Reason for vengeance (dark vengeance book 1)

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Reason for Vengeance

 

 

Book One of Dark Vengeance

 

By Adrian D. Roberts

 

December 2014 Edition

 

 

Cover by Matt Hubel - [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2014 Adrian D. Roberts

 

The right of Adrian Roberts to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved.  No part of this publication maybe reproduced stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author.  Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious.  Any similarity to persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

For Willow

 

I hope you enjoy reading this when you are older, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

My thanks to Graham, Richard and my Mum for taking the time out of their busy lives to read, edit, critique and encourage.  I could never have done this without you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

CHAPTER FORTY

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE

EPILOGUE

About the Author

PROLOGUE

 

 

 

The gun vibrated slightly in William’s hand.  The screw spun down into its slot, too fast for the eye to track.  His hand moved quickly to the second slot, the next screw popping automatically into place.  The gun vibrated and the second screw was in.  Third, then fourth, fifth and sixth.

William stepped back.  His left hand selected a full magazine, his right ejected the empty one from his gun.  The engine in front of him had already moved on and a second slid up.  One, two, three, four, five and six screws.  Next engine and on it went.  For William the moves were automatic, with almost no thought needed.

His eyes were on the work in front of him, but what he wanted to do, was look at the person who stood to his side.  Zhanna Huang, with her own gun loaded and ready.  At one hundred and fifty or so centimetres, she was at least forty shorter than him and he towered over her.  Yet there was something in her smile, the one she always gave him as they swapped places every day.  Something that he found very attractive.

A piercing whistle cut through the noise of the factory.  William finished the engine he was working on and stepped back.  Zhanna slid smoothly past him with her smile and nod.

“Morning,” William said, but she didn’t hear.  She never did, it was just too loud.

With a shake of his head, he placed the gun on its rack and joined the mass of men and women who were leaving the assembly line.  There was little room between the marks painted on the floor to display the walkway.  It was a slow shuffle as they all made their way out.  Rough, woven sheets hung over the entrance to dampen the noise.

“Will, Will!” shouted a voice from behind.  He looked back and although taller than most around him, he couldn’t see whoever was calling him.  A ripple passed through the crowd and when it reached William, Guido Neumueller slid out of the press of bodies.

“Looking forward to it?” Guido asked.

“Absolutely,” William answered with a big grin.

“If only we can get out of here in time.”  Guido hopped a couple of times to try and see over heads of those in front of them.

“Don’t worry.  We’re only two stops on the Underground from Sywell Park.  The march doesn’t start for another two hours.”

“Yeah, but we’re missing the speeches.”

“I wouldn’t worry,” laughed William.  “They’ll all be repeated when we get to Temple Square, right there in front of the Senate, where the Privileged have to listen.”

“Did you give Zhanna the note?”

William felt his cheeks heat up.  “No, but I said good morning.”

“You said, good morning.  As if she can hear anything on the line.”

“I’ll give it to her tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” Guido rolled his eyes.  “We’ve been on that line for ten hours a day, seven days a week, for five years.  We’re nineteen and you still haven’t been out with anyone for what?  A year?”

William shrugged and looked away.  “Ten months,” he said quietly.

“Alright then, ten months.  Numera was a great girl.  I liked her almost as much as you did but she’s gone.  It’s time to move on.”

“She’s not gone!”  William rounded on his friend.  “She froze to death.”

It was Guido’s turn to look away.  “I’m sorry...  Look that’s why we’re going today.  Someone’s got to stand up to them.  How can they fly through space when we freeze and starve?”

“Yeah, I’m sorry too.  I shouldn’t have shouted at you like that.”

While they talked, the crowd made its way out of the factory, down the steps to the underground and onto the platform.

“A lot of people are going to the rally, I guess.”  William said to change the subject.  “More people here than normal.”

“Bloody protestors,” an old woman said loudly from beside them.  “I’ll never get a seat now.  Waste of time if you ask me.”

