Read Genesis (The Exodus Trilogy) Online

Authors: Andreas Christensen

Genesis (The Exodus Trilogy) (7 page)

BOOK: Genesis (The Exodus Trilogy)
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“I’m coming out,” Tina said, and jumped down, motioning for one of the defenders to open the gate for her. All around her, people were talking, the shock of what they had just heard apparent on every face. Tina walked out and approached the woman, confident that defenders were keeping watch over the barricades and various other positions.

“So…” she said, as she stopped in front of the messenger. “What the hell is going on? What are you telling me?” The woman paused for a second before answering.

“Fort Andrews has fallen. Last thing we heard, there was fighting up by the reactors. Major Carroll and his team might be holding on, but likely he’s dead like the rest of them. We haven’t heard anything since before the governor crossed the Trickler.”
So
, Tina thought,
he’s come north, as well. It’s got to be bad.

“Who is it?” she asked. “Is it a revolt?” Tina knew the answer, but still, she had to ask. The woman only shook her head.

“It’s not, ma’am. It’s something else.”

Chapter 7
 

Kenneth taylor

 

He looked warily around as they approached the ruins of Port Hammer. This bastion of liberty, the gathering place for frontiersmen, freedom-seekers, entrepreneurs, and refugees. Now burned to the ground, with only the ramshackle remains of a few cabins still standing. The mere thought had strengthened his resolve; the sight infuriated him. It was amazing, Kenneth thought, how quickly they had built this place. And even more amazing, and depressing, was how fast they had torn it down again.

He kept looking at the soldiers surrounding the governor, nervous men and women with guns held ready to fire at the smallest provocation from the northern force. He wondered what would happen if it came to blows, but quickly dismissed the thought. This was not the time. The governor's message had been short and to the point:
We need to make peace, right now.

Then again, too many had died for either side to be comfortable parlaying with a hated enemy. Kenneth was determined though.
You don't make peace with your friends; you make it with your enemies
. And having a common foe made peace between north and south imperative if they were to survive.

Kenneth stepped forward. Dean and a few from his team kept a close eye on their surroundings, watching for signs of betrayal. Kenneth knew there were northern snipers hidden in the foliage behind them, and expected no less from the southerners. He recognized Havelar approaching.
He looked older
, he thought,
and weary
.

“I never wanted us to meet like this,” the governor said. “As enemies, I mean. This war should never have happened.” Kenneth nodded.

“On that, we agree. But you asked for this meeting.” Kenneth paused, and when the governor hesitated, he continued. “So, are you ready to end this?” Havelar grimaced and looked around at all the armed men and women standing with weapons ready to fire at a moment’s notice.

“Yes. Our war must end right here, right now,” he said. No demands of surrender, no proclamations of the will of a president of a dead country on a dead world, light-years away. Kenneth hadn’t expected this, even given the circumstances.

“What are your demands?” he asked. “I’m not buying that you will simply lay down your arms. Not after what happened here.” He noticed the governor turning red, standing in the midst of the ruins of this place in which the rebellion was born. But he couldn’t tell whether it was embarrassment or anger.

“No demands,” Havelar simply said. “I believe we share a common cause, after all.” Kenneth nodded. Of course, even with all their differences, both wanted to secure the survival of humans on Aurora, to create a new home for humanity on this planet. It was the means—and their visions for what sort of world it should be—that differed.

“Come on, George. Enough of this. What’s going on?” he said.

“Fort Andrews has fallen,” Havelar blurted, and Kenneth nodded again, impatient to hear the rest. Tina had told him as much, but he hadn’t known what to make of it. It was too unreal.

“And if we don’t join our forces immediately, we’ll all be wiped out,” Havelar continued. He looked around, and Kenneth thought he saw his eyes misting. He had a hard time imagining George Havelar crying. The governor seemed to pull himself together and looked straight into his eyes.

“You see, Kenneth, this is what I feared when I called for unity. This is why I was so adamant that we work together, and strengthen our position as quickly as possible.” Kenneth felt a shiver down his spine, as the enormity of it all hit home.

