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Approx. 5300 words

All Rights Reserved

Copyright 2015   SJ

Chaos in Delta Pavonus:

The Rebel Leader


written by  SJ



    Corporal de la Vega landed the Federal Special Ops shuttle in stealth mode in an open field behind a small, coastal, resort located on the southeastern edge of Pavona Platte, on the border of Pavona Angora. Each person had one piece of luggage; any weapons were kept inside. Once they had landed, the first thing Lana began asking was for the shuttle to fly over Pavona Angora and make a number of high-altitude, hard-structure, scans.
    “No, LuLu.” Melinda strictly countered. “We can’t do that--”
    Lana’s mouth was open to ask why.
    “No.” The senior woman shook her head, then explained. “This is a Federal military shuttle. It cannot support us in any way. Even stealthed--it can NOT fly over Pavona Angora at all.”
    “But, it’ll be at a high altitude, maybe even in orbit.”
    Melinda continued to shake her head. “No.”
    Lana persisted, insisting. “It would be just to give us a general idea where that prison is located. It probably won’t be in a city. It might be hard to find--”
    Dion continued to shake her head.
    Lana then frowned, getting upset. “You know, sometimes we can’t always go by the rules.” She pointed south, the direction of Pavona Angora. “They broke the rules when they arrested me.” Her voice became angry. “They broke the rules when they took Annie!”
    “I’m sorry, LuLu.” Melinda tried to sound sympathetic, but remained firm. “We HAVE to go by the rules even if they don’t.”
    Lana lowered her head.
    “Hey, what’s up?” That was Gannon. Everyone else had disembarked the shuttle and were waiting. “You guys coming?”
    As they left the shuttle, Melinda tried to mention something to make Lana feel better. “Once we meet up with Franco, it’s very possible he’ll already know were that prison is located.”
    “What’s up with Little Sister?” Bull asked Gannon.
    “You know--she’s worried about Annie.”
    Once the shuttle’s ramp had closed, Melinda motioned for it to leave. Bull came over and tried to comfort Lana. “Don’t worry. We’re gonna find her.” He smiled, putting his arm around her shoulders. “If she’s half as stubborn as you, she’s probably just be sitting someplace waiting for us, upset it took us so long.”
    Dion’s team entered the resort just as the first rays of sunlight dotted the landscape of the rain forest around them. They wanted to be the first in line for an airboat ride that would take them across the everglades to Pavona Angora, which they were, which was good, since there was only one airboat dock.
    The pilot of the boat asked Dion several times why they wanted to go to Angora Pavona, saying the harbor on the other end was not operational. Melinda basically told the pilot the truth: They were going to meet someone.
    They all wore casual clothes. Gannon had medium-grey work pants, Bull had tan ones; both wore standard, blue-grey, undershirts. Lana wore a pair of brand new, black, straight-leg, performance pants, and a blue-grey tank top with an unbuttoned, tan, blouse. Nikolai had on dark pants and a grey, short-sleeve, button, shirt with a dark grey collar and sleeves. Of the six, Koufax was dressed the snazziest with light-grey pants that had thick blue stripes down the outside and inside of the legs; his button shirt was light-grey with light-blue stripes with a dark-grey vest-shirt over the top. Melinda had on dark blue jeans with a thick, tan, belt; she wore a light-blue, button, shirt and carried a tan purse.
    The morning had started out overcast but was quickly turning into a sunny day. They all put on sunglasses before the airboat pilot landed them at a broken, rundown, wooded, pier.
    There were a number of modern-style, grass, huts in the distance, all of them in poor shape. When the pilot saw there were no airboats at the pier, he asked again if they wanted to stay, or return with him. After Melinda told him no, he quickly turned around and left.
    Shortly after the airboat was gone, they all began seeing something that could mean trouble: a four-man shuttle parked next to one of the huts. Soon, three men appeared, then spotted them, approaching quickly. And even though they wore casual clothes, they all appeared armed with some kind of automatic pistols, like security guards, only they each wore some kind of red armband.
    None of them looked like they knew what they were doing, or even exactly why they were there. The older of the three men spoke first, trying to act at least a little professional. “Um, this place is no longer in service and, um, is off limits. They don’t want anyone around here.” He frowned, curious. “Where did you guys come from? How did you get here?”
