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A/N- Please review; if no one does I won't know whether or not to update any more of the story! (I realize this is rather short but anything would be great) Constructive criticism is welcome and encouraged!! And many thanks to Moonlitestar for being my Beta reader

Manticore

Gillette, Wyoming 2009

X5-210 (or ‘Jondy’, as she had been named by the rest of unit twelve) emerged from the black void of unconsciousness, her head throbbing in excruciating pain. Once she managed to wrench her mind away from the pulsing inside her shaved head, she noticed a glaring white light that penetrated her closed eyelids. She tried in vain to open them, but they felt as though they were weighed down with sand bags. Cold metal cuffs securing her to a cot bit into her pale skin. Her mind was hazy and sluggish, hindering her as she fought to recollect what had happened to leave her in such a state. She racked her brain trying to figure out her last memory. Finally, the fog lifted and the horrible scenes that had taken place only hours before flooded her nine year old head.

The last thing she remembered was her baby sister, X5-452 (a.k.a. ‘Max’), falling from the perimeter fence screaming in pain – a sniper's bullet ripped through her femur. Jondy immediately jumped down to help, tearing a piece of her flimsy grey-blue military issued gown to make a tourniquet. She had been so wrapped up in caring for her sister that even with her sensitive hearing, she had been oblivious to the men surrounding her. By the time she saw them, it was too late. She rushed towards the nearest man but fell before reaching him, her body twitching from the multitude of tasers that had found their target. She shivered involuntarily with that memory; her sister’s blood had seemed to mar so much of the white February snow surrounding them.

A door scraped open somewhere near her, but the sound seemed to be coming through water, as if she were submerged in the tank. She had enough presence of mind to fake REM movements so whoever this intruder was wouldn’t bother her. The person moved to the left side of her bed, their shoes making a clicking sound as they walked. She could hear beeping near her; there were monitors next to her – she must be in the infirmary. The person touched her arm and she flinched.

“I didn’t mean to wake you,” the female voice said. She sounded exhausted, but there was some other emotion in her voice Jondy couldn’t quite place. The closest feeling she could think of was how she had felt the time she saw an X5 from another unit being yelled at – sorrow. “But I need to take your blood pressure. All those tasers had some bad effects, as you can tell. I need to be sure nothing is going haywire.” The woman lifted her arm, gently placing the blood pressure cuff around it. The cuff tightened and a few seconds later, the women informed her, “You’re blood pressure’s fine.” She took off the cuff and squeezed Jondy’s hand, another oddity coming from this woman. “My name’s Amy by the way,” she introduced as she fiddled with the monitors. She placed something hard and cool under Jondy’s left hand. “It’s a call light. Do you feel that button?” Jondy nodded; there was a soft, raised bump in the center of the object. “Press it if you need anything.” Jondy nodded again; the woman’s shoes clicked softly as she walked to the door.

Jondy wasn’t used to anyone other than her ‘siblings’ acting kindly towards her; she wanted to see this strange woman. She tried opening her hazel eyes and eventually succeeded, but everything was blurry. The light was even brighter now that her eyes were open; the bonds on her wrists and ankles weren’t as tight as they had seemed when she had awakened. She stretched as best she could in an effort to loosen up her taut muscles. She then proceeded to wiggle her extremities to make sure she still had full mobility, which she did. After running a series of checks on her body, she contemplated calling in the woman with the clicking shoes; her innate curiosity made her push the button. The woman walked in hurriedly; Jondy saw her shoes were white high heels. That explained the clicking when she walked. Amy’s eyes met hers; they were a pure deep blue to the point of being almost violet. Her shoulder length light brown hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail. Jondy noticed that in the glaring light, her hair seemed to shimmer; golden strands interspersed in her brown hair glowed under the light. Jondy yearned for long hair like Amy’s. “What do you need, sweetie?” ‘Sweetie?’ What was a sweetie? She was a soldier! Jondy swallowed hard, well aware of the fact that the question she was about to ask could have an unwanted answer.

