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PostPosted: Sat Apr 9, '11, 12:38 am
Anna was taken to the dormitories by Ms. Krusleva. Ms. Krusleva was a tall blonde, close to her forties. She was not particularly unfriendly, but her serious expression made Anna uncomfortable. The secretary didn't say a word to Anna while they were crossing the training camp. Anna was curious, trying to catch a glimpse of the buildings, of people, everything, but the secretary was walking in a very fast pace, so Anna didn't have much time to take a good look at the place where she would live for the next two years. But then, she would have two years to take a good look in everything, grow used to everything, know everything by heart and eventually grow bored of it all. Anna was in fact more annoyed by the fact that, though she was really happy to be accepted in the academy, she had feelings of uncertainty. She was accepted, but then what? No one has ever cared to explain her what she would really face there and what she was supposed to do. She could only guess. As they were passing by a building with several numbered doors distant three yards from each other, Mr. Krusleva stopped.

“Ms. Zirski... your room will be number four. You will have some time to rest now. After dinner, you will have an appointment with the officer in charge of your group and receive the instructions.”
“Thanks...” Anna's voice was almost a whisper.
The secretary pressed some keys in the panel and asked for Anna to position herself to have her iris scanned and have other biometric measurements taken. This time, Anna was less scared than the first time. The system returned an error, but no alarm was rung. Ms. Krusleva had already been instructed by Colonel Numar and dealt with the error. The steel door opened. Ms. Krusleva turned her back to Anna and started walking back to her office.

“If you have any questions, feel free to ask.”

That was not really sincere. Anna had hundreds of questions to ask, but the secretary's tone was so uninviting that she chose to remain in silence. Anna shrugged and entered the dormitory. It was a small room, with three single beds, a large wardrobe and a small door in the back wall. The lights were immediately turned on as Anna stepped inside the room. She wasted some time realizing how to close the door, till she noticed that there was a small button on the panel by the inner wall written close. She pressed the button and the door closed swiftly. Anna started examining the room. All the three beds were neatly arranged. There were no other items that indicated that there was another person sleeping in that room. Anna considered it a good start. She preferred to be alone than in the company of a stranger. She remembered the time she spent in the orphanage, how difficult it would be to connect to a stranger. If she had befriended Sara, it was out of pity, as Sara was clumsy, silly and had some problems. Sara was a good girl, but if she was not that way, Anna would have never paid attention to her And Anna knew the lightning would not strike twice.

As she opened the wardrobe to pack her things, her hopes were frustrated. She saw some unfashionable plain dresses on hangers, along with some military uniforms. She was now sure that she would have at least one room partner and she was afraid it would be one of those stupid girls she loathed. But there was no point in suffering beforehand, so she started taking her things out of her bag and arranging them in the wardrobe. Her clothes needed ironing, as they were put inside the bag in a hurry, but she didn't care for that, at least then. As she had some free time, she thought it would be a good idea to take a shower and take a nap, as she had been wake since the day before. Sometimes it was as if she had murdered the gang leader years ago, but she had killed him the day before. She took her chances with the door in the back of the room and it was really what she expected, a small bathroom. She took a shower and then laid on the bed on the middle of the room to take a nap.

After some hours of sleep, which Anna couldn't account for, she was waken up by the sound of the door opening. She was still sleepy when she caught the sight of a short and somewhat ugly girl, with long auburn hair, freckles on her face and a prominent upper jaw. Her mouth was closed, but it was obvious that she had buck teeth. Anna feared that she would be one of those talkative and vain girls who she hated, but, as soon as the girl noticed Anna, she just blushed, looked down and, with a very shy smile, said “Hi”. The girl was wearing some kind of uniform and seemed to be tired from some physical effort. Anna just answered the greeting and the girls stayed in silence for a long time. The girl went to the bathroom in order to take a shower. Anna fall asleep again. When she woke up again, the girl was seated on the bed closer to the bathroom, staring down and sometimes looking at Anna.

“What is it? Is there something wrong?” Anna asked in an aggressive way.
“No, nothing.”
“So why are you looking at me?”
“It is just... that this used to be my bed...” The girl was very, very shy.
“Is it so important?” Anna was still aggressive.
“Not at all... I was just waiting for you... to wake up... to catch my slippers... which are under this bed. I didn't... want to... wake you up.” The girl seemed afraid of Anna.
“Sorry...” Anna noticed she was treating the girl unfairly and tried to lighten the tone. She motioned to leave the bed.
“No... no... stay there... sorry, I don´t know your name yet. I´m Elisabeth.”
“I´m Anna.”
“Alright, Anna. Nice to meet you... You can stay there... Are you beginning here today?”
“Yes, I am.” Anna sat on the bed.
“Nice. I hope we can become friends.” The girl let out a shy smile.
“Well... yeah...”

