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Thread: The Republic

  1. #1

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    The Republic

    So I've been working on this novel for a few months. I decided to rewrite everything I've done this weekend. I've done the first two chapters so far, and even though I know people don't read here, I'll post more as I go. Feel free to comment and all that jazz.

    All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

    Another disclaimer:
    This book contains violence, strong language, sexual situations, substance abuse, etc. If anyone of that offends you, tough titty. Don't read.
    Last edited by Caesar; 12-31-2015 at 4:02 PM.

  2. #2

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    Chapter 1

    Fight or flight. There was a third option. Hide. Hide and find yourself trapped like a caged laboratory rat moments before being culled. Pulse racing. Heart beating a thunderous chorus against your chest, in your ears. Shallow breathes in hopes that they won’t hear you breathing.

    Hiding was the only option when they came to search. Everyone was too weak to fight, too slow to run. You hid or risked becoming the latest cautionary tale about getting in their way.

    “I’m scared,” her voice was barely audible, even in the cramped confines of the crawl space under the stairs. “Tony, I’m scared.”

    He wanted to calm her. To tell her everything was going to be okay, but something told him tonight was different. There were no shouts of protest in the streets as the soldiers dragged people out of their homes. Unlike previous nights, the only sounds coming from the streets were those of the soldiers’ heavy boots and the occasional pop of gunfire.

    There was loud banging at the door, but no wait for it to be answered. The door slammed against the wall with a crack and boots spilled into the foyer.

    They stilled as the soldiers ransacked their home. Lamps crashed to the floor, chairs overturned. It was their way of life. They’d come out of hiding to clean up, reset what they’d built together, and wait for the next time their home was destroyed.

    She gasped when the tiny sliver of light that filtered into the space was blocked out by a pair of boots. He covered her mouth and held his breath. They’d never been found before. Long ago, he’d taken the time to make the opening to the crawl space look like the rest of the wall. To the untrained eye, the fact that the baseboard didn’t quite touch the floor would never be seen.

    Two men spoke only feet away from them. The boots began to retreat out of the house. The light began to shine through again. He exhaled and moved his hand from her mouth. He shifted to lean closer to the floor to peer out of the crack when something smashed against the wall. Once. Twice. A third time. The door splintered. She screamed and clawed at his shirt.

    The banging stopped, but was soon followed by the tell-tale sound of rounds being chambered into rifles.

    “Come out or die,” a male voice ordered.

    She pulled him back, but they had no choice. They had to come out of hiding. Everyone knew the soldiers wouldn’t repeat an order. Bullets were the price of not complying.

    He looked over his shoulder and watched the tears fall down her cheeks. They were model citizens. They’d get some type of punishment for hiding, but he was sure if they did as they were told that would be the end of it. He hoped. These soldiers were known as nothing if not ruthless.

    “I’m sorry, Mary.” He squeezed her hand and pushed open the door to the crawlspace.

    The soldiers pounced on him like a pack of lions. Butts of rifles, boots. The world battered him as they dragged him out.

    He heard Mary’s cries. Shrieks for help.

    “I give up! I surrender!”

    The storm of blows slackened, replaced by laughter. One of the soldiers crouched down and poked at his faced with a gloved finger. “That doesn’t work here. We aren’t Metro.”

    He was pulled up to his feet and shoved against the wall next to Mary. She was afraid, terrified, but otherwise unharmed. His lack of chivalry had spared her a beating.

    Four of them stood in their living room, rifles at the ready. The one who had spoken to him reached in his pocket and pulled out a crumpled pamphlet. He stepped forward and shoved the paper into Tony’s face.

    “What’s this?” He asked the question, but Tony didn’t know the answer to it and felt the soldier didn’t want one anyway. “You know what we do to dissenters, right?”

    “That’s not mine.” The soldier rewarded his honesty with a straight to the jaw.

    “Don’t lie to me.”

    “It’s the truth. I don’t know where that came from.”

    The soldier grabbed him by his throat and held the paper up so he could see. “This was in your trash. It’s someone’s. I will pull your teeth out one at a time until you tell me the truth. Tell me where you got this or we’ll see if you can gum your food.”

    He couldn’t answer. Black dots clouded his vision as the soldier squeezed his throat. Mary pulled at the soldier’s arm to stop him. A burly soldier slammed the butt of his rifle into her stomach, sending her to the floor in a coughing fit.

    Tony opened his mouth to make up a story about the origin of the pamphlet, but no words came out.

    “Are you ready to talk?” He nodded and the soldier released him, but kept his fist pressed against his chest. “Where’d you get it?”

    “At the ma—“

    “It’s mine,” Mary said from the floor. The burly one yanked her to her feet and put the muzzle of his rifle under her chin.

    “And where’d you get it, little lady?” the one in charge asked.

    “From some strange woman one day. I told her I didn’t want it, but she shoved it in my hand. I was scared and wanted her to leave me alone so I took it. I threw it away as soon as I got home. I never read any of it, I swear!” Tears ran down her cheeks as she spoke.

    “You wouldn’t lie to us, would you?”

    Tony looked at her, silently pleading that she let him take blame for the pamphlet.

    “No, no. That’s the truth. We don’t want to hurt anyone.”

    “Then why were you hiding?”

    “We were afraid,” Tony said. “We’d rather get out of your way than make any mistakes.”

    The soldier in charge laughed. “We don’t make mistakes, buddy. And that’s unfortunately, the problem we have here.”

    “Wh—What do you mean?” Mary winched when the burly one pressed the gun into her throat.

    “Well, little lady. Being in possession of dissenter material is as much a crime as being one.” He laughed again. “We can’t have this type of thing floating around when there are so many acts of terrorism being perpetrated by those who do not love The Republic.”

    “We’re not rebels!” Tony stepped forward but a glare from the burly one froze him in place.

    “And you.” The soldier turned to Tony. “It’s in your house so you’re as guilty as her. We’re under strict orders, under General Directive #487, to execute any dissenters we find where they stand.”

    “Please, don’t! We aren’t rebels. We’re loyal. I swear!” Mary pleaded.

    “Now, now. Don’t you worry your pretty little head. I am a believer in fair trials and you two haven’t given us much trouble so we won’t dole out any sentences here tonight. We’ll let the Executors decide what happens to you.” The one in charge raised his rifle. “But I’m going to need you two to turn around and face that there wall, because we’re going to have to place you under arrest right now.”

    “Where are you taking us?” Tony asked.

    “Don’t ask stupid questions, pal. I already told you we’re not Metro. You’ll probably end up in one of the penal colonies in the Waste. I’m sure there’s a cot waiting at Iron Valley for your missus here. Now, turn around.” His finger hovered over the trigger of his rifle. “I’m not going to ask you again.”

    The couple did as they were told. Tony held her gaze as the soldiers zip-tied their wrists, hoping that she knew how sorry he was for failing to keep her safe. Iron Valley was no place for anyone.

    The soldiers pulled Tony away from the wall and forced him to his knees. The one in charge took off his gloves and pushed them into one of the pockets of his vest. “Why don’t you get comfortable down there, buddy? We’re going to have to wait for the truck to come back around and we have a bit of a problem.”


    “We didn’t expect to be taking any dissenters in tonight. There’s only room for one of you.”

    Tony could see the fear racking Mary’s body. “Take her.”

    The soldiers looked at one another and laughed. “That’s not your choice. Besides, you’re not the one with dissenter literature. She is.”
    “You said we’d just be getting arrested,” Tony argued.

    “I know what I said. That was before. This is now.” The soldier in charge squatted down next to Tony and looked at Mary over his shoulder. “I’m sure you know what happens to the pretty ones at Iron Valley anyway. There’s a lot of good men like myself and Private Massey here who spend a lot of time in the field. Missing a woman’s touch for months, even years.”

    “Fuck you.”

    The soldier punched him in the mouth, sending Tony tumbling to his side. Mary screamed for them to not hurt him as the soldier propped him back up on his knees.

    “Someone’s about to get fucked, but it ain’t going to be me,” the soldier sneered. He stood up and walked over to Mary, grabbing her by the arm and throwing her over the arm of the sofa. She attempted to up, but the burly one held her down.

    The one in charge looked at Tony as he placed his rifle behind the sofa, reached for his pistol and pressed it to the back of Mary’s head. “You’re going to stay your ass down there while we make sure this little cunt doesn’t feel too disappointed that she won’t be going to the Valley. If you move, I’m going to blow the little brains she surely has all over this nice couch then I’ll kill you.”

    Tony’s heart dropped. He gave a small nod.

    “It’s okay, Tony. I’m okay. We’re okay.” Mary’s tearful reassurances fell on deaf ears.

    The soldier yanked at her pajama bottoms. He whistled and laughed. “It’s a shame that I’m going to have to kill a bitch with this nice of an ass when we’re done.”

