In the Cistern, everything was dark. Pitch black. Tony felt around trying to find Tess.
“I just spent four hours trying to find her, I don’t want to lose her again!”
“Tony! I am right here. On your left. In the same place I was before the lights went out.
“Oh wow. That’s a relief.” responded Tony.
Tony look around, as his eyes were starting to adjust to the lack of light. A big thud resonated throughout the Cistern and shook the floor.
“Not good.”, muttered Tony, “That was probably the door.”
“We need to go find Tang, he can help us.” offered Tess.
Tony and Tess started to walk forward, while making sure that no one or nothing was in the way. As they approached the Rec Hall, Tony and Tess saw lots of white light at the end of the hall. The closer that they got to the Rec Hall, the brighter the light got. They started to shield their eyes with twenty paces to go. When they crossed the threshold, they were grabbed and mercilessly thrown to the ground!
“Hands on your head! Now!” cried out a familiar voice. Tony and Tess complied, trying to figure out what was going on.
“Hey it’s just Tony and Tess” yelled out Tony, trying to get his friends in the Cistern to realize who they were pointing their guns at.
“Tie them up!” yelled Vox, Tang’s second hand man. “We can’t have any potential leaks. This plan needs to work or the whole revolution is gonna be blown. The Cistern will be reborn tonight!”
Tony was roughly flipped over, and the faces that he saw were ones of old friends. There was Jig, one of the first friends he ever made in the Cistern, Pop, who had taught him how to fight, Friz, the best chef in the Cistern, and Rob, the guy that helped him learn the city.
“What are you doing?!” exclaimed Tony, more mad than curious, “Why are you betraying Tang? What did he ever do to you?”
“Tang was gonna sell us out to the Federation! He didn’t have our backs. We are doing this for the future of the Cistern.” responded Vox.
“Tang would never do that! What makes you say that?!”
“Some guy from the Confederates said that he had paid Tang to sell us out to the Federation!”
“That doesn’t even make sense! Tang has been here since he was 5! He has no other family than the guys in the Cistern! You are being stupid!”
“No matter. We are already in this far. Can’t go back now.”
At this point, Tony and Tess were all tied to a pole, unable to see the other, and Vox was smiling triumphantly. Vox looked back to Tony and Tess then back to the door.
“We will come back for these idiots, once we take care of the rest of them. Friz, you stay back and watch ‘em, ok?”
“Yea, I got it.” affirmed Friz.
The rest of Vox’s crew filled in behind Vox and they walked away.
Tony was racking his brain, trying to figure a way out of this predicament. Then Tony felt a subtle tapping, from Tess, on his wrist. (They did not search us. I can grab my knife and cut us loose) Tony smiled to himself and thought “Man I love Morse code. And bad guards.” Tess then pulled out her knife and started to slowly cut herself loose. As she worked on the binds, Tony kept Friz distracted. Tess cut herself loose, then cut Tony loose. The instant that Tony was free, he sprung to his feet then smashed into Friz, driving his knee into Friz’s abdomen. Friz doubled over and Tony kneed Friz in the head, knocking him out. Tony and Tess ran after Vox and the crew. Sprinting, they entered the doorway to the cafeteria a second before Vox stood up on a table and started his speech. Tony didn’t hesitate, “Hey you big buffoon. You smell bad and your so called Revolution has failed.” Then Tony proceeded to launch himself at Vox.
Tony was highly trained as was Vox. Tony was livid, but that wasn’t going to cause him to lose his focus or make a mistake. Vox swung first, aiming for Tony’s head. Tony dodged, and grabbed Vox’s wrist, trying to bring Vox off balance. Vox half stumbled, and Tony connected with a blow to Vox’s sternum. Vox took a deep breath before returning to his stance. And so the fight progressed, Vox trying to use his strength to beat Tony, and Tony using his agility and speed to outmaneuver Vox. Tony connected with several heavy blows to Vox’s back, forcing Vox to his knees. Vox, a sly fox, wasn’t going to let Tony take advantage of the situation. He grabbed Tony’s ankle while Tony tried to kick him. Tony was jerked off his feet, and Vox clambered on top of him. Vox started swinging at Tony’s face and connected multiple times.
Tang ran into the room and was aghast at what was happening. Everything that he had built over the years with the Cistern was quickly being destroyed. He was appalled over the fight and looking for answers to why the fight was even happening. Tess, seeing Tang, ran over to him and quickly filled him on everything that had happened. Tang nodded his head, slightly less confused, but now confused as to why Vox was trying to stage a coup. He soon put his confusion out of mind as he saw Vox and Tony duking it out. Before he could proceed, he had to wait for two guys pushing each other to pass. Tang glanced around, and then ran over to Tony’s position, ready to help out Tony.