    Melinda took the lead, answering, putting on a good act. She pointed back at the dock. “We just came over here from Pavona Platte. We were supposed to meet some friends.” She sighed, acting genuinely worried, holding out her phone. “I just got a call saying they are still in Dandelot. They want us to meet them there. Do you know how to get there from here?”
    “Oh, hell, Dandelot is about thirty kilometers from here.” The older man explained seriously, then asked, looking at the pier. “Did your airboat leave already?”
    Dion sighed, then nodded miserably. “’s gone.”
    It was like he suddenly didn’t know what to do. “Well...there are no buses that go this far. But, if you can walk to Wexal, you might be able to get a bus from there. It’s about five kilometers.” He pointed at a small, empty, parking lot, where a two-lane, paved, road traveled southeast, then eastward, abandoned buildings scattered along the way. “If you follow that road it’ll go east for about three kilometers then turn south. It’ll take you to Wexal.” He sighed and shook his head. “Nobody’s supposed to be here. It’s abandoned and it’s off limits--”
    “Why is it off limits?” Lana asked, being curious.
    “Oh, hell, I don’t know.” He shrugged. “Looters, maybe.” He smiled. “My orders are to arrest anyone I find here.”
    As soon as he said that, Bull and Gannon stepped up and stood close, one on each side of Lana.
    He continued. “I’m supposed to hold anyone I find here until they can be picked up by another shuttle.” He laughed. “But, that would be stupid.”
     “Where would the shuttle take them?” Lana questioned, hoping. “Is there a prison someplace?”
    The guard pointed at her. “That’s just the point. There are no prisons around here.” He pointed at the parking lot again. “Just follow that road and it’ll eventually lead you to Wexal.” He laughed again, joking. “Now get out of here.”
    “Thank you.” Melinda spoke just before gathering together her group and heading to the parking lot. On the road, she had to smile and mention. “Nice try, LuLu.”
    Melinda had the only directions to Franco’s rebel hideout, and ironically, it was located somewhere along the road they were just told to follow. They walked east for almost four kilometers until they could see the road turning south in the distance. Before then, they spotted a farmhouse, where behind it there was a clearing, actually a long, narrow, abandoned, rice paddy. When they reached the building, someone was there, a teenage boy, who came out to greet them:
    “Hi.” He looked them over, then asked, “where are you going?”
    Melinda smiled and answered. “We’re on the road to grandma’s house.”
    He smiled back. “Well, I guess I’m the big bad wolf, so follow me.”
    Melinda and her group followed the boy through the farm building, out the back, then across a bridge spanning the narrow part of the rice paddy. From there, they followed a well-hidden, narrow, trail through a dense section of rain forest all the way until they found the edge of the everglades, following a wide pier until it ended at a sizeable house suspended above the water in the same way the pier was, all of it concealed by foliage; they could barely make out an airboat tied to the dock.
    The house looked like it might’ve been some sort of small lodge at one time. In the front room, Melinda and her team were met by a man and a woman both dressed in civilian-style, camouflaged, clothing, who told them to place their luggage on the far right side of the room then sit down at a long table. Eventually, the woman asked Melinda several questions, mostly about a conversation she had had with Major Taliaferro. When she was satisfied, she left and exited through a door in the back. Shortly afterwards, she returned with a man who came out and sat down in her place at the table, she on the other side of the first man. The newcomer was dressed the same way as the others, but had the look and of a determined, charismatic, leader; he quickly introduced himself as Ben Franco.
    He began: “I want to get right down to business.” He pointed southwest. “That woman, the Matriarch, as she’s calling herself, is one crazy bitch--and she’s getting crazier every day.”
    “Can you tell me exactly what she’s done?” Melinda need some proof. “Has she publicly executed anyone? Has she rounded up a large amount of civilians and taken them away? And, if she has, who did she use to do--”
    “LISTEN!” Franco interrupted. “Right now, I have no proof any of that has happened. I used to have twelve people in my group here. In the last four months, I’ve sent my people out into the towns to gather information. So far only one of them has come back. I only have six people left; I can NOT afford to lose any more. She must have some sort of system to monitor phone conversations in all the big towns because as soon as they start communicating with me, as soon they start telling me about people getting taken away in the night--THEY get taken away.”
    “So, it’s only in the towns you think she can monitor your phone conversations?” Melinda asked, thinking.
    “Each of the big towns have a kind of police station; I mean, they’re obviously not, but they have a couple jail cells like a police station. The buildings are made of thick, heavy, cinder blocks. It’s from those buildings they MUST be monitoring phone conversations. On the outside, they have the letters, CDA.” He grinned confidently. “We have to shut those buildings down.” He frowned. “Our first plan of action should be to TAKE Dandelot.”
