Anya lay awake for many hours that night. She wasn’t happy and had been having increasingly worse nightmares. She still felt afraid that Sherdan would revert back to being nasty again.

He often got angry when she expressed her disapproval and also grew frustrated at they way she kept him at arms reach. Her feelings about him were still mixed up. He attracted her, that was for sure, but she didn’t like his personality as much. He thought too much of himself and disregarded her opinion too readily. She wanted more respect from a potential life partner.

The last few days of attempted invasions and bombings only made her feel even less safe around Sherdan. She didn’t understand the technology he had and imagined the compound being invaded at any point. It made her feel stuck between two powerful forces and she couldn’t decide who she wanted to win, if she wanted either to.

When everything was calm and Sherdan reminded her that he had originally forced her to stay she hoped the British army would sweep in and save her. When the country was under attack she prayed for Sherdan’s defences to hold and for no one to get hurt.

She sat up in bed, tucking her knees up and wrapping her arms around herself. The room was so familiar to her now that she had begun to forget the details of her own house. She could generally picture it, but little items and particular things which made it her home had faded.

She closed her eyes to try to picture the bedroom better but after a few minutes flashes of her torture came into her head instead.

The constant flipping between two extremes was taking it’s toll on her emotionally. Combined with her nightmares she felt more drained with each passing day. She also felt more tempted to let Sherdan have things his way. It might make her feel safer.

Anya blocked this thought from her head right away. It would do her no good to be his wife. Only God could ensure her safety and He only promised safety for her soul. Sherdan would only put her in more danger.

She got out of bed and went to her window, praying for God’s peace as she had done the last five nights. Tears flowed down her cheeks. She didn’t understand why God wanted her here. All she knew was that she had to endure it for as long as it was required of her.

When she finally felt tired enough to sleep she got back into bed. Within five minutes she had slipped into a dream…

She sat in the middle of an all too familiar room. She was, thankfully, unchained this time. As she got up Sherdan came in. His eyes blazed and she took a step back, catching her breath. It wasn’t normally him but the guard instead.

Sherdan advanced on her and she backed up until she could go no further. He pinned her up against the wall with his own body. She could feel his heart beat against her own. His significantly calmer than hers.

He didn’t hurt her and she didn’t struggle. Her eyes never left his as his expression softened. Her fear faded and still neither of them moved. Finally, he bent to kiss her but stopped as a noise came from outside.

The door slammed open against the wall and in rushed several men with swords drawn. They advanced towards her and Sherdan. She shrank back even further, thinking they had come for her. They hadn’t. They marched towards Sherdan who also backed up, afraid.

Anya didn’t know what to do. She felt frozen to the spot and could only watch as each step brought the three men closer to Sherdan. Feeling pushed from behind she rushed to the middle of the room and in front of him.

“This man is under my protection. Leave now,” Anya felt her mouth say with a voice unlike her own. They laughed and continued, ignoring her and trying to walk past.

She thrust her right arm out sideways, catching the nearest soldier in the kidneys. As she swung her arm back she grabbed his sword hand and pulled back his fingers.

He dropped the weapon and it clanged onto the hard floor. Anya watched as her arm reached out to pick it up and she swung around, slicing the throat of the same man. Blood sprayed out as she moved to the next two. They hesitated. They hadn’t believed her threat any more than she had.

She seemed to know exactly what to do and soon dispatched both of the soldiers to follow the first into the next life…

Anya woke up, breathing heavily. She had never had a dream like it. The idea that she might be able to defend herself had never occurred to her and to act in such a violent manner in defence of Sherdan disgusted her.

Her stomach heaved as she ran to the bathroom. Thankfully, she reached the toilet in time for the second spasm which removed her evening meal from her stomach. She shivered violently, kneeling on the floor for the next few minutes as her brain tried to process the odd dream.

She had felt herself do things as if another was in control of her body at the same time as knowing exactly what doing each of the martial arts moves would feel like. It played through her head again as vividly as it had moments before, but she still couldn’t understand why she would ever do anything like it or why she’d protect Sherdan.

A part of her despised him for everything he had let his guards do to her and for all the manipulative conversations he’d followed it with. But it was only a part of her. On occasions she found herself thinking about life by his side. She assumed it was something like Stockholm syndrome but couldn’t feel peaceful either way.

She decided to see what God said about violence and killing in the Bible and picked up the copy Sherdan had let her have. Flicking through it didn’t help at first. There were plenty of wars in the old testament but that wasn’t as relevant. She was only one person not a nation.

Instead of reading any more from the old testament she moved to the new testament and Paul’s letters. He’d often been persecuted for his faith and talked about both his trials and the trials of many of the other disciples.

She scanned through looking for relevant passages and stopped in Romans. There was a section in Romans 12 titled ‘love in action’. The last line said, “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

She stopped breathing as she stared at the section. God expected her to overcome the evil situation by being righteous. She’d been awful to Sherdan and suddenly felt very guilty.

It was important she didn’t let him control her but, while she remained and God wanted her there, she knew she needed to be better at showing Sherdan kindness. She was struck with the thought of how far her kindness and goodness should go and the idea of her defending him didn’t seem anywhere near as absurd.

The martial arts still baffled her, however, as she’d never studied it in the slightest. She had to ponder further over why she might have dreamt it but her eyelids drooped and stopped her confused thoughts until morning.

Sherdan had gone to lead his team in taking more territory long before breakfast, so Anya ate alone and, as she’d been doing every day, she put the twenty four hour news channel on. It gave her more information on Sherdan’s plans than he did.

