Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

I stretch as far as I can, my blackened fingers finally finding purchase. Once more, I turn to memory to provide strength.

“Yurik, don’t be silly.” My mother, looking up briefly from her packing.

I pull myself up. Releasing the line from my belt, I turn and start hauling.

“Yurik, it’s foolish.” My girlfriend. The sensible half of our relationship to the bitter end, which happened soon after those words were uttered.

The top box came off a Dobrevny flitter: it’s ancient but strong and light. Inside and lashed to it are the makings and connections of defiance. I assemble the rig with practiced moves, saving the uplink for the last moment: gestures like this work better when they are not pre-emptively stopped.

Finally I stand and look out across my city, Moskva Napa, and see the circling lights of the Treaty Enforcers. A treaty negotiated between powers not involved in the conflict and imposed by threat of extreme force being applied to all parties involved. Yet they still hail this as a ‘peace’ accord? Hypocrites. We have the resources in this sector, and they don’t care about the populace, just about keeping their goodies flowing.

I plug in and the feedback whine makes the nearby stacks resonate. The hum comes up through my boots. With a grin, I uplink, thumping access gates wide with routines a hackmistress acquired for me. High above, I see a ripple traverse the lights. A gross intrusion like mine people can’t miss, especially those watching for it.

As my hitcount turns into a blur and extends past five digits, I grip the neck of my great-great-great-great grandfather’s Telecaster and crash into ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’. Great arcs of power crash outward as my jury-rigged cabling turns the power towers and resonators into a petawatt amplifier. Even over that, I can hear the population roar in reply to my cry of “We’ll be fighting on the ways, with our children wielding rays, and the honour that they slander – will be done.”

The lights above swing down and turn toward me. I grin. That is the nature of catalysts: we are brief.

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