Martin sits on a stone bench observing the yard, he was still having trouble raising his arm above his chest still, but he remembered that sometimes it took a while for the full effects to wear off, not that this helped him right now. He looks up as he notices that Olly was walking up to him, followed Russel Casmir a tall, thin boy of around thirteen from Riveruster, whom Olly and Martin had befriended when he had arrived at the prison a few weeks prior. As the two other boys sit down on the bench trying to get over the drug that had been injected into them just over an hour ago. They notice the girl who had refused to take the drug sitting alone on another stone bench about ten meters away from them. Looking as bad as they felt.
“Should we do something sparky?” Russel said looking at the girl and then at Martin.
“Like what.” Martin responds also looking at the girl, he did want to help but didn’t know what they could do, the first time getting the drug weren’t great and nothing any of them could say to make the new girl feel any better about it. Before either Martin or Russel can do or say anything else, Olly calls out to the girl.
“Hey, new girl, come over ‘ere” Olly smiles, coming from the north he was never one for subtlety. The girl looks up from the ground at the sound, before getting up and walking over to join the three boys.
“What do you want?” Jeanie asked as she looked from each of the boys faces. She recognised Martin, sitting in the middle, and could guess that the tall one was from Riveruster, given his slightly darker skin colour to the others, and that the ginger one was probably from the north, given his bluntness.
“We want to be the first to welcome you to hell, or whatever this place is.” Olly said with the same unerring confidence that he always had when talking to people. Jeanie stands there quietly, so Olly continues on. “Allow me to introduce ourselves my name is Olly, this southern lad is Russel, and the little one here is sparky.”
“Sparky?” Jeanie says, slightly confused.
“My name is Martin, but they just call me sparky.” Martin said looking at Olly and Russel, with a look that told them once again to stop calling him that name, although he highly doubted that they would, as nicknames had a rough habit to stick when you really wish they didn’t.
“Why?” Jeanie asked, she honestly couldn’t have thought of a normal reason why he would have been given that nickname. However, Olly was first in once more.
“Because of the number of times he’s been zapped by them electric rods.” Olly said before Martin can answer and Olly continues. “He swears he doesn’t enjoy it, but I doubt that given it happens more often than not.”
“What’s your name.” Martin said looking slightly embarrassed at his friend, and he was curious about the girl who had sat next to him during the film screening.
“Jeanie.” She replied. “How long have you been in here for?” Jeanie asked as she looked between the three boys.
“About eight months I think.” Martin said whilst scratching his head, trying to recall, although it was useless, he had lost track after the first few weeks when he had initially given up hope that his group were looking for him. “So has Olly. Russel has only been here a few weeks.”
“A few weeks to many.” Russel interjected at that comment, looking around at the yard and then towards the prison. Compared to the warmth of Riveruster, this place was like a frozen hell.
“How long do they keep us here for?” Jeanie said looking around at the prison.
“Until we graduate or get sent below.” Russel replied shrugging, that much he had been able to work out for himself, as even in his relatively short time at this place, he had witnessed several graduate, although none sent bellow.
“Why are we even here?” Jeanie asked looking around. “I mean what use could we possibly give to the likes of them?”
“We think they are training us to be spies to use against the resistance groups.” Martin said, before looking around to check for guards before continuing. “Which is why we intend to make a break for it.” He didn’t know why he was telling the new girl of the plan he had been coming up with for the past few weeks with both Olly and Russel, but he knew that it was the right thing to do. Plus, Jeanie had demonstrated that she had some fight in her, back in the screening room.
“Has anyone escaped this place before then?” Jeanie said with a renewed sense of hope in her brown eyes. That hope, like any kind of optimism in this place was fleeting as Olly spoke up.
“Nope, but there’s got to be a first time for everything.” Olly said with his usual unearned confidence. This was not shared by either Russel or Martin however, as both knew that there was a reason why nobody had succeeded and the look of hope in Jeanie’s eyes fades a little before looking around the yard.
“Do you think that there’s anyone out there looking for us?” Jeanie asked uncertainly. “I mean, loads of kids going missing, do you think that people even care about what’s happening here?” that had to be a fact, even if the governments had fallen, there were still resistance cells out there continuing the fight. Surely, they had noticed or heard about these disappearances.
Martin looks around the yard again before answering “Yes. My family for a start as well as the group we were travelling with, they’ll be out looking.” Martin said, with the confidence that was usually reserved for Olly’s use only. This optimism was not met by enthusiasm from Russel however, as the teen raised a perfectly valid point.
“No one knows where we are though” Russel said gloomily. “Heck we don’t even know where we are. How is anyone supposed to find us?” He asked to no one in particular, nobody answered it, as none of them could find a valid argument to this question.
“They will.” Martin said more defiantly, which he was once again slowly starting to lose despite his best efforts as he continued. “They’ll find a way.” He finished, it was all the hope he had, if that turned out not to be the case, he may as well just give up and let the enemy use him for their own ends.
Russel only grimaces in response. Jeanie did not look that hopeful as well. And Olly wasn’t shouting his agreement either. Even Martin himself had his doubts as to his own statements. All he knew is that the gods themselves, couldn’t keep the likes of Codsworth and Dmitri from looking for their missing comrade. As for his brothers they would want to help in the hunt as well.
