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Excerpts from the diary of the orphanage nurse: October 11, 1994 Another girl came in today. She is 5 years old, but as vicious as a bear. Out of the four men entitled to bringing her here to the orphanage, one guard ended up unconscious and another near death from loss of blood. I already fear for her future. October 23, 1994 Concerning the girl, she is obviously one of a kind, but I highly doubt that is a good thing. She remains nameless, having not found her records yet. She does not speak and has kept to herself. The only reaction we could obtain was the constant at tempts to escape. Between these moments, she is little more than a stone statue. November 15, 1994 Ryn has taken an immediate interest in the girl during his monthly visit to the orphanage, and has come to see her on numerous occasions. He would take her to the only gathering of trees on the orphanage, or to one of the private rooms or once, he even took her to see a movie. He seems the only person who can get a reaction out of her that does not fall under the category of hatred. Whereas others have been f rightened of and avoided Ryn simply because he looked at them once, the girl seemed to have almost befriended the 16 years old boy. I only wish she has better taste in friends. Everything around Ryn never has a happy ending. December 31, 1994 The girl has finally spoken. Unfortunately, it is not to other young girls as I had hoped, but to just Ryn and me. As for Ryn, she might have talked to him since his first arrival, but today, she has finally spoken to me without a face of loathing. It happ ened during the short meetings that we have with the children, which resemble psychiatric meetings ironically. For the first time, I was the only listener, as the manager and his assistants have given up on interrogating the girl and her past. This, I beli eve, was what she was waiting for. When I had asked her the routine question of how she is feeling, she had slowly opened her lips and murmured, My parents were tortured and torn to pieces in front of me. I don t feel very happy. After the initial shock, I quickly recovered and asked her more questions, not wanting to push her too much. Some she answered, most she didn t. I quickly learnt that for such a young girl, she speaks and acts much like an adult. I cannot help wondering what happened to her child hood. And if she ever had one.
Happy Birthday, Sunny! What s this? It s a diamond! We were looking for stones outside during class today, and I found it under this huge piece of rock. I brushed it up a bit and found this! Thank-you, but isn t diamonds usually for ladies? Yeah, but it reminded me too much of you; finding a precious friend in the least expected place. You think of me as a friend? Sure. My first actual friend. It s nice saying that. My firstest friend. A pause. You re my first friend too. January 17, 1995 Today, we talked about Ryn , a subject I have been impatiently waiting for. She seemed fairly fine with this topic, although she became quickly on edge at a few specific questions. My first question was what she thought of Ryn. She said, Sunny is like me. She stopped, and then smiled. I was shocked. She never smiled unless she was with Ryn. Do you know what he said to me the first time we met? I shook my head, anxiously waiting for the response. He said, I can always tell the fighters by the look in their eyes. What I hadn t told him was that I saw that exact look in his own eyes. I nodded, knowing what she meant. When Ryn walked into the room, you automatically felt small and powerless under his orange eyes. Afraid to anger him, to talk to him, @#!*% , even to move. It was like the 16 years old boy held a fierce untamed lion in his body. Continuing the conversation, I had asked why she had befriended Ryn. She had replied after a pause, Sunny isn t scared of me, nor is he sorry for my situation. I was baffled at this answer. It was strange, hearing that being said by a 4 years old girl. How many children can give a response like that? I remember, at one point, I had asked why she called him Sunny. Ever since I heard that nickname, I wondered how it came about. If there ever was a person most unsuitable for that name, it was the cold -hearted poker-faced Ryn. The girl had simply blinked at me, as if she couldn t comprehend why I didn t know.
Because his eyes light up like the Sun when he laughs. I admit; I do believe I sat th ere stunned for minutes. None of the staff has ever seen even a semblance of a smile on that boy s face. They all simply assumed that such a happy innocent gesture was beyond the capabilities of him. It was almost ironic that the cold emotionless teenager only laughs for the cold emotionless child. The world works in strange ways, and this girl has shown me just how impossible it can be. At the end of our meeting, I had asked her usual question of whether she wanted to tell me anything. She sat there, like a stone, for seconds, before finally opening her mouth. This remains confidential, right? Yes. I will not repeat anything you say to me unless it involves hurting yourself or others. She nodded. Seconds went by before she finally began in a low, caut ious voice. When Ryn took me to see a movie we passed a black car and large men with a boy Yes, I asked, urging her on. They were trying to shove the boy in. I swallowed, knowing exactly what happened and hating that I knew. I opened my mouth to form some sort of answer, maybe a reassurance that it would not happen to her, that the boy is okay, even if they were all lies, just anything but she continued to talk, not finished yet. He looked at me. And and he had the same eyes as Ryn. As me. He was th e same as us. She broke off, her jaw clenched and her eyes digging into the corner of the wooden desk. He said screamed that they would try to break me too, to change me into something worse. That they would kill me over and over again until they are sat isfied. And all because my family was killed by it, and I survived. I did not breathe, could not breathe. But I still felt my lips move. Who s it? She leaned closer, her vivid violet eyes staring at me with more intensity than I could stand. The vampire.
