One with the Courage

 

Prologue

"Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days."
~ Nelson Mandela

In the years after the Industrial Revolution, lack of government regulation and the failure of labor unions to take hold resulted in a power grab by the ever-growing corporations. Only a few would survive the power struggle. Breaking down the barriers between nations, the conglomerates formed the World Economic Council. Now holding the governing power over a large territory, the Council moved to start expanding its control outside its realm. Using subversive tactics and using its economic power to badger other nations into unilateral agreements, the Council achieved its aim. The WEC soon ruled the globe with an iron fist. The new system that people lived under was split into three classes, the Rulers, the Controllers, and the Laborers. Billions of people suffered worldwide under the watchful eye of the Controllers to support their masters. Generations passed and soon the memory of freedom began to dim until one woman dared to challenge the system and encourage others to fight for a better future...

 

Chapter 1--Beginnings

October 23, 2278

Inter-Continental Federation---North American Continent

Tara Vager could hear the clamor of her students as she walked down the hall towards the classroom. The children's chatter and laughter echoed loudly through the 20th century building. Almost as soon as she entered the room, the children scrambled to their consoles and looked expectantly at their teacher.

"Good morning, class," Tara greeted them.

"Good morning, Sanna Vager," the children chorused back.

Instead of taking her seat in front as she usually did, Tara remained standing. "Today is a special day, class. Can anyone tell me why?" A console chimed and she looked over at a small girl with a pixie face and mousy, brown hair. "Liasa, tell us what today is."

Liasa stood and exclaimed, "It's Sanna Lea's birthday!"

"That's correct!" Tara smiled. "Sanna Lea, Mother of the Federation, was born 300 hundred years ago today! And because of this, we are going to take a special field trip to the Sanna Lea Historical Observatory where you will get a look at her life first hand!" The class erupted into cheers and it took a while for Tara to calm them down. As soon as they were quiet, she said, "Now detach you datapads from your console units. Then line up quietly and we'll go out to the transport that's waiting for us.

The children immediately complied and they were soon on their way to the Observatory.


The Observatory's architecture was in the style of the 20th century, though it had been built around 2160. Inside the building was a museum dedicated to Sanna Lea and the World Liberation Union. The children stared in awe at personal artifacts of Sanna that had been preserved for almost three centuries.

Liasa was gazing at one of the displays in fascination when a blonde-haired boy, shorter than she, approached her. "What's that?" he asked, pointing a flat, circular metallic object with a glass casing and two strips of leather attached.

Liasa rolled her eyes. "Don't you know anything, Raz?" she asked derisively of her best friend. "It's an old-fashioned chronometer! Only they were called ‘watches' back then."

Raz peered at it. "Really?"

"Yeah, really! They used to wear them on their wrist so as to always to be able to tell time."

"What's the point of that? Unless you're in school, work in the transportation sector, or are a scientist, why would anyone need a constant reminder of time?"

Liasa keyed in a query to her datapad. "It says here, that time used to be very important back in Sanna Lea's day. The pace of life used to be a lot faster then; people were stuck to a rigid schedule. Conglomerates required that all laborers must wear one. If a worker was even a minute late, it would result in severe punishment."

"Wow! I bet life wasn't a lot of fun back then."

"I know. Could you imagine living in the corporate barracks?"

"Liasa! Raz!" Tara called to them. "Come on! We're going into the Time Chamber now!"

The two children looked at each other in glee. The Time Chamber! Each had heard wondrous stories about it and now would actually have the chance to experience it! Not needing to be told twice, Liasa and Raz raced after their classmates.


Marto Tal surveyed the group of children crowded into the Chamber. He smiled to himself. They looked about them in awe, their excitement crackled through the air. There was a time when he shared their feelings and still did, if he were honest with himself. He eyed Tara as she settled the kids into place. Her face glowed as she chatted animatedly with her students, answering questions and listening to various jokes. Her flaming red hair swirled gently in the slight draft caused by the cooling system. If he closed his eyes, he could almost feel the silky texture of it in his hands. After making sure no one was missing, Tara made her way over to him, her eyes sparkling with suppressed delight.