Anna was a bit embarrassed. She was not outgoing and she was not willing to connect with people. She was afraid she would have to bear up with those frivolous girl, but at least Elisabeth seemed to be shy and quiet. She'd rather be alone, but Elisabeth was someone who could answer her questions. By talking with the girl, Anna learned something about the military courses and the routine inside the military academy. By the time Anna had her appointment with the officer, she already knew everything the officer had to tell her Hopefully, for her, Colonel Numar had already ordered someone to hack the security systems, so she went unharmed from then on.

Anna learned also some things about Elisabeth. Elisabeth was sixteen and a rookie at the military academy. She had been there for just two months, but she knew lots of things because her older brother was in the academy as well, for six months. She didn't want to be an officer, she wanted to be a doctor, but her parents couldn't afford the University, so becoming an officer was a way for her to study medicine when she graduated. Her dream was to act as a military doctor, helping people and the brave soldiers during the catastrophes. It would sound ridiculous years before, but lately Mother Brain was not preventing catastrophes as it used to. Anna also learned to call the girl Lizzie. In a few days, Anna had surprisingly took quite a liking for the girl. Lizzie was a bit silly by Anna's standards, but there was something in her naivety, something related to her being always a good-hearted girl, that made it impossible for Anna to not like her. She helped Anna a lot to overcome a bit her feelings and traumas.

As the days passed, Anna got used to the military routine. It was not what the girl most wished for, but it was reasonable. After the first weeks, Anna was used to the hard physical exercises. She converted her psychological strength in physical endurance and soon she was outperforming most of her colleagues. As for training with weapons, it took some time for her to get by. Though she was not the worst shooter in the academy, she was not comfortable with guns. Though the guns were not the only weapons used in military, they were the basic ones. Her superiors considered her a hard worker, but not a talented girl. The fact that she was not very social made them care less about her. She was only friendly with Lizzie. Sometimes she would exchange some words with Richard, Lizzie's elder brother, or one of the officers, but she would utterly ignore the frivolous teenage talk of the other girls or the flirty speech of the other boys.

Then, one day, things changed dramatically for Anna. The cadets were taken to learn the use of other weapons besides the firearms. Most of people would use get some skills in swords and daggers, but the military academy obliged them to take their chances in all the weapons available. During the training with boomerangs and slashers, the instructors always expected poor performances. Though the slashers could be deadly, it was one of the most difficult weapons to use. Unlike guns and swords, the boomerangs and slashers required a high precision to not seem frustrating, so most of the cadets would not waste more time than the mandatory trying to perfect their skills with them.

During her first class with boomerangs, Anna and some of the rookies of the academy, including Lizzie, were taken to an open field, where they would be taught the theory of boomerang fighting and be presented to the weapon. As a dangerous weapon with a large margin of error, the cadets, instructors and assistants would be protected by steel plates with hardened glass windows from where they could see the rookie performances. That security measure was needed because, unlike a gun shot, the boomerang would travel towards the target and return, so staying unprotected was dangerous. The instructors expected the rookies to understand the motion of the boomerangs in no less than three throws and that a few would hit one of the targets in about five or six throws, and that time there was no exception. One of the rookies managed to hit the arm of a mock in his third throw and his performance was celebrated. More rookies managed to hit the steel plates that protected the spectators and one even managed to hurt himself trying to run away from a returning boomerang.

When it was Anna's turn, the instructor repeated his orders to her and returned to his protection. He was not paying attention to Anna, as he was hardly excited with the rookies' training. Anna concentrated, took some paused breaths, which were mistaken for hesitation and finally threw the boomerang. The boomerang described a steady elliptic path in the air and, to the spectators surprise, hit the mock in the torso, severing it. To add to their surprise, Anna calmly retrieved the boomerang, as it returned to her. The assistant was shocked and overjoyed.

“Did you see that? Did you see that?” He tapped anxiously the shoulder of the instructor.
“In fact, I didn't. What happened? The girl got hurt?” The instructor was hardly excited, chatting with another officer.
“Take a look!”

The instructor looked at the field and noticed that the mock was partially severed and the girl was standing in her place, with a puzzled face, with the boomerang in her hand. The assistant started running towards her.

“What have you done?” His tone frightened Anna.
“I just... threw the boomerang...” Her tone was one of someone excusing herself for some mistake.
“Can you do it again?”
“Maybe...” Anna was still confused.
“Do it again. Aim at the second mock.”

