Episode 1 Scene 14
When I came to, it was night. I’d no idea how long I’d been out, but it must’ve been a while. The constellations in the night sky were crystal clear, not a hint of sun anywhere. I sat up and almost threw up. My head was pounding, and I could feel sticky blood matted in the hair at the back of my head. I didn’t touch it; I didn’t want to know how badly I was injured. An ounce of denial was always worth a pound of reality. A woman came over to me. I recognized her. This was a good sign: at least my brain wasn’t completely wrecked.
The woman, one of the agricultural elders, looked worried, and rightly so. At ground level, the smoldering glow of the buildings provided enough light to see the damage. And the stink of smoke brought back to me what had happened. What the hell had attacked us? The elder told me nothing and instead grabbed me by the arm and guided me to the communal hut. Inside were the rest of the elders, and they looked grim.
I sat down and someone gave me a drink. It was the local version of alcohol, a rough moonshine. It tasted great. I coughed my appreciation and got down to business. I was no longer an extra mouth to feed. With the death of Leon, their warrior leader, I was the next-best option. They were a practical people and adapted to the circumstances. I respected that.
The meeting was short, my favorite kind, and the result was simple. No one had seen what I’d seen, but they knew they were under attack. The why wasn’t important, but the what to do about it was. As I said, they were a practical people. In the end, they gave me the keys to the armory and put me in charge of compound defense. An excellent decision.
I got the warriors together for our first powwow. I guess I didn’t have the only keys to the armory, because one of the youngsters gave me an enormous .50-caliber sniper rifle. I was touched, but as gifts go, it was useless. I can hit the side of a barn with a sniper rifle, but then I can hit the side of a barn with most things. The purpose of such a weapon is not to hit the barn, but rather project beyond the barn, to damage your enemy before the barn even becomes threatened.
The problem with sniper rifles is they’re a highly specialized tool—one that takes years and millions of dollars of training to become adept with. Something I didn’t have. Still, the kid had the right idea; we had to project our force. Lying in wait and focusing our firepower just outside the compound walls worked on the Clans, but whatever this was had hurt us from a distance.
The second attack occurred the next day, and it followed exactly the same MO. The damage was much less, as there was less to damage, and the people in the compound just took cover and waited it out. The white-dressed figure sat off at the same distance, in the same place, and took potshots at the same burnt-out buildings. It then mounted its future bike and took off.
Right. Got it. Doing something twice is not enough to be a pattern, but I’m not the patient type. I snagged the kid who gave me the sniper rifle, and he showed me exactly where he found it. Sniper rifles are usually accompanied by spotting scopes, compasses, and, most important, kick-ass Ghillie suits. I was going to project myself out there and hope the white-clad figure repeated its actions.