I could tell that the place had been remodeled since the last time that I was here. Several wooden structures were built, some of them adjoining the old buildings. It was early morning; some of the peons were working the fields.
I certainly could not kill everyone here. It would be hard enough with an M60 machine gun; it is impossible with a wooden spear and wooden crossbow.
But for me to succeed, I did not have to kill everyone.
I walked up to one of the grunts who was serving as a sentry.
"I want to see Lyle Brock," I said.
"He's very busy," said the grunt, clutching his spear. "You need to go back home."
"Well, I'm calling him out for a challenge. He said that anyone can challenge him for leadership."
"Only for us, not for outsiders."
"I was one of you," I said.
"You are not getting in here," he said, pointing the sharp end of the stick at me.
I continued walking towards him. As he thrust the wooden spear towards me, I sidestepped and grabbed the shaft. NBext thing he knew, I was pressing the spear against his throat.
I then ran inside the Seals' base. Already I can hear shouts. My powerful legs propelled me across the field towards the headquarters building.
"You!" someone shouted.
I looked and saw a familiar man.
"You went missing months ago," he said. "We thought you were gone. What happened?"
"I am here to challenge Lyle Brock," I said.
"He's a busy man."
"What's wrong? Is he too scared to meet me?"
The man pulled out a steel machete. "Say that again and I'll cut out your voice box."
"He needs you to protect him? I guess he doesn't believe his own philisophy. He must be weak, which is why he refuses my challenge."
"What is going on?" I heard this voice say.
I looked and I saw Lyle Brock.
"I remember you!" he said. "You went missing months ago."
"And now I challenge you for leadership. You said anyone may challenge you for leadership. Position is based on strength. Show to me that you are strong enough for your position."
"That challenge is reserved for Seals, not deserters!"
"What's the matter, Brock?" I yelled. "Afraid to fight? Afraid that you'll be exposed for the weak man that you are"
By then, dozens of people gathered around us.
"Are you going to show your cowardice to your men?" I asked. "That you're just a big pussy?"
They were looking at us. I could see a hint of fear in Brock's face. The philosophy that he had preached had painted him into a corner.
"I will add your skull to my collection," said Brock.
And so we all went to this mud pit located in the middle of what used to be an athletic field.
"Sir," someone said to me.
I looked and saw this young man.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"Jerome," he replied. "I was the one who escorted you to your quarters."
I suddenly remembered. He had also offered some special favors.
"Good luck, sir," he said.
"This man has challenged my leadership," said Lyle Brock. "Only the strong may rule here." He draws a steel sword. "Whoever is left alive wins!"
And then it started with him slicing my wooden spear with his steel sword.
He was c learly a very dangerous opponent. Steel swords are bad enough in the mainland; here they give an overwhelming advantage.
I had to do my best to avoid being run through with the sword. There was no surrender.
Again and again he slashed with his sword. I had to make sure I had room to manuever.
If I backed into a corner, I would be dead.
His sword gave him quite a reach. It would be useless if I got right in front of his face.
I would somehow try to find an opening, and Brock was doing everything with the sword except that.
Time seemed to slow down; I could recall every muscle movement, every desperate attempt to avoid being skewered.
And then I could see it.
I could see the opening.
It lasted for less than a second; it was enough.
I grabbed his right wrist which held the sword.
I was now at his face; his sword was useless now.
I then tackled him into the mud. I tried to push his face under the mud.
He was resisting.
I then felt a blow to my face. Even on the ground, he was still dangerous.
As tough as I was, I could not take more than a few blows.
I blocked his blows while looking for an opening to strike back.
We tumbled around the mud as we tried to deliver the finshing blow to each other.
And then I saw the opening. Before he could reach, I delivered a powerful elbow blow to his face, followed by a jab and a cross.
I had him held down.
"Kill him!" I heard someone yell.
I looked towards the crowd. "Kill him! Kill him!" they yelled.
I got up, one boot on Brock's neck.
"No!" I yelled. "What's the fucking point? We're all gonna die here! All of this is for nothing. Chief, officer, grunt, peon, we all die here. It's all for nothing! I don't want to be your Chief."
I heard the sloshing of mud. I turned and Brock was up, his face bloodied.
And a sword in his right hand.
He started to come after me.
And then he fell. I quickly saw what felled him - a spear in his neck.
Jerome looked at me.
The crowd cheered.
"Find your own chief," he said to the crowd. "I don't want nuthin' to do with yous."
My side felt wet. I looked and saw that Brock had slashed the side of my chest.
At least I was still alive.
"Let's go," I said to Jerome.
My idea worked.
I could still see smoke from the direction of the Seals' base. I heard from the scouts that there wewre several battles for leadership.
Brock's charisma held the Seals' foundation together. With him gone, they started turning on each other, and the other clans started raiding the Seals' base.
"This is a great place," said Jerome, who had been accepted here by Pastor DuKane.
"Better than a lot of places on the mainland," I replied.
We all attended a service by Pastor DuKane. He gave a message, a message that could not be repeated often enough, a message about redemption, about how the time to do the right thing is right now.
If there was any place of hope in the world, it is this village of outcasts who dedicated their lives to building a better society.