The assistant left to his protected position. He wondered if it was not just a beginner's luck, but, though the hit on the mock could be just an accident, the fact that she calmly retrieved the boomerang from its flight while most of the other cadets would simply run away was something already impressive. Anna did the same thing as before, taking some deep breaths before throwing. The audience was in an ecstatic silence. The boomerang started flying in the air, perfectly balanced. Incredulous eyes have seen the boomerang not only sever the head of the second mock, but also cut the lower torso of a third mock which was standing behind the second. In a few seconds, the boomerang was resting in Anna's hand again.

“Wow! I've never seen such a talent!” The assistant ran towards Anna again, followed by the instructor. “How were you able to do that? We've never seen anything like that coming from a rookie.”
“Well... I was paying attention to the others. It is not that difficult, it is just that they don´t really concentrate...”
“Do you mean that you were able to make out how to throw the boomerangs just by looking your companions do it?” The instructor was now interested.
“Yes... I mean... it may not be easy to figure out at first, but then it is not that difficult... you just have to calculate the distance, the path the boomerang will describe and control the strength of the throw...” Anna was a bit embarrassed. She feared the instructors would scold all the other rookies.
“Well, Colonel Numar will be happy to learn his protegée is so talented with the boomerangs.” The instructor was grinning at the assistant. “Well... Anna? From now on, your weapon of choice will be the boomerangs and slashers.”
“Alright...” Anna shruged.

From that day on, she was not considered anymore the under-talented colonel protegée, but the slasher-girl. Her hard work was rewarded by allowing her to accelerate her studies. After a few months, she was closer to graduating than some of the rookies who had joined the academy before her. But that didn't mean that everything was perfect for her. Sometimes things didn't work as she expected. Though a hard worker and talented, she was not perfect and sometimes she made some mistakes. Sometimes she faced some dangerous situations. Very dangerous situations.

During one training in a simulated combat scenario, with real grenades, Anna got herself into a very dangerous situation. The grenades were set to explode in fifteen seconds, as a security measure. Fifteen seconds was considered time enough for the cadets to throw the grenades and go back to a safe position. Though, the simulated combat scenario, designed after the slums of the poorest cities, was not a safe place. When it came the time for Anna to throw the grenade, she was on a wooden platform and her target was on the floor. It was a pile of junk, simulating a combat robot. As Anna removed the safety pin and positioned herself to throw the grenade, she stepped on a cracked wooden board, that collapsed under her foot. She fell head on to the floor, while the grenade flew to a spot between her and the target. She was partially stunned by the fall. Her companions and instructors panicked, screaming, ordering her to retreat, but she couldn't move. Though the training grenades were not so strong as the regular ones, the position Anna was, with her head turned to the grenade, was potentially fatal.

Someone started running towards Anna. It was too late to pull Anna to a safe place or to throw the grenade to a safe place. The cadet laid over Anna's head, protecting it from the grenade shards with her own body. Anna was still stunned, but, after the explosion, she immediately recognized the wails of pain, as several grenade shards pierced the skin and the flesh from the legs and torso of the cadet. It was Lizzie. Anna felt as if the girl was dying over her, but her wounds were not mortal.

“Lizzie? Why?” Anna was desperate.
“I... I... had to...” Lizzie was contorting with pain, but had a faint smile on her lips.
“Oh, Lizzie... what can I say? You just saved my life...”
“I'm so glad...”

Lizzie blackened out and was taken to the emergency room of the military hospital. Her wounds were not mortal, but the grenade steel shards had penetrated her flesh deeply, puncturing one of her lungs and her stomach, breaking ribs and bones from her two hands, which she used to shield her own head from the grenade shards. Lizzie had to undergo several surgeries and stayed three months away from trainings. Anna felt guilt indirectly causing that to her friend, but Lizzie was less worried. Anna hesitated for some days before visiting her friend in the hospital.

“Lizzie...” Anna was feeling embarrassed. “... how do you feel?”
“Not that bad.” Lizzie smiled. “I will survive. Soon I´ll be annoying you again.”
“I've heard... you had... been operated...”
“Yes, many times.”
“And how was that? Are you OK now?”
“They say they have mended everything.”
“And what do you feel? Does it hurt?”
“It is fine. I only wished they had used the opportunity to make them bigger.” Lizzie was looking to her own chest. “But the doctor said I had to hurt both to earn a complete remodeling. If only I knew...” Lizzie laughed shyly.
“Oh, Lizzie, how can you joke about that?” Anna swallowed hard, imagining the pain. “Doesn't it hurt?”
“It does a lot, but in some weeks I'll only have some scars left, to impress the boys. It is not too bad.”
“I really hope so.”

