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2 Centuries after climatic apocalypse human society rebuilds utilizing technology remaining from before the Change around the science Guilds and corporate Governments. Can Brother Jonas and Chairman Malcolm cooperate long enough to avert the tragic death of 50, 000 citizens or will short term personal goals prove more important?
Two Centuries after an environmental apocalypse brought on by the Earth's climate change in combination with humanity's unrestrained pollution, civilization has finally begun to rebuild itself. Utilizing technology left over from before The Change in combination with non-petroleum innovations, scientific guilds and tyrannical governments vie for dominance.
Malcolm Cain, CEO of the Corporate Union, seeks to learn the secrets of the Guilds and solidify his control. Brother Jonas of the Franklinite Brotherhood, must find a way to protect those secrets and save 50,000 innocent civilians under the control of the Corporate Union whose lives are in grave danger. The only problem is its the very secret he protects that is creating the danger. Can Malcolm and Jonas cooperate long enough to prevent a tragedy, or will short term personal goals prove more important?
Chapter 2: Nathan
Officially, you had to be 18 to work. But that was a privilege which belonged to the upper castes. For the children of workers, making money began when you could count. For Nathan, it had always been the hustle. He was a smart kid, quick witted. He never missed an opportunity when it presented itself, and that made him successful on the street. Some days he brought home more money than his father. Not that that what was saying a lot. Even in a lucky family such as Nathan’s, where both parents had decent jobs, there was barely enough income to maintain the small 3 room shack they lived in. Not that he had spent much time there in the last 2 years, anyway.
He’d never thought about what profession he would choose. He had no reason to expect he would live that long. In the back of his mind had been the expectation that he would follow in either his father or mother’s footsteps. His mother was a cook at the courthouse, plenty of food and regular hours. His father, on the other hand, was an MKE technician.
The MKE was one of the most important devices of the new age. All 4 of the new governments had outlawed fossil fuels due to the devastating effects, leaving society with the problem of how to generate enough power to run the culture. The Faradayan Brotherhood had solved the problem.
Nathan’s father would go on for hours about the brilliant simplicity of the invention. They attached a battery to an electromagnet called a solenoid. A solenoid effectively operates as a piston, and when attached to a crank shaft can be used to drive a motor. The addition of a solar panel to recharge the battery perfected the unit. The MKE not only solved the fuel problem, it provided power to millions of people without any other means. “Forget all those fancy science words, Nathan” his father said more than once, “Sun and Earth is all you need to know. Combine those 2 and you have life, you have power, you have everything.”
Nathan never saw himself as a technician. Hours of detailed work, bent over a dirty, smelly machine was not for him. He preferred the excitement of the streets. His money depended entirely on his wits. There was no responsibility to anyone but himself. He knew it couldn’t last much longer though. It was already becoming more difficult to get the work he was used to taking. Hustling required a boyish face to make the customer believe he could be trusted. This last year had changed him greatly; his shoulder length red-brown hair was popping up in new places, his voice was cracking constantly, and he’d sprouted to a gangly 1.57 meters.
He was lost as to where to turn next, however. The Security Forces had already made attempts at recruitment, but he couldn’t see himself in the blue uniform. To everyone Nathan knew the S.F. represented an invasive element, an enemy within. They relentlessly enforced and protected the will of the tiny executive caste which ruled the Corporate Union. It was entirely on the muscle of the S.F. that the Union maintained its integrity. Nathan found himself thinking about the Brotherhoods as an option lately, but he had no idea which or how he would choose.
They’d been walking in silence for approximately fifteen minutes, these thoughts racing through Nathan’s mind. Every thirty seconds or so he would look over at Brother Jonas, start to say something and then stop. Finally, Jonas couldn’t take it anymore, “What is it boy?”
“I, uh, I was just-that is, er,” immediately Jonas felt bad.
“Look, Nate, I didn’t mean to yell. You seem to want to say something, is that true?”
“Yes, sir. A question, really, sir.”
“O.k., go ahead, I promise, it’s alright to ask.”
“It’s just that, well everyone says such terrible things about the Franklinites, why would you want to join?”
“What terrible things are they saying these days?”
“Well, you know, about how you can’t be tru-, well because of what happened with…”
Jonas sighed, he was always amazed at how people could be so sure of things which were completely untrue. “Listen, Nathan, none of that is true, at least not the way you heard it. When the Old Ways ended, the Franklinites were the first Brotherhood formed. It was our work that made a new way possible instead of the cycle of chaos continuing.”
