It’s been three days since we leaked the Cleansing footage. We thought this would be the first step towards victory; a way to weaken the Redeemers.
Instead, it’s strengthened them.
The people of the Remainder don’t believe it. They say that we created the footage ourselves and are trying to soil the good name of the Redeemers.
Mere hours after the release of the footage, Simon Krane delivered a speech to the Remainder.
Sitting in my cell, I re-watch the recording on Elle’s Clikbook. Simon Krane is as striking as ever, with his perfect face and deep, commanding voice. I recognize the bright white walls of the Crux behind him, and can see the dome-shaped roof that gleams under the sunlight. The video shows him speaking to the crowd.
“The release of this faked footage proves the simple-minded state of this so-called Truth rebellion,” he says. “The accusations they’ve laid on the Redeemers are ludicrous. They believe that they can undermine our benevolent government by releasing poorly forged videos.”
My grip on the Clikbook tightens at his words, my stomach twisting.
“I ask you, my friends,” Krane continues. “Is your faith in the Redeemers so feeble? Can it be weakened so easily? We would never hurt you. The Redeemers have been true to you in every way, working tirelessly to create a perfect world for you.”
He begins to remind the crowd of all the things the Redeemers have done. My anger grows at his deception.
But the people believe him. They clap and nod as he speaks, soaking in the lies he tells them.
“Only the weak betray us,” he says to the crowd. “The Truth is weakness itself. Weakness is a Flaw. The members of the Truth are Flawed.” Then, he looks directly into the camera. “Be strong, my friends. Remember, the Redeemers are here for you.”
He goes on, but I mute the Clikbook and stare at the wall.
We’ve failed. In releasing the footage, we’ve just strengthened the Redeemer’s grip on the Remainder; the people will never trust the Truth now. Our war may have ended before it began.
When I look back to the Clikbook, Krane is walking off the stage. The crowd claps, their faces bright with new hope and trust in the Redeemers. I turn the Clikbook off, watching as the pixels fade into the air.
There has to be a way to fix this. There must be a way…
We’ve been dormant for a few days now, ever since the public turned against us. The colony is paralyzed, unsure of what our next step should be. There’s a strange tension among us now, but we’re trying to regroup.
I officially joined the colony’s fighting force, but the training sessions Gray leads are simply review of what I learned during the Redeemer initiation program.
Xander joined with me. He hasn’t admitted it, but I know that he’s having trouble. Not with the skills, exactly, but what he’ll have to use them for. Hurting people.
Darren joined too, although everything is obviously easy for him. His training goes far past anything we’re learning.
And then there’s Elle. The pain of the Dalals’ death is still fresh; she’s been drowning in grief ever since. Because she refused to join the fighting force, her only distraction has been technology. She’s started to work on the reveal of ALPHA’s existence to the Remainder - but we’re not even sure if that will make a difference anymore.
A light rapping on the bars of my cell draws my attention to the door. Xander leans against the doorframe, watching me.
I scratch the back of my head. “How long have you been standing there?”
He takes a seat next to me. The old bed frame squeaks under his weight. “One minute and…” He checks his watch. “…nine seconds.” He leans back and studies me. “You look upset. What’s wrong?”
I sigh. “You want a list?”
He’s silent for a moment before murmuring, “I know. Things haven’t gone as planned, have they?”
“Everything is falling apart.” I rub my eyes. “What do we do now, Xander? The people don’t believe us. We’ve just made things worse.”
“Leaking the footage isn’t our only option for turning them to our side. I’m sure we’ll think of something.”
He’s right – there must be other options. But we can’t afford to waste any time. The Redeemers will probably start cracking down on rebels more than ever now; our revolution could wither away before it even takes form. We can’t let that happen.
Next to me, Xander quietly lets out a soft breath.
I glance at him. “…Are you okay?”
“I guess so,” he says, looking down at his newly calloused palms.
It’s clear that he doesn’t want to elaborate, so I change the subject, asking about what he thinks about his training so far.
“It’s okay,” he responds. “It keeps me busy.”
I look at him for a moment. “It’s not easy for you, is it?”
His cheeks flush. “I’ve been having some trouble. Not with the tactics themselves, but with the fact that I’ll be using them to...kill.” He almost whispers the last word. “But I can’t just sit here and watch,” he continues, voice hushed. “I need to do something, be a part of the change. But to take a life?” He shakes his head.
“Whatever you say.” He glances at the door, clasping his hands together.
“Xander…” I begin, before he decides to leave. “You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. You’ve already done enough.”
“Have I?” He stares at a crack in the floor, avoiding my gaze. “I waited in a Cleansing chamber, completely blind to what they were going to do me. I watched while you negotiated with Gray and Carper. I stayed here while you and Elle went and got the minichip. What exactly have I done, Nat?”
I’m silent, watching him. He stands up to pace the cell.
“See? I’ve done nothing. All I’ve done is watch. And it’s all I’ll ever do, unless I get my act together and learn how to kill.”
“That’s not true.” I get to my feet. “You’ve done plenty of things. You…” I rack my brain, but the past few days are a blur. I can’t sort through them without getting lost.
“I knew it,” he mutters.
“Wait-” I take a step towards him. “You don’t have to be someone you’re not. It doesn’t matter what you do. You’re here. That’s enough.”
He moves away from me. “It’s not enough for me.”
“But it is-“
“It’s not,” he repeats, louder this time. I look at him in surprise. He raises a hand to cover his eyes. “My mom was killed by the Redeemers, Nat,” he says, softer this time. “They murdered her, and I didn’t even know. I have to fight them. I have to kill them. If I don’t, then…then what kind of son am I?”
I open my mouth to speak, but no sound comes out. There are no words, no response. What he’s saying is true, but I don’t want to believe it. I don’t want him to have to suffer, to kill when he doesn’t want to. It’s not fair. Not right.
He looks at me tiredly before moving to the door. “It’s not about losing who I am, Nat. It’s about becoming someone different. My whole life has changed - it’s time I do, too.”
He leaves the cell, shoulders hunched, and disappears down the hall.