The Heretic Lives: Heretic of The Federation Book #1
Is this a fools errand? Was this plan built on hope and limited information? All Yes… but does it mean it won’t work? The Suspense is building for John and his renegade friends.
The city had crept right up to the edge of the Communications Center. Buildings clustered around the foot of the wall, separated by an apron of concrete and a two-lane road.
A bus stop stood opposite in front of a gym, a pub, and a take-away. All seemed to do a booming trade, and no one paid much attention to the kids who walked past.
They either lived in one of the nearby burbs or they were there for some other reason. Many worked part-time or came to party illegally. As long as they kept out of trouble, however, their IDs were never scrutinized too closely.
Predictably, no one noticed when the six friends meandered down the road and cut through a side street to reach the edge of the bushland that bordered both the suburb and the communications facility.
And if they had, they wouldn’t have cared. Kids snuck out that way all the time. Four guys and two girls? It wasn’t hard to work out what they were up to.
Which had been the idea.
Natalia had come up with it and scowled when Amy had protested.
“And what?” she’d demanded with one hand on her hip in a challenging posture. “I suppose you think we should tell them we’re all study buddies or something because for sure they’ll fall for that.”
“And it’s only in case someone stops us anyway,” Trevor had been quick to point out. “We don’t have to say anything if we get in fast enough.”
That had been the essence of the plan. The girls had to get in and find something that proved the Regime was doing things to Talents. They assumed the facility would give them access.
The boys planned to keep the security staff busy while the girls entered and made their escape again—and they had to do it fast, and avoid the surveillance cams while they did so.
When they were done—or on their way out—they had to ping the boys to let them know.
“What happens if they try to catch us?” Baron had asked.
Amy had rolled her eyes but William’s reply had been immediate.
“We scatter,” he told them. “You all know where to go, right?”
They’d nodded to confirm the different public transport locations they’d aim for. It would make it more difficult for the Enforcers to work out which suburb they called home. They’d meet at the shop a week later.
If they could.
Now, they walked through the dark like a group of locals out for a stroll until they slipped through a gap in the fence surrounding the parkland. Reconvening on the other side, they huddled together and listened for any sign that they’d been seen.
When all remained as quiet as any urban street could be, they wove between the trees, careful of the thick webs strung between them.
“I hate spiders,” Jerry whispered, jerked himself clear of one he hadn’t seen, and brushed his hands over his clothes.
Natalia came to help him.
“Don’t get any ideas,” she grumbled. “I merely don’t want you to squeal like a baby if one runs up your neck.”
He shivered. “Don’t worry,” he said. “Just make sure it’s not on me.”
“You know they’re as scared of you as you are of them, right?” Amy demanded. “It hit the dirt and ran the second you destroyed its home.”
“Man, I hope so.” His heartfelt reply drew a muted chuckle from his teammates.
“As long as it didn’t run this way,” Trevor muttered as they hurried forward.
They all breathed a sigh of relief when they reached the edge of the trees.
“They’re down here,” William informed them and led them down a brief escarpment to the edge of the creek.
“Where?” Amy demanded and Trevor hushed her.
“Along here.” William’s voice was equally hushed as he led them down a narrow dirt trail.
They fell silent and crept forward to where concrete met the creek line. Six dark holes marred the gray surface and reddish-brown stains marked where the water fell.
“What the heck do they need those for?” Amy whispered.
William’s face was lit by his mobile as he checked something.
“John said they were emergency stormwater drainage.”
He studied the walls of the Communications Complex.
“I don’t see why they’d need it.”
Trevor made a scornful sound. “All that concrete? Water’s gotta go somewhere when it rains.”
They all thought about that before William shrugged.
“Well, that’s how you girls will get in.”
Amy exchanged glances with the other girl and they moved closer to the pipes.
“You are kidding me,” she whispered and her eyes widened as her voice bounced away from her. She moved back a couple of feet and pointed at the nearest pipe. “In there?” she demanded in hushed tones and gestured to herself and Amy. “Are you sure we’ll fit?”
