Chapter Twenty-Two

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A blaring alarm woke Rachel. She removed her face from her slobbered pillow and wiped at her cheek. She scanned the room to make sure that no one had been around to see her then swung her legs over the bed and stretched.

It had been such a long time since she'd slept so well that  she emerged from her cocoon of blankets feeling content and happy for a change.

The buzzing from her watch told her in an automated voice that she had to be in the training rooms by 0600 and report to Officer Rodriguez.

She stepped out onto the landing in front of her room where a crowd of girls were all emerging from their doors and walking towards the showers like sheep in a herd.

Rachel followed after them, searching the crowd for a familiar face. Finally she spotted the short crop of black hair that was Pippa and she squeezed through other bodies to get to her.

"Pippa, hey."

"Oh, hi Rachel! We're going to the showers now before starting the day. I can show you the way."

"Thanks," Rachel replied. "Have you seen Simone by any chance?"

Pippa threw her head back and laughed. "Simone always waits until the last minute to get up and run to the showers. She's still asleep, that lazy girl."

Rachel smiled. That did sound like Simone, always the procrastinator.

"How long does drill last for, do you know?"

"Tom says it's from six until lunch time. What officer are you assigned to?"

"Uh-Rodriguez, I think."

"Oh, you got a good one! A total badass. She's been going and coming from the capital for months now. She's kind of a legend around here. She's the only one that's ever been able to get a job inside CN's headquarters."

"What is she doing there?"

"Gathering information for when we're ready to attack. Pretty impressive if you ask me."

After a quick shower and a no fuss breakfast consisting of a bran muffin and orange juice, Rachel rushed down to the room she was supposed to report to at 0600. What ever that meant. 

She arrived with two other girls and sighed in relief that she hadn't been the last to get there.

She'd never been good at standing in front of a crowd and so she slipped into the back of the room quietly, hoping to go undetected.

The room was littered with blue mats and the wall closest to the entrance was divided in half with a mirror. She couldn't see anything except her reflection though she knew anyone passing on the other side could see her.

The people around her were all chattering in excited tones and she had to admit not knowing anyone sucked. She reminded herself that she wasn't there to make friends. She was there to train. 

"So you're the pathetic lot I got stuck with?" A female voice announced. A slender but curvy woman stepped through the door. Her long, brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail that stretched out her eyes. She wore black cargo pants that looked like they would explode around her thighs and a gun was holstered at her hip.

Everyone stood at once and Rachel followed suit.

The woman walked down the rows of people, grabbing a face between her slim hands every once in a while as if inspecting livestock she planned to purchase.

When she approached Rachel, she stood over her at least a good foot taller and looked down at her with disdain.

"I suppose they've sent me the runts of the litter."

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