The celebration over defeating the Union garrison and bringing the Tox cure back to the town of Wolfram was short lived. It only took a couple of days for the Union to mobilize.
On the third day after the BTC led the citizen militia of Wolfram to victory over the Union facility that had been making the town sick, Faze received a comm from Sgt. Karen Benson, a Union officer that the BTC had managed to turn to their side several months back.
Saving Benson from Loki’s bloodlust would prove to be one of Faze’s smartest decisions, in her estimation. Benson had become invaluable to the Underground over the last several months by relaying Union troop and supply movements to relevant cells for avoidance and/or capture. In addition to Benson’s proven usefulness, and while Faze wouldn’t admit it out loud, she had taken a liking to the soldier. Unfortunately, there was little time for romance in the middle of a revolution, and their interactions were usually relegated to snippets of awkward flirting over comms on the occasions they were able to speak with one another.
This comm, however, brought the worst news yet. The Union had learned of the Underground’s actions at Wolfram and were especially outraged that the citizens chose to aid the rebels. They had declared the entire city enemy combatants, and were sending 3 Monolith platoons to re-establish control of the town—by any means necessary. Faze did not relish telling the others and the townsfolk that the hardest fight they’d ever been faced with was on its way. At most, they had 2 days.
The Union intended to make an example of Wolfram. There were thousands of people in Wolfram. If the BTC left them, it would be a slaughter. It the BTC stayed, it might still be a slaughter. After a short discussion amongst themselves, the BTC unanimously agreed to stand and fight. Their course decided, Blackjack and Faze went to Navarez, the town leader, and informed him of the approaching danger. They told him that they were prepared to stand with any in the town who wanted to fight, but also knew that many citizens were too young, too old, and/or still recovering from the Tox to be of any use in a battle. If the townsfolk wanted to flee, the BTC would try to help them in anyway they could.
Navarez was understandably disheartened by the news, but was not overly surprised. Many of the townsfolk had cited just such an event as the reason for not helping the BTC days before. He let Faze and Blackjack know that he would call a town meeting early that evening to discuss the situation with the others. The people of Wolfram would let the BTC know of their decision that night.
That left the crew with the rest of the day to make preparations. Benson had also let them know that their old pal Leroy was only an hour or so from Wolfram, and he might be able to help them out. BlackJack, Faze, Loki, and Flatline (the new Lawbot-turned-Tinman) took their newly acquired helicopter to meet-up with Leroy, while Oakland, Demi, and the two new recruits, D-Rail and Nomme began preparing the town for the assault.
In the time that the others were away, Oakland, Demi, D-Rail, and Nomme managed to rally a dozen teenagers into a mini-squad, give them a crash course in small arms operation, as well as rig some rudimentary defenses. Those in the chopper, meanwhile, discovered that what Leroy had to share with them was a Union Deltawing Fighter. Tragically, however, the Union also discovered this and were about half an hour earlier in their arrival to Leroy’s hideout. They’d executed poor Leroy and were preparing to deal with the stolen aircraft when the others arrived.
The small squad was no match for them, though, and all but one of the Union soldiers were put down in short order. Faze held the squad leader, Sgt. Miller, captive to determine if he had useful information. He did not appear to know much of anything going on outside of his orders to investigate this particular location. While Loki and Flatline advocated for finishing Sgt. Miller off, Faze was conflicted. Generally she did not execute prisoners, not without cause, but she also didn’t have time to debate ethics with the others. She tied him up and put him in the chopper. They would deal with him later.
While Blackjack, Loki, and Flatline loaded up the chopper with the few extra supplies they found in the bunker, Faze took care of Leroy’s remains. He’d been a friend, and he didn’t deserve to die like that—gunned down alone in the middle of nowhere. He died for the cause. Like too many before him, he died a hero of the Underground. As she poured out a shot of Guzzle for her friend, Faze wondered how many more would join him before this fight was over. But now wasn’t the time to dwell on those who were lost. The dead are gone. The living need them.
Faze commandeered the dead Union squad’s APC, loaded with their armor and weapons and drove it back to Wolfram. Blackjack and Flatline took the chopper, and Loki flew the Deltawing. Shortly before reaching the town, Flatline, who’d offered to watch Sgt, Miller, flung him out of the chopper to his death. Blackjack, who was already dreaming up ways to modify his prize APC, Linda, with some of the new gear he’d found, didn’t even notice.
Once everyone was back in town, the crew met together to discuss battle plans. As they were debating the best courses of attack and defense, the town meeting concluded. Navarez approached them to relay the results. Most of the town would stay and fight. Those who did not want to, or who were unable to fight would evacuate to the garrison on the mountain. A few of the militia would accompany them as a last line of defense, though, everyone knew, if the Union took the town, there would be no stopping them taking the mountain.
When Navarez left to help those leaving begin to pack, the crew went back to their battle plan debate. Growing tired of discussing hypotheticals, Faze motioned Nomme to join her in the other room. She quickly taught the younger psychic the meditation meld technique that she and the other psychonauts had been taught to use to boost their powers. Together, they reached their minds out to survey the incoming enemy forces. Shockingly, the Monoliths were not a day away, as their original intel had disclosed—they were only a couple of hours away!
Running back to the others, they informed them of the dire situation. They would not have time to evacuate the citizens and set up all the traps and defenses in town as planned. They would need to meet the enemy in the field, before they reached the town to buy those evacuating time to flee and the militia defending Wolfram time to set up even a few of the measures they’d discussed. After informing Navarez and the other townsfolk of their even more bleak situation, the people began to panic.
Navarez climbed atop a truck and shouted them silent. He began his speech:
" In less than an hour, a entire Union assault unit will be upon us. They intend to punish us for our defiance—for finally standing up and fighting against the beatings, the experiments, the murders. They intend us to be a warning to others who would stand up—to show them what happens to those who oppose Mason the Almighty and his Union of Man. We will be a warning—a warning to the Union! Mason Gate can go frag himself, and so can the Union!
We’re not just fighting for our right to be free from their tyranny, we’re fighting for our right to exist, to survive—our gotdamned right to LIVE! We’ll show them just what happens when they push us too far. Wolfram is our home, and I’ll be damned before I let them take it from us. Those of us who die today—and some of us will, die fighting for our home, our neighbors, our friends, our family! Those of us who die today will die heroes! And those of us who live will not let their sacrifice be in vain. We will win this day! We will save Wolfram! And we will show the rest of them that tyrants can be beaten—the Union can Fall! Now, those leaving, get to the mountain! Those staying, get to your posts! "
As he gave his rousing speech, Faze and Nomme reached out to bolster his words telepathically, adding a little extra touch to the strengthening of their resolve. The crowd let out thunderous cheers and then broke apart to go to their posts or start heading to the mountain. The BTC sortied the militia coming with them and divided into their attack squads. The air assault squads took flight and, as the Monoliths finally broke over the horizon, radioed for the ground assault to advance.
The battle for Wolfram had begun.