    He felt powerless as her blood-curdling screams filled the house. He wished they’d killed him, but he knew they wouldn’t do that even if he got up. He had no choice but to endure the scene in front of him.

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  4. #3

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    Chapter 2

    Five years later

    The raucous revelry of the bar drowned out her thoughts. Drunk soldiers, loose women, the lonely trying to drown themselves in the amber solstice of whiskey. The bar was aptly named for its location, The Shadow of the Valley, but its crowd were drawn by the promise of tortured souls. Both those in the uniforms and those in second-hand clothes coming down from the prison up above.

    “Another one?”

    She nodded to the bartender and pushed the tumbler forward with her fingers. She drank more when she was uncomfortable. They made her uncomfortable. Sober Republican soldiers were enough to the hair on the back of her neck stand up. The pressed black uniforms they donned struck fear in the hearts of the citizenry on their own. Tales of their atrocities only heightened their lore.

    She had no need for those tales. She was already privy to the level of depravity they could reach. Those soldiers didn’t need alcohol to cloud their judgement.

    One of them stumbled onto the stool next to her, wearing a toothy smile and a crooked cap. He leaned on the bar to give him enough support to keep from slumping over.

    “Lost your way?” she asked him.

    “What are you drinking?” His words were colored by his slurring and the accent of someone from the farmlands west of the Waste.

    She made a show of bringing the whiskey-filled tumbler to her lips. There were a handful of things she was willing to take from them. Drinks were not one.
    “What’s your name then?”

    She waved the barkeep over to refill her glass. “You ask a lot of questions.”

    He did something that could have been assumed to be a shrug. “It’s my job to know what’s going on. My name’s Eliot.”

    “Drinking away your sins, Eliot?”

    “Sins? Hell no. I’m celebrating. I got promoted today.” He pointed to the insignia on the leaf of his collar. He reminded her of a cat who’d just brought in a dead bird. Proud of something only they cared about.

    She turned to him and flicked his collar. “And what does that mean? Are you important now? Do they send you on top secret missions?”
    “All the time.”

    “Good luck to you then, Eliot.” She downed the whiskey, stood up, threw some credits on the bar, and headed for the door.

    She stepped out into the stale night air of the capital’s lower district. The lights from the government towers drowned out the stars that dared peek through the clouds. Another way the Republic reminded its citizen’s that there was no greater power than the government.

    The door was thrown open behind her and Eliot stumbled his way out onto the sidewalk, needing the wall to balance himself.

    “You never told me your name,” he called out.

    She glanced back, but continued walking towards the alley ahead of her. “Layla.”

    As she turned down the alley, she knew he would follow. The erratic beat of his boots rounded the corner and grew closer. She slowed down to let him catch up. Better to not earn the ire of one of them in a dark alley.

    “Layla’s a pretty name for a pretty woman.” He stumbled in front of her, blocking her way each time she tried to pass. “Where are you headed in such a hurry?”


    “There’s a lot of bad people in this district. I wouldn’t want you walking around by yourself at night.”

    She shook her head. Being alone with one of them was umpteen times more dangerous than anyone lurking around Iron Valley at night. “You’re in my way, though.”

    “Well, you have to pay the toll first, sweetheart.” He reached for her, but he was too drunk to walk upright let alone attack someone. With little effort, she slipped under his arm and watched as he went tumbling into a pile of garbage.

    “If that’s what you wanted, you just had to ask.” She helped him to his feet and propped him up against the wall. “We are thinking about the same thing here, right, Eliot?”

    He nodded like a child about to receive their favorite sweet. She stepped closer to him and began unbuckling his trousers.

    “I want you to answer a question first.”


    “What is it that you did before your promotion?” She pushed his pants to the ground. “Don’t give me those lines of bullshit about defending the Republic either.”

    “Nothing exciting. Just guarded a supply dump.”

    She shrugged and squatted in front of him. He was unimportant. Insignificant and worthless. It still had to be done. One hand on him, one in his pants pockets. It’s just a distraction she told herself. She dragged a keycard out from the pocket.

    He looked down just as she hid the card inside her sock. “Hey, that feels good and all, but aren’t you going to… you know… use your mouth?”
    She smiled. “I have something that feels better than that.”

    The giddy smile returned to his face. She shook her head, reached behind her back, and pulled out her hunting knife. Taking her time to stand up, she winked at him. Just as he reached for her, she plunged the knife into his abdomen. Blood coated her hand as she pulled back and stabbed him a second and third time. He lunged towards her, but tripped over his pants. A series of kicks to the stomach kept him on the ground.

    “You bi—” She covered his mouth with her hand.

    “Didn’t your mother ever tell you to watch your mouth around a lady?” She laughed as she leaned closer. “It’s a shame she’ll have to find out that her son died in an alley with his pants around his ankles. That uniform can only save you for so long.”

    The look in her eyes sobered him enough to jerk him into action but it was all for naught as the knife sunk into his throat.


    The blighted buildings rose above the concrete jungle. Symbols of a long-forgotten past. Before everything came tumbling down. The homeless pushed carts filled with old electronics they’d likely pilfered from one of the many abandoning buildings, hoping to sell it to put some food in their bellies before the sun rose. Prostitutes and addicts littered the sidewalks while gang members lurked in the shadows.

    The Republic’s graciousness skipped over this part of the Capital. The upper crust of society were locked away safe and sound in their ivory towers while the lowest of the low did whatever it took to be able to make it through the night.

    Years ago, she knew what it was like to live inside the fences. To be one of them. The memories were almost as faded as the buildings that surrounded her now. She had been lucky to escape the soldiers when they came for her family that night.

    She kept her head down as she walked through the wide streets. There was no need to draw any extra attention. Enough blood had been shed for one night. Although, the gangs generally stayed clear of her.

    Darting down an alley, she slipped into one of the many boarded up apartment buildings through the service door. Lights flickered overhead and loud music pounded through the walls. The residents she passed gave her the same sour look she had seen many times before. Trouble followed her and the people of the slums didn’t like any more trouble than their lives already gave them.

    She descended a staircase at the end of the hall, unlocking the heavy iron door at the bottom of the stairs. Shutting the door behind her, she drowned out the slum life above.

    A man around her age passed by, carrying a crate. “Went with the Layla look again, tonight?”

    “Layla always gets what she wants.” She began taking bobby pins out of her hair and yanking off the ginger-haired wig. “I ran into some wannabe Republican Guardsman from the farmlands.”

    “How’d that go?” He set the crate down and wiped sweat from his brow.

    She shrugged.

    “You kill him?”

    “You know I killed him, Amir.” Bending down, she grabbed the soldier’s keycard out of her sock. “He had a keycard on him to a supply dump. That’ll help us out.”

    “They’ll have you on a fucking poster soon, Giselle. And I better be right there next to you. Save some swine for me.”

    She shook her head. “What’s in the crates?”

    “Henry and Karina stumbled across a weapon transport coming across the Waste. They said there was only a few skidmarks riding along so they decided to repurpose their shit for our use,” Amir said. He sat down on one of the crates, his shoulders back. “Buck’s buzzing about this. He’s going to green-light that raid on that big fort.”

    “The one in Edgemont? Didn’t Eric Andrews and his bunch try that only to get slaughtered? That’s suicide.”

    “Andrews was an idiot. Knowing him, he probably tried to jump a bike over the walls with two ARs and knife between his teeth. No one here is as crazy as they are… or were.”

    “Considering what we’re talking about? We’re just like them if we try to go into that fort. You can try to slice it any way you want. We’re just rebels with stolen guns. Buck’s talking about trying to take a fucking Republican fort.”

    “You know I hate that word. I prefer freedom fighter.”

    “Yeah, if you’re full of shit.”

    Anger painting his face, Amir stood up and stalked off. Forgetting that he had been in the process of moving the crates.

    Giselle sighed. She hadn’t meant to piss him off, but sometimes she felt he never saw things clearly enough. He was the one who’d stand on the battlements waving a flag as bullets whizzed over his head. While she was just as committed to their cause of toppling the Republican government as anyone else holed up in the basement of that dilapidated apartment complex, she knew they were fighting to dispose one tyrant and replace him with another.

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  6. #4
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    this reminds me of a number of books and movies blended together. i await more.

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    Chapter 3

    The crack of a whip echoed through the damp, dim room. A pained scream followed it as the whip met flesh. The procession of sound continued. Crack, scream, crack, scream. A man was hung in the middle of the room by his arms, target practice for the soldier wielding the whip. Strips of flesh hung off the man’s back as a result of the savage beating. His chest rose and fell quickly as he struggled to catch his breath.

    “Speak,” the soldier commanded.

    “I already told you I don’t know anything.”

