head was pounding and I felt like passing out. I wiped my face and blood covered my hand.

“Give up, now?” I shook my head and charged him once more. He grabbed me by the waist, lifted me into the air and slammed me on to the mat. Cracks were heard throughout the room and so were gasps from those watching the spectacle. I bit back a scream of pain. My eyes filled with tears. He kneeled next to me. “What about now?” I shook my head. I thought he’d finish the fight, but instead he stood up. “This is someone with an Anguish heart. Smit, take her to the infirmary and report back to me.”

A tall man built very much like Taylor approached us. He bent down to pick me up.

“No,” Taylor and Smit looked down at me, “I’ll walk.” Taylor nodded his head in approval and Smit offered me his hand. I gladly accepted his hand and he pulled me onto my feet. The room cheered. Smit and I walked out of the room. The minute the door closed behind us, I collapsed, but before I hit the ground Smit caught me. He cradled me in his arms.

“It’s okay. I gotcha,” he said walking quickly through the halls. “I’m Kurtz.”

“Nice to meet you Kurtz, I’m Kaitlyn.”

“Pretty name,” he said smiling. He held me against his chest and carried me through the hallways. We finally arrived at the infirmary. The infirmary doors opened and the infirmary team approached us.

“Oh wow. Who got a hold of her?” A man with jet black hair and a name badge reading ‘Jeffrey Thomas’ asked.

“Taylor,” Kurtz grumbled.

“Taylor did this?” Kurtz nodded his head and set me on a table. My bones cracked to the pressure and I bit back another scream. “Taylor never fights Anguishes who are levels beneath him, let alone a female.” It seemed like everyone was shocked.

“Don’t worry, Taylor will be in later for a checkup. She beat his ass pretty good.” Kurtz laughed and looked at me. “You did well, Kaitlyn.” I nodded my head.

“Let’s get her hooked up and examined. You may leave Smit,” Thomas said gesturing at the door.

“I am to stay here until she has been examined then report back to Taylor.” Thomas nodded his head. They wheeled me in to a glassed room and shut the door. They began hooking me up to the machines. I tolerated everything pretty well until they began the actual exam. I did my best not to cry or scream. Kurtz even held my hand, though I protested. Finally, Thomas pushed on my stomach and a scream from hell escaped me.

“Not looking good,” Thomas said shaking his head. He waved an ultrasound tablet over me and it scanned my organs. “Shit.” He pressed a button on the wall. “Get the surgeon in here!”

“What’s going on,” Kurtz asked standing.

“She has internal bleeding. You need to leave now.” Kurtz didn’t get a chance to argue. After he was pushed out of the room, I was given a shot and must have passed out, because next thing I knew I was waking up screaming. Thomas was standing over me. “It’s okay, Armistice. You’re in the recovery room.”

I took a deep breath and looked around the room. My heart was beginning to slow down. I glanced down at my stomach. I was bandaged up pretty good.

“You should be healed in a few hours.” I nodded my head. “Would you like some water or soup?”

“Both…please.” I replied. He nodded his head and walked out of the room.

It was only day one and already I had made a choked one guy out, got beaten to a pulp by my trainer, and needed emergency surgery. They sure picked a fine test subject.

Thomas returned with water and soup. I slowly sipped on both. It felt good to eat something without chunks of meat in it.

“When can I go to my room?” He seemed surprised by my question.

“Don’t want to heal up first?”

“I will be fine. I already feel better.”

“Don’t want to wait a day or two so the bruises go away?” He held up a mirror and showed me my face. I barely recognized myself. I looked like a battered woman. Well, to be fair.

“I’ll be okay,” I said forcing a smile.

A few hours later, he released me from the infirmary. It was lights out so I didn’t have to worry about running in to anyone. I slipped inside my room and laid down. The second my head hit my pillow, tears flowed down my cheek. Even with the meds, I was still in severe pain. I pulled the blanket over my head, in case there were cameras in my room, and cried myself to sleep.

I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a train. I quickly slipped out of my room and made it to the bathing quarters just in time to shower and freshen up. My face was still a disaster, but I had no way of hiding it. After all, make up was forbidden.

The hallway was still empty as I made my way back to my room. I readied for the day’s adventure. When the men began to stir, I made my way to the dining hall. All eyes were on me.