All around them in the Cistern, fights were breaking out. The three guys left in Vox’s crew were fighting loyal members of the Cistern, but they were heavily outnumbered. As Vox’s crew started to fall, Vox started to gain an edge over Tony. Vox superkicked Tony in the chest and Tony fell backwards through a table. This is when Tang stepped in. As Vox advanced on Tony, Tang jumped on Vox’s back and started to choke him. The choke hold soon had Vox on his knees, as he tried to find air. Within two minutes, Vox was out cold, and Tang helped Tony to his feet.
“Hey man, what just happened?”
“Hey Tang, thanks for the save. I was coming down here to get some food and then the lights turned off. Then I found Vox and his crew in the Rec Hall. They tied me and Tess up, and said that they wanted to overthrow the Cistern.”
“Oh man. That isn’t good. There were a lot of police running around up top.”
“Yea. We should get out of here. Don’t want another invasion.”
“Okay. I’ll get the group to Plan B.”
Plan B was a secondary shelter to the Cistern, stocked with M.R.E.’s, extra weapons and ammunition as well as enough water to hydrate a thousand camels for a thousand years.
“Okay. I’m going to restock, then Tess and I need to get out of here. We have our own plans. Besides, I keep having these painful flashbacks and headaches, and with everyone I have there is always this one guy in my memories. I can’t figure out who he is. I’ve never seen him, except in those annoying headaches.”
“Hey, you take care of Tess, and take care of your headache. I’ll see you around.”
Tony headed off to the QM Shack, (quartermaster) and Tess soon followed him. Tony picked up some new knives, a couple of batteries, and replenished his stock of body paint. They then left the Cistern, and traveled through the underground tunnels for several hours. Tony, all the while, keeping track of the time, counting off the minutes they had spent underground. They eventually came to the exit they wanted, and quickly filed out of the tunnels.
Now, they were standing on the other side of the city; The Drive In was a couple of miles away, as was Tony’s house. Day was starting to break, and the law abiding citizens of the Federation where starting to take to the streets. Tony and Tess spotted another abandoned high rise that would make for a good resting spot. They made their way to the highrise, walking quickly but discreetly. There were not many people around, and this only aided their maneuver. Reaching the high rise, Tony promptly fell asleep in one of the fourth floor rooms. Tess took guard for the next couple of hours.
Tony was sleeping in one of the interior rooms, without a lot of access to the chilly morning air. Tess quietly left the room, and found a passage to a balcony. As she walked, she saw a picture of the Prime Minister hanging on the wall. The portrait of the Prime Minister was an old one, as he looked rather young. His sleek black hair gleamed in the picture, his long slender nose pointing out rudely. He had a bemused smile on his face, his pale lips looking paler than ever. Overall, his beady eyes gave his entire countenance a very sinister look.
The Prime Minister was “elected” by the Council. The Council was made up of two groups of people; the first, a group of wealthy bureaucrats with little care for the people. The second, Little People’s Court, that represented the populus. Little People’s Court was often overlooked by the bureaucrats, and had no influence in the “election”. The bureaucrats enabled one family to rule the Federation, as long as that family kept the bureaucrats in power.
Tess reached the balcony, and grabbed on to the railing. Looking past her, she no longer saw the coast line that she had been staring at just a day earlier. She was looking in the direction of the Confederation, and past the city. She could see miles of rolling grassland, as well as some small dots for farms and houses. She dug through the backpack that she had brought with her and found her binoculars. She adjusted the lenses, and looked through them. She found Denver, which was roughly 200 to 300 miles from their current location, a high rise in New D.C., not only the same city as Salt Lake City, just renamed, but also the capital of the Federation.
From there, she turned her head a little bit north, searching for a small town. It was roughly 75 miles from Denver, and had a special meaning to her. This little town was called Debiya, the Shoshoni word for home. It was Tess’s home, it was where her family had lived. It was where she had been birthed, raised and loved. But those happy days were over, and she was kicking it with Tony now.
“Ah Tony!! I need to go check on him!” thought Tess, upset that she had almost forgotten about him. She got up, spun around on the balcony, shouldered her backpack, then ran back to where she left Tony.
She came flying into the room, and didn’t see Tony anywhere. He wasn’t on the bed that he had fallen asleep on, just an hour ago. She checked the hallway, the bathroom, the rooms next door, but Tony was not to be found. Tess was distraught and it wasn’t until after she sank to the floor that she realized the carnage done to the room. The dresser was on the floor, as was the table. There were several holes in the wall, and the evidence of a fight was very visible.
“How could I have not heard the fight?!” Tess screamed, now hating on herself for not keeping guard well enough. “Where did Tony go?!!” she screamed.