Tarren huddled against the side of one of the stalls in the marketplace, hiding in the shadow that it cast. He silently watched a group of Enforcer soldiers march through the marketplace. An Enforcer started to raise his hand, and Tarren’s body tensed and he prepared himself to run, but he relaxed when he saw the Enforcer use that hand to cover up a yawn. The Enforcer stopped, and leaned against one of the stalls. “I’ve been on duty for fourteen hours straight, can we just settle down and take a bit of a break?”
A different Enforcer, this one with a yellow bar on his shoulder, signifying that he was a lieutenant, sat down on a crate close to the other stall. Tarren started to search for a way to sneak off without being noticed. The longer those Enforcers stayed in the area, the more likely it was that they would spot him. He paused when he heard the Lieutenant reply, “Aye, let’s take a bit of a breather. These double shifts should only last a couple more days, but they sure do take a toll on your body.”
Tarren looked at the group of Enforcers with interest. Only a couple more days? What was the Pedestal planning? He decided that he had to stay to try and find out what he could from them. He made his way deeper into the shadows and strained to hear what they were saying.
Another of the Enforcers chuckled and said, “We should go to a pub and have a little drink!” The lieutenant glared at the Enforcer that had spoken and he raised his hands defensively. “What? It’s been a quiet night, and these patrols haven’t managed to catch anyone we were actually looking for. These rebels are just too good at sneaking around, we’re not going to find them.”
Another of the Enforcers in the patrol nodded his head. “He has a point, but he’s also forgetting something important. The curfew has made it so that no pubs can be open after eight anymore.”
The Enforcer that had originally spoken shrugged and grinned. “So? We could claim to have heard a disturbance inside one of the pubs, and help ourselves to some drinks. If anyone asks about the break in, we’ll just tell them the truth. Someone broke in and helped themselves to a drink, and we didn’t catch them.”
The Lieutenant smacked the grinning Enforcer in the head with the butt of his spear. “What are you thinking? Commander Timothy would have my hide if he found out that you were drinking on duty under my supervision. That’s enough of a break; let’s get back to patrolling.”
The Enforcer that had been struck rubbed the side of his head where he had been hit and glared at the lieutenant. He shook another Enforcer that was sitting on the ground next to him snoring gently. The Enforcer woke up startled, saw the rest of the patrol moving on, groaned, and got up and hurried after them.
Tarren shook his head. That had proved to be more useless than he had hoped, but He supposed that he couldn’t have been that lucky. It was time for him to move on. It was going to be a busy night for him; he was supposed to meet with John and Scott to “learn” about the rebellion’s next target. Before he did that, he wanted to have a quick meeting with Frederick to… discuss his business practices.
Tarren made his way through the deserted marketplace carefully, darting from shadow to shadow to ensure that he wasn’t seen. His brown cloak slipped off of his right arm momentarily, allowing the faint blue glow of the glove to shine into the night. Tarren’s breath caught once he noticed it, and he quickly pulled the cloak back over it. He listened for any sign that someone had seen the light, and was coming to investigate its source, but none came. He said a quick prayer of thanks that it hadn’t happened while the patrol had gone by, and continued on his way.
He finally made it to Frederick’s office and searched the streets in front of it to ensure that no patrols were going to come through and catch him while he made his way into the building. He noticed a light shining through one of the windows and smiled to himself. It would appear that Frederick was working late tonight. His message would be much better if delivered in person anyway. He made his way across the street and quietly slipped the door open, and carefully started up the stairs.
Tarren strode into the office and saw Frederick hunched over his desk, the scratching sound of his pen against the paper accompanied by a soft muttering. Two candles sat on either side of Frederick’s desk, casting an eerie flickering light in the room. Tarren said, “It’s a little risky working after curfew, isn’t it?”
Frederick jumped and looked around the room until his eyes landed on Tarren. Panic filled his face momentarily, but he quickly regained his composure, smoothed the front of his suit and smiled back at him. “I could say the same for you, my friend. Perhaps this is the only time you could do business with me safely though. Are you interested in taking out a loan with me? I have very affordable repayment options for someone with your skills and reputation. Or perhaps you are here to apply for a job?”
Tarren stepped forward and smashed his fist through Frederick’s desk. “You are done ruining the lives of the people of this planet! You claim to give the people a chance to better themselves, but in reality you are just preying upon the desperate!”
Frederick looked at his broken desk lying on the floor of his office, and shook his head. “That was crafted from mahogany; do you have any idea how difficult that’s going to be to replace?” Tarren stared at him in silence until Frederick sighed. “I am simply a businessman providing a necessary service to the people of this planet. You may see it as me taking advantage of those less fortunate, but I’m giving these people a chance; something that I don’t see anyone else on Aquore offering. They are fully aware of my terms and the consequences of not repaying their debt when they enter into these deals with me. Besides, last I checked you weren’t in charge of deciding who could and who couldn’t run a business on this planet.”
Tarren raised his fist over his head. “You might want to check again!” Frederick cowered in front of Tarren and raised his hands up to defend himself. Tarren took a step forward to deliver the blow, but paused when he heard a sound like thunder from deeper inside of the office and felt a powerful impact on his chest, coupled with a loud ting. He looked down at the ground and saw a somewhat flattened metal sphere roll across the floor of the office.
Frederick stood up and rushed deeper into the office while dusting off his suit. He walked behind a man holding onto a homemade gun with a smoking barrel. “What took you fools so long? I was almost killed!”
