Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

The sirens start to wail behind us. I hate this bit.
“Time to do one!”
Adey swings his backpack onto his shoulders as he starts running, dodging the spotlight of a hunting drones as he goes. Must be nice, being that fit.
“Auntie Jin?”
I look down at Little Em. Ten years old and too serious.
“Go with him, little ‘un. He’s a tool, but right now he’s the getaway gear you need. Tell your mum I’ll be along for a chat and a cuppa tomorrow night.”
If I survive.
After giving me a fierce hug, she takes off. Just look at her go. All angles and speed.
Looking about, I spot a chunky old 4×4 sticking out from under a wind-blown tarp. It’s right up next to a battered container. Almost made for me, and I’m not going to ignore with whatever’s on my side tonight.
Hang on, it’s locked! What bastard game is this? Nothing for it but to scoot myself under. Fresh shattered glass will register with the drone-mounted ambience scanners. I thought artificial intelligence was meant to make our lives easier, not make them better at oppressing us.
Here I am again, stuck at the arse end of nowhere, hiding under a car. Plus ça change, as grandmama would’ve said with a little laugh. I wonder if she ever got to France?
Make it back. That’s the trick, isn’t it? I’ve done too many of these supply raids. I’m long overdue to not return.
Footsteps! Bloody Domestic Army patrols. The bastards just can’t leave us be. Most of them used to be our neighbours. Problem is, too many of them still are.
“What the fuck are we doing out here, Vardy?”
“Procedure says areas tangential to the alarm site have to be swept by a patrol after the drones. So here we are. It’s bollocks, but has to be done. Obey orders or go join the riff raff. Mind you, some nights I think that might be a better choice.”
The reply sounds angrier than I’d expect.
“You worry me sometimes, old man. It’s wall-to-wall ubiscum out in the ‘burbs. I know, I walk past them every day. Only a few like me do real work. All the whining and cheating got the freeloaders where they deserve to be: outside the New Era Mandate.”
Vardy coughs, then chuckles.
“Like the One England Initiative wasn’t enough. We should have stopped you lot back in ’28 before the lying bastards got in properly. All our protesting about national service and we still missed the fact that for a lot of conscripts, it gave them the identity they craved, a gang they wanted to be part of, and permission to pick on all the people they didn’t like. It also gave your neo-fascist government a pool of bigots from which they could build a new Schutzstaffel.”
“You’re talking treason.”
“No, I’m talking history. This is treason.”
That was a gunshot!
There’s a wheezing laugh.
“You know, of all the things I expected tonight, finding you hiding under a truck again wasn’t one of them. Still leaving distinctive tracks in the dirt, I see.”
Wait… Vardy? No way!
“Five years back. You let me and Em go.”
He crouches down and peers under the truck. Damn he’s old. Got fire in his eyes, though.
“That’s the one. How’s your tall friend?”
“Her ankle didn’t heal straight.”
“That’s a shame. Can I give you a lift?”
“They’re about to bust me for helping people like you, so I’m leaving. You’re hiding under my getaway vehicle.”
“Go on, then.”