WHAT LIES AHEAD

In a world where everything is predetermined, a rebel group known as The Vitality will make it their sole purpose to expose the secrets of the Council to the citizens of Innis. However, how can you rebel when your memory has been erased?

Repression will provoke rebellion.
- Hugh Williamson

Chapter 2

TeleDevice

Albert McKinley

It had began as a simple mission. The Vitals and I had been sent to the northwest sector of Innis City, to find and steal the Determination Files, files that contained important information and belonged to the Council.

Having the Files would finally give the Vitality the evidence they needed to show the rest of Innis City the truth about the Council.

But we were ambushed before we could steal the Files.

It had been me, Roy, Mitzi, Hunter, Ace and Sienna on one team; Caitlin, Chris, Edric and Rayleigh on the other.

My team and I were being ordered to retreat. The Essential; code name for the main leader of the Vitality; was ordering us back.

"Team, retreat! The Council's opening fire! We'll have to secure the DF another time!" he yelled in our earpieces.

"We can't leave yet. The Council guards, they're opening fire on the innocents!" Mitzi argued.

"Mitzi's right. We're supposed to protect the innocent people; we're supposed to be fighting for their freedom! We can't retreat, we'll look like cowards!" Sienna insisted.

"You're my most valuable soldiers in the field! I will not lose my Vitals, not today! I order you to retreat!" the Essential instructed.

"He's right. We can't go charging out there. They'll kill us, and we're some of the only people left in Innis City who know the truth about the Council," I protested.

"These people are innocent and if we leave, they could die, just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Roy said.

"Let's take a vote on it. All who vote to leave?" Ace prompted.

I was the only one who raised my hand.

"No!"

Mitzi charged out into enemy fire. There was a family of three; father, mother, daughter; running across the street as both Vitals and Council guards fired on either side. Mitzi tackled them down to the ground as an explosion sent concrete blocks falling onto the road, right where they'd been standing.

"Mitzi!" Ace went after her.

"Vitals spotted!"

I whipped around to find three or four Council soldiers running towards us. They had different kind of weapons on them. They were carrying guns; but they weren't loaded with real bullets, just simulated bullets that knocked you out instantly if it touched your bare skin.

They fired on us. Hunter zapped one soldier in the eye and the soldier screamed, running off and clutching his face.

Two other soldiers pelted Hunter and Roy and the two of them crumpled to the ground. Sienna raised her axe and swung it into one of the soldiers, tackling him to the ground, but another officer knocked her out from behind.

"Caitlin! Edric! Come in! Do you read me?" I asked as I ran for cover.

I ducked between the soldiers and hurried down a small back alley, firing behind me blindly as I went. I heard one of the soldiers giving chase grunt and saw him go down.

Another man rounded the corner and took aim. I aimed my revolver and fired; the bullet whizzed through the air and clipped the side of his head. He fell to the ground.

It often disturbed me how nonchalant I always was. I didn't find anything much wrong about having to take another person's life. Maybe that was why the Essential preferred me over the other Vitals; I showed a little more aptitude for killing people in cold blood.

The earpiece crackled in my ear. "Al?"

"Caitlin. Are you and the others alright?" I asked, panting as I followed the maze of crisscrossing alleyways.

"No...no, we got ambushed too. It's just me and Christopher; the Council got Rayleigh and Edric...are you and the others alright?"

I heard my earpiece crackle again and nearly cried out with relief as I heard Mitzi's voice come in. "Caitlin! Al! What happened?"

Christopher's voice this time. "Mitzi! They got Rayleigh and Edric!"

"Mitzi, they've got Sienna, Roy and Hunter too," I pant. "We need to get out of here, we need to retre-"

"Are you kidding? We can't retreat!" Mitzi cried out incredulously. "We have to save the others!"

"We're being swarmed here! There are too many soldiers fighting on the Council's side. We have to retreat to Vitality Headquarters!" I insisted.

I heard a scream come over the earpiece, followed by stony silence.

"Caitlin? Chris?"

I was greeted by static. Mitzi had gone silent too. I tapped my earpiece, trying to get it working again, and to my elation, another voice patched through.

"Al? Do you read me?"

"Essential! It's all gone horribly wrong. I've lost contact with everyone!"

"Everyone? You've lost contact with everyone?" the Essential spluttered.

"Can you reach them?" I asked, trying to hold out hope.

"No...no, no one else is responding on their earpieces..." I heard the Essential sigh.

"Essential...tell me what to do...Essential, I need you here!" I protested, walking briskly down the long, dark alleyway.

I could hear the distant sounds of gunfire from out on the street. It was nighttime and the rain was pattering down. The situation felt hopeless. All the other Vitals had been captured, most likely.

"Alright...alright, Albert, here's what you do," the Essential said.

"Yeah?" I asked.

