Conquer

Echoes

I stir restlessly in my sleep soaked in sweat. I scrunch my nose sniffling.

Chapter 6

~Fionna's P.O.V.~

I stir restlessly in my sleep soaked in sweat. I scrunch my nose sniffling.

~Flashback~

Everything is so bright and soft. All is a bit blurry at the edges, but I can still see perfectly. I'm standing in the middle of a dirt road. I look up at the sky to see a beautiful blue with a bright sun and clouds frozen in wisp form. There is nothing but white light when I look around. Everything but the sky which I memorized years ago in another time. The sound of wind and the tinkle of wind chimes fill the air. "I know this place," I mutter to myself with my eyebrows furrowed in thought. Everything starts to come into focus. In a grassy meadow. There is a small wood a little ways in the distance, and mountains even farther than that. "Marcy?" I turn around completely, to see a little house. Built by hand. Laundry drying on a clothesline in the warm wind. A woman stands on the porch drying her hands on her apron.

"Marcy? Silly girl, where are you?" she says giggling as she starts for the taller grasses. That voice, I know that voice…strong, soothing…at first I think that she was talking to me, she was smiling…walking towards me. I smiled eagerly and was about to reply, until I heard a brush of grass and a giggle. I snapped my head around to see blonde pigtails poking out of the golden grass. The woman walks…Through me actually….as if I wasn't there…."As if I was never there," I muttered to myself quietly as I stared solemnly at the mother as she scooped up her baby girl.

I swallowed a lump in my throat. The woman whispered softly to the four year old girl who giggled again. The wind started to pick up and I thought it was a thunderstorm with all the noise. But my mother was terrified. "No! Why?" she held me close and rushed into the house and placed me into my room. "Marcy, sweety, stay here!" she shut the door behind her, and I immediately rushed to the windowsill. I pulled up my toy chest and used it to prop me up so that I could rest my chin on the base of the window and see what was going on. Big green helicopters landed in the grass a little ways away from our home. Mom burst through the front door and started a swift and deliberate march towards three men who stepped out of the helicopter and started to walk towards her. Two men had on black suits with white shirts, while the man in the middle had a silver suit with a purple shirt.

I would never forget the moment where my mother marched up to the man in the middle and attempted to slap him across the face, before he caught her wrist. Mom struggled in his grip before accidentally knocking his glasses off, revealing sharp blue eyes that matched my own. "Papa," four year old Fionna whispered as she pointed to the man excitedly that was based sheerly on her mother's description. 'Sharp blue eyes that hide the calculating cruel man on the inside' whatever That meant. As if sensing my presence the blue eyed man looked up and made eye contact with me through the window. I smiled nervously and waved shyly. I never met my dad before, I wonder what he's like? He smirked as he held Mom's wrist with one hand as she yelled at him, and with his other hand he gestured for me to come outside. I nodded, grabbed my bunny rabbit and started my descent down stairs. I heard my mom yelling at him through the slightly open door, where it popped open after she slammed it too hard. "You can't take her! She will not be used to accomplish your sick agenda!" she tried to wrip herself free from the man who stared her down coldly. I hesitantly walked towards him, ready to show my stuffed toy to him. He spoke for the first time, his voice was serious and had a clipped tone. "The debt must be repayed Miriam."

Mom beat her fist against his chest as she started to cry. "No! That's my baby! She's my baby you can't take her away from me please no Luke!" she crumpled to the ground in a heap as she cried. I stopped my walk towards them as soon as she started to cry. Something is very wrong here. "Mama?" I said softly. She whipped her head towards me in shock as the man started to walk towards me. "Marcy! What are you doing here?! I told you to stay inside!" I flinched back at Mom's tone, this was sounding very scary. The man stopped walking towards me and peered down. I whimpered and clutched my stuffed bunny rabbit to my chest as my bottom li trembled in fear. The man then smiled and knelt to my eye level. I stopped trembling but the tears had still formed in my eyes. The man smiled. "Hi Marcy, I'm your dad it's wonderful to meet you." My mother wailed in the grass behind him, but he ignored her. "Hey kiddo, you're going to be living with Papa for a while, we'll go to a place that snows all the time. And you and I can play and build some snowmen. How does that sound?" He sounded very convincing as he smiled warmly. I couldn't help but smile back. If only I knew of the lies he told back then. My Mother attempted to crawl to her knees as she shouted. "No! Marcy! Get Away from that man! Run!" the two men that accompanied Papa held her down and I felt my spine bristle in fear as I peeked out shyly at the man from my stuffed bunny's ears. "If I'm going with you to have fun...then...why does it make Mama sad?" I hesitantly asked him.

