R. Series – The Border Dispute

Chapter 5

Michael woke up before the scheduled assignment. He still wanted his own time.

They decided to hit the ground running once he’d decided to join up as a volunteer with the ‘Underground’.

6:00 am would be the start of his day- starting with work, then study, then work again. He wouldn’t have much time to relax- especially now that the Underground seemed in some sort of shift.

It was still dark in his room. The small glow above and the stillness of an empty room.

So many events in a day, the whole underground; his decision in front of the council; Jess. The next time he saw her- he was going to ask her on a date. That’s what he’d decided.

He thought about a girl he knew at his old place… Someone he’d grown up with.
Time would always be irreplaceable, he thought. But time couldn’t make up for the differences and what he really wanted for his own life. He knew she was the type who one would settle down with, but he knew that wasn’t what he wanted for himself yet. He needed someone to believe his own dreams… and that’s why he’d kept himself distant form her. If she’d had had the choice, they probably would have been married with kids by now. They’d always gotten along well; when he wasn’t busy with taking care of town members or studying – he’d be nice, spend time with her.

Change – the one inevitable constant in life. Some people simply reject it, some accept it, and a few guide it. A lot of things had happened in the past week… and he’d chosen to accept it.

He needed something to take his mind off of focusing on himself. He had one thing beside his change of clothes; a bible.

He turned the light on: he got his bible from out of his bag. He started to read, he read some of psalms to start and then went on to the new testament. After a little time passed, he looked at the time on the wall. It read 7:15.

Alright God, let’s do this.

After getting ready with what he needed to do first he looked at the things laid out for him. Below Michael’s bunk were a set of clothes and a few gadgets were on the table. On the clothes was a note attached to a plastic square, “Attach this to your hand.”

After putting on the clothes, he attached it. It molded to his skin and a schedule screen projected out from where it was attached.

“Breakfast = 7:45”

“Current time = 7:20”

He closed his hand and it turned off. That was cool. He studied his hand a little longer. He looked on the table and saw an earpiece, lenses, belt and a small black rod. He felt the clothes. They felt like a synthetic grainy fabric; they were black and adjusted to him quite well. He lifted up a belt, but there weren’t any loops on his outfit: when he tried adjusting it to the outfit he was wearing it somehow attached itself through a sort of pull. Magnets.

He also saw a pair of gloves. They were thin made from the same fabric the suit was with yellow indents that looked like its own sort of contours of lines around it and fingerprints them on.  I wonder why it has that, he thought. He picked up the small metal rod. He tried attaching it to the belt and when he held it close to the belt and it automatically snapped on its side. He saw a small earpiece looking device that he put in his ear and circled around it. After it was attached a voice came through it:

“This is a basic instructional guide. You can use this to learn how to perform the activities throughout the day. To interact with the manual simply attach the lenses on the table to your eyes.

He looked at the lenses. He’d never had to put anything on his eyes before. He picked them up and opened up his eyes to place them on. Here goes.

He blinked a couple times as the lenses touched his eyes. Afterwards they didn’t seem too bad. It felt like they blended to his eyes. I hope I can take them off, he thought. As his eyes began to adjust to the attachments, he saw a small flashing dot in the top left hand corner. As soon as he looked at it, it opened up a menu in front of his eyes.

“To operate the lenses, simply look at the word listed in the menu and it will open. To open the map of the underground and your location in vicinity to the map, just direct your eyes to the bottom right corner. To close the program, double blink.”

He opened up the map for an instant, caught a glimpse of where he was on the map and then decided not to deal with it right then: he double blinked. Time for breakfast.

As he left the room, he headed toward the eating area that Jess had shown him earlier. He’d gotten a pretty good layout of the Underground now and thought he’d get around without using the map.

As he got to the cafeteria, he saw that the room was filled. Certain chefs were putting out assorted meals. He got closer to the food stand, he got a look- some of it seemed like some sort of porridge and basic bread, but there were mass quantities of eggs, meats, and berries as well. From what he’d heard, most of the towns provided for the foods from their own crops.