“Why?” William asked.  “Last I heard, there are going to be over a million people marching today.  We pay our taxes, we vote, they have to listen to that many people protesting over the injustices in our society.”

“Really?”  She answered and glanced at the train timetable.  “It looks like we a few minutes, so let me fill you in on a few facts of life here in the Pantheon.  The Privileged have all the money, they have Life X, so they can live for centuries and they have all the power.  It has not changed in over fifteen hundred years ago.  They have never allowed anything to upset their lifestyle in all that time.  Why would they now?”

Shrugging a little uncomfortably, William hadn’t expected to get into a full discussion on the crowded platform.  He thought carefully before answering.

“They’re politicians.  We won’t vote for them again if they don’t listen.”

“But who would you vote for instead?” the woman countered.  “Laycock is our Senator.  Say he doesn’t work towards making life fairer.  What do you do?  You don’t vote for him, but who would you vote for?”

“Whoever is running against him who’s pushing for change,” Guido pointed out.

“You two are too young to remember this, but that’s exactly what Laycock promised, when he was campaigning for his seat.  Nothing has ever come of it.  It’s what they all promise, but they never come through.”

“We need our own candidate then,” William said.  “Someone from the Ghettos who understands the problems we face every day.  Wages that barely give you enough to get by.  People struggle with heating, let alone being able to pay for doctors and schools.”

“Hah,” the woman shook her head.  “No Manual would have a chance.  You need a one hundred thousand sovereign deposit just to run.  If you don’t spend millions telling people you are the one for them, you’ll never get the votes.  Our politicians are all from the Privileged because they’re the only ones who can afford it.”  The train rumbled into the platform and the crowd surged forward.  “Good luck boys, but trust me, it’ll do no good.”  She said before getting lost in the press of bodies.

“She was a bundle of laughs, wasn’t she?”  Guido grumbled as they packed themselves shoulder to shoulder with everyone else onto the train.

“Yeah,” William replied as the train pulled off.  They rode in silence.  William didn’t feel like talking as he thought about what the woman had said.

“Come on, Will.  Shake it off.  We’re here now and will you look at it.”  Guido said in wonder.  They had left the confines of the Underground and arrived at the Park.  They stood on a slight hill and William took in the vast swathe of humanity stretching in all directions.  Sywell was the biggest park in the Ghetto of Zeus, an open space cleared by common assent for this one event.  All the people who scratched a living and made their homes in the park, were offered temporary accommodation in flats throughout the Ghetto by volunteers

“We want to know how far people have travelled, so send your home city or planet to our number on the datanet.”  A woman called out to the crowd from a central stage.  “Let’s see what we’ve got.  It’s not a surprise that many of you live right here in this great city we call Zeus.”  A cheer went up as she said the name.  “But look at this.  We have someone all the way from Macedonia!  That’s sixty light years from here in Olympus.  It would take you seventeen days by courier and I bet they didn’t do that.  No, they would have hitched a spot on a tramp freighter, for a nice leisurely trip, and these people would have been on it for forty-three days!”  She emphasised the number for extra effect.

“Forty-three days people and that’s only if it’s a direct flight.  No freighter would do that, so I can guarantee you it stopped at Babylon and Atlantis on the way.  With the layovers to deliver and collect cargo, they would have been on that freighter for sixty-eight days.  You can bet not one of the Privileged would do that.  Even the poorest of them would be able to afford a direct route on a passenger liner going twice as fast.  More likely they would just use the family yacht!”  The crowd jeered.

“Let’s go over there,” Guido pointed to the side of the park.  “That’s where they’ll lead us off from.  We can be near the front.”

“I thought you wanted to hear the speeches?”

“Ah, you were right.  They’ll all be repeated at the Square.  Besides, they’re almost finished.”

“Come on then,” William told his friend and strode forward.  “Try and keep up!”  His far longer legs covered the distance easily and Guido was practically running to stay with him.  The closer they got, the thicker the crowd was, so they couldn’t make it all the way to the front.  More people tried to come in from behind, but there was only so far forward people could go.  The pressure around the boys increased as the speakers continued to whip up the crowd.