“How is M-452 doing?”

The woman smiled warmly. “She’ll be fine, she got out of surgery a few hours ago.”

Jondy nodded, sending a prayer of thanks to the Blue Lady. “And…the rest of my unit?” she asked tentatively.

Amy’s shocking eyes clouded in sadness as she replied, “Three killed, two wounded and a total of nine recovered.”

Jondy nodded again wondering who had made it out.

“Anything else?”

“No,” Jondy whispered. “Thank you, ma'am.”

Amy left, her white shoes still clicking. That could get on a person’s nerves, Jondy thought as her mind drifted away from the escape. She suddenly wished she could have long hair. Hers would probably be light brown too. She imagined what Maxie’s would be. She thought it would be deep, chocolate brown. A smile played on her lips as she imagined her sibs with civilian hair styles. Since she never slept, she passed hours imagining them all grown up looking like the only civilians she knew – doctors and nurses.

She didn’t know how much time had passed when the door opened again. Amy came in and began undoing the wires attached to her. “You’re being transferred,” Amy explained. Cold fear gripped her insides; she knew exactly what that meant: Psy-ops. They don’t waste any time, Jondy thought as the last wire was disconnected.

Three guards appeared at the doorway; Amy undid her restraints and helped Jondy off the bed. She was unsteady at first, but she regained her equilibrium by the time she reached the men. She forced her dread deep within herself, trying to suppress the memories of her brother X5-493 (a.k.a ‘Ben’) who was in Psy-ops for a week for being caught at the High Place. She was led to the basement where a male doctor with curly brown hair stood in a nondescript room with drab grey walls. She paused at the doorway one second too long, so the men dragged her to the chair. The doctors attached wires to her head so they could monitor her brain waves. The chair reclined so that she was lying down. A metal clamp was placed over her right eye, making it impossible for her to close it. A laser was placed before her, and it’s red light beamed into her eye. Images swam before her:

MISSION

A soldier jumping in front of a superior officer to take a bullet for him

DUTY

Soldiers running into a burning building right after it exploded

DISCIPLINE

Soldiers being yelled at for disobeying an order and then being punished

Soldiers doing grueling training

TEAMWORK

A platoon helping a group of wounded people

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO BAD SOLDIERS

Jack lying on a table to be dissected

Max begging for them to stop hurting her

Eva being shot

Zack being poked and prodded

Tinga drowning but still chained to the bottom of the tank

Ben in Psy-ops

Brin stuck in a box that kept compressing

Krit being eaten by the nomalies

TRAITOR

Syl (a searing pain seemed to erupt over her entire body) ‘no X5-701’

DESERTER

Brin (her eyes burned) ‘no X5-734’ they were trying to erase the idea of names. It had bred individuality which was a symptom of their over-independence.

SNAKE

Ben (she felt as if a million daggers were being thrust into her simultaneously) ‘X5-493’

PLAGUE

Krit (her body was on fire) ‘X5-471’

The images and sounds repeated for hours on end until she began to believe the lies, but she still held out part of her being. After what seemed like an eternity of re-indoctrination, she heard a sound that chilled her blood. Her CO, oldest brother, and protector, who unbeknownst to her, had sacrificed himself to save her, was sobbing, crying out that he had failed his charges. That foreign sound broke her resolve.

November 15th 2009

Solitary Confinement 2400

210 had been to Psy-ops more times then she could keep track. She knew some of her siblings had escaped due to the fact that they had been drilled into her brain as rats, deserters and traitors. The door to her cell creaked open. She blinked, her eyes trying to adjust to the light flooding the small windowless room. Someone ordered her into the hallway. She squeezed her eyes shut once more. When she opened them, the tough, weathered guard almost jumped back; her eyes were dead and devoid of any feeling. She obeyed the guard without thought; her red rimmed eyes and unnaturally pale skin combined with the look on her face kept the man from berating her for being slow. She emerged from the basement knowing who and what she was: X5-210.
Chapter End Notes:
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