Furiously, I pounded at my trainer, my opponent, my target, my enemy. Sure, they had stupid mitts on, but I wanted them to feel it when I hit them. I figured that since I was pulled into this, I might as well give it my all. With every breath, my punches impacted harder. I was able to detect very subtle wincing from my trainer. I smirked. Finally, they huffed and backed away. As soon as they did, I followed them, getting ready to aim again. I was relentless. "That's enough Wren." He finally spoke, and I let my clenched fists fall to my sides. I had broke a bit of a sweat, but nothing compared to half of the others in the room. Of course, majority of them were males, all tall and well defined. There were only a small handful of females like myself in the room. The rest all looked like angry bulls about to charge. It wasn't very common to have many girls in this section. Most of them were sent to do industrial work. The lucky ones got to go onto modeling as our "image". It was unfair really, if you were born with any physical skill and weren't beautiful, you were screwed. You'd either end up in the industries or here. Of course, there were always the rich ones who were born into the highest classes and could afford to get their children "fixed" so that they wouldn't have to work.

However, not all of us were here because we were natural born fighters. Some families would keep their children hidden from the Dictator, praying that they could help them escape into a new and better life. But not all families were willing to just send their kids away and hope for the best. No, some of us were being secretly trained to take down the Dictator and his rule. Some families were close to the inside circle, while others were more on the outskirts of things. Few combat families trained their children secretly, being from a combat family was almost rare, kids were trained from an early age and developed a lot of muscle and skill over time. I was from an industrial family. My parents hated the Dictator. From the time I was born, they told me the horrifying stories of war and domination. I had a natural burning passion of hate for him. When I was seven, they started to secretly train me to become an assassin, having me punch sacks of flour and eventually carrying them. My father taught me how to use a gun and wield a knife I was twelve, my parents were found out. They murdered them right in front of my eyes. Even though they were armed with guns, they slit their throats, letting their limp bodies become surrounded by the crimson liquid, soaking into the fabric of their clothing.

I'd been in this "academy" for five years now, been training for ten. Normally, they would have executed me on the spot also, but realizing what an asset I was to their combat force, they shipped me off to here. Over the years, I've become the best of the best. I've been known to give it more than my all and be relentless. That's exactly what they were looking for here, power and drive.

Quickly, I dropped to the blue mat below me and started doing sit-ups. I hated them, I'm sure everyone did, but did them nonetheless. I could feel my abdominals contracting and extending every time I went up and down. I continued this for a good five minutes, completing about one hundred and fifty. By then, I was sweating a decent amount. Most of the guys were now working on weight training. They could all lift a lot of weight. No one in the gym was weak, not anymore. I tilted my head up to the white ceiling with the large rectangular florescent lights and shut my eyes, taking deep and steady breaths.

"Wren," The simple syllable pulled me out of my peace as I opened my eyes to see trainer Flores standing by the doorway. In carefully measured steps, I strode over to him, stopping directly in front, feet square and hands at my sides. Granted, he wasn't a general, but we were taught to give respect to all of our elders. Even if your respect for them was nonexistent.

My silence was taken as his queue to speak again. "Come with me." Nerves would have been flying through my body if I hadn't known that I did nothing wrong. I was the best of my gender and age group. I followed as he proceeded out the large metal door, hearing it clang shut as we exited. We were headed to the Command Room.

As we walked through the pearly white halls, I couldn't help but feel the odd excitement of getting some assignment. I didn't care if it would be dangerous, I wanted more than a way out of this life. Of course, I wouldn't die on purpose, but I certainly wouldn't give a shit if I didn't make it out alive. I swept my light auburn hair from my shoulders onto my back. When we finally arrived at our destination, I reached for the metal handle, feeling the cool surface on the palm of my hand. Opening it, I peered inside. Sitting at the large steel desk was General Arroyo. But that wasn't what caught my eye. It was the boy that was seated in a chair in front of him. As soon as I successfully stepped through the doorway and shut the door, his eyes bore into mine. I couldn't help but notice they were an emerald green that went rather well with his short, dark chocolate colored head of hair.

I tore my eyes away from the boy's and looked at my general for an explanation.

