Chapter 9: The Resistance and the Reveal
"This is a joke. You're joking right?" I stared at Bryce. He shook his head, his face serious.
"No I'm not joking." He replied.
"I won't do it."
"You will if you ever want to get out of here." I narrowed my eyes.
"You cannot tell me that EVERY black market is being monitored. There has to be thousands." Bryce shrugged.
"And there are thousands employed for the Capitol. Of course the black markets are being monitored Kat, they're your calling card. You get everything from the black markets. You think Wayland didn't figure out that you had received your holo-map and hover cycle from the Academy's black market? They are watching every last corner of the Dimensions. You can't trade." I looked at the ceiling.
"So what do we do?" A small laugh escaped from Bryce's lips.
"We? We don't do anything Kat. You however will be contacted by one of my resistance alliances. He's going to give you a few jobs." He raised his eyebrows, daring me to disagree.
"You want me to break into the house of one of the richest businessmen alive and steal confidential information about an electrical generator?" I looked at the young woman with her arms crossed in front of me and silently cursed Bryce. She was petite, a pair of grungy sweats and a torn sweater covering her slight frame. Her skin was pale and her hair was similarly outgrown and tangled as any homeless person but she wasn't unattractive. The man who had set this job up for me must have thought I would be more comfortable around a woman. He was wrong.
"Will that be a problem?" She rubbed her nails on her sweater. "From what I've heard, no job is too difficult for you. But Bryce could've been wrong.." I scoffed.
"The job isn't difficult." I said, crossing my own arms over my chest.
"Then what's the problem?" She asked.
"It's stealing." Her face became amused.
"Oh this is priceless. Don't tell me the village tart has a conscience." Her voice held a condescending tone that made my nerves raw. I rubbed my temples.
"Stealing is a petty crime. It's for worthless, pathetic criminals who have no other skills. If I'm going to do a job, it's not going to be stealing." I said.
"Look buttercup." She grinned, smacking my cheek. "Tell me when you're done. You wanted a job, you got one. You get us the materials we need, we get you the materials you need. It's a mutual agreement. See you in two hours."
I stared from the shadows at the massive building. Alright. I could always pretend it never happened. Besides, the girl was right, I needed the materials to get out of the Dimensions and according to Bryce, the resistance needed them too, although an electrical generator didn't mean much to me. I took one last breath and slipped on my gloves.
Scaling the glass wall I remained on the darkened side of the building. I couldn't see anyone inside, so I assumed it was a weekend. I was losing track of time again in between training with Bryce and drawing up blueprints for a second escape. My train of thought was broken when my hand began to slide. I quickly smack my gloves against a lower part of the glass and they immediately re-suctioned.
I looked down at the ground. I must have been several hundred feet up. It was too late to turn back now. Carefully placing my glove a few hands up, I felt it begin to slide again. The glass must have been sprayed. I sighed. I should've known that the building would take all necessary precautions. I had already knocked out the security cameras with a high pulse of electricity but I hadn't even though about anti-stick windows. I would have to enter here.
I pressed the button on my glove feeling the pressure pop out the window pane. Sliding in, I landed silently, quickly surveying the room. Nothing. I straightened, walking through room full of desks and high tech computers. The stairs were directly to the left and only a few flights later I was picking the lock to Carson's office-slash-penthouse. Talk about being married to your work. Good thing was he was at a charity dinner tonight. I checked the community before I went in, quickly scanning through the door to make sure no one was in there. When it didn't notify me of any presence, I went in.
The décor was expensive, if not a bit tacky. A lot of stainless steel and artsy looking pieces. My eyes honed in on his computer. I sat down, hacking my way through the firewalls in a matter of minutes. It didn't take long to find the file the resistance was looking for. I hacked through that as well, opening it up as well. My eyes narrowed. The file was blank.
Then the alarms went off. I quickly jumped up. Shit. The resistance had been misinformed. I started pulling open drawers and mattresses, hoping for any type of file I could bring back. That's when my eyes spotted a section of the floor raised slighter higher than the rest. I skidded over, ripping up the carpet in my way and pulling up one of the tiles. Jackpot. I pulled up the files, a grin spreading across my face.
The door was kicked open right as I reached the window. I heard shouts and a gun being pulled, and I slammed my hand against the window, popping out the glass. The first shot shattered the glass right above my head and before I took the time to get my ass killed, I jumped.