They must have thought I was weak and looked like a hideous monster. Next thing I knew, some were banging their hands on the tables and chanting my name; an odd display of celebration. I said nothing and made no gestures, but on the inside my heart swelled. I was honored. I grabbed my tray and found a table by myself in the corner. I sat with my back to the room and the chanting slowly died out. I slowly began eating the rubbish. A shadow lingered over me.

“Mind if we sit here,” I looked up to see Kurtz and Matthews. I shook my head and they took a seat across from me.

“Morning,” Matthews said grinning.

“Morning,” I said softly and took another bite of food.

“How are you feeling,” Kurtz asked sympathetically.

“About as good as I look,” I said smirking. Neither one of them laughed. “It’s a joke, guys.”

“I know. I just feel bad. If you hadn’t come to see me, then none of this would’ve happened,” Matthews proclaimed.

“I’m a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason.” They nodded their heads and began eating.

“How many of the guys have tried to approach you,” Matthews asked with a mouth full of food.

“None,” I replied.

“I find that hard to believe,” Kurtz said laughing.

“Why’s that?”

“Look at you,” Matthews said pointing at me. “You’re tall, curvy, tan complexion, black hair that waves like the ocean, and eyes the color of emeralds.” Kurtz and I just stared at him.

“Are you a lady, Matthews?” Kurtz asked, jabbing Matthews in the side. That made all of us laugh. We went back to eating our food. Taylor walked into the dining hall as we were finishing up our breakfast. He wore a shiner and busted lip. I couldn’t help but smirk at knowing that I had done that. “Care to escort me to the training arena? Apparently, I’m not allowed to walk anywhere by myself.”

“Not at all,” Matthews said standing. Kurtz followed suit and we made our way to the trash bins. Taylor spotted me and the look of horror covered his face. I didn’t bother stopping. I disposed of my tray and we went to the arena.

I sat and listened to the two of them small talk about life while we waited for the training to begin. Taylor was the last one to show. He began pairing up people. By the end of the training session, I still hadn’t been called.

“Who is left,” he asked. I stood up.

“I haven’t been called yet.”

“And you won’t,” he growled.

“Why not,” I snapped back.

“Because you’re in no condition to fight.”

“Doesn’t mean I can’t.” There was no way I was backing down on this. I began walking over to him.

“You will not be fighting until you are fully healed, Armistice. And that’s final.”

“Cry me a river,” the room fell silent. “Afraid that this time I’ll kick your ass?” The room filled with laughter.

“Armistice, don’t-cross that line.”

“Or what?”

“Everyone out!” The room quickly cleared. I began following the others out the door. I was almost to the door, when Taylor grabbed me and spun me to face him. He was now standing inches from me. His breath was ragged and his eyes intense. “You think this is a game?”

“I thought I would be treated like everyone else here.”

“And you are,” he said stepping closer. I could feel the heat of his body. I was now aware of the fact he was still holding my wrist.

“What do you have against me?”

“Nothing,” he said gently. “I just don’t want to see you hurt.” I laughed at his words.

“Was that before or after you challenged me?”

“Look, I’m sorry,” I looked him in the eyes and saw sincerity. “I should’ve kept my cool and not stepped on the mat.”

“It’s over with, now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to my warfare class.”

“Not until we are done talking.”

“What’s there to talk about?”

“I need your forgiveness,” he whispered.

“Fine,” I stepped away from him. “You’re forgiven.” With that I walked out of the door and to my next class.

Over the next few weeks, Taylor and I didn’t speak again. We would simply glance at one another when we were in a room and he did his best not to call on me during training. I stuck to my routine and spent most of my times with the ‘twins’, as I liked to call them.

Rumors began to spread about Neva and Lynx Cantons soon going to war. Emperor Gable was threatening to end the peace treaty and attack Lynx. His words made my life a nightmare. The other trainees had already hated me, but now they had a real reason to hate me - I was of Nevan blood.

Most of the males made my life hell, exposing me to extreme physical pain. Whenever possible, Kurtz and Matthews stuck up for me against those who had become my abusers. Matthews and Kurtz were becoming two people I could rely on.

Chapter Three

No Pain, No gain

Each day after physical training, I attended my warfare and leadership classes. I was excelling in the leadership classes; however, the warfare classes were a different story. It was difficult to understand the subject matter. In fact, I was failing miserably. I had no clue what they were talking about and my scores were proof. I began spending countless hours in my room and in the Academy library studying. My scores soon began to show it.