“We’re not alone,” Kenneth almost whispered, lips quivering.

“No. We’re not,” the governor answered.

Maria solis

 

Maria was standing beside the path leading toward the Stronghold. She had been planning to go north, back to the cave, but wanted to be at the Stronghold when the refugees from Fort Andrews came in. And of course, Thomas might be back sooner. At least, she hoped so. She was torn between wanting to go back to the cave to learn more of the Akhab, and wanting to stay to pursue the strange sensations tingling through her entire body every time she thought about Thomas. And then there was another person she was anxious to see. She looked at the refugees as the column snaked slowly by, searching for that person she hoped would be there, somewhere.

The refugees from Fort Andrews couldn’t have looked any more dissimilar from one another. There were seasoned soldiers, with hard faces and eagle eyes scanning their former enemies as they moved under the watchful eyes of their northern counterparts. There were the draftees and volunteers, civilians dressed up as soldiers and carrying arms, but clearly green as grass, wide eyed and staring, as if they had seen more than they should have. Then there were the actual civilians, which made up the largest group, obviously. Everything from scientists dragged along in their lab coats to workers who’d run straight from tilling the barely thawed fields. There were children, too, some of which she recognized. Everyone looked dirty, grimy, and tired.

She had already seen Tori, who had been one of the first of the civilians to come through the mountain pass. Maria thought her friend had seemed just the same as before, just tired from the long trek, and they had embraced and cried and laughed at the same time. Tori had moved on, though, because she was to go even further north, to what was rapidly becoming a fishing and farming village, and an important food source for the larger Stronghold. Tori’s specialty was agriculture, and the Stronghold leaders intended to send a number of specialists north as soon as possible to assist with setting up appropriate systems and facilities for farmers and fisherman.

She saw Havelar, whom she had once referred to fondly as Uncle George. Once one of her parents’ best friends, he had bounced her on his knee back when she was a child. He eyed her for a moment. A wan smile appeared, then disappeared as quickly as it had come. Then she saw a middle-aged man, wearing a ripped and stained lab coat, half carrying a colleague, with a girl on the other side supporting the injured man. She looked closer at the man helping his friend. Not even the dirt and exhaustion apparent on his face could hide the wide grin as he looked over and recognized her.

“Jeremiah!” she exclaimed.

Then she realized it was Sophie Breckinbridge who was helping Jeremiah with the other man. She looked up, but didn’t say anything. Maria wondered if they would be friends again, or if it was too late.

“Maria! I was hoping I’d see you here,” Jeremiah said, as she ran to him. He hugged her with his free hand, holding the man he was helping steady with the other. Then he helped the man sit down.

“Sophie, why don’t you go get Doc Bowers?” Jeremiah said, motioning toward the man. “He needs to rest, and Doc should have another look at him, I think.” Sophie nodded and turned without a word. Maria looked at her as she walked away.

“Hmm, I wish you two would make up,” Jeremiah said, shaking his head.

“We’ve got far bigger things to think about. Besides, you guys are friends, right?” Maria shrugged.

“I don’t know. We’ll see. But I’m sure glad to see you again.” She smiled and gave him a good hug.

“I guess I must stink pretty bad by now,” he said, and Maria grinned. Yes he did.

“How are you?” she asked instead.

“I’m okay, don’t you worry.”

“Did you see who did it? Who took Fort Andrews?” she asked. Jeremiah shook his head.

“No, and I don’t think many here did. Everything happened so fast. Havelar and your mother and others just gathered whomever they could scramble, and then we got the hell out of there. Most of the soldiers were already past the Trickler. I think most got away, actually.” Maria looked back at the column as she listened.

“So, have you seen my mother?” she asked. Jeremiah smiled, and she let out a breath of relief at his reaction.

“Yes, you’ll see her soon. She’s been working with Havelar ever since your father was captured. I heard he died.” He trailed off. Maria nodded.

