Problems

Helena was walking to the parking lot where the tank had made its last stop. Her grandmother’s hit and run guerrilla strategy had had them on the move, attacking important eco-points like chakra-therapy centres. Their campaign had been a success, to the point that most of the state was now in a state of anarchy, but slowly moving back towards the organization that it used to have before the Eco-Revolution.

She was not wearing her Sister clothes this time. It was useful for raids, because it gave them the element of surprise, but they did not want to call anyone’s attention in this city. This was their first stop in this state, an important city that was right in the middle of a transport artery towards the north of the country. Due to this, the eco-world-government had strongly fortified the area, with a higher concentration of armed forces and Sisters than anywhere else.

Helena was carrying a bag with groceries from a nearby shop. She had not noticed it yet – mostly because she was worried that someone would notice the bottle of milk and the chicken that she was carrying in her bag, hidden among the vegetables –, but for the first time in this city, the street was empty.

As she passed next to a public phone, it started to ring. She turned towards it, surprised, and looked around to see if anyone was there. She approached it and answered the call.

“Hello?”

There was some static. Eventually, the noise cleared and Helena heard a voice. “Hey, Helena, it’s me”.

“Dani…?” she whispered. “How did you know I was here?”

“That doesn’t matter” Dani responded. “I have to warn you”.

“Warn me?” Helena was a bit surprised by the whole thing.

“Your activity has not gone unnoticed. They know that you are in the city, and they are ready to destroy you” Dani announced.

“What? Dani, how do you know any of this?”

The question went unanswered, and the phone beeped. Dani had hung up the phone. Helena hurried the rest of the way to the parking lot where the tank was, and climbed inside it. Everyone else was there, getting ready for the attack. Helena interrupted their conversation.

“They know about us” Helena announced, speaking over everyone else’s voices. “We need to change plans”.

“What?” Maud was shocked. “How could they know about us?”

“Helena, calm down and try to explain everything to me” Helena’s grandmother said.

“The government knows that we are here, and is ready to destroy us!” Helena explained. “We need to get going, before they attack us”.

Helena’s grandmother raised her hands before anyone else could say a thing, gesturing that they should calm down. When everyone was silent and looking at her, she spoke in a soft tone.

“OK, so, here is the thing. We have been travelling through the state, and this is the last city that is left before we cross the border. The eco-government would know that we were going to attack. Their plan is probably to stop us here and to reconquer what they have lost” she explained. “Knowing that, we need to do something that they couldn’t predict”.

“Like, what?” Maud asked.

“We are going to leave the city intact, but we are going to cut all of its communications” Helena’s grandmother explained.

Everyone nodded. It seemed like a reasonable plan: that way they would avoid the dangers of the city, while at the same time stopping the eco-government from reconquering. They had already acquired the supplies that they needed in that city, and the attack was the only thing that was left. They drove the tank through the city, silently, avoiding any patrols, like they had done before.

They were outside the city when they saw them: an army of eco-soldiers was waiting for them, blocking their path. The tank sped over them, crunching and cracking them under its weight, and Helena’s group was not even sorry. As they left the army behind, there was a flash of light.

The next thing was a giant mushroom shaped cloud rising towards the sky, and a shockwave that travelled at high speed, destroying everything around them.

“That’s a nuclear bomb! Max speed, we need to get away from it!” Helena’s grandmother shouted.

The tank advanced, nonstop, for over two hundred kilometres. They had been outside the city when the nuclear bomb had exploded, about 50 kilometres away from the explosion’s centre. They were also inside a tank made of sturdy metal, which should have protected them from the radiation, but they could not be completely sure about the radiation dose that they had received.

“Why would they launch a nuclear attack against one of their cities?” Helena asked.

“Maybe it was a focus of resistance, and wanted to stop it from spreading out” Maud proposed.

There was a sudden bang against the metal plates of the tank, which jolted a bit. They were all wary, waiting to see whether it had stopped or not. There was another bang, and another, coming from the rear end of the tank. Suddenly, a scythe like thing crossed through the metal, tearing it apart with incredible force. The gap started to open, and they saw one of the eco-soldiers.

But instead of being human, the eco-soldier had now grown mantis-like scythes in its arms, only sharper.

The thing looked at them with crazy eyes. Helena’s grandmother went towards it with decision, gun in hand, and emptied the gun’s ammunition against the thing’s face. It fell out of the tank, dead. Helena was horrified.

“What was that?” she asked.

“Problems” her grandmother announced.

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