Second Class Humans

Having reached the central core of the LunarLink, a massive dome shaped room the ceiling of which is supported by columns that stop it from collapsing onto the spinning sphere power unit that sits at the dead centre of the space. Around the edge of the dome stand dozens of storage silos that gather and deploy the energy generated to the cables of the elevator-like structure that is the LunarLink. The cables running between the rails that the cars run along to keep them in place at all times. The rails terminate roughly a mile above the surface of the Earth and are dead-ended by a platform that is used for the off-loading and ultimate transport of the ferried goods.

Since the Dissidents arrival in the dome almost ten minutes ago they have managed to set and arm most of the explosive charges meant to destroy the LunarLink and sever the connection between the Earth and Lunar.

The charges were assembled by Hans who converted the stockpile of forgotten explosives, once earmarked for mining on the Moon in centuries past, for this mission.

Basri, as the assigned leader of this cell, queries, “How many charges still need to be set?”

“Two for me.” Hans shouts at the top of his lungs. It’s so he can be sure his reply will be heard.

Meanwhile, Carmen relays, “Fredrik and I only are on the last charge.”

Basri doesn’t like the fact that the engineer reluctant to be present is now seemingly and so willingly helping them. He finds it suspicious, but after what happened in the tunnel approach to the power core there is no way he’s going to convince Carmen that something about the blond man is off. Basri thinks even Hans could go either way if he brought it up, which is why he’s inclined not to. That is why he simply chews on his cheek. A subconscious and nervous habit the black haired man has had since childhood.

“Is this really going to work and stop the UEG?” Fredrik asks Carmen.

“Honestly?” Carmen replies.

“Yeah.” The engineer confirms he wants her honest response to his prior question.

“It should, but there’s no way of knowing for sure until it’s done.” Carmen answers without any sugar coating.

Silence hangs in the air between them for what feels like a lot longer than it actually is after that. Then Fredrik breaks it as he questions, “Have you three done this all alone?”

“No. We’re just one cell. There are dozens of us.” Carmen assures.

“Do you know how many?” Fredrik questions curious.

“No. We don’t. Not exactly. What I can say is there are more than you might think. And they’re not all as small as our cell. Some are bigger. Much bigger. And this plan…it’s been worked on for a long time.” Carmen doesn’t know why but has no reservations about being honest with the engineer. Perhaps she should. After all, she doesn’t know him really. If it were anyone else she would be suspicious, but not with Fredrik.

“Sorry.” Fredrik says out of the blue. It catches Carmen off-guard and results in a confused look forming on her face as she wonders why the man before her is apologising. He hasn’t said or done anything that would necessitate such an utterance.

“What are you apologising for?” She hears herself say right after lifting her head, not having finished the final steps of the explosive charges setup.

Fredrik goes to speak but before he can so much as get a single letter out of his mouth, Basri screams, “UEGSec! They’ve found us!”

“How is that possible?” Hans fires back. This is again him saying the first thing that comes to mind. It’s just how he is. He can’t help it. He doesn’t have a filter.

It might be coincidence but Carmen gets an uneasy feeling. The timing is off and that’s why she glares at Fredrik. Though he promises, “This isn’t me.”

Carmen can’t say whether she believes Fredrik or not. It’s a sudden and strange shift from only moments earlier but why she returns to completing the setup of the charge before ultimately turning her back on him.

Something tells her now that she shouldn’t trust him. Why else would he say sorry? It’s the only thing that fits. If he is responsible she should be angry, but she isn’t. She’s numb. Thankfully at that moment Basri demands, “Fredrik, get done here and give me a hand.”

The engineer hesitates. He wants to say something but doesn’t. He can’t find the words. Rather, he lets out an exhale of breath, his shoulders dropping before he complies.

With the only non-member of their little group doing as he’s been instructed and on his way to join Basri, the leader of the cell demands to know, “Hans, how much longer you going to take?”

“I’m on my last charge Basri.” The man calls back in reply.

“Forget it. We have enough set. We need you down here.”

