FIRST REPORT FROM EDITH LEETE
I pulled myself along on my stomach, through the mud and looked
out over the edge of the hill. Smoke rose from the village below,
curling and mixing with the low clouds. The village looked
beautiful from here; quiet, timeless. It hid it's secrets well. I
unzipped one of the pockets in my combat trousers and pulled out
my mobile. It came with a scanning app, and I saw that three of
them were static below from where I lay. Should I stay here, or
should I try to make it to the carpark on the hill behind me? I
would be able to steal a car and get away from here as she had
I knew I had to stay. I would not complete my mission if I drove
away, and know they knew I was here, it would be too late if I
ran away. I had to get down there, and to do that, I had to
eliminate these three. Looking back, perhaps I was not thinking
This was a long way from what I had thought my mission would be;
I was supposed to be learning. This village was reluctant to
become part of the wider community. They were suspicious and did
not like outsiders. As soon as I had arrived there, they had shut
off from me.
Only after a few weeks of taking part in village life - talking
with some of them, turning up at meetings and helping people when
they seemed in need, did some of the frostiness melt. Well, as
you will see, it was not quite as simple as that.
I scanned the three again. Two males and a female. They had no
idea where I was. I would be able to take them out.
I had ascertained that the initial reticence for my proposals of
links - a pact - with the surrounding villages was driven by the
Village Council. The leaders of the council were feeding stories
of terrible deeds that had been carried out by some the other
villages against new comers to the PACT. Stories of looting and
deaths and whole villages being repopulated by others- all
nonsense, but I needed to find out why these people were
restricting the rest of the villagers to a forced enclosure. The
only people able to travel - and reap the benefits of the
travelling and freer lifestyle were the Council. The rest of the
villagers toiled in order to survive. Their survival was adequate
- they all had housing and had entertainment through their
"T.V's" and they had access to drugs that took their minds out of
the mundane. What they didn't have was access to information
about the wider community. How other villages lived. Other
villages shared the fruits of their labours and in fact traded
goods and services that meant a better lifestyle; more time to
entertain or be entertained or create. Time to "be" rather than
just time to struggle and survive. This is what I was offering
them, but the council had complete control over information in
and out and within the community. I had to find a way into the
communication loop created by the Council, who used diktats,
rumour, "TV" and the "free press".
The three were spreading out, walking up the valley and obviously
using their phones to locate me. They would find it difficult as
I had a "muffler" app - one that made it difficult, though not
impossible to locate me. I, unlike them, couldn't switch my phone
off. To do so could mean a tragedy.
I could see their plan. They were going to try to outflank me.
Two were heading in the direction of the carpark in order to cut
off that way out. If I got to a car, I could easily reach one of
the Pact villages and perhaps raise enough people to come
The other was heading out to my right; deeper into the wild
hills. There was a narrow gap that was widening - a corridor
between them through which, if I had good cover, I could have
reached the village and set about commencing my broadcast.
This had been how I was discovered. I had ascertained that the
only way to seize the lines of communication was through their
entertainment channel. This was beyond my mission, but I was
young and felt I could do more than I was being asked to do. I
had found the appropriate cables and networks and had over a
number of weeks, tapped into them. I had then created a short
broadcast that introduced the idea of the PACT and with help from
some of my PACT comrades, put together a "TV broadcast" of what
life was like in the PACTlands. I had set up a number of
broadcast points some in the village, in houses (without their
knowledge) and on the outskirts in trees and shrubs. All would
switch on simultaneously and as one was discovered and destroyed,
the other would click in and keep the broadcast going. That was
I pushed my phone deep into my pocket and zipped it. I reached in
to my inside jacket pocket and took out the gun. It was a crude
one; one I had to learn to use because of the primitive places I
had to work in. It was heavy and non-adjustable. All it did was
fire a lump of fashioned metal - a bullet - into the body of the
victim. I screwed on the silencer - the only adjustable part of
the gun, I suppose. This was a device to stifle the noise emitted
by the explosion required to propel the bullet at a high enough
speed to penetrate the victim's body and damage it enough to
render it dead.
