When the Sky Caught Fire

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Chapter 5

Ramona woke up slowly, seeing the sun behind her closed eyelids. She yawned, stretching, then sat up, rubbing her eyes. When she opened them, she saw that her group was already on the floor with a piece of paper making plans for something, “Hey guys, what’s up?” Ramona was genuinely curious as to what they were doing.

They all looked at each other and Mosies was the first to answer, We are planning on how to get into the Titanium place. Where they mix the Alloy. I know where it is. Mosies didn’t explain why he knew where it was, which was unusual. Usually he would go into a full explanation, but it appeared that he had an agreement with Abe not to talk about it.

Ramona raised an eyebrow in surprise and scooted off the couch and unto the floor next to them, “I’m assuming that this will be done in the spring after the snow melts?” She watched as they all looked at each other, “We are doing this now?” Her second question was asked with a note of surprise.

Mosies signed to her, we are pretty close to the plant. We will have to convince our hosts to stay here, they’ve already expressed an interest in transporting us. I have a plan for getting in, if anyone is interested in hearing it. Mosies looked around at the group and when they looked interested he continued, these types of plants are usually a concentration like camp. The living conditions are better because they want their workers to feel motivated to work. They usually hire problematic Deaf people. They aren’t paid, they only get food and board. Sometimes they are allowed to keep the Titanium Alloy if the boss is feeling generous. My plan is, I can probably walk in there. They generally aren’t notified about the rebel groups because the groups don’t bother them. They won’t know who I am and since I am Deaf I can claim I fell asleep in the laundry truck and couldn’t find my way back. That has happened before, so it wouldn’t be an unnatural claim.

Ross asked the question that Ramona was thinking, “How do you know this much about those camps?” Abe had been interpreting, so he relayed the question to his brother. The two seemed to be silently deciding then Abe nodded to his brother, signaling that he was allowed to tell them how he knew all the information.

When the Queen decided that I would make a good representative for the Deaf community, one of the things we did was go to the Titanium camps. I am the reason why the camps have better living conditions. She asked what I thought could be changed to make the workers work more efficiently. I told her she could give them rewards like Titanium for their hard work. Make sure the food and bedding was better for them. Overall, make their living conditions better and they would be more willing to work. The conditions are still not fantastic, but they are better than they were before. I protested the treatment of some of the Deaf in other types of camps which is why, I think, the main reason was that we were hunted, Mosies rubbed his hands on his legs, unsure. Ross and Ramona both had a look of shock on their faces while Willy didn’t look surprised at all.

“Okay, so…you’re all shocked, why? Of course, he should know this stuff, he said before that he was an ambassador. It only makes sense that the Queen would let him in on what she was doing to his people,” Willy said as he added new parts to the plan, “The only problem is that we need Storm and the others for this to work. If we get caught we will want them to bail Mosies out.”

Almost ten minutes after Willy said that they heard a knock on the door. Kaleb went to the door warily and opened it to be greeted with a gun to his face, “Hey buddy, are our friends here?” Kaleb wasn’t sure if he should answer in the affirmative or the negative. He stared for a moment and when the gun was tapped on his nose he nodded.

Willy jumped up and ran to the door when it was opened, jumping up on Storm, “Storm!!! You’re alive!” Storm gave him a hug then handed him to Shadow, “Wait, I wanted to hug you…oh well, Shadow is fine too.” This caused Shadow to laugh as he hugged the child than set him down.

“Of course, I’m alive, what else would I be?” Storm rolled her eyes expressively and then patted Kaleb on the back, “Sorry about that buddy, I wasn’t sure if you were friend or foe.” Kaleb accepted her apology and then Storm introduced herself to the rest of the family before joining the group on the floor, “What’s up? What are we planning now?” She didn’t waste any time or complain about lack of sleep. She felt like they needed to get moving before they were all killed or imprisoned.

“Titanium plant, we are going there so Mosies can get the metal we need,” Ramona replied, still looking unsure, “We will need weapons. They don’t need to be guns, but we could use some more ammo if we can find any. We need to be prepared,” Then she signed to Mosies, are you comfortable with going in unarmed?