It seemed like an eternity in that jostling mass of humanity, though it was probably no more than fifteen of twenty minutes.  A cheer came from the front and rippled its way back through the crowd.  When it arrived with William and Guido, the pressure in front of them eased and the crowd began to move forward.  Banners started to appear all around as people found the room to raise them.

FAIR PAY FOR FAIR WORK, EQUALITY THROUGHOUT HUMANITY and MANUALS NOT ANIMALS were displayed.  People began chanting and William and Guido joined in enthusiastically.  Their voices rose up with all the others to the calls of “Teach us and we will learn” and “Labour is entitled to all it creates!”

The protest made its slow way through the Ghetto and up onto the Speedway leading to the centre of Zeus.  The massive, twelve lane permacrete road was suspended above the drab buildings of the Ghettos.  William was sure elsewhere, those not involved in the protest, were swearing just as the woman on the Underground had.  With this Speedway shut, there would be traffic jams created all over the City.

The Privileged of course wouldn’t be affected, not with their aircars able to fly wherever they wanted to go.  All the Manuals could afford were the basic four and two wheeled vehicles that had been around forever.

“The sky is a right not a Privilege!”  William shouted and was pleased when others around him took it up.

The shining towers of the Privileged, stretching high up into the sky, could be seen ahead of them.  A cheer went up as people caught sight of these gleaming spires.  William added his own voice to it along with Guido.  There was their destination, in sight at last.

The crowd filled the Speedway from edge to edge.  Some people even made it up on to the high surrounding walls, walking seemingly oblivious to the two hundred metre drop at their side.  Interspaced throughout the crowd were vans handing out bottles and ration bars.  William saw there was no selfishness, in the relaxed and convivial atmosphere, people passed on the food and water.  They only stopped when those around them all had a share.

Stretching his long arms, William felt tired, they had been walking for hours and this was after his normal ten hour night shift at the factory.  The energy of those around him sustained him, helped by the plentiful supply of food and drink.  This protest was years in the planning.  Millions of people, from across the Pantheon, gave what little they could afford. so it could go ahead.

Without really trying, William and Guido crept forward, closer to the vanguard of the protest.  William’s long stride with Guido’s matching pace, from much practise, brought them only a couple of hundred metres from the front.  Taller than most around him, William caught sight of something that didn’t seem right.

They were approaching the off ramp to the centre of Zeus.  Beyond were barriers closing the road.  William expected that and he could see traffic moving up onto the Speedway on the other side.  What concerned him, were the barriers themselves and those in front of them.  The barriers were one metre high permacrete blocks.  Behind them sat armoured Zeus Police aircars with their lights flashing.

Standing in a line in front of the barriers were members of the Zeus Police.  They stood two and a half metres tall in their gleaming silver riot armour.  It was a reduced down version of the Legions Fully Powered Body Armour William had only seen in holovids.  Large two metre tall riot shields were bolted to each of the officer’s left arms, with gas and foam launchers across their shoulders.

From those same holovids, William recognised the Quad Pulse Cannons mounted on their right arms.  A chill went up his spine.  He realised that was far too heavy a weaponry for deployment  for mere crowd control.

“Something’s not right.”

“What was that, Will?”  Guido asked, peering up at his friend.

“I said, something’s not right,” William repeated a bit louder.

“What do you mean?”

“There’s police in full riot gear ahead on the Speedway.”

“Oh.”  Guido paused, too short to see for himself.  “Maybe it’s to stop us going too far and into traffic.  We’re going down the off ramp.”

“I guess.”  Ahead William could see a commotion among the organisers leading the crowd and that worried him.  The off ramp looked clear, but it curved down and to the right, out of sight.  Then William caught something, a flash of reflected red and blue.

“They’ve shut the off ramp.”  William stopped suddenly only to be forced forward by those behind.

The chants continued, “Vampires!  Our blood sustains you!”  Shaking himself as he felt sick to his stomach, William grabbed Guido’s arm.

