The soldiers didn't show up to Linden's apartment until an hour after Ethan had left for the meeting. There wasn't much warning, just a feed from the camera she had set up in the hallway popping up on her Screen as it's motion sensor was activated. The feed was only up for a couple of seconds before it was cut off, but it was enough to see the soldiers outside her door, one of them aiming his shotgun at the dead-bolt.

She was glad that Ethan hadn't been caught, but she also knew that there was enough questionable material in her small apartment for them to black-bag her. She grabbed her go-bag from next to the couch and ran to the bathroom, glad that she hadn't gotten around to putting it in a closet after she had assembled it. She managed to shut the door quietly before she heard the gunshot followed by the sound of the door rebounding from the cabinets as they came in through the main entrance in the kitchen.

Linden started to climb out of the window that led to the vertical shaft running from the basement to the roof. For the first time since she had moved in, the extra cost of having a ground floor apartment seemed worth it, she wasn't sure if she would have been able climb down five stories of pipe and window sill. Even the fifteen feet or so down to the basement was bad, but she made it.

She moved out from under the shaft, and allowed herself a moment to think. Getting to the basement was as far ahead as she had thought. The basement exited to a narrow walkway that ran between her building and it's neighbor, which in turn had two exits, one to the street and one to the alley. She was about to make a break for it when she noticed that the basement door of the adjacent building hadn't been shut all the way.

She pushed it open to find an empty basement much like the one in her own building. She turned on the light, and headed up the winding staircase. As she was heading toward the front door someone opened the door to one of the apartments ahead of her. Linden froze automatically before starting to walk again. A guy in a Mariners cap stepped out. He looked up at her, but didn't recognize her and kept on walking. She followed him out, staying close to him for half a block before veering off.

After a few minutes of walking it started to rain and she crouched down to get her rain jacket out of her bag. It was a good sign, people wearing jackets would make it difficult for anyone to spot her. She also checked her homeDrive, to make sure that it was inside one of the bag's rubberized pockets. The homeDrives were supposed to be waterproof, but she didn't want to test it.

A couple more blocks and she was at the coffee shop. Once she had her chai, she opened her Go bag to check it's contents. It was just a small messenger bag, so it didn't hold much, but she would be able to survive for a couple of days. The spare phone was crappy, but it wasn't on the cell networks, instead using meshNet. She used it to send a message to her parents that she was going camping and would be out of touch for a couple of days. She knew that they would eventually track it back to the phone, but she didn't want her parents to worry, either. Things had been hard enough on them already. After that it was just a matter of figuring out a way of contacting Ethan.



"I hope you understand that we can't let you take this in there," the guy who had done the security check on Ethan said, picking the cell phone up off of the table and slipping it into a foil pouch. The pat down had felt like being at an airport, but Ethan couldn't blame them, at least there was a good reason for it. "You can keep the rest."

Ethan put everything back in his pockets: his wallet, knife, some change, a bus pass, flash drive, breath mints, and keys. "You're taking my cell but I get to keep my knife?" he asked.

"Yeah, they've all been ARDs since about 2006," the man said. "Don't worry, you'll get it back after the meeting."

"Holy shit," Ethan said. He had heard rumors that the NSA was using cell phones as Automated Recording Devices, but had always dismissed it as a conspiracy theory.

"When they started cracking down on meetings and actions, we did some experiments and were able to figure it out."

"I see. Am I all set, then?" Ethan asked.

The man waved towards the door. "Go ahead."



"Holy shit! Get up Ethan, you've got to check this out!"

For a moment, Ethan thought that the voice belonged to Holly, but then it all came back to him and he had to fight to keep from crying. Holly was dead, killed in the massacre. Other than that, all he knew was that his head felt like it had something tunneling through it and that it was way too fucking bright. If anything, he wished the headache was worse, anything would have been better than thinking about her.

"What is it?" he asked, crawling out of the unfamiliar bed to find Linden, Holly's best friend, sitting on the couch. She was clicking through the newspapers on the screen that took up most of the wall. He panicked, wondering what he had done, but then realized that he was still fully clothed.

"Oh, you're up. Here," she said, and changed tabs on the screen. "Isn't that cool?" It was a picture of him. Holding a length of pipe above his head. Then he noticed the headline:

Mob attacks National Guard Barracks, 38 Dead

"Is that . . ."

"You don't remember? Shit. Holly always said that you couldn't hold your liquor, but . . . damn."

The mention of Holly's name hit her like it had hit him, he could see it in her face. He wanted to go over and give her a hug, or squeeze her hand, or something, anything. But he couldn't. So he looked at the screen, instead, and tried to pretend that her suffering didn't exist.

Whatever it was that was happening, he was a part of it now.


As Ethan watched the live feed of the protest, he wondered if the speculation on the internet had been right, if the 10 year anniversary of the war would actually be a turning point. Someone had mashed on a crowd count algorithm and it was currently hovering around 235,000. The feed was jerky, bouncing from angle to angle as the mod drones that the protesters had set to cover the event were shot down by their military counterparts, but that just served to accent just how huge the protest was.

It was several minutes before the chaos of the crowd resolved itself it into meaningful patterns. There were currents of people circulating through the area, forming eddies around the food stands and other vendors, condensing around the bathrooms and the stage. By the time he had figured out the patterns of the protesters, the feed had found a vantage that was stable, probably a camera mounted on a balcony or something. The wide overhead shot quickly became boring, and so Ethan began to surf through the other sources.

There were a couple camera phones inside the crowd, but their perspective was too limited to provide any meaning. There were a couple from documentary film crews, hoping to be part of whatever was supposed to happen on the tenth anniversary of the war. Eventually, he found a shot that looked like it was from someone who was on the front line of the protest, pushing against the line of olive drab National Guard soldiers.

The soldiers were interesting to look at. In front were the ones with the riot gear, plastic shields and batons, but behind them were soldiers in full combat gear, some with combat shotguns and others with M16s held at a 45 degree angle towards the ground. He knew that this image or one like it would make the front pages of a dozen news aggregators in the next few hours, with white-haired grandfathers and tattooed college students standing shoulder to shoulder and pushing against the wall of homogenous soldiers. Ethan was just beginning to study the soldiers' blank faces when he saw one of the ones in the back row reeling from a bottle that had ricocheted off his helmet before shattering.

In the next few moments, before the video source was cut off, Ethan watched in disbelief as the soldier drew his rifle up to his shoulder and took aim at someone offscreen. Ethan watched as the soldier squeezed the trigger and everything went to hell.