    The soldier looked over his shoulder at the third man in the room. The man stepped into the light, his uniform immaculate despite being in a room used for torture. His cap sat low on his head and his collar was adorned by three golden stars and red bars. The soldier visibly cowered as the officer got closer to him.

    The officer’s gloved hand grabbed the man’s face roughly and yanked him forward, putting more pressure on his already weak body. “You’re going to die here, in this room, one way or another. There’s no honor to be had for not telling me what I want to know. I may show some mercy on you and end your miserable life quickly if you would cooperate.”

    “I can’t tell you what I don’t know. Please let me down,” the man pleaded.

    “You want me to convince him some more, Colonel?”

    The colonel shook his head and stepped over to a table in the corner of the room. Picking up a scalpel, he walked back to the man. Getting his grip on the man’s face again, he placed the scalpel under his right eye. The sharp metal pressed into his skin causing him to wince.

    “I’m growing tired of this game, Samuel. I have much more important things to do than oversee an interrogation. Were you not arrested with three others for spreading dissident propaganda?”

    Samuel looked at the colonel in fear and nodded.

    “And if you are recruiting people to a cause then you have to tell them someplace to go, right?”

    He nodded again.

    “So, why are you fucking lying to me?!” The colonel jabbed the scalpel into the man’s eye. A gut-wrenching howl filled the room and the soldier was forced to turn away.

    The officer pulled the scalpel out and flicked off the innards of the man’s eye. Smacking Samuel a few times, he leaned closer. “Stay with me now, Samuel. All you have to do is tell me where the dissidents you were helping are hiding and you will meet the Gods’ sweet absolution.”

    “They move around.” His voice was weak, but the pain was evident.

    “That’s good, Sam. Can I call you Sam? Does your wife call you Sam? I hear she may be pregnant.”

    “Sarah has nothing to do with this.”

    The colonel laughed. “But she does, Sam. I operate under the pretense of guilty by association. You don’t get a closer association than husband and wife.”
    “Please don’t hurt her.”

    “I won’t have a reason to if you just give me sound information. Tell me where they are most of the time and I’ll see it to personally that Sarah and your unborn child aren’t harmed.”

    “In Santa Venetia. There’s a café. You can find some of them there sometimes.”

    “That wasn’t so hard, was it, Sam? It’s all over. We’re going to let you go, now.” The officer patted him on the shoulder and wiped his hand on the tatters of his shirt.

    Samuel began to quietly thank the officer when he stabbed him in his left eye with the scalpel. His screams covered the sound of the tiny blade puncturing skin as the colonel stabbed him repeatedly. As a coup de grace, the colonel stabbed him in the neck and broke half of the scalpel off in his throat.
    Smirking at the dying man before him, he wiped his hands on Samuel’s shirt once more. “Filthy dissident scum.”

    “Cut the body down and get rid of it,” he ordered as he walked out of the room. He stopped in the threshold and turned back around. “Oh, and find Colonel Rollins and pass along that we have some rodents to exterminate in Santa Venetia.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “One more thing, sergeant.”

    “Yes, Colonel?”

    He gestured to Samuel’s body. “I want you to take your squad and go find that wife of his. Push her off a bridge or something. Get creative.”
    The soldier paled. “B—but, sir—”

    “Are you questioning me? Are you not loyal to the Republic? She harbored those who wish to see the President, our leader, killed.” The colonel pulled his pistol from the holster on his hip and held it out to the other man. “If you would not defend our Republic and our President by any means necessary then you can take the coward’s way out now.”

    “No, sir. It’ll be done, sir.” The sergeant saluted and went to cutting down the body in the room.

    The colonel sneered, re-holstered his weapon and walked away. He had every intention of having the sergeant punished for questioning him. The regulars of the Republican Army were beginning to grow soft. The skirmishes with the rebels had begun to grow more frequent and more annoying. It was his regiment’s sole purpose to hunt down and eliminate every single one of them, and he would stop at nothing to meet that end even if it meant killing a pregnant woman or two.

    The insurgency would be suppressed. It had already dragged on for far too long.

    He turned the corner and immediately stopped to salute the general who was walking towards him.

    “Ah, just the man I was looking for. Your secretary told me I would find you here.” The white-haired, rotund man gave the younger officer a poor excuse for a salute in return. He cleared his throat when he noticed the blood on the colonel’s hand. “Didn’t clean up well enough, Mark?”

    The colonel inspected his gloves and laughed. “Sorry, sir. I was just interrogating a man believed to be working with the rebels and things got a little messy.”
    “You ‘red bars’ are so hands on.”

    “We are the first line of defense for the Republic, sir. There is nothing we won’t do to protect the President.”

    The general let out a uniform-stretching laugh and patted Mark on his shoulder. “Such loyalty. I feel much safer knowing you are protecting us from the crazy people out there who can’t see how much good we are doing.”

    “That will all be in the past soon.”

    “Glad to hear it, son. Why don’t you follow me? I want to discuss some things with you.”

    “With all due respect, sir. I was on my way to the motor pool. I need to get to Santa Venetia before sun down.”

    “I won’t be long. We can talk and walk in that direction so I won’t keep you.” The general turned and started off down the hall, the colonel in tow. “You know you can command from here, right? The communications systems are state-of-the-art. You could track every soldier and issue orders to the officers under you without leaving your bed.”

    He fought the urge to grimace at the thought of commanding from a bed. He was no play soldier. “I like to lead from the front. Wars aren’t won without everyone getting their hands dirty.”

    “This is no war. We’re fighting a bunch of militants with stolen guns. They have no training, no uniforms, no skills, and no leadership.”

    “They are beginning to organize, but we will be there every step of the way eliminating them and preventing that from happening.”

    “They’d be fighting with sticks and stones if there weren’t so many inept regulars.”

    Mark wanted to pin that on the general as he had no dealing with the regular soldiers of the Republican Army, but he knew when to stay his tongue.
    “The rebel problem is actually what I wanted to speak to you about. Parliament are holding elections in the coming weeks. President Hutchinson wanted me to express to you how important it was that those running for office don’t have to worry about being shot when they leave the central district. Many of them have already received death threats from rebel groups.”

    “Does Metro not have enough men to provide details for them?”

    “There are more than enough police officers on the force, but they are a step above civilians armed with handguns and batons. We need something more than that.”

    The colonel opened the door to the motor pool for his superior. Inside, hundreds of soldiers armed themselves and prepared a convoy of armored personnel carriers. Every soldiers’ uniform had the same red bars as the colonel’s and their faces were covered by balaclavas.

    “I believe the term you are looking for, sir, is force projection. Please tell the President that we will make sure that the rebels know their fate if they rear their heads during the elections.”

    The general looked around the massive garage. “I have to say your regiment really is a menacing bunch. Do you always go in mass like this?”
    “Always, sir.”

    “Well, may the Gods help the rebels. Good luck in Santa Venetia.” The general saluted him and beat a hasty retreat out of the motor pool, envisioning actual combat had him craving the safety of his office.

    Mark shook his head. Many of the generals of the army were political appointments. Those who had helped the President work his way into power decades ago. Few of them had held a gun before, let alone killed another person.

    Those were the generals who had resisted the creation of the 197th Republican Guards. They were sometimes referred to as the “Red Bars” because of the trademark red bars added to their uniforms. Others called them “the Harbinger’s Regiment.” An ode to the god of death, darkness, destruction, and the underworld, death and destruction usually followed the 197th.

    The Red Bars were respected by the rest of the Republican Army and feared by the citizens. Three hundred and fifty men who were handpicked from various sources, the 197th was renowned for its ruthlessness. People lived to spread stories of atrocities committed by the regular soldiers, but firsthand accounts of the 197th were few and far between.

    They prided themselves on perfection. And since the regiment’s creation as the unit tasked with searching for and destroying resistance to the Republic, each rebel killed was another victory for the Red Bars and testament to their success.

    Mark, better known as Colonel Mark Austin and the commander of the 197th, loved the regiment’s reputation. He enjoyed watching people cower from their very presence. It was what they had been trained for, asymmetrical warfare. Taking away the people’s will to fight before the thought of taking up arms even crept into their mind was their specialty.

    He turned around and headed for the first APC in the convoy, another officer fell into step with him.

    “I assume everyone’s ready to go, Jerad?” the colonel asked.

    Lieutenant Colonel Jerad Rollins was the second-in-command of the 197th. Like the rest of the regiment, he was a young man known to push the boundaries of sanity. After the early part of his military career fighting rebels and gangs in the unforgiving environment of the Waste, Rollins’s hatred for the rebels was second only to his commanding officer’s.

    “It would have been nice to get a little more time to mount up. That lilywhite sergeant just told me.”

    “You knew we’d be going hunting as soon as I got a location.”

