The below story was inspired by Lonespark, propelled by DawnM, and sponsored by depizan, all of the Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings comment sections. Special thanks to Uncle Jeff, who helped with a central fact, and my sister V, who betaed.
I feel like “Rebellions are built on (fill-in-the-blank)” could be a good writing prompt?
“Some rebellions, they say, are built on hope. That might be true, but if I had to pin it down I’d say this one was built on a fanatical devotion to high-quality pancakes.”
Aideen sighted down her rifle barrel on a corner of one letter on the banner before which the current target would stand to give his address. The target—she didn’t dare think his name until after—was the most highly paid official Melipona had targeted yet; he wasn’t the one who had authorized the dramatic increase in taxes on imported vanilla (and all vanilla here was imported), but he was responsible for a great deal of its implementation.
The target appeared, escorted by his security detail. Aideen waited. The correct head would be in her sights soon enough.
From this distance, the target’s words were just audible: “We are here on a mission of mercy! The rebellion has devastated this county! We bring food to replace what they have spoiled! Medical supplies to replace what they have stolen! Soldiers to find and exterminate these cockroaches called Melipona!”
Patience, Aideen counseled herself.
The target shifted his position at the podium just enough.
The target’s head vanished into red mist.
Aideen slammed her rifle into its case, latched the case, swung it into place over her shoulder, and ran—floating like a bee across the rooftop from the place where she had killed John Masters. She would think his name now; she would not flinch from what she had done. Melipona dared never forget the human cost of their work.
Melipona, of course, could never forget the human cost of failing to carry out this work. The vanilla taxes were only a part of it. Any food grown outside the borders or by a sufficiently small domestic operation couldn’t be sold either profitably or affordably. “Small business” to the federal government meant a business earning at least ten million dollars a year; a business earning a mere five million a year was earning pocket change not worth bothering with; Aideen herself, when she had owned a pancake restaurant, had only pulled in two million a year, of which she had paid herself forty thousand.
—The route Aideen had meant to take to the earth, where her getaway vehicle waited, had soldiers at its foot.
Aideen might well die today.
Melipona dared never forget the human cost of its work.
Yes. Aideen might die today. Her only regret was that she would never again make, never again taste, a vanilla pancake.
But then, her every customer for years had told her she made pancakes to die for.