    Melinda frowned back. “What do you mean, TAKE Dandelot?”
    “Turn it into a rebel town.” Franco made it clear. “All we really need to do is capture that one CDA building and make sure there are no other Matriarch agents there. Once that happens I’m sure I can go in and convince the people to raise a militia to defend the town. Once all the other towns are aware that we can fight back against this Matriarch, we can do the same with those. Soon she’ll be all alone on her island fortress. We can literally starve her out.”
    Dion was just about to say something.
    “We need to take Dandelot.” Franco insisted, then explained. “The grocery stores are running out of food; maybe one or two months left. Once we have the shuttleport on Dandelot the stores can purchase and bring in food from outside districts.”
    Melinda sighed.
    It was obvious Franco was a man of affirmative action. He became dismayed. “You won’t be able to do that?”
    Lana was better at military strategy and tactics than Melinda. She decided to speak up and explain. “Let’s say we do what you want, then the Matriarch returns with a small force and begins shelling the town with mortars. Even if your militia is entrenched, the barrage may very well cause a lot of civilian casualties.”
    The rebel leader sighed. “Mortars. I don’t think she has any of those, but you might be right. I didn’t think of mortars. We have no idea what kind of forces she has on her island fortress over there.”
    “Island fortress?” Lana wanted to know.
    “In the southwest corner of the District there’s a large lake, Lake Dunley. She’s built herself a walled fortress on the island, right in the middle of it. She has herself about a dozen small shuttles she uses to fly her personal troops around with. She can strike anywhere she wants, anytime.”
    “Didn’t that used to be some sort of resort. Boating, water skiing, stuff like that?” Lana remembered.
    Franco looked at her, studying. “You used to live here?”
    She nodded.
    “I think I remember you. In Dandelot, right? At the shuttleport? A little girl with black hair and Asian eyes?”
    She nodded again, feeling sad about remembering. Then she spoke up. “I lived there with my Aunt. Her name was Annie Baudet.” She frowned sadly. “I think the Matriarch took her away about a year ago then sent me a phony death report while I was on Cheyenne.” Her eyes brightened with hope. “She might still be alive. She must’ve been taken to the same prison I was taken to when I used to live here. Do you know where that prison is at?”
    The rebel leader remained nodding. “I understand. We have all lost someone. The Matriarch took away my brother, Tom.” He held up a his index finger. “At first I thought that prison was on that island, underneath her fortress.”
    Lana was just about to sigh.
    “But, it’s not.” Franco seemed sure. “It has to be located somewhere south of Cambridge, possibly between Lake Dunley and Marion.” He shook his head, still showing some sadness about his brother. “I wish we could find it, if for nothing else, just to see if my brother is still alive. But, I just don’t have enough people.”
    Lana wanted to say more, but knew he was right about the shortage of personnel. She decided to reply to his earlier plan. “Okay, if we TAKE Dandelot--”
    She got a stern look from Melinda.
    “We won’t be able to defend the town conventionally.” Lana continued. “But, if you can arm and train enough militia, we can defend the town covertly--”
    “Yes, YES!” Franco became excited. “Guerilla warfare. Let them return and take the town back, then we strike from the shadows. Excellent. The Matriarch can NOT have that many troops. We can wear them down.” He began looking at Lana, then Melinda, back and forth, then asked, “which one of you is actually in charge?”
    Lana sighed, then pointed at Melinda. “She is. I’m sorry. All of what we just spoke of has to be confirmed by her.”
    Franco shook hands with the team leader. “Officer Dion. Good to finally meet you.”
    “Nice to meet you.” Melinda smiled back cordially. “But, before we can plan to do anything like taking back Dandelot we have to gather some information--”
    “Yes, yes, of course.” Franco agreed. “I wouldn’t think of doing such a thing without some reconnaissance. I’m sorry...I have gotten ahead of myself. Reconnaissance first. It’s just I haven’t had enough people to risk doing that. Now, since you are here, we can proceed.” He gestured to the man and woman sitting at the table beside him. “This is Hernando and Mercedes Valdez, brother and sister. They are the only people I have left that cannot be readily recognized by the Matriarch’s forces. I want them to go with you.” He then corrected himself, asking, “with your permission, of course?”
    “Yes, that’s fine.” Melinda confirmed. “As long as they accept the risks.”
