~Chapter Sixteen- The Underground in Rhy~
I travel with a small group to one of the more obscure exit points in the region of Rhy, dressed in black uniforms. We enter the underground, each of us lugging supplies along with us. This isn’t the ordinary entrance we’d use, but with the military especially vigilant, this is the best way in.
We walk through the underground until we reach a checkpoint. Each of the settlement’s entryways are guarded. The guards manning the checkpoint jump to action.
“Don’t move!” They yell as they approach, shining flashlights at our eyes, guns at the ready.
“Peace! We’re allies.” One of those accompanying me tries to calm them down.
“What is Miro’s purpose?” The guards ask.
Out of all of those accompanying me, I’m the only one who knows the password for this tunnel. Each entrance had its own password. “Miro must protect the weak.” I answer.
The guards nod to each other and lower their guns, “What’re you here for?”
“Miro sent us. We’ve heard your settlement has been short on supplies.” I answer, confidently walking past them with a box of provisions.
As I walk into their settlement, I feel sea air flow through the tunnel, providing a pleasant breeze for everyone residing there. Light pours in through cracks in a wall of the cavern. Through those cracks I can see the eastern coast. Most of the underground communities weren’t fortunate enough to get fresh air like this.
We set the provisions at the center of the settlement and the leaders distribute it among its residents. I can tell the people living here are hungry.
“Thank you! Thank you so much!” An older woman takes my hand and I smile at her. I watch from the wall as they manage the supplies.
“This is it?” A member of the settlement asks, disappointed. The settlement leader regretfully nods.
Another member of the settlement voices their opinion, “We should just go to the Equality Zone! They said everyone living there would be provided for and would be safe from the PCC. They even said if we disarm, they may accept our soldiers!”
Commander Miguel steps forward, “Remember what Miro said.”
After the Equality Zone’s announcement, Miro spoke to everyone here. “Anyone who decides to live in the Equality Zone will become second class citizens. Everyone inside may be treated equally, but they’ll be seen as lesser to the rest of the country. Population Control will still be taking the lives of the weak everywhere else in the country. Our goal is to eliminate Population Control entirely, not just within a limited area. Do we really want to settle for their Equality Zone?”
“Then what are we going to do?”
Miro didn’t have an answer, only the advice to lie low and see how things play out.
As much as I hate to admit it, the government reviving the Equality Zone was a brilliant strategy in taking momentum away from Miro’s Revolution. Even the RLA has gone quiet since the announcement. If we were to fight now, our movement would lose support across the country. We’d be seen as terrorists against peace. Miro would appear as a villain.
Commander Miguel approaches me. He’s been managing this location lately. “You’re Victoria aren’t you?”
“Victoria Montoya.” I give him my false name as I adjust the glasses I’m wearing. My hair is up and I’ve made my voice and mannerisms more sterner, all to make myself a little less recognizable. Better they don’t find out I’m the daughter of a Colonel.
“Thank you for today. These people needed a break.” Miguel says. He and I have only met like this a few times, but he’s always been amiable.
“I’m glad I can help.”
“Miro seems to trust you,” Miguel points out.
I want to smile but stop myself. It’s funny. I wonder what he’d think if he knew the truth of it. “It seems that way.”
“Miro has always been pretty careful with who he deals with. Yet he’s asked that we let you in as you please. You know who he is, don’t you?” Miguel pries.
“It doesn’t matter who he is,” I respond flatly.
Miguel nods, “I agree. He’s gotten us this far; he deserves our trust. I’d rather not know who’s under that helmet. I’m just wondering what his plan is with this Equality Zone.”
What are we going to do? With time, I’m sure people will see the zone for what it is, just a small compromise to keep us complacent. But who knows how many will leave our forces by then. It’d be like starting all over again. But is it wrong of us to want to keep fighting when they’re offering this zone?
A radio hanging from Miguel’s hips begins to emit idle chatter. He picks it from his waist, “What’s going on over there?” He asks.
“Commander! We think we’ve found something big.” A voice responds. I perk up my ears while feigning disinterest.
“What is it?”
“Another exit point from the underground. But this emerges right into the ruins of the old Equality Zone.” They voice on the other end of the radio explains.
If that’s true... We may not be done yet.
“We need to contact Miro immediately.” Miguel must be of the same mindset.