Through the grass, I could see the villager who was walking to my
right, wade through a small stream that had burst its banks
because of the heavy rain through the night. I know to intercept
him, I would have cover from the other two seeing me; but it may
be difficult to get close enough to him to take a clear shot that
would kill him. A wound would not do. I had been told by my
trainers that I must become as ruthless as my enemies, this was
ok here, I had thought, where something could be salvaged from
death; but in some of these primitive lands, the act of killing
was a huge burden.
I watched the villager as he waded further into the water. This
was slowing him down, and I could tell he had not expected it to
get so deep. The water was murky, so he was having difficulty
walk though it without stumbling, but he had decided to walk
slowly in order to keep his eyes scanning the hills for me. I had
I turned my attention to the other two walking up on my left.
They had decided to break up as well. One was trekking up the
valley towards the pass car park and the other was, alarmingly,
heading straight in my direction. I had to do something, but if I
moved down to my right, I could be exposed to the man in the
stream. If I didn't move, the woman on my right may be able to
make out my prone figure very soon.
When it was near the time to broadcast the Pact information to
the village, I had switched on the TV in my living accommodation.
I knew this was the best time to broadcast, as it was two hours
after most people had stopped toiling and most of the village
would have eaten their evening meal and would have settled down
to have their couple of hours of passive
entertainment/propaganda. Judging by the village letters section
in their printed press, they took their entertainment very
seriously. The entertainment they watched was carefully selected
broadcasts from the PACT lands and some village made "shows" and
news programmes. All of the PACTlands broadcasts had been
suitably edited in order to show either that the PACTlands were
evil, dour and violent places to live, or just that the village
was a much better place to live. The only people who were any the
wiser were the Councillors and business owners who could
manipulate the rest in order to make huge profits on their
cheapened labour and… sorry I digress. I will return to my
Just as I was settling down to watch the "entertainment" and
press the app on my phone that would set off my broadcast, there
was a knock on my door.
When I opened the door, I could see that it was Morven, a village
woman who I had befriended.
Morven had been the first person to speak to me when I arrived.
The villagers had been imbued with an unhealthy (or in their
belief - a healthy) distrust of outsiders. For days I walked in
the village; traded in their shops; ate in their cafes; imbibed
their drugs in the spaces reserved for this and no-one spoke to
One evening, at one of the drug spaces, I had been sitting as
usual on my own, imbibing a powerful local distillation of wild
berries (I had taken the precaution of taking an antidote before
I came. Some of you may think it is a strange thing for me to do.
Well, I had found that if I ordered a non intoxicating brew in
other villages - even in the PACTlands, I would be viewed with
suspicion. So I ordered the strongest and took only a small
amount of antidote, so it would have some effect on me (I found
altering my physical appearance to APPEAR intoxicated to be very
difficult, so I always felt that a small amount of intoxification
would allay any doubts about me).
I had tried to strike up a conversation with the drug mixer, but
she had just looked at me and said she didn't like to talk to
people from other villages as she felt they were here to take
their jobs and things and for me not to take offence. I did not
take offence, as I knew she had been poisoned by the propaganda
of her rulers and that soon enough she may change. On retrospect,
I think my future training needs to include more of an emphasis
on my learning from the "targets" in order to counter an
imperialism of thought brought about by submersion in this
particular kind of culture.
When I was ordering my second beaker of the distillation, an old
man came up to me. He told the mixer that he would pay for my
drink and he asked me if he could join me. I said that this was
more than welcome and I thanked him for his generosity and
When we sat down, he introduced himself as Renwick, an
ex-councillor and now owner of the north-east section of the
village. I told him that from what I had seen, the north-east was
a pleasant place to live and work. He stared at me and said,
"Miss Leete, it will stay that way while I live and breathe. No
outsider will stride into our village and criticise our way of
life, do you understand?"
