Rebel Heart (Chapter Two, page 1 of 14)

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Two weeks later Major Brady Hanson held out a hand to the man dressed in the PMF's gray uniform beside him. His best friend, Dan, tossed him a micro. Brady glanced at it, sweating despite the cool antechamber of their secret communications point. Each trip up the side of the mountain grew harder as chaos erupted along the East Coast and drove refugees through Brady's area of operation.

Brady's arm of the militia, the Appalachia Branch, stretched from northern Georgia up through Virginia and was one of the largest in the PMF, the only thing good to come of the East-West Civil War. The PMF-Poor Man's Front-had started as a protest during the war against the elite that ultimately won and divided the American society between those who lived comfortably-and everyone else.

But his branch of the militia wasn't equipped to help refugees. He could only steer them towards the Underground Railroad, the secretive systems of bunkers and tunnels running beneath major cities that were developed by the PMF during the ten-year war. Meanwhile, his people acted as the eyes on the ground to the regular military, most of which was exiled overseas after the war to prevent the divided political elite from seizing control of it again.

Brady entered the code from his micro onto the keypad beside the metal door in front of him. Dwindling supplies made surviving the day enough of a challenge without scaling a mountain at night. The door opened, and they entered the secret communications site, one of two in the territory he commanded.

Tim, his government contact and the highest-ranking individual in the PMF, was already on screen when Brady entered the comms center. As an influential Undersecretary in the fed command and control structure, Tim had access to all kinds of information that helped Brady's chances of survival.

"You received my latest transmission of the cities that are beyond repair?" Tim asked.

"Last night. They've been infrequent," Brady replied. "The comms have gone up and down, depending on how close we are to the nuked areas."

"I didn't expect the critical infrastructure to disintegrate so fast. Guess I shouldn't be surprised. The eastern part of the country has always had a rather lackadaisical approach to maintenance," Tim said.

"As opposed to you Westerners, where life is perfect."

"Someday, you'll have to come visit," Tim said with a hint of his famous smile. "It's difficult for me to transmit undetected with the comms being down everywhere back east. I'm sorry to keep pulling you here when you have work to do elsewhere."

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