Written by: Mall Rat Matt
This is a sequel to last year’s one-shot Resistance: Day In The Urban Jungle, which was a request from Strider over on the official forums. Set some months after that fic, Urban Guerrilla sees Ebony stepping up her campaign against Mega’s oppressive regime, training up a new militia and planning a strike on a Techno supply depot. But with Mega’s forces increasing, and tensions rising within the Resistance itself, is Ebony’s raid already doomed? Intended as a one-shot but it got a little long so I’ve split it into five parts to make it less daunting to read!
Features Strider’s original character Kyle, used here with permission.
Chapter 1: Commitment
Ebony’s braids whipped across her face as she turned her body to the side, taking a step in that direction and thrusting her hand out, palm forward. A trio of pigeons, startled by her change of direction, shot up from the low concrete wall now in front of her and flew away from the building.
Two more steps, two more jabs, bringing her to the wall. From up here the city stretched out around her, all the way to the edges of forested hills, beyond which lay the town of Liberty - out of sight, just like its namesake. Between those hills and the rooftop on which she stood, Mega’s communications tower rose up into the sky, a great T-shaped structure, its metal limbs sprouting aerials and satellite dishes aplenty. It was a monument to the Techno regime. Big Brother is watching you.
Anger bubbled up inside of her but she fought it down; she needed to be calm, in control. Closing her eyes, she brought herself back into line with the rhythm of her own heartbeat.
Ba-dum. One. Ba-dum. Two. Ba-dum. Three. Ba-dum. Four.
With a cry of channelled fury, she swivelled, kicking high in a move that would have placed her bootheel in the chest of anyone standing behind her. A volley of punches followed, lightning swift, moving her away from the wall once more. She grunted with the force of them.
One last kick, and in her mind’s eye she watched as her invisible opponent staggered back several steps, doubling over in pain from a direct hit to the gut before collapsing to the floor. Taking a breath, she relaxed and turned to face the rest of those gathered on the roof of the mall. Dozens of pairs of eyes watched her, some in admiration, others with something approaching fear, but they all watched, transfixed. She nodded inwardly.
‘Now you,’ she instructed, bending to pick up a hammer which she used to bang a small gong set up behind her. The note trembled in the air, leaving a sense of anticipation hanging after it, an alertness in the expressions of the assembled crowd. Once more she hit the gong, and as one her followers sprang into their first position, fists punching the air. She continued to beat the gong and they moved in time, practising their lethal dance.
In total around fifty people filled the roof in ordered rows behind her two generals, Kyle and Slade. She recognised May, looking determined in the front row, and she thought she’d caught sight of Jay further back, but otherwise everyone here had been carefully approached, recruited from the best of the city’s warriors - those she could trust, at least. She hadn’t wanted to be too open with her recruiting parties, not until she had a solid core of fighters who could train up a new militia for her. As the group turned in synchronicity she allowed herself a nod of approval. These fifty had worked hard since she had gathered them. Impressive as they were, however, they were not nearly enough to overthrow Mega. It had taken time for her to build up a new network of scouts, since the Techno leader had corrupted her previous agents, but reports were starting to come in that the Technos were also stepping up recruitment, and that their numbers were growing ever larger.
The next bang of the gong had her recruits turning once more, with those on the far left now leading a section of punches. An inconsistency caught her eye; someone’s timing was out. In front of her, Slade was staring at Kyle’s back - glaring murderously at it, actually. His punches were coming just a little too early, as if he were trying to catch up to Kyle with each one. He glanced at her briefly and saw that she was looking at him before falling back in time, still glaring at Kyle’s back, though not before he had thrown off May and some of the others in the next row who took a little longer to find their rhythm again. She rolled her eyes. She had finally ended things with Slade last night. For all that he had been the one virtually ignoring her for the last few months, he had been surprisingly affected by the split, and there was no doubt who he blamed for it. True, it had been Kyle who, indirectly, had made her realise that her relationship with Slade was going nowhere, but that had been Slade’s own doing, and it wasn’t as if she had left him for Kyle. She didn’t have time for those complications now - she had a war to fight.
The muffled clunk of somebody running up the stairs came from inside the mall and soon Sammy emerged on the roof, panting.
‘Amber says there’s a Techno patrol coming closer,’ the boy reported. Ebony sighed, continuing to bang the gong until the end of the section, then putting down the hammer.
‘Good work everyone,’ she shouted to her militia. ‘Take a break.’
It galled her to have to hide. The whole point of training up here was so that the city folk would hear and know that the resistance against the Technos was alive. Amber, however, thought it too dangerous. This had been their compromise, to send scouts out to signal the arrival of Technos in the area and to keep a low profile until they were gone. It made them look scared, and who would want to join a force that showed such weakness? But the Mallrats had a reputation, and she needed their backing to make this work, which meant she had to keep Amber on side. For now, at least.
‘Was there something else?’ she snapped at Sammy, who was still loitering, watching her troops with envy. He had made no secret about wanting to join her, and she would probably let him when she started recruiting properly, but right now he would just be in the way.
