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Chapter 25 Bricks on the wall

Ben awoke early with the cabin lights on bright, and Celeste calling out to him. Pulling on his robe, he walked into the salon. She was looking at him with a finger to her lips.  A few seconds later Lora's face appeared on the vid. She was in a dark and small room, and he heard a whispered “Hello? I'm sorry it's so early, I'm in the jakes.” Celeste looked at Ben and “mouthed outside toilet.” “That's fine Lora, you can call me anytime, just make sure you're safe when you do it.”

“I have my ten friends. We all took a blood oath,” holding up a cut finger. “That's excellent work, Lora. Keep reminding everyone this must be kept a secret so choose your members very carefully. I have left you another package in the woods. It contains one thousand special coins in one hundred coin bundles. They look like regular coins, but if you look at the ear on the face, you can see it has a small flaw. Every woman in your groups must carry one at all times. I can use these coins to see where everyone is, you can use them to identify each other, and they will be needed later on. Don't spend them. If you see a single tiny spot on your tablet blinking when it's off, it means I would like to talk with you. Until then, all of you must keep the tablets well hidden. Take care and be safe Lora.” and the connection shut off.

“Grab a cup of cafe Ben. There are some things we have to figure out. I was planning to just blow up the armory, but with the nuclear explosives inside this is no longer possible. There are two options. Either we capture it, or we find a way to barricade the entrances until we have things under control. I also went back through my radar mapping data, and I think I may see a tunnel down deep leaving the cathedral, going under the wall, and ending in a building. We need to remember to have some women with stunners there in case we don't get all the Elders rounded up.”

“Is there any way into the armory, so we could take a look around inside?” “I could maybe get a microdrone through a vent if there is one, but it would need to be on a rainy night to provide some cover. It's well guarded, and I'm not that optimistic I can get in. Finding a way to block the entrances will be a better, although riskier option. I'll move one of the microdrones close enough to the armory to watch the entrances. We might get lucky.”

“How do you see this whole revolution thing working?” “The plan needs to stay adaptable Ben. The women need to be in the right place at the right time. About ninety percent of the Eaulander's aren't going to be in great shape. Most will be more worried about finding a toilet and staying there, rather than dealing with what will seem like at the time minor events like an insurrection. It's the remaining ten percent that will be the problem. I can deactivate all the stunners and make them usable by only coin holders, and as the coins, I know where they are. I want to load the security forces with the stunners and have them rely on them. They are easy for me to make, and they will become the women's weapons at the right time. This will take a large chunk of the slug throwers out of the equation. Hopefully, most will be in the armory. We should consider some distractions we can use at the right time. The other thing that could bite us hard is the Elders could figure out we have something to do with all of this before we are ready.”

“What do you think the Eauland men are going to do?” “They don't have a good life, better than the women, yes, but not much better. Given a chance to get rid of the Elders, most will take it. If they are invited to participate equally in a new government, I think most would gladly accept.” “What are the downside risks, Celeste?” “It's chaos theory raising its ugly head faster than we can compensate. The Elders could escape with weapons and some security forces. If our plan is discovered, we might have to pull the trigger early, and this would increase the chances of losing more lives, or even making things much worse.”

A small bot carrying a box rolled into the salon and left it at Ben's feet. “I take it Ungar is showing up?” “Yes, his watchers are moving into place in the woods.” The tractor and carriage wheezed into the field and came to a smoldering stop. Climbing out of the carriage Ungar walked to the ship and Ben met him at the top of the ramp. “Welcome Ungar,” said Ben. “Do you have any of those Manhattan drinks? I think this is a good morning for one, or maybe two,” said Ungar. “Sure Ungar, have a seat, and I'll make you one.” Ungar sat, and used a cloth to wipe his soaking brow. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a bar of gold and gently set it on the table. “It's gold. It was Davin's idea. We have a lot of it and not much use for it. In the old days, it was considered to be valuable, and he thought it might be to you.” 

Walking into the salon, Celeste added, “If he thinks so, we will let him. It makes things easier for us.” Ben gave Ungar his drink, and he took a large swallow. “There's going to be a public execution in the square today at noon. It seems Marshal Banner was stealing coins from other accounts, including Davin's, and he wants to make an example of him. It will be broadcast live. Davin is going to do it personally, no doubt on behalf of the Oneness. I shudder to think what he will do to him.” “Ben, would you please give Ungar his coins,” asked Celeste, Ben dropped two coins into Ungar's hand. “Look closely at these two coins.” Ungar studied them closely. “They are the same.” “Look again at the ear on the portrait,” said Ben. Ungar held them close to his eyes. “One of them has a slightly damaged ear.” “Yes,” said Ben. “You must keep that one with you at all times. It will tell us where you are and will help us keep you safer. Downstream it will let you do other things if you have it with you.” “Ungar, I spoke to your daughter this morning, and she is safe. There are ten stun guns in the box. Tomorrow give us ten bars of gold, and we will give you one hundred stun guns and three crowd stunners. Take care Ungar, and keep a low profile,” said Celeste. Ben handed Ungar the box and walked with him to the ramp. Ungar trudged back to his carriage. Trailing a cloud of black soot it disappeared.

Celeste sat next to Ben. “It's almost noon, you might want to make some lunch. I think a full stomach will help when we watch Davin's performance.” The vid turned on. Marshal Banner was sobbing, and his arms were chained between two posts on a raised platform. “I didn't steal money, Senior Elder.” “You are lying in front of witnesses and the Oneness,” screeched Davin. “The Elders examined the transfers, and they came from your computer. You have been judged guilty and will meet with the Oneness in another life to further atone for your sins.” Davin picked up a whip with a small blades dangling at its many ends and raised his arm. “It was the witch on the spaceship who must have done this,” cried out the Marshal. “She has never left the ship, your lies will make things worse for you” Davin stalled for a few thoughtful seconds, and then struck viciously with the whip as the screaming started. “Do you need to watch any more Ben.” “No, I'm good. I don't think we should move any more money around until we pull the trigger. I didn't like those few seconds when Davin seemed to be considering if it was possible.” “Me neither.”