"This is Asher, your new assignment. You are to train him properly and give him rules to live by. We will be checking on his progress every week. Take him to the boys' living quarters. Dismissed." He held out a manila folder with what I assumed was the boy's personal information. Taking a few steps, I reached out and grabbed it, gently pulling it out of his grasp. With that, the boy, Asher, followed me out the door and down one of the halls. I turned once in a while, hoping that he was taking note of the turns so that I wouldn't have to direct him there every time. We suddenly walked into a wider hallway, lined with large oak doors on each side.

Turning to him, I said, "These are the boys' living quarters. You will be staying in room 24B, third from the end on the left." With that, I proceeded down the hallway to the door, swiping my key card through and walking in, beckoning him to follow. Once we were inside, I shut and locked the door, and he must have been confused because it was written all over his face. I motioned for him to sit on one of the bunk beds that were freshly dressed with white linen sheets. Standing in front of him, I began my rant. "This is Tralphmadain Combat Academy. We respect our elders and leaders. Even if you do not have respect. We obey all of our commands when they are commanded. No if's, and's, or but's. We do not question the ways of Tralphmadain, we accept this way of life and live it. We give five hundred percent on everything we do. You do not speak unless you are spoken to, minus the other trainees, you are open to converse with them as long as it is appropriate. We respect your privacy as you should ours. There are no fights of any type in this building. That means verbal and physical. If you are caught in a fight, it's extra training for you. It is up to the general to determine the amount of time and intensity. Therefore, I suggest you play by the rules. There is no wandering into the girls' living quarters and bathing area, same goes for our gender. You will work your best to become the best. And lastly, watch every word you say. Every room is bugged. Bathing areas included. That will be all." I finished grimly and rotated towards the door once more, unlocking it and reaching for the handle. Suddenly, there was a grip on my upper arm and I spun, tackling him to the ground, face down and hands behind his back. My knees dug into his well toned back, holding him there with all of my weight. I leaned dangerously close to his ear and barely whispered, "If you so as much touch me when it is unpermitted, you will regret it." I released his hands roughly and stood. "Any questions?"

As he stood up and brushed the imaginary dust off of his clothing, he turned to me. For once, he actually spoke. "Yes, if I may." Somewhere I subconsciously noted that his voice was somewhat deep, and almost rough. For the first time in my life, I found myself thinking that someone's voice was. . . sexy.

"Will self defense be permitted?" He asked warily. I knew what he was getting at. Would it be considered a fight if he was only protecting himself?

"Self defense is permitted if someone happens to pull what you did a moment ago. Otherwise, if it's a fight, regardless of who initiated it, it counts as fighting. Is that all?" When he was silent, I took that as my answer. "Training begins at o' seven hundred. Be in the training room." With that, I left the poor newbie in his room. I almost felt bad for him, but then I remembered what had been drilled into my mind ever since I arrived here my first day, "Feelings are a weakness. They can only take you down." Instantly, I dispelled my minute falter and worked my way to the girls' living quarters where I could lock up Asher's files to review later. Afterwards, I went to the bathing room. It was empty when I entered, so I stripped down from my sports bra and spandex shorts and turned on the water. I stepped under the cool spray and let my body relax. Gradually, I wet my hair and applied the standard shampoo and conditioner to it, removing the knots with my fingers. Once I rinsed it out, I lathered myself with the ivory bar soap, scrubbing continuously as if I could scrub away my very life. Again, I rinsed myself and stepped out of the stall and quickly dried off, dressing afterwards and blow drying my hair. I stared in the mirror once I was done at the overworked girl on the other side. My eyes looked more of a dull brown grey than the once rich chocolate they use to be. I had no doubt that Asher's eyes would lose the same spark that I once had in mine. Eveyone's eyes got duller after being trapped here for a while.

I couldn't help but think about the boy a little more. He seemed to be my age, possibly a little older. He was tall, probably 6' 3''. Although, all of the boys here were tall. I had noticed that he wasn't really lacking in the muscles department. He looked well toned and fit. His hair was generally longer than most of the boys' here. It was a little short, but not too much. If it was wet, it'd hang in his eyes. In the back, it curled the tiniest bit at the base of his neck. He was quite handsome if I had to say. Not that there weren't any other decent boys here, but he seemed to stand out more.

I mentally slapped myself at thinking of a fellow trainee in that way. There were supposed to be no emotions attached. If you did develop some type of feeling for each other, then it just made everything more difficult.

I waved it off. It was just my stupid teenage hormones kicking in. I returned to my bedroom that I had all to myself. All of the girls had their own room. There weren't enough girls to fill in the rest of them.