Already the focus of the reporter was the new country. Sherdan’s teams had already began warning people in the area that they were going to have to leave. Many still hadn’t been out of bed when the guards had arrived. The army tried to stop them but it seemed that barriers were all covering the new area as well. Sherdan had been thorough.

The cameras got as close as they could but were still a long way off. Anya could tell they wanted to interview the residents but many were already busy packing up their belongings. A lot were in shock and seemed to be working autonomously. A few stood on their front lawns unable to think coherently.

Many of the guards were lending a hand. Anya was surprised at how amicable everything was. It seemed most of the people losing their houses understood there was no point in arguing and the kids seemed to think the day was a great game; a far more exciting way to spend a Sunday morning.

The army and news reporters watched as several hours passed. The people all packed their possessions into the crates they were provided with. The crates were slowly stacked into cars and by midday the first few people were ready to leave, although they were mostly students who had less to pack.

Anya couldn’t believe the heartlessness of the whole thing. Many of the women cried at having to leave their houses, especially when a large amount of the furniture was being left behind.

She could hardly tear her attention away from the news. As people left the area the reporters finally got their interviews and new footage was shown on the TV.

The people interviewed struggled to articulate how they felt and many just cried. Anya was moved to tears by them at several points.

When there were still people leaving and packing long after dinner had been and gone, Anya grew restless and turned the channel off. She could not watch any more.

She went to pick up a book but found she had read all the modern ones that interested her. Sherdan had forbidden her touching all his old first edition books so she wandered through the house until she found herself in the security room.

All four of the security team were there. Nathan and Julie were standing in the open space. None of them had noticed her so she hung back and watched, curious.

Nathan was instructing Julie on something Anya couldn’t hear. The next thing she knew the two began sparring. Nathan was evidently the better of the pair and the instructor of the other.

Anya gasped when Nathan landed a blow and hit Julie. All four guards turned to her, only Nathan smiled.

“Good evening.”

“Good evening. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to pry… I just… I.”

“I was teaching some self defence. Do you wish to join in?”

“I… You’d teach me?” Anya’s eyes went wide. She hadn’t expected to be offered lessons in martial arts.

“I’m teaching already. Another one of you wouldn’t make much difference.”

“I’d love to learn.” Anya beamed but looked nervous all the same. She took a few steps into the room before hesitating. She had no idea where to begin.

Nathan sent her to fetch some more suitable clothing. She almost didn’t go back, but after the dream she knew she couldn’t say no. She just hoped that she’d not have to use it, not really use it at least, but she didn’t think it was a coincidence that Nathan had offered to teach her less than twenty-four hours after she’d dreamt about it.

Before she could back out, Anya rushed back to the security room. When she arrived she noticed that both Julie and Ed were gone. Nathan got up as soon as she walked into the room.

“Oh, I’m not getting in the way am I?” she asked.

“No, not at all. It only takes two of us to do our duty when people are in the house. One to watch the safety of the residents and one for the exterior.” Anya looked puzzled. “You’re here so I’m still doing my job.”

She finally smiled, put at ease by Nathan’s eagerness and reasoning.

He encouraged her to come stand out in the open and ran her through thirty minutes of warm up and basic exercises. She was already out of breath and exhausted by the time he had finished.

“You’ll need to bring your fitness level up to get good at a martial art. You’d be surprised how tiring fighting is.” Anya nodded at him. She wasn’t sure she could speak. He started by showing her the very basics; how to stand and protect herself.

She did her best to concentrate, picking up the gist of his requests quickly. Calmed by his gentle instruction she soon lost track of time. He’d shown her some basic blocking movements and almost two hours had passed.

He stopped teaching and bowed towards her. She copied his movements, bowing back.

“Thank you. I enjoyed that.”

“You’re welcome. You’re a fast learner. Have you done anything like it before?”

“Not at all. I don’t even know what you’ve been teaching me.”

“Oh, just some karate. Mostly the defensive side of it.”

“Well thank you.” Anya smiled.

“Would you like to learn some more? We can continue at the same time every day or in the last hour of my shift in the morning, if you prefer?”

“Morning would be better.” Anya didn’t want Sherdan to get upset that she was spending time with his guards instead of him. He always worked in the mornings so would be a lot less likely to miss her.

She thanked Nathan again and went back to the study, it was almost midnight and there wasn’t any sign of the master of the house. He’d been at the compound for over sixteen hours.

The news still focused on Utopia and the day’s events. The Prime Minister had presented another speech late in the evening saying he considered Sherdan’s latest move an act of war.

Anya laughed when she heard this. They were already at war. The attacks had seen to that. She also noted that to be at war both parties had to be countries. Sherdan had gained ground in that regard.

She found herself being swayed in Sherdan’s direction and disapproved of how her own government were handling this. Brute force evidently wasn’t going to stop Sherdan or his people.

It amused her that the army had been unable to do anything but watch all day. They’d tried to save face by helping the people kicked out of their homes but they couldn’t get anywhere near people until they were let out by Sherdan’s men. He was in complete control.

The Utopia security team used the emitters as a sort of double gateway, opening one after the other, moving the leaving people out of the way but keeping all of Sherdan’s citizens safe at the same time. It impressed Anya.

She gave up waiting for Sherdan at two in the morning and went to her room. Her body ached a little as she climbed into bed. She prayed she’d get a good nights sleep and not have any more nightmares. She felt exhausted. The day had been fraught with nervousness as she watched the happenings on TV and, with her karate lesson to finish the day, she felt a lot more tired than usual.