“I think they’ve shut the off ramp and those riot police have Pulse Cannons!”

His friend wasn’t stupid and quickly caught onto Williams concerns.

“But if they’ve done that, they don’t want us getting to Temple Square.”

“I don’t think they want us amongst their towers,” William said shaking his head.

The protest had arrived at the off ramp now and as they got closer, William could see those in front trying to slow down, but unable to from the press of people behind.  Then it came into sight, a police cordon, identical to the one on the Speedway, armoured officers and permacrete barriers.  There was no way through.

“We’ve got to stop!”  William shouted to those around him, who looked back in confusion.  “They’re not going to let us down the ramp!”  Even with Guido adding his voice, it did little good.  They were a small island of concern in a vast sea of exuberant people.  The crowd continued to move forward and carried the two boys with them, along with anyone trying to heed the warning.

A crack resounded over the crowd.  It echoed off the Speedway walls and was then drowned out by the whines of Pulse Cannons, followed by the screams of the dying.  William could see the blue Pulses from the arm mounted cannons.  Bolt after bolt was fired into the crowd.  Each shot’s energy was so powerful that bodies were being flung metres into the air.

A ripple passed back through the crowd.  The survivors at the front turning frantically to get away from the death they faced.  Those behind were continuing to push forward, either not realising the danger or pressed from further back.  Guido grabbed William’s arm as the pressure from both sides increased.  Flesh was pressed against them from all directions.  People shouted in fear and distress.

Breathing became harder and harder and William thought he would die at any moment.  The pressure eased as the flow of the crowd began to reverse.  Holding grimily onto his friend, William moved with the crowd back towards the Ghetto.  Gone was the relaxed and convivial atmosphere, now it was panic and terror. 

People pushed and shoved to get away from the continuing whine of the Pulse Cannons.  Over the noise of the crowd, William could clearly hear them firing in time with one another.  People fought and clawed to get away and only due to his youth, height and strength did William manage to keep his feet, dragging the much smaller Guido along with him.

Others around them fell and were swept under to be trampled.  William’s foot trod on something soft and he there was no time to react, the crowd forcing him past in moments.  A child of ten went down with a scream, only metres from William.  The boy’s father, who minutes before had been walking with the boys, plunged after his son and William never saw either of them emerge.  A woman clutched at William’s free hand frantically, he had no idea who she was but grasped for her all the same.  It didn’t help.  She too was pulled under and crushed.

Still the force of the crowd increased to what could only be described as a tsunami.  Desperation infused William’s entire being.  He believed this was to be his very last day in the universe.  William saw men, women, girls and boys all falling to the ground and trampled underfoot.

A sharp pain caused William to cry out as something hit his arm and Guido was torn from his grip.  Desperately, William turned to search for his friend.  He fought those who pushed against him.  “Guido.  Guido.”  He called, hoping to hear Guido call back with the familiar.  “Will.  Will.”  It didn’t happen and the crowd forced him further and further away.

 

***

 

The words Red Lion, flashed on a gaudy sign over a heavy metal door, set into an alcove of a grey permacrete building.  The long window next to it was dirty and dim, but you could still make out the dark shapes of people at the bar.  It was doing a fair trade and yet the sun was still high in the sky.

A broad shouldered, tall man in his sixties, wearing a dark brown overcoat so familiar here in the Ghetto of Zeus, walked out and the door swung shut behind him.  He placed a wide brimmed hat on his bald head and stepped into the street.  Wheelies passed him on the busy road, an odd aircar set in hover mode looking out of place among them.

Turning to the left, the man set off at a casual stroll.  His eyes scanned his surroundings constantly.  There were good people here, but many desperate ones as well.  It paid to stay alert.  From the dark alcove of an abandoned shop a woman and man sauntered out.  The woman was in her late forties and nodded to the man with the hat as she fell in beside him.  The man with her was much younger, in his late teens and almost bubbled with excitement.