“But the rebellion, and Brother George?”
“There was no rebellion, the other Brotherhoods simply decided to support something we couldn’t. The story of Brother George is generally misunderstood.”
“Seems pretty straightforward to me, Brother George was the leader of the Franklinites and he betrayed the Unionists.”
“How did he betray anyone? By saving their lives?”
“He gave away our battle plans.”
“He announced your enemy’s plans as well, all publicly, all long enough before hand to prevent the battles from happening. He was demonstrating his ability to discover what anyone was doing and his intention to announce it.”
“The war could have ended.”
“The war did end. There hasn’t been a battle since. Every once in a while someone tries, and we do it again. And for this they branded Brother George a traitor and killed him”
“But we’re still technically at war.”
“Hey, it’s not our fault if you’re stubborn.”
“It seems wrong somehow, unpatriotic.”
“You say this about the same nation which keeps you in a caste system.”
* * * * *
Brother Jonas loved the Franklin Temples. Each one was a unique design. This one was based on the old firehouses their namesake had invented. Set in a valley of 2 rivers, the 3 story red brick building complete with fire pole, emergency horn, and working engine, could only be approached from the front. In back were the rivers, gardens, and a venison ranch that fed the brotherhood and provided a small income.
Right now, however, all Jonas was interested in was sleep. He’d been walking for three days, with storms threatening the entire time. As much as he loved the road, Jonas had to admit that sometimes there was nothing better than a bath and a bed. The idea of getting both in the same night was almost too much of a good thing for him.
“The entrance is around the far side.”
“What’s wrong with that door?” Jonas pointed to an oak door set in an archway just left of the twin bay garage doors on the front of the building.
“It was damaged during the war.” Jonas looked closer and noticed that the door and wall immediately surrounding it were crushed in and scarred with burn marks.
“That was 50 years ago. Why haven’t they fixed it?”
“I believe it’s a memorial. Many of your Brothers died.” Nathan’s eyes lowered thinking about the story, his cheeks sagged slightly. Everyone in San Souci knew the story. “Rebels loyal to a local warlord had taken refuge at the temple after a bloody battle. The Corporate Union had ignored the rules of asylum and launched a full scale assault on the temple. The Franklinites attempted to protect their home, but were outgunned and outmanned. In the end, all of the rebels and 2/3rds of the Brothers were dead. Their bodies were left lying in the field and the river for the carrion feeders.”
“Yes, I can see why people would be upset about that being over with.”
The Temple sat in the middle of a clearing. A dirt road led away from the main highway, wrapped around the building, and led off towards the river to the south. Except for the solar panels on the roof, the building looked just like one of the old photos. Jonas half expected a horse drawn water pump to come racing out of the garage.
Approaching the south east wall of the Temple, they heard shouts from below. Walking up from the river were 2 Brothers. They demanded the travelers identify themselves.
“Hello, I’m Brother Jonas and this is my guide Nathan. I promised him food and quarters when we arrived here. Please take me to…”
“You promised him? Who are you to promise him our food?” This was the younger of the 2, spoiling for a fight and obviously no good at fighting. He’d placed himself in front of a stump on the edge of the trail that had a rake laying face up on the far side. Brother Jonas made a mental note to check into the self-defense program when he was next at the Academy.
“The food, like everything here, belongs to the Brotherhood.” Jonas stated, staring at the young Brother.
The elder Brother cleared his throat, “Excuse us, Brother Thomas here is new to the order. Apparently, he’s new to manners as well. Of course the young one is welcome to our hospitality, and of course it was yours to offer Brother Jonas.” He was clearly a figure of authority based on the way he carried himself, and Brother Thomas’s reaction to the rebuke. Grey hair receding from a round face, coal black eyes recessed deep into the skull, nose broken slightly to the left, he appeared completely incongruous behind the broad grin and brown robe.
“It’s good to see you, Brother Craig,” Nathan could tell they knew each other well; Craig looked at Jonas the way the old soldiers looked at their sergeants. “I didn’t know you were here.”
“Since last Peace Day, the Firehouse needed a new Engineer.”
“That’s what we call the Temple, for obvious reasons. They’ve actually kept an antique working hand pump engine that was pulled by a team of horses.”
“…and they have the horses.”
“Not the same horses, I hope.”
“No, these horses are alive.”
“That’s good, ‘cuz the other thing would be creepy.”