Chapter three. January 23, 1994
Why is it that every time I meet her violet eyes, I hear her voice in my head? The vampire. The words echo in my mind, torment me, baffle me, tease me to realize what they meant. But surely this means nothing. Vamp ires are no more than a figment of a girl s imagination. I am sure that the only reason I fuss over it is because she does not appear the type of girl to speak rubbish. Then why did she say it? Did I hear wrong? Sunny, you look worried. What do you mean? Sunny, is there something you would like to tell me? A pause. Can you promise me something? Sure thing, Sunny. Don t get good marks on the exams tomorrow. A pause. Why? A pause. Have you ever heard of Nightstone Academy? Is it the school a couple streets down from the orphanage? Yes. What about it? They take the students with the best scores. What s you getting at, Sunny? No matter what you do, don t get involved with the school and never, ever get admission into the school. Why? A pause. Because they do horrible things. Things that you should never see or experience. I d rather you hate me than for you to go to Nightstone. March 15, 1994
Two weeks ago was the physical and intellectual examinations. I was assigned the 4 -6 years old children. It was fairly uneventful. After all, how fast can those small children run? I was particularly interested in the new girl s results. At the end, however, they too were average. This I found very strange. I have seen her fight and take on f ive adults at one time. I have seen how fast she darted out the orphanage every chance she got in her first month. And I could not help wondering, with all the time she spends with Ryn, if she knew how important the examinations were. How the wrong results could change her whole life in the nastiest way possible. I wanted to ask her if she purposely lowered her results in the meetings the next day, but was hesitant. One, I did not want to hurt her feelings, and I selfishly did not want her to stop talking to me. Two, she was far too close to Ryn, and no doubt, he would bear his full anger on me. Being terrified of him as he normally is, I shiver at the mere thought of him angry. Therefore, I decided to hold back my curiosity. After all, did curiosity not kil l the cat? At 3 o clock sharp, the girl was brought into the disclosed room. The v -word swept through my mind, but I have learnt days ago to ignore it. She sat in the chair, not moving and her eyes lowered. I went through the routine questions. She only an swered a few in brief sentences. When I reached the final question of whether she wanted to talk about anything, she slowly raised her head to hold my gaze with her deep violet eyes. What is Nightstone Academy? I was struck cold. The doom school. She stared at me with those eyes that see right into your soul. And still I could not answer. I ll give you an easier question, then, she said with an almost unnoticeable edge of anger. What happens to the children that get sent there? I swallowed, my worst fear confirmed. She knew. Not all of it, but enough. Her face turned into one of such hateful ferocity that I cringed. You owe me this much. Trapping me against my will in this orphanage. Lying every step of the way. Promising that we will have a future, that it will all get better. Pretending that you actually care about us, even when you re stabbing us in the back every day. You owe me this much. I was shocked at her words. But deep inside, I knew they were true. So I took a deep breath and began, hoping that this would not have horrible consequences. Now and then, there are children that are stronger than others. They are both physically and mentally better. That is what the examinations are for; to tell the special ones from everyone else. But in case they fake their results, she glared at me, realizing that I knew what she had done. There is also other ways to tell. One; if they try to escape. Two; if their family was murdered and they were the only ones that survived. She stared at me in shock. Apparently she had not expected that.
I continued. After it is confirmed that a child is special, they are then sent to Nightstone Academy. I do not know what happens there or why the school is interested in these types of children, but every single student tries to run away, and every time they are caught and brought back. There has never been anyone who successfully escaped. The boy in the black car the girl whispered in a trance -like voice.
He was a Nightstone student. She suddenly stood up, her eyes cold and her jaw clenched. She turned sharply and walked towards the door. Wait! She turned around, training her deadly violet eyes at me. Do you know who is in charge of the operation? I asked. Her expression stayed the exact same. So she didn t know. Ryn. She left the room without a word. Little did I know that that meeting would be the last time she ever said a single word to me again. The last I heard of her was when one of the staff members mentioned that a girl with violet eyes was s ent to Nightstone Academy.
There was something I always chose to ignore. That day when I saw the boy, before he screamed at me, he had first looked at Ryn. And mouthed the word that haunted me now. Traitor. But it made sense. Why else would he want to be my friend? There is no such thing as a true friend, only those that stab you in the front and those that stab you in the back. No matter what you do, don t get involved with the school and never, ever get admission into the school.
I walked down the long deserted corridors until I reached my destination. The head of the orphanage and lead manager s offices. There were two guards at the door. As I approached them, they quickly surrounded me. I smirked. Bad mistake. Two minutes later, I was opening the door. The two guards were sprawled on the floor. I didn t know if they were dead, and for once, I didn t care. I entered the room. I think there was an important meeting, since 11 people were present and they all looked rich and snobby. All the more better. The two people I was looking for stood up and yelled for the guards. Whoops, I think they re taking a nap. About five men approached me, nerdy-looking people who think that since they re older and bigger, I would bow down to them. Fat chance. I guess I would have more fun than I expected. I punched the first guy straight in the gut and elbowed the one besides him. Then they all started running towards me. I merely ducked, sending two flying towards the wall. Chaos broke out. I don t know what happened, but they tell me that when they found me, I was on top of the head of the orphanage, laughing like a maniac and punching the life out of him, while the other 10 people were on the floor, moaning, unconscious or dead. And when I say they , I mean the other people who found me. Among them were staff members, including that idiotic nurse, other children, who were look ing at me like I was a hero, and Ryn. And for the first time ever, his facial features were marred by a shocked and tortured look. Satisfied, I grinned at him and said to him what many others before me had said. Traitor. I resign. Ryn, have you properly thought this through? You are the best one we ve got and ever gotten. I can t stand this anymore. I have already gone to France and gotten the approval of the Hunter Council. I ll be returning to my original duty as a hunter. Don t try to find me. It s because of that girl they found yesterday, isn t it? So she finally broke you. Well, I guess I don t have much of a choice. I have to let you go now. But you know, you probably could have helped the girl if you stayed in the inside. She s strong. She doesn t need my help. Or is it that you can t look her in the eye and forget that it is your fault that she is suffering at the academy? No reply.
