"Ana, we need to get moving. They'll have heard the shots. We need to go. Now".

I heard him speaking to me, but it sounded far off. We had been walking down a back alley on our way to the meeting, when we came across the two men. Before I could even think, I had brought up my carbine and shot them both in the back. I was horrified by what was once unthinkable, and had now become reflex. Sure, I'd done this before, but then it had been completely different; the atmosphere had been one of fright and a need to stay alive. But these men… they had just been standing there. Guarding the entrance to the adjacent alley for sure, but seven years ago…

Ah hell. Seven years ago I would have never been sneaking around back alleys, taking part in secret resistance meetings, wouldn't have been participating in the war effort at all. I was a little girl back then, only in my 4th year of school, and without a care in the world. But whatever. I don't like to think about my past, because it's hard enough to keep my emotions in check already. When I think back to how it was, I always end up in tears, and that doesn't end well in the new Arcadia. In the new Arcadia you have to be ready for anything at anytime. Be ready to fight or flee.

My name is Anamirian. And welcome to the latest military annex of the Northern Empire: Cambridge, capitol of my homeland, Arcadia. When the Empire invaded in 1912, my country was prospering, finally beginning to develop our outdated industrial economy, all based on steam. As it would turn out, the North had already dropped steam technology by the wayside, instead moving on to build more powerful machines of war than we could have ever imagined. When they marched across the border, there was nothing for our military to do but surrender. The Arcadians were made into slaves in their own cities, being forced to work to support the new Imperial leadership for meager pay. They were kicked out of our homes and sent to live in prefabricated tract housing.

I've never seen the inside of one of these new "homes" that they built for us. When Arcadia was invaded, the Empire killed off nearly half of our native population. Including my parents. I was ten.

Author's Note: Hello all! This is a story I started writing a few years ago, but never finished. This is the first of Six completed chapters, and I'm hoping through reader response, I'll find the inspiration to finish.