The air whipped past my head and I tucked myself into a ball, activating the safety gel. It deployed right before I hit the ground, absorbing the impact and covering me in white goo. I rolled out quickly and jumped to my feet, files in hand, and ran through the back alleys. I took a few quick turns, finding the grate Bryce had informed me of. I ripped it up and slid into the small hole in the ground, almost tripping down the stairs hidden by the overhang of the street.
My eyes adjusting to the darkness, I crouched down and sirens roared past. When all was finally silent, I lowered myself a few stairs and stood up. It took a few moments for my eyes to adjust the dim light but I could quickly tell I was in some type of underground bunker. The walls were rusted, the lighting dim and faulty. I walked down a corridor into a larger room. It was packed ceiling high with boxes marked with large block lettering. Ammunition, firearms, food, communicators. I furrowed my brow. How did they get all of these? It had taken Abby months to get them for me when I was in the Academy and I knew even the sensas I ordered from Jacob had to be picked up by myself.
The large stainless steel table in the middle reminded me of some type of conference room. I started to walk forward but an arm quickly shot out, blocking me. The files were ripped from my hand. I whirled around, but the person had already gone, probably slipping behind a hidden door.
"I got your files. Now I want my scanner." I said out loud. I looked around, hearing a whoosh, and saw a panel slide closed behind Bryce as he appeared from behind a row of boxes. He handed me the scanner.
"It's the latest technology. It scans for every change imaginable in air pressure, temperature, even mass. If anyone is hiding under your bed, you'll know. Now leave. I'll see you back at the apartment." Bryce's voice was low, his eyes shifting to darker corners of the room. I took the scanner, but stayed put.
"Oh hell no. I almost just got shot out of a building and stole confidential information and now I have you want me to go back to the apartment? I don't think so. I want to know what's happening here. It may help me get out." Bryce shook his head, already pulling me back up the stairs.
"I said leave. If you want to become part of this you'll need to do more than that." Bryce said, shoving me out the grate. I whirled around but it had already shut behind me. Something was going on here, but I didn't have the time or energy to find out. I sighed in resignation and started the long walk back to Bryce's apartment.
"So where is it?" Bryce said. The other resistance members were crowded around the tables, the files being fed into the generation system built until the metal. Carmen pressed the button and the map of the black district popped up, the blinking red dot visible by the far edge. Carmen stood up. She was the second in charge of the resistance, only surpassed by Gregg.
"Well, no wonder we couldn't find it." She stood up, circling the map. Carmen was a map genius. She could put together any map out of the smallest piece of information, even how far apart places were. "It's on the edge of the Black District, literally smack in the middle of the Tentratrix."
Bryce's eyebrows furrowed. "Why the hell would they put it there?"
Carmen pointed to the shimmering glows on the map. "Simple. The biggest open nightclub scene in the Metropolis produces a lot of radiation-thousands of bodies, the waves of decibels from the music, and the radiation given off from the pits. It's so well hidden by the mass of everything else that no one would be able to tell it was there without already knowing. Its rather ingenious actually."
"So now what?" Bryce asked.
"So now we have to figure out how to get the resistance through the portal while simultaneously killing the son of a bitch we call the President." Carmen stated, no change of emotion in her voice. Bryce stood up.
"Whoa, you didn't tell us this. We fugitives Carmen. You don't think the President hasn't doubled his guard? He knows we're out here and he's looking for us and you somehow plan on killing him? Well if you have any good ideas here tell me, because the way I see it is we'll be lucky if we get half of us through the portal alive, let alone escape without notice from the Capitol." Carmen strode towards him, cocking her head and placing a finger against his lips.
"The way I see it, is I'm in charge, and you do what I say. You get what you want, a way out, and we get we want, a dead president. He's doubled his guards in the last six months. You know what that means? It means the puto is afraid. We may be fugitives but we're a threat. We have some of the greatest minds gathered around this table with every skill set you could imagine. A few more months, that's all we have before he shuts down the portal. Now we know where it is. All that's left is getting to it with our heads intact." She sat back down.
"If anyone has a problem with this plan, I suggest you leave now." No one moved. Bryce shook his head.
"We'll need more than this if we want to win. We need Katya." Carmen rolled her eyes.
"Your little girlfriend is doing fine on your own. Do you really want to drag her into this?" She asked, pursing her lips and fluttering her eyes in an attempt to appear appealing. Bryce clenched his fists, grabbing her by the shirt, her eyes widening.
