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Chapter 43 The calm before the storm

“You have been quiet this morning Celeste.” “Yes, Ben and sorry. I'm worried. Things have gone as planned so far and that's what concerns me. My tendency is to over plan, and in this case, it likely won't work. The best I can do is to arrange things, so the battle runs on automatic with just a few simple goals and tactics.” “What do you have in mind,”  “At the end of the day the security forces and Elders have to be rounded up and all restrained. The more stunners the women have, the easier and safer this will be for them. The more surprise and faster things happen the better.” “Can we look at where all the stunners are now Celeste?” asked Ben.

The vid filled with a sea of stunner white dots and the four green crowd stunner ones. “Can you project where you think they will all be when we start?” Most of the white dots shifted to the thirty-two barracks buildings leaving a sprinkling of them scattered around the city and a few in the Cathedral. “All four of the crowd stunners are in the Security Forces Headquarters. Getting our hands on those would make it much easier to deal with the barracks,” said Ben.

“What do you think of this idea Ben? We send Lora's teams out early first and have them collect all stunners from the troopers on patrol in the city. They start from the outskirts and work their way towards the square. They use those stunners to quietly take control of the Security Forces headquarters building and find the crowd stunners. At that time we have six groups converge on the barracks with the crowd stunners, and we split off some with stunners to guard the armory. I don't want any slug throwers in the mix if we can manage it. Two more groups now equipped with stunners take and hold the Cathedral complex and the Elder's mansions. The remainder of Lora's group stays the square and holds it. I think I want one team on the outside of the walls where there may be an underground exit point. That leaves one group available to fill in any holes.”

“What do we do with the prisoners?” asked Ben. “Initially we leave them tied where they are. Later we can pick them up with tractors and transport them to the main hall of the Cathedral, or someplace else where there is room. I can't think of a better use for this ugly symbol of oppression,” said Celeste. “Let's talk to the women now. They are all together in the warehouse.”

“Hi, Lora. Could you ask everybody to put their earpieces in? Ben and I want to talk with all of you.” “We are ready for you Celeste,” said Lora. “Good morning women. From now on wear your earpieces all the time. I'll warn you of any troopers and help steer you away from them. If you look at your bags carefully, you will find a pouch inside that will hold your tablets. Don't forget to bring them with you in the morning. The most important job you have today is to make sure everybody knows where to be in the morning. After tomorrow history will proudly call you the ten, who changed your world for the better. So finish up and get to bed early. I need all of you to be well rested and ready to be your most fearsome in the morning. Get to the warehouse well before first light. I'm very proud of all of you.”

Wincing the Marshal rolled over onto his side on the hard floor. Getting up he made a token effort to dust himself off, and his stomach grumbled. “I'll see if the baker is still is open in the square,” he thought.

His nose wrinkled at the smell as he carefully stepped around a fetid brown puddle. Among the closed stalls is the baker's, and it's open. He walked over and eyed the young women with surprise. “My da is sick, and he needs the coins. I will be open as long as there is something to sell. What do you want?” “Four sweet rolls please.” She handed him a paper-wrapped package, and he tried to hand her coins. She stepped back. “Look around you at all the sick people. I won't be touching any coins. Drop them into the bowl and take your change. I'll boil the lot later.” Dropping his coins in he looked closely at the bowl and decided not to get any change. The young woman grinned at him, “See, told you so.”

He ate a roll studying the square. More tractors were stalled. The public vid was showing the same scene he saw yesterday. It must be playing a loop he realized. The usually crowded square has fewer people, and many look ill. A trooper was waiting in the long line at the public jakes. He suddenly jumped out of the line and butted in at the front. A man loudly complained, and the trooper stunned him. He then kicked open the door to the jakes, reached in, jerked the seated man out onto the pavement and stunned him as well. Glaring at the gathering group, he stepped in and closed the door.  Someone picked up a rock and threw it at the door. Others snatched up stones and followed his lead. “It's time to leave,” he thought as he stood and wrapped up the remaining rolls. “Tomorrow must be the day, I just don't know what it will bring.”

“How about we eat outside tonight and have an early night Ben,” said Celeste. “We have a busy day tomorrow.” “Sounds good to me as long as my food isn't going to be crawling around on the plate,” said Ben. “I'll make sure it isn't moving for you, Ben.” “Sounds like there is a loophole in that phrase Celeste.” “Maybe, but trust me.” Ben smiled, “I always trust you.”