Mosies nodded in the affirmative, it’s not like I have a choice. If I have a weapon they will be suspicious. Mosies made a couple notes on Willy’s paper, indicating what type of things he could use as a weapon if he needed to. Kaleb got Mosies the things on the list, giving him a pen knife and a regular pen. The pen knife wouldn’t be unusual, the workers had pen knives to defend themselves. Sometimes another worker would snap and they would have to protect themselves.

After they figured out what weapons they would need they started to get them from the family. Kaleb had a bunch of weapons in the basement, he had them hidden in barrels. He gave each person a pistol with ammunition then he was able to find some swords and daggers in there. Storm held mostly hand-to-hand combat items along with Shadow, Froggy, and Molly. They were better in closer quarters anyways.

Ramona gathered food products and then they all headed out, following Mosies to where the Titanium plant was. The group had convinced Kaleb and his family to stay behind, they couldn’t risk having them involved.

As they trudged through the snow Storm was hiding their tracts the best she could. When they got close Mosies stopped and signed, here’s where I go alone. If they don’t believe me I will make a very loud noise. You’ll know because I’m not used to my vocal chords and Abe knows what I sound like. With that Mosies walked away from the group.

The soldiers watched the Deaf boy approach with suspicious expressions. One of them spoke and Mosies indicated that he was Deaf. The soldier sent his friend to go into the plant and retrieve a Hard of Hearing person to interpret for them. As Mosies waited he used crude gestures to indicate he fell off a wagon. He simplified the communication in sign in any way he could and the soldier still didn’t understand. Mosies gave an exasperated sigh and then waited for the “interpreter”. A hard of hearing guy came out, he was maybe twenty/twenty-three years of age. The guy started with the proper introductions, Hello. My name is Marvin. What’s your name? After they got past pleasantries and discovering what family was Deaf and what wasn’t, they started on Titanium.

I am part of a rebellion looking for titanium for a printing press. Do they still let you keep it here? Mosies flat out asked Marvin, he might as well be straight forward with what he’s there for, I can’t hear, I am Deaf. I also can’t speak, so I’ll need your help. If you need to get out, you can come with me. Mosies was ready to make an obnoxiously loud noise if he needed to.

Marvin hesitated then signed, Yes, they still allow us to keep some of the titanium. We are also allowed to sell what we make out of the alloy. For what you want, you will need a lot. We might need a revolution inside the camp. If you’re willing to help with that, we can help you with the titanium. Marvin then signed, What is the official story for why you’re outside the camp?

Mosies smiled slightly and signed, I fell asleep in a laundry cart and got out or fell off. He decided he liked his new friend. Marvin seemed a little salty, just by his expressions. But that was to be expected since he was living in a glorified concentration camp.

Marvin nodded once then turned to the soldiers, “He fell asleep in the laundry cart and when it stopped he realized he was far away, so he walked back. He wasn’t sure where else he could go,” Marvin embellished the story slightly, he wanted to make sure that Mosies could get in. If they could rebel against the soldiers and win, that would be a huge accomplishment.

The soldiers looked suspicious, rightfully so. The obvious leader yawned and rubbed his hands on his eyes, “Sure, yeah. I don’t care, we could always use another worker even if he’s lying.” His assistant looked nervous about that snap decision but didn’t dare challenge the superior officer. Marvin turned to Mosies and gestured for him to follow. Mosies followed Marvin gladly, not wanting to wait too long, the man could still change his mind.

When they arrived inside the camp Mosies looked around, seeing the other Deaf people. They all looked at him with curiosity, clearly not knowing who he was. One old man seemed to recognize him but he didn’t comment. Marvin signed to the old man, We need a meeting tonight. The old man nodded and then shuffled off to make sure he could pay some guards off.

Mosies was introduced to a few people then they set him up in a room. Mosies rubbed his hands over his face then turned to Marvin, for this revolution to take place we need weapons and people to be willing. They need to know that they could die.

Marvin nodded in agreement and kept his hands silent for a minute before signing, most of these people are willing to die. If they can take a few people out with them they will see it as a victory. Marvin looked over his shoulder then back at Mosies, luckily for you, we don’t need to work today. People who are just found are allowed to rest along with the interpreter.

