MaQ walked through the wheat field at the most relaxed pace he'd moved in nearly a year. He let his fingers glide along the rapidly sprouting wheat, taking a childlike delight in the sensation of the tips dancing across the palms and fingertips of his weathered hands.
He looked up at the tiny village in the center of this field. A mix of pre-fab and dilapidated old wooden buildings that should have collapsed a century ago. Yet, as badly beaten as they seemed none were unsafe, in fact MaQ realized this was the first settlement he’d come across this trip that wasn’t hard pressed and barely making by.
It must be the wheat. Certainly the proximity to settled land, as they called the United States of America to the east, didn’t hurt. It was a two day trip for the various wagons and carts to take their harvests in and exchange for goods and credit. It was the sort of symbiotic relationship that built good will between these people and those in the outside world.
That was making MaQ’s job harder of course, but how could he blame them. It’s hard to fear people you’ve been selling food to and trading with for centuries.
MaQ looked about, at the peacefulness of this land, at the small band of children playing without a care in the world and he wondered if perhaps he should disappear before he got his response; let these people be to their serenity even if it turns out to be short lived and false, but he couldn’t do that.
The large barn doors finally parted and the Chief, Councillor as they called him here, led the group out from the meeting. It was hard to guess from his inscrutable expression what the decision had been.
Councillor Garmin Hilady bee-lined for MaQ as soon they made eye contact. His thick, muscular arm came up around MaQ’s shoulders as the powerful leader of this band led MaQ out and away from the prying eyes of the assembly.
"I’m sorry, my friend," Garmin began, "But we don’t see it."
MaQ expected this, in fact it would have been unusual for it not to happen. So before Garmin could continue MaQ interjected, breaking free of Garmin’s grip and turning in view of the others, where he spoke clearly and loud enough that anyone in view could hear him.
"One week ago they killed five human beings up north over water." He didn’t actually say ‘human beings’, he used the word ‘Pawnee’, the word this tribe used for ‘human beings’. "Do you really think they won’t do the same for food?"
MaQ eyed each person, looking for the signs that gave him his opening. Garmin approached from behind, and spoke calmly and firmly.
"The ‘whites’ had every reason to chase us off during the Eco-Crisis when they were starving for food."
Garmin was directing his comments only to MaQ, it was the surest sign that MaQ had lost this battle before the barn doors had opened, "Instead they saw our wheat and made trade with us. If we didn’t fear them then, when they were hungry, we won’t fear them now."
MaQ’s pleaded as he continued, "The ‘whites’ chased your ancestors from their true lands and when they wanted the new lands they came with guns and killed you! The ‘whites’ always take what they want, and with each year they get better at disposing of their enemies and opposition."
Garmin nodded gently, like a parent does with a child frustrated at the seeming injustice of a predator killing its prey so it had food. "The old days are long gone, my child."
MaQ stopped and stiffened, it wouldn’t matter what he said, these people had no experience in the coldness of their neighbours and so they couldn’t see the future. Those who fail to learn from the lessons of history...
There was nothing left for him to do but leave them to repeat another lesson, "I understand Councillor. I only hope you do not pay too dearly when you learn the truth."
MaQ reached into his right pocket and pulled out a simple stone with a painted buffalo on it. A seeming innocuous item that in fact was part of a complex monitoring system. He offered it to Garmin, "Take this and if you ever change your mind, pray to this talisman and I will return."
Garmin looked at the stone suspiciously, he was spiritual enough to know the spirit guides weren’t in league with this travelling salesman. However, after meditating on it for a second he realized that accepting the token would at least help close off this encounter quicker and the sooner this runner of guns left the better it would be for his people.
With a toothy, forced grin, Garmin looked up and smiled at MaQ as he took the token, "Go with peace my friend."
MaQ turned and walked sullenly off towards the canopy of trees on the horizon where he left his Caravan. It was a failed sale, he should’ve known pleading wouldn’t work, it was an amateur tactic that never paid off.
And the more he thought back on things he couldn’t see how he could’ve convinced them to take action. They were too heavily integrated with the outside world to buy into the paranoia without having direct action taken against them.
Oh well, he thought, at least they had one of his talisman. Next time he left this place he would leave behind guns, not some HARMLESS EMBLEMATIC OFFERING.