“Mr Baccurin.”  He said.  “It’s an honour-“ he was stopped from saying anything more as the woman clipped him round the ear.  “Hey!” he complained.

“Shut up, Todd,” she told him as he rubbed his ear.  “You don’t say his name in the middle of the street.”

“It’s alright, Arlene.”  Billy Bac, the man in the hat, said.  “Have all the cameras been taken care of?”  One of her responsibilities, as Intelligence Officer within this Cell of the Rebellion, was to ensure the various security cameras set up by the Zeus police in the Ghetto were destroyed.  The local street kids did this for fun.  No one wanted to be spied on, but Arlene’s role was to make sure none were missed.

“We’re clear and we’ve made sure their two informants are busy elsewhere today.”

“Well then, there are many Baccurin’s.  It is a big galaxy after all, no harm done.  He’s still young.”  Billy turned his gaze to the young man and said in sterner tone.  “Just remember not to do it again.  Such carelessness can cost lives, including your mother’s.”

“Yes, sir,” Todd said.  “Sorry, Mum.  I’ll be more careful.”

Arlene nodded and smiled at her son.  “Isaac.”  She said using Billy’s pseudonym for this trip.  “We’re exposed here.  The cameras may be down, but the drones are up there.  All it takes is the right angle past that hat, for them to get a look at your face.  Can we please go to the flat?”

The tall man looked down at her for a moment and sighed.  “Very well.  I can hardly chastise your son and put us at risk myself, can I?”  He waved ahead of him.  “Please.  Show me the way.”

“Thank you.”  She acknowledged and picked up the pace.  Moving ahead of him, she led the three of them down the street.

Arlene took them to one of the many permacrete, forty storey buildings populating the Ghetto of Zeus.  There was little to differentiate them from all the other city Ghetto’s Billy had visited across the Pantheon.

Unusually, the lifts were working and the crowded car deposited them on the twenty-third floor.  The door Arlene headed to was identical to all the others, plain, drab and looking like it would fall over in a stiff breeze.

The woman tapped on the door lightly twice, paused then tapped three more times a bit harder.  The door swung open and she stepped inside, followed by Billy and Todd.  Billy found himself in an entrance way made of strong permacrete walls, with a much heavier metal door leading further in.  Obviously new, it had all been installed by the Cell.  A man armed with a Mag pistol held causally at his side, leaned against one of the walls and presumably it was him who let them in.

Behind Billy, Todd closed the door to the corridor and only then did the inner door open.  A camera overhead let those inside know if it was safe to do so.  A good security measure, it would save the Cell a few precious minutes in the event of a police raid, though it would do them little good unless they had a very well hidden back door.  Apathy for the threat they posed and staying hidden, was the best defence for the Rebellion.  Should the Pantheon forces actually move against the Cell, they would come with everything they had at their disposal.

“You’re a fool for coming, Billy, but it is good to see you.”  A large dark skinned man strode forward and clasped Billy’s hand in a forceful grip.

“Everyone seems to worry about me.”  Billy said as he returned the handshake with equal strength.  “I may be old but I’m not senile.  Last I heard, I’ve been doing this longer than any of you, Bastian.”

“True man, but here?  On Olympus?  The Legion’s biggest base is only a few dozen klicks away.  You know what they would do to you if they managed to get their hands on you.  Why are you here?  Checking up on us?”

“Not at all.”  Billy spied a chair next to a table and lowered himself into it.  “You don’t need me breathing down your necks to do a good job.  If you ignore the fact you have the biggest, most powerful and motivated police force in the Pantheon ranged against you, you have it pretty easy here.”

“That’s because you have us doing supply runs and intelligence gathering!”  Todd jumped in.  “Why can’t we take the fight to them?  Hit them where it hurts.”

Billy expected Todd’s mother to step in again but Arlene stayed silent.  He could see the same question in her eyes, in Bastian’s and the three other Cell members in the room.  Billy sighed and shook his head.