Mosies nodded once then sat down, looking around the dirty shack. It was called a “house” but that was a very bad word for it. Parts of the roof were leaking because of the snow, they had a small wood furnace to heat the entire room, and there were five bunkbeds and you could tell that each bunkbed held two people, which meant that each set held four people. Mosies also noticed a rat skittering away from a dead body that hadn’t been cleaned up yet, who was that?

Jack. He tried to run away and got shot in the back, Marvin answered, looking regretfully at the boy, He was a political prisoner. If he had waited a few more days you could have helped us all escape. Maybe even him. This caused a shock to go through Mosies’s body. This boy was very recently dead, not even three days. If Mosies had come three days earlier this boy wouldn’t have had to die.

How many people try to escape? Mosies asked, standing up suddenly, how many people has the Queen allowed to be killed? Mosies looked panicked, he had to get these people out of there, were any executed? Mosies saw all the answers in Marvin’s eyes but he almost refused to believe it.

Every year at least fifty people try to escape. The Queen allows old people to die without medical care. At least thirty have already been executed this year. There is a list of forty more to be executed this month, Marvin answered, gently pushing down on Mosies’s shoulder’s so he sat down, don’t draw attention to us. I would rather not die today. Mosies sat down obediently but had a frustrated expression. Marvin could tell that Mosies would have started the rebellion right then and there, but he couldn’t allow that yet. They needed weapons and a plan, they couldn’t just charge the gates.

Mosies looked Marvin dead in the eyes, You are aware we will have to charge without guns. Marvin shuddered at the idea but knew Mosies was right. They had no way to get ahold of weapons and the only way to get that amount of titanium out was to do it in one go. These guys were not stupid, they would figure out what was going on. Mosies signed, And it will have to be in the next couple of days, because they will eventually realize I am not in any of their records. And if I remember right, these people keep pretty detailed records.

Marvin nodded once, they would have to plan it that night and execute it in the morning. There was no other way to do it, We can plan it tonight. I will try and make sure that we have the entire camp in agreement.

As the sun started to go down and the sky lit up in flames, the Deaf started to gather in the little hut around a lantern. This was not suspicious to the guards as this was natural for the Deaf. They liked to talk to each other and they had never tried a rebellion before. They were safe to plan for at least two hours. After that the guards would get suspicious.

Most of the people in the group were pretty sure Mosies was insane, and to be fair, he decided he probably was, Listen, I know you don’t like this idea, but if they find me we are all dead. They will know who I am if they dig deep enough and they will if they can’t find me in their book. You don’t aid rebels without some kind of repercussions. Mosies was frustrated with them because they were too scared to listen to reason, you want to make a difference? Now is the time, we can take this camp over. We can. A long time ago we took over a campus, yeah they didn’t have guns, but we could have been shot. Now we need to take over a country and we can’t do it without everyone. Deaf, hearing, Hard of Hearing, blind, DeafBlind, everyone. We need everyone. If we can take over this camp we can make pamphlets. It won’t be hard. But people might die. Mosies was becoming more animated and eloquent with his signs, slowly winning them over, How much longer are you going to allow this oppression? How much longer are you going to allow them to slaughter you? They don’t care about you, they see you as tools. Like how we see hearing aids or Implants, just tools to help them get along in life. Do you want to be an object or a human?

That night they made dangerous plans to overthrow the camp. They took apart the beds in that room and made blunt force weapons. They needed to be able to take over and needed to try. They needed to try in order to try and be free. They wanted freedom. The next morning was D Day and there would be no stopping them. They dispersed into the night and the guards were none the wiser.

As the sun came up the next morning, the guards knew something was wrong. None of the Deaf were out going to eat. They didn’t know exactly what was going on until they came pouring out of the mines and sleeping quarters with blunt instruments. It was a bloodbath. The guards pulled out their guns and started firing into the crowd of people, but they just kept coming. A wooden stick went flying through the air and knocked a guard off of the rail, sending him over the edge. Next thing they knew there was a group of about five people shooting up at them from the other side of the rail. The group came because of Mosies’s inhuman scream, but they had no way of knowing that.

