A lonely swallow, soon to be devoured by the cruel kiss of winter, fluttered over the camp. One by one he watched men and women march in single file, with the look of death in their eyes and the cold’s teeth marks on their hands. All without speech but yet all with the burden of fear, the captives stood once again in the single line. They had been given black military crimson jackets with burnished black buttons, which glimmered like moons against the grey snow. The Dronka symbol was clearly visible on the side of their right arm. It’s black and silver upright cross â???¬ did not appeal much to Aurelia’s taste. A checked black and grey skirt was given to the women while the men had the luxury of trousers with a silver belt and strip going down along the outside of each leg. And once the guards had checked each individual victim, the trucks rolled through the gates as the new Dronka’s began with their training.
The journey was spent with hours of silence and aloofness. You could the ice build up inside the minds of the trainees, as hairs were now icicles and snowflakes were their eyes. Their blue lips and stone teeth could be heard chattering away like dancing skeletons, before the guards began to bark again like dogs. Hours and Hours of this became too much for some, however these weak and fainted suffering were tossed out onto the sides of the frozen roads. Yet Aurelia took it as part of the training. She had always loved the snow, the sparkle of each pearl flake as they drifted down from the heavens. But this was not the same. Falling like bullets, the lumps of grey slop smeared across the ground creating a world of murkiness and emptiness. The frost was just another form of death. It froze the life with its icy breath and cascaded down through the mountains onto the land the people below.
Nightfall had once again struck the earth by the time the trucks came to a halt from the incessant and arduous journey. The air was colder here and the winds were louder.
Camps and Tents had been set up across a field of dry earth and brown grass, while black forests lay behind, with the howls of wolfs echoing from inside. Nevertheless what first seemed to be a field was now a cliff edge, as suddenly the roars of the ocean made its entry. The water was black with pigments of green, while the moon’s light shimmered like jades sailing along the waters, lighting the path for to the sailors’ deaths.
Dragging her numb feet, Aurelia was taken from the trucks the tents, were that night guards patrolled the area like rats. Throwing any escapees off the cliff on to the rocks, each runaway would result in another trainee to be sacrificed, in their place. No one ran way. While the wolves chewed at the limbs of the screaming trainees, Aurelia fixed her thoughts on the stars that did not seem to be watching over her while she continued to survive night.
The morning was announced by gun shots of the Dronkas. Firings from every angle continued to sound while the guards took pleasure in waking up the ill and weak captives. Their dogs ran through the tents, terrorising the men and women. Aurelia was pulled to her feet by a guard, shoving her onwards. She dared show her fear to them, as only the strong hearted had made it this far and Aurelia wasn’t even sure whether the training had even begun yet.
As the guards yelled and dogs barked a faint thunderous murmur came out from the horizon. All heads turned out to sea as they watched a flotilla of monstrous helicopters batter through the clouds like vultures. Three rows of them flew overhead, each the propellers of the largest began to beat the wind harder, while it proceeded to deescalate. Creating a deafening blast, all Dronkas coved their heads, crouching onto the floor as the steel beasts landed meters away from the camp. The noise dyed as the last helicopter landed and for a minute everything was again quite as they awaiting the next move. The thick metal door of the first helicopter was opened, revealing to the crowd their ruler and captor.
A shadow fell onto the frosted ground as a ghoulish figure stepped forward, his face exposed as the light hit his twisted face. His hair like black wire hung from his dry scalp and thick eyebrows like ravens wings hiding the holes in his head where his murky green olive eyes sank deep into his skull. His thin pastel lips cracked as they formed the crocked smile aimed at his audience.
“Welcome Dronkas,” spoke a splintered voice. “My name. Is Ulrich Dronka. But from hear forth I shall be called only by Sar Dronka.
The men and women gazed up at their leader and all thought and scene of freedom was then point obliterated from each of their uniformed and now labelled minds. Sar Dronka smiled crookedly as he watched his people gawp at him as if they themselves were the mindless.
“The modern world is corrupted with the greed of the people and disease of the Mindless. And you are the hope of the new world. The blood of the Empire! And now my friends, your training awaits you. You shall all carry out each task and challenge the guards may ask you to perform and no one is to say otherwise as consequences may be regrettable.”
Sar Dronka sniggered to himself bitterly. But his smile quickly turned serious and stern like the black waves slapping the cliff edge. He hit the side of the helicopter with his gloved fist, creating a wave of intensity and fear to stun his audience into further silence. “Alas our time together may have to be cut short as I have The Mindless to deal with. From here you shall all get on these great machines and await your next orders. The guards will watch over...” his malevolent smile returning “I handpicked them myself. Now until tomorrow... for some of you...farewell and good luck.” He stepped back into the shadows and the propellers returned to beating the air. Sniggering like a bloodhound he and the helicopter vanished into the foggy distance, his crippled smile and ghoulish eyes haunting Aurelia as she was forced onto the helicopters by the guards. Men and women cried out and protested in fear of what Sar Dronka had said. The terror that had been brewing within them all was beginning to overflow as the guards dragged and shoved them like cattle onto the flying metal cages. Aurelia was sat squashed between too tall men, both of whom Aurelia could feel quake and tremble with trepidation as they could hear the beating of the blades above and the roar of the ocean growing loader and loader.
Three hours later the panic had dissolved and hunger and the growling of stomachs was all that was heard, however the guards had no response to it as they were more distracted by other matters. Aurelia watched them in the corner as they mumbled and argued quietly together. The five of them stood in the circle, occasionally turning their heads to the trainees. From this she knew immediately that they were deciding on what to do with them and what their training was to be. Aurelia had already worked out that they were unprepared for them from the tone of Sar Dronka’s voice and the uncertainty of their survival and destination. She was surprised how little this great rebellion had put into their unbeatable plan. Now they had got this far their plans had run out, along with any of Aurelia’s sense of hope.
The five guards had seemed to have decided as they snarled and laughed softly; turning back to the new Dronka’s they smiling selfishly as if pleased with themselves.
“Right you lot” The fist guard said, his harsh demanding accent wakening the captives from their boredom and hunger. “This is where you get off.” He laughed to himself, turning to the other four guards behind, also laughing. “Ready when you are” he spoke into his radio. And at that point a deep groaning noise came from below, revealing a blinding white light through an expanding crack on the floor. After the eyes of the dazzled healed their mouths dropped as they looked down to behold the sight that chilled their blood and rattled their bones. The floor of the Helicopter had folded out to reveal the deep blue of the waves below. One hundred feet high in the air all thirty helicopters paused, hovering over the Prussian blue water, await the next instructions. Aurelia looked up from the gut-retching sight onto the amused faces of the guards, her mouth still open and heart as heavy as stone.
The guard glared back, grunting positively to himself before saying the words she knew were coming:
“Now jump” he said with pleasure, clearly amused by the sight of everyone’s anger and horror reflecting off their faces as all emotion began to poor out, in reaction to his command. “You’re lucky the sharks don’t swim here. Panic returned to the crowd of desperate survivors. Aurelia now knew this was not training, they were not being trained. This was all merely to test their strength and to give the Dronka’s a show as they played “Survival of the fittest”. No, the training was to come later on. Right now she concentrated on her route of endurance.
“Stand up!” ordered the guards, and one by one the sobering men and women got to their trembling, feeble feet and jumped, plunged, consumed by the great deep blue. And then it was Aurelia’s turn, and before she had time to say her prays or catch a breath a hand from behind pushed her down onto the cold, perilous and sharp embrace of the impious waves.