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The Codex File - Chapter 3

Anti-Net Protest!

By Miles EthertonPublished 2 years ago 9 min read
The Codex File by Miles Etherton

Digger curled his stubbled top lip into a grimace, snorted, and spat on the ground in disgust as he read the newspaper article. They were coming. He knew it. They all knew it. Even Moley had said so before, and he wouldn’t bullshit them.

The last time Moley had gone into the town to get some food and supplies for the group, he’d seen it on the front page of a newspaper. And not one of the crappy tabloids mind, which was always reporting alien abductions or royal bleeding rubbish that no-one cared about.

No, this had been one of the quality rags, always moaning about whether Britain should fuck Europe or get fucked by it.

The words of warning had spread through the camp quicker than flies on shit. The suits that were going to destroy the countryside, yet again, were coming. One more road carving its way through woods, hillside and the ‘natural land’ as they called it.

They’d already ploughed on through Winchester and Newbury. Concrete monstrosities for ignorant fuckers whose only interest was to make a quick profit. If the countryside got in the way, fuck it. That was tough bleeding luck as they bled the ‘natural land’ dry.

But no more. They’d put up good fights in Winchester and Newbury. Kicked a few of their arses. But this time they would not get their moneymaking way.

Digger sniffed the cool morning air and ran his grimy fingers across his stubbled chin. His fists clenched and unclenched as he thought about their imminent arrival. This time they weren’t playing by the rules.

Sure, in the past the suits from the government had quoted by-law violations. They’d even re-written the Criminal Justice Act they’d been so desperate to get rid of them. But this time it was different. Now the rules had gone out the window.

What the fuck do we know about the internet, anyway? Or care about it?

Yet Moley had seen it all in that rag. As clear as day. Two important bastards from some rich computer companies were dead, and they were getting the rap for it.

Digger flicked open the pages of the tabloid Moley had picked, pausing on the buxom blonde on page three. His eyes burned with rage as he reached the offending page. The story wasn’t just in the quality rags.

‘Anti-Net activists implicated in gruesome murders’ the headline read.

His eyes scanned the text, coming to rest on the fourth paragraph.

‘In both cases, police have confirmed the murder scenes exhibited the words: ‘F*** the Net, Reclaim the World’. In the killing of Colette Robertson, the words being written with the victim’s blood police reveal. Detectives have said…’

Digger looked up, scowling, before hurling the pages away.

It’s a bleeding setup, he thought, surveying the countryside before him.

Their camp was in a forest on the edge of Brookwood Heath, a former protected site of special scientific interest with a vibrant and diverse eco-system. But that status had gone out the window thanks to a Government U-turn and chasing the pound signs UKCitizensNet would bring. Once the bulldozers came, parts of the open heathland and much of their forest would go, and countless habitats lost. His gaze moved to the camp of platforms amongst the trees, his resolve to do all they could to stand in their way hardened. He looked back at the newspaper and the murdered executives and scowled again. What the fuck was going on? Their agenda had sod-all to do with the internet. Sure, their war-cry was ‘Reclaim the World’, always had been. But ‘Fuck the Net’, as well?

This time the suits from the government had an alternative plan to get rid of them.

At Winchester and Newbury, there’d been a fair amount of support for their cause. Who wanted a road instead of the countryside?

But if the suits pinned a brutal set of murders on them, any sympathy would soon ebb away. With no public sympathy, the pigs would have a free hand to use whatever strong-arm tactics they wanted to get rid of them.

He thought about the tabloid article once more, looking down from his high tree perch at the scattered pages below. They were building a link road to a new headquarters that was to be built for a company developing semantic web technologies.

“Digger, the bastards are coming.”

Moley’s warning broke his concentration as it echoed through the trees. On the horizon, he could see a gathering of vehicles heading in their direction.

Right where the fucking road would go.

Behind him, the chatter of voices and boots thudding on the ground filled the air. He watched as the rest of the group climbed the forest’s trees to their well-constructed lookouts or into their labyrinth of underground tunnels.

The approaching hordes were closing in on their position, and his eyes widened in surprise.

No, this is wrong.

Instead of the normal police vans, pursued by a mass of hungry hacks looking for a story, were a strict formation of army lorries, two tanks, and a long black limousine.

Where’s the fucking press? Who’s going to record our fight to protect the countryside?

He looked again at the procession of army vehicles. For the first time since he’d chosen the life of an environmental protester, over 20 years earlier, butterflies began in his stomach and he felt himself perspiring, his breathing becoming heavier.

The bastards could do anything to them. And without the cameras, no-one would ever know. The government suits could hide behind the Official Secrets Act and no-one would ever know what happened.