He got some of everything. Growing up in a farmland himself, he appreciated all kinds. He also saw a drink dispenser with assorted drinks. He saw a red sort of bubbling drink and figured he’d take that with him. He looked around for somewhere to sit, hopefully he’d see someone that he knew. He noticed that Jess and Tech and Vincent and Sally and Jason were all sitting together. He walked up to the table.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey, how’s it going,” Jess said. “Sit down.” She motioned to an empty seat at their table.

He sat down and looked around the table while placing his tray on the table. Vincent was looking down in thought. Tech and Jess were looking at some device and Jason was eating on his own.

Tech looked up, “So, I hear you’re training today.”

Vincent looked up.

“Yeah,” he spoke, “they’ve got me studying history and devices.”

“I’ll be your guide to the rooms,” Jess said. “It’s always been my job to help the recruits.”

“Thanks, it looks like afterwards I’ll be cleaning up the halls?”

“Have fun with that,” Vincent spoke up.

Michael smiled, “It’s all good. I don’t mind work and I’m actually really excited to be learning. Growing up in a town, it wasn’t really necessary but I always did it anyway. Public relations with the other towns and Allied diplomats are an important part of being the chief.”

Jess looked at him and smiled. Vincent looked at Jess and looked back down.

It was quiet for a bit while everyone was eating.

“So, Sally,” Tech said, “You want to try on this BMI thing later on today in the lounge- when we have some free time.”

Sure!” she replied a little too excitedly. She wasn’t really interested in BMI.

“Great,” he said, “I needed a test subject. I don’t think it’ll hurt too much.”

Jason laughed when he looked at Sally’s queasy face.

“Why are you looking down Vincent?”

“Earth to Vincent,” Sally spoke up.

Vincent looked up at everyone around the table, “Oh, you know- I’m upset that Tech asked Sally instead of me.”

Everyone laughed, Vincent looked down again, “Well, I’d better get ready,” Vincent said as he got up.

Jess gave a quick glance to Vincent.

After they were done eating, Jess spoke to Michael, “I’ll take you to the training center.”

“Great, thanks,” Michael replied as he picked up his tray and walked out with her.

They placed their trays on the conveyer located near the exit.

“It’s an automated wash system,” she replied, “We keep everything as efficient as possible in the underground.”

As they were walking toward the training center, “Yo Jess, you seem like a cool girl- I don’t really want to beat around the bush. Do you want to go out later when we’re not busy?”

“Uh,” Jess blushed a bit. “I’m kind of focused on business at the moment. You know with the strikes and all.”

“No problem. I understand,” he looked back at the hall after giving her a reassuring smile.

They arrived at the training room.

She smiled back. “I’m going to have to show you how to operate the room,” she pushed buttons on the panel; the door opened up, “Basically, the room activates a lesson depending on what you enter into the computer. Specific codes open up different lessons.”

Inside the room, he saw a desk, chair and nothing else.

“What do you mean?” he asked. He wasn’t quite sure what she meant by what she had just said about the room activating. Jess clapped and all at once lights illuminated from the walls and at the front of it was a holograph of sector 7. It looked a lot different then he thought it would. He wasn’t quite sure why.”

A voice came on, “New York City: the year 2000.”

Michael looked at the projection and then at Jess.

“I’ll be back when it’s done,” she said when she was done.

Michael nodded at her and she left him inside. The projection zoomed out to the world map.

“Throughout the history of the ‘Enlightened period’ between the twenty first and twenty third century, huge technological advancements were made.”

The holograph showed projects of city development including the electromagnetic railway and roadways, medicine and drugs, a theoretical picture of a family home with amenities, and BMI being used along the ‘network’.

“However, this period also showed a large economic decline: while technology had advanced, the economy had fallen. Only the top of society were able to even afford some of the technological advancements and the enlightenment came to a close.