Nightstone Academy. March 17, 1995 The girl waited in the dimly lit room. Two guards stood at the doors, staring at her and waiting for her to try to escape. They had heard about her crazy fighting spree, and were worried more than usual. The girl, however, did nothing but stare at the walls. No emotion whatsoever. Come in, a voice called from the adjoined room. One of the guards roughly took the girl s arm and dragged her into the room. She didn t even blink when she saw the fire and the burning poker. The guards positioned themselves at the door, positive that she would soon try to run for it. But she just stood there. Don t worry, it ll only sting a little, the doctor cooed, taking the poker and gripping her arm. She only resisted a bit, just enough to get the doctor to think that she s fighting, but not enough for his grip to tighten any more. He brought the stick closer to her forearm, and just before it made contact, she pulled her arm out abruptly and ran for the door. She ducked through the small gap between the guards and sprinted through the white doors. Remembering the exact route to how to get to the front, she raced down those corridors, pushing her skinny legs as fast as they can go. Her muscles burned mercilessly, but she had finally reached the door. She yanked on the handle, but the steel door would not budge. Locked. She heard the footsteps approaching her fast. 6 seconds. She ran back down the corridor, turned around, took a deep breath in, and sprinted straight for the thick metal door. If I die, at least it was worth trying. She slammed straight at the door. Loud creaking noises surrounded her and her entire left side was screaming so hard in pain that she lost her vision for a few seconds. The steel door clanged loudly onto the floor. She fell on her hands and knees, breathing heavily from the pain. I m out. She looked up at the blue sky relieved and pulled herself up. And then she saw them. The twenty giant black wearing guards. Fucking hell . The original two guards dragged her roughly back into the doctor s room, completely disregarding her broken bones and her b leeding left side. If anything, they purposely made the wounds hurt more. The doctor was once again holding the burning poker, except this time, the guards were pinning her down to the ground. Realizing it was impossible to do it on her arm, the doctor settled for right behind her left shoulder blade. The girl tried her best to get out, but it was more than hopeless. The burning poker went down. The pain lashed through her back and suffocated her, but she did not make a single sound. The doctor s voice rang through the room. For the duration of your primary section at Nightstone Academy, you will be 606. That is your name. That is your identity. Don t you ever forget that number.
Chapter Six The girl walked into what she could only think is the dormitory. Her eyes grew impossibly wide as she looked at all the other children in the room. They all had the same eyes as her. Bujeezus, another one? It s been a while since we had a newbie. Although I thought we would have heard the scream, a girl said, jumping lightly off her bunk against the wall to give the new girl an once-over. Her eyes narrowed at her blood-soaked clothes and the silver handcuffs strangling her wrists. Hey, newbie, what s your number? 606. I m 499. 499 stuck out her hand towards 606, who took it cautiously. 499 smiled, and 606 suddenly got the feeling that she was a very good liar. Don t trust her. Man, so how did you get those wounds and the handcuffs? I tried to run away. Ahaha, we all did, but I don t remember us coming back looking like that. Actually, most of us got stuck at the steel door. How far did you get? Just past the steel door. 499 nodded approvingly and turned around. Hey, porcupine, I think she be at you, she called at a boy leaning against the wall. He turned his head towards the two girls. 606 inhaled sharply. It was the boy in the black car. About time you got here, he said, training his golden eyes on 606. How did you get past the door? I slammed against it and broke the hinges. He chuckled darkly. I pick locked it. It s less painful. He eyed her injuries, which were still burning like hell . 606 frowned. She would have pick -locked it, but her skills in that area weren t so fast. How many guards did you take down? he asked, arching an eyebrow at her.
4. 7. I still hold the record. He smiled mockingly at 499 who grumbled profanities. Oh right. That annoying boy over there is Porcupine. We call him that because he has tons of needles, but underneath it all, he s just a misunderstood soft little boy. 499 snickered as Porcupine glared daggers at her. Hey, where s your bunk? Column 1, Row 6. 499 smirked and pointed to the top bunk on the left side. 606 examined the bunks, which were more like wooden boards stuck onto the wall. There were six columns, and six rows. You re going to have bundles of fun trying to get up to your bunk. There are no ladders and you have to do it with handcuffs. 499 smiled amusingly before leaning agains t the closest wall. 606 looked at 499, and then scanned the rest of the room. They all had their eyes on her, whether it is on her wounds, handcuffs or her violet eyes. They are probably seeing if you can get to your bunk . She looked up at the top bunk, w hich was more than thirty feet up. There was no way that she can jump it, and she couldn t use other people s bunks to get up from the looks she was receiving. Suddenly, she saw the wall and smiled. They were made of bricks. She walked towards it, planning how to get to the top with her handcuffed hands. She gripped the stone with her hands and swung herself up until her legs found stability on two bricks. Then she gripped another stone higher than that and swung herself up again. Performing the action numerous times, she finally reached her bunk and fell on top of it contentedly. Man, just getting to my buck is hard . 28 seconds. Not bad for the first time, 499 declared out of nowhere. Although 110 s still better, she added, nodding her head towards a bl ond-haired girl with emerald eyes. She too had the silver handcuffs. 110 met 606 s gaze and held it for a second before walking to stand in front of the brick wall. Start now, 499 announced. 110 suddenly gripped the brick and started climbing, moving like a panther up the wall. She used a slightly different technique, which seemed to be more effective, for she got to her top bunk in 11 seconds. Yup, I think that s a record, 499 said, nodding approvingly. 606 looked at 110, who was looking back at her with a small smile. Not a shy one, but an interested, challenge-me-if-you-dare one. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an announcer voice broke out. 12 o clock PM. Everyone suddenly scrambled to their bunks. 110 leaned over her bunk to whispe r, It s bedtime now. If they catch you out of be d past 12:05, you get your ass majorly whipped. Well, good night. Look forward to your first day at Nightstone. I know I will.