Papa smiled gently and almost laughed as Mama continued to struggle on the ground he caught my attention as he smiled again. "No, she's just sad because you're going far away, but you can come visit her if you would like. You can even bring her back snow and pretty things made of ice and glass" he said as he took my hand he looked at the stuffed animal in my hand. "Oh? And who's your little friend?" I smiled again and showed him my stuffed rabbit, and he pet its ears gently. "Well I can't wait to get to know this little fella too," Papa said smiling as he stood up. "But now I think it's time to leave Marcy, say goodbye to mommy." He took my hand as I muttered a quick 'okay'. Mama started to cry harder as she managed to get on her knees. Her screams turned to agony as I was lead to the first helicopter. I tried to shout to her over the sound of the engine starting and her own sobs of grief. "It's okay Mama! I'll be back soon!" I waved and Papa smirked as he waved back. I noticed that the two men held her by her arms and one helicopter was still left behind as the helicopter lifted off. I peeked out the window as one man pulled out a strange black toy. "Hey Papa where are we going?" I asked as my eyes furrowed in confusion. Papa looked up from his phone as he texted to someone and smiled tiredly. "To Russia sweetheart." I nodded as Mama started to try and scramble away in a panic.

"Oh okay-" I stared as the men and Mama grew further and further away. The man with the strange toy held it to Mama's head. "Sit down sweetheart" Papa said in a clipped tone while he looked at his phone. "But Papa...I don't like those people who are with Mama.. I think they're hurting Mam-" I was cut off by his clipped tone that turned stern. "No they are not. They are just playing, now Sit. Down." I sat down immediately and hugged my bunny close to me. It's okay Mama, I don't know what game that was, I never played it before. There was a loud echoing crack in the distance and I flinched. I looked over at Papa who did not even seem to even acknowledge it. I hugged my pet bunny tightly as my lower lip trembled in fear. But don't worry, I'll see you soon.

~Two Days Later~

I was being dragged by my wrist through the snow by my father. It was really cold, but Papa bought me a new coat. Yesterday, we arrived in this place and we spent the night in one of the rooms that Papa called 'Luxury Suite'. It was really big, Papa talked to some of his friends, men in suites, and he told me to go play in the corner with my pet bunny. They said really strange things, but I heard Mama's name mentioned. Something about cleaning records, and that she was terminated. I shrugged it off, because I didn't understand what they were talking about. Guess it's a grown up thing. But today we are walking towards a black building that was in the woods. I nervously hugged my stuffed bunny as the doors to the ominous building opened revealing two people with lab coats and clipboards. "Papa what's going on?" I asked him quietly. "This is the place that you will be staying sweetheart. You'll make many new friends I'm sure of it." Despite his soft tone, he held my wrist in a vice like grip as we walked down different corridors. "But..I thought I was staying with you?" either he didn't hear me or he just ignored me as a woman in a lab coat walked towards my father. "Mr. Mertens sir, it's a pleasure to see you again. Is this the child you wish for me to train?" She looked towards me with a cold gaze and I backed away a little before my arm was jerked back by my father. "Yes, I want her in a regimen as soon as possible, on Hunsen's orders." The woman wrote down some notes on her clipboard and straightened her glasses. "Alright, she will be branded and put into the system. By tomorrow she'll be placed in sector 8 of Project C, if you would please?" She gestured and we all started to walk past many doors and what I would soon know to be glass observation rooms.

In one box with three people in lab coats in it, the three men watched as a bunch of children sat on benches and pieced together pieces of metal. One child finished early and held it up forcing it to make a clicking sound as he pulled shaft closed and stood up. It was the same black toy that those two men with Mama...One of the men in lab coats wrote something down on the clipboard as he spoke with the others. "Subject 878 shows high aptitude for the disassemble and reassemblement of guns." I was ushered away from that window and I watched through the next as three more people in lab coats, this time there was one woman in the group, watched as two boys fought with knives. One boy flipped the other and brought the knife down into the other boy's shoulder. I flinched as he screamed in pain. Two of the scientists muttered something as I was rushed passed a field full of children playing with the...guns..as they made the same cracking sound I heard on the helicopter. One boy stood up after he was finished and pulled off his goggles. My eyes widened in fear as I noticed his stone cold expression. His eyes were really dark and scary. He turned and made eye contact with me, and I quickly lowered my gaze. I was brought to a new room and Papa let go of my hand as he walked towards the door. I tried to grab his pants leg as he walked away. "P-Papa? I'm scared-" The lady spoke over me. "Mr. Mertens feel free to come back after the branding. This should all take less than an hour."

I looked from her to Papa as I felt anxiety build up. "Papa? What's branding? Papa-" "Good, I want her ready to serve in six months." Papa said nodding sternly. The woman nodded and straightened her glasses again. "And what name do you wish to give the child?" she asked as she raised a brow. "I don't know, anything but Marceline. We must erase her from the world I don't give a damn how you do it." He started to walk towards the door and two men entered who were very big. I was scared and tried to walk after Papa but one of them grabbed me. I screamed after Papa and he turned around briefly. "Sweetheart be a good girl, I'll come back for you later." With that he turned on his heel and closed the door shut behind him. I started to cry but stopped struggling as the two men and the three people in labcoats walked me into another room. The next half hour was filled with fear and pain. I was forced to change into a blue thin dress made of paper. They injected something into me with a needle I cried as my arm throbbed. Then they typed things on a computer, and forced me to wear a weird necklace with tags on it. They had the names "Fionna" and the number "1-0-3-8" stamped on them. They then held me down and one person brought out a really hot iron. I was scared and tried to writhe away but they pull up the dress and pressed it to my side. I screamed in pain and the smell of burned skin reached my nostrils. They then washed it which stung just as bad and led me to a room on shaky legs.

