The group meet a new friend... or foe?
“How quaint,” Cal stated.
“What could be wrong with this place? It’s so quiet,” Alex observed.
“Yeah, too quiet,” Dilton speculated. “I’ll do a scan.” He dug out a silver laptop and sat it on his lap. Red lasers shot out of the laptop as it scanned for heat signatures. Beside a few rats and insects there was no sign of life in the village. “As I suspected. It’s completely deserted.”
Suddenly a red spot shaped in the form of a squatting man appeared on the screen.
“Somebody just appeared out of nowhere! He’s hiding behind that hut over there,” Dilton exclaimed pointing to a building three huts down from them.
“We should go visit him, eh?” Jake said starting that way.
“Wait, we should be careful. He might be armed,” Joe warned.
The eight Xonars took out their weapons and edged toward the crouching human. Scout held a whip, Dilton held a gun that shot out an electric shock, Jake had a long sword that he seemingly pulled out of nowhere and Zora didn’t have a weapon visible.
“Where’s your weapon, Zora?” Cal asked.
“She doesn’t need one. She’s a black belt in seven forms of martial arts. Zora tried several different weapons but all they did was throw her off and slow her down,” Jake answered for her.
“I asked Zora,” Cal stated firmly.
“She can’t answer. Zora’s a mute. She hasn’t said a word since her parents died in a fire when she was three. She jumped from foster home to foster home until I took her in. Eh, runt?” Jake explained ruffling Zora’s hair. She swatted his hand away.
“Is it that she can’t talk or that she doesn’t want to talk?” Cal rhetorically asked with a snap in his voice.
Zora looked back and studied him for a moment until she looked ahead of her and stopped. They had arrived at the hut. Joe walked ahead of her to approach the crouching person but was stopped by Jake.
“You may have a big gun but Zora is more dangerous at close quarters. She’ll fair a lot better going first than you would. Especially with your recent injury,” he told him.
Zora carefully rounded the corner and approached a man crouched on the ground, shaking in fear. When he didn’t make a move she carefully walked toward him and squatted down in front of him. Zora touched his face, made eye contact and smiled at him. Their eyes were glued together for a long moment before the man uncurled and sat up straight. He had seized shaking and a shy smile stretched across his lips. They stared at each other for another moment until Zora stood up and helped the man to his feet. She looked at the rest of the group who had just come around the corner and looked back at the man. She nodded and the man nodded back. Zora walked back to the group with the man following cautiously behind her. She stood in front of Jake and gently squeezed his arm. He nodded a reply and Zora joined the rest of the group.
A short, balding man dressed in dirty clothes now faced the group. The hair remaining on his head was a dusty brown. He opened and closed his mouth with no sound then started speaking in a quiet stutter. “I-I-I’m G-G-Gordon.”
Jake stepped forward and, with a welcoming smile, softly said, “It’s okay. You don’t have to be afraid, we’re here to help you. I’m---”
Gordon held up a hand and said, “N-n-names are i-irelev-vant. M-mainly b-because w-we d-don’t h-have t-time f-for intro-oductions r-right n-now. I-I n-need t-to t-tell you s-someth-thing b-b-but it w-will b-be qui-quicker if I-I sh-show y-you. Z-zora a-alre-eady kn-nows.”
The group followed him into the hut he was hiding behind. He opened a small drawer in a desk sitting against the far wall. He pulled out a rolled up piece of paper and laid it out on the floor for them all to see.
A diagram covered the paper. There was a picture of a malicious looking man labelled as the leader, then a uniformed man labelled as soldierX800. There were also pictures of many different weaponry, their parts and what they do. When everybody finished reading it he rolled it up and held it out to the group.
“H-here. It w-will b-be m-more use t-t-to y-you.” Gordon said as Joe took the rolled up paper from him.
“Y-you sh-should l-leave n-now. I-I’ll b-be a-alri-right b-by m-mys-self.”
Joe was about to object but looking at Lara changed his mind. She had a confident look on her face suggesting that Gordon would be fine. He put the diagram in his backpack and they set off, this time to the north.