A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"Was it an accident?" Bruce asked the Thanagarian sitting across from him.
"Of course it was," Shayera insisted. The past week had done its toll on her psyche. She just had to get her thoughts out before she went crazy. Bruce had offered before to listen to her and she now took the opportunity. "I didn't mean for it to happen. If I had been paying attention I could have saved that boy."
"Or you could have been killed instead. Everything happens for a reason." He stated. "But that's not what's bothering you."
She sighed, "It's just...why should I have a child when I killed one? Why would John want me to be the mother of his children? He can have any Earth woman yet he still chooses me. He can do better than me and he knows it."
Bruce stared at her before answering. She clearly had a lot of issues and he now knew why she didn't want to talk about them previously. Thanagarians, from what she had told him, had vastly different views on how to handle their criminals and prisoners of war. There was no escape or release after capture. Only death, normally a savage drawn out one. The Hawkgirl and Shayera Hol he had come to know didn't seem like killers but Lieutenant Shayera Hol was a completely different person from the other two. That Shayera was a cold-blooded killer. Obviously her time on Earth changed her, undid some of the conditioning she went through. She was now guilt ridden.
He had his doubts on whether or not she had it in her to kill a fly at this point.
He didn't want to get involved in her love life so he breached another topic. "I want you to tell me about your childhood on Thanagar."
"How will that help?"
"Some say that what happens in childhood is what shapes a person into what he or she become in later life. May childhood obviously affected me and yours probably affected you."
"No wonder I'm such a screw up." She muttered. "It's not fabulous; I'll start off with that."
A small figure was huddled on the floor, arms wrapped protectively over her head. "Get up!" A voice bellowed, causing a shudder to wrack the small frame. "Stand and fight like a true Thanagarian!"
Slowly, the child uncurled, rose, and timidly walked towards the young teen boy who looked at her as though she was prey. He was easily double her age and triple her size. The first punch had sent her sprawling and she had no intentions to fight back. Emerald eyes, wide with fear, looked back. Her body was visibly shaking. That boy was ready to kill her, given the permission.
A large man stood glaring, his face twisted in anger. He pointed to the boy a few feet away. "Fight back now Hol, defend your honor!"
This is what happened to most children on Thanagar. Their parents would dump them on the military academy when they were barely able to walk and never looked back. The children were then put through grueling training everyday until they either died from the exertion or were placed in the military. The little seven-year old girl didn't know how she had been able to survive for so long. She didn't belong here like the others. She didn't like fighting; she found it senseless.
The child came forward, head bowed, arms wrapped about herself. "How many times do I have to go through this with you? You're being trained to fight, not stand there cowering!" A hand came down and clamped tightly on her shoulder. He shook the child slightly. "Well?"
The child looked up, tears filling her eyes. "I-I-I d-don't wanted t-to."
The large man shook the girl harder, bruising the young child's shoulder and rattling teeth. "I don't care if you don't want to or not. I gave you order. Didn't I?"
Another shake, this time accompanied by a slap to the face. "Didn't I?" he roared.
"Y-y-yes sir..." Her head nodded vigorously. She learned from past experiences that crying would only get her into more trouble. The instructor had almost killed her that time.
"Are you going to disobey me again?" This time a backhanded slap.
"N-n-n-no..." She held back her tears and put a hand to her cheek.
"You're right, you aren't. Get out of my sight!" The man turned and pushed the child away. Sneering in disgust, the man instructed another young child to face the battle ready teenager, not noticing, nor caring, about the large bump appearing on the girl's head where the child banged it on the floor from the force of the shove.
[/The child stumbled out into the hallway, blinded by tears. She tripped over her own feet and fell on the floor. The child placed her hand on the wall and lifted herself up, trying to regain both balance and senses. Angrily wiping tears away, her beautiful emerald eyes reflected nothing but terror and hatred.
"Hey, Hol! Clean the equipment room and do it properly this time!" Shouted the savage-looking instructor. Another failed training sessions, another round of grueling abuse.
