Birth Of A Rebellion
The rebel base was a marvel of technology, a flawless mix of old and new. Carved from the face of a cliff, it boasted underwater lakes and streams, any of which led to the vast ocean beyond. In the harbor sat a variety of aquatic vehicles, most notably the flagship belonging to Tina and her family.
Past the docks lay the actual base, a series of caves and caverns transformed into comfortable living space including offices, homes, an impressive armory and a well-stocked infirmary that rivaled even the best in-land hospital.
On any given surface one could find gleaming electrical panels forged into solid rock.
The people of Bridgetown and the surrounding townships had constructed a comfortable little society though it was lacking the one thing they sorely desired... freedom.
Barbados and all the surrounding islands had been overtaken by a particularly nefarious force. The same force that had scarred Tina, nearly killed Mari and destroyed their family. The rebellion was driven forward on the strength of their leader and Tina would not rest until she'd had her retribution but for now, there were more pressing matters...
The fearless leader sat
behind her desk staring blankly at the wall. She couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t
fixate on anything but the broken state with which she had found her beloved
sister. Mari was barely clinging to life when she had left her earlier that
morning and now she waited to find out if she had been too little too late in
going to her. A sound from the doorway pulled her attention.
“The captain…?” She asked tentatively, needing confirmation that Marisol was still fighting, that she would be there when Tina broke away tonight to see her.
“She’s still alive. They actually expect her to make a complete recovery,” the messenger told her with a disbelief in his voice, “but it won’t be quick.”
Tina nodded mutely and dismissed the young man with a distracted wave.
She's alive! And she's going to be okay.
But a long recovery posed a different challenge. While it would give her more time to try and break her sister’s programming, it also meant she would be risking herself and the rebels every time she broke into the hospital. She prayed her gift had not been discovered; it was in a moment of weakness that she had left it in the first place. Tina would retrieve it tonight, now that Mari knew what was at stake.
She picked up the framed photo of the two sitting on her desk. It had been taken 5 years prior, when the sister’s were rebels fighting against a corrupt regime, sailing the seven seas. Before they were captured, before each sustained the myriad of scars they now displayed, before they turned her sister into a monster. She would get Mari back. This was the break she had been waiting for since that fateful night. She couldn’t fail. A knock on the doorframe interrupted her musings.
“What?” She exclaimed more harshly than she wanted to.
“I’m sorry… if this is a bad time…” Tina glanced up to see Lt. Troy Parker standing just inside the door. He seemed half poised to beat a hasty retreat, as she had been less than welcoming just then. Tina rolled her eyes, cursing inwardly.
“Did you need something, lieutenant?” She placed extra emphasis on his rank, reminding him not so subtly that she was in charge. He ignored the jab and stepped inside closing the door behind him.
Troy strode toward her desk, his long tan limbs seemed to fill the office with his presence. He ran a hand roughly through his short dark hair before brown eyes locked into hers.
“I was worried about you. I went by your quarter’s last night to see if you were okay… considering the circumstances… but you were gone.”
“I’m fine.” She replied coolly though they both knew she was lying. “Besides, my whereabouts are no longer your concern, are they?”
“C’mon Tina! I know we’re not… whatever we were before, but I still care about you. You went to see her didn’t you?”
Tina ignored his question and went back to staring at the picture in her hands. How dare he come in here and act like he cared? Mari nearly died because of him; it had been one of his men that broke rank and shot her sister in cold-blood.
“Didn’t you?!” He demanded again.
“Yes! Of course, I did.” She answered near tears. “You can’t tell anyone.”
“Tina…” He began but was cut off.
“Five years, Troy. That was the closest I have been to my sister in FIVE YEARS.” She didn’t try to hide the tears as they rolled down her cheeks. “She knew me. Knew who I was. All the times she’s seen me since that day, there was never any recognition until last night.”
“How is that possible? I thought the main goal of the programming was to erase your former identity?”
“It is. But, what if, what if the trauma caused a glitch or something? She died Troy. At the scene and again on the table…” She trailed off because the image of paramedics pounding on her sister’s bloody chest made the torment of the past few years seem trivial.
That scene played over and over in her mind on an unrelenting loop. Mari on the stage with her customary dress uniform and the porcelain mask they made her wear to disguise her face. She had looked so regal in her white jacket, the same jacket that stained with red as molten lead tore through her torso. Tina shuddered at the thought and wrapped her arms around herself. She’s alive. She reminded herself and at the moment, that mattered the most.
“What are you gonna do?”
“First,” she jutted her chin out and wiped her face roughly to remove any telltale tears. “First, I’m going to go tell my mother that Mari is still alive. The rest… I’ll figure that out later. All that matters now is I finally have a chance to make it right.”
Five years seemed like such a short span but it had become a lifetime for the St. John twins. Marisol and Bettina St. John were born on the small island of Barbados to working class parents. Later the family would move to Bridgetown, the capital. Their father August or Auggie as the island called him, was a fisherman, instilling in his daughters a love for the open water. He had dark hair and blue eyes, his skin tanned from long hours at sea. As soon as they were big enough he had taken them out with him, taught them to read the currents, navigate by the stars.