Sammy tore his eyes from the militia regretfully. ‘Ram’s finished the first batch of zappers,’ he said excitedly. ‘He says they’re ready to test now.’
Ebony nodded in satisfaction. Finally! The biggest advantage the Technos had was their weapons, and now the Resistance would have their own. Everything was falling into place.
‘Take me to him,’ she told Sammy. ‘Slade, Kyle, you’re with me; everyone else, meet in the car park in an hour for weapons training.’
These weapons would even the playing field. Mega might not know it but the fight had well and truly begun.
Mega giggled to himself as he watched Ebony and her cronies descend into the depths of the mall on the screen in front of him. ‘Tell Omega Unit to pull out of the Sector,’ he ordered, not bothering to look back to see which of his commanders would carry out his instructions. He knew he would be obeyed, that was the important thing. ‘We’ve scared them off for now.’
From his headquarters here at the base of his grand communications tower - the spire of his very own cathedral, visible throughout the city to remind his people who their master was - in what had been the city’s television studios, Mega could survey the entire city from his own network of surveillance cameras as well as links to satellites still orbiting the planet from the days of the adults. This was the very heart of his empire, the centre of his web, and there was nothing he did not know. How pathetic Ebony’s little resistance was! He had been annoyed when she had escaped his ambush at the factory, even if the main intention had only been to keep her occupied while he sprang his other trap for the Resistance, one that had worked exactly as he’d planned. He had since come to realise, however, that he had overestimated her. This was the best she could do? A handful of thugs prancing about on rooftops, soiling themselves whenever his men came too close? He was glad Ebony still lived; she provided what little amusement he had these days.
Even so, it didn’t pay to be complacent. ‘See if we can get anyone into her little coterie,’ he added. ‘Just to make sure we don’t have any surprises.’
‘Woah, buddy! What’s the rush?’ Kyle chuckled as Slade shoved past him on the stairwell.
I’m not your buddy, Slade thought angrily, ignoring him. He continued clanging his way down the metal stairs until he finally caught up with Ebony at the bottom, catching her arm to get her attention.
‘Ebony, we need to talk about last night,’ he said in a harsh whisper. ‘Clear things up.’
Ebony made an exasperated sound and shook her arm free. She continued walking, forcing him to trot alongside her to carry on the conversation. ‘I thought I made myself clear enough last night,’ she snapped as they emerged onto the upper floor of the mall proper.
‘But after all we’ve been through together,’ he argued. ‘Your sisters, Josh, Liberty. We can’t just end it there.’
Ebony looked up at him in surprise. ‘This relationship didn’t end last night, Slade,’ she said. ‘It was over a long time ago, we just didn’t want to admit it.’
‘It’s over, Slade,’ she cut in, raising her voice. ‘You’re just going to have to get used to it. I’m going to need you to be on your game these next few days.’
He scoffed. It was like that was it? She didn’t want to be with him but still expected him to lead her militia. Alongside Kyle no doubt; that guy had had his eyes on her since he first arrived at the mall! They probably thought it all a big joke. His hands formed fists, then relaxed again. No, he needed to stay calm; he wouldn’t let them wind him up like this. When Ebony turned off towards Jack’s workshop, where Ram had ensconced himself, he took the other direction, needing to clear his head.
‘Slade? Where are you going?’ Ebony called after him. ‘You’re supposed to be leading on the weapons training.’ He ignored her, and carried on walking. ‘Slade? Slade!’
He made his way through the mall, not really paying attention to where he was going until he found himself back in his room. His and Ebony’s room. Just Ebony’s room now, he supposed; he should probably move out. That wouldn’t take long, he didn’t have much in the way of possessions. He gathered them up, stuffing everything into a small bag. Now he just had to find another room to move into.
Or did he? Why did he have to stay in the mall? What was left for him here? He had given up everything for Ebony; his traveller’s lifestyle, his bike, even his hopes for a reconciliation with his brother, all to help her protect a city he cared nothing for. The only other person he felt any affection for had been Ruby, and she was dead, killed in a Techno raid on the black market she had been running on the same day Ebony had brought Kyle back to the mall.
He slung his meagre pack on his shoulder and looked around the room. It was hard to tell he had ever been there. So where to now?
Perhaps there was one place he could go.
‘Ah, if it isn’t the warrior princess herself!’ Ram announced, grinning at his own joke, as Ebony entered the workshop, followed by Kyle and Sammy. ‘To what do I owe…’
‘Cut it out, Ram,’ she interrupted in a no-nonsense tone. ‘I’m not dealing with your games today on top of everything else. You know why I’m here, you sent for me. Now, what have you got for me?’
A dark look passed over Ram’s face and was gone almost as soon as it appeared. He was a dangerous one. She knew he hated her; he probably still blamed her for Java and Siva’s deaths. But if he hated her, he despised Mega, and that made for something of an alliance between them, however temporary.
