Nadalia woke up the next morning in the middle of an argument.
“What did you have to tell her for? She’s only going to tell the rest of them, then we’ve got no chance of getting back at him!”
“Oh come on, Lev, she’s not stupid. She’d have worked it out eventually anyway. Besides, now she knows we’ve got a personal stake in seeing him overthrown.”
“Erm, guys?” Nadalia hated jumping into the middle of other people’s disputes, but this time it seemed necessary. “If you’re worried about me telling the other groups, I wasn’t going to say anything. I don’t have a problem with who your dad is, and it’s not really any of their business. Or mine, come to think of it.”
“See? She’s alright, Lev.”
Levon turned to look at Nadalia. “Okay, just promise you won’t mention it to the others. It’d only turn them against us.”
“I promise,” Nadalia said. “Now, we were going to pick up my transmission equipment in the morning.”
The twins looked relieved. “Yeah, we were,” said Nazar. “Where did you leave it?”
“Region Three, red district. There’s a little shed near a clump of trees, I was using that as a hideout before. I’m useless at directions, but I can remember exactly where it is, once I get close.”
“Alright, let’s head off then. No point waiting.”
Nadalia and Nazar crept down the border into the central district and caught a public transport in to the centre of Region Three. They managed to find a transport to take them from there out to the red district, and Nadalia led the way from there to her old hiding place. It took them a while to get there, since they had to keep dodging patrols, but they found the place eventually. As they approached the door, they saw that it was slightly open.
“Looks like someone’s been here before us,” Nazar muttered.
“I’ll go in first, check they haven’t left anything behind.” It was common for enforcers to leave traps behind when they raided an empty house.
Nadalia waited outside for a few minutes, and as she looked around she noticed a written note left under a stone near the door. She picked it up and read:
’Nadalia, it’s Mari. I just wanted to let you know, I’m okay. I’ve been hiding too, it’s been horrible. If it’s alright with you, can we meet up by the river between Region Two and Three tonight, about midnight? Hope you’re safe.’
“It’s clear, but they’ve obviously gone through all the stuff in here,” Nazar called from inside.
Nadalia went in and found the contents of the shed strewn everywhere. Most of it was junk that had been there when Nadalia found the place, but she had a few things there that she wanted to check hadn’t been taken or moved. The transmitter was still under the floorboard in the corner, where she’d hidden it, and the bag and few clothes she had were still there, albeit thrown haphazardly across the floor. The figurine of herself and Korian was missing, though.
“They must have taken it,” she said to Nazar. “Everything else is still here though. We’d better grab the transmitter and go, they might still be watching the place.”
Nadalia threw her stuff into her bag, picked up the transmitter and left with Nazar. She decided not to mention the note from Mari until she’d worked out whether she was going to meet her or not. They made their way back to the central district and caught a transport back to Region Two, then snuck back to the old house where they were staying.
They went in and found Levon had been busy while they were out. He’d fixed the front door to an alarm system, so they would know if anyone tried to get in. All the bulbs had been removed from the light fittings, in case someone had put in surveillance devices, and all the windows had been blocked up properly. He’d also found a door leading down to a basement, which he thought might be useful at some point. Nadalia set up her transmitter while the twins went to explore the basement and check for any quick escape routes. She checked the mutual frequency the other groups had agreed on, and it was clear, so she sent out a quick message to the rebels.
“Hello, this is the Thirteenth Kat. Just letting you all know I’m safe, and the twins are with me. If anyone is receiving, please broadcast back on this frequency. Hoping you’re all okay.”
A few minutes later, the Disciples sent a message back: “Disciples here, glad you’re alright Thirteen. You’re the first we’ve heard from, our people got back fine but we haven’t heard from the Rowsers yet. Do you know what’s going on with those twins, are they on our side or not? Disciples out.”
Nadalia waited a while before transmitting back. She was fairly certain about the twins now, and wanted to let the others know they were safe.
“Thirteenth Kat again, pleased to hear your people are okay. I haven’t heard from the Rowsers either, but I’ll keep listening out for them on here and their usual frequency. The twins are alright, everything they said last night was true. They also helped me get away from a couple of enforcers that caught us on patrol.” Nadalia heard someone calling her from the basement at this point, so she finished off her broadcast saying she’d keep listening for any word from the Rowsers and headed down to see what they wanted.