    Franco smiled. “We have all accepted that risk long before you came.”
    There was a if Franco was waiting for Melinda to say something. Eventually, she did. “I hope I didn’t make the impression that we would NOT support you in turning Dandelot into a rebel stronghold. You see, in the formation of a legal rebellion there are certain rules we must adhere to...not so much you guys, natives of this District, but us, and the military we represent.”
    When she noticed Franco listening careful, she decided to change the subject and ask, “how much do you know about Chaos?”
    The rebel leader looked a little confused. “You mean, the word?”
    “No, about what’s been happening on other planets.” Melinda explained. “Armies from the WARP--”
    “Oh, yeah.” Franco seemed to remember. “I heard something had happened on Cornucopia.” He sighed. “You’ll have to forgive us for not knowing too much about what’s been going on in other solar systems. We have our hands full here.”
    “Well, what’s been happening there, very well, could be happening here.” Melinda proceeded to explain. “A woman suddenly calling herself the Matriarch of the Dark Apostles is not exactly normal behavior.”
    “And if the presence of this Chaos is found, what happens? How does that change things?” Franco’s interest was tentative.
    “As soon as we can substantiate that Chaos is involved with what’s going on with Gale Montague, then, well, this is no longer a rebellion--it’s a war. We can bring in the Space Marines from Camp Cheyenne, and the General can send in his Federal Marines.” Melinda smiled.
    “Those forces can be used to attack the Matriarch directly, then?” Franco wanted to make sure.
    “They can be used to take back the entire District and restore order.”
    Franco slowly smiled, excited. “Well, we MUST look for signs of this Chaos influence, then.”
    Melinda promptly laid three phones on the table, displaying them in front of Franco, saying he should keep one of them for himself. From this point she had to give the rebel leader a short history lesson of what they’ve learned about the WARP and Chaos, explaining about WARP Worms, WARP gates, Chaos Cultists, Chaos Marines, and, lastly, demons, something that seemed to visibly disturb them, especially after they were told about the massacre site on Thanatos-4. However, they were glad to say that nothing like anything she had spoke of had been found, or even heard about, so far.
    After learning how to use them, Franco handed the two phones to Hernando and Mercedes, allowing them to check everyone for WARP Worms, if for nothing else, just for practice, learning they had to be fairly close to the scanned subject for it to work; but, nothing was found, nor was it expected.
    “So, once we find a WARP Worm in one of the Matriarch’s men, that will bring in the Marines?” Franco wanted to know.
    Melinda decided to explain in more detail. “In order for the Marines to be brought in, we’ll have to find a more SIGNIFICANT presence of Chaos. That means a WARP gate, Chaos Marines, something like that.”
    Franco sat frowning slightly.
    Lana spoke up. “You have to understand, the Chaos threat is Galaxy-wide. “We have to--”
    “Yes, YES--of course.” Franco nodded. “You cannot allocate such forces to a small threat if a possible GREATER threat could occur elsewhere.” He smiled. “I understand completely, now.”
    Melinda wanted to give Lana a big thanks, but continued. “However, the presence of a WARP Worm will still allow us to bring in more forces.”
    She turned to Lana for an explanation.
    “Yes, once we find a WARP Worm, I can make a call and bring in my Special Ops shuttle along with two more personnel, plus some better equipment.” She smiled, then decided to ask, changing the subject, “these shuttles Gale Montague has...are they all just four-man shuttles? Does she have any military shuttles?”
    “Almost all the shuttles she has are these recreational shuttles, those she stole from the Lake Dunley resort.” Franco seemed sure. “I think she has one or two larger shuttles that can carry about six people instead of four.”
    Lana nodded. “That’s good. If she had military shuttles she might be able to arm them, possibly drop bombs--”
    Franco sighed hard. “Oh, God--that’s another thing we didn’t think of: Dropping bombs.” He stared at Lana. “So, she can’t do that with the recreational shuttles, right?”
    She shook her head. “No. The best she could do would be to just throw some kind of explosive device out of a shuttle door and hope it hits something.” She paused to hold up her finger, then pointed. “Over there, where the abandoned airboat resort is at, there are three guards. They have a four-man shuttle--”
    “Yes, we know about them.” Franco mentioned right away, then asked, “did you encounter them?”
