Deep in the mists of time, in a period long forgotten by imperial records, and remembered only by the emperor himself, a revolution quietly brews. There are utterances of dissent, but not too many, for those who speak loudly of their distrust in their betters soon find life rather more difficult, to say the least. All that is left is those who utter quietly, who utter discreetly, and look for a leader... one who can shout what they merely utter, one who can shout it to a crowd of true believers, and hope that none of them will run and tell the authorities of what has been shouted, that should barely have been uttered.
One young man thinks, hopes, that he can be that leader. He is nervous. He is about to go out and speak, publicly, words that could mean the end of him. Or the beginning of something greater. It is a high wire act without the safety net, with the added distraction of someone throwing things at you while you try to impress the onlookers below.
They meet in a dusty old bar on East 47th street. He has a quiet room out back. As far as the authorities are aware, it is used for illicit gambling, which they don't particularly mind. If they knew that the gathering tonight was gambling not with chips or rations, but with their lives and freedoms, then they would certainly intervene. The room is full, with close to fifty people crammed into the tight confines. There are more out there, but these are the bravest. If he can convince these, they will head forth and spread his message to the even more cowed and wary, and start to develop a groundswell of support. All revolutions start somewhere. This one would begin, or end, with this speech.
"Broth..cough..." he cleared his throat nervously "Brothers and sisters, thank you for gathering to hear me today. I know it is dangerous for us to gather like this... but I remember a time when that was not so. As do you. I remember a time when we openly mocked our overlords. I remember a time when we thought that he would never survive his first year in office. But he did. All the things we thought would bring him down, they all failed us."
There were general murmurings of agreement from the audience, so he decided to continue on this vein to build a rapport with the crowd "We thought the special investigator would get him, but he pardoned himself. We talked of emoluments, but the party backed him. We thought they'd impeach him, but he disbanded the senate. We thought the term limit might get him, but he changed the law. We thought the voters would turn, but he gerrymandered to the point that he only needed 1 in 5 votes to stay in power and he could buy those... that was back when he still allowed votes! Remember those days?" A few mocking laughs from the crowd showed most of the people to be older than the speaker... although there were a fair few with the rueful look of those who have only ever heard of voting and never participated "We thought that there may come a change when his own sons tried to seize power, but if anything that made him angrier still... who'd have thought anyone would nuke one of their own cities just to kill their own children?"
Calming from his list of injustices, the speaker paused... "But now finally, we have that which all men fear... time. Time caught up with him eventually. It's been 29 years, and finally the seat of power is vacant. Who shall take over is still to be seen, although the mysterious death in his sleep of his son in law within 24 hours of our overlords demise should serve as indication that his daughter is not going to be much kinder to us than he was..."
"Nevertheless, the time to strike is now. We must seize this opportunity, before she can get her claws in and make this an official dynasty. The moment the crown passes from father to daughter we become a dynasty for who knows how many murderous generations. This is our last chance to remind people that the rule of this land should be decided by the will of the people of it."
"I was but a boy when we last had a true democracy, but I remember him well. He promised so much change, and while he didn't manage to deliver as much as we'd hoped, by the gods he tried, and when his time was up, he left gracefully. Who would ever think we would remark on that as being a rare quality. He may have been in charge for a mere eight years, but he left his mark on me... the mark of change... I believe in change, I want change we can believe in, and we need change now more than ever!"
His soaring rhetoric had lifted the crowd, he could see this, but they were still timid... finally, one stepped forward... "What you say has merit buddy, but what chance do we have? Between the Army, the feds that swear loyalty to him, the cops that shoot on sight, the second amendment militia on their patriotism patrols... hell, he's even got the church to sign off on him. Those fuckers have god on their side! What do we got?"
"They have one god on their side" admitted the speaker "But there are others..."