“Armistice, how about you tell us what battle plan you would pursue, since you are so quick to rebut Harrison’s battle plan,” Commander Trials said. Everyone’s head turned.

Commander Trials was like Commander Taylor. He was tall and muscular. His skin was a shade lighter than mine. He wore his black hair short. His eyes I was never able to see up close, but they appeared hazel from a distance. And anytime he was mad a vein in his neck became visible.

“Sir, I just feel that his battle plan to attack by land is… premature.” The room filled with laughter.

“How so?” Commander Trials asked leaning against the desk.

“The York Canton is known for their skill at land attacks, but also known for their lack of success on the water. That is why an amphibious attack is more appropriate, sir.”

“I see,” Commander Trials nodded his head. “Well done, Armistice. Maybe females have a brain after all.” The room filled with laughter at my expense. Commander Trials began teaching once more. The doors opened and War Councilman Tibbot entered the room. He whispered something in Commander Trials’ ear and they both turned to me.

“Armistice, come with me,” War Councilman Tibbot said.

“Yes, sir.” I stood and gathered my things. I followed him out of the room and down the hall in silence. He took me to the simulator. I hadn’t been in a simulator before. I had only heard rumors as to what it was, but everyone who spoke of it said it was excruciating. It was like being tortured mentally.

“You know what this is?”

“Vaguely, sir.” He nodded his head and faced me.

“This machine simulates being tortured. We will give you a piece of information and then test to see how long you can withstand keeping this information from the machine.” My heart began to pound. I glanced in the window at the machine. It seemed like just a plain white chair that was cushioned and in a recline position, but now I knew that it was so much more. “Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.” He handed me an envelope and I opened it. Inside was ‘Mission Bravo execute at 2200 hrs.’ I put the paper back in the envelope and gave it to War Councilman Tibbot.


“Yes, sir.” He opened the door and took my belongings from me.

“Good luck,” he said with a smirk. I said nothing more. I walked through the door and he shut it behind me. I walked further into the room towards the chair. I was terrified of what this machine would do to me. I could easily run out of the room, but then what? Where would I go? My father would not let me return home and the Lynxian would shun me for running away from their beloved Academy.

I took a deep breath and sat in the chair. Slowly I leaned back and positioned myself comfortably in the chair. The lights turned off and my heart was once again racing. I heard a hum on both sides of my head and a blue light pulsed from dim to bright. Was this the torture everyone spoke of?

I heard a door open, the shuffling of feet. Something heavy was pulled into the room, and then the door slammed again. Right then the lights in the room came back on. Across from me was a tall pale man with a bald head and a beard. It was unusual to see a man with facial hair. He was standing in front of a table that had a variety of weapons and tools laid out. In his right hand was a gun.

“What information were you told?”

“Nothing,” I said. He smirked and opened the door. He bent down, picked up a white puppy, and closed the door softly. I always had a weakness for animals.

“What information were you given?” He said again, more sternly now.

“Nothing.” He shot the puppy and blood splattered. “No!” He laughed as he dropped the puppy to the ground. He set the gun down. I tried to jump out of the chair and attack him, but I was strapped down. “You are sick!”

“So, I’ve been told,” he grabbed a knife. “What information were you given?”

“Nothing,” I screamed at him. He opened the door and an elderly man was standing there. “No. No. No.” I knew what would happen next if I did not give the information. I couldn’t let another life end. A tear slipped down my face.

“What information were you given?” The elderly man looked at me with pleading eyes.

“Nothing,” I whispered as the man sliced the elderly man’s throat and his limp body slumped to the ground. I tried to turn my head from the scene, but it wouldn’t move. I watched as the blood gushed from the elderly man’s throat and he fell to the ground on top of the puppy’s corpse. I could feel cool spots on my arm where his blood had landed.

“What information were you given?” He asked setting the knife down and grabbing a hacking tool.

“Nothing.” My voice was no longer recognizable. It was hushed and ragged, terror coursing through it. My mind seemed to be straining against my skull at the thought of what could possibly come next. He opened the door and a priest was ushered in. I shook my head. “No. Please.”

“What information were you given?” I shook my head, as tears poured down my face.

“Tell him, child.” The man of the cloth pleaded softly.

“I can’t. I’m so sorry,” I said with my eyes closed. My eyes opened.

“What information were you given,” the torturer asked, his voice becoming eerily quiet.

