The clock flashes the time at you next to your bed.
You try and sleep. You really try. But you cannot help but recall the day that has gone before.
You hate it. You hate yourself.
You shut your eyes.
Sleep does not come.
You awake, screaming.
This is normal, for you. It’s normal now because of what you’ve been through. The memories you cannot erase, the decisions you have made that got you here today.
The things that happened to you, not of your own accord. The things they did to you.
You reach out for the water glass with a trembling hand.
You feel the remains of your broken badge sitting next to the bedside table.
That is enough to make you cry.
The sharp edges of the broken badge cut into the palm of your hand. The blood has congealed around your wrist, some of it has smeared onto the uniform white sheets on the bed.
In a normal prison, they might have taken the badge away from you. The blood would have been a sure give away.
Here, they don’t care. If you killed yourself, it’ll suit them.
So you don’t.
You can’t cry anymore. You just heave breaths of thick, recycled air as you try to regain your composure.
Luckily for you, in prison cells, no one else can hear you.
At least you cannot be embarrassed by the pitiful display you put on.
You open your hand, ignoring the shooting pain up your palm as you do so.
The metal twinkles back at you like starlight.
You sit, staring at the wall.
The remains of the badge are now scattered across the room. One piece embedded itself into the wooden empire insignia on the wall.
You hold onto one slim piece. It cuts your palm deep, slicing between muscle and bone. You want to feel the pain. You need to feel the pain.
If only you had shot him, that badge would be whole.
But if you had shot him, you’d have lost your only family.
And family was more important than the Empire.
The sun creeps across the horizon, spilling through the window at the top of your cell. A gentle red hue spills across the dark walls, stripping away the shadows from the corners of the room.
It’s an early sunrise, as it always is in the summer. It should bring you joy, you’ve always liked sunrises
Instead it only brings you shame.
You’re still alive, in a prison cell. Your brother lies dead because of your actions.
You didn’t kill him, you see. You disobeyed orders.
So they killed him for you.
You sleep for an hour or so. Exhaustion overtakes you.
You can’t sleep for longer than that, otherwise the nightmares come.
The nightmares show you the world if you had shot Relank. A world if you had shot your commander, Ileqi instead. A world show you a world if you had turned the gun on yourself.
And each time, you awake, screaming.
But no one can hear you scream down here.
And no one would care if they did.
Someone is at the door. You look over, not bothering to get out of the bed.
A piece of paper slides underneath the metal. You notice the symbol, it’s the same one on the small of your back.
So, maybe you weren’t forgotten after all.
You slide off the bed, feet hitting the metal floor hard. It’s cold, the metal. It burns through your skin, making you wince with every bruised step.
You reach out with your bloodied hand and pick up the note.
Wait it says.
So you get back onto the bed, clutching the note in one hand and the remains of your badge in the other.
A thud of a body falling on the floor.
Keys slide into the door lock. You brace yourself for a fight, even though you are in no fit state to win one.
A figure steps through, wearing the guards uniform. It’s a woman, with the same tight curls and skin as yours. Maybe even from the same region of Tanle as you.
The woman smiles at you. Her eyes change from dark brown to a vibrant purple.
“Hello, Flight Commander Evanbeth,” she says, holding out her hand, “are you ready to be free?”
You look at the broken badge in your hand. You don’t deserve that title, not now you’ve been stripped of your rank and your honour.
“Just Evanbeth,” you reply, taking the proffered hand.
“Relank did us proud,” the woman said, “now it is your turn to do the same.”
“Just get me out of here,” you reply. You don’t care, not anymore.
The Empire stole your brother, your rank and your pride.
Now you’d do anything to get revenge.
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