It showed a picture of the currency rise, decrease in living standards, and failing banks and market systems.

“As unemployment rose and the cities fell into disarray, governments lost control of their countries. Bandits began to take things by force and ‘might made right’ ruled over the territory. As the currency system fell into shambles and, cities became hubs of corruption, many people migrated to towns and villages and returned to a more basic life.”

It showed a picture of the towns and lack of the technology they had prior to the change.

“This is the dark period.”

It showed the cities unpopulated.

“The governments became little more than an ideology and they too began to wean. Cities remained the only center for government to rule in and the towns became ‘Territories’ not governed by an official office.”

It showed the boarder change and the location of areas that governments controlled or didn’t, the areas not governed- known as ‘Territories’.

“During this period, town life became the common lifestyle and people began to make a form of barter and trade between each other. This culture involved a more connected approach as people depended on each other to survive.”

It showed a picture of towns in progress, and the network they formed between each other for progress.

“Bandits would attack towns, however, so the towns set up their own defense system. Towns made a sort of ‘neighborhood watch’ and warned each other when they saw suspicious groups in the area.”

It showed a picture of watch posts and sensors that detected when an area was passed, it also showed the towns working on and underground tunnel.

“Eventually the towns developed the ‘tunnel system’:  ways of getting across between towns or higher elevations for more strategic defenses.”

“After this period, the governments became stabilized. The governments initiated a sort of work agreement within the city structure and trade agreement between other governments for economic prosperity. If people accepted a mandatory working condition, they would be given stipends and housing dependent upon the service they provided. These cities became known as the Allied hubs, each city a sector of the Allied unit.”

“A lot of people moved away from ‘Territories’ to the Allied cities in the hopes of economic prosperity and more stability. Eventually these cities began to develop large towers to account for the quick growth.

It showed the progress of the towers into what they appeared today.

“However, with the drastic increase in population and lack of standards- these cities became hubs of ungoverned corruption. Large amounts of crime occurred with the city, and many city dwellers decided to move to the last country that accepted these immigrants; Africa. Eventually they established their own hubs and Africa is one of the few remaining nations free to immigrants and not affiliated with the Allies. This became known as the ‘Christian Movement’.”

It showed a map of the movement to Africa and the development of their own country separate from association with the Allied nations.

“The Allied nations continued to grow.”

It showed the development of the towers and the expansion of the city.

“As the Allies expanded, the towns with the foreknowledge that peace would not remain decided to reinstate the use of the tunnel system into the modern defense system. This is the Underground we have in place.”

It showed the tunnel systems of the Underground.

“For the next fifteen years, large conflicts occurred on the borders of the Territories and Cities; through treaties and through force the Allies continued to push their territory.”

It showed a picture of people shaking hands and town members being moved.

“However the towns aligned with Underground wish to keep their homes. Sector 7 has a concept of ‘manifest destiny’. They won’t stop until they accomplish their objective or can be shown that this land belongs to us. Because of this the defense of our ‘Territories’ is impertinent.”

Afterwards the holograph developed into a menu in front of Michael.

“For further information please use the gloves to interact with the screen and select any option.”

Michael played with it for a little while, but since he knew most of the details of the political treaties he got bored pretty quickly.

He left the room after he was done and Jess stood outside.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey Michael,” Jess replied, “How was the lesson?”

“Not bad. I know most of it, but it was a pretty cool was of seeing it in a live picture.”

“Well, we’ve got one more lesson, followed by work.”

“Sounds just great,” Michael smiled trying to be polite, but still slightly perturbed by her earlier rejection.

“Alright then, I’ll see you in a bit.”

She plugged in some numbers on the panel and the door opened up.

This time instead of showing a city and having a long narration, it brought up a picture of a lot of different Machines.

“These are the current Allied machines,”

As he touched a hologram of one, it gave a demonstration. Afterwards he’d learned all the basic mechanics, it disappeared: when he finished going through all the details the projectors changed to a new screen and showed a lot of different vehicles: some he was familiar with, some he’d never seen. Afterwards, a small demonstration came on about BMI.

