Rebel Heart (Chapter One, page 1 of 5)

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United States, 2135 AD Lana cracked an eye open wide enough to see it was too early for her alarm to sound. The buzzing continued, and she pushed herself up on one elbow. She focused on the dim light of her microcomputer acting as a page marker in the antique book on her nightstand. She touched the subcutaneous communications implant behind her right ear, which activated the communications net, and rolled onto her back.

"Hello?" she murmured.

"Mornin', sunshine. I need you to get up now."

"Mr. Tim?" At the familiar voice and stiff order, she struggled into a sitting position.

"Didn't think I had it in me, did you?" he asked.

"I'm sorry?"

"You're always saying I'd never survive without you to feed me people's contact information."

"This would be the first time you remembered by net number," she said.

"I remember when it's important enough."

Amused, Lana tossed off her coverlet. She padded towards her desk, where the Undersecretary of Domestic Security's electronic records were maintained within a secured, portable vault the size of her hand.

"Who do you need to contact?" she asked.

"No one yet, but bring my vault with you."

"Yes, sir."


Lana suppressed a sigh.

"You know what to do in emergencies?" Mr. Tim's voice was low and quiet.


"Then do it. I'm already here and will await you. I've asked someone to call you and provide you instructions on how to get here using a few unconventional routes. Avoid the main roads and any monitored road. Please follow his directions."

The massive shepherd mix dog sleeping on her couch rose and trotted across the small apartment to her. Its nails clicked on the hard flooring. Lana's gaze lingered in its direction, her heart quickening. Something about Mr. Tim's urgent tone told her this wasn't an exercise.

"Sir, how long should I plan on staying?" she asked. "The kennels don't open until-"

"You have a dog?"

"You bought him for me," she reminded him. "Three years ago for my birthday."

"Right," he said with an uneasy chuckle. "Leave him with the neighbor. Bring uniforms, as many as you have clean."

"Yes, sir," she said. "You need me to contact any of your companions or anyone else from the office?"

"You're an angel, Lana. No, thanks. They'll figure it out as soon as they see the news."

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