Episode 2 Scene 5
“So, Trevayne . . . or what’d the medic call you? ‘Gunslinger’?”
“You’ve created an impression on my officers,” stated the steel-haired colonel.
She really was an arresting-looking woman.
“Positive impressions,” I answered. “It’s what I do.”
My clothes were clean, my belly was full, and my head was restitched. If I could’ve got a decent drink, my life would’ve been complete.
“And I’m getting reports that this isn’t the only community you’ve helped.”
“Just being a regular good Samaritan,” I shrugged.
Who the hell was keeping tabs on me? With all the other crap going on in the world, why would one former cop be of interest? The War Clans were on the back burner, but the Scythers had picked up the slack. The Scythers hadn’t killed as many people, but they were interfering with the agricultural sector, and this would, ultimately, kill more of us. Less farming meant less food. Less food meant more dead people. A real simple equation. But definitely not my problem. The lack of a drink was.
“Anyway, what’s a hero got to do to get some booze around here?” I demanded.
“The reports are accurate then.”
“You really are a prick.”
I’m a prick. Yeah, yeah. Not news. I want to get moving.
“Listen, why don’t we get whatever you want done, done, and then I get out of here.”
It was her turn to shrug. “OK, let’s do it your way.”
I smiled at her. Excellent. My transient colonel love had already been replaced by my natural antipathy to command.
“What do you want to know?” I asked.
“Scythers. First impressions.”
“Fast, technologically advanced, more so than us. Predictable and somehow limited.”
Her eyebrows rose at the description. I could tell she was impressed. I was one concise dude.
“Predictable and limited. How?”
“You have to know this already. My Scyther positioned itself at exactly the same spot and did exactly the same thing over and over again.”
She grunted in acknowledgement. “Why are they doing this?”
Now that was the real question. I’d thought about this while getting my ass beaten around the back of the transport truck.
“They’re testing us,” I concluded.
“Testing us how?”
Up until then I’d been standing in front of her desk, assuming the old position of subservience. I pulled up a seat and sat down. I was a goddamn consultant now.
“Essentially, they are doing the opposite of the War Clans.”
“The Scythers are testing our ability to project beyond the immediate, to see if we can deal with a threat from a distance,” I answered, but the colonel had to know this already. If I came up with it, it’s got to be obvious.
“What is it you really want to know?” I asked.
She stared at me. For a full minute. It was unnerving.
“Are they human?”
I ran my hand over my shaven lumpy head. I’d never been a pretty boy, but I did OK with the ladies. The wounds the Scyther had given me made for more scar stories. Cool.
“Yeah, he was human, or at least mostly human.”
“Mostly,” she echoed. “Did he say anything?”
I needed to make a decision, one that could affect my immediate future. It knew my name. It wanted me dead. I weighed my options. Easy. Look after number one.
I shook my head. “It didn’t make a sound.”
“Nothing at all?”“Not until I stabbed it with my Ka-Bar,” I replied and again rubbed at the welts on my head. “Then it made a booming noise.”