    Rollins laughed. “To be honest, I thought you would kill him before he squealed.”

    “I practice patience unlike you.”

    “I’m not going to argue with you on that because I’m sure you’d pull rank.”

    “They made us the ranks that we are for a reason. I get results. 100 over 100.” They stopped at the vehicle. “Get Gershwin on the comm. They are stationed nearby and we’re going to need some regulars to kick doors while we try to flush out the vermin.”

    “Yes, sir,” Rollins said with a salute.

    Mark got in the APC with a scowl on his face. They would be looking for rebels for hours. He would kill everyone in the city of Santa Venetia if the higher ups would let him, but that wasn’t an option so he would have to deal with trying to find people who had perfected the art of hiding.

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  9. #6

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    Jun 2013
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    Chapter 4

    A symphony of sounds swept through the basement. Men snoring, the repetitive patter of water into a bucket, the occasional cough, the shuffle of blankets. It was the backdrop for this band of rebels. Tired from fighting an enemy with infinitely more resources, poor from giving up everything they knew or having it pried from their hands. Huddled along the walls to sleep, being able to breathe without someone inches from their face their only yearning. They were the refuse of the Republic, tossed aside to make room for those loyal to the regime. A home the basement was not, but there wasn’t a lamp lighting any doors.

    Separated from the main room, ten bunk beds were available to those lucky enough to be bestowed the honor of a mattress to sleep on—or those who were dying. Muffled grunts and the rhythmic squeak of bed springs dotted the stillness of the room.

    Giselle looked past him at the water streaking down the walls. It cut and intricate path through the chipped paint, reminding her of the river that was behind her grandmother’s house far south of the Capital. Her parents would bring her there every summer when the storms in the Waste grew strong. Her grandmother taught her how to make paper dolls and bake pies. The world seemed much different then. Warmer, brighter. It almost seemed like a dream compared to what she’d come to know as her reality.

    With a sustained grunt, he tensed then rolled off her. She reached down and yanked up her pants before sitting up and shoving her feet into her boots.

    “Where are you going?” He put his hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged it off.


    “Amir, Kenny, Tasha, and Smith are already up there.”

    “It doesn’t hurt to have an extra set of eyes.”

    He sighed and rolled over. “Suit yourself. If you want to go do grunt work, have fun. Don’t come try to find your way back when you get tired. Sleep on the floor with the grunts.”

    She wanted to tell him something about calling the others “grunts,” but knew there was no use and stood up from the bed without another word. There was no arguing with Rocco Hernandez anyway. He was used to getting his way. A former bandit gang leader in the Waste, he’d been convinced to join Buck’s group and brought his men with him. Bringing twenty extra men was an easy to get assigned a bed in the basement. Some believed he had designs to take over the rebel cell himself. Most thought he was too lazy to lead a rebellion.

    Her opinion of him didn’t extend beyond what he was. A means to an end.

    She made her way to the top floor of the apartment complex which they used to keep watch over the streets below. Once used for storage, the view was unobstructed by walls and allowed them to stay in the building instead of going up to the roof. Any Republican soldier with half a brain could spot armed people walking on a rooftop.

    Spotting Amir sitting in the far corner, his stolen Republic-issue rifle slung across his lap, she walked over and leaned against the wall next to him but not before stealing a cracker from the tin at his feet.

    “I was going to eat that,” he said without taking his eyes off the street.

    “You wouldn’t have them to eat if it weren’t for me.”

    He shrugged. “I could have jacked off a soldier for a keycard.”

    “I think your hands would have been too rough to get the job done.”

    “S’pose I can’t argue with you. You are the expert if Rocco lets you sleep in his bed every few nights.” Amir lifted the rifle and looked down the scope at the street below. He looked around a bit before returning the rifle to his lap. “You ever thought about letting Buck fuck you to get a night in the big house?”

    “Are you jealous that none of the women in the bunks are willing to let you fuck your way into their sheets?”

    “Not mad.”

    “You sound pretty mad to me.

    “Mad that you put your dirty ass hands on my crackers, maybe.”

    She could only shake her head knowing they would be going all night if she waited for him to admit that he was mad about her way of securing a mattress for the night. It was part of who he was. Like so many of the rebels, Amir’s family had been torn apart by the tyrannical regime running the Republic. He had seen his parents and older brother shot fleeing from Republican soldiers. His younger sister had been shipped to Iron Valley. A labor camp in the Waste would have been his destination had he not choked his captors to death and escaped.

    Freeing his sister was one of the few reasons he carried on fighting, but since they’d become comrades with Buck’s group, Giselle had served as a surrogate little sister. Complete with all the annoyances that entailed.

    Amir looked over his shoulder to be sure the other three were far enough away from him as he leaned closer to her. “Did you hear about what happened in Santa Venetia?”

    “Some rebels were rounded up and killed. That’s nothing new.”

    “But this was something new. They didn’t just drag them off to the Executors to be sentenced to death. Some people I know out there said it looked like Hutchinson sent the death squad to them.”

    “Don’t tell me you’re starting to believe that bullshit about some superhuman Republican soldiers who can sniff out rebels.”

    “They were there, Giselle. Red bars, ski masks, efficient, ruthless, making a spectacle of killing people. That’s what my guy told me.”

    Giselle rolled her eyes. Stories of elite soldiers springing up around the area had been filtering through the public for weeks, but she had yet to see them for herself. “Did they ride into town with the Harbinger, the Judge, and the Sovereign, too?”

    “You better not let Buck hear you talking shit about the Triplets like that. He’ll have you out there with the corner bitches selling that pussy,” Amir warned. Buck was extremely religious and a devout follower of the teachings of the Triplets.

    “Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Let’s get back to these spooks. What’d your guy say? The mist rolled in, the rebels danced out of their homes, the mist rolled out and they were gone?”

    “He said the entire fucking lot of them came into town in APCs, went door to door dragging out entire families.”

    “Sounds like that could be any Republican soldier.”

    “Would you let me finish?”

    She waved her hand for him to continue.

    “I told him the same thing. I’ve killed enough of them to know what they like to do, but this is where it gets grisly. He said some high up guy was out there. A lot of gold stars on his uniform. He walks up to this man and asks him if he’s loyal to the government. Of course, the guy says no. Gold Stars orders his men to make the guy bite the curb and Gold Star does the honors himself.”

    A shiver ran down her spine. It wasn’t too often that Republican officers came down from the ivory towers of the Central District to get their boots dirty. “What happened to the rest of them?”

    “Executed in the square. One by one. A few of their husbands and wives were killed, too. Then…” Amir shook his head. “Then, Gold Stars had a handful of the bodies strung upside down from that bridge heading into town. My guy said he said he wanted it to be a warning to anyone foolish enough to oppose the government.”

    “It’s just a scare tactic.”

    “If it is, it worked. I heard a lot of people turned themselves in. Would rather go to the camps than run into these guys. They say that this unit was formed specifically to hunt and kill rebels.” He patted the gun on his lap. “I’ll fight them all myself if I have to.”

    Giselle looked out of the window at the city below and fought the urge to fling herself out of it. Being faced with the threat of running into Republican soldiers was nothing new. Every few months, a new officer looking to earn a seat at the President’s table would send his soldiers into the slums to try to root them out but it almost always ended in failure. The rebels were just better at fighting in the streets than the soldiers.

    The rebels created vast networks of pathways that allowed them to pop up in one place, fire, then get somewhere else before the soldiers knew someone had been shooting at them. Soldiers specifically trained to fight rebels would eliminate the element of surprise and without that… they would all die like the people in Santa Venetia.

    At least, she knew “Gold Stars” wasn’t a fan of sending people to the labor camps or Iron Valley. She’d take her own life before she was sent to the Velley, but that didn’t seem to be a worry with these new soldiers lurking the city.


    A man kneeled among three large statues: a hooded man holding a book, a robed man holding a gavel, and a woman wearing a crown and holding a scepter. Still and sullen men stood behind the statues holding candles. An occasional low-pitched wail was the only sounded that echoed around them.

    The man muttered words of prayer, his hands raised above him, before he bent down and kissed the feet of each of the statues. Rising to his feet, the man bowed before each of the statues and walked backwards off the altar, not turning his back until he was a few feet from the first step.

    He stepped out of the garden and was joined by two other men. Complete opposites of one another.

    “Why do we always have to meet here, Buck?” the shorter, darker-skinned one ask.

    “For before the Judge, no man hath a place to hide. All is seen by the Judge’s eyes. All is heard by the Judge’s ears. Death await he whom dare defy the Judge’s laws.”

    The taller, light-skinned man shook his head. “We didn’t come here for a religion lesson. Religion is the reason that the world is like it is now.”

