"It may have taken the Doom," Rusty says, his voice as raw as his namesake, "but I believe we finally did learn our lesson, and can return to the way things were: sharing instead of taking."

            Father has a dour smirk on his face. "Have any of you ever heard the story of Easter Island?"

"No," Cale says. We hit a pothole in the road and everyone bounces in their seats.

"Well, remind me to lend you a certain book if we get Charlotte back. Easter Island was a microcosm of what happened with all of human civilization. I might know that my actions are killing the planet, but if they allow me to live a comfortable life, I'm going to keep on doing them. When even a fraction of humanity behaves this way..."

"We don't anymore," Connor insists. "Some of us have a little thing called optimism."

"Well then you'd better hope your future generations understand what the world was like before the Doom," Father says ominously. "Or one day it will happen all over again."

"You're preaching to the choir," Cale says as he fiddles with a radio. I think he's looking for frequencies the League uses. "I lived through the Doom, same as you, and I know where we were headed before it happened. Maybe I just have a little more faith in humanity than you do. Optimism, right Connor?"

"And where does the League fit into your new world order?" Father asks.

"Their worldview is violent and narrow," Sandy replies. "It's us or them at this point...we tried for years to broker a truce. It's not like we don't both have room to grow nowadays."

Father begins inspecting his gear. It's standard procedure for him before anything involving stealth or violence. He calls it 'his OCD coming out'.

"Alright," he says, clearing his throat, "Regan and I need a full brief. What we're up against and the best means of approach."

"You owe us an answer first," Connor insists. "What's so important about your RV?"

To Connor's credit, he doesn't wilt under Father's stare the way most people do. "What?" Father says. "Putting eight of your adversaries into the ground isn't proof enough of our dedication to your cause?"

"That was self-defence," Cale says.

"It's more than that," I add, breaking my silence. "This is about your ideology surviving. I might not agree with your...religious take on the Doom, or your leader's weird idea that Dad is somehow sent by your goddess to help you, but sustainability I can get behind. For us, this isn't about Charlotte, it's about..."

"Regan," Father warns.

"No, Dad, you shush. They're putting faith in us and us in them and this is a really dangerous thing we're about to do and we might all die. So there needs to be trust. We need to know exactly what the League is all about, not to mention numbers, armament, tactics, blah blah and so on, and they need to know what we're even doing here on this island in the first place."

Father sighs. "There's no point getting anyone's hopes up."

"This isn't about that," I reply. "This is about transparency. So why don't I tell you our mission here..."

"Twofold mission," Father amends.

"Threefold mission," I say, "and then we can discuss a plan to get in and out with Charlotte and any information they may have stolen."

"Sounds reasonable," Cale agrees.

"First and foremost," I say, "we are scavengers. We collect anything pre-Doom that is worth preserving...everything from Styx albums to repair manuals. Charlotte has a huge database of scanned and uploaded information. Second, whether Dad likes it or not, we trade, in knowledge and materials."

"We try to improve the fledgling communities we encounter," Father adds.

"That's what I just said," I say. "So there you have it. That's our mission. Scavenge and trade. Occasionally we build bridges between remote groups. Figurative bridges."

"Is that the third...fold...?" Connor asks. "Building bridges?"

I glance at Father. He shrugs. "You wanted to tell them."

"I don't see why it has to be such a big secret," I reply. "It benefits everyone."

Father sighs. "Long story short, we're looking for a..."

There is a boom and suddenly everyone is bouncing and the tires are screeching as the APC tips over. My world looks like a spinning camera as limbs collide with bodies, walls, seats. The vehicle comes to rest upside down and I know instinctively that it wasn't a pothole this time.

 Land mine, I think. With no time to check for bruises, I flick off the safety on my shotgun and prepare myself for ambush #2.

 Or wait, is that #3 since landing on this stupid island? I ask myself.

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