I had been giving thanks all month since I met Margot. And I had plenty to be thankful for. I had her. I had the library. I had the films and television classics. And I had the artworks. All had been moved to a bunker deeper in the company where the actual safe was.
Only security had ever seen the real safe. The media, main public and the other corporations had only ever seen the false safe, where the ‘junk’ films were kept. These were stock footage films used for each film that had been preserved. It had fake books, old magazines, comic books, and cook books in it as well. No real treasures, since most were duplicates and in poor condition.
the MRE dispensary was located just above the real safe, one level up. This had branches that reached all the way to the penthouse that delivered meals. Upon our retreat to the catacombs, these top lines were automatically closed off and sealed at floor level on the ground floor and made to look like ventilation ducts. Rather ingenious.
The tubing below that had been torn out and sliders put in to hide the true route. Sliders. Fake blocks put under a level of piping, et cetera, to give the illusion of a bottom where there is no bottom. In other words, a false bottom.
We had no doubt that the upper stories would be attacked, sooner or later. I just hoped it would be later. The sec-bots would take the brunt of those attacks and we would encounter few casualties in the opening days of our war. At least, that was my hope. I also hoped that we would suffer few casualties overall as well.
But, realistically, we would suffer many casualties. No war is without them. Not even those that are so-called bloodless coups. Even if the casualties are not counted in the number of dead, they are still there. From those whose welfare is sacrificed for the common good to those who are lost as prisoners.
I was hoping not to have any lost to either. I could not risk any becoming the subjects of corporate torture chambers. Or ‘public’ whippings. Or worse, executions.
I felt kind or like those who’d founded the French Revolution. Or I supposed how they felt. All the weight of the world was now resting on my shoulders as if Atlas had shrugged the globe off onto me and had walked away. I had more responsibility than I had ever had. And I wasn’t sure if I was up to the task.
I had never had to lead troops. Not alone. Not as a general. I had been an NCO. Nothing more.
Now, I had been thrust into a generalship and I was not sure I was up to the challenge. I had confidence in my staff, but was unsure of my own capabilities. Only time would tell if I could lead effectively. I hoped and prayed that I could to whichever god might hear me.
With our hidden command post and underground city hidden safely from prying eyes, we could safely assume ourselves to be free to do as we pleased until it was time to reveal who we were. But at the moment, I awaited word from our ‘rescue’ teams who had went to bring the rest of our army into the catacombs to fill the garrison. 2.5 billion people. Men. Women. Children. All who had been slated to be executed for nothing more than being poor, homeless, or without a family to call their own.
As we waited, I had tables placed in the parade grounds. The main hall. Here, we would hold our first Thanksgiving feast as an army. Our chefs were busy preparing that very feast. At my command. I smiled.
I watched as every dish was placed upon the tables. Even the turkeys. It had been so long since I had seen such a magnificent sight. Million turkeys, pots of mashed potatoes, pots of candied yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pies, gravy and whatever else they could ever desire. I only hoped that they wouldn’t become gluttons. We needed to be able to fight tomorrow. We needed to be able to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy.
The first team returned with an army 90,000 strong. Then the second. And the third. one thousand prisons. All emptied in less than an hour. I smiled.
The team leaders looked at me. I grinned. “Take them to the main hall and seat them at the tables there. I will let them know what is going on as soon as all are present and seated.”
They nodded and ushered their troops to the tables. As the last one sat down, I gripped the railing in front of me. “Greetings to all of you. Today, we feast as we remember all that we have to be thankful for. Because tomorrow, we declare war upon those who have oppressed us. We all have much to be thankful for. Our lives. Our loves. Our children. Our second chances. Whatever it is, you still have a reason to be thankful.
“If you believe in God, Give him thanks for the food you are about to feast upon. It may very well be the last feast we have for a while. From this point on, we eat MREs and hope for the best.” I rushed down the stairs and sat among them. “Let’s eat!”
A cheer went up from their midst. As a single roar of thunder, they cheered. I smiled. I had already won. They would walk through hell for me.
Margot came down from where she had been standing and sat beside me. Time and the rest of my staff also joined me. I could only hope that the rest, around the world, had also instituted a sort of Thanksgiving feast to welcome their new armies in. I would find out later.
We were now family. all 2.5 billion of us. Hell. I think there were more of us than that. Probably more like three billion. I watched proudly as every single person feasted upon the meal we had prepared. Some had not eaten in days, that was evident.