The man holding the gun said, “Sorry, Mr. Frederick. I was sleeping until I heard that crash. Looks like I made it in time though.” Four other men filled the hallway, each holding an attempt at a pistol or rifle.
Frederick ran his hand over his hair to make sure that it was properly in place. “You can apologize later;, get your gun reloaded in case that guy tries anything else.” He cleared his throat and said more loudly so that Tarren would be able to hear it. “I think that we got off on the wrong foot. I’d like to make a deal with you; either you come and work for me or I’ll have my men kill you here and now. It’s your choice.”
Tarren looked at Frederick suspiciously. “Those are guns, aren’t they? Guns are illegal on this planet; how did you manage to get your hands on them?”
Frederick grinned. “It’s one of the many advantages of my business; when you get to chose what you want to seize in repayment of a debt, you always get to pick the best toys, and allow me to assure you there are plenty of men that have made themselves crude firearms. My men have instructions to seize those first if they find any. Now what is your decision?”
“I would rather die that work for you!” Tarren ran toward the window at the front of the office.
Frederick glared and pointed at Tarren’s retreating form. “Fire you fools! Don’t let him escape!” Tarren leapt through the window toward the street down below amid a shower of glass. Frederick’s men rushed to the window and fired down at Tarren’s retreating form, but none of the weapons were very accurate and the bullets crashed into the cobblestones down below, filling the night with sparks and gunshot.
Frederick trembled with fury. “Get back in here, and hide those guns! There’s no way the Enforcers didn’t hear that, and when they get here I don’t want any suggestion that we have firearms to exist!” He glanced around the room as his men pulled pictures away, revealing hidden alcoves in the wall that they stowed their guns in. “Gather up your normal weapons and make sure when the Enforcers get here to look happy about their arrival! Remember, we were the victims here!”
Tarren arrived at the broken remains of the mining site outside of Hope’s Landing where he had agreed to meet with John to discuss the rebellion’s next strike. He had run into two more Enforcer patrols after his brief stop at Frederick’s office; fortunately he had been unseen either time. He was surprised to see John standing there waiting for him all alone, looking around nervously. Tarren approached out of the shadows.
John jumped when he saw Tarren approaching, but his surprise quickly turned into a glare. “You’re late. You’re lucky I’m still here at all.”
Tarren shrugged and said in a low, gravely voice, “Sorry, but I had another stop I had to make on my way over here, and I got held up by some Enforcer patrols. They certainly seem to be out in force tonight. Did Scott get tired of waiting and leave already?”
John grimaced and said, “Scott usually has more of an advisory role with the rebellion and doesn’t get involved in our activities themselves very often. He’s going to be keeping his distance, but he will be providing support whenever he can. It has been decided that we’re going to hit the mining site at Aquore’s Crater tomorrow night.”
Tarren shook his head. “I would like to put that off another night and take on a different target tomorrow. I want to take out Frederick’s office, and anyone we find inside of it instead.”
John frowned. “Frederick? The loan shark? I don’t think that attacking a single man would be a wise use of the Rebellion’s resources. The government is our main target, not the individuals of this planet.”
“I believe the purpose of this rebellion was to help make the lives of the people that live on this planet better; so far you have decided that attacking the government was the best way to do this. I don’t disagree with that line of thinking; however, I would argue that Frederick is hurting the people of this planet as much as the government is. In fact, I would say that he is hurting them more, if on a smaller scale.”
John shook his head. “Why don’t you just take him out yourself? You had no problem breaking into the Pedestal and taking on the Enforcers alone, surely he couldn’t prove too much of a challenge for you.”
Tarren turned away from John and crossed his arms across his chest. “That was what held me up tonight. I stopped in at his office and his goons repelled me with homemade firearms.”
Surprise filled John’s face. “They have guns? How did they get guns?”
“Apparently the people of this planet are quite resourceful when it comes to making homemade weapons, and when Frederick goes to collect on debts, those are what he has his men keep an eye out for the most. I don’t know how many firearms they have acquired, but I think you would agree that having those guns would give the rebellion quite an advantage over the Enforcers.”
John shook his head. “I don’t think Scott would like it if we deviated from the plan.”
Tarren sighed. “I also heard from an Enforcer patrol on my way over here that they would only be pulling double shifts for a couple more days. I can’t be certain, but that sounds like they may know where we are going to hit tomorrow night.”
John paused and looked at Tarren in confusion. “How is that possible? Do you think we have a mole?”
Tarren shrugged. “I don’t know for certain. I’m assuming that there aren’t too many members of your rebellion that are happy about me being a part of what you are doing. Maybe one of those decided to turn me in. Either way, attacking Aquore’s Crater a different night might throw them off enough to give us an advantage. Not to mention the advantage the firearms will give us.”
John sighed and slowly nodded his head. “I’ll pass the word along that we’re hitting a different target tomorrow night. I don’t think Scott will be happy about it though.”
“Scott is going to have to deal with it. If he wanted a say he should have been at this meeting. Stay safe, John, and I’ll see you tomorrow night.” Tarren turned and ran into the night. After watching him go for a moment, John followed after him.
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, come back on Wednesday when I will publish part two, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page to connect with me and give me some feedback: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read, and don’t forget to check out my new book, The Kids on the Case! You can find it here: The Kids on the Case: Our First Case.