I told him I did understand, and that I had no intention of
criticising, or indeed engaging on a course to highlight the
obvious inadequacies of this village's system. I had meant this
wholeheartedly - I did not intend to enter into a debate over
something I knew to be terribly inequitable; but he took offence
at my saying so and he stood up and denounced me thus;
"Miss Leete you are unquestionably here to stir trouble. I
suggest you finish your distillation and leave. I also suggest
you go back to your PACTland and explain to your elders that we
will not be brought down to the level of servants. There are
those of us who may rise out of squalor and enrich ourselves in
this land of opportunity, unlike your disgusting state of
servility. All in this land are born equal and have equal
opportunity to rise."
I stood, thinking this was the local tradition of discussion. I
replied, "Thank you for this discourse and opportunity to set my
beliefs before you, as you have set yours. The system as I see it
in this village does not go any way to correct either social
disadvantage, or inborn disadvantage. In fact, I would go as far
to say, it emphasises and magnifies both…"
I did not get to finish my sentence, as Mr Renwick struck out,
which took me by surprise, as of course this tactic of silencing
a differing opinion was new and foreign to me. I will never get
used to violence. I managed to block his attempts to hit me, and
would have stifled his ability to so easily attack me by perhaps
disabling part of his nervous system, but I think by the reaction
to my blocking him, this would have drawn even more attention to
me. I pretended that one of his blows had hurt me and I sat back
down at the table, pretending to clutch my stomach. He leant over
me and said, "Miss Leete, your "discourse" is not welcome. All
PACTlanders should keep their opinions to themselves. One day,
all of the villages on this continent will see fit to enjoy
servility to our Council. Mark my words." With this he poured his
drink over my head and walked away.
The crowd in the drug-space, whom had until this point been
listening to every word that we uttered and whom had witnessed
all of the violence, started back to conversation. I was ignored.
I felt at this point it was time for a withdrawal and perhaps to
rewind what had happened on my phone recording device in order to
ascertain how I may have changed my time spent with Renwick.
When I left the space, and stepped out into the night, I heard a
noise to my left. I made myself ready to defend myself.
The noise came again, and I recognised it as a whisper.
I turned to look and there in the shadows was a young woman of
around my perceived age- around about twenty cycles.
I stepped into the shadows between the drug-space and a block of
stacked living spaces. She introduced herself as Morven, and she
was the daughter of Renwick. She told me we had no time to lose,
and I was to follow her.
She turned and ran down an alleyway. I took up hasty pursuit. Our
levels of fitness were evenly matched. The alleyway ran down the
length of the drug-space and around the back of the stacked
living space. As we ran, we had to avoid prone, sleeping
villagers who had not been able to make good of the equality
Renwick had described. The place smelt of piss and shit and all
sorts of rotten foodstuffs and dead rodents. The stench was quite
Behind the flats, Morven stopped. I looked at her closely. She
was a very fit and healthy female; someone who had definitely
been given the good things in life as her body had not been
ravaged by any malaise or depression that I could make out. Nor
had she been enhanced by the primitive methods of enhancement
some of the well to do here used.
She stared at me and said, "Miss Leete, why are you here?"
This was the first time in the days since I had arrived that
someone had actually asked of me my purpose.
"I am here to study."
Her face became even more serious looking. "Miss Leete. You are
lucky to be alive. I imagine my father has rounded up enough
vicious men who would want only too much to abuse and perhaps
I thanked her for her help in taking me away from the route they
would most probably imagine I would take back to my
"Miss Leete, there can only be two reasons why someone from the
PACTlands has come to study our way of life. One, in order to
pre-empt some sort of diplomatic approach or two, because of a
want to observe the curious. I cannot believe that someone from
such an equitable and educated society would want to look upon us
as curios, so I must assume it is something like the former."