“Nothing.” He lifted his arm as high as it could go and slammed it down on the clergyman. The man screamed out in pain as his arm fell to the ground.

“What information were you given,” the torturer shouted.

“Nothing!” He began hacking away at the man in cloth. I didn’t bother closing my eyes. I knew it wouldn’t change anything. Finally, the torturer was done and the priest was laid on top of the puppy and elderly man.

“Shall we continue?”

“Just kill me already,” I spat. He quickly looked at me.

“What did you just say?”

“Just kill me already! I’m not telling you shit!”

“No, you are going to do it.” He grabbed the gun and walked over to me. “You are going to end your life.”

“No!” I said. Suicide was against the Nevan belief. Suicide was a damnation of the soul.

“Do it or I will continue.” He adjusted the straps to where my elbow was bent and hand up towards my head. He placed the gun in my hand. I once again tried to move it but it wouldn’t budge. The door opened and a girl no older than three was standing there. “Do it, and I shall spare her.”

“I can’t.” Tears were streaking down my face. He laughed.

“Because of the Nevan belief of the dishonor in suicide.”

“Yes,” I whispered. He strode toward the little girl. “Wait!” He turned towards me. “Do you give your word?” His eye brow rose.

“Do I give my word?”

“That you will not harm the child.”

“I give my word.” The door closed and opened again. The little girl was no longer standing there. “Should I call her back?” He said with a grin. I closed my eyes and pulled the trigger.

I opened my eyes and the room was empty. There were no corpses, no torturer there was no desk. Only me.

The door I had entered opened.

“You may come out, Armistice.” I looked down at my arms and they were no longer bound. I slid out of the chair and made my way to the door. I looked around the room once more to make sure the bodies weren’t somewhere else. I stepped out into the hallway and War Advisor Jennings was standing there with the rest of the War Council.

“Gentlemen,” I said. Not a single expression was visible on any of their faces. Had I failed the test miserably?

“You dishonored yourself,” War Advisor Jennings said firmly.

“Yes. I did, sir.”

“Even though you would damn your soul?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Would you do it again?”

“Yes, I would, sir.” I said with my head held high. I knew my decision, although morally compromising, was the right decision.

“Just one caveat, then.” The War Advisor stared at me pointedly.

“Yes, sir?” I couldn’t fathom what might have changed the outcome of that whole simulation.

“Never,” Jennings replied, “rely on the honor of your enemy. It becomes a bargaining chip.”

My eyes hit the floor. “Yes sir.”

“Come with us,” he said. I followed behind them as we walked through the halls. I hadn’t been on this side of the academy. I looked around as we walked. We finally stopped in front of a room. “Do you know where you are, Armistice?”

“No, sir.”

“This is the next level of the simulator.”

“Oh,” I said looking through the window. I hadn’t expected to reach the next level of the simulator so soon. The first simulator had played tricks on my mind, making everything seem so real. I could only imagine what the next level would do to me.

“Are you ready,” War Advisor Jennings said snapping me out of my drift.

“Yes, sir.” The door was opened for me.

“Same as before, just have a seat and the machine will do the rest.” I nodded and made my way into the room. The door shut behind me. The room was white like the other simulator, with another plain white chair, reclined and cushioned. I sat in the chair and made myself comfortable, relatively speaking. This room had a set of lights on a circular track above the chair.

The room lights shut off and I was swallowed by darkness. I could hear a hum that surrounded me. Bright lights flashed in my face and began to strobe. I tried to close my eyes, but even with them closed the lights shined through. I opened my eyes and faced the lights once more. They began spinning on the track slow at first, but building up speed to where the lights became one bright flashing light.

I began seeing glimpses of my past. Terrifying glimpses. I saw my father execute my puppy. I saw my father cut the throat of one of my nannies. Everything I saw was my father killing something or someone. I tried to close my eyes, but they were drawn to the horror.

The glimpses continued to flash around me. Soon whispers began to echo through my mind.

You’ll never live to be empress.’

You are nothing to me.’

I will kill you and your mother.’

You will die.’

Over and over the whispers repeated. They were taunting me. Reminding me of everything my father had told me as a child. Soon the glimpses vanished and only the whispers and pulsing lights remained. A blinding light flashed and the glimpses returned.