606 stared at 110. This whole school is going to take some getting used to . Fo r the first time in her life, she wasn t the scariest thing in the room. In fact, she just might be at the bottom of the food chain.
Beep. It was a barely audible sound coming from the speakers that woke 606 up. Ugh, it can t be after 5 in the morning maybe 2 more minutes She was just about to go right back to sleep but saw out of the corner of her eye everyone else quickly getting ready and heading towards the door. Grumbling, she jumped off her bunk, momentarily forgetting that it was thirty feet up in the air. Falling to the floor with a loud thud that woke her up instantly, she too got ready and headed towards the door. Good job, you passed the first test; waking up. It s sorta unbelievable how so many newbies failed that. Feel happy that you didn t get your ass whipped first thing in the morning, 499 said, patting 606 on the shoulder. So what s happening now? 606 asked. Porcupine looked over at her. You get your first taste of shit . We re doing a morning jog. A crowd of swearing followed the announcement. Great just what I needed to boost up my confidence. But it s a morning jog; how bad can it be? Ugh, no breakfast either , 606 murmured in sudden realization. Honey, breakfasts are a thing of the past. More like dreams than meals, 499 said, sighing. The entrance of huge black-clad guards broke the conversation. They surrounded the children and more or less shoved them through the school and out into the cold. 606 resisted the temptation to shiver as they marched across the dew -covered grass. It can t be warmer than 0 , and she was wearing nothing but a t -shirt and shorts. The group suddenly stopped in the middle of a soccer field. 606 went on her tiptoes to see over the crowd of children. There were five bulky and expressionles s men on powerful horses. 606 was never one to get intimidated, but if she were, she would probably be running in the opposite direction from the looks of those men. Break up into your groups, the man on the black horse ordered. The children scattered, going to one of the horses. 606 stood there, not exactly sure what she was supposed to do. Hey, you there!
606 looked up at the black horse man. You come with me. 606 slowly walked to him, joining a small group. She noticed that 110 and Porcupine wer e in it. 110 had an entirely blank face. Porcupine was staring at her and softly mouthed something that looked like, They never put newbies in the last level. Handcuffs, the same man ordered. 110 put her wrists in front of her and 606 followed suit. The man took out a complex-looking key and unlocked the handcuffs in a quick motion. He glanced towards Porcupine. How was your first day without those silver devils? Good. 606 saw him unconsciously feel his wrists, and for the first time, she saw the darkened red scars of the marks the sharp points in the inside of the handcuffs clawed. The man on the black horse nodded and started speaking. We ll be doing an easy track today. Run around the school, following the outside grass path. Every time you pass here, pick up one of the flags. Your goal is to get ten flags. He dropped a bag of flags on the ground by his feet. Then, he looked straight into 606 s eyes, who returned his stare steadily. You cut the track, you get helled. You grab more than one flag, you get helled. You try to cheat in any way, you get helled. And believe me, there s no one better than me at finding cheaters. One last thing that you should know, he said, still staring at 606. You got ten seconds head start. Then I ride after you. You don t want me to catch up to you. Your ten seconds start NOW! Both Porcupine and 110 dashed off sharply, kicking dirt up. 606 ran after them, still unsure about this morning jog . By 5 seconds, 110 was already out of sight and Porcupine was a good fifty meters away from her. 606 pushed her legs as fast as they can go, but the wounds on her left side were still unhealed and each step sent another wave of pain streaking through her. After 10 seconds, she heard the hooves that would haunt her dreams for the next month. She remembered, once, Porcupine had looked back at her with an almost worried face before sprinting off after 110. The hooves were getting closer till the vibrations in the ground shook through her whole body. She pushed herself faster, an d sometimes she would escape the hoof clunks, but within seconds, they would come back again. It was less than a minute after she got her second flag before she truly learnt what the hooves meant. This time, the vibrations were louder and stronger than bef ore. 606 tried to ignore her wounds threatening to break her side, her burning lungs, her tortured legs, but she felt herself slowing down. The black horse was right behind her. Suddenly, white hot electricity shocked her entire back. She collapsed on her knees, her vision going red. She barely had enough energy to turn her neck around.