I did not reply. I did not want to betray my thoughts, nor did I
want to stop her from telling me her reasons to save me in the
way she did. My mission was the latter, but I had decided to
change it to something resembling the former.
"Please call me Edi, Morven…"
"Edi… you must come with me and stay with some of my friends
tonight. You should be able to return to your residence tomorrow,
but only if you in some way or action make it clear your stay is
drawing to a close."
As she folded her arms across her chest, I noticed that her dress
was not the usual dress of a young woman from this village. She
was not dressed in the usual over styled manner and instead of
restricting footwear and impractical dresses or skirts, or light
embroidered top; she was wearing a thick, green pullover and
leggings that made movement easy, with thick soled, hard wearing
footwear. Her hair was not styled to emphasise her healthy facial
features, but it was tied back, out of her face.
I explained to her that neither a single combatant nor a mob held
any fear for me, but I appreciated her concern…
"Edi. They will kill you. They have technology they have gathered
on their travels amongst the PACTlanders. Never forget, it is
easier for us to travel unnoticed and unhindered amongst your
people, than it is for you to do so here. I know this because I
have spent a lot of my time in your world. I am, after all, from
a privileged background."
I felt I had to do as she suggested. This was perhaps the first
real time during this experience that I felt I was learning. This
is something I need to pursue. I need to be much more
accommodating to other cultures and open to learning than perhaps
I have been. My perceived age is not my real age, and living so
long in an equal and highly developed society has perhaps made me
more judgemental than I should allow myself. All of these
experiences should make me more open to cultural and societal
differences, and I should not assume anything. This is something
I followed her into the back of the stacked living spaces. We
climbed many stairs and knocked on one of the hundreds of doors.
An answering knock came from within, and after Morven knocked
another reply, I heard bolts being slid across and latches
We entered the living space of a couple who had decided to live
as one, who were called Kelvin and Cadder.
Kelvin was a young man of around 25 cycles and Cadder a woman of
perhaps five or so summers more. They were dressed in what I knew
as lower caste clothing. This clothing was mass produced and worn
only by the toiling classes.
Kelvin, Cadder and Morven hugged and smiled and seemed pleased to
see each other. Morven told me to sit in their small living
space, while she and the couple spoke in whispered tones in the
food preparation area.
I looked around my present accommodation. The room was clean,
though shabby. There seemed to be no pretence at decoration,
though posters on the wall showed me that they had access to
illegal PACTland entertainments. I recognised one of the pictures
as a depiction of a long ago battle between lower caste members
and the old master caste of a village that was now seen as a
founding village of the PACTlands. Surely this picture was
illegal in this village?
After much whispering that I can now report back (as I was able
to play it back enhanced from my phone) as Morven telling Cadder
and Kelvin that I was a PACTland spy sent in to help the
revolutionaries, which was not untrue, but an assumption, they
approached me and told me I was to declare any weapons. I told
them I had none (well, my phone could have been included as a
weapon, but I was not going to readily give that up). Any
weaponry I had with me in the village had been hidden in places I
felt I may be in danger, for example in places I had been
covertly visiting in order to set up station from which the
broadcast could intercept their entertainment network.
Morven and Cadder sat down, while Kelvin looked uneasy and paced
the floor while talking to me.
They explained to me that I would stay here tonight. They asked
me to tell them how they could help and they would pass this
information on to their revolutionary organisation, who would
have to ok any actions taken by me or them in the name of the
over throw of the system.