Timidly, the eleven year old girl carried a pail of water and an overused piece of cloth. Being the weakest, when compared to the other trainees, she had to do most of the grueling odd-jobs.
While the 'stronger', and usually older, trainees worked outdoors, she and a few 'weaker', and younger, trainees were forced to work indoors.
Actually, only one older trainee was kept inside to work. It was a boy who was going to be sent to the military soon, Kragger. Honestly she didn't care for him. He was very mean and gave her the chills. Though he was extremely intelligent yet he was not a good fighter physically.
She brushed the tiles with full effort but ended up slipping due to the wet floor. Her hand accidentally knocked the pail over and spilled the water everywhere. It made a sound too loud to be ignored. She silently counted down the seconds before the instructor would barge in.
"You useless, idiotic little twerl! You screw everything up, you imbecile! Now look at this place! It stinks, like you! Get up and get back to work, you little piece of trash!" He kicked the girl's side which made her fall again. Struggling, the girl got up on all fours and cast a sharp glare at the man who just kicked her.
Nevertheless, she still brushed the remaining dirty spots in the room obediently.
"Where do you think you're going little Shayera?" A girl, around her age, confronted her. The other girl witnessed the fifteen year old trying to bail out of the day's training session. She disliked people like that; they were too cowardly for her taste. And she knew how to deal with cowards.
Shayera squeaked in terror and hugged her arms around herself. Why did everyone always have to bother her when they knew that she wouldn't put up much of a fight? Shayera gulped when she heard the sound of knuckles cracking. That never meant anything good.
"Please Paran, I don't want to fight you. There's no sense in it. We're friends not enemies." She pleaded. However, her showing weakness only made the girl's deadly anger grow more. Shayera didn't understand. They used to be the same, both weak and cast aside by the others. What happened to change her friend so much in such a short amount of time?
"You were gonna skip out on training, huh?" Paran asked darkly as she skulked over to her. Shayera in response moved back until she was against the wall. "Over my dead body, little brat. You are going to stay here and fight me, understand? Now you—"
"No, I don't want to!" Shayera screamed and made an attempt to run. She may have been faster than the other trainees because of her small build but, due to the lack of space, she was easily caught. Her arm was bruising under her former friend's iron grip. Paran yanked her back, causing Shayera to tumble to the ground hard. Paran then forcibly pulled her up.
"There are no such things as friends in real life. Only people who want to kill you unless you get them first." She coldly whispered in Shayera's ear. "Or did you really trust me? Pathetic, you'll be one of the first that dies on the battlefield. Just like your parents..." Shayera felt rage boil in her. But she didn't care about her parents, or did she? They abandoned her at this torture chamber of an academy and didn't love her. She should be happy that they were killed. Why was she getting so defensive over two people that she hated?
The instructor was right on time to watch his most despised student and he slightly hoped that Dul would just kill off the weakling already. He saw Shayera rip her arm out of Paran's grip and made the most extreme move he had ever seen her do in all of the years of trying to make her fight. She swung her left leg and her shin met ruthlessly with Paran's head. Her thirteen years of being in the military academy had paid off after all. Paran fell to the ground, stunned.
"You piece of trash! How dare you-" She was cut off by Shayera climbing on top of her and savagely punching her over and over. She was in a blind rage, not knowing what she was doing. She had finally snapped, what they always wanted her to do. If they only knew what they would create.
The instructor had difficulty pulling Shayera off her. Eventually Paran was carried away to be medically treated as Shayera didn't move an inch. She was frozen in place, waiting for further instructions.
Now she knew why Paran changed. They had broken her friend, just like how they had finally broken her. Shayera was wholly under Thanagar's complete control.
A/N: Twerl is actually a Thanagarian slang word that I found on a site with a list of other Thanagarian sayings and words from the comics. Basically it means a nimrod, jerk, butt-head, or idiot.