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datatime: 2022-09-25 15:54:42 Author:FUWaVwxX

"Of course. We trust Hood. We've been given good reason to in the past. And we've had plans for an attack for years, ready to take advantage of any opportunity that arose.

"Yes. We all have. She was my friend, before I was a clone and after. She helped brief me on taking over as Evangeline. The only person I could ever really talk to. They came for her in the early hours of the morning, and I never saw her again. Daddy tried to find out what had happened to her, for fear she'd talk, but even he couldn't get answers about what happens to people inside Wormboy Hell."

We've dreamed of this for a long time, Finlay. A lot of blood debts are going to be settled today."

Finlay looked at her steadily. I thought you said I was your life. "You've lost someone to Silo Nine, haven't you? Someone close."

Finlay shook his head slowly. "I never knew any of this."

Evangeline fell silent, and Finlay couldn't think of anything to say. They looked across at Hood, who was talking persuasively again.

"Then it goes wrong We can't miss out on a chance like this; it might not come again for decades. You can't conceive what it's like in that hellhole, Finlay. None of us can."

"I put my life on the line every time I entered the Arena," said Finlay. "But that was just for me. I never cared about anyone except me, until I met Evangeline, and then I only cared about us. Maybe that's changing now. I don't know. I'm still coming to terms with... everything. I can't really understand what life has been like for you."

"You never asked. As long as there were always more clones and espers for you to use up as you chose, you never questioned the system that produced them. And you never asked what happened to the garbage you threw away, did you?"

"I've managed to infiltrate some of my own people into the incoming security forces, and I've convinced some of the braver cyberats to run a jamming storm to coincide with our attack. They'll run interference while we get our people out and keep security from calling for outside help."

"All right," said the hog. "We're convinced. Set things in motion. We'll spread word throughout the esper network. You organize the clone forces. We'll begin our attack on Silo Nine in one hour from now. Get moving."

Finlay looked at her steadily. I thought you said I was your life. "You've lost someone to Silo Nine, haven't you? Someone close."

"All right I'm sorry. There are a lot of questions I never asked, but I'm asking now. I want to know. Has anyone ever tried to break into this place before?"

"Very well. For a long time now, we've been discussing various ways of freeing our fellow espers and clones held in prison and condemned to death for their rebellion. Most are held in Silo Nine, also known as Wormboy Hell. A maximum security prison, with esp-blockers by the dozen and a small army of guards. Long considered impregnable, none of our people have ever broken in or out and lived to tell of it.

"Fill me in, Evie. A maximum security prison just for espers and clones? How come I never heard of it before this?"

"All right," said the hog. "We're convinced. Set things in motion. We'll spread word throughout the esper network. You organize the clone forces. We'll begin our attack on Silo Nine in one hour from now. Get moving."

Finlay shook his head slowly. "I never knew any of this."

"This is all happening a bit fast for me. You're really going to launch an attack on a maximum security prison just on that man's word?"

"Of course. We trust Hood. We've been given good reason to in the past. And we've had plans for an attack for years, ready to take advantage of any opportunity that arose.

"Then it goes wrong We can't miss out on a chance like this; it might not come again for decades. You can't conceive what it's like in that hellhole, Finlay. None of us can."

The esper leaders turned to each other, and though they were apparently silent, Finlay could all but sense the telepathic arguments crackling between them. He moved in close beside Evangeline and kept his voice low.

"You never asked. As long as there were always more clones and espers for you to use up as you chose, you never questioned the system that produced them. And you never asked what happened to the garbage you threw away, did you?"

"Not many have. The Empire doesn't like to admit its conditioning fails as often as it does. Most espers and clones used to die trying to break free of their conditioning, hut an increasing number are surviving. The Empire's tried augmenting the usual mental blocks and controls with tech and chemical implants, but they kill as many as they cure, and there's always a pressing demand for more espers and clones. We're so useful. Most failures are locked away in the usual prisons until they can be disposed of. They don't bother with trials. Clones and espers are property, not people.

Evangeline fell silent, and Finlay couldn't think of anything to say. They looked across at Hood, who was talking persuasively again.

"All right," said the hog. "We're convinced. Set things in motion. We'll spread word throughout the esper network. You organize the clone forces. We'll begin our attack on Silo Nine in one hour from now. Get moving."

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