This entire area must be pretty fucking important.

The procession of vehicles ground to a halt at the edge of the trees.


The words echoed through the dense formation of trees. It was Harmony, a veteran of conservation causes.

An officious-looking officer climbed down from one lorry and looked up at Harmony’s lofty position.

“Take that bitch down first as a warning,” Digger heard the officer order.

Two further soldiers leapt from the back of the lorry. Both carried bulging rucksacks and approached the base of Harmony’s tree fifty feet away. Digger squinted to see what they were doing, but the early morning sun blinded his vision.

Within a minute, the soldiers returned to their lorry, uncoiling a long length of something he couldn’t quite identify. His mouth dropped as the soldier raised the detonator plunger.

“No.” Digger’s word only a whisper. “Harmony, get off the tree, use the ropes. They’re going to…”

A sudden orange flash and a deafening explosion filled the forest. Thrust backwards by the force of the blast, the sound of groaning and splintering wood sliced through the air. Harmony’s tree swayed for a few long seconds before crashing down in front of the army congregation.

Harmony. Oh fuck it, no, Harmony.

Digger looked down from his tree perch and into the swirling cloud of smoke hanging over the fallen tree. He couldn’t see her. He couldn’t see a thing. All he could see were more soldiers rushing into the smoke, punishing batons raised.

His eyes closed, and he bowed his head as the dull thuds echoed through the trees.

To his left, more branches swayed and creaked under pressure. Within seconds, Moley swung onto the lofty tree perch. His cheeks were flushed, eyes brimming with tears, as he tied the rope to one of the sturdy branches and turned to face Digger.

“Harmony……” he said, forcing the words out.

“I know. The bastards killed her.”

“Harmony,” Moley said again, shaking his head.

Digger placed a comforting arm around his shoulder. Moley wasn’t the most articulate of their group. But he was a damn good tunneller. The best they had.

Digger looked into his stubbled face, his eyes wide with fear, his dreadlocks hanging around his chin. Behind the grimy exterior, from days in the tunnels, was a frightened young boy.

It was easy to forget Moley was only 19. He’d been with them for four years now. A runaway and reformed intravenous drug user from the inner city of Birmingham. All he had wanted was to ‘Reclaim the World’ from a bloodsucking, poisonous establishment. Never mind all the ‘Fuck the Net’ bollocks. Their concern had always been the countryside.

His fists tightened once more, the scowl returning as he surveyed the scene below, fear giving way to anger.

Behind him, he could hear the startled voices of his friends amongst the trees. But what was in front of him was more concerning. Five teams of soldiers, all with the now familiar army rucksacks, were approaching the edge of the woods. And for the first time since he had chosen this life, he prayed.

Sebastian Tate and Vincent Trevellion sat in the soft leather seats of the black limousine. The sound of explosions and batons subduing the protestors, one by one, bouncing off the reinforced glass with soft thuds.

They needed the land, and the protesters were trespassing on purchased property. The most recent amendment to the Criminal Justice Act, which Dr. Marcus McCoy had pushed through Parliament, gave validity to this punitive action should it ever come to light. Not that it would. They’d ensured the media hadn’t got a whiff of the ejection.

Tate gazed through the black-tinted windows protecting their identities and smiled. This wouldn’t take long, he thought, as another tree fell into the forest in a cloud of smoke.

“How useful has the new data been?”

“It’s been useful. One project the Robertson woman was working on in particular. It’s filled in a few blanks in our own semantic web projects. I doubt she knew the full potential of what she had, all other things considered. I suspect SW Technologies envisaged it as some neat application for people too stupid to remember their passwords, online personal details and digital footprint. Instead, as we hoped, we’re looking at a far more powerful, next generation app. The possibilities are very promising.”

Tate smiled from behind the rimless glasses, always peering over the top when someone else was speaking. Straightening his black silk tie, he considered Trevellion’s information.

“And Langley’s data?”

“Interesting in places. Not too much that our own people didn’t know, though. There are a few things which round off a few rough edges, one might say.”

“Good. Now we’ve taken care of Robertson and Langley, Phase I is complete. The sooner we get UKCitizensNet’s headquarters built and the entire operation transferred to here, the better. My department has ensured maximum resources are available for the construction work. I want you based here in three months.”

Trevellion nodded as Tate pulled out his mobile phone to deliver his update on the Green protesters back to Miles Winston in Whitehall.

Three months was plenty of time to have everything ready.


In case you missed the earlier chapters, or want to go back and read it again, here are the links!


About the Creator

Miles Etherton

Author/activist — writes on politics, equality, racism, social justice, social media, marketing, writing, sports and more —

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