“No.  You all do good work here.  Important work.  What you learn and pass on to other worlds does make a difference.  We don’t have the strength to strike at them here, where they are at their strongest.  We must bide our time, be patient, wait until they are weak and then attack.  The Pantheon is too big and too powerful.  We must weaken them first.  Other Cells are doing that using the information you are providing.”  These people knew this, but sometimes they need to be reminded.

“They killed my father and my sister!”  Todd shouted.  “I can’t just sit here on my hands like the rest of you!”

Sitting back, Billy saw the hurt in Arlene’s eyes and cocked his head in a question.  Licking her lips the woman gazed back steadily and nodded once.  The pain and grief of her loss, mixed with the worry for her son, clear in her eyes.

“Very well,” Billy said to Todd.  “I can send you to one of the more active Cells, if that is what you want.  That cannot be here.”

Eyes widening in shock, Todd stared at the leader of the Rebellion before turning to his mother.  “Can I?”

She grabbed him into a ferocious hug.  “Yes.  I know you need to do this.”

As the mother and son moved off to a corner for some privacy, Bastian sat down opposite Billy.  He looked somewhat embarrassed at the emotions and cleared his throat.

“So why are you here then?  Obviously not to instruct us to switch to the offensive.”

“No.”  Billy said and turned to look out of the rooms single window.  Another identical building was the only thing visible.  In his mind he saw past that to the gleaming and shining towers of the Privileged, stretching up high into the clouds.

“It’s important for me to come here.  To see that nothing has changed in over forty years of struggle.  I’m old and I’m tired, but this is what keeps me going.”

Billy’s mind turned back to the protest.  He had never seen his best friend again.  Even Guido’s body wasn’t recovered.  The government decided, in the interests of efficiency to get the Speedway operational again, the thousands upon thousands of people who died that day would be interred in a mass grave in Sywell Park.  Within thirty hours, all of the bodies were collected, a hole was dug and all were buried.  The people of the Ghetto were still in shock.  It was completed well before any of them realised what was happening.  The only sign of the grave, a mound of freshly dug earth.  The government did not even raise a monument to those who died.

It was one of the many things making Billy believe it had all been orchestrated from the start.  He learned later, the sound he heard before the police opened fire, originated from a Heavy Mag rifle.  No one used Heavy Mag rifles in the Pantheon, not the Legion, the police, the gangs or later even the Rebellion.  A Mag rifle’s two main advantages were its rapid fire and low noise.  The Heavy Mag rifle cancelled both of these out.  Slower to fire and by accelerating the shot to twice the speed of sound, it created a sonic boom, that could be heard clearly anywhere along its flight path.  There were other weapons with a greater range and made a lot less noise.

Billy searched long and hard for that lone shooter, but never found them.  He believed the Privileged used that day as an opportunity to rid themselves of all those most likely to challenge their reign.  In one mass of humanity, they would have almost every worthwhile activist on the planet, along with others from across the Pantheon.  The official story the government released, said the police were only reacting in self-defence to being fired upon by the protesters.

That day caused the nineteen year old William Baccurin to write his manifesto, the Free People Society.  It was the start of the Rebellion and put him on the path to becoming Billy Bacc.

He turned back to Bastion.  “Don’t worry about me.  There are plans in place should anything happen.  Good men and women are ready to take over and continue the fight.  We face people who live for centuries and we must plan accordingly.  I knew early on I would not be here to see the end.”

“Is that the plan then?”  One of the Cell members who had stood quietly to one side stepped forward.  “We keep scratching at them.  Hoping to wear them out?”

Looking up at the young woman, Billy shrugged.  “What else can we do?  They have the technology and personnel to crush us the moment we stick our heads out of our holes.”

“What about the Legion?  Only the officers are Privileged.  All the rest are recruited from us.  They’re not traitors of their own people like the police.  They don’t beat and murder us!”

Pausing before speaking, Billy considered just how much he could say without damaging some of the Rebellion’s current operations.  It wouldn’t do any harm to let them know there was a plan.  Besides, the other side would know what the Rebellion were attempting, it was the obvious strategy.  More importantly, these people needed hope.

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