Anna thought a bit about what Lizzie had just said. She was happy to see her friend upbeat and optimistic, despite of her terrible ordeal. She would never forgive herself if Lizzie had died or suffered a permanent damage. Luckily that was not the case. To hear Lizzie joking about her own wounds was somewhat relieving. But it was somewhat strange as well. She couldn't laugh of Lizzie jokes. Lizzie was thinking about the boys. Lizzie was shy and ugly, so the boys hardly paid attention to her. Her body was not attractive as well, and now she would have ugly scars to make her even less attractive. Anna hardly paid attention to the boys, she was rather cold toward them. Because of the past tragedies of her life, she didn't want to think about love and relationships. It was too hard for her to remember her family murdered, what the scoundrels tried to do to her, what the drunken guy tried to do to Sara. And the silly teenage boys hardly excited her. She'd rather be left alone, though the boys were always amazed with her good looks. It was different for Lizzie. The girl longed for a relationship. Though she didn't act like the frivolous girls of the academy, she was a dreamer and a romantic. Anna unfairly lumped all the girls but Lizzie in the same category, as she couldn't stand the chit-chat of them all. Lizzie was different, but Anna knew she wanted to find a man to date, to marry. Anna was a bit saddened because, though Lizzie was the best heart she had ever met, she couldn't think of any boy who would want to have a serious relationship with Lizzie.

As the weeks passed, Lizzie recovered completely but for the terrible scars in her hands, legs and body. Lizzie didn't seem to care about them, though. She was anxious to return to the military training. Meanwhile, Anna had already completed almost all of her training. After the regular training, the cadets were supposed to take part of ten real missions before becoming a full-fledged officer. The missions were ranked as beginner, intermediate or expert and every cadet had to take part of at least one expert mission and three intermediate missions. None of the missions were supposed to be really dangerous, though from time to time one cadet would end injured and, more rarely, killed in action. The missions were very common, as Motavia didn't have a mobilized police force, so the government contracted the military to deal with organized crime. Most of the missions involved arresting criminals or capturing and dismantling their bases. Most of the time, the cadets volunteered themselves to the missions, but Anna was surprised when she was assigned for a mission.

Captain Stevens had asked the presence of Anna in a mission. Anna didn't personally know Captain Stevens and was curious to learn why he had chosen her. It would be a critical mission, though not dangerous. The group was entitled to seize a van right in the moment it would be delivering illegal drugs in one of the selling points in the outskirts of Zema. Seizing the van would not only cause huge losses to the drug dealers, but also would provide them hints to finally dismantle all the illegal operations. When Captain Stevens came to debrief the mission to Anna, he acted very nicely to her, saying he praised her efforts on training and would like to have her skills in his team. Anna was glad to be chosen. Captain Stevens seemed to be a nice guy and she immediately sympathized with him.

The mission was not a hard one. Anna didn't know that she would be crucial to its success. Captain Stevens counted on her agility and stealthy movements to seize the van while moving. Anna considered the plan a little crazy, but she went for it anyway. It was a thrilling experience to jump over the van while it was passing under an elevated pass and surf over it before being able to oblige the conductor to stop it with her slashers gently caressing his throat and the throat of his partner, who was on the passenger's seat, hanging on the car roof. Meanwhile, Captain Stevens and another officer overpowered the rest of the gang members who were hiding on the van trunk. The mission was a success and Anna built a partnership with Captain Stevens, doing most of her future missions with him.

On the military academy, Anna completed her training. She was allowed to leave the academy dormitories if she wanted, but she preferred to stay, as she had nowhere to go. At least, at the academy, she was under the protection of Colonel Numar, she had the company of her best friend, Lizzie, and some acquaintances, including some girls she removed from the group of frivolous girls she had invented on her mind. Anna was learning to be a bit more friendly and sociable. In almost two years, Anna had matured a lot. She learned to consider the academy as her home and part of its staff as her family. She felt happy for having been sent to the academy and she was growing fond of her job as an officer. More than that, she felt the protection she longed so much for. She knew she was safe inside the academy, free from the dangers of the slums. It was as if the filthy world outside didn't exist inside the academy.

Though, one day, her views would change again. One day, Lizzie returned from her training very late. Anna was already in the bed, but was startled by the sight of her best friend. Lizzie was weeping and walking very slowly, in an awkward way. The girl dragged herself to her bed and let her body fall on the bed. Her expression was of sadness, fear and pain. Her hair and dress were in a disarray. Anna went to comfort her friend.

“What happened to you, Lizzie, my dear?”
“Oh, Anna...” The girl seemed in shock, she could barely speak.
“Tell me, what happened to you?” Anna was deeply worried.
“I...can't... Anna... it is painful...” Lizzie was shivering in pain.
“Please, Lizzie, trust me...”
“No... Anna... leave me...”