Mosies ran up to the gate with several other Deaf people and started shaking it, the entire gate was trembling with the ferocity of the attack. The silent uprising was becoming loud with motion, then the gate got turned out. The Deaf were shocked away from it and they laid there, stunned. Mosies shook his head, struggling to hold on to his consciousness. Marvin flipped the guard off aggressively then pulled Mosies into safety, signing, We need to turn the gate off. Marvin jerked forward and fell on his knees, his should spurting blood, he muttered an expletive out loud, Mosies knew what it was because of his facial expression.

Suddenly Marvin heard the gate sizzle and a yelp come from the other side. He looked over and saw that there was a woman gripping the fence. Storm panted as she fought off the pain of the electricity. Shadow yelled at her, “Storm! Let go of it!”

Storm shook her head and slowly started to shake the gate, “I will not let them die!” She gritted her teeth and hoped that something that was done to her as an experiment would help her survive this, “I will not let all these people die!” She shook the gate harder and when it still wouldn’t open she started to climb it, screaming with pain every time she gripped the fence.

“Storm, come down!” Shadow yelled up at her again, wishing that she didn’t have a death wish. He watched as his spouse climbed up the gate with increasing speed and became somewhat amazed and terrified. He had never seen anyone do that before.

Storm was shot in the shoulder and she cursed, “I will not let them die,” she whispered to herself as she pulled herself up another rung. When she was equal with the tower she flung herself into it, only conscious because of rage, she looked down at Marvin, “Get Mosies up, when I turn this off you need to attack the gate!” She yelled down at them and then attacked the guards in the tower. She got shot multiple times and her wounds expelled them slowly and painfully. Storm shoved a guard off the tower and Shadow shot him in the head. Storm shut off the gate and immediately all the Deaf surged towards the gate, shaking it until it fell over. They ran into the woods with Froggy and Molly leading them to safety.

Mosies and Marvin limped out behind the others, Mosies barely conscious. Abe caught his brother and looked at Marvin, “Thank you.” Marvin simply nodded in response then he swayed slightly. Shadow helped the boy to a place where he could sit down then he looked up at the tower, unsure if Storm was still okay up there.

Storm climbed down the rope ladder that was up there and collapsed on the ground, “I couldn’t watch them die,” She felt like she had to explain herself to Shadow, but he understood. She had been there when her entire experiment group had been eliminated. She couldn’t watch it happen again. Storm suddenly let out a scream of pain and gripped her head, “Why can’t I just die?!” Shadow suddenly realized it was a suicide attempt. She was rescuing them while attempting to kill herself in the process. Ramona and Ross were both unsure of what to do, but Shadow just touched the top of her head as she sobbed, “I just want to die. I’m so tired.” At the last part her voice sounded uncharacteristically weak. She sounded tired and older than her years. The war wreaked people and at that moment, Storm sounded like she had been destroyed.

Ross said softly, “We all want to die Storm. Every single one of us. I tried, in case you don’t remember. I tried to freeze to death but this crazy redhead wouldn’t let me,” Ramona gave him a look and he continued, “Storm, if you die, we will be sad. Well, I’ll be angry as heck, but everyone else will be heartbroken. You are not allowed to die. You are the glue of this group and if you die…” Ross shook his head, “We need to not focus on this right now, we need to leave before it’s too late.” He pulled Storm up, knowing her body was healing then he went over and poked Marvin with his foot, “Think you can walk?” Marvin nodded in response and accepted Ross’s hand up, stumbling after him as they all vanished into the woods.

When backup finally came, all they could see where dead bodies lying in blood stained snow. Guards and Deaf people. But they could also see that the gate had been shaken hard, it was lying on the ground as well. Every rung where Storm put her hand at a black scorch mark, “What could have climbed this? Certainly nothing human.” The experiments were not common knowledge to all, and even if people did know about them, they assumed they had normal human behaviors and abilities. What Storm had done was impossible for most experiments.

When the group and the Deaf returned to Kaleb and his wife’s house, there was a whirlwind of activity. They armed half the group then sent them away, knowing that if they all stayed, they were sure to get caught. They were also sent with food and the new group of one hundred fifty people left. Storm looked at Abe as they walked, “You realize we have a rebellion of Deaf people that most of us can’t communicate with? Like, if you and Marvin died we’d pretty much be lost? I can interpret to an extent but I don’t have the knowledge that you two have.”

