I scan the horizon one last time for Padakan rovers. You can never be too careful around those monsters. Right now, everything’s clear, so I continue.

I run my left hand against the wire as I circle the fence, searching for a gap. The Padakans rewired the fence a few weeks ago; I haven’t been able to visit since then. On the northern side of the fence, I find what I’m looking for. A small section against a post has been cut, and pulled back. Beside it, a pair of wire cutters, probably dropped by the Padakans, lies on the ground.

I shrug off my canvas bag before dropping to my hands and knees. Pressing myself to the ground, I squirm my way through the break. It’s tight, the wires catching on my shirt and tearing. Once through, I turn around and grab my bag and throw it back over my shoulders. I take the cutters too. They’re a little blunt, but maybe I can get them sharpened.

Walking to the tool shack, I use its support beams as footholds to climb onto the roof. It’s made of rusted blue corrugated steel, hot to touch from the day’s sun. Ignoring the discomfort, I crawl across to where the roof touches the tower. Directly above, there’s a ladder, one you have to jump to reach. The ladder is short, maybe two metres, and connects to a staircase which coils around the tower, up to the observation deck.

Crouching beneath, I take a breath, and leap.

My hands catch on the lowest rung. I swing my left hand to the next rung, and brace my legs against the tower. Bit by bit, I pull myself up, until my hands reach the base of the staircase. My arms and abdomen are burning.

Finding the energy, I haul myself up onto the staircase. I stop for a minute, to catch my breath, before starting the journey up. After this, it’s easy; just follow the staircase. I tread lightly, but they still clang when I do. Some of the older flights are beginning to creak. I avoid those ones.

By the time the stairs give way to the observation deck, my legs are burning and my heart’s thumping against my ribcage.

It’s worth it, though. The view is stunning as always. Most of the horizon is silver dirt for as far as the eye can see. But to the west you can see the cragged mountains where the Vitas River, which cuts through the town, begins. Vitas separates North and South Coppertown; the two bridges which once crossed the divide have long since been destroyed.

Looking down at South Coppertown, I can see the towers and electric fences which skirt the edges, keeping us in and others out. I can see the damage from the war too, and the checkpoints between the suburban and industrial sides of town.

North Coppertown is – apparently – a completely different story. It’s just as rundown as here, but there are no towers, no fences, no Padakan rule.

Because there, in the north, is the Resistance.

They weren’t cowards like us. They didn’t fall or surrender during the invasion. They kept fighting, right to the end. They fought so hard that the Padakans conceded defeat, leaving them to themselves.

Now, they fight to liberate us.

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