They gave me a document to read (I scanned it and saved it into
my phone for further perusal) which stated that they were the
revolutionary vanguard and it was only through them that the
overthrow of the master caste in this village could be
coordinated and executed. It also named other lesser
revolutionary vanguards that were not true revolutionaries and in
fact were either in league with the master caste or were leading
the people away from revolution by wishing only for small reform
of the system. These are also things I must learn from and equate
with the ancient histories of societies across the galaxy that
I told them I was here only to study, but their companionship
would be much appreciated. I did not feel they believed me, but I
feel that this was because they did not want to believe me as
they wanted something that was positive- something that would
tell them that their hopes and needs would be somehow and someday
After some of their distilled drug (which had an unusually
intoxicating effect because I had not taken any extra antidote
with me), and after some of their songs (and I have to admit,
some of ours as well which because of their less than heroic
revolutionary fervour were, I feel, disappointing to them), I
settled down to sleep in the space I had been sitting in since I
arrived. On replay of my phone, I saw that my settling down came
in mid-song. I also saw that Cadder placed a woven blanket over
me and Kelvin accompanied Morven out of the building in order to
ensure she arrived at the residence of her father unseen and
The next day, after a crude, but nourishing early meal, Kelvin
accompanied me to my residence via a network of alleyways that
were every bit as dirty and unhealthy as the one I had been in
the previous night. When we arrived at the end of the last
alleyway, he told me he could not accompany me on to the main
street, and he took my hand and held it tightly and said, "Come
the glorious revolution you will be revered as a hero. Thank you
for making my acquaintance, great warrior, " and with that, he
let go of my hand and ran back down the alleyway.
My residence was about thirty paces from there, along the main
street, and as I walked though the bustling morning village
workers, I noticed that some of the women smiled at me.
When I arrived at my residence, the front door was open. I
walked in slowly and quietly, but after some inspection I could
see that no-one was there. They had left a lot of evidence of
their entrance and they had scattered a lot of my things (of
which there were admittedly few) around the room. I ascertained
that nothing had been taken and none of my hiding places in the
room had been corrupted, so none of my devices that I had not yet
placed had been discovered.
That is my report of my first meeting with Morven. As the days
went on, I discovered that she wished the opposite of her father
and she wanted this village to become part of the PACTlands. She
had been affected a lot by what she had seen as she grew up and
travelled though the greater world. I also discovered that my
small defence of myself against a man -even with my pretence of
defeat- and especially a man like Renwick with much power, was
seen by many women as a huge revolutionary leap forward.
Apparently the hitting and violating of women in this society was
not seen as a crime and in fact this treatment of the female in
this society was something that was so insidious that even
amongst revolutionaries, women were not given proper voice.
I began to trust Morven with more and more of my mission. At
first I asked her questions about her society that were general,
but that I knew in this closed society would be seen as
suspicious. After a while, Morven became happy to walk with me in
public. I know this is not the usual thing to report, but I read
another report by an agent in similar circumstances who reported
back only in emotions. This was quite unreadable as a factual
report, but beautiful to read and recite. I will say that the
emotion I felt for this spirit was love. She was a happy woman,
with a generous spirit whom most of the villagers had respect and
even love for. She became my first friend outside my own world.
When I finally felt I could trust Morven I told her my plan to
commandeer the communications network. She thought this was a
fantastic idea and agreed to help me place the other
transmitters. We finished our work in a matter of six days.
The villager in the stream seemed to get his boot stuck. I took
this as my opportunity to roll down hill to a rock I knew would
hide me. I had to dispense of these three and then get back to
the village to finish my work. My concentration was being
effected by events earlier. If these events had happened in my
own world (they could never have happened in my own world, but
let's transpose for the sake of comparison) they would not be
playing on my mind as much.
I kept my eye on the villager in the stream as I rolled, and when
I reached the rock, I twisted myself around so if the other
villager approaching from behind would not so easily see me. I
knew this was the time to strike. The villager in the stream
could not be seen by either of the others. I stood up and aimed.
The villager, who was about ten paces from me now, looked up. He
reached for a pocket in his jacket. I squeezed the trigger and
the gun fired. He fell quickly as blood sprayed from his head and
splashed the rocks and grasses around him. His body floated
facedown and jammed between two rocks. He would not be seen by
either of the others.