Abe signed as he talked and Marvin signed purer SSL so that way if someone from the group looked, they would know what was being said, “This is a good time for you to learn Sisterland Sign Language. There are hundreds of Deaf people here and you could learn it from any one of them, or expand on your knowledge. You could even ask Marvin here.” Abe smirked when he added the last part.

Marvin glared at Abe then turned to Storm, “I’m not really a teacher, I’m more of a ‘if you don’t get this right the first time you’re on your own’ type of person.” Marvin walked with an attitude and he talked the same way. He definitely marched to the beat of his own drum and Storm had no doubt that he wasn’t a teacher. He wasn’t the nurturing type.

“You have an accent. Are you Irish?” Storm asked curiously. He had an accent anyway because of being Hard of Hearing, but it was lilting like an Irish accent. It wouldn’t be uncommon for Irish prisoners to be sent to a camp. It would also explain his attitude a little, he had a very ‘devil may care’ disposition.

“I was born and raised in Ireland, yes. I was brought here when they caught me stealing enough Uranium to be considered dangerous,” Marvin smirked and pointed out two redheads in the crowd of Deaf, “Those twins are Scottish. They were brought over when they were found smuggling weapons into labor camps. You took over the right camp, we’re all political prisoners of one form or another.”

Storm looked triumphant, “Dude, we have ourselves a small army. Now we just need to find a base,” She looked over at Marvin who looked like the cat that ate the cannery, “What? You know something I don’t, clearly. Want to share?”

Marvin rubbed his hands together than smiled, “There is a Native American/Sisterland rebel base close by. They move their base to the bottom of the mountain during the winter. They might be willing to help, I’d suggest we go see. They were one of the few groups to openly rebel and then disappear. Many channels reported that they died, but they didn’t. They are still around.”

Storm suddenly stopped, “Titanium? The alloy? Were you able to rescue some?” She saw the sly smile on Marvin’s face, “Pockets?” Marvin laughed and nodded. The alloy was in smaller pieces and would have to be welded together, but that was fine. Storm looked relieved then started walking again. It would be terrible to go through as much pain as she did for nothing.

It was very cold as they walked and most of the people from the Deaf camp were not prepared for the snow. So, they often had to be forced to keep walking, some ended up carrying the others, just so they could all keep moving. They eventually sent Storm, Shadow, Froggy, and Molly up to scout, try to find the Sisterland Tribes. When they didn’t come for a long time, the group started to worry. Ross walked up to Marvin and asked, “Would they kill Storm or Shadow?”

“I don’t think so,” Marvin replied, furrowing his eyebrows, “But I’ve only met one of them, I guess he could be an exception to the rule.” He crossed his arms and placed his hands under his armpits to keep them warm, “If we don’t leave soon we’re going to get frostbite.”

Moments after Marvin responded, Storm came back with a funny smile on her face. She very rarely grinned wildly, so they knew something was up. But she just jerked her head from where she came and everyone followed her. Ramona looked at Ross and Abe before signing, What’s going on? Both guys shook their heads, unsure. When they arrived at the camp they were immediately surrounded by a group of men and woman holding guns.

Marvin wondered how he could get their attention, he needed their attention. All the Deaf people were huddling together and looking like they were preparing to attack. Marvin jumped in place, causing all guns to turn on him, additionally he was able to gain the Deaf’s attention. He signed, Don’t attack. Then he spoke to the man who appeared to be in charge. The man, in question, was wearing snow pants, snow boots, and a heavy winter coat.

The man looked at Marvin with slight curiosity, “I am sure you are not the leader, but no one from the group that came before would name their leader. This…strange woman…volunteered to come find you. She also promised that one of you would fight one of our warriors to prove that you are who you say you are. She picked a person named Ross…” That declaration brought a squeak of terror from Ramona and rapid blinking from Ross. Ross was certain he had heard him wrong, which was why he had such a lack of reaction, “You will all get food and warm clothes until then. We won’t leave you to die, follow us please. We wanted to make sure that she hadn’t assembled in army in the time it took her to get here.”

