Seaon 1 - Prologue

Marshal stopped on the trail, puffing, sweat slicking his body. The nearby undergrowth swayed in the breeze, while undulating waves of conifers terraced the landscape beyond. Among the greenery, a jagged, dark patch quivered in the distance like a loose tarp thrown over the forest. Thin lines of smoke crawled upward and spread into a hazy ceiling above it. An acrid smell painted the walls of Marshal’s nostrils. He bent at the waist and gulped in enough air to restore his wind.

Maybe running the mountain trail wasn’t the best idea after a wildfire, he admitted to himself wryly. But wasn’t that a metaphor for his whole life these days? Trying to move the monetary needle was like chasing a fire line that never stopped, one that jumped canyons, rivers, even whole oceans to cozy up to the 1 percent—the upper class that used to be called the “nobility.” Marshal let out a sarcastic bark. Why was having the most money considered honorable?

That was something The Architect had groused about in their last text exchange.

There always seemed to be one small group who had it all while the majority struggled to scratch out a living. Why the hell did the 1 percent consider the world their playground? Especially these days.

Marshal returned his gaze to the burnt-out patch of forest that still smoldered across the foothills. The blazes had become more frequent and widespread each year. He and Archie had both agreed that any real progress on climate change would have to be driven by money reform—to remove power from the pillagers and scatter it among people who were willing to work together. And that wouldn’t include poisoning the air, the land, the water, and those who walked among it to turn a profit. Yes, he agreed with his friend and mentor that once the decentralists got a foothold, “business as usual” would mean what was best for the 100 percent. Why not? They were willing to throw the nobility a bone.

Another wry smile formed, then vanished. It wasn’t what people called you that gave you integrity, he thought bitterly. Otherwise, a dishonorably discharged renegade bent on overthrowing the government’s lock on finance would never be recognized as one of the “good” revolutionaries—which Marshal was sure he was. “I never turned my back on my mother to make a buck,” he muttered. Kill the earth, and you may as well bury your money right before you bury yourself.

This gave him an uneasy start. Yesterday’s mass email had confirmed that the steward of the current decentralist movement had gone missing. What had happened to Archie? Was he still above ground? Had he gone into hiding?

Marshal shaded his dark eyes with tanned fingers and looked out over the sea of trees. Maybe his friend and leader was out there somewhere. If not, who would give the team their marching orders? The forces against them were many, and at any moment, the Quo could pull the rug out from under the decentralists. The power would stay with the old money. And the world would continue to burn. “Nobility my ass,” Marshal growled, shaking his head.

Suddenly, the taste of putrid smoke coated his throat and threatened to choke him. He hawked up the awful stuff and spat emphatically, then checked his wristwatch. “Shit!” He’d barely have enough time to make it back for morning briefing. He returned to the trail and kicked into a sprint to finish his run.