Chapter 1: A Cause
"General Falco, I've told you time and time again that this invasion plan is no good." As are 95 percent of the plans I review each day. I watched stoically as the general ripped his folder off my desk and began to loudly rant.
"You only deny my plans because you do not support the war!" I rolled my eyes and relaxed back in my chair. "Your youth has plagued you with ignorance and your position gives you a false sense of superiority. This plan is perfectly formulated to take the western front straight to the sea."
I quickly sat forward and sent my best glare across the desk and straight to General Falco's eyes. "Allow me to debate your point." I made it perfectly clear that my words were no a question, but a demand. "I have grown old during my time as Secondary War Counsel. I have seen many atrocities committed against my fellow man." My heart painfully sank into my stomach. My own brother slain in these pointless battles over seas. "As for my ignorance and sense of superiority, well I see no such thing. Perhaps, if I may be so bold, you are referring to your own pompously dense behavior General?" His mouth was gape with shock. "The hardest thing for humans to do is see themselves for who they really are."
"Well put Counselor Rose." My eyes locked on to the figure standing in my office doorway. I thanked Heaven that it wasn't another general, but instead, family friend Major Daniel Richardson. "General Falco, allow me to show you the door before you are degraded any further." He stepped aside and motioned to the door.
The general made a quick escape out the door but not without sending me a vicious glare. "I thank you, Major." I smiled warily at him. "I have not seen you in this wing for a while now."
"I have come to fetch you," His eyes wandered across my cluttered desk. "As it appears my memo has been lost amongst the carnage of your battles with the generals." He shook his head before motioning me to follow him.
I rose from my seat and ran across the hall to my supervisors office. "Hold my meetings, Otto." The old man was sound asleep, retreat form grasped loosely in his hand. I carefully took it from him and placed it on his--much more organized--desk before shutting off his lights.
"Does he always sleep on the job? Daniel asked as we walked down the bustling hallways of the Army Control Center.
"Only when he is tired…which is often." Thusly why I deal with all the generals and their hopeless fantasies they call "war plans".
"Then you practically run the War Counsel Wing?" His tone caught my attention, but I merely nodded. "Just as I thought, you're perfect." As we reached his door he grabbed my arm and pulled me inside his office.
"What is this about, Major?" I watched as he locked the door and quickly scanned the room.
"Take a seat, Christina." I bit my lip before slowly sinking into the seat in front of his desk. "You may forget the propriety we uphold in those halls, it is not conducive to the conversation I want have with you."
"Propriety is not a choice, Major." He sat down at his desk and began to shuffle through its drawers. "It is a part of the oath we take--" My heart instantly stopped inside my chest as Daniel placed a small pistol on the desk.
"What irony that you would bring up the oath." I instinctively sat back in the chair and took a deep breath. "What do you make of this war we are fighting?"
I kept my eyes trained on the pistol. "You know what I think." I stated calmly. "My first analysis stand, we will lose all we have gained and then some."
He nodded before picking up the pistol and toying with it. "And what are your thoughts on the man who calls himself the "Supreme Leader" of this land?"
"I will not answer that, Major." I glanced around the dimly lit office for any cameras or recoding devices. "This conversation is over." As I stood he aimed the pistol at me, causing me to freeze.
"You will sit and answer my question, Christina." His tone was as harsh as the storm winds ripping outside his window.
"He is a man who is blinded by his ambition and refuses to accept his impending demise. That is what I make of him."
Daniel nodded thoughtfully before pointing the pistol away from me. "I, as well as others, could not agree with you more."
"I take no comfort from your words." I sat in my seat again. "Why ask me these questions?"
"I have a proposition for you." His body language quickly relaxed and he took on a strange air of confidence. My heart was racing inside my chest and my voice had abandon me when I noticed the gun was pointed towards a printed version of the oath all military officials take. "Your vast knowledge of history should tell you that with a radical leader comes resistance. I--"
"Your statemnt is too specific, the leader doesn't need to be radical for their people to resent them." I bit my tongue knowing that I had said too much.
"Point aside, Christina," he shook his head, "I'm asking you to use that knowledge to help bring this country back to what it was. Join a resistance and make a difference."
My heart stopped causing me to choke out the first thing that planted itself in my brain. "Fools do not die martyrs, Major."
"Martyrs are fools that die, Christina. We are not martyrs nor fools…we are revolutionaries." He sat back in his chair and mercilessly stared me down.
"Revolutionaries have a proper cause to fight for, Daniel." I could tell that he wasn't in the mood for my intellect so I made up my mind to cease all conversation.
