CHAPTER NAVIGATION BAR
TALES OF BUFFALO COMMONS
" DAM "
David Whitetail looked over at Harmon Clearwater wondering if he had brought anything to eat. They'd been here for two hours now and he was getting hungry, and not the sort of hunger that foraging would help, he wanted something of substance, maybe even some Pemi.* * *
He looked back at Sullivan Haymaker, who was, as usual, staring out at the water. Something wasn't right with that one, never had been, not since the Elder delivering him had lost his grip momentarily during the birth. The child hadn't hit anything but some figured the swinging at that critical moment had mixed something up in his brain.
David stood, shrugging away notice of Sullivan as he moved toward Harmon. It was too bad really, had he lingered on his strange fellow a moment longer he would've seen the red mist caused by a 9 millimetre bullet traveling through his companion at sub-Mach speed. He might then have realized he was under attack.
Sullivan's lifeless form slumped over before he realized he was dead.
From the opposite side of the river Algiers watched through his Electro-Binocs as his team sniper took out the second target. As per her sniper training Gertie was striking at the furthest back opponent so that they're sudden elimination wouldn't warn the others and cause them to scatter.
She quickly re-aimed, bringing the oldest of the three opponents into her sight as he approached his partner from behind. With a calm ease that belayed her years, Gertie pulled the trigger on her modified MAR350 and fired.
* * *
The bullet jerked through David Whitetail's temple with an impact that barely nudged him. When he opened his eye, the other one wouldn't open for some reason, he found himself laying flat, facing the sky, and wondering what had happened. He couldn't move, he couldn't hear anything, and except for the sudden red mist that appeared a moment later, he couldn't see anything beyond the wide blue expanse.
He felt very warm, and increasingly his thoughts became muddled. Not panicked, nor alarmed, just confused. Slowly, like a battery, draining out, he faded into nothingness.
* * *
Tomlinson would have liked a warning before the shooting began, although he suspected the 'stay put' order was suppose to qualify. His team tensed as the three opposition force members went down, each in their own clouds of red mist, and they waited further for the "all clear" so they could step into the open and secure the site.
* * *
Bear Whitetail was too young to have witnessed his brother's execution. At thirteen he probably shouldn't have been on this mission, but he was the most adept shooter in the tribe and the best at camouflage, which was why he was one of four selected to in-ground at various points around the dam and dig in.
He wished now that he'd selected a different place to hide because his hallow, just back of the old west side pathway, was directly opposite where his brother and the boats were, and only a few meters away from the invaders who had come out of the woods of the hill.
He remained frozen, packed under a layer of mud and grass, quite comfortable except for the front row seat he'd had, as the eight members of this squad, including the woman who had killed his brother, rose and began quietly advancing, practically stepping over him as they continued toward the west gate of the dam.
Bear was a scrawny, wiry kid. He'd earned the name as a child because he was always more comfortable in the wilds, and had, at five traipsed off after a brown bear and her cubs, somehow surviving joining them for a brief trek across the grasslands. The Elders felt he was gifted with an animal spirit of the great creature; he may even have been one of them. Certainly he was their kin.
And like the great animal Bear was angered when his own were attacked, but belying his young years he knew better than to move, better than to even breath. His job was to look-out, warn if their perimeter was breached, and so long as he was this close to this group he couldn't do that, not without sacrificing more than he was willing to.
He had to look down as the one who had fired the shot that killed his brother passed. He felt his blood boil, his eyes clouded over with the redness of sheer rage and he heard his heart beating with a volume so loud he was worried they'd detect him beneath his layer of nature. They didn't. The last of them passed and Bear, as quietly as he could, reached down to the Cody Rifle and carefully pulled the lever back, from the pulse emitter setting, past the automatic repeater bullets setting, all the way to the 'single shot' setting.
The invaders were five meters ahead of him before he so much as blinked. Bear slowly leaned forward, rising by centimeters up through the grass. He wasn't worried about them looking back, he wore his hood and it was covered in the mud and grass of the area. Only his eyes would give him away and they were dark beads behind narrow slits of rage.
Without loosing track of the intruders as they moved toward the Dam, Bear looked around, across the river, and then downstream toward the massive structure. His eyes kept coming back to the woman who had killed his brother, and with each glance they moistened until found himself fighting off the tears.
* * *
"What is the point of this?"
It was Master Sergeant Rozmin Storey, a stocky woman with more years of combat service under her belt than half the squad combined. Tremblay stepped closer to her because quite frankly he was thinking the same thing. She continued.
"It can't be kidnapping."
"Why not?" Tremblay decided to play devil's advocate, see if she had the same problems he had, and for the same reasons.
"You don't kidnap someone unless you're planning to demand something in return. And you can't do that if you've got no way to communicate with the outside world."
"Maybe they're waiting for a rescue party to show up? A negotiator." It was Kalter, still working to get the phone line working, as the frequent hum and tone indicated.
"They don't have a frame of reference for that, sir. The last time they would've had contact with someone outside their circle was probably a hundred years ago. For all they know there isn't even a government anymore."
Tremblay nodded. That's the part that didn't add up for him as well. What were these people hoping to gain by taking the Network crew working on this dam hostage? What was the point of it?
* * *
Bear knew he had to do something, he couldn't let these people go any further without challenge, but how to do that without putting himself at immediate risk?
Through the film of salty tears Bear decided what to do. He reset the lever back to the 'three round burst' setting, and then, as smoothly as he could, Bear brought the barrel of the rifle up. He slowly moved it along the horizon looking for his target, hoping to fake the angle enough so that the intruders wouldn't know where the shots came from.
He knew he could do this, Bear was the best shot in the tribe, its why he was placed this far out from the Dam, but even with his skills, and the augments of the Cody rifle, it would be a difficult shot to make. Hopefully at least one of the three rounds would strike where it needed to.
A final zoom in with the scope allowed him to confirm the probable trajectory. He did a triple check of the display, just as MaQ had taught him, taking into account wind and air temperature and anything else that would affect the shot. Bear wanted to rush, but held that desire back. He let out a slow breath and then, like a champion, he smoothly pulled the trigger.
The internal magnetic pulse coils of the Cody 175 silently rushed up the layered barrel, once, twice and then three times, bringing the metal cores of three 9mm shells nearly to the speed of sound before each bullet crossed the threshold of the rifle. Without further propellant the inert metal flew across the chasm between Bear and their target in one point two seven seconds, striking it in succession, a mere six millimeters below where he aimed.
* * *
The shots struck the copper dish that was affixed to the side of a concrete exit at the far end of the dam. Neither Bear, nor anyone else on his tribe could know that this device was a bell, placed here as a warning tool should some crisis occur in the facility. It was the grandest of ironies that Bear chose this as his way of warning the others. The triple peels of the bell rang out across the valley with such force that even Tomlinson and his crew ducked in anticipation of an airborne attack.
Nearly two kilometres away everyone in Alpha Squad jumped as the resonating tones echoed throughout the valley. Surely they were loud enough to hear even inside the massive concrete structure.
Tremblay grimaced, "Damn!"
* * *