As each day passed during Eric’s absence I was growing in confidence that I was chipping away at the lack of trust that the Farm Crew initially displayed. They now acknowledged my presence and had even thanked me for some of the suggestions that I had made, albeit somewhat reluctantly at first.
Despite this, I still yearned for full control. With the ability to manipulate energy locked down I felt like I was a puppet being exploited for the benefit of those around me. I knew that I was taking a selfish view on all this and I should feel privileged that I had been allowed into their group. But after forty days I felt that I should be given at least some more liberties.
When I had approached Alice regarding the matter she dodged the question somewhat by saying that I should wait until Eric returned. It was the kind of ‘Ask your father’ answer that I had expected in fairness. The problem when I received that response was that no one had any idea as to when or even if Eric would return.
Though I was initially not relishing Eric’s return when he left, I was thankful when it came. However, I would have to wait for an answer as the first thing that Eric did when he arrived back was call everyone together for a meeting.
With everyone gathered in the penthouse of the central tower, Eric began to fill us in on what he had been doing during his time away.
“The resistance is in place,” and he began to detail the structure of each zone and what was expected of us. It was certainly an impressive network of allies that he had built in such a short space of time.
“Now that the network is in place, we need to make contact with all the zonal commanders and start the recruitment phase. I will be asking that any new recruits gather at the crossover points in their respective zones at noon each day. The zonal commanders have been instructed to phase time into familiar 24 hour cycles so that we are all in unison.
“All recruits will have been issued a code and the zonal commanders will broadcast these codes an hour before noon, along with the signatures of anyone that they found suspicious. You will then screen the recruits as they come through in accordance with the information received from the commanders.”
After a few moments of silence we finally realised that Eric had finished. In forty long days his whole demeanour and disposition had changed. I sensed no antagonism towards me now as other matters would have occupied his mind. I hoped that this would make him more open to at least giving me some more power.
I thought that no one was going to ask any questions or even respond to Eric’s plans, but eventually it was Michael that spoke.
“I think I speak for everyone here when I say that what you have done here is nothing short of a miracle. However, what of Patrick? It’s all well and good having a resistance in place but without knowledge of what we are resisting it’s hard to make plans.”
“I know, it’s the one thing that has been nagging away at me during the whole recruitment process and it was a question that I was often asked. I saw it as a greater necessity to build a network before searching for Patrick for a couple of reason. Firstly, I did not want to alert him before we had anything in place. And secondly, I needed to give him time to build something so that it was easier to find.
“All commanders will be instructed to feed information to us if they see anything that they might think is related to Patrick’s activities.
“I will be leaving again soon to search for Patrick, but this time I will not be going alone. Emile, I would like you to come along with me. I will also require one of the tech team to come along, I don’t mind who.”
Between them, the tech team selected Scott to go along with Emile and Eric. Once everyone had dispersed, I made my approach to Eric. Before I could even utter a word, Eric spoke to me.
“EricToo, I need to talk to you about what I want you to do.”
“Okay, and I need to ask you a favour.”
“I know what you’re going to ask but there’s not enough time to make a decision yet. However, I think you will find that your task is a lot more fulfilling than being a test subject, and it will give you more power than you current have.”
I was instantly disappointed and then intrigued with seconds. “What do you want me to do?”
“You will take over command of all the zonal commanders. I trust you implicitly and suspect that you had a hand in the placing of people in neighbouring zones.”
I had no idea that this had happened, though I had gathered as much information surrounding the disappearance and the conspiracy theorists that discussed it online. Somehow I must have retained this information and influenced the way that humanity was sorted and placed in networks and zones after the mass transition.
I was relieved though. An unwitting act had led to implicit trust and a position of huge responsibility. One that I would grab with both hands and perform to the best of my abilities.
“What exactly will this entail?”
“You will set up the contact codes along with sending instructions and information. When information is received from the commanders, you will disseminate it to our team, or to other commanders if it is likely to affect them. Once Patrick’s plans go into full effect, you will be the point man for the whole resistance network and will make tactical decisions.
“For this, I will need to you to be hooked into the radio network full time. I will lift some of the restrictions. You will only be able to change and create data packets, but that will be enough for now and I hope that this goes some way to appease your frustration. Once we return from our reconnaissance, I will speak to the others to see if they will agree to a full lifting of the restrictions. Before I leave, I will be expunging all knowledge of the resistance from my memory.”
I was stunned. Eric was effectively transferring the whole resistance operation over to me, essentially putting me in charge. This was much more than I could have asked for and not even close to what I had been expecting. Eric sent me all the information regarding the code names of the commanders and zones. He mapped out the zones in relation to Blue and gave me one final instruction.
“I will also give you one final ability. Should Blue ever get compromised, you must not put the resistance at risk. You must return to the boundary network. The sequence that you will run if it comes to this will keep you safe from being trapped again and should allow you to exit at another location.”
I understood that this was required and accepted this without protest. He wished me luck, wiped all knowledge of the resistance network from his memory and left me to run all operations. Everything had changed in the space of an hour, and I was reeling with the shock of my unexpected promotion to the top when all I actually wanted was an air of equality.
This changed everything.