I had been mingling now for two days and had not garnered any unwanted attention. The generally atmosphere was still one of complete and utter confusion, but I was aware of a slight subsidence over the course of the two days.
I’d selected the person that I was going to approach and was observing him closely. She had obviously grasped the concept of Stasis very early on and to give the place an air of normality, she had built a coffee shop. Actually, not just the one, but created a small franchise. There seemed to be one on every corner. As someone that did not drink coffee, I found it rather amusing that a franchise coffee shop was a comforting factor in a time of crisis.
Nevertheless, I could tell that she was a talented manipulator of energy and with what she had built here would be a worthy ally. It was time to make an approach. I bided my time and waited for an opportune moment.
She eventually left for the day and, without looking obvious, I got up from my seat and followed her. I vaguely remembered the layout of this zone. It was a circular plan with four defined quadrants that all led to a central rotunda. This was where she was heading. I seized my opportunity before she headed inside.
“Excuse me…” I started.
She turned around to face me, slightly taken aback with perhaps a glimmer of recognition in her face.
“Yes? Can I help you?”
Now it was my turn to freeze slightly. I had a sudden realisation that for all my planning on making an approach I had not thought about what I would actually say. I quickly thought of a way to open the conversation.
“Depends on what?” she replied, her curiosity rising ever so slightly.
“On what you think of Stasis…”
“So that’s what it is called. I had been wondering what this place is. And more to the point, why are we here?”
“If you would allow me, I can explain everything.”
“Then you had better come inside then,” she said, beckoning me inside, “I’m Laura by the way.”
“Eric. Eric Deacon.”
“Ah….the missing man that reappeared and disappeared again. Interesting.”
Silently I agreed. Interesting indeed. Was it coincidence that in a neighbouring zone I should meet someone that had prior knowledge of me. Is it possible that EricToo had somehow engineered the placement of Laura and others in this network and perhaps other neighbouring zones based on curiosity about events surrounding me? It was entirely feasible, and if true, would help stymie some of the negative thoughts that I had been having.
Once inside, Laura sat me down on a plush post-modern sofa. She had done a huge amount of work on this place, seemingly ripping apart my original design and reconstructing it from the inside out. She was alone, which I was thankful for.
“Coffee?” she said.
“No thanks, but I am curious as to how you create it here? I’ve never really thought about creating food or drink in my time here.”
“Simple really. I’ve worked mainly on conveying the sensation of taste and warmth to those that ‘drink’ it. It’s amazing how much of an affect that something as comforting as coffee can have on people that are more than a little confused.”
“I can see.”
“Okay Eric, now it’s time for you to tell me all about this place.”
I launched into my story from the very beginning leaving no small detail out. Laura listened intently absorbing my tale as it developed from the first transition to where we were now, every twist and every turn was included. I left nothing out, embellishing some parts with my own feelings. She remained silent throughout the whole hour and a bit that it took to recount the events.
“But now, I believe that war is coming,” I said, ending my account.
She nodded and took her time in constructing a reply.
“I see,” she finally said, “and this is the part where you ask for my help?”
“Yes,” I replied apologetically, “we need the help of people like you. If you don’t want a part of it, fine, I will understand and will walk away. All I would ask is that you didn’t divulge any of this to anyone.”
“It’s okay, I’m in. I want to get out of here as much as everyone else. This place just isn’t natural. It’s nothing more than an adventure holiday park for those that haven’t got the balls to take risks.”
I sighed with relief before explaining the plan ahead.
“I don’t know when this will happen, it could be soon but it also could be weeks or months away. I just know that it will happen one day.”
“I know a few people that I can trust here. I’ll gather them together and spread the word. I just want to go home really. I’ve been ripped apart from people that I care dearly about. It seems that the society that it has engineered here was not one based on social contact but one based chiefly on the internet, work and the neighbours you tried to avoid making eye contact with.”