    “Yes.” Lana nodded. “But, they didn’t seem too interested in following the Matriarch’s orders.” She looked at Franco carefully. “Do you think you could talk to them--win them over to our side?” She smiled. “That would give us the use of a shuttle--”
    Franco shook his head no, then pointed at the boy that led them to his hideout. “Peter has talked to them several times and from what I’ve heard about them, they do not sound like the type to join a rebellion.”
    Then she felt she needed to mention an important observation about the three guards. “You know, I doubt very much their firearms are real.”
    “Not, real?” Franco wondered.
    “Normal firearms have weight to them. They are heavy.” Lana explained. “I noticed that their firearms don’t pull down on their they are light, maybe made of plastic.”
    Franco started to smile.
    “And they are wearing these belts that have bullet loops with no bullets, and their pistols are clearly automatics.”
    The rebel leader laughed. Looking at Melinda, he pointed at Lana. “This one, she is very observant.” Before either women could speak, he continued. “But, if what you are saying is that we should capture them so we can use their shuttle, then, no. That won’t work.” He sighed. “Even if I could win them over to our side, it still wouldn’t work. You see, all the Matriarch’s shuttle’s are bugged with locators and listening devices. If these two guards are not careful, we may find they have been replaced one day.”
    Lana gestured to Nikolai, then spoke. “We can remove any bugs or listening devices those shuttle have--”
    Franco still shook his head, no. “Let me explain. If that shuttle ever turns up missing, the Matriarch will send more of her shuttles over here to find out what happened. This hideout I have here is secure ONLY because the Matriarch has no reason to search here. If she comes with bio-scanners, which she DOES have, she will find us for sure.”
    Lana sighed, then agreed. “Sorry. I was just hoping we could get a ride to Dandelot.” She glanced at Melinda. “I guess we’re going to have to walk to Wexal and hope to catch a bus--”
    “No. Buses do not go to Wexal, anymore.” Franco added.
    “So, we’re stuck walking to Dandelot?” Melinda wanted to make sure.
    The rebel leader sighed. “Even walking has it’s risk. If you are spotted by a patrol shuttle from the air, they will come down and detain you. And if you fight back and win, the Matriarch will know about it as soon as it happens. She will send her entire force of shuttles filled with troops to look for you.” He looked over Melinda and her team. “Do you think you can fight her entire army by yourselves?”
    Eventually, Lana spoke up. “We aren’t even all armed.”
    Melinda pointed over at their luggage located on the other side of the room, informing Franco of the few weapons they had.
    Franco then smiled. “As for more weapons, that I can help you with.” He pointed at the luggage. “You may all feel free to retrieve the weapons you have and show them to me.” He then got up and called to some people in a back room, who, in a short time, brought out a wooden box. Inside, he brought out an HK Mp5K submachine gun, then handed it to Lana, smiling. “This weapon seems to be suited to you.”
    After she had accepted the weapon, he handed her a silencer for it. When he saw Melinda remove her 9.1 from her purse, he tried to hand her a silencer also.
    But, she shook her head. “If that silencer is for a regular 9 millimeter, then it won’t work with mine. Mine’s an auto pistol.”
    He then retrieved a regular HK Mp5 with a folding stock. Koufax had no problems accepting the weapon with the remaining silencer. Once he saw all of Melinda’s team holding a weapon, he then began passing out ammunition. Lana and Koufax were given three thirty-round clips each. He found another twenty shotgun shells for Bull and Gannon, but couldn’t find any clips that could fit Nikolai’s Makarov pistol.
    After the ammunition had been handed out, Franco decided to proudly mention. “All my 9 millimeter ammunition has been upgraded to penetrate the Matriarch’s old-style kevlar vests.” He shook his head. “But, after that, I do not have anymore. We will have to resupply ourselves by other means.”
    Melinda sighed, looking around at the rebels and her team, deciding to give in to the inevitable. “So, I guess we have to take Dandelot.”
    Franco laughed and smiled, agreeing. “Hidden over there I have a crate of twenty 6.5 millimeter colonial carbines. Those will be used to arm our militia once I arrive there personally.”
    Dion then thought of something else. “How about medical evac...for the wounded? And, do you have a place for prisoners?”
    He pointed at her, approving. “Yes, the wounded, of course. There is at least two medical clinics in Dandelot, but they are understaffed at the moment.” He pointed at Lana, informing her. “The third clinic is abandoned; but, the medical supplies were left to me.” Facing the others. “I have them here and you can take some of them with you. Hernando and Mercedes have already been given medical kits and they have first aid training. As for more serious wounds, I am afraid that may be a problem. The clinic doctors are gone. All that is left are a few nurses, but they are well trained enough to do surgery if they must. If someone is wounded seriously enough to need a hospital, I am afraid we will need a shuttle to take them to Pavona Platte. I have made arrangements with a hospital over there.”