"Hello, Tara," Marto said softly, "You look as beautiful as ever."

Tara smiled widely and said, "Thank you Marto. Still as charming as ever I see."

"Only to you my dear."

"Yes, but as you see, I've brought some guests with me. Either you must flatter them all or save those pretty words for someone else."

"Well," he replied with a mock bow, "I see I must wait for a more opportune time. Now, shall we get started?"

Tara nodded and turned to her class. "Alright boys and girls, may I have your attention please? I would like to introduce Marto Tal, the director of the Observatory. San Tal?"

Marto stepped forward and grinned down at the class. "Good morning everyone!"

"Good morning, San Tal!" the students yelled back.

"Well, I'm glad to see you all are excited about this. It reminds me of my first time in the Observatory. Before we go through the Gate though, I'm going to review with you a little about Sanna Lea's life. She was born in 1978 to Jane and Paul Lea. Her birthplace was in this very town! Although back then, Shifeld used to be a lot smaller. Sanna's brother, Jared Lea, was born in 1980. She had a relatively happy childhood. Looking at that era in her life, she would be the least likely candidate a historian would pick for a revolutionary. Her father's death in 1990 changed that and set her on a path that would dominate the rest of her life. And that is where we are going to start the tour of Sanna's life. Does anyone have any questions before we start?"

Raz raised his hand. "What's Sanna Lea's first name? Why do we always call her ‘Sanna'?"

Marto laughed. "Sanna is her first name, my boy," he replied. "Not long after her death, the people of the Federation chose to adopt her first name as a mark of respect---‘Sanna' for a woman and ‘San' for a man. In Sanna's time, they used different terms to address people with. I'm happy you brought that up, as it may have been confusing to you youngsters. You'll hear the people of that time referring to people by other terms. ‘Miss' denotes and unmarried young woman, ‘Mrs.' is a married one, and ‘Ms.' can be used for either and is considered more polite. ‘Mr.' denotes a man whether he is married or not."

"Oh," Raz said with a rather confused look on his face. "Well it all seems silly to me."

"Yes it is," Marto agreed. "Now, if nobody has any further questions..." He looked around. "Good. I want you to pair up with someone and I'll pass around a time remote to each pair." The next fifteen minutes were spent in total confusion as the children rushed about to find a partner and then crammed together to get a remote. When he was assured that each one had a traveling companion and remote, he said in a serious tone, "Now I need everyone's full attention. It is important that you stick with your partner throughout the duration of the tour. You only have one remote between you and I don't want anyone separating and getting lost. We will go through a few years of Sanna's life together as a group and then I will allow you to break off with your partner and wander through her life alone. The remote is easy to use---there's an outline of her life on it and you can use that as a guide to enter in the time and date you wish to visit. You should be able to see quite a bit of her life. I've set the remotes to automatically send you all to the day of Sanna's death at a specified time. There we will all meet up and go through her last moments together."

"What happens if we get lost?" a student asked.

"You are stuck in Sanna's time until we can find you." Marto replied. "The master control can find any anomalies, which is what you will be, and locate your position. It takes quite a while to sift through all that information though."

Liasa raised her hand. "San Tal, won't people in that era be suspicious of us?"

Marto shook his head. "No, they won't even see us. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot manipulate the past since it has already happened. All we are able to do is to recapture the shadows of the past and observe them." He walked over to a console and punched in a command. A panel in the wall sank into the floor, revealing a gleaming metal arch that was about two and a half meters in height. Marto typed in another command and a low humming began. The space within the arch began to shimmer. Marto turned and said to the group, "Now everyone line up in front of the gate with your partners. Sanna Vager will go first and lead the rest of you through. I will be last so to make sure you all arrive safely."

The children scrambled excitedly for a place in line. Liasa was near the back and therefore was able to see the first few students go through. One step within the arch and the person seemed to be frozen in place for a moment until they slowly faded away. Coming closer with every step, Liasa's excitement grew. Soon she saw Raz go through and then it was her turn. Taking a deep breath, she stepped through the Gate.

 

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