Anna considered it better to leave her friend and ask her the next day. She was really worried with her best friend. She couldn't guess what had happened to the girl, but she knew it should have been something really serious. Sometimes Lizzie would cry for a silly thing, but she had never acted in such a scary way. When Anna woke up the next day, she woke up startled, as she was woken up by noises in the bathroom. She went to the bathroom to check what was happening. Lizzie was naked, desperately scrubbing her dress and underwear in the bathroom sink. Anna was puzzled by the girl's reaction, as all the clothes were washed in the laundry.

“What are you doing, Lizzie?” Anna asked with a friendly tone, while placing her hand on Lizzie's shoulder.
“Gahhh!” Lizzie was badly scared by Anna's touch. Anna took her hand from the girl's shoulder. “No... Anna... no...” The girl's eyes were red, tired of crying.
“Lizzie? Please, tell me what happened. Let me help you...”
“Leave me alone! Please, Anna, leave me alone!” Lizzie was in despair.
“Lizzie, you are my best friend. I love you. Let me help you.”
“Not now... Anna... please...” Lizzie resumed scrubbing her clothes.

Anna, realizing that it would be useless, left her friend alone. She was deeply worried about the state of her friend, but she was powerless to help her. The girl would not say anything. Anna tried to erase the thoughts from her head, but she couldn't. Lizzie never acted like that. Something really serious should have happened, though she couldn't figure out what it could be. She imagined she had seen some blood in Lizzie's dress. For some days, only the doubt remained. Lizzie returned to her training, though she was not performing well, always anxious. Three days after the first incident, Lizzie arrived very late again, crying, acting in the same awkward way. Anna tried to comfort the girl, but Lizzie would resist any attempt of helping her. Anna was deeply saddened. The next day, she had enrolled to an expert mission, but her mind was on Lizzie. She never knew how well she performed the mission. Though Captain Stevens made large compliments to her and she was awarded a medal afterward, she couldn't remember exactly what happened in the mission. In fact, she had saved the day, slaying three scoundrels who had trapped Captain Stevens and the other officers in a corner and where about to kill them, but she had only Lizzie on her mind. When she arrived at her dormitory, Lizzie was not there yet. She would arrive past midnight, crying again. This time it was too much for Anna.

“Lizzie! Don't tell me it happened again!”
“Oh, Anna... Leave me...”
“No, not today! Not anymore!” Anna was nervous. She grabbed Lizzie by her frail shoulders. “Today you will tell me what happened to you!”
“Please... Anna... I just can´t...” Lizzie was in shock, walking like a zombie.
“No! You will tell me, Lizzie!”
“Let me... go to my bed...”

Anna let Lizzie go to her bed, but she followed her closely. Lizzie abandoned herself in her bed and buried her head on her pillow, sobbing bitterly. Anna was desperate. She couldn't stay there anymore, seeing her best friend crying and suffering almost every day. She had to discover what happened to her friend.

“Lizzie, now, tell me what happened.” Anna stroked Lizzie's long auburn hair lightly.
“Please... Anna... leave me...”
“No, Lizzie! Today you will tell me what happened.” Anna's voice was serene.
“What happened to you? Did someone hurt you?”
Lizzie turned her face to Anna and stared at her. Her expression was of pure sadness. “Anna...” Lizzie sighed deeply. “A... man...” She was shivering and her last words were almost inaudibly. “abused me...” She buried her face again on the pillow.
“What?” Anna was indignant.
“A man... abused me!” Lizzie repeated, this time louder, in anxiety.
“I can't believe that!” Anna clinched her firsts. She had a sudden fit of rage. That could not be happening. Not with Lizzie. Anna couldn't believe it. Her safe haven was not safe anymore. She couldn't believe there was a man inside the training camp abusing girls. No, Anna had to do something about that. The man should me murdered. She felt the same urge to murder him, whoever he was, as she did with the gang leader back in her days in the slums. Anna couldn't accept that. Lizzie was ugly and unattractive, why would a man choose her among all the girls in the camp? Besides, Lizzie was the best person she had ever met. Why would God let something like that happen to Lizzie? No, Lizzie didn't deserve that. Whoever perpetrated that abominable crime to Lizzie should die. “Who did that to you?”
“Anna... leave it...”
“Who did that to you? I'll kill that man!” Anna was blind with rage.
“No, Anna...”
“I'll kill him! Please, tell me!”
“I can't... I must marry that man...”
“What?” Anna was indignant. How could Lizzie consider marrying the man that was causing her such humiliation, such pain?
“I must marry him... if I want to be a clean woman...”
“I can't believe you are saying that! I can´t believe you are saying that! I can't believe you are saying that!”
“I must...”
“I can't believe you are saying that! Lizzie!” Anna was angry with her friend. “In which world do you live? From where did you take that idea? From an ancient book? Lizzie, the man has raped you! It is a crime! The man is a criminal! He must pay for his crimes!”
“But Anna... it is shameful...”
“It is no shame to be a blameless victim of a filthy crime! Lizzie, you must help us to help you! You must tell us who this man is. He can't go unpunished! He can't keep torturing you, making you suffer! You must tell us! Please, Lizzie!”
“I can't... Anna... I can't...”
“Damn, Lizzie! Be reasonable! I just want to help you!” Anna was indignant. “Well, if you don't tell me who he is, I'll discover and bring his head to you, I swear. I'll not leave that go unpunished! Never! Even if it is the last thing I do in my life!”
“No... Anna...”