“John thought so,” William told her smugly.
Unaware of John’s bus pulling up in front of the pub, he added, “You saying he didn’t have your measurements? We all know how the man liked his ‘research’—”
Amy slapped his shoulder.
“You’ve got a dirty mind. Besides, you know he never let anyone get that close.”
“Not after Lucia,” Natalia grumbled, and Trevor snickered.
He caught her glare and stopped. William stepped into the gap.
“He said the pipes got a little narrower but he was sure you’d fit because you were smaller than we were.”
While this was true, neither of the girls looked impressed.
“So, what? We’re small and female so we get all the dirty work?” She jerked a finger at the pipe. “Do you have any idea what’s coming out of there?”
Trevor shrugged. “Should be rainwater run-off,” he said. “Nothing nasty.”
“Have you smelled it?” Amy hissed.
He shook his head. “I don’t go around sniffing drainage pipes.”
“Well, maybe you should before you send people up them.”
Amy pouted. “I still say it’s not big enough—especially if it gets ‘a little narrower’ farther in.”
William sighed impatiently. “Are you suggesting one of us can fit?”
Natalia glanced at the pipe. “I’m not saying John was wrong but I’ve got big hips.”
Baron chuckled. Unlike his mates who’d all reached the six-foot mark and had shoulders to make a Rugby star proud, he’d stopped growing at five-foot-eight.
“Tell you what,” he said, “I’ll strip my shirt off to compare the width of my shoulders if you’ll strip your jeans off to compare the width of your hips.”
The girl studied him from head to toe and her expression said exactly what she thought of his idea.
“Fat chance,” she said with a sniff and glanced at the pipe again as though measuring it with her gaze. After a minute, she looked back. “Fine, but if we see rats, we might blow this whole effort.”
“Well, now that’s settled,” William told them, “the boys and I are gonna head around to the other side and see if we can make them look that way, while you get up through the pipes and find whatever John thought was here.”
“Access.” Natalia hissed her impatience. “It was access, you idiot. We get in. Amy works her hacking mojo, and we get proof that re-education is merely a myth.”
She swallowed and her face went pale because if re-education was only a myth, there would inevitably be riots.
And they’d better not get caught because if they were, they’d be—
The girl pushed that thought aside. It was far better that she didn’t think about it. Someone had to bring the Regime down and stand up for all the people they hurt.
This was only the beginning.
Once people knew what they were doing, they’d retaliate. They wouldn’t simply stand aside.
She watched as the four boys hurried along the creek, then moved uphill to where the parkland stopped and the suburb began. A parking lot and the entrance to an underground garage made a convenient location for them to wreak some havoc.
Amy giggled softly as soon as they were out of sight.
“You have a pet rat,” she pointed out, and Natalia smirked.
“I know, but I wanted to make sure they weren’t taking diversionary ops so they could simply blow stuff up while we took the boring part.”
“You think they’d have allowed us along if John was still here?”
Natalia pursed her lips, then shrugged.
“It’s hard to say. He was the one who was supposed to go in to see what he could find.” She paused. “If he’d stayed, I was gonna ask him if we could go in with him.”
“Because of my ‘hacking magic?’” the other girl teased and poked her with her elbow, and she blushed.
“You know you can give John a run for his money, any day. No. I merely assumed three hackers were better than one. We could pull more data that way and maybe watch each other’s backs.”
“Uh-huh. Sure you did,” Amy teased. She studied the pipes. “Those look very snug.”
“John was much thinner than the other guys,” Natalia reminded her, not aware that he had left the bus stop and now hurried through the back streets behind two warehouses on the opposite side of the parking lot.
“Pfft. Whatever.” The other girl turned and approached the first pipe. “You want to give this one a go or see if any of the others smell better?”
I wonder how many events in history actually went down like this. If we could look in on the dangerous mission from the past I bet we could see some teasing and snarky comments among friends. I can hardly wait to see if their mission is a success or not. I already pre-ordered my book, and you can too! This Halloween treat, The Heretic Lives, can be unwrapped first thing October 31st.