The Change Deleted Scene #01
“Those are our people!”
The man tightened his grip. “We’re not ready to fight the Network, son. We have to build a haven and learn to survive on our own. We’ve been cared for our entire lives.”
“We were slaves!” the boy refuted angrily.
“And now we’re fugitives. I’m not sorry. The brothel work is too bloody.”
The riders had hit the main street now. The boy clenched his fists. “There won’t be enough of us to fight for freedom if we wait!”
Baker’s father sighed wearily. “I worry about that too, but without a safe zone or a way to get through the dome, we won’t win anyway.”
“We’re going to try, right?” the boy asked, voice breaking. “To free them all?
“Yes. I’ll go south or west, and search. There has to be somewhere we can hide and learn to fight.”
“We have to hurry. This yearly roundup is wiping us out. We have to do something for them!”
“We will. We’re not the only ones who want this. There are still a few strong families left.”
“You mean the Pruetts, the reason we came here?”
“Yes. In the future, they’ll be powerful allies.”
“How do we get in with them? They work for the council.”
The wanted man scanned his son pointedly. “We’ll use the games and we’ll use you.”
The boy realized his father had new plans, but he refused to let new anger in his heart He didn’t have any more room for it. “What are you making me do this time?”
Simon dropped his hand. “Something dear to the Pruetts has been taken and there won’t be anything they can do about it for years–years that you’ll have here to get in with them. In any way you can.”
“That’s why you came here,” the boy realized. “You’re leaving me. Like you did to Cain before he was taken.”
Simon’s hand flashed out and slapped the boy, knocking him to the ground. “You mind your mouth.”
Baker climbed to his feet, once again corrected and full of seething hated for all authority. “Am I the runaway or the service provider?”
“Both. There’s a reason that family has survived since the apocalypse. It may take a decade, but they always come for what’s theirs. They won’t expect a bill from you for a long time. Pruetts like to build up the favors and then cash them all in at once. When they do that, be on their team.
“Are they really that dangerous?” the boy asked sullenly.
“Yes. They never forget and they never forgive. They’re lethal. I want you to learn everything that you can from them. The future of our kind depends on it.”
“Why wait, then?”
“We need the next generations, while they’re burning, and that will take time.
“What will you be doing while I live on the streets?
His father stiffened, timbre hard. “Gathering every slave I can. By the time the Pruetts can help us, we’ll be ready.”
“These people had better be something special. Not just anyone can fight the Network.”
“You’re right about that, boy. Come on. We’ll slip you into the town now and meet with the orphanage owner. She sometimes buys boys your age and she’s now short two. The Ring will keep their attention on the Pruetts, like you should.”
Baker dutifully followed his father. At some point, there would come a time when he wouldn’t have to obey and the child was already anticipating slaying all of his demons–including the one taking him into Pruett town to be sold.