The following morning I woke up to find that Thomas’s bed was empty. It was unusual for him to be awake before me, but I thought nothing of it and left to get my breakfast. As I entered the canteen, a murmuring broke out – it appeared Commander Lee had also mentioned that I was second in command. As I looked around at the five hundred or so people that were in the Rebellion, I could see that everyone was experiencing the same feeling – fear.
The next two days were spent preparing for the battle and discussing tactics. We were going to attack swiftly and powerfully so that the General would not know what hit him. The primary goal was to eliminate the General because his troops were lost without him. As for everyone within the camp, the mood had changed. It appeared now that everyone was relishing the chance to attack the General and take revenge for many of their lost loved ones. I thought that Thomas would be among them, but I had not seen him recently. I thought nothing more about it. As for me, whilst I was still nervous, I was ready.
I woke suddenly, as if someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over my face. It was the morning of the battle. A bell sounded from somewhere and that was our cue to head up to the surface and to prepare for what was to come. There was still no sign of Thomas. The General’s fortress was a four-mile journey and at the speed Commander Lee started leading us off we should reach it in a few short hours. Those hours passed without a word being spoken. It was as quiet as death. As we approached the fortress some of our men gasped, others just stared grimly into the distance, knowing what was to come.
The fortress itself should be easy to penetrate because it has low walls that could be climbed over. The main danger lay with the fact that the General had over one thousand men at his disposal. In spite of this, if we managed to reach the tower and capture the General quickly, it could be over before it had begun. As we were preparing to charge I noticed that Thomas was standing beside me. “Where have you been recently?” I enquired. “Never mind now, Jake; we’ve got a fight to win!” I was confused at why he hadn’t answered the question, but he was right – this was not the time.
Commander Lee yelled a war cry so loud it could have been heard for miles around and we charged over the wall. To our great surprise the General’s men were already lined up in formation – it was as if they had known we were coming. I dived to the ground as both sides opened fire and all of a sudden the air was full of the sounds of soldiers screaming and yelling. It was brutal. Bodies were falling all around me in pools of blood, some still not quite dead. “I’m going into the tower!” I yelled across to Thomas. “Not without me, you’re not!” shouted Thomas in reply.
I signalled to Commander Lee and he nodded – he was not going to miss this. We sprinted for the entrance and luckily made it without getting hit. As we set off up the stairs we didn’t encounter any guards. It was almost like he wanted us to reach him – impossible! We reached the door to his chamber. “Three-two-one!” we roared as we burst through the door. There was the General standing at a window surveying the scene below. He was shorter than I expected and was wearing a long purple robe.
“Hello Commander Lee, and I assume this is young Smith,” the General said confidently. He spoke with a lisp and it seemed impossible that this man was responsible that this man. “How do you know our names?” I demanded of the General. “I’m afraid I know a lot more about you than just your names, Jake. Did you not wonder why my men were waiting for you?” I’ve known everything about your little operation for a while now and am going to enjoy crushing you like the ants you are.” “Give it up, General. It’s all over – either surrender or I will kill you without hesitation!” roared Commander Lee.
“I will do nothing of the sort. Do it.” There was a gunshot from behind me and Commander Lee fell to the ground, blood pouring from his chest. Thomas had shot him. It became clear all of a sudden. How had I not seen it? The reason I couldn’t find Thomas was because he had been reporting to the General the whole time. “Why?” I groaned as my eyes filled up with tears. “I was fed up living that life. Here, I can get a decent meal and live in comfort-not in some hole under the ground,” Thomas said malevolently.
“Your friends will lose. I will give you a choice – either surrender to me or die,” the General said calmly. I actually considered it, but, when I thought of all the people he had killed, I knew what I had to do. I had to kill him. “I’ll never surrender to you!” I screamed and I raised my gun – ready to fire. A shot was fired. I looked down and saw a red stain slowly spreading across my t-shirt. I fell to the ground and looked up into Thomas’s eyes, as smoke curled out of the end of his gun. As the blackness began to creep in he seemed to mouth, “I’m sorry,” and everything faded to black.