As I Wake

Prisoners

It was pain to my head that finally woke me. It gnawed with a heated fury as the ice concrete cooled my cheek. The mixture was soothing, yet unpleasant. Slowly, I sat up, caressing my head as I tried to wake from this deep haze.

Where am I?

Vertical bars welcomed me. Everywhere I turned, the metal obstructed my vision. I was trapped in a cell. Violet laid unconscious next to me.

My hands rubbed my throbbing temples. That's right. Sasuke and I were ambushed. My headache worsened as anger bubbled in the pit of my stomach, causing me to groan.

Others were imprisoned in several other cells. Men of all ages looked tattered and worn down. Many coughing from the unsanitary conditions they were living in. But, Sasuke and Team Seven were not here.

What did they do Sasuke? Where are the others?

At that moment, James walked into the room. “Ah, great, you're finally awake. Welcome back,” he said with a warm smile.

Growling, I grabbed the cell's bar. “What did you do to Sasuke and the others?” My voice sounded hoarse, from not using my vocal chords for an extended period of time.

“Now, now,” he said calmly. “Don't worry about your friends. They are doing just fine... for now.”

I released the bars, not at all satisfied with his answer. “Hmph. Why are we here? What do you want from us?”

“I don't want anything from you but to listen.”

I scrunched my face in annoyance, but said nothing.

He walked closer. “What's your name?”

I was caught off guard. “What-t?”

“Your name. If you give me your name, that will help me convince the others.”

Puzzled, “What do you mean convince the others? Convince them of what?”

“Well,” he paused. A smile reached his lips, happiness reached his voice. “Convince them of letting you and her,” nodding towards Violet, “allowing you two to stay, to join us.”

Absurd by it all, I laughed in his face with disgust. “I'm not going to tell you shit.”

“I see.” he looked almost hurt. As if he was an adolescent boy being denied to a dance. Not, in fact, a mid-aged man imprisoning two girls. “I wish you could see how perfect you two would be here. This place could be your new home.”

“And why would I ever want to do that?” raising a brow.

“Because this place can become your home. You would both have a place with food, water, and shelter. You can help procreate and raise warriors that will contribute to our cause.”

Sickened, bile rose in my throat. “Homes, shelter, procreate?! Are you out of your mind?! I rather be dead than help your psycho group!” I spat like venom.

Persistent, as he approached the bars. His hand weaved through the bars to cup my battered face.

With a sincere, patient, pathetic voice, “I wish you could just understand where I am coming from.” He rubbed his filthy thumb over my lips. “You two are... special.”

His eyes shined with clarity, with brown certainty. Meanwhile, my eyes widened. This man was psychotic. He believed in the words bull shitting out of his fowl mouth. He thought I was going to live here joyfully, making weapon babies! Who knew what else this twisted man planned to do with us. I needed to get out of here. I needed to go save the others!

Desperately thinking up a decent plan, the keys glistened on his belt, catching my eyes. I smiled, hoping he read it as I was agreeing with him. He does as he returned the smile, joyfully.

I placed my hand over his, the one that was still caressing my cheek, and rubbed it.

That's it you bastard. I smiled maniacally.

Suddenly, I grabbed his hand and twisted it at an unnatural angle. A loud, painful snap rung in my ears. He shouted in pain and shock as I pulled back as hard as I could, slamming him multiple times into the bars. Leaving him hurt and disoriented, I snaked my arm through the bars for the keys.

He; however, quickly recomposed himself. With his good hand, grabbed the back of my head and slammed it into the bars, leaving me seeing stars. I crumbled to the ground, holding my forehead. Hot fluid cascaded down my face from a bloody nose.

“You fucking bitch!” he cursed, holding his mangled hand. “What am I going to tell the rest now?”

I wiped the blood from my nose. Painfully chuckling, “Quorra.”

He looked at me puzzled, “What?”

“Quorra,” I repeated. I let the waves of anger and adrenaline control my voice. “You tell them is the name of the little girl who broken your fucking finger!”

James looked shocked, only for a moment, before laughing. “Quorra, huh?”

He began to walk away. “What did you say before? That you rather be dead than join us? Be careful what you wish for,” he said disappearing behind doors.

Immediately, I searched for any possible way to escape. I needed to get out of here. The others could be in danger, or worse. No, I shook my head at the possibly.

“You’re not going to get out of here that easily,” grumbled a grey-haired man. “You girls are stuck here.”

The man was middle-aged with a receding hairline. Deep lines dung into his face, making him look even older. The snarl he wore wasn’t helping him either.

“Why are you guys here? What is going on?” I asked, applying pressure to my nose.

The old man answered, annoyed, “We are here because we resisted. It was that fat bastard’s fault that we are stuck in this dungeon and there’s no way of getting out.”

Grabbing bars, I rattled them in hopes that one was loose enough to pry open. None so far were budging. Shit.

“I told you, stupid girl, you are not getting out of here,” he repeated.

“Yukinaga, don’t be so harsh,” stated another man in a separate cell. This one was younger but the cell life had been cruel to him. His black eyes shined sympathetically.

“I can say whatever I want, Kenshin!” he snapped. “If I want to say that she is a stupid girl, then she is a stupid girl!”

Frustration gets the best of me as I start to kick the bars.

I. Kick. Need. Kick. To get. Kick. Out of. Kick. Here! Kick kick kick.

“Don’t worry about him,” Kenshin apologized. “He is just a bitter man.”

“I am not!” Yukinaga yelled. “I am just saying she is a stupid g-”

“Shut the fuck up!” I screamed, aggravated. “I have more important things to worry about than your rambling, old man!”

Yukinaga snorted, but didn’t reply.

