Prologue

The little five-year-old ran towards her mother, smiling.

"Ama!" Her short strands of dark hair were tousled, and she held a piece of paper in her hand. Her mother turned around, showing her unsmiling face. Her expression remained unchanged when she saw her daughter.

"Raine, what are you doing here? You know that your father has to work." She sighed exasperatedly. The little girl looked up at her with wide eyes.

"But Ama, I made Father a picture. It has our family." Her voice was high and pleading.

"Fine, Raine. I'll take you to see him." The woman took her daughter's hand and led her into the office they had been standing in front of. Inside, everything was cold and angular, including the man behind the desk. The little girl scampered to him, holding the drawing in her outstretched hand.

"Look, Father! I made you a picture." The man took the drawing.

"Thank you, Raine." His voice was deep and commanding, without a trace of softness. The little girl smiled up at him, which he didn't return.

"You're welcome, Father! Bye!" She ran out of the room and closed the door behind her, only to stop when she heard her parent's voices.

"Useless girl." Her father's voice, followed by the sound of the paper shredder.

"She will never go anywhere. I wish she had been a boy." Her mother.

"You're right. But we can always marry her into a rich family. Please, train her to be a good wife for her future husband."

"Of course. But don't expect much from her. Her head is full of the idea that she's going to be as great as you. I will do my best, though."

"Thank you. You are dismissed." Footsteps coming towards the door. The girl broke out of the paralyzed state induced by the exchange she had heard and ran down the hall and into the teleporter. She entered her room number as fast as she could with her short fingers. Moments later, she was on her bed, tears streaming down her face.

Even though she was only five years old, she was exceptionally intelligent and had understood all her parents were saying. Once her tears had subsided, her expression hardened into one of determination. I will become the person my parents want me to be. I will be in the army, and I will never let anything get in my way, she thought.

Her hands bunched into fists, and she stood from her spot on her bed, standing at her window resolutely.

Two years from that day.

"Raine! Wake up! I'm trying to teach you the history of this world. What have you been doing at night?" The girl's mother shook her awake from her place at her desk.

"Sorry, Mother. I will do better." The girl's shockingly gray eyes stared at her mother's dark brown ones.

Walking out from her day's classes, the girl sighed. She went to the Pre-Academy four days a week and was schooled by her mother the other three, like all the other girls in her class. Walking into the teleporter as she had done since she was able to, she shivered in anticipation.

Do more. This was the only thought running through her head as she did pull-ups on the makeshift bar she had set up in her room. She had done this since the day she had heard the conversation between her parents. She had also done countless other exercises, physical and mental. I will be someone my parents can be proud of.

The seven-year-old held the stolen blaster in her hand. She stood in the deserted shooting range, which had been closed for hours. This was not her first time doing this, and she wasn't completely without direction. She had seen her father's underlings practicing here, and she had learned from watching them.

A shot, then another, followed by eight more. Ten smoking holes clustered around the middle of the target. The girl frowned, her still-young features showing obvious disappointment. I should have done better.

Three more years.

Smack.

"Stupid girl!" The ten-year-old looked up at her father, expressing surprise, but concealing it in the smallest fragment of a second. Her expression turned completely neutral, but she was seething inside. It was the first time he had ever hit her. It wouldn't be the last. She had fallen asleep in school multiple times, resulting in a message from her Monitor. He had been hired exactly for this purpose.

The girl stood up without a word and went to her room.

"Hya!" She punched the 'living' dummy she had ordered to her room. She raised an arm to block its punch. A few minutes more of this, and the dummy lay on the ground, the girl pinning it down.

She ran down the dark allies of the slums, chased by a larger man she had angered. When she met a wall, she stopped and turned. The man was bearing down on her, and she braced herself for a fight.

The man licked his lips. "Be a nice little kitty, would you? I'm sure you wouldn't like to be hurt." He lunged at her in a fast movement, but she was prepared. She ducked and jabbed him in the stomach, causing him to grunt, and then slipped between his legs while pulling an ankle out from under him. While he was still trying to regain his balance, she smirked and brought her foot up between his legs.

"I don't play nice, old man." She turned on her heel and ran away, her pigtails flying behind her. I should add this to my routine, she thought.

"Mother? Care to play a game?" The girl held out a chessboard.

"All right, dear." The older woman had a slightly mocking smile, as if saying: She can't possibly win this. I'll bet she doesn't even know the rules. The little girl just smiled her innocent smile as she set down the board.

Minutes later, the woman was sweating, and the little girl grinning.

"Checkmate."