    “Ancient religions are the reason the world is the way it is. Monotheistic blabbering over which or whom is the one true deity tore the world asunder. Those religions are long gone. Replaced by the benevolence of the Sovereign, the righteousness of the Judge, and the knowledge of the Harbinger. We would not be here if it were not for their guidance.”

    “That’s enough scripture, Buck. We’re here to discuss business. If you want to try to bring down that fort in Edgemont then it has to be done tomorrow night. Rog and I were talking about it on our way here and we think it’s possible if you let our guys run the show,” the tall one said.

    Rog nodded. “Andrew’s right. We don’t trust some of those Waste bikers you got running around with you. They’ll fight for anyone giving them money or supplies. Our men are loyal to the cause. If we send them in there, ain’t no Republican credits going to turn their colors.”

    “As I always do before occasions such as these, I ask them.” Buck motioned over his shoulder at the statues of the Gods. “I ask them for guidance, because no single mortal man can lead. That is the error in Peter Hutchinson’s ways. He has turned his back on the Gods and traipsed down a path of debauchery and death. Tonight, they reminded me that it is our mission to blot out the darkness which surrounds us. We must bring the fight to those working against the Gods.”

    Rog and Andrew looked at each other, both uncomfortable around Buck.

    A peaceful smile spread across Buck’s face and he nodded. “The Sovereign has told me that this is the right thing to do. Those who pledge their loyalty to me along with those loyal to you will be able to stamp out the evil overlooking Edgemont. If the Sovereign wills it, it shall be done. You are both welcome to direct the attack in whatever manner you see fit. We have the blessing of the Gods. Victory shall be ours in their names.”

    “There are no patrols just before dawn. If we attack then, we’ll have a while before any reinforcements are called in,” Rog said.

    Andrew nodded. “I heard there’s only about two hundred garrisoned in that fort. We should easily have a similar amount of boots on the ground. As long as we don’t pull an Eric Andrews and try to climb the battlements to take out the heavy guns, we should be able to catch them with their pants down.”

    “We’ll need to get in, do what we need to do, and get out quickly,” Rog added.

    “I am the Shepard of the people. I shall lead my flock in the Sovereign’s light for She hath chosen the path that must be taken to lead us into eternal harmony with Them.” Buck nodded again, seemingly pleased with his quotation from the holy texts. “I shall go pray to the Gods for the souls of any who are taken from this place tomorrow. I would suggest you do the same.”

    Rog and Andrew watched as Buck returned to the altar and began praying once more. The three rebel leaders had known each other for years. Fighting alongside one another and sometimes against one another. However, it was a widely acceptable notion that Buck wasn’t meant to be leading a rebel cell in the Capital.

    His absolute devotion to the Gods would be better suited in the plains in the south of the country where cults ruled.

    Nonetheless, they also knew he had the most people under his command. Without Buck, attacking a Republican fort would be out of the question. They might have thought he was crazy, but he tended a large flock.

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  11. #7

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    Jun 2013
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    Chapter 5

    A young rebel knelt behind a destroyed wall, well above his comrades who were fighting their way through a maelstrom of bullets from the battlements. He peered through the scope atop the rifle he’d perched on the bricks.

    A storm rolled through Edgemont the day before, turning the open expanses of what was once farmland into something more akin to swamps. The rebels sank into the ground as they tried to run forward. Some of them were shot before they could dislodge themselves from the muck. They fell face down in the mud. Their identity to be forever hidden as the dead would surely be left behind if the attack failed.

    Seeing a Republican soldier running along the walls, he led the soldier with the crosshair. He held his breath, depressed the trigger and the soldier’s body disappeared from view.
    His job wasn’t to kill today, or so they’d told him. He was only supposed to watch and give a signal, but as his grandfather had taught him many years ago, if a man was going to go hunting, the man should come back with a hide or two to show for his troubles.


    Giselle adjusted the cloth on her face to make sure it covered her nose as the group trudged through sewage almost up to their knees. Despite being drenched in perfumes, the makeshift mask did nothing to stave off the smell of excrement and death that surrounded them. The battle that raged above them almost seemed to be willing some stray ordinance to crash on the tunnel and bury them.

    Rats scurried about on pipes along the wall, frightened by their flashlights. Doors that led to dark rooms filled with secrets of a long gone past marked every thousand feet.

    Carrying enough explosives to erase a Republican personnel carrier from existence, they were the lynchpin of Buck’s masterplan. Eight people to crawl through shit with bombs on their backs, blow a hole under the fort, climb in and kill the enemy from the inside.

    It was a miracle that Rocco had found out about the sewage outflow tunnel. Information pried from the mouth of a recent military academy grad who was still wet behind the ears and not prepared to withstand Rocco’s brand of persuasion.

    A subway, he’d called it. A subterranean railway those before them used to get around their cities. Tunnels that became their final resting places when The Suns fell. The walls told the tales of those people if one were to look close enough.

    “This is our way up,” Rocco said from the front of the group. He shined his flashlight on metal rungs bored into the brick, an iron covering at the top of the ladder.

    “What now?” Nathan, one of Rocco’s men, asked.

    Rocco shook his head. “We blow our way in and hope we don’t bury ourselves down here. Go back and give the signal.”


    The rebel on the hill reached into his bag and pulled out an old radio. Smacking the handheld against his hand a few times, he held it up to his mouth. “The hot pieces of ass are in place. I repeat, the hot pieces of ass are in place.”

    “That wasn’t the signal, Gavin,” a gruff voice cackled over the radio.

    “You know what I meant though.”

    “Just shoot the flare so the guys on the ground know to press the attack.”

    “Y’all make sure y’all don’t accidentally kill the pretty ones now. The bunker wouldn’t quite be the same without them.”

    “The flare, Gavin.”

    “Yep, yep. I’m on it.”

    He reached back into the bag and grabbed a small flare gun, firing it into the air over the battlefield. Almost instantly, bullets peppered the wall in front of him and sent him diving for better cover. Snatching the strap attached to his rifle, he dragged it down and disappeared down the hill before the Republicans started slinging mortars at him.


    Her body tensed each time she heard the chatter of an automatic rifle. What she expected to be her last breath caught in her throat for a second before she allowed herself to continue moving. Leaning against the wall, she held the pistol out in front of her as she inched forward.

    An explosion rocked the wall, sending bits of rubble raining down from the ceiling. Screams and more gunfire followed. She paused. Listened. Walked. And paused to listen. Nothing. That was expected. No one would be defending the corridor to a supply room, but they needed the rations and whatever else they could carry.

    She braced against one side of the door frame, scanning the far side of the room with her gun outstretched. Nothing. Pushing into the room, she swung around to the other side. Nothing.

    Another explosion shook the fort, causing the lights to flick. As the residual noise from the explosion left her ears, the sound of muttering reached her. With a light step, she rounded the table in the middle of the room and raised the pistol higher.

    Following the mumbled words, she was led to a corner of the room. Sitting between two empty gun cabinets was a Republican soldier, his eyes closed and his hands clasped over his heart in prayer. His face was unblemished, like a baby who was fresh from his mother’s teat. He reminded her of the schoolboys she once knew.

    “Get up!” she ordered.

    A trembled breath escaped his lips as he was alerted to her presence. He rose to his feet, his hands in the air. He cut a tall, gangly figure, drowning in the Republican uniform he wore.

    “Please don’t ki- kill me. I’m just a—“

    “Raise up your shirt.” She motioned her commanded with the gun.

    He did as he was told, lifting his shirt and turning around to show her he was unarmed.

    She sighed and lowered the pistol, but as she relaxed he swung back around and his fist connected with her cheek. A shot rang out from the pistol as her hand clenched.

    The metallic taste of blood filled her mouth and black clouded her vision he hit her again, sending her to the floor. The gun flew from her hand, clattering across the floor.

    Rolling onto her knees, an arm wrapped around her throat. A mixture of spearmint and oil wafted across her as his hold tightened on her neck. She clawed at his arm. The sound of fabric ripping punctuated her struggle.

    “Don’t fight. Please, don’t fight,” he whispered.

    She flung her head back and was rewarded with a satisfying cracking noise. His hold on her loosened and she did it again. Her head connected with his face, the force of her motion sending him backwards with her on top of him. She rolled onto her hands and knees and scrambled away.

    Free from the chokehold and gasping for air, her eyes darted around the room for her gun. A foot smashed into her ribs, and pushed the little air she’d gotten from her lungs.

    Then he was on top of her. Nose crooked and bleeding. Face mangled in pain. She swung at him. A heavy fist answered her attempt. He reached into his boot for a combat knife and steadied himself.

    Dazed, she caught his wrist as the knife descended. She could feel the knife getting closer, almost burning her as if it were a hot iron.

    “Stop fighting,” he whispered again. His voice trembled. “Let go, please.”