“BMI, also known as Brain Machine interface, is a modern technological advance used in concepts such as working alongside computer centers and manipulating machines.”

It gave a demonstration of each of these examples.

“For further information please use the gloves to interact with the screen and select any option.”

He left the room again and Jess was there.

“You ready?” she was holding a mop.

“Yep,” he replied.

“Here you go.”

Michael sat down at the table after he ate.

“How was your first day?” Sally asked.

“Not bad,” he responded.

“He’s actually a pretty good worker,” Jess said.

“Keep it up, the halls look really nice,” Sally said.

Michael looked down at his food. Some of this stuff was different then the stuff he was used to on the farmland, but everyone else seemed to like it. He started eating.

“Where are Vincent and Tech?” Michael asked.

“They’re doing something together,” Jason replied. “They should be here soon.”

Vincent and Tech stood in a small storage room where they could talk privately.

“The device you installed in the commander’s room will relay to these coms and my tracker,” Tech spoke.

“He’s not the real commander,” Vincent replied.

“Well, the current one,” Tech smiled at Vincent’s attitude, “Anything that comes in through his desk com can be traced. He won’t be able to find the tracer either: it’s stealthed.”

“So we’ll be able to see who sent the call?”

“Only the location it came from.

“Hm, I’ll have to leave to figure out who it is.”

“Yeah… most likely”

“Well that’ll be an adventure; I’ll have to make an excuse as to why I’ll leave the underground- any suggestions?”

“Not really,” Tech gave sort of a pensive look with his eyebrows low and scrunched mouth.

“Ok, hm, I’ll think of something. In the meantime, we’ll try to stay on the down-low.”

“yeah, I know.


“well let’s get back to supper.”

“yeah, I’m starving.”

Vincent and Tech showed up at the table.

“What’s up, guys?” Jess said.

“Not much,” Tech replied.

It was a pretty fun first day, Michael thought. He got ready to crash as he went to bed.

Over the course of the next week Michael went through more of the same, he started getting introduced to the Technology by Tech.

They were inside of the same room, however, instead of a simulation Tech held up different items that the Underground used.

“This is called ‘super-black’,” Tech was holding up a small ball that seemed like it had some sort of black liquid inside. He threw down a ball and instantly all the lights went out: The small light from under the doorway vanish and a sort of fog seemed to absorb all the light.

“Super black also known as the darkness bombs, allow us to move about without being visually detected. Radar can’t penetrate it and it turns off all the lights within a certain vicinity.”

“How do you see through it?”

“We have an electronic device I made called ‘Echo’ that we can put on our suits. It generates a low frequency emission that relays distance to objects within the darkness screen. superblack can make a fog with jammer/chaff that allows only for a predetermined adjustable frequency to penetrate.”


“Here,” Michael felt Tech hand him something in the darkness and he saw that it was a visor gadget. He put it on and suddenly everything in the room showed with a kind of yellow glow.

“Can you turn the lights back on?”

“Sure,” Tech pressed a button and a sort of fan sound came out, the darkness seemed to get sucked into the fan and dissipate. The lights flickered back into place.

“The most important thing about our operations is that we’re ‘stealth operated’,” Tech was holding a certain button that he put on his suit, “If we faced the Allies head on, we’d lose. Most of our operations happen undercover.”

Michael was sure Tech was about to show him something: the practical approach. It was a little more fun than sitting for hours the whole time.

“There’s no such thing as invisible paint, but with the right frequency generator and meta-materials you can redirect light,” Tech pressed the button and the uniform he wore suddenly seemed to show the wall behind him through it.

“We can’t become purely invisible but we can blend in a lot easier.”

Michael liked that.

“The next thing on the list will be the hover discs.”

“This room is equipped with an electromagnetic charge, which allows for the discs the Allies use to work in here,” Tech pulled out a couple metal blocks: the same ones that Vincent showed him on his first day here. He pressed a button and they both opened. He stood on one and handed the other to Michael.

