What if?


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“What if?”

Those were the last words the old man had spoken to Thedra before the guards had taken him away. She wasn’t sure if it was a question or a statement.  She vividly remembered his eyes, void of any expression, looking directly at her as the guards dragged him across the detention yard . She recalled wondering about what he may have been thinking before his execution later that day.

Was he thinking on those two words?

Was he pleading with his God?

That was nine years ago. The words though still haunted her. She  had never understood what he had been trying to say to her. In the still moments when she was alone with her thoughts, those words would echo in her mind. A bell ringing in the darkness pointing the way to somewhere.

Movement on the street below pulled her back to the moment and focused her thoughts on the present. A routine patrol unit was passing by. It was one of the human enforcement units, otherwise known as the Earth Security Force or ESF.

Thedra crept  into the shadows of a nearby ruined building. She remained motionless and waited. The large hover tank slowly rumbled by with two guards following behind. They would look around occasionally but otherwise seemed only partially attentive to what was around them. They were just following orders and going through the motions.

As long as she remained hidden they wouldn’t see her, they were a nuisance more than anything. The real threat was the Valderann patrols. They wouldn’t hesitate to kill her on the spot. The patrol drones accompanying them would also be scanning and surveying the area, making it harder to hide.

Thedra put her swords away as the patrol rounded the corner into the next street. The weapons were crude, but elegant. She was a trained assassin and in her hands they were just as deadly as a laser rifle, maybe even more so. She had found them in an old abandoned shop, just hanging there in a shattered display case. Her escape from the slave pens had left her with nothing but the clothes on her back, and the swords had been a welcomed sight. They also had given her a quiet sense of security and comfort just having them on her.

She had several hours before curfew was enacted and it was best to find somewhere to hide out till then. She would use the cover of darkness to access the portal gate and hopefully get the parts she needed. The plan was simple. She would use parts from the gates to equip a shuttle with a cloak, then fly off the planet. Once she accomplished that she would find the nearest working gate and leave this all behind.  The data she had stolen would also guarantee that someone out there would give her safe harbor. The Valderanns had more enemies than friends so she wasn’t too concerned about finding a buyer.

The top of the ruined building was the perfect spot. It had only taken her a few minutes to scale the shattered shell and make it to an intact  segment of the roof. She had the perfect view of the portal gate and the surrounding city. All that she had to do was settle in and wait.

The large digital billboards around the city all went dark at the same time. The advertisements and Valderann propaganda slogans all disappeared.  The boards flickered back to life seconds later, but this time they all were displaying the same image. A large man standing in the shadows of a dead and fog filled forest. He was wearing a hood that obscured his facial features. The image flickered a few times once more before the image settled in. The black and white image was mirrored a thousand times all across the city.

“Hello. My name is Israel. I am the voice in the dead woods.” The hooded cloak’s voice was distorted slightly and the delayed timing from each billboard gave the audio an eerie and haunting sound that echoed each word all across the city.

“What if there was a better way? What if we could live in peace with those who would oppress us. Would you listen? Would you entertain the thought of setting aside our petty differences in a unified effort to bring peace and love to this dark world?”  The hooded figure paused as he waited for his words to settle upon the ears of those listening.

Thedra wasn’t sure what to think or how to react to the sudden reinforcement of the old man’s words from so long ago. Was this the old man’s message? Was this what he was trying to say to her?

Thedra leaned forward as she waited in anticipation for the hooded figure’s next words. Never in her life had see felt anything like this. She was anxious and excited at the same time, she could feel her own heart pounding as she waited for the man to speak once more.

“I’m not talking about surrender. To surrender would simply be to give in to the darkness and the demands of those that strive to control us. I am talking about opening your eyes to the truth…”

The image froze and the billboards shutoff. The Valderanns had cut the transmission short. All the billboards flashed the same words written in Valderann.

Illegal transmission aborted. Please stand by.

 The advertisements and various  slogans all returned once again. The hooded man was gone and Thedra sat there wondering about those two words once again.

“What if.”

 

 

 

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