    He covered the end of the knife with his other hand. A whine escaped her lips. She wouldn’t die in a Republican fort. Craning her neck, she bit into the hand holding the knife. Blood and flesh filled her mouth as he howled in pain.

    She pulled her mouth away. Saliva and blood trailing behind torn skin and sinew. She smashed her fist into his nose. He dropped the knife to staunch the new gush of blood that sprouted from his face.

    Snatching it up, she wasted no time plunging the knife into his side. She yanked it out and stabbed wildly twice more. Her hand punching the fabric of his shirt with each blow.

    Now weakened, she was able to roll over on top of him. He grabbed her wrists when she tried to position the knife over his throat and forced her hand down.

    Pointing the knife as his chest, she pushed down. His hands shook as he tried to stop her.

    “Please, please. No,” he pleaded. The knife drew closer. He closed his eyes and continued his fight. “No, no. No, please, no.”

    “Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up.”

    His shirt sunk under the knife and she felt the resistance of bone.

    His eyes grew wide in fear. “No! No! Mama! Mama! No! Mama! I can’t leave her! Mama!” The pleas for his mother filled the room.

    Leaning forward, she covered his mouth with one hand though that only muffled his cries. Using her weight, she shoved the blade in. A gurgling noise drowned out the calls for help. His body jerked and went limp.

    The soldier’s cries for his mother echoed on in her head as she struggled to catch her breath.

    Hollering and stomping boots filled the hall outside the room. Rolling off the body, she raised the knife. She’d take her own life before she let another soldier come to finish her off.

    “Giselle! You alive?!”

    She relaxed at the sound of Rocco’s voice. He ran into the room, blood splattered on his clothes and face. Amir and some others followed behind him.

    “I’m here.” Her voice came out weak.

    “Holy shit!” Amir kicked the soldier’s body. “You fucked him up.”

    “Shut the fuck up,” she snapped as she pulled herself to her feet. “He wasn’t a soldier. He cried for his fucking mother.”

    “Well, his mother ain’t saving him here.” Rocco laughed. He handed her the pistol and dropped bags on a table in front them. “Come on. Load this shit up. We have to go before they send a QRF.”

    She looked down at the soldier—the boy. Probably much younger than she was. A wasted life. But no, his mother wasn’t saving him here.

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  13. #8

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    Jun 2013
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    Chapter 6

    To the regular infantrymen on the front lines, guarding the civilians of the Republic and manning checkpoints, being a Red Bar was a pipe dream. Something you could tell your girlfriend you were going to be one day to get her all hot and bothered in her nether regions – if she supported the Republic, of course.

    Being feared, making loads of credits, and most importantly commanding respect. Any warm-blooded man wanted those things.

    What a lot of them didn’t know is that if there wasn’t a target, wasn’t some information to act on, the Red Bars spent a lot of time sitting around and doing a whole lot of nothing.

    “One hundred and fifty-nine.”

    “You have not killed one hundred and fifty-nine fucking rebs. I’m not counting ones you think you killed because you lobbed a grenade into a room full of them or ones you think you killed when someone next to you was shooting, too.”

    “I’ll bet he hasn’t even confirmed one yet. Let alone any damn one hundred and fifty-nine. You hear this bullshit, colonel?”

    Colonel Austin grunted in response, not bothering to look up from the book in his hands. Boredom was reaching its peak when his men started arguing about how many people they’d killed. He couldn’t blame them. It was their badge of honor. A symbol of their defense of the President and the country.

    “Look, Valdez. We’re not going to look at you any differently if you just tell us the truth. There’s going to be plenty of opportunities for you to split some heads and get up there with the rest of us.”

    Valdez shook his head and looked at their commanding officer, “You have any idea how many of those bastards you’ve put in the ground, colonel?”

    The colonel lifted his head slightly. He could probably claim any death at the hands of the unit since he gave the orders, but he knew how many he’d killed with his own hands, “Yes, private. These days I’m up to—“

    “Attention! The Commandant of the Republican Armed Forces!”

    The soldiers in the mess hall stood up and snapped to attention as a young general stormed into the room, his aides flanking him to either side. The colonel, however, remained seated, reading his book. He wouldn’t be spending anytime in the brig for not following protocol. Commandant or not.

    The commandant slapped a folder on the table in front of Colonel Austin, “We’ve got a big fucking problem, Mark, and I want this shit taken care of yesterday.”

    “It’s a pleasure to see you, too, Aaron. How’s the wife?” Mark closed the book and set it aside then turned to his men who were standing around the table and waved them off. They nodded and scurried off to join their comrades. “What’s the problem?”

    “Am I wrong to think that this unit’s sole purpose is to stomp out this rebel problem?”

    “It’s going to take time when you’ve let it fester for years before this unit was even created.”

    “Watch your tone, colonel.”

    He sighed and nodded in apology. He sometimes forgot that not only was Aaron Hutchinson the commander-in-chief of the Republic’s military, but he was also the president’s son. He wouldn’t be upstaged by anyone inferior in rank to him too many times before he took action.

    “We’ve weeded out a few dozen rebel cells over the past few months, in addition to the gains we made last year, but we expect an uptick with the elections approaching,” the colonel said.

    “An uptick? A fucking uptick? Is this what you call a fucking uptick?” He opened the folder and spread out a dozen CCTV stills of dead Republican regulars.

    Mark sifted through the photographs. “What happened here?”

    “The fort in Edgemont was raided and sacked by dissidents. Forty-eight of ours dead. You know what they are saying in the slums? That THIS,” he slapped the photographs, “shows that the Republic can be beaten by some fucking pissed-off, homeless, ill-equipped, inbred cocksuckers. I want it fucking taken care of, Mark. Now.”

    “With all due respect, sir, we’re doing that as best we can. We’re handcuffed by what you allow us to do.”

    “Then fuck the handcuffs. I’ve already initiated Protocol 732.”

    The colonel’s face twitched as he processed what the commandant was saying. “Understood, sir”

    “The regulars are at your disposal for whatever you need. I’ll be awaiting your reports in the morning. Don’t fuck this up.” And with that the commandant left as quickly as he appeared.

    Mark took a moment to look at the photographs again. Forty-eight slain soldiers of the Republic. They were probably mostly farm boys out there in Edgemont. Squinting, he stopped on one photo. A panning camera must have caught one of the rebels who participated in the attack in the picture.

    A woman. Brown hair, covered in blood and holding a knife at the ready. He shook his head. They knew no bounds if they were pressing women into combat. However, he would kill her, too, just as he killed the rest of them.

    Standing up, the colonel pounded on the table and called his men to attention again.

    “Commandant Hutchinson wants the rebel problem solved immediately.” He scanned the room, met with battle-hardened faces. “He’s initiated 732.”

    There were murmurs at first spreading through the unit. Sparse applause came next, slowly picking up pace in a crescendo to boisterous cheers and chanting.


    Nine people, men and women, gathered around a table in an upscale home in the center of the capital. A lavish spread of food and beverages covered the table as they argued politics.

    “I’ll have you know Hutchinson is losing his grip on the entire country. We have lunatics running about with guns and attacking the military and the police, but none of this would be happening if he would realize that you can’t rule through fear. We need free elections for every position in the government. President included!” one of the men said.

    “Come, now, Oliver. You, a sitting Executor, would be tried for treason if they heard any of that coming from you.”

    Oliver scoffed. “I’m a man of the people, Stephen. I will not be cowed by the kangaroo court that we call an administration. I’ll have you know I’ve voted against every execution brought before our chambers for the last three years.”

    A woman sitting next to him, raised her glass in a mocking toast. “He tells me about it every night, but I agree. We need change. Maybe the dissidents are going about it the right way.”

    “Killing people the right way? Have you lost your mind, Linda?” another of the women asked. “What about Jeffery and Isabella? How would you feel if those people killed them in their fight for ‘rights?’”

    “How would you feel if the government killed your children to shut you up? That’s what those death squads are doing these days.”

    “I hate to say it, but she has a point.”

    “We have to let our votes do the talking. If we can get enough support in the Parliament, then I’m sure that Hutchinson can be convinced to step down or at the very least cede some power to those who aren’t interested in the iron fist approach.”


    Outside, two armored personnel carriers emptied soldiers of the 197th onto the streets. The soldiers spread out along the street, securing a perimeter around the house before two squads of four broke off and headed for the house. One in the front, one the back.

    Colonel Austin stood behind the first man at the front door, his hand resting on his shoulder as he propped up his assault rifle with his other hand. After a few moments, his radio cackled.

    “Colonel, Bravo’s in position. Ready for your signal,” the voice of his second-in-command said.

    The soldier at the door looked back at the colonel. “Doesn’t look like anyone is around the door, colonel.”