Michael stepped on his and followed Tech’s lead.

“The suit you wear interacts with the disc; you’ll be able to ride it with your feet. Michael stepped on it backward with his heel and he began to rise above the ground, the propulsion from the disc pushed downwards. He hit his head into the ceiling and pushed his foot forward and it dropped to the ground.

Tech laughed as he saw Michael run into the ceiling.

“It’ll take some getting used to, your body mass directs the direction and like you’ve just experienced, your feet can control the functions in how it can move up and down. Not bad for your first try.”

After Michael practiced on it for a while he finally got the hang of stabilizing it.

“What’s this rod I carry around for?”

“Oh that- it manipulates electromagnetic current,” Tech replied. “It’s the weapon we used inside of the city. We can dismantle machines and use it to knock people out. It’s also a defensive weapon as it allows us to nullify electrical energy charges against us and bend projectiles.”

“Cool,” Michael said as he moved it around in his hands. There was a lot of ‘cool’ stuff.

Michael sat at the group table again. It had been a week since he’d first arrived and he’d pretty much gone through basic training. He and Jess were building a pretty good friendship.

“I think you should start training combat,” Jess said as he was eating his supper.

He looked down at his food.

“Is there something wrong with that?” Jason asked.

“I try not to fight if I can help it,” Michael responded.

“It’s something we’ve all gotta do, not necessarily because we want to,” Jason said.

“We’ll teach you basic combat,” Jess responded, “It’s important to know how to defend yourself. You can choose what to learn after that.”

“Ok,” Michael replied.

They kept eating; Michael stayed pretty quiet during the meal.

He and jess went to a different room.

“This is a basic combat simulation,” Jess said. “You’ll learn basic combat through this,” she handed him a helmet and gloves.

“Basic training includes: basic battle simulations and tactics, target practice, and hand to hand combat.”

“We’ll start with basic battle scenarios,” Jess spoke. “This helmet will allow you to manipulate the simulation during the exercise. The gloves will allow you to interact with the simulation.”

“This room,” Jess said as Michael looked around a larger room than the initial one. It had the same sort of metal in which holograms would work, “changes based on the scenario.”

Michael looked around the room as it turned on. It looked like a room with protruding walls and scanners.

“Put your helmet on,” Jess said, not authoritatively, but commanding. Michael put on his helmet.

“The initial objective is getting through the obstacles and retrieving the cup at the end of the scenery. Following this an alarm will sound and you’ll have to get back before time runs out. It’s a good exercise to train you to be aware of your surroundings. If you get spotted, an alarm will go off and you’ll lose the exercise. I don’t expect you to pass immediately, probably not even today; it will take a lot of practice.”

Michael got ready at the beginning of the simulation.

“You’ll be given a limited supply of counter-surveillance tools. In reality, you’re given the same amount and certain scenarios will require counter-surveillance. However, tools that manipulate surveillance machines also send a signal to the persons watching over the surveillance, so in essence the minimum usage of counter-surveillance can be considered the most efficient form of espionage.”

Michael saw a lot of moving surveillance detectors; he wasn’t sure how he was going to get past them. He noticed the detectors moved in a pattern, so he watched them.

He walked past the first point but as soon as he got there was spotted by the second detector. An alarm sounded.


He restarted the exercise.

The second time he got past three detectors but on getting to the third he tripped and crashed against the wall.

As soon as he did, an alarm went off.

“You have to be sure not to exceed a certain amount of motions, motion detectors will respond to the vibration even if they can’t see you. You’ll have to be prepared for that in real life”

Michael nodded and the third time he got the cup and found his way back by repeating the steps backward.

“Good…” Jess seemed impressed. Michael noticed this. Damn. I didn’t want to be impressive.

