Nunca Serviré

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Slap! The sound of skin on skin woke Ainika. It was a few seconds later, when she felt the burning on her face, that she realized it had been someone slapping her. Instantly, she retreated into herself. She had been abused and bullied many times throughout her life, and she had learned how to protect herself by retreating into her mind.

Dimly, she felt another slap. She kept her eyes closed tight, knowing that looking would only make it worse. "Speak, you stupid bitch! Tell us our future! Can't you even see this coming?" With every word, they slapped her again.

But then, it stopped, and the absence of pain was even worse. Because now, instead of the physical pain, there was emotional pain. "Stop hitting her. Let me handle her." It was the quiet voice of a man used to being listened to. It was the voice of a man who took what he wanted and didn't care who got hurt. It was the voice of her mother's rapist, her father.

Ainika sucked in a breath, trying in vain to get some semblance of calm into her. But then, she felt fingers grasp her chin. Her face was turned, and her eyes were peeled open. This broke her concentration. In all her years, no one had touched her like this. Now, this, this terrified her. She was used to being in control, even in insane situations because she usually knew what was happening. But she had never been able to tell her own future or prevent anything bad from happening to her. Only others.

For the first time in her life, she was looking at her father. All she felt was hate. She wished she was free so she could attack him with everything in her. But she wasn't. She was forced to sit there as his fingers caressed her chin.

"So, you are Ainika. I've heard so much about you, my daughter."

She spat at him.

He didn't even flinch, just wiped the spit from his face and clamped her chin even tighter. "You're mine now. Finally, I have the prize I've always wanted, and I've gotten rid of that incompetent emotional boy. You're going to serve me so much better."

Ainika was terrified, but she was also angry beyond belief. But she would not speak, she would not give him the satisfaction of hearing her beg. And she would certainly not speak in English. She would take a line from Abram's book and only speak in Spanish. These foreigners thought they could conquer everything, but they would not conquer her.

"So you're not going to speak, I see. That is no matter. I will not hurt you anymore, but I promise, you will serve me."

"Nunca. Nunca sirveré." She spoke for the first time, her words filled with all the hope and hate of a thousand lifetimes of getting stepped on. But like her ancestors, she would never back down. She would rise again. The words were barely a whisper, but she hoped he got her meaning.

However, he didn't even seem to have heard her, or if he did he didn't seem to understand.  He simply laughed. "Alright, be that way. Don't answer me. I'll earn your trust soon enough, or I'll take it." The warning was clear. And with that hanging in the air between them, he strode from the room. As he reached the threshold, he turned back. "Now, unrestrain her and let her go."

The other man in the room started. "Sir, are you sure that's a good idea?"

"Don't question me, Erikson."

"Very well, sir." As soon as the door was shut, the man walked over to her nervously. "I'm going to take the restraints off, so uh, please don't bite me or stab me or anything." He said this all ridiculously slowly and loudly, using the idiotic hand motions one would use with a baby—or a foreigner they thought barely spoke or didn't speak his own language. Good, she thought. Let them underestimate her. She wouldn't hurt him, at least right now. She was confused as to what was happening. She didn't expect to be let go. She had to figure out a way to outsmart him, but that wouldn't happen if she ended up playing into his plan.

The man—Erikson, she reminded herself, trying to store up as much information as possible—remover the clamps from her legs but left her arms tied. He then slid a blindfold over her head. His smile seemed sympathetic as he covered her, which Ainika noted for later. She would use every weakness against her captor as she could.

She was marched through a hallway and when the floor started moving, she knew she was in an elevator. She counted the seconds it took to reach the floor where they stopped, and calculated how many floors that was likely to be. She strained her ears to make out any noises, and sure enough, from her left, she heard the sounds of many men and women laughing and eating. There was a tiny slit at the bottom of her bandana and though it she could see a dull grey floor, and the tiniest part of an eagle insignia on a floorboard. She surmised that she was likely in an army base, and if she was lucky, it would be one in a major city. This would give her a chance to earn some serious intelligence on her nation's rival. If she could find some way to get her info to Abram, perhaps she would be recognized as a national hero. Surely then, she thought, her people would have to respect her, and not just grudgingly tolerate her because of her miracles.

A door opened, and suddenly her senses were overwhelmed by noise. The blindfold was ripped from her head as she was also given a swift kick. She fell down a short flight of stairs and landed painfully at the bottom. She wasn't seriously injured however; her self-inventory only showed a few bruises. A door slammed behind her, and she turned to see—

Nothing. There was just a tall brick building. No stairs, no door. It was as if wherever she had been had disappeared right into nothingness. Ainika hunted around the building for several minutes, but saw nothing. She stopped for a moment to think. She fixed her position with the sun, and then headed into the main part of the city. It was Philadelphia, she could tell from the faded letters on buildings. It was an eerie city. Some blocks would be desolate, others were crammed full of people. But she saw nothing that could give her any intelligence. Any buildings that looked like they might have promise were locked down tight, and anyway she would have no idea where to look. So instead, she decided to go to the library. That was always the best place to start. She asked a lady who didn't seem to be in a major hurry, but who seemed preoccupied enough that Ainika knew she wouldn't be remembered. She arrived at the library and found books she wanted. She had just settled into a table hidden in the back alcove if the library when she felt a very familiar sensation.

She was having a vision.

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