The man stood behind her, his eyes searing cold. He held a whip -like object running with electricity. GET UP! he bellowed. 606 tried to stand up, but her legs were shakin g so badly they couldn t support her body. GET UP! Another slash of electric pain sliced through her. She gasped agonizingly. She didn t even have the energy to scream. GET UP! The sharp electricity shocked her so hard that she jumped up and sprinted with a sudden burst of energy. Her body went completely numb for a gracious few seconds before attacking her in a ferocious wave of agony. Her step faltered, but she dragged herself faster. The whip. The whip. By the third lap, she could barely see and her mind was so drained that she couldn t even summon up thoughts. She was numbly aware of 110 passing her and looking solemnly at her. All she cared about was the black horse that always came back until she lost count of the number of lashes she had received. And during those times when her legs gave away and her knees banged painfully against the cold ground, those lashes would send hatred waves so strong that she would have killed the man if she had the strength. On her fifth or sixth lap, she once again collapsed. Endless pain tormented her. She felt something wet in her throat, and her hand covered her mouth as she coughed up blood. I m going to die. The hoof sounds vibrated through her body once again, stirring dread and hatred in her. The whip slashed across her back. There was already so much pain that she barely felt the electricity. GET THE FUCK UP! His snobby, demanding voice angered her. She pictured choking him so hard that his voice would never be the same again. If he lived. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GET MOVING, TWIT! The second time the whip went down, she suddenly turned around and grabbed it, ignoring the pain the electricity sent through her arm. Before the man had time to react, she yanked it out of his hands and threw it at his face, ca using him to yelp in pain and surprise. He fell off his horse and she quickly took his place. While he was still on the ground holding his precious face, she steered the horse and suddenly hit the horse s hind legs so that it galloped fiercely across his body. She listened satisfyingly to the horrible crunching of his bones. She has been dreaming of his death ever since the first time he whipped her. Not wasting a single second, she rode the horse as fast as she could into the dense woods, guessing it was the closest exit to her. She suddenly hit a high thick electric fence. Swearing
under her breath, she turned around and headed for the entrance. Everyone had already been notified of the incident and she heard the alarms and emergency calls as she raced towards her freedom. She finally saw the small gate where the cars came in. Only a hundred meters left. All of a sudden, her horse faltered and fell to the ground. She turned around to see an entire squad holding strange gun-like weapons. Thinking quickly, sh e flipped herself behind the horse s head so that they couldn t shoot her and sprinted as fast as her legs could go to the gate. Every muscle in her body cried relentlessly, her lungs screamed, her wounds tormented her mercilessly, but she kept on going. T wenty meters Everything went black. Chapter eight.
That idiot of a child, broke all the bones in his body. One of his rib bones punctured his heart too, so not even our medics could save him. Her eyelids fluttered open and she saw a man talking on the phone. She shut her eyes again, wanting to go back to sleep Of course we need a sub! He was in charge of almost all the programs! Suddenly remembering everything that happened this morning, she opened her eyes shocked. The first thing she saw was three bodyguards. She quickly shut her eyes, pretending to still be unconscious. He, of all people? That s hard, man, even for those stupid kids. Ya ya, no other option, blah, blah...fine then, ship him in tomorrow. She heard the sound of a cell phone shutting then the same man said, Okay, drag her into the hell -hole. She shouldn t wake up for at least another two hours or so, but still use the whole squad. A couple guys roughly yanked her up and pushed her out of the room. Against all instinct, she remained limp. They dragged her down numerous corridors, and after peeping out of one eye, she came to the conclusion that there was no way she can escape now. There was, as the man said, a whole squad watching her, and even if she managed to escape them, there was the small problem of her having no idea where she was. She ll probably end up running around the school like a beheaded chicken until someone else saw her. Suddenly, they stopped. She opened her eyes slightly and saw they were in a dark dungeon like corridor with many little doors on each side. Which level? one of the bodyguards said. Boss said the highest one.
She swallowed painfully. That can t possibly mean anything good She heard one of the doors being unlocked before she was rudely shoved into it. The door clanged close and the bodyguards footsteps clogged away. She sat there, crouched up into a little ball and examined her surroundings. She was locked up in what seems to be a dark cell, as she could not see anything. There were sharp needles protruding from the left, right and top, so she was forced to hug her knees and crouch down or be stabbed. But after all s said and all s done, it s not too bad. She just can t move. She thought too soon. And for the first time, she finally understood wha t helled meant. All of a sudden, there was screaming. High -pitched sounds rang in her eardrums and her brain thundered painfully trying to banish it. She gripped her head in her hands from the imaginable pain. She d rather get whipped by the electricity a million times, if only it ll stop. Thousands of high-pitched screams, never-ending, pain after pain, she can t stand it anymore, why won t it go away Her scream joined in. Chapter nine. 606 tried to focus, but her vision remained blurry. She numbly fel t the rough hands of the bodyguards dragging her along the cold ground before she was tossed right in front of the dorm doors. Her head thudded in pain. She moaned, not having the energy to do much else. A few seconds after the bodyguards left, the dorm do ors swung open. Hey, look who got delivered! 499 s voice rang through the room as she helped 606 up. 606 just barely managed to stand. Her legs were shaking and she feared that she might collapse in a couple of seconds. Woah, they really messed you up, didn t they, Porcupine observed, propping her arm around his shoulders as 499 took the other. When she entered the dormitories, she was suddenly hit by a wave of applauses and loud whoops. She looked up to see everyone standing up and congratulating her. Huh? 606 mustered up, her voice still weak from screaming in the hell -hole. 101 jumped off her bunk lightly and explained. You are the first one in years to successfully kill a teacher. Not to mention you got the black horse guy on your first day. That s pretty impressive. 101 nodded her head respectfully. Oh, she replied dumbly before her strength collapsed and she crumpled to the ground, losing consciousness for the hundredth time today. One. Two. Three. 606 slammed her eyes open to find herself falling towards a quickly-approaching ground. She gritted her teeth and rolled sideways so that she fell on her shoulders. Her left arm cried
out as the fall reopened wounds. Ignoring the pain, she jumped onto her feet and looked up at the culprits who were on the bunk, grinning. You wouldn t wake up, so we had no choice but to push you off your bunk, 499 said with a grin. That just happened to be thirty feet up, added 110, winking at her. You know, there are other ways to wake people up, 606 murmu red, resisting the urge to throw everything within reach at their snub faces. And that included other people. Oh ya, what s happening now? Well, you just missed dinner, which I m sure you ll be regretting in about thirty minutes. We re playing Capture the Flag, Porcupine replied, grinning slyly. 606 nodded. At least that is a game that she knew, although no doubt the fucking school somehow twisted it to make it life-threatening. Speaking of life-threatening 606 moved her limbs, and then gritted her teeth at the pain. Both her arms were injured from the spikes in the hellhole, and although her left side is almost healed, her back is still bl eeding from the whip this morning and she felt like her legs were covered entirely with scorpions. I wonder if I can just find a hole and stay there for tonight, she mumbled under her breath. 499 laughed. Been there, done that. Trust me, there wasn t a happy ending for me.