“The next thing we’re going to study today is target practice. When you’re on posts watching a certain area, it’s important to be able to defend it. We have a selection of weapons that we use. When we’re in Allied territory however, generally, we prefer espionage missions as the centralized military forces are too much for us- it’s important for us to be able to escape. We generally will only use the rod you have equipped to you now. It can manipulate the trajectory of electromagnetic weapons the police forces use. Projectile weapons are disallowed inside Allied territory and the non-projectile weapons are only allowed by the police.

“For now we’ll practice with a projectile weapon. A projectile weapons’ trajectory can be manipulated by computer systems on the projectile and manipulated through computers that are generally attached to the weapon itself. However, we won’t practice with that until after you get the hang of strait shot projectile target practice.”

She handed him a plastic object.

“This can simulate the effects of a real projectile weapon shooter inside the room. Targets have the appearance of what they would from long distances. We’ll start from a short distance. If you look through your helmet the target should show up. Practice.”

This time Michael made sure everything he did was off. His way of holding it, stance, way of looking at it, and way of firing it. He completely missed the target. Jess gave a crooked look.

“Hold it like this,” she held onto his hand and then smiled. After she did she realized it and pulled her hand away.

He fired and hit the target near the middle.

“That was better,” she said, “we’ll keep practicing.”

She turned off the simulation.

“The next part of your training will be hand-to-hand combat. I’ll set it up after lunch.”

“I won’t hit a girl…” Michael said and smiled.

“Don’t think of me as a girl. Think of me as your enemy.”

“Yeah, I can’t do that. You’re too nice.”

Jess smiled, “Well- maybe I can get some help with the next part. I’m not nice all the time by the way.”


“Another call came in from the source,” Tech said.

“Yeah I heard it too,” Vincent replied to Tech about it.

Tech looked around him and then whispered to Vincent, “When I traced the signal it showed it coming from the government block in sector two. That’s as specific as I could get. They have a counter-intelligence set up around that area that limits the ability to trace.”

“Hmm…why would sector two be interested in sector seven’s boarder struggle…?” Vincent responded. He felt a little down. He knew he’d have to leave Jess behind for a while when he went in search of the signal, but he didn’t want to, especially when she was getting along too well with the new guy. Even Vincent liked the new guy, which didn’t help his own position. The new guy was better than him, Vincent had his own anger issues and unresolved conflicts that he’d be putting on Jess. He’d have to make a choice.

“I’ve been hearing other interesting things in the room too,” Tech said. “It seems the council is working on setting up policies regarding the territory. They’re trying to elect a representative; it looks like Ragu may be making a political move.”

“Well, we’ll have to take that into consideration later. We’ve got enough on our plate. If they set up a stronger government right now, that won’t really affect our day to day life until after the strikes are finished and we succeed in establishing our separation with the Allies.”

“Yeah, I understand.


“Hey Vincent,” Jess said. They were all in the lounge area after the work for the day was done.

“Hey Jess…”  Vincent had been hiding the fact that he liked her the past week now and she was beginning to like another guy. It was hard for him, but he was still hiding it. It seemed like Jess was getting annoyed and starting to like Michael.  Which was what was actually happening.

“Michael needs your help training. He doesn’t want to hit me.”

“Pretty honorable.”

“Yeah, well it’s annoying. Can you teach him how to fight hand-to-hand combat.”


Jess smiled, “thanks Vincent.” She gave him a look.

He wasn’t quite sure what it meant. He turned to Michael.

“You wanna start now?” Vincent said as he looked at Michael.

“Sure Vincent,” Michael replied.

“Let’s go.”

They headed toward the recruitment training area.

“Hey Vincent,” Michael asked Vincent about Jess, he figured he’d known her the longest, “What do you think of Jess?”

“I think she’s the best…”

“Do you think she likes me?”

“Uh…” Vincent said, “I’m not really sure.”

“Alright,” Michael said, “you think she’d go out with me after a strike?”

Vincent waited in the hall for a moment, “I don’t know… possibly.”

“Alright,” Michael replied, “Is there something between you two?”