"We. Need. Her. And so do you. You may be running this meeting but I run this goddamn show and I think Gregg will agree. I am not going to keep using her for jobs that you can't do yourself then leaving her behind. She wants out just as bad as the rest of us. I'm taking her to the next meeting whether you like it or not. I'll see you next week." He let go of her shirt, storming his way out of the room. Carmen grit her teeth and smoothed down her sweater.
"I need everyone on the communicators now. Any news?" An elfish-looking man opened his mouth to speak but Gregg came sliding out of a wall panel before he could speak. His mouth was drawn down in a grimace. He shoved Carmen out of the way.
"Alice, get us online now." Alice nodded her head, patching them through to the President's office. The hidden camera they had installed quickly started showing a feed where the map originally had been. Carmen glared.
"What's going on here?" She spit, her accent coming out more than normal.
"Wayland and the President are having a meeting and it involves the girl." Carmen quickly went on the defensive.
"What? No, he can't tell him! If he tells him we'll have two people to worry about and another person to kill!" Gregg shook his head.
"And when Bryce finds out? We'll kill him too, right? No, the President will be the only one to die. Until then, we need to keep the information quiet. If Bryce or the girl finds out, we don't know how they'll react. It could ruin everything. Now shut up, I need to see what's happening." Their attention turned to the image in front of them.
"It's good to hear from you again Wayland. Tell me, how is the situation?" The president stared out his glass window looking at the sprawling city in front him.
"This is a trick question I assume. I know you know that we had her." Wayland replied.
"I'm also aware that you lost her. Wayland, tell me, what do you think we're doing here?" The President's voice was steely. Even Wayland was slightly intimidated. His power was what kept the Dimensions running. He had been the one to keep it from getting destroyed. He had been the one to negotiate and to shut away the portals back to the old world. It was he who had strung together the civilized chaos and kept order.
"I understand the importance Mr. President. I just don't know what she has to do with it.." Wayland was cut off.
"I DON'T CARE IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!" He shouted. "All that matters is that you do what I say. I wouldn't want to have another death to cover up. The last Academy owner is somewhere in a ditch with a newspaper headline that he passed of an arrhythmia. Is that what you want?" The President breathed deeply through his nose.
"Father…" Wayland started.
"You are incompetent. Listen to me son. Do you really comprehend the depth of this situation? I don't think you do. Tell me, do you know how I came to be in power here?" Wayland wrinkled his brow.
"I suppose you plan on telling me?" He kept his response calm.
"I was one of the scientists in the rat hole you call America. It had been my plan to try to make a portal. An inter-dimensional space jump if you will. You are aware of the concept that everything vibrates at its own speed?" The President didn't wait for a response. "It was so simple. Manipulate enough atoms and you can essentially create a mirror copy. I had the entire plans worked out. We could create a better place. No longer would people have to worry about perceptions or rules. They could do what they wanted, when they wanted. There would be no such thing as bad. The concept of "wrong" is simply a preconceived notion put into place by society. But no longer would we have to worry about that." The president allowed a small smile to grace his weathered, cracked lips.
"But alas, the President of the United States of America wouldn't stand for it. Why, how could I be so unmoral? Did I have any sense of responsibility? Of ethics? So I was forced to sign the confidentiality agreement and resign without further notice. My trial found me guilty, and I was locked into a dark cell on Riker's. And then they tried it their way. But what they didn't know was that with each manipulation of atoms, there will be a slight mutation. You can never create a genetically perfect copy. Even clones hadn't been able to reproduce or be born without genetic problems."
"So they made Dimension after Dimension and each one failed. Until one scientist made the breakthrough I hadn't been able to make." The president's fist clenched. "With any genetic mutation there is a possible cure. The cure was to find the mutation before putting the portal into use, and genetically re-assign the atoms until they were perfect. And then "perfect" dimensions came. They were scum. They were a spit in the face on my beautiful plans. Everything was being controlled. No one could have absolute freedom. Everyone was bound by social rules and what was acceptable. So I decided I need to fix it."
"It wasn't hard to re-activate the first portal. It had been the strongest of the bunch and the radioactive pulses being set off were a dead giveaway. Even finding it hadn't been a problem with some sophisticated government technology. So using my authority, I freed a group of criminals meant to be given the death penalty. It didn't take much persuasion. A couple Benjamin's and they were out. They killed off the guards and the other scientists and we were in." The president paused.
"I always knew you were hiding something." Wayland interrupted. The president narrowed his eyes.
