Chapter 20

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“I’d have thought you’d have learned by now not to bet against me when I’m in the cockpit,” David teased.

Rosana smiled. “Oh, but losing to you is so much fun.” She was lying in David’s arms on one of her couches. His chest was to her back and her head fit perfectly under his. “A lot of people have been watching the footage of your team’s drills. You and Tanner are some of the best pilots we’ve ever seen. Individually you’re both very creative. As a squadron however, you’re a little unimaginative.”

“Thanks. I guess it comes from being taught formations and stuff in the Academy.”

“You really liked being in HDL, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, I did. It gave me purpose.”

“That’s what I like about being here,” she said. “We stand for something.”

“That’s true, but it’s not quite the same as being in the League. The uniforms, the state of the art ships, the pomp, and the mixture of all the different backgrounds… it creates a culture unlike anything else.” David’s eyes clouded over with the distant, wistful memories of the Academy. Then he went on playing his part. “Of course, that flawless image cracked after a while. I’ve wondered if even Zeus’s vision will remain true. Power corrupts. Violence corrupts. Hate corrupts. And Zeus has got all three in spades.” Rosana became lost in deep thought. David switched topics, “You know, you’ve asked me a lot about my time in the League, but I’ve been wondering about you. How’d you get all of this together?”

“Well, it all started with this,” she said, getting up and retrieving an old, tattered notebook from a shelf. “It was my father’s. He called it his ‘little manifesto’. Within it, he outlined a socio-political ideology that we believed could eliminate the suffering that’s been so prevalent in this society. There were also chapters devoted to planning how we could bring about this change. It must’ve seemed like a hopeless cause a lot of the time, but it was his vision that drove him and Zeus’s father to start a group dedicated to fighting for this cause.” She tossed David the notebook with a bitter smile and rejoined him on the couch. “They ended up dying at the battle of Olympus, and I was left with this and basically nothing else. Fitch was with me of course, but he was more of a burden than a friend at first. All I had was my father’s book and a little nudge from Zeus. He left me a note in the front, see?” David flipped to the inner cover and saw the note from Gabriel. “At first I had no idea what to make of it, but after a few months I understood. I had to be strong and get stronger. I had to amass knowledge and resources and exact revenge. Last but not least I have to preserve my father’s vision.” Her voice took on an edge not unlike Satyana’s, but where Satyana’s voice cut like arctic wind, Rosana’s seared like one of the Alfen’s heat staffs. It was full of passionate emotion, yet focused and controlled. “The manifesto had the names of some of my father’s friends and trusted allies,” she explained. “I tracked a few of them down and many of them helped us with food, shelter, and even taught us how to fend for ourselves. Eventually we began tracking down other survivors of the battle and enlisting them in the cause.”

David squeezed her shoulder. “I’m sorry you had to grow up like that.”

She shrugged. “Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if my parents were still here. Would I have the same convictions? I’ve devoted my entire life to my father’s legacy, sacrificed any chance I might have had at living for myself. But I think that’s why we’ll succeed, because the core members of this movement are willing to give anything and everything to take down the Alliance.”

And those of us in HDL will give anything and everything to preserve it, David thought. “So it’s revenge you want. This political revolution is just a means to an end? Do you think about the bigger picture?”

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