Okay, y'all, here's chapter two, VERY late. About three months late. Anyway, that's not the point. The point is to present you with this chapter of a story. Ejoy, everyone who reads, because I got no reviews the first time...

Chapter Two

Sasha's alarm rang shrilly at 5:30 in the morning, echoing through the dark apartment. The 23-year-old woman in the bed let it sound for a few minutes, then heaved a sigh and tapped the off button. Cheap thing that it was, if she had not turned it off it would have drained the batteries. Rolling out of her warm cocoon, Sasha went to wash up and prepare for the day.

Sasha's apartment didn't have electricity at the moment, nor did the rest of the block. It was expensive, and her neighborhood did not receive a very high priority when the Council was worrying about other things. So for the rather frequent instances when power was cut, Sasha kept battery-run lanterns, that she used sparingly – batteries were also expensive. Sasha sighed again and spoke out loud – a habit of living alone. "Why can't things be the way they were 15 years ago? I remember that we had good food, and a nice home, and all the necessities…" The world outside Sasha's inner-city apartment was not the same world that had existed outside the windows of her childhood bungalow. It was no longer a mask of the condition of the government – it reflected it. Slowly, from the inside out, the veil was falling away, thanks in part to the efforts of the Resistance.

Sasha's preparations for the day were routine, and she allowed her mind to wander back to the past as she went.

She had grown up an outsider. Her mother was terrified of everyone, her Aunt Cornelia of no one, and between the two of them, they had managed to turn everyone away. Cornelia was suspicious of Sasha from the moment she saw the literature, and treated her like a traitor. Sasha went through school with age-old eyes, looking at children her own age spouting rhetoric and believing it. As she grew older, the dogma was 'the greatest goal in life is to serve the government, in any way possible.'

Sasha drank her coffee mechanically, as a source of energy. It didn't taste good, in fact she rather disliked it, but she needed the reserves it gave her to deal with her co-workers – people she had known for years, but never really understood, and never would. Just as they didn't understand her. Just as they never would.

Sasha had been smuggling Resistance literature since she was old enough to actively look for it. Wherever her superiors told her not to go, she went – and found a haven. It was not like her fantasies of people living in the woods and burning railroads by night. No, these people worked in the bookstore, the library, the pizza shop, everywhere! And they didn't DO anything – only talked, and wrote. So Sasha grew up thinking that 'resistance' meant passivity and planning, and real action was saved for the stories.

Sasha picked the dullest job she could find, hoping everyone would forget about her and let her live her life. She didn't join the Resistance when she reached her majority, not when she wouldn't be doing anything. When the opportunity to move away to the city came, she jumped at the chance to make a new life.

"Some life," Sasha muttered. "A desk job for a nobody company, doing the busy work of the high and mighty." Treason, every word of it. One wasn't supposed to dislike one's life, one was supposed to love it for the glory of the government. One was supposed to do whatever one was told to do, and not worry about consequences or freedom.

"Well, blast the Resistance to the moon, anyway!" Sasha said angrily as she shrugged into her jacket, clutched her briefcase, and made her way out the door. Five blocks to the train station, quiet as a tomb. Thirty minutes on the subway, clackety-clack and smoke all-pervasive. The door squealed open, and Sasha stepped out onto cracked pavement of the company's private station as the train rattled and lurched into motion behind her. In a few moments, Sasha was through the doors of her office building, headed for the elevators.

Floor 8 out of 23. At least she wasn't in the top five – the elevator didn't go that high. At least the company had enough money to put up an attempt at cheerfulness. Inspirational posters were splashed across the white walls, with a cool grey carpet underneath. No cubicles – offices lined the walls, with a double row of offices in the middle where the cubicles would have been. If the rooms were smaller than a pantry, hey! – at least they had doors.

Sasha's day bled one hour into the next, and before she knew it, it was past time to clock out and go home. Of course, the private platform was long closed. Out the front door she came, nodding to Jake, the night watchman, and receiving a smile in return. The public subway station was a long three blocks away and night came early in the city, so Sasha didn't spend time chatting. She was always wary at night, and so quickly noticed the figure following her.

"Who are you?" she called sharply. Any government goon would have either shot or approached her by now; they weren't exactly known for tact.

The man replied by openly coming nearer and stepping into the light of a street-lamp. His hair was covered by a ball-cap, and his shirt had a Market nametag. "You saw me right quick, miss," he said with a broad grin and a note of respect in his Southern voice.

"I was taught by necessity. What do you want?" Sasha really didn't want to chat with a stranger, especially when her train was due in mere minutes.

"Business, eh? Right, then. Don't go to work tomorrow. We don't want sympathizers hurt."

Sasha's first instinct was to scoff, but her nature wouldn't let her. "Who's 'we'? Why shouldn't I go in to work? I can't afford to miss pay."

The man casually moved forward. "We are the vines around the trunk of the light-blocking tree. Kudzu, if you will." He leaned against the light post to see her reaction, and Sasha was afraid she rather disappointed him with her lack of expression. The Resistance was here? In the city? And was hinting at action. The image he described was too poetic to be false, and it brought to mind the picture from her first pamphlet.

"How do you know me?"

"We had contacts in your hometown, who tell the appropriate people about developments on that front. A Sasha Tipony came up a few years ago, but nothing came of it. Now you, Sasha Tipony, showed up on the roll of this company that we've been planning to hit for a while. And it's bad form to hurt sympathizers. So call in sick or whatever, but don't go in." The man turned away and began to walk off, but Sasha went after him.

"Wait! Um… where's the taproot? And, uh, how healthy is it?" Translation: Where's your base and how many are you?

The man grinned at her and said, "A vine, miss, does not have a taproot. The runners are all over the place, ready to pop up and put out leaves. Check the vegetable-plot – I know there's at least one outcropping there." Translation: We don't have a base. Come anywhere and you'll find a rebel, who will take you to a meeting. Look in the Market – I know there's at least one there. The man winked and disappeared before Sasha could say anything else, and a moment later she felt the ground rumble as her train passed beneath her. Even though she would now have to walk fifteen minutes out of her way to get home, Sasha couldn't stop smiling. Active Resistance did exist! And she could contact them.

When Sasha got home, she felt like celebrating, and turned on her lanterns all over the house. The yellow glow highlighted everything cheerfully, and as if to join her joy, the power came back on with a hum. The next day Sasha called in sick for the first time that year. She slept in, had tea instead of coffee, and actually ate breakfast. Sometime in late afternoon, the news anchor received a note – "This just in. An office building downtown has reported a small explosion and fires. Several are wounded, and a head count has yet to be taken. The Fire Brigade does not know the cause, but speculates that a sparking electrical wire may have been at fault. In other news, the Government Camp for Girls announces a new summer program…" Sasha turned off her radio, smiling. It hadn't been a sparking wire – she was positive that the fault laid the Resistance. It was a pretty bald cover-up, and simply showed how weak the government actually was. And how stupid the people are, that they'll actually believe it, she thought morosely. "Ah well, at least I know better."

Sasha went to bed that night with new resolve in her mind, and slept better than she had in years.