Page 4

I can feel myself resurfacing again, and I fight against it, not wanting to be put out again. But I sense that something's different this time. As I become more and more conscious I can hear my name being repeated over and over, and my body shakes. I guess that it's Shihong, since she's the one I introduced myself to.

"Lysandra." A commanding voice jolts me awake, and I find myself looking around a small room with two twin beds. I can see the man who answered my questions from outside my house, and another guy that stands at his side, probably not much older than me. Shihong sits on the side of my bed, but quickly stands up at attention towards the man. I sit up in my bed, looking at him expectantly. He returns my stare, then begins addressing me.

"There are a number of different units in our rebellion. Units specialized for those who are more talented in certain areas of combat, scouting, and those who deal more with public relations," he pauses, catching his breath, "Each of those units have a few separate teams that specialize in more specific areas. For example, the Combat Unit have teams who train under hand to hand fighting, and those who work with assault weapons. You will be watched and tested to find your unit. When we find it, you will be transported immediately to that location, and you will begin your training. Understood?"

I blink, taking it all in. Then I slowly nod, and he leaves, but Shihong and the other who can't be much older than me stay behind.

"What's his name?" I inquire.

Shihong answers me, "Commander Newel. And that's his second in command, Lieutenant Jol." Jol nods to me, and I wonder how he could've gotten so far in the system for being so young. I hold in my questions though, nobody seems too excited to chat.

Jol speaks, "You are to report to the cafeteria in one hour, Shihong will assist you in finding it. After you finish eating, return to your dorm immediately, and you will find an assortment of items ready for you. Tomorrow morning we will commence your testing, so your curfew tonight will be 10:45. Get good rest, and work hard, because your test results will be where your new home is, who you associate with, and-" He is suddenly cut off by Shihong.

"Lieutenant, I think she understands. I need to have enough time to fill her in about life here before she goes to dinner." Jol looks slightly embarrassed for a moment, but he then nods and walks away.

"He usually doesn't ramble like that. Excuse him, he's just overly excited by your files." When she sees my questioning gaze Shihong explains, "The scouts have been evaluating you for several weeks, and have been praising you ever since their assignments began. We expect you to go far in our program, however Jol is right. Don't let it get to your head, work hard, it can easily go the other way."

"How long have you been here with the rebels?" I ask, hoping to get an approximate time frame for how long I have to be here. I can only hope that they all are disgusted with my performance and send me back to my home.

Shihong studies my expression, reading my mind. "I don't have any idea. I hardly remember when they came and took me from my family. Don't set yourself up for heartbreak, Lysandra. The chances of you going home, even if you are absolutely horrible in all the areas we have, we can always find a use for you. I tried, and I'm still here." I see her eyes go sad for a moment, "It really is good here, though. They all treat you well, everything is provided for you. You'll eventually view these people as your own family, I promise." She promises me with such conviction that for a second, I almost believe her.

"Will you please leave me for a few minutes?" I ask, and I see her hesitation. However, she gives in, probably remembering herself when she first came. Silently, she get's up and crosses to the door muttering, "10 minutes," as she goes.

I fall back on my bed the moment she closes the door. I prepare for the surge of emotions to take over, but all I feel is emptiness. I stare at my white ceiling, willing myself to cry, throw or hit something, yell, scream, do something, but I just can't.

And then the shock sets in.

I start to shake uncontrollably, replaying every second since the moment I woke up in the middle of the night. In my bed, in my house, I knew exactly what my life was like, what the next day was most likely going to be like. Now my family is probably searching for me, wondering what they did to make me sneak out in the middle of the night and supposedly run away from home. Suddenly all I want is for them to know what's happened, even if I never see them again, to know that I didn't just leave because something upset me, but because I was taken from them. That if I knew where I was, I would run to them this instant.

As I continue to shake, my thoughts get more and more jumbled, and I can only process a few whole thoughts. And just as suddenly as I started to go crazy, and not be able to think, the shaking start to subside into occasional twitches, and a single thought stands at the forefront of my mind. One day my older sister and I had been arguing all day, she kept provoking me and getting on my nerves only the way that she could. After my parents yelling at us all day about how she would be moving out soon, (leaving me alone at home with my parents) and how we couldn't act like this in the last few days before she left for college.

My father came into my room that evening, much to my annoyance. He sat on the side of my bed, and said, "Lysandra, in this life you will be pushed beyond your breaking point many times. And although you have to way to stop the others from pushing you, you most definitely can control the way to react under it." He stopped to pet my hair, then said, "Always act with integrity. Be honest with yourself, and do what you think is best; and trust that." He kissed my cheek, then left, closing the door gently behind him.

As the memory fades, I breath deeply and close my eyes. No matter what they do to me, no matter how important this 'test' is, I'll just do what I think is best. The idea calms me down, and instead of the awful fear that had consumed me just seconds before, I feel complete peace. I smile, thinking of how appalled everyone else will be when they see that I haven't suffered at all.

In that moment, Shihong knocks timidly on the door, calling my name. I jump out of bed, check myself in a mirror, and satisfied with how I look, I open the door.

"Ready for dinner?" She asks, gazing at me to check for any damage. When she doesn't find anything out of place she seems to exhale a breath of relief.

I smile at her, "Sure. Lead the way."

The End

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