“But Basri…!” Hans protests only for the leader of the cell to cut him off. “You have the only real weapon Hans. And it’s a big one. So get down here!”

“…without all the charges there’s no guarantee the explosion will cripple the LunarLink beyond repair.” Hans protests ignoring Basri’s orders and instead finishing his previous started statement.

“I’ll set the last charge. Mine are done. And I only have a shock pistol anyway, so I’ll be the least useful in a fight.” Carmen says butting in and volunteering herself without hesitation.

“Do it.” Basri orders seconds before Hans tosses the last charge to Carmen, who catches it with ease.

As Basri watches he comments sarcastically, “Yeah, cause the engineer isn’t the least useful here.”

Fredrik catches Basri’s statement now that he is alongside the black haired man and demands to know, “What is your problem?” Fredrik’s tone is accusatory.

Basri squares up to the blond man before spitting, “You’re my problem. Everything was running smoothly until you showed up. Since then it’s been one speed bump after another slowing our progress and threatening our success.”

“Just spit it out. Tell me what you are accusing me of Basri.” Fredrik counters as he stands nose-to-nose with the leader of the Dissident cell.

“Now is really not the time for a pissing match!” Carmen exclaims and just as she does Hans opens fire. That alone breaks the stand-off between Basri and Fredrik. It is just as well it does as UEGSec agents return fire. The wall of incoming metal projectiles forces all three men into cover to avoid being torn apart by the bullets that have been hurled in their direction.

“That’s a lot of agents headed our way.” Hans cries over the sound of the weapons fire. But he doesn’t stop there as he quickly questions, “And how did they know?”

Basri, dipping in and out of cover as he fires off pot-shots from his modified rivet gun, declares, “Fredrik told them. He’s a plant, clearly.” The leader of the Dissidents makes no attempt to mask his contempt as he gives his unsubstantiated claim. It seems Basri has no doubt that Fredrik is the reason why they are being assaulted.

Fredrik, unimpressed, reminds in response, “Yeah cause the UEGSec thinking me a Dissident really makes sense if I’m with them, doesn’t it?”

“But you aren’t a Dissident.” Basri counters.

He has a point, but the agents don’t know that. At least they don’t as far as Fredrik is concerned. That alone makes the engineer wonder why Basri is so adamant that it has to be him who is responsible for this. Sure, he gets that he isn’t a Dissident or a known factor and that they all only recently met, but that isn’t the point. Why isn’t the cell leaders first thought that it could be they tripped some kind of security system. Surely that’s possible. It sounds it to Fredrik.

“Last charge is set!” Carmen’s voice calls.

Her words are barely discernible over the sound of weapons fire. But whether the agents heard her too none of them can say. Not that it matters right now if they did as it wouldn’t change much other than they would know for sure why this group are where they are.

“Fall back!” Basri demands right after.

However, just as they each plan to break from cover more UEGSec agents appear and join the fight. They pour weapons fire on the trio without pause, which forces them to stay low and in cover.

“This isn’t looking good.” Hans declares unhelpfully and to no one in particular.

As soon as the words leave Hans’ mouth three of the agents drop. Their bodies convulsing and writhing about uncontrollably as a result of the shock darts Carmen has hit them with.

The UEGSec response is a swift division of their weapons fire. Most keep their weapons aimed in the general direction of Fredrik, Basri and Hans while the rest pepper Carmen’s position. Thankfully the woman with the bob cut is already safely back in cover and out of line of sight of the agents and their weapons. Safety however doesn’t make the pinging sound of metal on metal any less grating to her ears, which are quickly overwhelmed by the noise as it echoes in her head painfully.

“What’s the plan?” Hans asks fearfully.

Basri doesn’t reply. It’s who Hans was questioning but it seems the leader of the cell is incapable of giving a reply. No one except Basri would be able to say why and Fredrik isn’t about to wait around and see if he shares. That is why the engineer bellows, “I have an idea.”

“Ignore him. He’s a UEG plant. We can’t trust him. He’ll only get us killed if we do. It’s why he’s here.” Basri roars right after having found his voice once more. But his words aren’t helpful. It’s like he isn’t willing to answer Hans’ question, unlike Fredrik.