“Well, I know there is nobody out there looking for me.” Olly said. “My whole village was slaughtered and those that were taken with me and sparky have since graduated.” Olly finished; they had of course heard the reports of what was happening in the south. But they believed themselves safe, both due to their location, far from the warzone, and their closeness to the mountain. That had been proved wrong however, when the hoard had fallen on his home and proceeded to put the small town to the sword, before rounding up the kids and heading on out.
“Same.” Russel said. “I was part of a resistance cell in Riveruster. When we were attacked, I failed to get out in time.” Russel finished, his hands curled up into fists, not due to the fact that he had been caught, but because his group had been betrayed. He later found out that the child that had performed the betrayal had been groomed in one of these camps. The enemy had known exactly where they were, as well as their numbers and their weapons. He had witnessed his family being slaughtered to a man, and had tried to make for the northern mountains, but they had anticipated that escape route, and left men in black cars there to pick off stragglers.
Martin looks over at Jeanie who looks down at the ground anticipating the question that Martin was going to ask. It took some time before the boy came out with it. The question that was always asked of the newbies.
“What’s your story?” Martin asks, looking directly at Jeanie. She didn’t answer straight away, instead taking a few moments to gather her thoughts, after a few moments of this she began to answer the question.
“When they attacked the city. My whole family was slaughtered in the evacuation.” Jeanie said, as she remembered the fallen bridges and her family stuck on the other side of the river as the hoard descended upon them and the other unlucky souls that had failed to cross intime. “I was the only one to get out. I’ve been living alone for the past year or so, at least I think it’s been a year, I lost track of the date a few months ago. So, I held up in an abandoned house a few miles outside of the city. It wasn’t in all honesty that bad; I had much more space to live in than I did during my time in the city. There was also this husky that lived with me for a while, but he disappeared one day, and I never saw him again.” Jeanie paused for a moment, remembering the dog. This also perked Martin up, although before he could ask any more questions on the dog, Jeanie continued with her story. “But unfortunately, I got sloppy, and I was spotted by a man in a black car. He chased me for a few hours, like he was just toying with me the more like come to think of it. I was on foot and he was in a car. He enjoyed his game for a few hours before getting bored and decided to just drug me. I woke up in this place two days later.” Jeanie stops there looking around at the three boys, who sat wrapped to her story. Before returning to Martin. “I knew who you were before you introduced yourself, Martin.” Jeanie said, smiling slightly at the boy.
Martin looked up at this shocked, and slightly embarrassed as, if truth be told he couldn’t remember seeing Jeanie before today. “How?” He asked looking at Jeanie.
“That man this morning the one who knocked your plate to the ground, he called you Wolfrick.” Jeanie said. “My da worked for your father’s company, as a mechanic. He would often bring me in when I wasn’t at school, I saw you one day when you came in with your father.” Jeanie looks into Martin’s blue eyes, the only one of the four Wolfrick brother to have inherited them. “You have your father’s eyes as well. It took me a moment to recognise you as when I last saw you before all this mess, you had much longer hair, not the buzz cut is all.” Jeanie continued, before she got deadly serious and looked at Martin intently now. “You said your family will be looking for you Martin. Is your father still alive?” Jeanie asked, if that was the case, then they might just have a chance, as the way her da had talked about the man, you would have thought he was the most powerful man in the world. Martin looked at Jeanie a small tear appearing in his eye, remembering the assault on his home that took place what seemed like an age ago. Before he shook his head slowly. He takes his bruised hand brushes the tear out of his eye. Jeanie sighs deeply at this.
“What about your ma?” Russel asked looking at Martin, who looks down at the grown, hoping to lighten the mood, however, all that did was cause more harm than good.
“I never knew my mum. She died a few days after I was born.” Martin replied still not looking at the group and keeping his full attention firmly on the hard stone ground, that was the one thing he had always wondered, what would have happened if his mum didn’t die. Vernon had always said that the only person to make his father truly smile was Laura, he often wondered that if his mum had been alive, then maybe his father wouldn’t have felt the need to die fighting an unwinnable battle.
A silence follows these words, with Russel looking the most anxious out of the four. Before he speaks again. “So, who is out there looking for you then, sparky?” trying to get the conversation going again after his questions had fallen on their face in spectacular fashion.
“My brothers.” Martin says without skipping a beat, that was something he was certain about, the odds that they would be willingly sitting back and let the others do the work was highly unlikely to him. He also wondered if Jack had been alerted, which would add a third brother to the hunt. That point however, was not a certainty so he continued on. “Codsworth, Dmitri.” Martin continued, he was about to say a few more names before Jeanie spoke up.
“Commander Codsworth.” Jeanie interjects looking and felling more hopeful than she had done ever since arriving at the prison. “He’s looking for us. You sure?” if that was the case, then their situation had improved, every imperial knew the name, as the hero of a hundred battles, even if his recent record wasn’t entirely up to scratch, it didn’t matter, for it was well known that when the commander locked onto a mission, he would see it through until the bitter end. Martin nods silently. Looking slightly more cheerful that he was able to give the group hope, no matter how small that was.
As the group continue their discussion, they were unaware that above them, the warden was watching them like a hawk. But as they proceeded to walk back inside the prison, as the temperature started to drop, they were blissfully unaware that their little chat was not as private as they had hoped.