A new man stood in front of the dark forest that was looking more and more vicious by the second. He was immensely tall and bulky, and wore a pair of dark sunglasses over his eyes so that no one could tell his expression , or even where he was looking. Unlike the man 606 killed just that morning, he looked calm and relaxed. If she hadn t had such a horrible first impression of the school, she might even like him. Hey, I m your new supervisor, as someone decided it would b e convenient to end the previous supervisor s life. 606 swore his eyes were digging into her head when he said that. You may call me Alexius, although I m sure by tomorrow, I ll have various names such as the guy with the fluffy hair , or more embarrass ing nicknames. So before I get carried away by the amusing nicknames you children find for me, I ll get straight to the point. Most of you know how to play Capture the Flag, but here s a summary anyways. There are two teams on each side, divided by the br ight yellow line. Each side has a flag, which they place in the back of their area in plain sight. Each team wants to steal that flag from the other team. Once an enemy player crosses the line, they can be tagged by the other team. Once you get tagged, you are out of the game and you leave the court. Other than that, there really aren t any rules. Just, don t kill each other. The papers I ll need to fill out is a pain in my butt. By the way, there are new teams posted here, he finished, patting the tree t runk that had papers taped to it. Knock yourselves out.
All the children quickly surrounded the tree and murmurs began spreading like wildfire. 606, being as tall as she was, clearly saw over most of the children s heads. She quickly scanned for her number and found it right under the heading Team 1 . Finding 110, Porcupine and 499 on the list too, she found out that 110 and Porcupine were both on Team 3, and 499 was on Team 2; the team she was facing. We are in such deep shit , a boy next to 606 whisp ered. Geez, I don t know what the supervisor was thinking, putting 110 and Porcupine together. They were the top two last season. Guess we re not eating tomorrow, the boy grumbled. 606 widened her eyes at the boys conversation. 110 and Porcupine were that good? Hey, girl! 606 turned around to see 499 s bright emerald eyes shining at her. Woah, she s in a good mood. Hey, 499. What s up? We re facing each other! Oh, I m so excited! 499 was practically bouncing. 606 wished she could feel the same way towards the surely-to-be-torture game. Ugh, if it s anywhere half as painful as this morning s jog , I think I d just hide under a bush and wait till the game is over. 499 laughed at 606 s moody tone. Aww, kiddo, you don t want to be doing that. The losing team can t eat tomorrow. Plus, don t worry, I ll help you out a bit since it s your first time. 499 gave 606 a heartwarming smile before waving goodbye. Despite 499 s reassurance, 606 can t shrug off the feeling that the other girl was just a bit too happy.
Team 1! Over here! A tall brunette called besides the tree, her whiny voice penetrating throughout the forest. A bunch of kids dragged their feet towards her, grumbling and moody. It seems like 606 s team already gave up. 606 joined the group and narrowed her eyes at the self-proclaimed leader. Since I m the oldest one, I ll be the team captain. Whatever I say goes. Got it? 606 arched an eyebrow at the arrogant speech. Most of the team just nodded along, from either giving up or just avoiding having to argue with the girl, but some people stood up and began bellowing complaints. Above the protests, 606 faintly heard Alexius shouting that the games started in 5 minutes. SHUT UP!
Everyone froze and turned their eyes towards 60 6, who just realized she screamed that. 606 swallowed as she took in all their impatient stares, and for a second, she completely forgot what she was going to say. The games start in 5 minutes and we don t have enough time to be arguing about who s the captain. For this game, someone needs to lead or it ll just be chaos and we lose. I think we should give the brunette a chance at it and then decide what to do later, 606 declared, trying to feign confidence. She was never much of a speaker. In fact, thro ugh her entire childhood, she tried to speak as little as possible. She waited worriedly as the team discussed among themselves, but within a minute, they nodded and made their way towards their side of the forest. She just had enough time to breathe a sigh of relief before the more serious worry hit her hard. We re playing in a forest in the middle of the night with a bunch of psycho kids that go through torture daily. We re dead. 606 blindly navigated her way through her side of the forest. She couldn t see her hand an inch away from her face, let alone the trees and wildbush she has been treading through for the last hour. She already lost count of the times she smacked right into a tree trunk. Forget about escaping the school. I just want to leave this fucking forest. Pssst. 606 turned towards the sound and squinted her eyes. She saw the bright yellow line, but beyond that, it was all black. It s me, 499. 606 s mouth made a small o shape before she whispered back, How did you know it was me? 499 laughed softly at the question. All the noobs uh have problems navigating through the forest, she responded, clearly trying to make it sound less offensive. Oh, by the way, here s a small tip: don t open your eyes. Just try to find your way around throu gh feel and sound. It sounds harder, but it makes your life that much easier. Why are you helping me? It was silent for a few seconds. A couple months ago, a boy, during his first time playing Capture the Flag, chased another kid who ran over to his te am s side. The boy didn t know the kid ran up a tree and continued to blindly run in one direction. He went out of boundaries and fell off a cliff. 606 gaped at 499 s blunt words. Someone died? she whispered, her voice cracking on the last word.