Marvin’s immediate thought was that they had no clue. The Deaf prisoners were a very good army, or at least had the potential for that. They really needed the Native Sisterland tribes to ally with them, if they could gain that, they would have the potential to take over the government. If Ross was really the designated warrior, it was possible that they would all be screwed.

Storm caught up to Ross and walked by him, “Look, I spit out your name out of fear. If you don’t want to fight, I will, but they might not allow it. If you have some special skill or ability, now would be the time to reveal it. Except, not in front of witnesses. You know what I mean, I want you to kick his butt.” She didn’t tell Ross what had happened in the camp for those couple of hours. The fact that she had been scared said a lot, but Ross wasn’t about to push for answers.

Hours Earlier….

Froggy and Molly had been chained to each other and placed in an arena against a warrior. The two had managed to fight off plenty of warriors but they were finally tiring. Sweat was pouring off of Molly’s legs and arms despite the cold. She rolled her neck, cracking noises coming from it as she worked a kink out. Froggy whispered to Molly, “Behind you, elbow to chest, now.” Molly threw her elbow back and then supported Froggy as he leaned on her to get momentum to kick both feet into a man’s stomach. “Headbutt, elbow to stomach, kick to chest.” Molly obeyed the directions and managed to hit everyone but the last person. She flipped over Froggy’s head and he punched the sword wielder on the shoulder, dislocating it.

In the meantime, Storm was tied down to a chair as a man walked around her. He stopped in front of her and held a hot knife to her throat, “Who are you and how did you know where we were located?” Storm held her mouth shut, her eyes flicking at the man. He pressed the blade to her skin, causing a pork like smell along with a searing pain. Storm’s mouth opened with a silent scream, that being the only indication of her pain. She could feel her skin burning and healing at the same time, which made her feel almost as if she would faint. It felt different than the electric fence she had just climbed.

“Who are you and how did you find us?” The man repeated, removing the knife. His eyes were cold and calculating, “No one has been up here in years.” When he saw that Storm was prepared not to answer to receive more torture, he tried a different tactic, “If you pick a warrior to fight one of ours, we will consider allowing you to go free. If you need an army, we will consider joining you and yours. Your experiment children are quite interesting, I am impressed with them.”

“Ross…” Storm blurted as he brought barbed wire close to her upper arm, “Ross can fight your warrior,” She winced when she blurted that name, she had meant to say Mosies’s name, “If he can have a partner, I pick Mosies, he is a good fighter.”

“I will allow a partner. Let’s go see what your husband is up to, shall we?” He untied Storm from the chair than dragged her to where Shadow was. Shadow was tied to a pole while a man walked around him with a whip. Storm tensed, her body slowly healing while nobody noticed. She saw Shadow get whipped over and over again, each cry making her more and more vicious. On the fifth whip she spun and punched the leader in the face, kicked him in the groin, and than bolted to her husband. She felt the whip wrap around her wrist and she yanked it out of the torturers’ hand. She stood between him, the leader, and two gunmen and her husband.

“This isn’t necessary. We have literally done nothing to you. We came here hoping for an alliance and what we got was a hostile situation. I understand you can’t trust anyone, but forgive me if I won’t allow you to torture people I care about,” Storm glared at the man, “If you could let the children go now, I would greatly appreciate it.”

At that moment they heard a cry of pain come from Froggy and a scream of rage come from Molly. The next thing they heard was a loud snap than a scream of terror come from the spectators, “We are more powerful than you know. Those two could kill your entire army, even chained together.” That had the desired effect and they immediately went to free the two kids. Molly had snapped than ripped a man’s head clean off after he had stabbed Froggy in the leg. Her eyes looked like they were on fire and she was in the middle of what would’ve been called a Berserker rage. Froggy held unto the younger girl, trying to calm her down.

“Go get your friends. We will wait here with the kids and your husband. We want the same thing as you, in some aspects. We want the annihilation of the queen and the revamping of the government. If you’re willing to help us gain our freedom, we are willing to give you an army.”