I ran up the hill again, and just as I reached my original
vantage point the woman reached there as well. Both of us were
shocked by seeing each other. It was Cadder. At first I thought
she had dispensed of the others whohad been sent to kill me; but
when I saw her hand come up with a gun, I knew Morven and I had
been betrayed. I pulled my gun up and at that point I knew none
of us were advantaged; I knew it would be luck that decided who
Morven pushed in to my living space.
"We have been betrayed. You must go. Run on to the fells. There
are cars in the car park that over look the village - take one
and get to the border!" She was obviously shaken. I had no cause
to doubt her story, but I did not know the details, and I
foolishly wanted to.
"Morven, I need to start the broadcast. Come, sit, tell me what
has happened, and we can watch this first stage of enlightenment
of your people!"
She stared at me. Her face betrayed a pity for me. Or was it pity
for herself? I am no longer sure. She threw her arms around me
and kissed my cheek.
"Thank you for giving us hope, Edi. But it was only that. The
people here will ignore your broadcast, even if it does go
I couldn't then understand what she meant. I suppose nowadays I
do. 'When people have no hope, all hope is dashed,' or something.
I am sure I read that on one world's archive or another.
I asked her to sit. I still couldn't really understand what had
happened, though I suppose I knew that the information she had
was reliable as she was from a household party to most
We sat, and stared at the screen. She explained that her father
knew of my plan. She had no idea how he had found it, but he had.
And that he planned a way to thwart it and the come for me and
There was only one way to find out if the plan had been stopped
in some way. I activated the app on my phone that would begin
And then the power source went off.
The power to the TV, the lights and everything. The broadcast
started to play, I could tell from my app; but the TV's across
the village would not show it.
The window smashed and Morven's head exploded across my face. Her
blood and bone splattered the room. Her headless, twitching torso
fell on to me. For the first time I experienced fear. Shock.
The door exploded and black armoured men rushed in. This I could
deal with. I pushed Morven's body off me, gently as they
approached me and I stood up. Through the window I saw Renwick
standing with the smoking gun pointing through the window. It was
not pointing at me, but at the space his daughter once occupied.
I experienced rage for the first time. None of those who entered
that room left alive. All of them were dismembered. All of them
suffered pain before they died. This village was disgusting. All
of this death and suffering. These pompous, horrible, greedy men.
This was a lesson to me.
When I emerged onto the street, bloodied, I looked at Renwick.
He had dropped the gun, but still stared through the window.
I felt he had caused torture enough without me visiting
physical pain upon him. But I still wanted justice for my pain.
These were learning experiences. I do not ask for forgiveness.
I left him unable to walk and in great physical pain for the
rest of his life - which was, I know, cut short by suicide.
Cadder fell clutching her chest. My gun had beaten hers. I kicked
her head; pain before she died. For Morven.
And then his bullet hit me. On looking at the recording from my
phone, I was shot in the chest. My whole chest was ripped
I remember waking up in the regeneration room. The new emotions
tore through me. I was sedated as I lashed out and pulled at the
hoses that were building my new body. This was a learning
experience. I knew of my privilege. I knew why societies such as
the one Morven had died so young in, existed. I knew I had to
learn of the ways of my people who volunteered to help these
societies become like ours. I learned that I did not have all
of the answers - the folly of youth (even though this was my
third regeneration and I was well over one hundred cycles at this
time). I learned that the answers would only come from those who
wanted change, and my part was to try to help facilitate change.
I learned that the people, especially the women, of that village
rose up and tore down the council's power. I learned that the
people spoke in the village square and they formed a committee of
lower castes and approached the PACTlands and eventually were
incorporated in that world's burgeoning push for freedom. I
learned that eventually that world became part of the now
triumvirate of free worlds. My first mission, a learning mission,
was a success - though I never, ever thought of it as such.
Morven lives in me. Her hope and her love and her want for a
better life for all. Never forgetting her is a kind of
regeneration for her I think.
END OF REPORT