A strange blue light in the skies heralded what became known as The Collapse or The Fall. It mysteriously rose up in the northern hemisphere of Terra and, after rising by day and falling again at night, the dismantling effects to the worlds civilizations had begun.
Complex microprocessors, circuits and satellites were rendered useless. The blackouts descended as nearly everything from power stations downwards went haywire amid a cascade of internal failures and overloads.
In previous times, there had been great caches of food and supplies for months on end. Yet the strange wisdom of more recent governments put paid to that safeguard as a more lucrative, mercantile mentality took hold. Shipping, aviation and modern trucking ground to a halt thus exposing the great flaw to the 'just-in-time-delivery' model now relied upon by all major cities of the world.
As the money-machines went blank and the lights went out the horror show was unleashed. Each night had seen the blue light fade away only to return again the next morning. Only the wisest, most prepared, luckiest and those utterly ruthless enough could survive each new day.
Within a few weeks the Blue Sun vanished but the world below had shifted and changed. Old governments were eclipsed by fresher, younger, more defiant and independent factions in their wake. Nevertheless there were dark forces now awakened and keen to press on with their agenda regardless.
Mike Oakley stood over six feet tall with beaming hazel-green eyes. In his early fifties and resembling that of the pioneer, he was akin to that of a mountain man. His face was worn with time and hard adventuring in his youth. Despite this, even in middle age he had the charisma to light up a room with his own brand of appeal and charm. Mousy-colored hair that was cropped short contrasted his full red beard.
So far his zeal had been blunted and eroded from the time spent at Gelstown. It was fair to say that he and his fifty or so companions were on the verge of either going down the broad, easy path of servitude or a new way entirely.
This day in the town did not see him take up a despondent manner brooding at the gun ports. Instead, as evening moved to night time, he had the people loyal to him gather around.
For too long now the place of Gelstown had changed. It had gone from comfortable confines, to smothering regulations and finally to a walled prison. Like a shepherd guiding his flock Oakley laid out his plan—a breakout.
“We've been treated like cattle and you all know it's going to get worse. These meddling covenants of the magistrates are just the start,” he said and no one could disagree. The friendly welcome they'd received as refugees from their broken-down convoy did not last long before the regulations came out against them.
The leader continued.
“I didn't lead you from the lost cities and towns to be treated in this way. I thought it would get better while we rested but they wish us all to be slaves in their warped and caring way. A safe place in the mountains is what I promised all of you before this mess started. Well now's the time we honor that oath!” he spoke to them lustily.
“But what is this place you had us follow you for then Mike?” a father of two spoke with a hiss. “By going with you we ended up being stranded in the convoy. Then you led us here where we are disarmed and practically slaves! How can going up into your mountains be safer?”
“It is more than mere mountains!” Oakley responded with gritty passion. “The Mountain Hold I speak of is an ideal as well as a new home, a place safe from anything the world can throw at us. We can settle it, we keep it, we can own land without taxes and most of all...” Oakley paused to gesture to them. “We never again let corrupt leaders control us with their slavish ways like here! Tomorrow night is when it happens. All I ask of you is to follow my lead and we can break out of this prison, then head to sanctuary and freedom.” Oakley paused again to look upon faces of relief and anticipation. He continued on what they had to do next.
“The armory and the main gate are the two key areas. Elias, you must overpower the guard at the armory and retrieve the weapons there that were seized from us. Jerome is standing sentry—he gets on with you, lower his guard then do what needs to be done.” Oakley held his gaze on the burly Elias McKaiser for a few moments. McKaiser nodded understanding what he had to do.
The main gate though was something of a serious obstacle. With no real cover it would be risky to attempt subterfuge. Killing anyone in the town was not what Oakley wanted. Not only would the death of a Gelstown citizen mean a harsh pursuit once they were on the road to freedom, but any noisy gunfire would have the whole town up in arms. He looked upon his decoy—May Wilkinson. She was often called 'Young May' due to her alluring youthful looks. As one of the unmarried blonde beauties recently turned twenty-one; she had no shortage of suitors. May was a bit young for Oakley's bones, but the young gate sentry would be more than easily bewildered and 'appropriate' for her wiles. When Oakley's gaze fell on her a few of the wise ones chuckled inwardly, realizing what was meant for her. Oakley continued.
“For the main gate I need you Young May to distract that sentry, I've noticed him looking at you with the lust in his eye. Distract him while Athias waits to strike and you'll be our key for getting out of here.” Oakley winked with a smile, making May Wilkinson blush, for she secretly liked Oakley a little but let no other know it.
At the allotted hour Oakley's Folk gathered in the shadows. Apart from Oakley no one had been allowed to own firearms since the confiscations. Oakley buckled on his leadership 'privilege' of a revolver sidearm and loaded up the custom Ruger double-action to capacity. He had nine shots of .22LR subsonic if he had to kill. He wasn't hoping on late-night killing but the sentries were armed and they'd only get one chance at escape. If the ruse failed then storming the armory and gateway by force was the only alternative. He put a spare revolver cylinder with magnum loads into his ancient combat jackets pocket.
Although the night was balmy and calm Oakley had warm clothing packed for the high ground. He hefted his backpack and tugged at the straps until it was comfortable. It contained enough MRE rations for three days. A canteen of water, gold and silver coins for trading along other survival gear. With his muted combat jacket and a broad brimmed hat he cut quite the appearance. The others wore attire of a civilian nature for the most part; jeans, sweaters and shirts of sober colors.
“Does everyone have enough food? At least three days’ worth?” Oakley asked them all. They nodded.
The gathered folk of Oakley then waited as May Wilkinson moved up towards the gateway.
The walls adjacent there were not true ramparts but instead had firing ports and ladders here and there. There were no guards either apart from the one nearby. Most were concentrated at the magistrates’ town hall area.
Without fear May began to charm the gate sentry with seemingly innocent airs and graces that came about her. Around the beguiled man’s neck was a whistle, but any thoughts of using it were far indeed as she had the young man totally captivated. Meanwhile stealthy movements came from the right of the pair.
With determined movements Athias Drennan advanced on the guard, hugging the wall silently and totally flattened against it as he went closer.
Drennan swung at the sentry with a wooden stave of two by four. The first blow was almost a glancing one as it cracked off his skull but he swung again once more with a backhand strike across the man's temple and he went down in a slumping manner.
“Sorry about that May,” he mumbled as she recoiled at the suddenness of it all. Drennan checked the guard for a pulse and found it slowly throbbing.
“He's alive May,” he said with a low voice. “Come on, it's done now, we're free! Go to your shelter and retrieve all what you need, move quickly now!”
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