I suspected that this may also have something to do with EricToo and wondered to what extent this ran through Stasis. If everything had the air of being perfect and Utopian, would people want to actually leave? Would they rise up and start a resistance if this was better than reality for them?
“Ideally, there should be no more than five cells and you will need to set up two or three safe houses for each cell. You will recruit trusted lieutenants recruit the cells. You should not know the identities of the cell members. Instruct them to keep the cells to no more than four people and make sure that they have no contact with each other.
“When the time comes, you will be the only one that I contact. Instructions will be sent to you and you will disseminate these plans down to each lieutenant who will in turn convey this information to each cell.
“The other part of the plan will be to act as a recruiter for the army that I am putting together in Blue. This will come after you have set up the cells. If you hear any dissent from people here about the situation you will approach them and tell them that there is a way out, but only if they are prepared to fight for it.
“You will also contact on a daily basis with a set coded signature so that I know that it is you. You will provide me with information that has been fed to you up from each cell via your lieutenants and also any other pertinent information that you have picked up.
“If at any point you feel that a cell has been compromised based on the information that has been passed on to you, move and kill all contact with the lieutenant. When you recruit your lieutenants, you will also ensure that they do not pass you any information that they suspect is false or doctored in some way.
“Once I return to Blue, I will contact you to let you know that we are ready for recruits. I will be opening the crossover point once a day to allow recruits through. At the moment, I will be keeping the code for crossover secret. My companions do not even know the code yet.
“I understand, there are a few open network crossovers branching off from here. I have yet to venture down these.”
“Good. It would be wise to base some of your safe houses in these neighbouring zones. If you are compromised, the cells should know that they should disperse. Make sure that the locations of the safe houses are kept secret from you. If you don’t respond to radio contact with the correct code for the day I will know that you are no longer in control of your own responses and will assign at random a new leader. Your lieutenants will no longer be required in the resistance and should be instructed to send an emergency contact to me with details of the cell under their command.
“The best and safest course of action for them would be to head to Blue and join the army, but only if they can be certain that they are not being monitored. Otherwise, they should get as far away as possible travelling through networks that allow them access.
“One final thing will be for you to be part of the resistance expansion to neighbouring networks once you have established one here. I can only ask that you do this and will understand if you are uncomfortable with fulfilling this part of the role.”
Laura knew right away the huge amount of responsibility that I was entrusting her with. I would have understood if after going through all of this that she just told me to forget it and pick someone else, but she didn’t. Her mood had somewhat sullied though, but that was wholly understandable.
“No, I will do that too. This is important for the survival of humanity. I must thank you for choosing me.”
“Before I bid you farewell, there are just two final things I need from you. Firstly, your code name and secondly the code name for this zone. Nothing obvious and preferable the first two objects that come into your head.”
“Catamaran and rocket. And that’s the vegetable.”
“Good, I can perhaps use that as an added level of security to ensure that I am talking to you. I hope that we meet again Catamaran. On communications I will be known as Horse. If you see me again in Stasis we have not met. This is as much for your protection as well as mine. Good luck and farewell. ”
We shook hands and I left Laura to commence her duties as my first recruit to the resistance. I recovered my little car from where I had left it hidden and carried on to another zone that I knew neighboured Blue.
I followed the process for the eight neighbouring zones and then branched out further. Not every zone was as easy to find a candidate, but eventually I would find a suitable person. Some of them were far more conspicuous than Laura had been. On two occasions, I was approached by the candidate before I had a chance to make contact with them. I also encountered people aware of my history before they met me, much in the same way as Laura had been. This was no longer coincidence, this was planned.
After forty days, I had fifteen recruits and the resistance was in full swing. I’d effectively padded Blue with an early warning system. It was time to briefly return to Blue to make first contact with my zonal commanders and to get my companions up to speed with what I had been doing during my absence along with the plans for the future.
Then it would be time to covertly seek out Patrick. A task that I was not looking forward to. Yet a task that was wholly necessary to ensure that I was not going about things the wrong way.