The blond haired man understands that it is doubtful the Dissidents, bar Basri, will trust or hear him out. So he does the only thing he can. He acts and bursts from cover. They might not believe what he wants to say, but if he proves himself they may just listen. Or he dies trying. Either way it’s better than sitting and waiting to have your life extinguished.

As soon as Fredrik breaks from cover Carmen shrieks, “NO!” But she can’t do anything. There’s a large section of the dome structure between them, which means she’s resigned to being no more than a spectator. Even if she wasn’t and was right alongside him it’s doubtful she’d reach him before being shredded by the UEGSec rounds.

Fredrik rushes toward the armed agents who are hell-bent on killing all four of them. In that moment Carmen feels a massive pit open up in her stomach. It’s guilt. After all, this is all her fault. She dragged the blond man into this. She could and should have let him go after they jumped from the shuttle, but she hadn’t. She’d reasoned away why but right this second she realises how wrong she was.

Hans meanwhile continues to lose off rounds from his burst-rifle, when he can. As he does so he remarks, “He’s a dead man.”

Then suddenly Fredrik dives. Much to the shock of the trio of Dissidents however he doesn’t dive into cover or forward, but right off the edge of the gantry walkway they are on, and out of sight.

None of them can believe their eyes. Even the agents pause, though only for a few seconds. They too are shocked by what they have just witnessed and each of them can safely say they have never seen a civilian throw themselves off solid ground and to what is without a doubt their death, especially after first risking their life charging them as they fired.

The gantry is more than twenty metres up and marks the beginning of the top third of the dome shaped space.

Basri snarling remarks, “Told you he was a rat.”

“Shut up Basri and keep firing or we’ll be dead soon.” Carmen roars not wanting to hear whatever the failed leader of this cell has to say.

True, Fredrik’s actions make no sense and suggest that he might have been a plant. Though, why he would suicide instead of stay in cover and wait this out the woman cannot say. Still, the engineer did say he’d got a plan. How rushing agents and then diving off the gantry is a plan she doesn’t know. It strikes her that perhaps she should have faith and trust Fredrik. But then reality hits and reminds her that he has just leapt to his death.

As if on cue Fredrik reappears, except he isn’t anywhere near where he was before. Instead, he is behind the UEGSec team firing at Basri and Hans. Her first thought is that Basri was right, but before she can begin to hate herself and Fredrik, the engineer begins to swing his heavy wrench wildly. The sound of the first impact to the helmet of an agent is masked by the continued gunfire. Yet, it has the desired affect and puts the aggressor down instantly. Fredrik doesn’t stop there however as he quickly takes out a second and then third member of the UEGSec assault team before any of the agents realise what is going on.

Sadly, just as Fredrik is about to fell a fourth member of the assault weapon wielding team, the agent turns and raises his gun. Fredrik is doomed. His eyes go wide as the realisation hits him and then the agent is thrown forward off his feet. His body, limp and flailing, narrowly misses the engineer who retraces the angle only to find Hans smiling, having shot the agent in the back with his burst-rifle. The engineer returns his thanks with a nod and a smile that Hans catches sight of before he is forced to duck back into cover to avoid having his head taken off.

With the immediate danger to Fredrik taken care of, the engineer returns to his previous reckless swinging. It continues until the last three remaining members of the one UEGSec team are down, likely for good. Fredrik isn’t about to look too closely to see what exact damage his wrench has done, but he can easily imagine their skulls are crushed.

Because of his actions Carmen, Basri and Hans are able to turn and focus all their fire on the second UEGSec team, who much to the Dissidents surprise do not stick around. Rather, they withdraw, thus marking an end to the firefight.

“They’re giving up!” Hans cries with joy and at the top of his lungs. He’s in disbelief and never thought he’d ever see the day that agents would be retreating, especially two full assault teams with superior numbers and firepower.

“They don’t like even odds.” Carmen suggests as she returns her shock dart pistol to her side while Basri and Hans emerge fully from cover.