Anna left Lizzie and went to her bed, but she couldn't sleep. She couldn't stop thinking about the horrors her friend should have been enduring in the hands of that damned man. Even more because she realized the origin of the blood in Lizzie's dress and that was too much. If the abuse was already revolting by itself, imagine considering the man had stolen her friend's innocence. All she wanted was to avenge her friend. To murder that man. She would murder him mercilessly. How could someone be so abominable to do that with a woman? How could someone be so evil to do something like that to the most good-hearted woman the world had ever seen? No, that couldn't go unpunished. And Anna had a plan. She knew how to discover the man who was doing such abominable acts to her best friend. Unfortunately, her plans involved letting Lizzie be assaulted one more time, but this time would be the last. And she would make sure her friend would be avenged. She knew she could not change the past, and she would do anything to save Lizzie from her terrible fate. But, as it was not possible, she would make sure the man who had stolen Lizzie's innocence would die in the most painful way it was possible.

On the other day, Anna had nothing to do, so she decided to spy on her friend. After Lizzie afternoon training was over, Anna started following her. For her surprise, Lizzie was acting in an awkward way. She had changed her training uniform for a dress and was taking a route she'd usually not take to return to her room. It seemed as if Lizzie was taking the route that would take her to the man who would abuse her on purpose. Anna just couldn't understand the behavior of her friend. Lizzie had surely gone mad. Why would she act that way? Anna always considered Lizzie a bit silly, but that was too much for her to understand. She'd never accept someone would do that on purpose. That was stupid beyond belief. It was revolting. Abhorring. Loathsome. No, Lizzie couldn't be handing herself to that scoundrel so easily. But that was what was happening. After some minutes, while passing in front of some dormitories, a man stepped out of a room, grabbed Lizzie violently by the arm and dragged her inside the dormitory. Lizzie's expression was of fear, but she didn't fight the man. Anna just couldn't believe that. She couldn't accept that. She knew she had to do something about that and she would do something about that. Now that she knew who was the man who was doing Lizzie harm, it was time for him to pay.

That night, Lizzie arrived late, crying again. Anna couldn't sleep well again, imagining what her friend had just endured. She just couldn't understand why, but she would leave the talking for another day. She had a clear plan in her mind for the next day. The next day started as the previous day had, with Lizzie in terrible spirits, leaving for some more training. This time, though, the things would be different. First, Anna had to steal a slasher. The cadets and even the officers were not allowed to use weapons inside the academy, except during training and when getting ready for a mission. So Anna sneaked into one of the training camps and, when no one was noticing, stole a slasher. Then, she waited patiently for the evening to come. She went to the field were Lizzie and other cadets were taking physical exercises. By talking with the instructor, Anna invented an excuse to have Lizzie relieved from the day activities one hour earlier than the usual and the instructor easily complied with the request, given the poor state of the girl. Then, she took Lizzie back to their dormitory. Lizzie seemed uneasy. It was as if she really wanted to meet the man and was frustrated for being barred by her friend. But Anna didn't care, she just took Lizzie back, locked her in the dormitory and went out to meet the man.

As expected, the man was waiting for Lizzie to come. Anna made some noises and then stayed waiting by the wall of the man's dormitory. As the man came out to see what was happening, Anna, fast as lightning, grabbed him by the throat and pulled him violently towards the wall inside of his dormitory. She pressed the blade of her slasher in his throat.

“Surprise! Were you expecting someone else, eh?” Anna's voice was filled with sarcasm.
“Uh! Oh! Who... are... you...?”
“The one who will make you pay for what you have done to Lizzie!”
“What?” The man was a bit surprised, but he didn't show the fear Anna was expecting. He was a tall and strong man, with an always-serious countenance. His eyes had some hints of madness.
“Do you consider it fun to abuse her? Now you will see what I consider fun to do to someone who abuses an innocent girl.”
“You don't know anything about that.” The man was angry.
“Really? Why did you do that?” Anna was trying to hold back her true will, as she wanted to finish the man right there. She was sure he was mad.
“Because I love Lizzie!”
“What?” Anna was furious. “What are you saying.”
“That... I... love Lizzie!” The man freed himself with a sudden arm movement and pushed Anna away from him. “I love Lizzie! Can't you understand that?”

