Rebel Heart (Chapter Six, page 2 of 11)

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A dark form dropped in front of her. She gave a startled cry and fell back, barely escaping a hand trying to grab her. Lana scrambled up and ran, careening into another man in dark clothing. She wrenched away, terrified. A backhand sent her reeling. She dropped, her head ringing. She felt someone tie her hands and haul her up. She was slung over someone's shoulder, stuck between awareness and blackness. Panic spun through her, and she didn't know which she feared more: Greenie finding her or the insurgency.

She had no concept of time in the in-between place. They seemed to walk for hours, until the first rays of morning lightened the forest. The world around her changed from forest to what resembled an army encampment with tents and mobile buildings hidden from sight by intricate nettings woven among the trees. The sound of men and movement around her pulled her from the daze.

She was cold and stiff. They entered a tent, and she was thrown to the ground. She landed hard on her left side, pain flaring through her as her wrist twisted. It was enough to make her nauseous. She was hauled to her feet and she blinked, struggling to keep the pain at bay. A slap stung her cheek, and she gasped.

"What do we have here?" the man asked in an accented voice.

There were two men behind him, and they crowded around to see her.

"You don't look like a spec ops soldier," he said, referring to the black uniform Elise insisted she wear. "What's your name?"

They were all three bioengineered soldiers, thick-bodied and towering over her. But they didn't wear military clothing or symbols. The slapper's sleeves were rolled, revealing an intricate tattoo of battle scenes around the letters PMF. Insurgents. Her breath caught, and cold fear trickled through her.

Another slap.

"What's your name, girl?" he demanded.

She stared at him, hand on her cheek where he'd struck her. He took each side of her collar and pulled, the effortless movement ripping the black uniform down the middle. His eyes went from the fed uniform to her face.

She tried to pull away, panic growing at the look that crossed his features.

"We got us a fed bitch."

"I'll tell the boss," one said, ducking out of the tent.

The man before her snatched one arm and flipped out a knife, cutting through her black clothing and tossing it aside. He glared at her, then unbuttoned his tac gear, pulling his arms free and pushing it down to his waist to reveal the dark T-shirt beneath.

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