The death toll at Nightstone is higher than you think.
After many bruises and blind navigating, 606 finally got used to moving around the forest. 499 s advice really was useful. Having conquered one hurdle, 606 paid more attention to the actual game. So far, neither team made any huge attempts to steal the flag. The brunette, whose number was 367 but was more commonly known as Bitchy Queen, was playing really safe. She left almost everyone on defense and only sent a couple fast boys out to steal the flag. The other team was using the same strategy. At this rate, both teams are going to lose and none of us would have the luxury of eating tomorrow. Suddenly, a shadow popped out from behind the tree. 606 was just about to chase after him before realizing that he didn t run away. Chances were he was on her team. 606, right? Yes. Bitchy Queen says that we re planning another attack. You and I are going down the right side while two other guys go down the left. Ah
Minutes later, 606 found her self entering the enemy s territory for the first time. She walked through the territory, not bothering to lower the huge noise she was making or avoid the patches of moonlight. Finally, she saw the silhouette of a guard standing at the tree. Come on, kid, come on 606 whispered, staring at the dark figure. Suddenly, it burst into action, and 606 darted off, moving deeper into enemy territory. The person chasing after her made a loud call of some sort. 606 smiled before swiftly picking up a rock, turning around, and chucking it at the person s head. The figure collapsed with a dull thud . 606, after checking the guy s pulse and making sure he was just unconscious, not dead, she sprinted back to her own territory, to the exact place she was defending for most of the game. Standing right in front of the bright yellow line that divided the territories, she waited.
Seconds later, loud footsteps and crunch sounds echoed through the forest, signaling someone running very, very fast in 606 s direction. Smiling , 606 closed her eyes, differentiated the footsteps of her teammates and those of the attacker, and a second before the attacker would have passed the line, 606 sprinted in her direction and tackled her down. Both people fell to the ground right under a sm all patch of light.
The attacker s eyes widened as she caught sight of 606 s face. 606 simply grinned before she snatched her team s flag out of 499 s frozen hand.
The game ended as a tie. Even after Team 2 lost their captain, they still held on for the entire 6 hours of the game. Both teams trudged into the dormitories at 1 in the morning, some already falling asleep on their feet. 499 approached 606 with a slight smile. How did you know the messenger boy was a trap? 499 asked, with a hint of impressiveness in her voice. 1: You were far too happy. 2: You gave me decent advice. If I learned anything today, it s that it s an every-man-for-himself system here. You don t have any reason to help me unless it s to gain my trust. 3: I never forget a face. 499 arched an eyebrow at the last reason. So you memorized every person on your team before the game, and knew that the boy who told you to get the flag wasn t your ally? And here I thought I could take advantage of the noob. But did you really have to knock the poor boy out? 499 added, narrowing her eyes at 606 even when a small smile was creeping on her lips. Well, I figured that if I didn t, he ll realize that I knew something was wrong and warn you not to try to get the flag. Just li ke how the guy who was chasing me gave a loud call for you to carry out your attack plan. Huh, you realized that too. Next time, I hope a stupid noob comes in and lets me win, 499 replied with a pout. Just out of curiosity, but why did you need me to n ot be defending to get the flag? And how about if I really got your team s flag? For your first question, you were put on the 3rd level, the last level, in this morning s jog. Even though I was the best in the 2nd level, I wasn t sure if I could outrun y ou. As for your second question 499 here made you break the golden rule. 606 looked up to see Porcupine lightly hopping off his bunk and walking over to the two girls. Never ever, no matter what you do or what happens, attack the enemy s flag with les s people than the number of enemies on defense. It s plain suicide, since defending is a hell of a lot easier than attacking, Porcupine explained, glancing at 499 who was grinning ever so evilly. Oh, by the way, how fast did you win? 499 asked, looking at Porcupine. In half an hour.
606 stood staring at Porcupine with her eyes wide, as he sauntered back to his bunk and pulled himself up on the wooden slab. By the way, we re waking up at 5 tomorrow. You best get some sleep, Porcupine called out, his eyes already closed. 606, sighing aggravatingly at the torturous system they have here at this school, made her way to her bunk. Just climbing the brick wall was painful, and she almost fell twice from exhaustion and pain. Finally landing inelegantly on t he big piece of wood, she sighed and murmured, I hate this school. Don t we all. All these games will surely be the end of us, 110 whispered, tilting her head towards 606. It took me almost two weeks before I stopped going unconscious every day from the morning activity. 606 s eyes widened. Well, isn t that delightful just the thing she needed to boost up her confidence. But better to be almost dying than dead. Dead. That was the second mention of deaths at Nightstone. 499 s words echoed in 606 s head. The death toll at Nightstone is higher than you think. Do people actually die here? 606 managed to ask through frozen lips. Last year a boy died from blood loss. 6 months ago, a boy went insane from the hellhole and committed suicide. 3 months ago, a girl died from starvation. 1 month ago, a boy fell off a cliff. Last week, a boy died from exhaustion in the morning jog. 606 couldn t breathe at 110 s cold emotionless words. She stared at 110 s face, now resembling a stone statue, but deep down, s he saw the shock and pain of those deaths etched into 110 s soul. What does the academy do to the children? To us? Chapter Fourteen. Beep. 606 was starting to really hate that sound. She tried to sit up, but her muscles couldn t seem to be able to contract that way. She moved her arms back to lift herself up, which was harder said than done due to those demon handcuffs. Suddenly, her left arm gave o ut and her now imbalanced body flipped her over the edge of her bed down fifty feet to a very hard ground. Oomphf.