Alaric flinched as the cell door opened. Surely they’ve got everything they can out of me, he thought. I don’t know anything else, I can’t take any more pain.
“You can stay in here. Someone will come round with food later,” he heard a guard say as another prisoner was pushed into the cell.
The new prisoner started banging on the door as soon as it shut. “You can’t keep me in here much longer!” she yelled through the door. “I’ve got friends outside, they know what you’re doing to people here and they won’t stand for it anymore!”
“There’s no point shouting, even if they’re listening they won’t pay attention,” Alaric said.
The new girl jumped and turned round. “Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m Alaric, I used to be Korian’s assistant. I’m guessing you’re one of the rebels they captured?”
She nodded. “Yeah, I used to be with The Skull Children. Name’s Katayun, most people just call me Yuni though. Korian’s assistant you say?”
“Yep. That’s why they wanted me in here, they seem to think I know where his friends and family are hiding.”
The door opened again, and a female guard came in with a tray of food. “You two alright in here? I’ve got some news about the rebels still going, if you’re interested.”
Katayun looked confused until Alaric explained. “This is Nyneve, she’s sort of on the rebels side. She tries to pass on news of the surviving groups, and she’s helped a couple of prisoners escape.”
“That’s right,” Nyneve said quietly. “Try and keep it quiet though. Anyway, I’ve just heard that some groups have started organising a united rebellion. There’s two groups and someone called the Thirteenth Kat. Also, Valamir says he’s found where Korian’s partner has been hiding, he brought in a little model of him and her. She hasn’t been caught yet though. I’ll let you know when I hear more if I can, I’d better go now though. If I stay too long the other guards will suspect something’s wrong.”
“Alright. Thanks for the news,” Alaric said as Nyneve left the cell. “I hope Nads is alright.”
“Nads?” Katayun asked as she pulled the tray of food towards her.
“Korian’s partner. She managed to get away from them at the joining ceremony, and they’ve been trying to get me to tell them where she’s hiding. Only I couldn’t tell them, because I don’t know where she is. They’ve more or less given up on me now, though they still drag me in for questioning every so often.”
“Sucks. Hey, do you have any idea who the Thirteenth Kat is? I’ve heard rumours that she’s actually Saphrax’s wife, she didn’t die in that crash but she knew who was behind it, and now she’s speaking out against him.”
Alaric shook his head. “I don’t think that’s it. But whoever she is, she’s extremely clever. Saphrax and his bunch have been running round in circles trying to find her for months, and they haven’t found a trace of her. If she’s involved in this organised rebellion, I think Saphrax is in big trouble.”
“Where do you reckon it goes?” Nadalia asked Levon. The twins had found a round metal door behind some rotted away wood panels, leading down to what looked like some sort of underground passage in the basement, and they’d called her down to have a look at it.
“I don’t know. Maybe a sub-basement, or it could be some sort of escape tunnel. I was going to check it out, but I need some candles so I can see where I’m going,” Levon replied. “It could be useful, at any rate. Somewhere to hide or an easy way out if we get raided.”
“Could certainly be useful,” Nadalia said. “I’ll get out some candles for you and wait by the entrance. Nazar, could you go upstairs and check the radio, we’re still waiting to hear from the Rowsers.”
“Sure, I’ll come down and let you know if I hear anything,” he said and went back upstairs.
Nadalia found some candles in a box and gave them to Levon, then sat by the entrance to the passage as he vanished into the gloom. As he headed down the passage, Levon left a couple of candles behind him whenever the tunnels branched off. It seemed to be a natural cave system, with several tunnels leading in separate directions. Levon took the largest tunnel every time, and eventually came to a massive cavern, full of crates. He opened one and found it was full of antique weapons, similar to the one Nazar had found and copied. A few crates were placed separately to the rest, and they had strange markings on the side that looked a bit like ancient writing. He decided to head back and let Nadalia and his brother know what he’d found. Besides, he thought, a massive load of weapons like that would be useful for the resistance.