I swiped my key card in the holder and entered my room. It was the same as all of the other ones. Creamy white carpeting, a bunk bed with stark white sheets and a pillow, and grey walls. There was also a dark oak nightstand right by the bed, ontop of it was a small lamp that barely illuminated the room and a digital alarm clock with little red numbers. It was about six in the evening, so dinner would be starting soon. It would be the same food as always, steak, potatoes, green beans, some type of fruit, cheese, and a roll. For lunch, it was usually some type of carbohydrate filled dish, normally pasta.

That brought me to another question. Who would Asher sit with at dinner? There were probably ten or eleven different tables to choose from. A wild thought ran through my mind that he could possibly sit with me. But it was instantly cut off. He would undoubtedly sit with the "Groundies". The Groundies were the kids who were sent here as a form of grounding from their parents. They didn't have to do any physical activities because it was all too intense for them. They only had to survive being here, then they were sent back to their oversized mansions with too many rooms.

All of the Groundies were attractive. They all stuck together in a clump, not really bothering to socialize with any of the trainees. But I had a gut feeling that this time would be different. Asher was a very attractive guy. Then I had another thought, the girls would be all over him. Granted, relationships were frowned upon in the academy, but they weren't forbidden. And that meant that one of the little skanks would probably lure him into her web and end up screwing him tonight. I shuddered at the thought of them sneaking around in the dark.

As my thought ended, I glanced at the clock. It was three of six so I decided to start heading down to the mess hall. As I entered the main hallway, I was met with Asher. Unfortunately, He was heading the opposite direction, causing me to fall to the ground, landing on my bottom. From my position on the floor, I glared up at him, hoping that there was still some life in my brown-grey eyes.

I sprung up from where I was sitting and sized him up, looking as intimidating as possible. "This is your first and only warning. Watch where you're walking." I seethed out from clenched teeth. He looked momentarily taken aback before straightening his back and nodding, mumbling a "sorry". I appreciated his attempt at apologizing, but that wouldn't cut it. I had to show him who was boss. "What was that?" I asked in sickly sweet tone, staring right at him.

His emerald eyes lifted to meet mine, in them, I saw brief worry. "I'm sorry for not watching where I was going."

With that, I proceeded to make my way to the mess hall, only stopping when I heard the boy call out for me.

"H-hey!" He sounded almost weary of trying to talk with me again. I smirked to myself. Good, he was learning his place below me. Ever so slowly I turned to face him, noticing that he had taken a few steps forward as if he were prepared to follow me if I didn't respond.

"May I help you?" I questioned him, making a poor attempt at being civil.

His eyes danced about, landing everywhere but on me, his hands were wringing themselves and it was obvious that he was nervous, or embarrassed, or both. "Where exactly is the cafeteria?"

I gestured behind myself with my hand, pointing in the direction of the mess hall. "This way." That's the only information I gave him before I continued to go there, shouting over my shoulder when I didn't hear any footsteps from him, "If you plan on eating food I would follow me!"

I could hear his brisk pace as he tried to make up the distance between us until he was walking alongside me at a fair distance. When we reached the large doors leading into the mess hall, I opened one up and gestured to the inside while saying, "Choose your group."

I guess I should say I wasn't surprised when Asher was adopted by the Groundies. I called it, didn't I? As soon as they got one good look at him, they claimed him. Now they're joking around, laughing, and giggling while the rest of us just sit and brood whilst eating. We all hated the sounds of the Groundies; they were all too loud and their voices high pitched. It took every ounce of strength just not to go at them and shut them up.

I was relieved when dinner was done and we were all allowed to go back to our rooms for the night. I couldn't wait to just go to sleep and wash away all of the strain on my muscles from today.

I was just about ready for bed when I realized I still had yet to open Asher's files. I wanted to save it until morning, but something was begging me not to. So, naturally, I decided to go with my better judgement and open it right then and there.

I was shocked at what I saw inside.

This boy was no ordinary boy sent here for training.

No, he was captured and brought here against his will.

Just like me.

But what startled me even more was the fact that he wasn't from any specific place. They found him wandering in the Outlands, the forbidden territory.

I shoved the files back into the envelope and returned it to the drawer I had it in. My last thought before i succumbed to the depths of sleep was, How did this kid survive out there?