Q437B was ready to die for the Second Revolution. Then she entered the Meurtre…
Q and B expected death when the Elders ordered their execution. What they discover instead changes everything they thought they knew about their world. Saved by the mercy of the Elders, they awaken in the Vrai Domicile, a mysterious place hidden below the Sixth Domicile housing hundreds of former rebels.
Except these rebels have been brainwashed, conditioned to be blind followers.
Q quickly learns of the Elders’ new plan for her – she is to become their warrior, to reunite the Vrai and Sixth Domiciles with purity, love, and unwavering faith. But to Q, she’ll be undoing everything she and the rebels fought for.
Now Q and B must fight to survive once more, forced to forge new alliances with strangers who promise nothing is as it seems. But surviving comes with a choice – follow the Elders and quash the Revolution, or defy them and free the people, putting B’s and Grandmother’s lives at risk.
In a place where the fire of rebellion is extinguished at every turn, can Q continue to be the spark that fuels the Revolution?
Book 2 in The Sixth Domicile Series by Courtney Ruggles, a 5 star Readers Favorite!
A100B’s words filled my head again. I bit my lip as I listened to what she said, demanding me to say them and then do exactly what she was telling me to do. “Untie it from your belt. You must do it,” she commanded in my ear.
I looked down at the whip hanging on my side, my fingers brushing the Fouetter as terror and guilt gripped me.
I gulped, my stomach churning and tears threatening me, gagging me. “Say it!” she hissed in my ear. She repeated the words so I would recite them exactly right.
“T987A, a rogue Guerrier, helped me escape from the Domicile and betray you.” My voice shook and I kept swallowing the saliva building in my mouth from the threat of rising bile.
“I swear to not betray you again, and to demonstrate that promise, I will punish T987A.” I finished the words A100B demanded I repeat. Q437A stood next to me, smirking.
Two Guerriers emerged from the side of the Rotonde dragging T987A between them. I sucked in my bottom lip to stifle a cry. T987A was a part of the rebellion, one of the Guerriers who informed us what the Guerriers were doing and helped protect B and me. He fought Q437A when they found us sneaking out of the Domicile the last time, which gave us the time to run to the Rotonde to save Grandmother, and where I screamed at the people to reveal the Elders’ murderous ways.
“I can’t,” I whispered as quietly as I could, barely moving my lips, sure A100B could hear me.
“Take the Fouetter from your belt, Q437B,” she breathed in my ear. T987A stared at me in disbelief. I squeezed my eyes shut, knowing they were ready to beat my grandmother, beat her fervently until almost all the blood seeped from her. And then save her without numbing the pain to prepare to do it again.
I didn’t know what would happen to T987A after this. I tried to reason with myself. I couldn’t get out of this. T987A was much stronger than my grandmother. I had endured twenty lashes, he could withstand at least that.
My throat constricted as I fought to keep from vomiting or crying, not sure which would be worse right now. I pleaded with my eyes as his locked with mine to forgive me. I loosened the Fouetter, never taking my gaze from his. “I’m sorry,” I mouthed at him and hoped he could read my lips, my desperation, my turmoil, and my devastation.
The Guerriers hoisted him on the platform and pushed him down, forcing him to his knees and rounding his back to give me maximum exposure.
The Fouetter was heavy in my hands, much heavier than when we’d trained, as if it’d been filled with lead. The Guerriers wielded it effortlessly; I had wielded it effortlessly on innocent tile. I licked my lips, bit my tongue hard enough to taste metallic blood, now infused with the abundance of saliva.
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered, my voice hitched by the tears now freely falling. There were too many to keep at bay. They fell from my eyes and dripped into T987A’s hair as I hovered over him, holding the Fouetter at my side. My whisper was loud enough for him to hear me, for the Guerriers holding him, and possibly the closest people to the platform. A100B heard it, her infuriated breath sounding in my ear. The Elders heard.
Q437A’s hand grabbed my right arm owning the Fouetter. “I will help you, Q437B. As my partner and fellow soldier, I will aid you in punishing this betrayer!” I knew Q437A’s words were being fed to him as well.
I went numb. He wouldn’t let me release the Fouetter. Instead his hand clenched over mine on the Fouetter, making sure I didn’t let go. He raised my arm high in the air. I sucked in a deep breath and held it in, biting the inside of my cheek as he drove my arm down, the Fouetter whistling in the air. I squeezed my eyes shut. The leather strips made contact with T987A’s back, the contact vibrating through the handle of the Fouetter.
He screamed. Q437A raised my arm again high above my head and forcefully slammed it back down. The whip cracked against T987A; his cry echoed. Tears seeped from my locked eyes. I gulped, trying to hide the hiccups of sobs escaping from me. I wanted to scream, to cry out. To use my three-day training and throw my elbow back into Q437A’s chest to knock him off balance. And then attack him, knock him to the ground and beat the life out of him.
Q437A kept raising my arm above my head and swinging it down so the Fouetter lashed T987A’s back. I didn’t count the times Q437A repeated the motion to cruelly whip T987A.
Finally, the Elder’s voice boomed again over the Rotonde. Q437A had raised my arm high in the air again, readying for another blow. “That is enough!” he demanded. “By the mercy in us, T987A has served his punishment of thirty lashes. May the scars remind him of his transgressions and how we saved him today from the Meurtre. T987A, we implore you to become pure again.”
B’s fingers grabbed mine and entwined between them. Their heat warmed my hand, but it didn’t flow through my arm to warm the rest of my body. I trembled with the disparity of temperatures from the small heat B brought my fingers compared to the ice that shivered through the rest of my body. I needed the sun’s warm rays soaking through to my skin to melt the cold.
But I was trapped underground. With cold hands invisibly snaked around my neck, freezing me from all but white walls and a whip.
The white masks gawking at me, their wide, teeth-baring grins chilling me more. B tugged my hand and brought my attention to him. His mask sparkled like the midday sun and his green eyes like the grass, his sandy-blond hair like the golden rays.
“Let’s go to our Comb,” B whispered.
I stood with B to exit the Nourriture Hall, our hands still grasping each other’s. My free hand was grabbed and tugged down to the person sitting next to me, who I hadn’t realized was there in my shock by Maddox’s announcement.
R229A pulled me down. “You can’t leave yet. The Elders are addressing you.”
“They are addressing the people, not me,” I replied.
“In your honor, Q437B. Sit and listen to our Elders. Their words are sacred.” He looked at me with displeasure, frustrated I wasn’t enchanted by the Elder’s voice.
He yanked my hand again, forcing me into an awkward bend. My heart thumped, my skin crawling as my eyes trailed up R229A’s arm, my eyes widening as his mask bent and wavered until it formed that of Q437A’s. Panic twisted itself around my hand and surged up my arm into my core, tightening my chest, squeezing the air from my lungs. Black coals filled his irises, searing into me, filling me with ice.
“Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome Q437A, a soldier in our crusade!” Maddox boomed overhead. Everyone stood immediately with their hands across their chests.
Horror froze me. R229A had been grasping me, not Q437A. With his hand still holding mine, R229A had morphed into Q437A.
I broke the hold Q437A’s eyes had on me and tried to plead with those around me, “Save me! Please save me!” But no sound came out, only a dry rasp barely audible to my own ears.