    He nodded and motioned for one of the men in the squad to go to the front door with the shotgun he was wielding. “On my command.”

    Placing the shotgun against the door, the soldier nodded to his commanding officer.

    “Knock, knock, motherfuckers. The Harbinger cometh,” Lieutenant Colonel Rollins said over the radio.

    The colonel shook his head. “Do it.”

    The soldier shot the door, turned and kicked it in before the rest of the squad spilled into the house.

    Before the people around the table jumped up at the sudden intrusion, only to be felled under a hail of bullets from both sides of the house. Food, glass, wood, flesh and blood was flung into the air by the bullets finding anything a target.

    “Ceasefire!” Mark ordered and the house fell silent. Crossing over some of the bodies, he looked down at their target, Oliver Wimmer, a revolutionary Executor.

    Wimmer, covered in blood and bleeding from multiple wounds, coughed and struggled to open his eyes at the soldier standing over him. “Do—do you know who I am? You can’t do this to us.”

    The colonel crouched next to the dying man, pulled his sidearm from its holster and shoved the pistol in the man’s mouth. “Under Article 4:86 of the Republic’s Penal Code and by authority of Protocol 732, I find you guilty of treason, Executor. You’re sentenced to death. May the Sovereign have mercy on your soul.”

    And with one last bullet, Executor Wimmer’s time on the bench was ended.

    “What do you want us to do with the kids upstairs, Mark?”

    The colonel looked up from Wimmer’s body at Rollins, “They’re rebels, too. Kill them.”

    Rollins nodded and ran up the stairs. The children screamed as they were likely dragged from hiding places before they were silenced by bursts from assault rifles.

    Standing up, the colonel put his pistol back in the holster and left the house. He patted one of his men tasked with securing the perimeter on the shoulder, Valdez if his memory served him correctly.

    “I didn’t answer your question from earlier, private,” the colonel said. “Counting Wimmer, four hundred and sixteen. Give or take a few.”

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  15. #9

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    Chapter 7

    The pipe was extra humid today with the sun beating high overhead. Giselle already hated creeping five miles into the city through it; she hated it even more when it reeked of piss and other foul odors. A strong wind kicked up and she almost let out a loud, irritated curse but she knew it meant she reached the opening and was mere steps from fresh air.

    “The things I do for peace of mind…” She muttered as she hiked her bag of supplies.

    She wrapped her hands around the grate and froze when she heard the familiar stomp of boots marching towards her. She watched as six, no eight pairs came and went without noticing her.

    Two extra men in the platoon. People in the capital didn’t like knowing that the army existed. For there to be more boots on the ground meant those in command were riled up. Giselle peered down into a pool of dirty, old water and fussed with the blonde wig and hood. She had done this dozens of times… today would be no different.

    Pushing open the storm gate, she waited for a group of farmers to pass before falling in line behind them as they walked through the nearby checkpoint.

    She could hear them as she passed through the gate. Smell them, feel their eyes scanning the people milling about. There must have been hundreds of them on the main thoroughfare alone. In full battle dress, with their rifles at the ready.

    Their attack on the fort must have stirred up the hornet’s nest because it seemed as if the police had been replaced by the army.

    Children hugged their mothers’ legs as the soldiers barked orders at any citizen who dared look up at them or wander too close to their barricades. They prodded the men who showed the slightest hint of defiance with batons or the barrels of their guns.

    She’d never seen the regulars like this before.

    Her body tensed as she passed a group of soldiers standing off the sidewalk. Their radios cackled with chatter. Rebels “eliminated” in some other part of the city. As far as she knew, there were no rebels in the Capital. Something was wrong about all of this.

    The sea of people parted ahead of her as a young man ran in the opposite direction, his eyes wide with fear.

    “Stop!” a soldier shouted.

    The young man turned towards the middle of the street where he was tackled by a burly soldier. Pinning him to the ground with a knee, the soldier ziptied his wrists and yanked the young man up to his feet.

    A jeep pulled to a stop in the middle of the crowd that had begun to form around the commotion. Four of them stepped out of the vehicle. The ones Amir had told her about. Red bars pinned to their uniforms and imposing enough to make the bravest man shrink in fear.

    The young man’s lip began to quiver as two of the red barred soldiers approached him. She couldn’t make out what was he saying, but she’d heard many men beg to not be sent to the Waste. They all had children, wives, family and friends they didn’t want to leave behind.

    One of the red barred men whispered something to the man, to which he nodded. Stepping back, the soldier pulled his pistol from its holster and shot the young man in the head. Screams and gasps rolled through the crowd as the body dropped to pavement. The soldier shot him twice more before holstering his weapon.

    “Keep fucking moving or one of you are next!” another Red Bar shouted, lifting his rifle and chambering a round.

    Giselle had to fight the urge to do something stupid, to try to kill a soldier to make up for the life so callously taken on the streets. Not being armed, she knew it wasn’t going to happen that day. Taking a deep breath, she continued down the sidewalk with the rest of the shocked crowd.

    She would just have to add more men to the list of those to kill.

    Looking over her shoulder to make sure she wasn’t followed down the alley, Giselle moved a slat of wood and slipped inside the makeshift doorway. Candles lit the pathway, water dripping down the walls in some places.

    A young girl heard her approach and slunk into the darkness.

    Kneeling down, she pushed the hood from her head and pulled a chocolate bar from the jacket’s pocket. She held the sweet out as a peace offering. “Don’t be afraid. It’s only me.”

    The child ran to her, took the chocolate bar and threw her arms around Giselle as best she could. Giselle laughed and hugged the girl back.

    An old clergyman shuffled down the hall. “How many times must I tell you not to spoil them?”

    Giselle stood up and swung the bag from her shoulders. “They deserve to have something sweet every now and then. I think the Gods would be in agreement that children should be allowed to be children.”

    “In times like the ones in which we live—“

    “Especially in times like this. I’ve brought you something.” Giselle unzipped the bag and showed the elder the goods that she was able to sneak out with.

    “You shouldn’t have come today. It is dangerous out with all the soldiers on the streets,” the vicar said, his face twisted in concern. “Who knows what they would have done if they would have caught you with all of this.”

    Giselle reached into the bag and handed a few cans of tomato soup to the kid at her feet. “I don’t think even Republican soldiers would do anything to a girl bringing soup and bread to an orphanage. It wouldn’t reflect well.”

    “I wouldn’t put anything past them. Besides, it would only be prudent for them to question where you acquired these goods.”

    “I told you that you don’t need to worry about where I get it as long as the children are fed.”

    “Unfortunately, I do worry about how and where you get any of this from. Politicians are being killed in the capital. It is not a time for a young lady such as yourself to be going about doing Gods know what for a few cans of soup.”

    She shooed the little girl with a smile before turning back to the old man. “Is that why there are so many soldiers out? Politicians being killed?”

    “One would assume so. It is dangerous out there, Theresa. I know you will turn down my offer but I really do believe you should take the vows and help me with the children here. You would be safe.”

    Giselle cringed at the vicar using the fake name she’d given him. It was a necessity, but it still felt wrong considering how much he worried about her. Still, she didn’t want any retribution making its way back to the orphanage should she ever be caught by the government.

    “If I took the vows, there would be no one out looking for decent food for the kids,” she said. “Besides, I don’t think the Judge would approve of some of the choices I’ve made in the past.”

    “Child, it is true that the Judge only sees truth and rules on that alone but the Harbinger and Sovereign forgive those who repent. It is the path to absolution.”

    “We can only hope. I have to go. Tell the children hello for me.” She handed the clergyman the bag and pulled the hood back over her head.

    “I shall pray to the Gods for you, Theresa.”

    She nodded. “At least, someone will.”

    She would leave the prayers to clergymen and women. Prayers didn't stop bullets.

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    Chapter 8

    It was no secret that Republican senators were more interested in the pleasures of the flesh than the soldiers who frequented the Capital’s sex houses and slave dens. Old men, with aging wives and too young daughters, they all had itches that needed scratching and women from the Valley and other penal colonies provided an endless supply for them.

    But with the heightened security in the Republic, vetting prostitutes for a senator to take with him on the campaign trail fell under the purview of the 197th – especially when that senator was one of the president’s lackeys.

    The colonel scrutinized the ten women who had been rounded up by the madam before his arrival. They all fit the senator’s wishlist. Young, rail thin, free of disease, skin free of blemishes. The man was likely a closet pedophile, but it was not Mark’s job to judge the senator – only the prostitutes as per his orders.

    “These are the best you have?”

    The madam nodded, waving a towel at the prostitutes. “Obedient, well-trained. Don’t give much lip. Just like ya asked.”

    “Where’d you get them from?”

    “Here and there. Too many places to list.”

    Mark walked up to the one at the end of the line. Head bowed, hands wringing. Not the most attractive of the bunch. He looked back at the madam. “Do you have a room I can use to speak to this one in private?”