Anna was shocked, both with revelation and with the fact that the man has freed himself so easily from her grip. For a moment she feared a fight, but the man turned his back on her. Anna was completely furious. She ran to the man and grabbed him by the arms. She was so furious that her mouth was foaming.

“How can you say that you love her, you rascal? You had raped her! This is not love! Can't you see the suffering on her face? The fear? The pain? You are a wretched abomination! How can you say you love her?”
“I had to do it.” The man looked very calm.
“Had to do it? Had to do it? Had to do it? Rascal! You ruined the life of such a sweet and innocent girl!”
“I had to take possession of her.”
“What?” Anna shook her head in disbelief. “Say that again and those will be your last words.”
“I had to take possession of her.” The man easily pushed Anna away again. “I had to make sure she would be mine! I love her and she knows that! I couldn't risk losing her! There is no woman like Lizzie!”

Everything was surreal for Anna, beyond her understanding. She could not believe what was happening. She wanted to kill that man. How could he be so evil to say he loved Lizzie? How could he be so sick to believe he was doing something right to Lizzie? No, that was not happening. She could not stay there, holding her slasher any longer. She had to kill that scoundrel immediately.

“Go ask your friend! I love her and she will be mine!”
“You are sick! You deserve to die!”
“Go ask her.” The man crossed his arms, calmly. He was not even looking at Anna anymore.

Anna was furious, but now she was in doubt. She wanted so much to finish off that man, but she couldn't live with the doubt. She had to ask Lizzie again. She left the man and went back to her dormitory thinking, trying to make any sense out of the situation, but that was impossible. Could it be true that Lizzie wanted that? Of course not, she remembered how much Lizzie cried and suffered from that. But why would Lizzie accept to be abused. Anna knew that, if that was with her, she would either kill the man or die, but she would never let any man abuse her. Never like Lizzie was doing. She was accepting the abuses. She was handing herself to be abused. That the man was sick, Anna had no doubts. But Lizzie? No, she was feeling a fool. The man most probably threatened to kill Lizzie and even her brother. Lizzie had nothing to do, but to hand herself to the man. Anna should have killed the man, but now it was too late. So, she went back to her dormitory, depressed.

As Anna arrived in the dormitory, Lizzie was lying on her bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. Anna hesitated a bit, but she couldn't postpone that important conversation.

“Lizzie, I've been with the man who was abusing you.”
“What?” Lizzie sat up, startled. “Did you... kill... him?”
“Not yet, though I'll certainly will. I just want to know why, Lizzie? Why do you let him do that?”
“Oh... Anna...” Lizzie started crying.
“No, Lizzie, please! Tell me!”
“Leave it... The way it is...”
“Never! I can't stand seeing you coming every night through that door crying! Lizzie! Please! I´m you friend, I want to see you happy. I don't want to see you crying and suffering, Lizzie. You don't deserve to go through that anymore.” Anna embraced her friend.
“Please... let it be... Anna....”
“Why? Lizzie...”
“Let it be... I beg you...”
“Lizzie... it is not right... If he is threatening you, we will protect you. He will do no harm to you.”
“Anna... please... It is not that...”
“So why, Lizzie?”
“Anna... let it be...”

Anna stayed a long time embraced with her friend, gently stroking her hair. She could not understand. She would never understand why Lizzie was acting that way, but she felt powerless to do anything. She swore to herself that if that kept on happening, she would kill the man, but she chose to wait a bit more. If Lizzie herself didn't oppose to what was happening, she could wait some days more.

In the following days, everything went normal. Lizzie arrived on time in the dormitory. Anna never saw her crying again. She was still confused, but relieved to see her friend regain her her usual joy again. Anna never saw or heard about the man who abused Lizzie anymore. Lizzie was feeling capable to perform her trainings again, so Anna considered inviting Lizzie for one of her upcoming missions. Anna was already finishing her mandatory missions and would graduate soon. Lizzie still had a couple of months of training, but was allowed to start taking part in missions. Anna felt it would be good for Lizzie if they were together on her first mission, as he knew Lizzie would be afraid and insecure. She didn't know though that this mission would be so remarkable for her.

The mission was to seize a house in the outskirts of Kueri that was used to distribute illegal drugs to drug dealers of the region. The mission was not supposed to be dangerous, as the house was guarded by not more than three guards each turn. The house was well-protected by high walls and electric fence, but, once inside the house, they should face almost no resistance. The strategy was to cause some noise on the main gate to distract the guards while Anna sneaked into the house jumping the side wall. Anna would then watch for any guards and instruct the others to invade and overpower the bandits. If something wrong happened, Anna could attack the bandits from her position. Anna sneaked in easily and secured a position on a terrace, from where she could see and listen the bandits. When everything was ready, she ordered the invasion. Apparently, there were only two guards inside the house.