When they arrived they found Shadow, Molly, and Froggy chained together on a wall. They were being ignored, which was a mercy for Shadow. He had some ability to heal fast, but not when he was weak. At the moment, his body wasn’t strong enough to start the healing process. Molly had fallen asleep after her moment of anger. Froggy was the only one who was awake and he was struggling with staying awake. They had given him a shot to calm him down, so at the moment he was a little high.

In the area there were several cabins that were of medium size, they could easily hold up to eight people. Further up the mountain were caves with lights in them, indicating that they were being inhabited by people. Each cave could hold up to ten people, judging by how many cabins and caves there were enough people to form a sizable army. Especially if you included the Deaf camp that had been liberated. The man who brought them to the camp turned to them, “Welcome to the Sisterland tribes. Once you’re proven trustworthy, we will listen to what you have to say.”

Ross couldn’t help himself, “Any burly idiot can fight, it doesn’t make them trustworthy,” he immediately cursed his decision as everyone looked towards the sarcastic and disrespectful voice. He rocked back on his heels than back forward, “And while that is the truth, I suppose you don’t need to listen to a voice of reason. After all, what do I know? I’m just a sarcastic printer.”

The man, in question, was speechless. He walked up to Ross, who stood his ground, and said, “Are you the person they said would fight? I am skeptical, to say the least. While you have a fair point, I am under the impression that you are the group that has been giving the government problems. I have thoroughly tested the experiments and now I’d like to test some random members of your group. I am under the impression that you will fail, but I would like to see how this turns out. You can rest for today and fight tomorrow. Your name is Ross, correct?”

“Um,” Ross wasn’t sure if he should admit his identity, “Yes. You didn’t tell us your name, Oh Nameless One.” He was very aware that he could be dead at any second, he wasn’t a strong fighter in hand-to-hand combat. He looked the man in the eye unflinchingly, he was done at this point. He was cold, tired, and ready for this to be over. He had been dragged into too many revolution schemes, it was time to end this.

“My name is Jim. I’m impressed with your spunk. Something tells me though that you are not incredibly strong, physically. Go get some rest, you and your friend have a brutal day tomorrow,” Jim turned and walked away, assuming that the conversation was over. However, Ross was not quite done with him yet.

“No, we’re not done here. Let me set something straight, okay? You don’t get to kidnap and torture my friends than set the rules for your trusting us. We sought you out for your help under Marvin’s idea that we could request your help. I didn’t expect you to say yes, but I also didn’t expect you to torture some of us and force two of us to fight. You aren’t very good at making allies,” Jim had stopped at this point and was back to facing Ross, listening to what he had to say, “My family was murdered, I was kidnapped by one rebellion, then kidnapped by another, then I had to fight for the second rebellion, I killed people,” Ross gave a high-pitched laugh, “I killed people. I am a traitor to this country and I can’t go back to living a normal life. Every time I go to sleep I see the faces of my parents. I hear my mother’s scream. You question why we’re doing this. I just helped liberate a camp and you are questioning who we are?” Ross, at this point, was moments away from losing his mind. Now he was in front of Jim and making him back up as he ranted, “I am done with this crap! I have had one too many people tell me what I am, tell me what I am not, and telling me what to do! I don’t know who you think you are, but you certainly don’t know me or my friends. You tell us right now, are we allies or not? If not, give us what we need and send us on our way. Otherwise, don’t patronize me.”

Jim was, once again, left speechless. He didn’t have a good response for Ross, “Can you humor us with a fight anyway? You are starting to gain my trust, you are good with words. But in order for me to save face in front of my people, I need you to do this for me. Try to make it good.” After Jim had left, the group was dispersed to different houses for the night. Ross, Mosies, and Abe were all place in one cabin for convenience. Ross and Mosies were fighting and Abe was the interpreter. So, that left Abe to explain that Mosies had been volunteered by Storm.

When Abe informed Mosies of this, he threw up his hands in the air with an exasperated expression, signing, She volunteered me? Why? Ross and I against their best fighter? We are doomed! What’s Ross going to do? Trip over a log and hope for the best? The people in the house listened as Abe interpreted and they watched the entire interaction silently.

Ross tried not to laugh at the picture Mosies painted. It was entertaining and it might work…if they could pull off slapstick comedy. If they could entertain the masses…that wasn’t what they wanted though. This would, most likely, be a very painful experience.

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