Their mother, Gaia was a physician, who tended the household and made sure her daughters
were never jealous of one another in between patients. “Two queens, one crown”, she would chastise
them in her beautiful voice, tinged with island dialect. Her skin was golden
and her hair hung in large black curls that landed softly on strong shoulders. The
girls had been spitting images of her and one another for that matter. The only
difference in the two was a tiny mole above Tina’s lip. They were nearing their
17th birthday when the tides changed.
A new power had arisen in the islands, a corporate Navy that promised to bring order to the backwards people. This corporation despised the simple lives the people chose to lead, wanting to exploit the rich natural resources that all on the island shared equally. Their father, Auggie, had been the first to rebel. He was much more than a seasoned fisherman. Auggie was from the main land and had served many years as an engineer aboard a British naval vessel before falling in love with the islands; it’s people, and most importantly their mother. His vessel was more than just an average fishing boat. He'd built it himself, an impressive 70 ft. behemoth named “The Black Hammer”. It boasted a sleek black finish and an imposing black flag flew from the mast bearing a gleaming crown hung on a hammer.
When the Snow Corporation, as they called themselves, heard there was former Navy man amongst its inhabitants, they immediately sought to recruit Auggie. After being flatly refused, Snow Corp. moved forward with its plans to bring the islands into the future they envisioned even if by force. During one such incident, Snow Corp. vessels blocked all the harbors, demanding that no one could enter or leave without paying a tax.
This had enraged Auggie to no end as he believed the sea to be free and no man had the right to stop another from providing for his family. The community was split as to the best manner in which to address this new challenge. Many longed for the supposed improvements that Snow Corp. was promising, while others, their father included, believed it to be a ruse to seize control of the islands resources.
Auggie stood firm in his belief and gained a huge following when one of his closest friends was gunned down by Snow vessels while trying to leave the harbor without paying the tax. The people had become prisoners in their own homes, the local government having been naïve enough to give Snow Corp. almost complete control in the hopes of lining their pockets. The leader of their cooperation, Bradford Snow, had proven to be a worthy and ruthless opponent. Imminent civil war seemed to only fuel his bid for power. Action had to be taken.
Auggie and a small group of rebels began sabotaging Snow Corps’ export ships, preventing their precious resources from being plundered. The Black Hammer became a symbol for the rebellion and soon Auggie himself became known as “August the Black”, rebel privateer. Auggie had reached out to his former colleagues in the navy but was informed that the world at large was in chaos and those who managed to find peace had no intention of meddling in the affairs of a small inconsequential group of islands.
Even when Auggie spoke of the rumors surrounding Snow Corps’ recruitment tactics, he was denied assistance. He would have to take the fight into his own hands. Through all this he had tried to shield his family from the ugly realities of the conflict they were fighting but after nearly three years, he had no choice but to bring the family onboard The Black Hammer permanently. It had become too dangerous for them to stay in one place for long as Snow Corp. had placed a ridiculous bounty on Auggie’s head.
Before their twentieth birthday, the girl’s had become quite the pirates themselves, even adopting monikers. Bettina took after their father and began calling herself “Black Betty”, wearing a dark cloaked jacket and a beat up black tee with skull and crossbones. Marisol on the other hand, often put herself at great personal risk to help the people of the island, prompting many to call her a “Saint”. The name stuck and seemed appropriate, as it was a derivative of the family name. Her uniform consisted of her father’s dress uniform coat thrown over whatever she happened to be wearing that day and a porcelain mask.
It had occurred to the family early on that concealing the girls’ identities was the best way to keep them safe. Their mother, Gaia, remained largely behind the scenes tending to refugees and orphans, arranging safe passage for these to other lands. She hated sending her children and husband off to fight but also knew the consequences if they did not. She prayed every night for all three’s safe return, a prayer that eventually, inevitably, went unanswered.
It had been a raid like any other. Board quietly, disable the ship, remove the goods and free any prisoners. That had been the plan. As always: Auggie lead, sword drawn, with Tina on his heels wielding her own blade and Mari covering their flank with rifle in hand. Their tasks were accomplished with practiced precision, Auggie lead his daughters onto the main deck where they were ambushed by Snow's forces!
A desperate fight with Snow's officers ensued, felling rebel after rebel. The family fought with fervor, refusing to be taken easily but were finally overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of opponents. When it was all over, the family was forced to kneel on the deck, bound and gagged before their ultimate enemy, Bradford Snow himself.
“About damn time we caught you.” He had muttered to Auggie before pulling out a pistol and shooting the man in the chest!
Both girls screamed behind their gags, horrified by the sight of their beloved father lying dead on the deck before them. That moment, however, had only been the beginning of the horrors awaiting the two young women. Snow’s naval force had grown impossibly fast due to his taking youths from the islands and forcing them into service. No one knew exactly how he had done it but the sisters found the methods to be more horrifying than anyone imagined.
Once removed from the ship, the girls were taken ashore to Snow’s main compound for “reconditioning” which involved a mixture of drug therapy, torture and in some cases cybernetic enhancements. For weeks the girls were beaten, tortured and drugged in an effort to get them to give up their fellow rebels and swear allegiance to Snow. They would not be broken and each night when they were returned to their cell, the two would curl into one another on one small bunk and fall asleep.
Their devotion would be their downfall.