“Congratulations. You achieved what no one else ever has. Though, I’ve got to say you are one crazy mofo.” Hans say as Fredrik strides toward them to rejoin the trio. As he approaches a single deafening shot rings out.

Fredrik stops dead in his tracks. He blinks slowly a couple times and then suddenly looks down only to get a full view of the wound that is now present in his gut. Right after his legs fail and he collapses to the gantries grating in a heap.

Carmen screams as she rushes toward Fredrik’s downed mass. At no point does she consider who or where the shot came from. Unlike Hans who turns to look behind him only to find Basri stood there with his weapon raised.

“What are you doing Basri?” Hans demands. His voice is filled with horror as he stares at the black haired man’s face even as he utters, “Nothing you need concern yourself with any longer.”

Following that Basri squeezes the trigger of his weapon, which fires off a single rivet that tears through one of Hans’ legs, felling the man instantly.

A cry of pain bursts from between Hans’ lips as he loses balance, slips and finally slams into the grating of the gantry.

In that moment Carmen stops and turns back the direction she has come only to find Hans downed as Basri shifts his aim toward her ready to fire.

Instinctively the woman with the bob cut dives out of the path of the shot, which narrowly misses her.

“Why are you doing this?” Hans utters with a demanding roar as he cradles his wounded leg and looks up at the man before him.

“You mean to tell me you haven’t worked it out yet?” Basri replies mocking as a wide smile sits across his face.

“No. This is some kind of sick joke.” Hans offers unwilling to believe the insinuation Basri has just made.

In response Basri cackles cruelly and then informs, “Oh it’s true. This isn’t some sick joke. In fact, it isn’t even funny in the slightest. But it was supposed to be so simple. And it would have been if not for Fredrik, the engineer. If he hadn’t come along this would already be over. But no. Things had to be complicated. Not that it matters now. Either way it’s over.”

As soon as that final statement leaves Basri’s lips he fires another shot of his rivet gun. The shaped metal lump fires into Hans, who goes limp in response.

Basri, the traitor, the mole, the rat, the plant, who is in fact a member of UEGSec snarls and steps over the body of Hans as he presses forward toward the motionless form of Fredrik and the nearby cowering Carmen. As he approaches he informs, “You are all that’s left of the Dissidents you know. No other cell remains. The UEG have prevailed, like they always have and will. You fools walked right into this. Handed yourselves to them on a silver platter.”

“You’re a bastard for betraying us Basri! And you’ll pay for this!” Carmen screams back at him from the relative safety of where she has taken cover.

The UEGSec member who pretended to be one of the Dissidents howls with laughter. It’s almost uncontrolled, though it in no way stops him from uttering, “Oh Carmen, I assure you I was never one of you. I’m a UEGSec agent. My speciality is infiltration. I was trained by the UEG for this purpose. You don’t really think this little rebellion you tried to orchestrate is the only one of late, do you? Of course it wasn’t. There have been dozens upon dozens of attempts. But every time they fall. You never see it coming. Never suspect a thing until it’s too late. You’re kind are brainless and without imagination. It’s why you will always serve the people of Earth. We are the true human race. You, up here on this barren rock, are nothing more than a sub-division of us. It’s why we regard you as second class humans.”

“FUCK YOU!” Carmen screeches. Her voice breaking as she vents only a tiny portion of the anger she feels.

In fact, she is so angry she could throw herself at Basri. If she does that however there is no doubt that he will gun her down. It’s why she is resisting the urge, even though it is a substantial one.

“You should be happy. Thanking me even.” Basri then says with a chuckle.

“And why the FUCK would I do that you sick…” Carmen begins. Her rage is evident, but she’s cut off by Basri who advises, “Because you were going to have been dead by now. And would have had the engineer not been around to save you.”

“The…pressure door…” Carmen says as the realisation hits her. “That was you?” Carmen exclaims right after.