Then he pointed the pistol at me again.
"I don't have time to sit around and twist words with you," his voice was far too harsh. "Join or I will be forced to take drastic action against you, Christina."
I sat in silence for quite some time, trying to configure my words so that I would make it out of this office alive. "My brother died for this war," I started slowly, "and so it is only honorable that I die for this war as well. Whether it is at the hands of the enemy or from the bullets in that pistol."
His face immediately dropped and I noticed that his hands were shaking something horrible. Daniel and Vincent were childhood friends, brothers of sorts, but most importantly they were soldiers together. They had been on the battlefield together but due to an injury Daniel had been sent home long before Vincent. "I remember when they called about him," his eyes fell to his desk. "I remember the sorrow that consumed your family and how fragile you became. How fragile and bitter we all became."
"I was never fragile," I snapped quickly.
"Really? Then why is it that you immediately took a station here in the Army Center?"
Anger boiled up from inside of me, a dark anger I had not felt in a while. "I did not willingly become a member of this team," I hissed darkly. "You know perfectly well that I was forcibly evacuated from my place at college to come here."
"And yet you didn't come in here kicking and screaming for release," he stood from his desk and moved around the front, bringing me to my feet as well. "You came in here and decided that fighting would get you nowhere! You gave in, Christina, to the higher power that which you hated so much! How do you think Vincent would feel about that?!"
I had heard enough and charged towards the door, only to be harshly pushed against it. "Release me, Major!" I snapped as I felt his hands clasp over my wrists and pin them to the small of my back.
"Now you cry for release, Christina?!" his voice was low and venomous. "Your brother believed in this war and he fought for it, but now his younger sister doesn't and yet she is doing nothing to help her cause. Join us and find the support you need to really step into your brother's shoes and fight for what you want."
I took a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm my nerves. The answer was obvious; I had to accept to get out of this alive. "Can your people promise the safety of my family?"
I bit my lower lip and pressed my forehead against the door. "Can you assure me that this group will be successful in their mission?"
"If we have you amongst our ranks then we will be unstoppable."
Another deep breath and I felt my heart rate dramatically slow. "I must discuss this with my husband,"
"Can he be trusted?" he asked coldly.
"He is a member of the proletariat, of course he can be trusted, Daniel." I felt a slight twinge of annoyance. Daniel knew Nikolai and his values.
"Then yes," he whispered softly.
He released me and slowly stepped away. "Come here," he whispered as he opened his arms to me for a hug.
Something in me wanted to stay propped up against the door but before I knew it the tears were flowing and I took refuge in the arms of my childhood friend. "Vincent always said that it was our moments of weakness that made us realize how strong we really are. I am not a strong woman, Daniel."
He gently pressed his lips to my forehead and stroked my hair. "Christina, I've seen some of the generals you deal with every day. You are the strongest woman I know."
We both shared a laugh and within those few seconds I found that my body grew weak. "Would you be so kind as to call my husband and tell him to come get me from work? I feel ill."
Daniel's eyes clouded with worry and he immediately sank me back into the chair I had been sitting in. "He will be home?"
"Yes," I whispered softly.
"Construction not treating him well?" he asked just as softly.
"He has plenty of business, but you know Nikolai, he is a family man." I had no complaints about this at all.
Nikolai and I had married very young and had come from very different walks of life. My family was very militant, his was very bourgeoisie. His family always believed in being home in time for supper, my family ate whenever it was convenient for the majority. But there was no denying that we were in love and would stay that way for the rest of our lives.
That is unless our families ripped each other apart and took us both down with them.
"Yes, Nikolai?" Daniels voice brings me out of my thoughts. "This is Daniel. I'm calling because Christina is not well and-"
I smiled slightly as it was clear Nikolai cut him off.
"Yes…I will tell her that you are on your way. Yes, goodbye," he hung up the phone and looked at me with complete shock. "That is not a husband you have, it is a slave."
"That is what true love is like, Daniel." I smile warmly at him before slowly rising to my feet.
"Tomorrow you will receive a file in the left upper drawer of your desk. Don't read the material until you are home and safe away from everybody, including Nikolai." his voice was sharp.
"Nikolai might love me," I said with a gentle laugh, "but that doesn't stop him from bringing his work home with him. He will be busy all night going over blueprints for the new mansion he is building for the Bana family."
"You mean the richest family in the city?!" Daniel asked, stunned.
"Yes, we have them over for dinner quite frequently." I slipped out the door and into the hallway and left his office without another word.