‘The new weapons you asked for,’ Ram said casually, waving in an off-hand gesture as he led her and the other two to a workbench at the other end of the room. His tone implied that his creating them and her asking for them happened to be coincidental, and woe betide anyone who even suggested he was working for her. He was, of course, as far as she was concerned, but as long as he did what he was told she was happy to let him believe what he wanted.
‘They’re late,’ she said. Well, maybe a little assertion of her authority could be allowed; it was fun to watch him squirm. And they were late. ‘You said they’d be ready a week ago. This supply raid needs to happen a week today, the militia won’t have much time to train.’
Ram’s right eye twitched at the comment and he picked up one of about half a dozen wristbands that were lying on the bench, turning it over in his hands. Fondling the gadget seemed to calm him down.
‘This is brand new technology,’ he all but purred. ‘These aren’t your regular Techno pulse weapons.’ He dismissed those with a grimace then stared fondly at the thing in his hands again. It did look different from the zappers she was familiar with; the wristband itself was white and looked to be made of some kind of stretchy rubber, while the weapon itself looked more complex than normal, though most of it was enclosed so she couldn’t see the inner workings. ‘This here is a self-contained static electricity generator,’ Ram continued. ‘With variable charge settings and a motion-sensitive release system. It doesn’t need to be recalibrated as often as Mega’s weapons will, and he won’t be able to disable them with a sonic disruptor.’ He laughed then, a nasty sound that gave her goosebumps. ‘That’ll surprise him.’
‘Woah. Cool!’ Sammy breathed, reaching out for one of the weapons. Ram grabbed his wrist before he could touch anything, giving him a glare, and when he let go the youngster rubbed his wrist and muttered under his breath.
‘Nice work,’ she said, taking the weapon Ram offered her and looking at it more closely. ‘I’m impressed.’ And she was. If these were half as good as Ram said they were, maybe they would finally have a chance against Mega’s forces. Most of the Technos were an untrained rabble, only dangerous because of the weapons they carried. Now that wouldn’t be so much of an advantage. Ram watched her studying his handiwork with his chest puffed out proudly. Then he realised what he was doing and frowned, annoyed at being pleased by her compliment.
‘Where are the rest?’ she asked.
Ram’s eyes widened. ‘Haven’t you listened to a word I’ve been saying?’ he spluttered. ‘This is a self…contained…generator.’ He emphasised each word carefully. ‘With?’
‘Different settings, motion-sensitive, yes, I get it,’ she interrupted.
‘I don’t think you do,’ he said, snatching back the wristband he had given her and holding it protectively. ‘This…this is a work of genius! And genius takes time.’
‘How long?’ she asked through gritted teeth.
‘I can’t say,’ he replied. ‘You’ll have them as soon as they’re ready.’
‘We need those weapons, Ram,’ she said. ‘Each one evens the odds between us and the Technos that little bit more.’
‘You don’t say! Do you have any idea how carefully these babies need to be wired? The number of safety checks they need to?’
‘Alright, fine! Fine!’ she conceded, throwing up her hands. ‘But I’m sending Jack to help you.’
‘Great!’ he exclaimed in such an outpouring of joy that it had to be faked. ‘I’d best get onto it then, hadn’t I?’ He turned his back to her, muttering as he tinkered with a half-finished zapper grabbed from a shelf behind him. She managed to catch ‘sausages for fingers’ and ‘thought she wanted them more quickly’ before she stopped listening. At least he was working.
She turned to Kyle, who stood to one side with his arms folded, considering her. Tall and athletic, dressed in his trademark black and grey, he was an imposing figure, especially when he remained so silent. The usual twinkle in his eye was gone as he frowned at the weapons on the bench.
‘What are you thinking Kyle?’ she asked her general.
He shrugged his broad shoulders. ‘I’m no fighter, Ebony,’ he replied. ‘I told you that the day you met me. I’m not a fan of weapons.’
‘And I told you,’ she countered. ‘The way things are in this city, you’re going to have to be. You’ve seen what the Technos have; we have to have some way of matching them.’
‘I know,’ he said. ‘And I understand why we’re doing it. But I don’t have to like it.’
‘Well you’ll have to at least get used to it,’ she said. ‘You’re going to be the one training the militia.’
‘Me?!’ Kyle exclaimed, shaking his head, his mop of dark blond hair swaying as he did so. ‘I thought Slade was going to handle that side of things?’
‘Slade’s AWOL,’ she argued. ‘You’re what I have, there’s nobody else I trust.’
‘Can’t you do it?’
‘No,’ she said firmly. ‘I want to observe. I need to see if anybody takes to this too well.’
‘You think Mega has people inside the militia? He knows about us?’
‘I wouldn’t bet against it,’ she admitted. ‘Even with all the precautions we took in recruitment. He knows me too well, Java saw to that. As soon as I escaped his trap he’ll have known what I was thinking, that I would come for him. That’s why we have to act quickly. I can’t wait for Slade to sort himself out. I need you, Kyle.’
Kyle was silent for what felt like an eternity. Finally he sighed and picked up one of the zappers. ‘So how do you work these things?’ he asked.