Vincent hurried forward in the hall again, “we’re just friends…”

“Cool, so what are you planning to show me?”

“Depends on what you already know… how much do you know?”

“A bit.”

They arrived at the training room door. Vincent opened it and Michael went in. Inside was a matted room and a lot of empty space. On the walls were different weapons.

“So,” Vincent turned to Michael, “We’ll start with the basic principles of fighting. In real life, there aren’t any points, there aren’t any rules, the goal is to survive and beat your opponent. Assume your opponent wants you dead and the only way you will beat him is if you are more prepared mentally and physically than he is.”

“Alright,” Michael responded and stood opposite Vincent as they walked to the center of the room. “Makes sense, it’s about having the advantage.”

“Right- however you can get it,” Vincent spoke. “Physically, the advantage comes from your knowledge of martial arts, your physical build, your speed. Mentally however, you want every tactical advantage, the mental advantage comes from recognizing your surroundings, and studying what you can use to beat your opponent. In real life, combat shifts close range and long range, circumstances change and your enemy may turn from one to many.”

“Always be aware of your surroundings…”

“We’ll start without weapons. Your body is a weapon. It’s important to recognize that you can use more than just your feet and your hands even though we’ll start with kicks and punches.

Punch like this,” Vincent said. Michael copied it.

“That was good…” Vincent said, “Blocking is important too. Sometimes the advantage comes after a punch by the enemy. Try to dodge this.”

Vincent threw a punch at Michael as Michael moved backwards.

“Good footwork…”

Vincent threw another punch which Michael blocked.

Vincent then started attacking a little faster and Michael blocked them again. They started fighting. Vincent charged him as Michael dodged to the side. Vincent rolled and threw out a kick trip and Michael flipped backwards to dodge.

“Swords!” Vincent ran to the wall and took off a practice sword and charged while Michael ran towards the wall and took his own. Michael parried an attack and threw his own but Vincent parried it.

Jess looked through the window of the training room and saw Michael and Vincent fighting.

Neither of them noticed as Jess walked in and stood against the wall.

“Guns!” Vincent and Michael both took off a practice gun off the wall and shot at each other while charging.

Michael tackled Vincent in the stomach while Vincent elbowed him on the neck. Both guns fell to the ground as they started fighting block for hit- elbow for knee. Vincent dove for his gun while Michael dove for his and both pointed at each other.

Breath. Breath.

“Hey guys,” Jess said.


Both of them turned to see Jess with her hands on her sides.

“Can you guys not tell the council about us fighting?” Michael asked on his way to the cafeteria.

“So you really do know how to use a weapon huh? Jess asked.

“I didn’t want you to think that I could fight… if the council finds out they may put me on a mission I don’t want to do.”

Vincent was silent. Jess looked at him.

“Yeah, I’ll just tell them that you finished basic,” Jess said. “You’re definitely capable of basic posts positions- I’ll probably recommend you for the strike coming up as a guard.”

“That’s fine…” Michael said. Vincent looked at both of them. Jess seemed not to pay attention to him as much.

They walked back to the cafeteria. A lot of people were gathered there. It seemed pretty crowded.

Ragu was in front of the assembly of people there. As they sat down Ragu spoke in front of the groups;

“The council has decided that in the best interest of the territory we will unite the districts under one ruler: I and the council have come to a decision that I will be representative of the territories: We’ve decided that to face the Allied forces, the best approach is to present unity amongst the districts. If we establish a stronger front, the Allies will see us as a greater threat.”

Whispers went amongst the groups in the tables.

Michael looked around his table.

Tech and Vincent were discussing something in secret.

Jess seemed a little quiet.

“What does that mean?” Michael asked.

“Right now, it doesn’t mean much,” Jess said. “But afterwards, it means the territory will be governed by Ragu.”

“It’s a power play…” Vincent said.

“What do you mean?” Michael questioned. He looked at Vincent with a more inquisitive look, like Vincent knew more about what was going on behind the scenes then he was letting anyone know.