My mother was hanging over the edge of the banister. I screamed as I watched her dangle with my father at the top of the stairs laughing. They vanished and I let out a breath. The light blazed again and my mother laid on the bathroom floor with her arms and legs around her. Her eyes were missing and her mouth sewn shut. Blood pooled beneath her body. Tears slid down my face and my throat closed as I watched in horror. She disappeared once more.

“Tell us what information you were given and we will end this,” a male voice said. I just shook my head as the tears continued to flow.

The light flashed again and my mother was now sitting in front of me. She was tied to a chair by her wrists and feet. Above her was a bright light and darkness around her.

“Kaitlyn, help me,” she whispered.

“I can’t,” I said with regret. She closed her eyes and sobbed. I opened my mouth to explain why I couldn’t help her, but before the words left my mouth, her left hand was freed and placed on a table. “No…no…don’t!” My words didn’t matter. Her hand was cut off. We both screamed; her from the pain and me from the terror of watching it.

“Tell us what information you were given and we will end this.” Tears burned my face. I shook my head. Her other hand was placed on a table.

“Mother,” I whispered. She looked up at me. Her face was pale and blood was running from her severed wrist.

“Please, Kaitlyn,” she pleaded, “Tell them.”

“I can’t,” it barely came out as a whisperer. Another whack and her other hand fell to the floor. She let out a scream that fried my nerves, short circuiting my brain. I gaped in shock. “NO!”

“Tell us what information you were given and we will end this.”

“I can’t!” The sound of a blade cutting through the air echoed and my mom’s eyes widened. “Mother?” She didn’t say anything. She couldn’t. Her head slid off her body and she was dead. I had killed my own mother to protect the information that was entrusted to me. The lights shut off and I sat in the darkness sobbing. I was my mother’s murderer.

Chapter Four

Water Tank

I don’t know how long I was in the simulator or how long I sat in the darkness crying. I heard the door open and I wiped my eyes. I turned my head in the direction of the light and saw War Advisor Jennings standing there.

“You may exit, Armistice.” I slowly moved off the chair and made my way out of the cursed room. They were all staring at me. “What information were you given, Armistice?

“Nothing, sir,” I said facing the wall in front of me.

“I will not ask you again, Armistice. What information were you given?” With my head held high and eyes puffy, I turned my head and faced him.

“Nothing, sir!” His face grew angry.

“Final answer?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Take her to the water tank,” he growled. Two of the councilman took me by my arms and walked me down the hallway, with War Advisor Jennings and other councilmen following behind. I didn’t say anything, because I honestly didn’t care what they had in store for me next. They had subjected me to watching the one person I loved most be tortured.

They walked me through the dining hall and the room fell silent. I caught Trials looking at me in horror, as I was led through the room. He began to rise from his chair, but Aiyetoro held him in place.

We walked through the doors and down a set of stairs. They opened a door marked ‘Tank’ and pulled me through it. In the corner of the room was a giant glass tank with stairs leading up to the top of it. The two councilmen released my arms.

“Up the stairs, Armistice,” War Advisor Jennings said. I didn’t argue, simply walked up the stairs like a robot. The top of the tank was open. “Into the tank, Armistice!” I climbed into the tank without dispute. A lid lowered from the ceiling and fastened down onto the top of the tank. “What information were you given, Armistice?”

“Nothing, sir.”

“Armistice,” he warned, “If you fail to tell me, the tank will begin to fill with water.”

“So be it.” I turned my back to War Advisor Jennings and the councilmen. The tank began filling with water. My feet were soon submerged, then my waist. Finally, it reached my neck.

“Tell me the information you were given.”

“No.” The water continued to rise and soon was up to my nose. Water trickled into my nostrils. I tread water to keep my nose above the surface. There were only a few inches between the water line and the lid. I continued treading water. Right as the water was about to engulf me, I took a sharp breath in and held it. I turned so the councilman could see me.

“What information were you given,” War Advisor Jennings shouted. I shook my head no. I could feel my lungs tightening and my body wanted to take a deep breath. I had never been one for underwater swimming, so I knew my lung capacity was not my strong point. “What information were you given?” Again, I shook my head.

I could feel myself getting lightheaded and my vision blurred. The room began to spin. My pulse was pounding heavily in my skull. War Advisor Jennings and the councilman soon vanished from my view. I let go of the world around me and was taken by the darkness.