“Hahahahahaaa…of course it was me. I caused you to stumble. And you were supposed to die in there leaving me with only Hans to dispatch. Not that it matters now. The uprising is over. You are all that remains and you are not getting out of here alive. Of that, I can assure you.” Basri’s tone is flat and cold as the words leave his thin lips. It’s the kind of tone that only a heartless killer unmoved and unaffected by the vile and horrific things he’s done would possess.

“This isn’t over.” Carmen barks back defiantly and just as Basri reaches the still body of Fredrik.

The UEGSec undercover agent snarls at the sight of the man who caused him so much trouble. He glares down at the motionless mass for a few seconds. In that time Basri gets ready to spit on the corpse of the engineer when out of nowhere Carmen rushes him, screaming as she does so.

The attempt, as brash as it is, catches Basri completely off-guard and so leaves him little time to spin about to face the charging woman and make an attempt to fire off his weapon. But he manages to bring his rivet gun to bear. To his utter shock Carmen does not slow or make a move to deviate from her straight line charge. Basri determines that she must have lost her mind. Though, as he goes to squeeze the trigger of the modified rivet gun, Fredrik’s wrench comes swinging from seemingly out of nowhere. The heavy tool slams into Basri’s outstretched arm. The bone shatters instantly leaving Basri to emit a blood curdling scream. His eyes meanwhile, quickly flick to his side only for him to understand that Fredrik was never in fact not dead. Rather, the engineer had been playing the part. The UEGSec agent can scarcely believe he has been so successfully outmanoeuvred. In any other circumstance, and involving any other individuals, he’d be impressed. But right here and now he’s enraged.

He tries to shift and change his aim even as he recalls that his arm is shattered and now hanging uselessly. That doesn’t stop him from somehow managing to fire a single round from the rivet gun that is still clutched tightly in his hand somehow.

The single shot hits no target. It was aimed, vaguely, in the direction of Carmen still but it was so clearly telegraphed that it was impossible for the woman to not read clearly and avoid. That is why seconds later she barrels, full force, into Basri and knocks him to the gantry grating.

His head slams hard against the metal now at his back, rendering him immediately unconscious. Not that such a thing gives Carmen any reason to abandon her desire to begin pounding away at the unconscious UEGSec plant’s unshielded head.

Each blow she delivers is more painful than the last for her, but its having the desired effect as blood is quickly drawn and then begins to splatter the immediate vicinity.

Just as she is getting into the rhythm of her assault a dozen UEGSec assault teams arrive. Without a word they open fire. The first of their volley falls short affording Fredrik a chance to grab hold of Carmen, haul her off the unconscious and probably now brain damaged Basri and into cover. A scream of agony escapes his lips as he feels his flesh of his wounded abdomen tear.

With Carmen and Fredrik now in cover and safe, for however long that might be which neither can say, Carmen checks Fredrik’s wound. Her first reaction, automatic and unintentional, is a wince.

Fredrik catches this but still asks, “How bad is it?” He can imagine it’s at least as bad as it feels, which is to say, horrific.

But as the seconds tick by Carmen still hasn’t offered an answer. In truth she doesn’t know what to say. She knows she could lie, but can’t say that doing so would be the correct course of action. Yet, she doesn’t want to leave the severely injured engineer feeling hopeless either.  So she says nothing at all and that confirms what Fredrik had himself concluded.

“Thought as much.” He winces right after finishing his statement as a burst of pain shoots up from the ragged hole that has been torn in his gut. It’s bloody and gross, having stained his overalls to almost black in a wide area around them. The wet patch drastically off-centre, which is in no way surprising when you have the presence of gravity enacting on anything whether it be a solid or a liquid.

“I’m sorry.” Carmen blurts, tears welling up in her eyes. She blames herself as if it wasn’t for her Fredrik wouldn’t be here. Again she dwells on how she should have just let him walk away after they escaped the shuttle. But that isn’t the entirety of it. She also blames herself for Hans. She is the reason he joined the Dissidents. After all it was her who had brought him into the fold, trusted him, which in turn led to him giving her his own trust and that ultimately got him killed.

The blond engineer raises his arm, painfully, and gently lifts the woman’s head so that she is looking at him square in the face. She doesn’t want to but can’t bring herself to pull away from him either. To do so would be disrespectful, especially when these could very well be Fredrik’s last moments.