Stupid girl, watch out for innocent pedestrians before you try to commit suicide by jumping off your bunk. 606 looked underneath her to see Porcupine glaring at her. She muttered a quick apology before standing up and falling right back down on Porcupine. Ugh! What are you trying to do, kill me?! 606 muttered another apology before finally managing to drag herself off of Porcupine. Porcupine took a deep breath. Ah, oxygen. I swear, if you weren t so incredibly skinny, you probably would have squeezed every ounce of life out of me. 606 muttered her third apology that day, but Porcupine cut her off. Chillax. You probably couldn t even sit up this morning, huh? Muscles ain t used to this amount of torture. 606 sat there, shocked. If her brain wasn t playing tricks on her, she would have sworn she heard pity in Porcupine s voice Suddenly, Porcupine scuttled so close to her that she cou ld feel the warmth from his body. What are you Porcupine quickly tossed a black sphere thing that resembled a large pill into 606 s mouth, closed her jaw and pushed her head back so that she swallowed it. Whole. 606 gagged before letting out a string of curses. Porcupine slammed his hand against her mouth, attempting to silence her, while looking around to see if anyone heard her. 606 bit down on his hand hard. Oww, you little ! What did you give me?! 606 yelled, bellowing insults his way. Porcupin e looked at her like she was a rabid raccoon, and then suddenly leaned down and pressed his lips against hers. She immediately stopped talking. Porcupine backed off making gagging sounds and rubbing his lips. 606 simply sat there, stunned. Why did you oh my god, it was chocolate, 606 murmured, tasting her tongue. Porcupine rolled his eyes at her. Ya, genius. Maybe next time you ll think about it before screaming profanities at me. It s your fault that wait, why did you give me chocolate? Porcupine avoided 606 s gaze and stood up. Forget about it. 606 narrowed her eyes at him before standing up and forcing him to look at her. Don t tell me you did it for my sake?
Porcupine s eyes turned cold. I told you, forget about it. And don t tell anyone. If you do, I swear to God I ll beat you up. 606 swallowed at the threat. He was a lot bigger than her, and she didn t really want to take her chances. She nodded numbly. Porcupine walked past her towards the dormitory doors which just opened to show their lovely bodyguard escorts, leaving 606 to baffle and ponder upon his strange actions. Chapter fifteen. Brutal morning, huh? 110 asked, running up to stand besides 606 as all the kids walked to the field. I m surprised you can stand up, let alone walk. Ya, I could barely sit up this morning, but then it got better. After Porcupine gave you that chocolate. 606 s eyes widened. Did that kid actually help her out? It s an every -man-forhimself system here. He had no reason to do that. She d sooner believe that the chocolate contained some kind of poison than believe that Porcupine actually cared about her and helped her. 110 stopped abruptly and turned sharply towards her. Say something, she asked, her eyes filled with confusion. Ermm huh? 606 replied very intelligently. 110 s eyes grew wider. That s funny. Your breath smells like choco . Her eyes flickered to Porcupine who was walking ahead of them, and then back to 606. Porcupine gave you chocolate?! 110 whispered unbelievingly. 606 gawked before realizing she practically gave 110 the right answer. The other girl looked at 606 with such a shocked expression that 606 was worried 110 was going to faint. I know it s shocking that he helped me, but you look like you just saw a ghost. It s not that big of a deal, 606 said, keeping her voice down. 110 stared back at her like she was an idiot. Do you know how precious food is here? When we are actually given food, which is rare, it s barely enough to feed a pet rabbit, let alone a person who burns abou t the same number of calories as an Olympic athlete. 110 stared at 606 with her big emerald eyes, not letting 606 s attention move away. Porcupine s on the last level of all the games, which means he s practically dying, and he still starved himself for you.
110 turned around and followed the crowd of kids before they became late. Count your blessings, cause you re one lucky girl.
Chapter sixteen. Hello, children. Nice morning for a jog, huh? Alexius said brightly, the clear opposite of everyone else s moods. 606 looked around at the other four people in her level, including
110 who was staring at Porcupine like he was an experiment went wrong, and Porcupine who found immediate interest at a tree in the opposite direction of 606. Where s the whip? a boy 606 didn t know asked. Alexius looked at him then smiled. I don t need that. All I need is this, he replied, tapping the side of his head. Everyone s expression was as confused as 606 felt. Alexius simply smiled again before shooing them to the starting line. _ _ _ _ Blood. Mom dead. More blood. Dad dead. Warm liquid under my hands. Red. Too much red. A laugh. A scream. My scream. 606 gasped, heaving breaths, her heart pumping, her nails digging into the dirt until they bled. Images of her parents detached, murdered body, imprinted hard and painfully in her mind. Agony crashed through her so powerfully she wanted to rip out her hea rt. More and more flashes. More and more pain. It s all my fault. It s all my fault. It s all my fault. Something wet on her face. Tears. You wanna start running now? Alexius s voice rung through her head.
606 clenched her fists, pushed herself up, and s printed through the forest. The memories faded but their remains punched against her soul, more anguishing than her sore legs and her screaming lungs.
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