Note: There’s a new method to my madness. I’ve found, in finishing the last book, that the back and forth nature of the story opens it up to a new kind of drafting. What I do is I edit a chapter for Group A, then write the next chapter for group A, all in the same day. That way I’m always a couple chapters ahead, once I get into a nice rhythm, and it makes it easier to keep the momentum going. Not sure it would work with other stories, but it’s really helped me keep on task, when even the rage wasn’t enough.
“What the fuck was that?” Sonya asked angrily.
“I do miss her,” Cris said, emotion nearly choking the words from him.
“I meant about you ‘getting it.’”
Cris swallowed. “I do. We’re reacting. It’s what we did at that NSA facility. What we did in Moscow. And she’s acting. There aren’t mornings when you wake up, your sense of right and wrong bloodied from the day before, where you just want to throw a punch?”
“Whoa,” Ben said, throwing up his meaty hands. “What would Jesus do, man?”
“I’m not Jesus,” Cris said, his voice flattened by anger. He exhaled hotly. “I don’t do those things, obviously. But I want to, sometimes. And I’m not sure… I guess it weighs on me. What if Mira’s doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, and we’re siting on our hands for the wrong ones, too- namely for our own moral superiority? What would Jesus do, Ben? He wouldn’t stand by while injustice and hate rampaged across the land. He would help. I don’t know how, exactly, but I think he’d do more than I have- more than I’ve figured out how to do. And that, more than anything, weighs on me. It’s worrying to me it doesn’t seem to weigh on the rest of you.”
“I hate to break it to you, but you’re not the only one with Catholic guilt here,” Rox said, “ever-so-lapsed as I may be.”
“I think we all struggle, just trying to get by in all this,” Ben said, gesturing madly around the room. “The world in on fire, literally, in some places. There’s a megalomaniac who wants to lock most of us away, and basically has the power to, and now, come to find out, the asshole’s actually doing it.”
“And worse,” Sonya said, touching Cris’ shoulder. “There isn’t a one of us doesn’t wake up wishing we knew how to do more, how to put things right, how to make the world make sense again. I’m sorry I snapped at you. I’m so fucking angry at Mira right now. And I think I know, too- and it terrifies me- that it could have been me. If things had happened a little differently, if I was the one who got separated- some nights I dream about what I could do with my ability if I stopped trying to take the high ground. It would be so easy. Any one of us could make Timothy McVeigh look like an amateur with a half an hour. And with the way Drump and so many- so many assholes have treated us- I know it’s wrong, down to the very core of my being, but when one of us snaps and hurts people, it will not have been unprovoked, a thousand-fold. And if I didn’t have you, it might have been me. If anything happened to the rest of you, it maybe still could be.”
They started to move together for comfort, but Laren stopped Ben with a hand on his shoulder. “Ben,” she said, “a word before you join the others in a chorus of Kumbuya.”
“You, uh, know they’re just blowing off steam, right?” Ben asked, his expression suddenly serious.
“I didn’t hear anything,” she said. “And I’m not sure you’ll want to acknowledge hearing what you’re about to.”
“Your brother’s gone. Your whole tribe is gone.”
“Gone to…” his eyebrows shot up, “oh,” he said, so softly she couldn’t hear it.
“They were attacked. So far as we can ascertain, it wasn’t humans.”
“You’re pretty remote here. That’s why we chose the location. No cell towers in range, only the one fiber optic line in or out. Which means you haven’t heard this.” She played him a sound, like a violin string, but shrill, like it was screaming. Then they heard the sound of a human scream, and a man yelling. Panic, hysteria, and the sound of blood and bodies hitting the dirt.
“Jesus,” he said.
“Your brother tried to call you. We think he died before the call connected. I’m not going to show you the pictures, or the video, but.. suffice to say there aren’t weapons known to man that would explain what happened. It’s a shitshow; Grand Badger’s always been under joint jurisdiction of the Bureaus of Indian and Breed Affairs. I got looped in, early, which is how I got the recording, and the other digital evidence. But DHS is pulling rank, now, and freezing the rest of us out. Some of the elders we inherited from agencies are whispering they might just disappear the rest of the evidence. Or if it fits Drump’s narrative, maybe the leak it to the press in the most damaging way possible. I don’t know what’s going to happen; might be nothing for a while. But when it does, it’s going to be loud, and ugly. And you deserved to know, . You okay?”
“Did it hurt?”
“It didn’t look peaceful, but… your brother was a good man. So if there’s even a little justice in this world, it didn’t hurt.” “There isn’t,” Ben said.