(From the Writer’s Digest creative writing prompt “The Tortoise and the Hare”)
“They say seeing a turtle on your wedding day brings good luck.”
I roll my eyes at my sister’s comment. As the oldest, she was already promised to a young man in town. Ever since that announcement at the dinner table last month, she’s been obsessed with wedding folklore and superstitions. Doesn’t she realize that there are more important things than shoes and dresses for her nuptials? If the Sacred Federation succeeds in winning the War, what benefit will a good-luck turtle on her wedding day be when the rest of her life will be lived in oppression?
I tie my hair back in a braid. “Let the folks know I’m borrowing the hoverbike. I’ll be back by dinner.”
She mutters something noncommittal as she turns another page in the wedding publication she borrowed from her best friend. I check the time as I head out the door. An hour to go. That will be plenty of time to get to the supply station, plant the micro-explosives, and detonate them from a safe hiding place. I pick up my communicator when it beeps. It’s Tomas, head of the rebellion that has become know as the Faithless.
“I’ll be there in about ten,” I say, then end the transmission. Possession of the device is forbidden, but we’ve found that if we keep all communications under five seconds, the Federation’s agents can’t track us. It takes me a couple minutes to get the old hoverbike started, but once it’s going the engine hums. I take the route I scouted and timed for the past two weeks and arrive on schedule.
There’s a rock outcrop with plenty of brush around it—a perfect hiding spot for the bike. I stash it, make sure I have the micro-explosives in my pack, and sneak into the secure facility through a series of tunnels and ventilation shafts. My petite frame is perfect for this job, never mind the fact that no one else in the Faithless would fit.
I plant the five devices, exactly where Tomas marked on the facility layout diagram he provided me. At the last one, I leave the diagram and my now empty pack behind. No point in keeping the evidence of my heresy on me. My adrenaline is in overdrive as I make the crawl back out through the tunnels. A five minute delay on the detonator will give me time to be far enough away to be free of suspicion. I take a deep breath, double check the detonator sequence, then hit the button that begins the countdown.
I conceal the detonator in the ground under a shrub and rush to my bike. It doesn’t start initially, but then it never does anymore. The dead rabbit not two feet away is the first sign that things just went downhill. I check the engine, and sure enough, the main power line was chewed through. I look in the small external storage container for extra wires to splice it together, and quickly.
“Hold it right there!”
I freeze, silently swearing at my luck. They quit dispatching external roving patrols here months ago. What are the Elders doing out here? “I—I was just out for a ride, and my bike broke down.”
“This is a restricted area. You will come with us for questioning and stand before the Cardinal for judgement.”
They restrain me and call for a prisoner transport, which arrives within moments. Their Holy Enforcement headquarters is only a few miles away, and we’re just arriving when I hear the distant explosion. I suppress my smile. At least the mission was completed.
They deposit me directly into a holding cell after entering the Sacred building. I sit on the metal bench and lean my head back against the wall. It’ll take a miracle for the Faithless to break me out of here; it’ll take a victory in this War. If they figure out I planted the micro-explosives, they’ll put me to death. But even as it is, between possession of a communicator and being in a restricted area, I know I’m looking at doing ten to twenty in a Federation prison.
All because my hoverbike wouldn’t start.