John sat on a park bench facing The Studios. Despite the high concrete walls separating the place from the rest of the world he could still hear the muffled and faint sounds of movies being made. It was enough for him to dream about how it would be like to make it in the glamorous showbusiness. Being a the famous actor that kissed beautiful girls on camera and had them flock around him off camera.
Those daydreams were however interrupted when a man sat down besides John on the bench. Annoyed at being brought back down to reality John looked over the man with a frown. The man looked to be in his early to mid twenties and had medium long, dark brown hair and a short unkempt beard. He was slightly taller than John and had a determined yet weary look to him.
"Enjoying the view of the big grey block?" asked the man.
It took a few seconds for John to remember. "Mark?"
"Hello to you too."
"I thought you were serving time."
"I was. Up until a couple of days ago."
"So what brings you here?"
"You know, the prison gave me a lot of time to think." Mark then paused but continued before John could get the chance to ask, "Are we really free? Despite being out I don't feel free-er."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that the Homes is like a prison. We live here in a dump while on the other side of these walls people are living the good life. Walls meant to keep us out. To keep us in our place. You understand?"
"Not really," said John with some hesitation.
"Well you know who our best customers in the drug trade are?"
"The rich folks in the Gold District and the like."
"Exactly! And it's they that run this city. It's they that the Brotherhood has running things for them. Yet they mark us as criminals and force us to live in this dump. We give them what they want and they spit on us."
"Hmm," John mumbled thoughtfully. Those thoughts didn't sound too unfamiliar to him and they reminded him in some way of words Chris had spoken to him about.
"I also heard what happened her in the Homes. With the Brotherhood," Mark continued after a moment of silence. "Good that someone finally popped some gear heads."
"You gonna try to join them?"
"Not sure yet. Don't know what they really fight for. And I don't want to fight for anyone who's just another boss lusting for power. I want to fight for freedom."
"And how are you gonna do that?"
"That's what I was kinda hoping you'd help me with?"
"You want me to become a soldier?" said John with disbelief.
"No no no. Nothing so drastic. You see... I got plan for the Halloween festival; since the festival is held by the riverfront there will be a lot of security around that place, but very little everywhere else. Not to mention I bet the Brotherhood are too scared to have their regular patrols about, with all the masked people running around. I already got a few like minded friends in on this. The plan is that we simply run through the Crossroads, Steel and as much of the Market District as we can and tear down the lies the Brotherhood has plastered all of the place."
"And how will this help your fight for freedom?"
"It will show people that want it that they are not alone. That we are there on the streets with them."
"And if someone catches us?"
"Don't worry about that. I got a bunch of those cheap pumpkin masks they sell every year. Just keep your hood up and no one will know it was us."
"I'm not sure." John felt as if he was getting involved with stuff that would get in over his head again. But that was what Chris had always warned him about and he wasn't there anymore. And with how things were shaping up it seemed that he would need to shape up and be able to deal with it.
"Come on. Think on your brother," said Mark as if had read John's mind. "He's gone because of those gear heads. And I don't think he'd want you living under their thumb all your life."
John wasn't so sure about if that was what Chris would have wanted. But he couldn't just continue living like Chris was there to protect him and do the dangerous work for him. John drew a small sigh. "Alright."
Mark gave him a pat on the back. "Good on you. Now don't worry too much. This'll be a walk in the park."
"So when and where will we..."
"I was thinking we'd spend the day scouting the districts for all Brotherhood posters and for any potential patrols. Then around 6 pm we'll all meet on the Broadway and Southwest intersection in the Crossroads District and work our way from there back to the Homes."
"Thanks," said Mark and stood up. "I'd love to stay and chat some more but I got a few more visits to pay. See if I can get a few more of us in on this. See ya."
"Bye," replied John as Mark left.
Soon thereafter John was alone again, feeling somewhat confused at what had just happened. While it was good to see Mark again he had certainly changed. Gone was the otherwise carefree man that had been rather content with his life in the Homes. And he had only been in prison for about a year. It made John wonder how Chris would be when he got out from the gulag. He wanted to believe Chris would still be the brother he knew and loved, but he couldn't shake the nagging feeling that Chris might not be the same.