    “Can you call them to come and pick someone up?” Melinda asked.
    “Unfortunately, not.” Franco sighed. “They are afraid if they send a shuttle, the Matriarch will confiscate it. The same will go for prisoners. I have some friends in Pavona Platte that are in possession of an abandoned building. But, we will have to transport the prisoners there ourselves. Those same friends can procure more colonial carbines as well, which I’m sure will eventually become necessary. Once we take Dandelot, and once we hold off the Matriarch’s first assault, I am hoping we can capture at least one of her shuttles.” He looked at Lana and Nikolai. “You guys can remove the locator and listening devices?”
    They both nodded, affirmative.
    Then Lana thought of something. “How about the hospital at Cambridge? They should--”
    Franco sadly shook his head. “I have not heard from them in months. And their evac shuttle was taken long ago. That is another reason we must hurry. The patients that used to use that hospital may be suffering.”
    “Isn’t there a Rehab Colony in Pavona Angora someplace?” Lana tried to remember. “In the north, I think?”
    Rehab Colonies were small towns set up by people that had dedicated themselves to complete peacefulness, kindness, and mercy, sort of like a large monastery, but without the dedication of a specific religion. People usually lived there for an indeterminate period of time to recover from traumatic injuries or mental breakdowns.
    “Yes, it is still there.” Franco confirmed. “I hope if Cambridge is no longer available that the patients have found their way there. As for us and our wounded, I am reluctant to send anyone there. I doubt very much the Matriarch will honor any sanctuary of such a place.”
    Lana looked at Franco, at Melinda, then back at Franco; she said, “so, after we take, and are able to hold Dandelot, we should go to Cambridge next?”
    Franco nodded, agreeing. “Yes...good, you are thinking ahead.”
    “How about Angora City?” Lana wanted to know what the situation was in the District’s capital.
    “Ah, yes.” Franco knew something. “When Alister Montague was here, the government was in Angora City. When he put his daughter in charge about two years ago, she eventually encouraged the counsel members to go to Lake Dunley, the resort.” He made a distasteful chuckle. “It was were they spent most of their time anyway...except my brother and a couple others, who ended up going only because that’s where they began holding the meetings. When Alister returned, we thought he would move the government back to Angora City. But, something happened, and his daughter eventually took full charge. Shortly after that, she turned the island into her own personal fortress and began ruling from there. The Capital only has only two counsel members left. They are now using and in charge of the District’s only platoon of Planetary Guardsmen; they are armed with lasguns and now defend the remaining counsel members against any of the Matriarch’s aggression.” He frowned, and spoke angrily. “But, they refuse to leave and refuse to support my rebellion in any way.” He sighed, heavily. “If my brother was there, I know he’d change things. But, he disappeared shortly after one of the counsel meetings on the island along with most of the others.”
    Melinda sat thinking, then spoke. “Maybe I can get the General to speak to the counsel members--”
    But, Franco shook his head. “Even though the Matriarch is reluctant to attack the counsel building directly, just recently, she has installed a jamming device making it impossible for anyone to contact them, or for them to call out. As for my rebellion, I have decided to let the city be neutral and leave it alone.”
    Then Lana mentioned the last two towns. “How about Huxley and Marion? Do you plan on taking those also?”
    “For Huxley, yes.” He responded affirmatively. “But, as for Marion, as you know, that’s a more wealthier community.” He looked at her. “Have you been there?”
    “Once or twice...but, I was real young, a kid.” She smiled, thinking back. “All I remember is Annie buying me a toy at some store.”
    “We will have to save Marion for last.” He explained. “It may be possible the Matriarch has made a deal with know, to stay neutral and not get involved. As a wealthy community they tend to be only concerned with themselves. But, in time, once all the other towns are on our side, maybe I can talk to them.”
    After there was silence for awhile, Franco asked if there were anymore questions, which there wasn’t. Afterwards, he told them that once they reached Wexal, Hernando and Mercedes would try to find someone there that would loan them a vehicle, but not to expect it, since, for the most part, the small town had all but been abandoned.
    Once they had packed their new weapons and ammunition, and had been led out to the road going to Wexal, it seemed very likely they would be walking to Dandelot.



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