I was tossed in along with my stuffed bunny and the door was shut closed. I cried and banged on the door screaming for help and called out to my Papa. "Help! Papa! They hurt me Papa," I broke down in tears as I slid onto the floor whispering 'they hurt me'. I sniffled and turned around shocked to see the room was full of kids wearing the same blue paper dresses. All of them had dried tear streaks on their faces and tired eyes. One boy with brunette hair and green eyes looked at me and sniffed. "Hi...you must have gotten burned too…" I shied away from all of them and whimpered in the corner hugging my bunny. "You can sit next to me if you want." He said looking down. I hesitated for a minute, but staggered to my feet and shuffled over to the boy and sat down. Another kid with strawberry blond hair smiled as I sat between him and the brown haired boy. "I like your bunny," he said kindly. A girl with black hair braided into a ponytail whispered to a boy before they got up and walked over to us. The girl spoke first. "Hi, I'm Aaafiya, this is my little brother Raajii." Raajii peaked from behind his sister and muttered shyly. "c-can I pet him?" I nodded and hesitantly held it out to him as his face brightened into a smile. The brunette blinked before nodding. "Oh yeah, I'm Jason. But I don't know why this necklace says 'Peter' on it." the strawberry blond nodded. "I know, I thought I was the only one. I'm Gerrard, but mines says 'Barneby'." He scrunched up his nose cutely and I giggled, but winced once it pulled at my brand. They all looked at me expectantly and I blushed. "Oh I-I'm M-Marceline b-but mines says 'Fionna'." I smiled as I held up my necklace to the light. The little boy stopped petting the rabbit and held his necklace in his chubby little fingers. "Mines says 'Simon'!" he said proud to be a part of the group. The girl smiled and scrunched her nose as she read hers. "Mines says 'Sarah' ...these people are stupid!" We all laughed as the door opened and another crying girl was added to the mix. She had dark brown skin, brown eyes and had her hair in a ponytail. I smiled and crawled over to her. "H-hi, I'm Marcy...I-I'm sorry you're sad. What's your name?" The girl shyly wiped at her eyes and pouted. "M-My names Toni." I gently grabbed her necklace as she sniffled and I grinned. "That's funny, your necklace says 'Jordan'...gosh these grownups are dumb." Everyone laughed and I grinned as Toni smiled a little. But our moment of peace was short lived, because soon the door opened and a man in a lab coat holding a clipboard stood on the other side. Twenty minutes later we stood nervously in front of a lady with her lab coat decorated with a medal.

"Hello children, and welcome to Shkola Ada. Most of you were brought here, because one or more of your parents served here, and successfully discharged from Shkola Ada." She looked up and made eye contact with all of us. "You will do well to forget your old life. Your loved ones are never coming back for you. You live only to protect those that are assigned to you. You are a blank canvas." She said in a cold tone. My stomach dropped, and pooled at my feet as I paled. Not…coming…back? Raajii's eyes started to water and his sister held his hand as we all looked towards the woman with a mix of fear and confusion. "You will be split into groups of two. And you will all rendez vous with your new squad leaders. Training will commence at 0600 hours tomorrow morning, I suggest you get a good night's rest. This institution prides itself on having produced A Ranked soldiers for the past two centuries. I will also advise you to forget your old names as well." The woman gestured towards our necklaces. "On your dog tags, you will find your new names imprinted, as well as your identification number, you are responsible for memorizing both." We all looked down at our 'dog tag' necklaces solemnly. Suddenly the joke we had wasn't funny anymore.

The woman folded her hands behind her back as a door behind her opened. "I will now introduce you to your new Squad leaders, learn to respect them and follow their orders." Two people walked through the door, a boy and girl. They looked to only be a few years older than us perhaps around 10. The boy was tall, and had brown skin and black hair that was shaved to his scalp. Despite his stiff posture he had warm eyes and a soft expression on his face. The girl had red hair that was wrapped into a bun, she had freckles and stern gray eyes. "Half of you will go with Joshua," she said gesturing to the boy who nodded. "And half of you will go with Rebecca." The girl stared intensely at each of us, staring for a brief moment before moving on to the next, her jaw was clenched tightly. We all shrunk under their gazes. Both squad members seemed like night and day. We nervously shifted as we fought back tears, the same thought running through each of our minds. I have a bad feeling about this.

~End of Flashback~

I woke up with a start as I looked around my room and sat up straight. I gingerly touched the wrapping around my ribs as I breathed in deeply. I leaned back and closed my eyes shut tightly. "Why do you haunt me?" I whispered to myself as I gazed at the ceiling. I reflexively clenched my jaw as I felt my eyes moisten. "Please…I can't bear this vicious cycle. Please don't let me relive it. I beg of you." I leaned back into my hammock and stared out at the city. I shook my head back and forth trying to stay awake. If I fall asleep exhausted…I won't have any dreams. I tried not to remember that that was what my squad leader taught me before….I shook my head to clear it again and held back tears as I held up my hands and slapped my face. No…stop haunting me, Please.


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