    “Wouldn’t you like to ‘speak’ to one of the others?”

    “No, I meant what I said.”

    “Right around there.” The madam pointed towards a hall.

    Placing a hand under the girl’s arm, the colonel all but dragged her in the direction of the room. Only a slight whimper of shock came from the prostitute as he shoved her into the room and closed the door behind them.

    A bed covered with tattered sheets sat in one corner of the room. A chair and a wash basin in another.

    “Sit.” He took off his cap and gloves and placed them next to the wash basin before dragging the chair across the room.

    “What would you like?” she asked in a practiced tone.

    “For you to listen to me and do and act exactly as I say. Can you do that?”

    She nodded and looked away.

    “The man you are going to meet, Senator Bradford Armstrong, he’s going to ask one of you to eat with him tonight. It will be you. You need to make sure you listen very intently to everything he says because he is not a man who is used to being ignored. You do want to come home at the end of the week, right?”



    Again, she said nothing.

    “What is your name?”


    “Rose, I don’t want to kill you because you didn’t listen to an old, perverted man but I will if I have to. Do you want to live for another week?”

    She nodded.

    “Good. I’m sure you know how to make a man feel important. Laugh at his jokes, make him believe you believe his war stories. But whatever you do, do not look him in the eye. He doesn’t like his prostitutes to look at him. Weird quirk, but don’t do it.”

    “Okay. I won’t”

    “Do you have any family, Rose?”

    She turned her head. “Just a brother. If he isn’t dead.”

    “Why would your brother be dead? Is he part of the resistance?”


    Mark slapped her and sprung up from the chair, but quickly calmed himself and helped her sit up. “It doesn’t matter. If he isn’t dead, he will be soon. For the moment, you’re going to be my little canary and sing if the senator says anything about the elections to you.”


    “They’re not going to end well. Just get me the information and you can come back to your life of cock and cum guzzling when this is all said and done. If not, I’ll toss your fucking body out in the Waste for the cultists to pick at. Don’t fuck up, Rose. Your death will not be quick if you cross me. Are we clear?”

    She nodded.

    “Say it.”

    “Yes. We’re clear.”

    “Wonderful. I need you to make a good impression, Rose. A lot is riding on you – for the both of us.”

    There was a soft knock at the door. “Colonel?”

    “Come in,” Mark ordered.

    A soldier opened the door and stepped into the room. He looked between Mark and Rose before his commanding officer nodded for him to go on. “We have confirmation that all of ‘PRESCA’ will be in attendance for the Founders’ Day celebration.”

    “Thank you, sergeant. Tell the men we will be leaving shortly.”

    “Yes, sir.” The sergeant saluted and left the room.

    Mark walked over to the wash basin for his gloves and cap before turning back to Rose. “Now remember, Rose, we are counting on you to put on an award winning performance. Try not to disappoint.”


    Mark watched as Senator Armstrong dribbled bits of chicken onto his tie. Wine staining his beard from the drops that escaped his mouth everytime he laughed at something he said, only to be caught by one of the three extra rings of fat that surrounded his neck.

    The man was like most of those in Hutchinson’s pocket, slipped and fell into power one way or another.

    But the colonel did not see a point for him to be personally escorted by the 197th to his mistress’s mansion to have some wild sex party with child-like prostitutes. He had done his job and hand selected them, vetted the whores. As far as he concerned, the mission was accomplished. Babysitting was not one of his job requirements.

    President’s son or not, he’d be letting the Commandant know what he thought of being sent as part of a pointless convoy.

    “You know I’ve never seen you all up close before. Your special soldiers,” the senator said through chunks of ham.

    “That may be a good thing, senator.”

    Mark’s radio cackled to life. “ETA 30 minutes, colonel.”

    “Pick up the pace. We have other things to attend to,” he ordered.

    “Yes, sir.”

    The senator grabbed for a glass of wine in the center console. “So tell me Colonel Austin, have you heard my war stories? Things were a lot different when we came crawling out of the Waste to build all of this.”

    “I could imagine it was,” Mark said, his voice trained to hide his annoyance at hearing another bout of stories from when the Republic was formed on the dead bodies of wastelanders, cultists and emaciated women and children. Armed combatants were few and far between a half a century ago. People interested in anything more than surviving a day were even rarer.

    The senator’s exaggerated tales of heroism were interrupted when an explosion rocked the limousine and it screeched to a halt. The colonel looked out at the flaming wreckage of the Humvee leading the column. A second explosion turned the trail vehicle into a fireball as well.

    “Dismount! Protect the senator!” Mark shouted into the radio.

    Grabbing the frightened old man, Mark pushed his head down and forced him out of the limousine. The senator’s body toppled onto the pavement as gravity and his weight conspired against him.

    “C’mon, you fat fuck. On your feet.” Mark helped the man up and pushed him towards a store front as small arms fire began to echo through the streets. Pulling his pistol from its holster, he scanned the rooftops for any targets.

    The driver of the limousine tried to make a run for it in the opposite direction only to be to gunned down.

    “They’re spilling out of the fucking buildings like ants, colonel! Rebels! A lot of them!” a voice shouted over the radio.

    “We’re going to die! Do something!” the senator pleaded.

    Mark peeked out the store front just as rebel rounded the corner. Before the enemy had a chance to raise his rifle, the colonel put three rounds in his chest.

    The sound of gunfire intensified as the soldiers exchanged fire with the rebels. There’d only been a dozen men in the convoy and half of them were in the Humvees.

    Mark gave the one order he never thought he’d have to even think about. Grabbing the senator’s jacket and pulled him towards the store’s entrance, he held the radio to his mouth. “We can’t fight them. Fall back to the first limo!”

    “And the whores?”

    “Fuck them. Maybe the rebels will think they are soldiers and be distracted by them.”

    “Popping smoke!” the call came over the radio just as four smoke grenades slid across the street, filling the area with smoke.

    Seconds later, two soldiers carrying a wounded comrade made their way through the smoke with another pair covering their retreat by exchanging fire with the rebels who were blindly firing at where they thought the soldiers were.

    The colonel ran out and helped load the wounded soldier into the limo. He turned towards one of the fit soldiers and pointed towards the driver’s seat. “Wilkes, drive.”

    “C’mon, senator.” Mark waved for the man to make a dash – or more of a pacey waddle – to the limo. The man dove towards the open door just as gunfire raked the rear of the vehicle. The senator toppled over on top of Mark as the soldiers downed a rebel under a hail of gunfire.

    The soldiers ran over to help up their commanding officer. “Are you okay, colonel?”

    Mark waved them off as they helped him shove the senator into the limo before he got in himself. The soldiers fired a few more bursts before diving into the vehicle.

    “Go, Wilkes! Fucking go!”

    Mounting the sidewalk, the limo barely fit between the burning hulk of metal in front of it and the buildings before speeding off down the street.


    The battered limo swung into the motor pool of the 197th’s headquarters as the regiment’s soldiers prepared themselves for a battle. Hundreds of boots battered the pavement as sirens blared throughout the Capital’s district.

    Mark was out of the vehicle before it came to a stop, face contorted in anger. His uniform stained with the blood of one of his men. He pushed his way through a pair of medics who tried to check on him. Spotting his second-in-command barking orders, he stormed over to where the lieutenant colonel was.

    “Are the men ready?”

    “Five minutes, colonel,” his subordinate answered. “The Commandant is looking for you.”

    “I’m not in the mood for his shit.”

    “Nor am I in the mood for yours, Mark," the all-too-familiar voice of the Commandant said from behind him.

    The colonel shook his head and turned to the man. “You’ll have to forgive me. We have rebels to go exterminate.”

    “You don’t even know which ones were behind the attack.”

    “Does it matter?”

    “Yes, it matters. The President doesn’t need you going blow up the Capital.”

    “Seven of my men died escorting a senator. That’s a job for the regulars, but there we were when the rebels started shooting. I demand blood for the blood of my men! You don’t have to worry about the Capital. We’re taking the fight to them. No more sitting on our hands and killing politicians. We’re going to the slums.”

    The commandant put his hands behind his back and stood a little straighter. “I can’t let you do that, colonel. That’s an action that has to be voted upon by Parliament. If you act before a vote, I’ll see to it myself that you are court martialed and stripped of your command. A quick reaction force was sent to the location of the ambush. The 197th is to stand down until further notice. You need some rest.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Good. The President will be pleased to hear that you made it through this catastrophe in one piece.” And with that the senior officer turned on his heel and stalked off.

    Mark turned to Rollins once the Commandant and exited the area. “Stand them down. We hunt another day. We’ll have our vengeance.”
    Last edited by Caesar; 01-02-2016 at 9:41 PM.

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