“No one knows what happened…” she shrugged it off. Right now all she wanted was to see her mother again.

“I’m truly sorry,” he said. As always, Jeremiah understood, and didn’t inquire any more. There would be time for that later.

“Last I saw, your mother was with Havelar and Major Hammer, helping the final stragglers down from the pass. She’s probably anxious to see you, as well.”

“I’ll go see if I can find her then. I guess you don’t need me here.” Maria turned to leave just as Sophie returned with a young man, Dr. Bowers. Jeremiah ushered her on.

“Go see her then. We’ll talk more later.” She smiled again and skipped a few steps, eager to find her mother.

The line of refugees seemed endless. Hundreds of people driven from their homes just as they were settling in, now placing their fate in the hands of those who had taken the same journey just a few months earlier. Maria pitied them. A few days ago, the soldiers from Fort Andrews would have crushed their little settlement, just as they had burned Port Hammer, and now they turned to them for refuge, fleeing an even greater enemy. It was too early to speculate as to who or what had attacked Fort Andrews, but whatever it was, it would be coming north, as well. So whatever their differences, they would all have to work together from now on.

As she finally reached what seemed to be the last of the refugees making their way into the Stronghold, she saw the face she’d been searching for. Isabella Solis stood deep in conversation with Kenneth Taylor and didn’t seem to notice Maria as she approached.

“Mom…” Maria said, and the lump in her throat prevented her from continuing. Isabella turned around, and her hard lines and the furrows on her forehead melted away as she laid eyes on her daughter for the first time in months.

“Maria… Oh, Maria… Mi hija…” She burst into tears and they embraced.

Tina hammer

 

“We need them, now more than ever,” Kenneth said, and Tina saw Rajiv Singh nodding. The ambassador seemed lost in thought for some reason, but didn’t say anything. Tina though, was seething with fury.

“Of course we need them, just as they need us. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold their leaders accountable.” She growled. “Have you forgotten what happened on the Trickler? Or those protesters in Fort Andrews?” She took a deep breath, trying to calm down, and continued. “Have you forgotten the HEP, Kenneth? The Human Expansion Program? Those twisted bastards were going to
breed better babies
!” She grimaced at the thought. Kenneth shook his head.

“No, Tina, I haven’t forgotten. And likely I’ll never be able to forget, either. But what do you want to do? It wasn’t just Havelar, you know. What about Colonel Quellar? Or Isabella Solis? Or the officers, the scientists who stayed on, the administrators? How far down the food chain would be enough?”

“I’d settle for Havelar and Quellar. Those two…”

“Oh really? What about Henry Carroll? If he suddenly turned up, wouldn’t you like to see him brought to justice? After all, he was there, on the Trickler.” He let that hang in the air. Tina bit her lip. She knew, of course, what Kenneth meant, but it didn’t feel right, even so. If they started going after everyone who had become tools of oppression, many would face trial. It would be fair, but with an invasion on their doorstep, the timing could have been better.

“What if we wait? I mean, justice will have to wait, right? But one day, if we do get through this, I want to see Havelar punished. Just the thought of him going free, after what he did to Greg, and all those others… I don’t know if I can stomach it,” she said. Kenneth again shook his head.

“I’m sorry, Tina. We need them, all of them, to be on our side now. I know I sound like a politician, and I do get it. I don’t like the taste of it any more than you do. But if we leave any doubt whatsoever as to what will happen afterward, we will remain split. This is our one chance to reconcile, and though it might be years before we no longer taste that bitterness, I truly believe it’s necessary.” He exhaled heavily.

“So we forgive and forget?” Tina asked. His nose wrinkled in disgust.

“Like hell! I can’t do that. But like I said, maybe, given enough time… But we do have to work together from now on.” He could still see Tina’s reluctance. “Let me put it this way, Tina. Do you think the Fort Andrews soldiers would fight for you if they knew they faced some sort of trial when the war is over? Would the administrators do the work if they faced punishment for being loyal to their superiors?”

BOOK: Genesis (The Exodus Trilogy)
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