"And there are still things. It was none of your business…until now. As I was saying, the trip itself hurt. I awoke gasping on my back in a grimy corner of the Cartinel. The other inmates had been transported all around the city. Hundreds of thousands had already been transported. It didn't take long before I had killed my way to the top. The continuous stream of money I was able to provide kept my inmates in line and everyone else was too afraid to get in the way. Before I knew it I was at the top. But by that point, the other Dimensions were being destroyed. By the time they got to this one, however, I was already too powerful. A few threats of leaking confidential material to reporters in America was enough to shut up the President there. So they left us alone, and I deemed myself president, as a little smack in the face to that asshole who locked me in prison." The president stopped then, his story told.
"So you're a murderer and great businessmen. That's nothing new my friend. And balance being fragile? It's always been fragile. You're wasting my time. What I need to know is why this child is so important to you. She's a pathetic little girl. When we found her she was emaciated and probably infected with every STD known to the Dimensions. How can she even pose a threat?" Wayland drilled the question into the president.
He may have been intimidated, but he needed the full picture if he was going to catch her. And he had his own plans. Once caught, he would offer her on a silver platter. Then the promotion would come and he could finally stop monitoring those spoiled little brats at the Academy. It wouldn't take long before he himself could kill his way to the top. And when he had reached the final floor, he'd kill the president, a feat unheard of. And then he'd be the one everybody bowed down to.
"The situation is greater than it seems Wayland. Even emaciated and possibly infected she still killed some of your best guards. No normal child could do that. Have you read her file?" Wayland nodded, knowing his father could see his reflection in the glass, regardless if all Wayland could see was the back of the President's chair.
"Of course. Born 2014 to a heroin addict. Father bailed…" The president swiveled around and rolled his eyes.
"Not that file. The restricted one." The President's voice sounded bored, the sound of it grating through the room like nails on a chalk board. Wayland squeaked a little.
"There's a restricted file?" He said, astonished. "But, there can't be, I've never even seen the document, or heard of it mentioned! How could there be a restricted file?" Wayland asked.
"Oh you spineless little twit, like I'd leave that out in the open. It was hidden behind every firewall and code name I could manage." The president said, exasperated.
"But…why?" Wayland was curious. Why such the cover up? The president rubbed his temples.
"Because that child holds the key to the Dimensions." He said. Wayland furrowed his brow, confusion passing across his features. The president sighed deeply.
"The story I told you wasn't just to pass the time. What I said about genetics was true. You can never make a perfect copy. When you pass through the Dimensions, something gets..twisted. Either you lose all morals, if you had any to begin with, or you become what the government would consider an "outstanding citizen". Soft spoken, compliant, breakable. When you're born in the Dimensions, it's the old nature versus nurture argument. Regardless, you grow up to be like those you are around or the environment you're in."
"Sometimes though, there's a break in the chain. There are the children who don't inherit the standard genes. We may have nearly gotten rid of all of them but sometimes, you get the occasional blond or the child with green eyes instead of the normal brown. Or, in some cases, they develop so called "morals" despite their surroundings. And those are the children who are dangerous. It only takes one weak link for a chain to break. And it only takes one spark of false hope to start a wildfire."
"There's a reason we keep a certain organization around here. While there are "rules" per-say, they are only in place to keep everyone from killing each other off too quickly. We want the reproduction rates to be higher than the death. That way, we can keep producing enough to overthrow my good friend, America. And once we're on top, we'll be unstoppable." Wayland stopped him there, putting up a hand.
"I still don't see how she means anything. So she had a defective gene. That's where the hair and eyes come from. But so what? It will just get her killed quicker." The president cocked his head to the side slowly, whipping out a gun from under his desk.
"Why don't you shut your trap, and I'll tell you. Maybe, if you'd been smart enough to find her restricted file, you'd understand. Katya is the first experiment of her kind. You see, her genes aren't defective. They are perfectly normal, in America at least." Wayland's eyes opened.
"What are you saying?" He asked cautiously.
"I'm saying Katya is an experiment, to see if it really was all genetics or if children would learn everything they knew from their environment. Through a few connections, Katya was stolen away here and raised as if she was part of the Dimensions. We've been watching her since birth. That's why we didn't change her looks. That's why we've pushed her so hard. For you see, I'm saying that yes, her father is nonexistent and yes, her mother is a heroin addict. But Katya is not part of the Dimensions. She was born in America."