“This is Vanli territory. You can’t be here.”
Sarah and Cadet had arrived at the rebel base, an old estate that had once belonged to someone of great wealth who had since passed on in one way or another. At one time, the great vaulted building and extensive gardens would have been home to nobility. Now the crumbling structure was hung with the gold and red of the rebels and the place was packed to bursting with the disenfranchised.
They’d been stopped at the gate by two gardsmen, one of whom’s head was shaven, the other of whom’s hair was as bountiful as it was dreadlocked. They were wearing Vanli colors over piecemeal armor. Heavy gauntlets, light boots, clearly wearing whatever they could get their hands on and their bodies into.
“We’re… uh… here to join?” Cadet’s voice rose to a confusing lilt at the end of her sentence, her eyes rolling with utter disdain at the heavily armed rebel guard’s stupidity.
“Yeah,” Sarah chimed in. “Society is unfair. We wanna live under Vanli rules. We wanna be free!”
“We’re not free at home,” Cadet added. “My dad’s like… get a job! And I’m like, old man, there aren’t jobs anymore! And, like, what’s a job anyway!? I mean really, was I born to be a slave or something? Is that why they fucked in the first place? So I could get a job!?”
“So we came here,” Sarah tagged in. “We wanna support this. We’re really… you know… into freedom and doing fuck all.”
The rebel guards looked at one another. They were burly men who were not at all immune to the charms of young women, especially naieve ones who seemed to think throwing themselves into a camp of outlaws would be romantic and fun.
“Go on in,” the bigger guard said. “Talk to the guy with the red mohawk.”
Cadet and Sarah sauntered into the compound, a place absolutely stuffed with disaffected youth of all kinds. They were obviously not the first twenty somethings to think about throwing themselves behind the rebel effort, and they knew they wouldn’t be the last. Hardly anybody looked like they’d bathed in days or maybe weeks, but that didn’t bring the mood down. People were sitting around, strumming instruments, banging drums, laughing.
“Have a drink!” A passing guy on rollerblades, skimming shirtless between the crowds handed them a couple of beers.
“Is it weird I like this place?” Cadet muttered to Sarah.
“Is it weird you like a party? No,” Sarah snorted. “It would be weird if you preferred PMS Cabin.”
“PMS Cabin?” Cadet snorted.
“Come on,” Sarah grinned, taking a swig. “You know they’re all synchronized.”
Cadet giggled and followed suit. The beer was cool and tasty and for a minute, she totally forgot their mission. She hadn’t realized just how much the hyper discipline of the military base and Academy had made her feel stifled until this very moment.
“You know they’re probably watching us drink and making notes to kick our ass later,” Cadet said.
Sarah held up her middle finger and swung around to the outpost where she knew their team was keeping watch. “FUCK THE MILITARY!” She cried at the top of her voice. “FUCK THE STATE!”
FUCK THE STATE! FUCK THE STATE!
The cheer was taken up by a nearby group and spread across the weedy lawns and cracked pavers, all the way to the feet of a man with a mohawk.