“Ragu and the leaders have always wanted a government and now that commander Sohon isn’t in charge, they have the power to make a move like that.”

Sally just strait up said to the table, “A lot of people aren’t going to like feeling that they’re governed by the Underground.”

The table was quiet for a minute. Michael felt the awkwardness.

Jason replied, “Well, it doesn’t really matter at the moment does it?” turning back to eat his lunch with a little more pensive neglect than appropriate.

Somehow however, Sally followed Jason’s lead by answering, “You’ve got it- it’s probably best that it’s happening- but right now it won’t really matter. Until we beat the Allies, the objective remains the same.”

Michael looked around the group and then down to his food. He figured he’d be quiet about it. no need to stress over what he was still getting used him himself. For now it still seemed good to be here, whether or not that would change later would be up tho

The group was quiet again.

Vincent and Tech talked about the defenses of the Underground in their secret meeting storage area:

“Are the BMI links to the defense network in the Underground ready?” Vincent asked.

“It’ll take a little longer,” Jackson spoke, “After the first strike.”

“Those need to be up ASAP.. I’m gonna ask you to do everything you can on this end without me… I’m going to be leaving as soon as first strike starts.”

“So then, you’ll be leaving for a while?” Tech replied still looking at the BMI date as he kept calibrating the equipment that he could. The problem was that they could only use leftover equipment as of now- and if they hinted to Regean what they were doing, he may end up stopping them. Afterwards Tech would have to install the grid in secret without anyone aware of the change.

“Probably,” Vincent replied. He was helping Tech as much as possible in Tech’s lab. There was a lot to do for just Tech and Vincent had to make sure that it would get done asap, “I’m going to leave under the pretense of quitting the underground.”

“Jess’ll be upset…” Tech gave him a disconcerted look pausing the cleaning of the BMI suit he was working on.

Vincent scoffed, “You sure? She seems a little more preoccupied with the new guy…”

“Well, you’re the one she really wants, you know.” Tech replied. He thought that it was pretty apparent, “Why don’t you tell her how you feel?”

Vincent looked at him for a moment- like he wanted to believe him- but doubted it.… could she really care for him, or was it a passing fancy limited to time and circumstances? Instead of responding, he got the new gear that tech gave him and worked on adjusting it to him.

“Even if I wanted to tell her- There’s no way I can right now,” he spoke thinking about all the tasks that her father had given him. It wasn’t that he had to fulfill the request that was given him, but if it meant her safety, then it was his own fight as well.

Tech had a look of disapproval, as if he wanted to dispute it. In his own opinion – Jess would definitely help Vincent rather than hinder- if she’d known about what was really going on. But then he remember that involving her could endanger her as well and thought better of confronting it.

Vincent looked at the top right corner of his augmented lenses – while Tech had more time himself in the development area of the Underground- Vincent had other responsibilities to keep up with- Including preparations for the mission to be. After finishing the adjustment on the equipment- he got up with a wave to Jackson and left the room.

An entry. A stationary man in uniform. A salute.

Commander Regean nodded towards the man who’d arrived. Similar to himself, James was a talent with ambition. Reagan appreciated ambition more than loyalty- because it meant they would do their best to fulfill their duty well when asked.

“Sir, everything is in order,” James spoke.

Perhaps Rage just attracted the ambitious type. While lacking latitude in sentiment or leniency, people under Rage were rewarded for their successes with promotions.

Regardless, the mission ahead was in motion.


“All stations are ready and prepared. The operatives inside of the power plants have all reported a ‘go’ sign. Blackout should proceed smoothly.

“Good. Then let them know…Operation Blackout is go.”


Author: jackpennnovels

Hey there. I'm a 28 y/o aspiring author - looking to inspire youth and entertain the masses with fantastic stories. i enjoy travelling the world and understanding different ways of life- and my second dream would be to help others understand what it's like to live in different parts of the world- in the hopes that cultural exchange can open the eyes of those who've had theirs shut for so long.

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