"I'm bringing up the surveillance cameras in your area and it's looking bleak. I can see the Council guards; they're loading up the trucks. They've got everyone else."

I choke back a sob. I never was good at dealing with emergencies. "E-Everyone?"

"Listen to me, Al. There might not be a way for you to get out of there. I don't see very many escape routes in the area. So, if the Council do capture you as well, I need you to do something."

"What will they do if they capture me? What are they going to do to the other captured Vitals?" I asked.

"They're going to erase their memory with that dreadful machine of theirs, I guarantee you," the Essential said. "If they capture you and do the same thing, then you have to leave a sign to yourself, a signal that can help you regain your memory."

"How?" I asked.

"Your TeleDevice," the Essential said. "I want you to find something sharp, something you can use to scrape your device."

I bent down and grabbed the sharpest looking rock I could find. "Ok, will a rock do?"

"Good enough. Now, take off your TeleDevice, and scrape the inside of it."

"What do I scrape?" I asked.

"I want you to scrape a message onto the inside of the device. Write down, "V8302." That's the codeword that can patch your TeleDevice to me. If you ever end up captured, and lose your memory, entering that code and connecting your device to the V8302 security network will allow me to be able to communicate with you. Albert, do it now. And quickly, there are men closing in on you!"

Gulping, I rush to scratch the message onto the inside of the TeleDevice, moving the sharp rock back and forth.

V...8...

"There's no way you're getting out of there, Al," the Essential said briefly. "I guess this is goodbye, for now."

"What if I see the sign after I lose my memory, but I don't know what to do with it?" I asked.

...3...

"You're smart enough, Al. You'll figure it out. After all, you're one of the Vitals," the Essential said.

...0...

I could hear the sound of footsteps approaching.

...2.

I put the TeleDevice back around my neck and clasped it shut. "Okay, I've scratched the code onto my device."

"Good. Now, take your earpiece out and crush it under your foot. Goodbye and good luck, Al. I'll be waiting for you to contact me again."

The Essential's voice patched out. I pulled the earpiece out just as the first soldier appeared at the entrance of the alley. He yelled at me and raised his gun.

I dropped the earpiece under my foot and crushed it, seconds before the simulated bullet hit my chest and I lost consciousness.

*

Caitlin Wilson

The Council soldiers were surrounding us on all sides. I watched as a soldier slammed the butt of his rifle against Edric's head, and another fired a simulated bullet into Rayleigh's side, causing both Vitals to crumple.

"Chris, this way!" I scream, leading him away from the soldiers.

"Up!"

I grab the ladder on a fire escape, next to a building, and begin to climb, Christopher behind me. We make it up to the third floor and enter the building through an open window, leaving the Council guards behind us, shooting up at us in a futile effort to try and get us.

Chris and I collapsed onto the floor, panting, listening to the sound of gunfire outside the building. We were in a small, white room. The building had been abandoned for a while; the place was covered in a thin layer of dust.

"Damn," Chris panted. "Damn, damn, damn!"

My earpiece crackled. "Caitlin! Edric! Come in! Do you read me?"

"Al?" I asked.

"Caitlin," Albert panted. "Are you and the others alright?"

"No...no, we got ambushed too. It's just me and Christopher; the Council got Rayleigh and Edric...are you and the others alright?" I asked.

"Caitlin! Al!" Mitzi cried out, her voice suddenly coming through the earpiece. "What happened?"

"Mitzi!" Christopher sighed with relief. "They got Rayleigh and Edric!"

"Mitzi, they've got Sienna, Roy and Hunter too. We need to get out of here, we need to retre-" Al began.

"Are you kidding? We can't retreat!" Mitzi protested. "We have to save the others!"

"We're being swarmed here! There are too many soldiers fighting on the Council's side. We have to retreat to Vitality Headquarters!" I heard Al argue back.

I turned to look at Christopher and let out a shrill yell as I saw the soldier sneak up from the shadows and clip him on the side of the head.

Chris blinked out like a light, falling to the floor. I tried to raise my gun in time but the soldier fired first. His simulated bullets hit my chest and I felt my momentum pushing me backwards.

I fell to the ground with a thud as the world turned to black.

*

Albert McKinley

Morning.

I awoke in bed, blinking stupidly, stretching my arms and legs.

For some reason, I felt sore all over, even though as far as I remembered, I'd spent yesterday gaming as usual and hadn't done much physical activity.

Strange.

I moved to get out of bed but winced as I felt the TeleDevice around my neck scratch me.

I unclasped it from my neck and pulled it off. The inside of the device, which was in contact with my neck, had been unusually rough just now, as if someone had scratched it.

As it turned out, someone had.

"V8302...the hell?" I arched an eyebrow, looking at the scratched interior surface of the device. "How did this get here?"

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