The mission was going as planned, but Lizzie was feeling anxious. Instead of keeping her position with the main group, she climbed the wall and followed Anna. She would only feel safe with Anna, so, with some difficulties, she managed to sneak into the house. She started looking for Anna, but she was scared to be alone inside the house, so she eventually got lost. She climbed to the roof of the house and finally found the terrace where Anna was positioned. She decided to turn back, climb down and look for the terrace entrance, but she heard some footsteps under her. The footsteps seemed to be moving towards the terrace. She decided to hang in the roof, from where she could see Anna and the terrace door. After some seconds, a man appeared on the terrace door, holding a gun. Lizzie was in despair. She knew the guy would shoot Anna. As she had left her rifle outside, in order to climb up the wall, Lizzie only had a small dagger and she had not time to take her dagger and attack the man before he could aim and shoot at Anna. So, Lizzie jumped from the roof to the terrace, with her foot aiming the man's head. Her foot hit his chin and chest, making him fall backwards. Anna was startled and turned to see what had happened. The men fell still holding his gun. He aimed at Anna's head and shot, but Lizzie had positioned herself in front of Anna, taking the bullet on her shoulder. Anna, realizing what was happening, threw her slashers, amputating both arms of the man, who was trying to aim at Lizzie's head. The commotion attracted the attention of the guards who were near the gates, so Anna, in despair, screamed for help in her intercom. The bandits on the front yard had just turned their backs to see what was happening in the terrace when the gates were blown up by dynamite. Panic ensued and the rest of Anna's team invaded the building discharging their guns on everything that moved.

Anna went to hold Lizzie, who was having difficulties to stay standing. She comforted her friend and thanked her dearly for saving her life once more. Lizzie was calm, but worried about the man who was bleeding out. Anna, on her turn, was not concerned about him. She told the others that they were safe, but Lizzie was injured. Her companions ordered her to call for medical service while they searched the building. No other guards were found. As medical service came, Lizzie was desperate. The amputated man was dying and she begged them to help him first, but they ignored her appeals and left the man to die. Anna was feeling bad for that. How could Lizzie be so good? She had taken the shot just to protect Anna. She was more concerned about the scoundrel who had shot her than about her own health.

In the next days, while Lizzie was still recovering, Anna finished her last mission and graduated from the academy. She was very happy to have finally finished the course. Now she was a full-fledged officer, 2nd Lieutenant Anna Zirski. She was so thankful for everyone who made it possible, who took the degenerate homeless and hopeless girl in the slums and made her somebody. Trusted her. Gave her a chance to change. To prove herself worthy. She would always be in debt with Colonel Numar, Jake, General Skarlopoff, Captain Stevens and many others, specially Lizzie.
Lizzie was her friend and her savior. Twice. She was happy that Colonel Numar let her to remain living in the academy, as she had nowhere to go. She was still 15, so she would have to be sent to an orphanage again and both Colonel Numar and Anna preferred she'd stay in.

She visited Lizzie everyday while the girl was still in the hospital. She was happy to see her friend in high spirits, despite of the new wound. Lizzie was overjoyed that Anna finally graduated and felt even happier to learn that Anna would stay with her, in the academy. One thing that puzzled Anna was that she started receiving letters for Lizzie in the dormitory. At the beginning it was one every day, but then she started received five to ten letters everyday. She decided to take the pile of letters to Lizzie in the hospital, who was anxious to read them. Anna watched in amazement Lizzie devour the letters anxiously. Then, Anna can't stand anymore.

“Lizzie, what are these letters about?”
“Private... things...” Lizzie blushed.
“Don't be silly. Tell me. Who has wrote them?”
“Oh... Anna... you know who...” Lizzie was really embarrassed.
“Him?” Anna was angry.
“Please... Anna... try to understand me...”
“Alright, Lizzie... I´ll never understand... but if it makes you happy...”
“Thanks.” Lizzie's smile was enough to remove any worries from Anna's mind.

As the days passed, Anna was growing accustomed to her life as an officer, performing her missions, training more and more. Her performance and dedication soon awarded her the 1st Lieutenant rank. She was happy, performing well in her job, with friends and acquaintances. It was the first time since the murder of her family that she could say he was really happy. Though she would never forget the tragic murder of her parents and all the suffering endured living in the slums, she felt she was ready to start from the scratch again, leaving the past behind and building a bright and happy future for her. If fate allowed her to do so.
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