In the camp, she was known as "the escapist", a title she took pride in despite the fact that all five of her attempts to fulfill such a name had failed, resulting in a nice beating that revealed, if not the brutality of her captors, then at least their persistence; she had yet to be sentenced to death. And yet she still seemed determined to fulfill her goal, causing her fellow inmates to wonder what she so desperately desired. But the secret was never to be wrenched from her tight mouth with the ever-present half-smile that was both ironic and hopeful, determined and amused.

The captain hurried to the boardroom, steps long and firm until he reached the steel door and froze, swallowing and knocking politely so that a metallic clang rang out in the almost dead hallway. Night had fallen long ago, attested to by the bags under the man's eyes. He smirked slightly as the door was opened and he saw who awaited. The general nodded to him and gestured inside the room, where the captain was met with the sight of a computer screen showing numbered faces and lists below them. Understanding passed over the captain's face, and he entered the room, followed by the general, who quietly closed the door behind them.

"You know better than me, captain." The general's voice seemed almost too loud. "Which one?" The captain nodded solemnly, contradicting the slight smile that touched the edges of his lips. He bent over the computer, scrolling silently through the faces and numbers, eyes bright and intense. It seemed as if the room breathed anticipation, watching carefully the pair that occupied it: the tired captain's tense form watched by the general's erect posture and searching eyes.

Finally the captain stopped. A breath followed and he looked up, meeting the general's eyes.

"This one."

The general followed the captain's outstretched finger till his eyes came to rest on the one in question. The grainy picture portrayed the face of a woman. Her blue eyes seemed to stare down the camera, a smirk touching the right side of her lips with one eyebrow slightly raised in mocking irony. Her hair was a dirty blonde, mostly pulled back except for loose strands that fell around and in her face, giving her a look that, coupled with her expression, revealed a determined recklessness that neared dangerously on madness.

"Prisoner 24601..." The general mused, nodding.

The captain straightened, his eyes meeting the general's, an unavoidably affirmative response.

"Very well. You know what to do."

"Boy! Here- more food!" The shout rang through the cantina, somehow transcending both the noise of the band and the cacophony that was the clinking silverware, riotous laughter and insuppressible conversation of the late night crowd. Or maybe it was just loud because the waiter had learned to pay attention to the customer. Either he was a frequent attender, or his obnoxiousness was simply so noticeable and frustrating that his few visits seemed to be regular tortures. The waiter took a deep breath, met the eyes of the bartender, who offered a sympathetic look, and hurried over to the diner in need.

It seemed that the next hour of his shift lasted for an eternity, and when he was given permission to clean up in the restroom before going home, he was too exhausted to be grateful. Nodding politely, he entered the small room that served as the employee "break room", the name affectionately given to it, and changed back into civilian clothes.

Resisting the urge to curl into a ball and cease to exist, he splashed his face with water, running his palms down the almost wasted features. His eyes stared out at him in the dim light from the buzzing bulb overhead that barely lit the grimy bathroom. They were blue- blue and tired. Exhaustion replaced what once had been lively and hopeful. His blond hair, somehow dulled in the light, hung lank and loose around his face and he did his best to arrange it so that it covered his miserable eyes. For the fiftieth time that day, he struggled against his mind, pushing back the memories that threatened to sweep him into inescapable madness, the questions and doubts that harrowed him and the longing- the longing for something he would never, could never deserve.

And his heart sunk hopelessly.

The lord had spent the day in his room, far too tired to leave it. For the past few years he'd lost the motivation to. The note, the fateful note declaring his daughter's intentions to leave, seeking what she had not yet found, still saddened him beyond words. And, though it declared her deep and abiding love for him and all he had done for her, it had yet to leave his thoughts. It rested upon the mantelpiece of his richly decorated bedroom, leaning against the mirror draped in black. In it, he saw his own face- the black eyes with deep bags beneath them, the graying hair, the wrinkles that he no longer cared to disguise.

A knock broke him from his reverie and he stood quickly, his pitch black robes sweeping along the floor as he hurried to the door. It was opened before he could reach it, and his wife's face met him. But instead of the proud, disdainful expression he had gotten so used to over the years, it was white with terror. Her voice trembled as she spoke in a tone quiet but no less alarming.

"War is upon us."

A tremor of malice ran through the earth. Fear pricked the guts of the passers-by. A cruel chuckle seemed to sound beneath their feet. The trees shivered.

And down, deep, deep down, revenge was prepared.

They would pay. Oh, how they would pay...