“This isn’t your fault. This is Basri’s, the UEG’s but not yours.” Fredrik declares as he looks deep into Carmen’s hazel coloured eyes.

“But we’ve failed. I’ve failed.” Carmen replies without acknowledging the engineer’s words, which she in no way feels capable of accepting.

“Have we?” Fredrik questions as he pulls the detonator from behind his back. He swiped it off Basri earlier without the undercover UEGSec agent having noticed. At the time the engineer had thought he might be being overly paranoid, but on this occasion he is pleased he listened to his doubts and fears. That gnawing and annoying voice that had been repeating over and over in his head telling him that Basri should not be trusted.

“How…?” Carmen queries in disbelief.

“That doesn’t matter now. But, truth is, we’re not getting out of this alive Carmen.” Fredrik says with a sombre and downbeat tone. His brow is furrowed with regret but for what Carmen cannot imagine. Not that they have the luxury of time to talk it out. UEGSec will be on them soon. Why they aren’t already is a surprise to the woman but she isn’t about to question it as she replies, “I know. But doing this will save Lunar and its people, our people, from the UEG and continued exploitation. They’ll be free at last.” Carmen almost chokes on her words as they slip delicately from her mouth, at a volume that is barely more than a whisper.

At that moment Basri appears. His eyes are mad, his face is bloody, his rivet gun is raised. He cackles psychotically until he sees the detonator in Fredrik’s hand, over which is wrapped Carmen’s. His eyes go wide and he lunges toward them a sound escaping his ruined face as he goes. However, they both ignore the UEGSec agent as they, in tandem; depress the button on the detonator. As they do countless UEGSec assault teams continue to close in around them. That is until the explosives detonate one after another in rapid succession.

Concussive and deafening booms fill the air, sending debris of all shapes and sizes in every conceivable direction. Some of it shreds UEGSec agents while more spears and sends the attackers off the gantry and to their doom. None of them get the chance to flee. None of them even get the chance to think about fleeing before the entire dome shaped interior of the structure is engulfed in flames and shrapnel. But the firestorm doesn’t abate. Instead, it continues to rage and swirl, all living things that had been inside already having been turned to ash. The no longer supported dome of the structure first creaks, and then sags before finally caving in upon itself. An almighty series of groans rippling outward in the seconds before a ground shaking crash sends ripples through the rock of the Moon’s surface. The quake waking all those who had been sleeping and terrifying all those that hadn’t.

Flames, no longer contained by the power core of the LunarLink, shoot high into the sky in a spearhead shape that is outlined with acrid black smoke.

Meanwhile, the LunarLink itself grinds to an unceremonious halt as its structural integrity is decimated. The rails and supports that bind them twist, the now dead weight of the transit shuttles that had been running up and down its length only aiding the failure that minutes later sees the elevator-like shaft fail. It is then that it shears free from its lunar side mounting allowing it to then go spinning toward the surface of the Earth far below. What devastation it will cause when it impacts the surface of the Earth is unknown to all those on Lunar.

The destruction of the LunarLink thus marks the dawning of a new age for Lunar and its people. With it the citizens of the Moon will be able to form a society free of tyranny, oppression and exploitation. A colony, which for the first time since it was founded, will be beyond the grasp of the tendrils of the UEG and the mega-corporations.

And Earth will be unable to do anything about it as the human origin world has been largely stripped of resources and now lacks all forms of industry and manufacturing. As a result it may take centuries, at the least, for the Earthborn to not only return to the stars but also to unleash a retaliatory strike against the people of the Moon, who will be ready when it that day comes. Of that Earth should be sure.

Before that, the citizens of the Moon will first need to secure their colony from the remaining UEGSec forces present. As news of the destruction of the LunarLink spreads however, tens of thousands take to the streets of Lunar prepared to do just that. UEGSec will be no match against those numbers without the possibility of reinforcements, which are no longer accessible to them now that the connection between the planet and its natural satellite has been cut.

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