Finally, when hope was almost lost, a bar gave a creak. One of the bars were rusted where the bar met the floor. I planted both feet firmly on the bar and grabbed the two supporting bars next to it, so that I was horizontal to the floor. With all my weight, I pulled with my arms and pushed with my feet.

“Come on, you son of a bitch!”

Creaks became louder until finally there was a pop and the bar disconnected from the floor. My weight continued to push it so that the bar was bent far enough to slip through.

There was no time to celebrate. It was time to get out of here. Violet, however, was still unconscious, motionless.

I placed a soft grip on her shoulders and shook her. “Hey, Violet. Are you okay? We need to get out of here.”

Within seconds, the once unconscious girl jolted awake. Her expression, electrocuted. Eyes widened, body shaken. “What-t?” she said, confused and horrified.

Right, she never heard my voice before. Of course she was scared.

“It's me, Quorra. We're trapped in a jail cell but I found a way out. We need to get out of here.”

She nodded, hesitant. Her body still shook, like she was afraid of something.

I guided Violet through the new opening and headed towards the metal door that James exited. Kenshin and the other men roared like caged animals, begging to be freed.

I didn’t have time to help. “I’ll come back and free you all. I promise.” I said as Violet and I exited.

“Get use to staying here, boys. That stupid girl is as good as dead.” I heard Yukinaga say as the doors closed behind us.

We entered an eerie hallway. The walls were stone with a labyrinth of hallways only to be lit by torches mounted on the wall. We crept through the halls. Sticking to the walls, crouching, hiding in the shadows. I didn't know where they could be. This place was like a maze. They could be anywhere.

Sneaking through the hallways, passing various doors and jail cells, voices echoed. They were too far away to hear what they are saying but we stealthily followed the sound.

There were large double doors that seemed to be the source of the radiating sound. The doors were different than the others as they were larger, more intricate with their details. Heavy engravings of symbols covered the large doors. A guard blocked the entrance, preventing us from investigating inside. But, my best guess was that Team Seven was somewhere behind those doors.

Damn. I needed to get pass the guard.

Violet was silently behind me, gripping my hand. Clueless to the world around her, visually at least.

“I think I might know where they are,” I whispered to her. “But, there is a guard blocking the door. I'm going to try and take him out.”

She nodded and let go of my hand. Her only support, the tether severed. She wrapped her arms around her knees, staying hidden in the shadows.

Observing the guard, he was young, muscular. Probably in his early twenties. At least a head's height taller than me and had seventy pounds on me. He had a sword but it was put away. After minutes of observing, I noticed a natural regiment with him. He tended to walk towards the fork in the hallway, where I was hiding, looked down both halls and turned back to his post.

I needed to get him when he wasn’t looking. Without any weapons, I quietly took my jacket off and clutched it in the crook of my arm. I stayed sheltered alongside the wall, hugging darkness, as the guard began his routine again. The guard stood at the intersection, only feet from me. He didn't see me when he stared down my hall. Satisfied, he turned his back and walked back towards his post.

Cautious, I snuck behind him and before he was able to turn back around, pounced. My jacket wrapped around his throat and used my weight and gravity to pull. My knees dug into his spine, using my weight as an advantage. The guard jumped, startled. He desperately, scratched and clawed at his neck, instinctively, to pry the jacket off.

He fumbled for his sword, trying to get a proper grip. Once, he unsteadily removed the sword, I kicked it out of his hand and it chattered to the ground, across the hall.

“Curse, you.” He choked out the words. Still standing, he used his body to propel his back, and myself, into the wall. Several times, my lower spine crushed into the stone wall, but I persisted.

His final shaky breathes left him as he sunk to the ground. My body wedged between him and the wall. I used my feet to push him off me, stood, and dust myself off. He wasn’t dead, just unconscious.

Violet was where I left her and, together, we walked through the double doors. She didn't question what she heard, the sound of struggle. And I didn't say anything.

Inside, stone, pillars, and levels of stairs greeted us. We were on the top level to what seemed like an amphitheater. Several stairs carved into stone, surrounding the semicircular perimeter. The top floor, we were standing on, had a railing that camouflaged us.

Peering over the railing, no one seemed to be around. The single guard was watching an empty room? In the center of the amphitheater; however, had figures hanging on the wall. Three figures to be exact. No...

Quickly, I hid Violet between two of the pillars and told her to not move until I returned. Clandestinely, I ran down the countless flights and reached the center.

As I feared, the three figures were Team Seven. Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke were all unconscious, bounded by their hands and feet. Kakashi was nowhere to be found.

I hope he is alright. Maybe he escaped.

The scene made my heart pound. Seeing anyone you care about put in that situation.

I walked up to Sasuke. His wrists and ankles were bruised, bloody as were everyone else’s. The struggle was visible.

You felt like it was your fault that the ones dearest to you suffered. Because you weren't good enough, weren’t strong enough to defend them, to protect them. Feeling mine vibrating through my body, I checked his pulse. I sighed, relieved.

It was at this moment, I decided that I would never let this happen to someone dear to me. Enough with the self-pity. I didn’t care if a rink-dink sword sealed my fate, telling me I was not a shinobi, not a warrior. I didn’t need to be those things, I finally realized. I didn’t need a label because of the feeling erupting from my chest. All I needed to be was a fighter. And I will fight to my death if that meant saving the people I cared about.

I grabbed Sasuke's bruised and swollen face. “I will save you guys.”

On the table was a conveniently placed hand saw and I tried to cut the first shackle that bound Sasuke's hand.

A familiar chuckle echoed behind me. “What do we have here?”

I reluctantly turned to be greeted by James. Standing alongside him were Caesar and Isiah, who was clutching a frightened Violet in his lanky grips.

A bandage was wrapped around James' broken hand. I couldn't help but smirk.

“I knew you would be a troublemaker.”

Little did he know how much trouble I could be.

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