While Levon was exploring the caves, Nazar had heard a message from the Rowsers and passed it on to Nadalia. “They said only one of their people got back last night, they’re assuming the others are gone. They’ve asked who else got away, and they want to know about us, they say they recognise our names from an investigation a while back,” he said, meaning himself and Levon. “Do you want me to sit and wait for Lev so you can go and respond?”
“No, that’s okay. Just keep listening and I’ll be up as soon as he gets back,” Nadalia said.
Levon got back from the caves after another half hour, and told Nadalia he had something big to tell both of them. They headed back up to talk to Nazar.
“Hey you two. There’s been a few more messages from the other groups, shall I tell you before you send anything out?”
“Okay, what’s been happening?” said Nadalia.
Nazar took a deep breath. “Well, the Disciples came on after the message from the Rowsers I told you about, they said they were sorry to hear about the Rowsers’people. They said they’d heard from you, passed on what you’d said earlier, and asked what we’re doing now. The Rowsers came back after a few minutes and said they’re having a memorial party on their frequency later, asked the Disciples if they still blame us for the enforcers showing up and said they should wait to hear from you before they organise anything. So did you find anything in the passage?”
“I found something alright. I think the other groups should know about it as well though,” Levon said. “Are you going to send a message back to them, Nadalia?”
“Yeah, I can send out a message now. You want to tell them about whatever it is you’ve found?”
Levon nodded and Nadalia switched on the transmitter. “Hello again, Thirteenth Kat here, with a quick message. I’d like to pass on condolences to the Rowsers, very sorry to hear about your people. The twins are here with me, and Levon says he’s found something here that should be useful. Levon, would you like to tell us what you’ve found?”
“I would. We found a cave system under where we’re hiding, and I’ve been down there exploring it. What I’ve found is a lot of crates full of antique weapons, which I think we could make good use of. Also, there were a couple of crates marked with what looks like ancient writing, can anyone interpret it for us?”
They signed off after that and waited for the other groups to respond. They didn’t have long to wait, since the Rowsers got back on the airwaves almost straight away.
“Rabble Rowsers are on the air, and those weapons sound awesome. We haven’t got a clue on ancient writing, but maybe the Disciples would? So, you guys are invited to listen in on our party later in memory of the fallen. Our usual frequency, we’re starting when sunset should be and carrying on til late. We’ll tune in to your frequencies too, so we can all chat properly. Catch you later!”
Shortly afterwards the Disciples sent out a transmission. They were a little more long-winded than the Rowsers, but got to the main points eventually.
“Yes, a few people in our group have studied ancient texts and should be able to interpret the writing, so long as we can get an accurate copy of it. It sounds like you twins really are on our side, and I’d like to apologise on behalf of the rest of the group for accusing you both. So, to repeat our earlier question, what’s the plan now?”
Nadalia switched back on and began another transmission. “I think we need to meet up again, and we need a new code, since the last one seems to have been cracked.”
“Or we need a different, more private way to communicate between ourselves,” Nazar interrupted. “Levon and I are pretty good at making stuff, I’m sure we could put together some personal communicators for each group. We could probably get them done by tomorrow if we can get hold of the bits, so why don’t we meet up somewhere tomorrow?”
“That’s not a bad idea, if you can make them that quick. How about somewhere central, Region Three white district? It’s easy enough to get to, and they can’t get us for being in the wrong district if we’re careful about getting there,” Nadalia suggested. “What do you guys think?” She cut off there to see what the other groups thought.
“Sounds good to us,” the Rowsers broadcast guy said after a few minutes break. “There’s a little café there we could go to, one of our people runs it so we should be safe. And if you guys have the communicators by then you could hand them out there.”
The Disciples came on a minute after the Rowsers. “Can we suggest that we meet up at midday? It would be easier for us all to blend in to the crowds, and I doubt the enforcers would be expecting rebels to meet up in a public place in the middle of the day. They wouldn’t really be looking out for us,” the Disciples broadcaster said.
Everyone agreed to the plan, and Nazar went out to get hold of some bits to make personal communicators. Nadalia stayed by the radio to check for any news, and Levon went back down to the caves to copy the writing on the crates.