I woke up being carried in someone’s arms. I opened my eyes slowly. I was being carried through the dining hall and once again everyone was staring. Water dripped from my body and splashed as it hit the floor. I could no longer hold my head up. My head fell back and blackness prevailed.

Chapter Five

Secrets make friends

I woke up in a room with my head pounding. I looked around and spotted the window on the door. I was in my room. I couldn’t move. I ached from head to toe. I just laid there and tried to drift back to sleep. I was unsuccessful.

I rolled on to my side and hit the light on my clock. It was 1400 hrs. I had been out of it for almost an entire day. I sat up slowly and forced myself to get up. I had already missed half a day of training.

Once I was dressed and prepared, I made my way to my 1400 class. All eyes were on me, as I walked in to Commander Trials’ class. I walked to the back and took my seat.

“So, glad you could grace us with your presence, Armistice,” Commander Trials said making the room laugh.

“Sorry, I was preoccupied with other things, sir,” I growled. Commander Trials was taken aback by my words, but he chose not to continue our exchange. Class dismissed an hour later and the students began filing out.

“Armistice,” Commander Trials said without looking up from his desk. I stopped walking and turned to him. “Not like you to have a temper towards senior officers. Everything okay?”

“Yes. I apologize for my loose tongue, sir.” Much to my surprise he laughed and looked at me.

“No need to apologize. I have seen you crack through your shell more and more as the time passes by. This is a good thing.” He nodded his head. “Word is you went to the water tank.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I see. Is that why you were not in any of your classes, and why you almost missed mine?”

I nodded my head. “Yes, sir.”

“It’s a hell of a hangover,” he winked. “You are dismissed.” He gestured for me to leave. I turned and headed for the door. “Armistice?” I looked over my shoulder. “What information were you given?” He laughed and I grinned.

“Nothing, sir.”

I went to the rest of my classes and kept to myself. I wasn’t in the mood, so I sat with my tray in front of me, while Kurtz and Matthews ate.

“You going to eat anything,” Matthews asked. I shook my head and pushed my tray to him. “Thanks.” He began eating from my tray.

“So, what happened to you, yesterday? You looked pretty messed up,” Kurtz said looking up from his tray.

“Just a little good ole’ Anguish fun,” I said grinning. They both laughed and that was the end of that conversation. A shadow hovered over the table.

“Armistice,” I turned around and Taylor was standing there. “Got a minute?” I wanted to tell him to ‘shove off’.

“Yes, sir,” I said not budging from my seat.

“In private,” he said.

“Fine, sir,” I looked at my tray.

“I’ll put it up,” Matthews said. I nodded my head.

“Thank you.” I stood up and followed Taylor through the dining hall. Males were staring and whispering. I could only imagine what they were saying. Probably thought Taylor was going to kick my ass again. We finally made it out of the dining hall and he continued walking. We walked through the halls to the regiment corridor and finally into the Diablo Regiment area. The room was empty. Taylor shut and locked the door.

My heart began to race. I was in serious trouble and no one would be a witness to what happened to my body. I had done my best over the weeks of being here to stay out of his way, so he really didn’t have a reason to be angry.

He turned and faced me slowly. His face was hardened and he seemed to be struggling with an inward battle. He reached for the door but pulled his hand away.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” he finally said.

“At all cost, sir.” He looked up and glared at me. I finally realized his eyes were emerald green.

“No need for formalities in here.” I nodded my head. “Why have you been ignoring me?”

“You’ve made it quite clear that a female doesn’t deserve to be here and that you don’t care for me, so why wouldn’t I avoid you?”

“Because I am your training officer.”

“Who hates me and doesn’t wish to see me succeed.”

“Why would you say that?”

“It’s written all over your face anytime I’m within a hundred feet of you,” I growled.

“It’s not like that,” he growled back.

“What is it like then?” I placed my hands on my hips.

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“Fine,” I walked towards the door and reached for it. He placed his hand on mine and I quickly looked at him.

“I wish I could tell you,” he whispered.

“Tell me what,” I snapped. Next thing I knew, he had me pinned against the wall and his lips were on mine. I didn’t do anything at first, but seconds later my lips parted. He kissed me gently and caressed the side of my face.

I had never been kissed before. Part of me wanted to stop and admit this to him, but he didn’t seem to mind the way I was kissing. Why was he even kissing me?

The kiss finally ended and he rested his head on mine.

“I’m a man of actions not words,” he said with a chuckle.

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