Chief Spottyrivers stood near the lip of the Cheyenne No.1 Dam and looked out at the valley before him. It was a majestic sight that brought back a flood of memories from his youth.
He had come out here many times, helping with the proprietary maintenance of the Dam that they all knew they had to maintain in order to keep up their end of the bargain. It was a bargain that had with time, transformed into legend and was starting to take on the elements of religion by both their ritualistic approach to the maintenance of the facility; and by their superstitious fears that, should they fail in their duty, the Great Spirit would punish them.
In the end their devotion was rewarding them in ways Spottyrivers had never thought possible. The credit they were accumulating, as indicated on the bottom corner of the contract they had signed, was building at an alarming rate. Already enough, according to Dani Bennett, the Network Engineer working with them, to buy several small towns. But the real reward to the Chief was that they had been left as stewards of the land and of this Dam.
Unlike the first time they'd met, this time the White Man had kept his word. Spottyrivers wondered, with a chuckle, if perhaps the reason the word was being kept this time was because they'd sent a woman.
He closed his eyes and listened to the thunderous tumult as water cascaded out of every vent along this nearly sheer face of the dam, another sign the facility was fully operational. And yet, was this his people's true destiny, noble warriors stuck baby sitting this giant for all time?
Spottyrivers looked up, out across the valley of the Great Spirit and saw in the distance the new Network compound of Rapid City. He couldn't actually see the settlement but the steady stream of aircraft converging to the same spot provided all the evidence Spottyrivers needed of where Rapid City was.
Anyone of these inbound craft was easily larger than the frightening metal beast that had been hovering only a few metres from him barely three weeks earlier. Spottyrivers was positive that these larger craft could do so much more damage to his people than those Hornets had been capable of. It made one thing obvious, a thing he shared as Kellam Middlechild came up beside him.
"He lied to us."
Kellam didn't take his eyes off the alarmingly large number of craft heading toward the Network base. "You think that as well?"
SpottyRivers half turned, "He told us they'd slaughter us for this land, he sold us guns so we could start his war. We didn't need the guns, we got more without them."
Kellam was stunned, "I've read their history. These people are very generous, but that is usually after their greed has stripped you of what they want."
SpottyRivers paused and turned to his friend. They were not speaking of the same thing. "You defend MaQ?"
"MaQ warned us the Network would get what they want. I ask you, what if we'd told them to leave? What would they have done then?"
SpottyRivers considered that. They were using the power and taking of the water held back by this dam. These were things they needed for their nearby base. Perhaps the peace and prosperity they were enjoying wouldn't have occurred if his people hadn't been willing to deal, exchange and compromise.
But his blood still boiled at what MaQ had said, how he'd stirred their fighting spirit, their warrior blood and then set them on a course that could've easily have led to their slaughter. And a chill came down him when he realized that MaQ had gone on, deeper into the Commons, to meet with other tribes.
"Perhaps the truth is somewhere between, but I know this. Another tribe, buying MaQ's guns may not be so lucky, particularly if they believe everything he says." SpottyRivers turned to Kellam, "We need a gathering."
Kellam shook his head. It would take months to send parties out to all the other tribes and return with their Chiefs. It would take longer to get consensus than the Network would need to overrun the Commons. They needed a faster solution, a quicker way to Assembly.
"What about NorthStar?"
SpottyRivers had been a child the last time he'd heard that name. "That's a legend."
"No. It isn't. I've been there."
NorthStar wasn't the name of the tribe, neither of them could remember what the real name was but they both knew NorthStar wasn't it. Legend said it was a very rich tribe one found by following the North Star for a month and two days. But that was generations back, could it still exist?
"We don't have the time it would take to get there." SpottyRivers said plainly.
"No," Kellam countered, "but Chamberlain is only five days away."
Chamberlain, South Dakota was outside the Commons. It was another world, in the United States of America, but Dani Bennett had said they should go there and from there they could use 'interfaces' to purchase goods from anywhere in the world. SpottyRivers wondered if that also meant they could get transit from there to where NorthStar was.
He looked out again at the Valley of the Great Spirit and the stream of craft heading west. He had to do something, he couldn't let his brothers fall to the confusion MaQ was selling, and they should be warned of the Network as well.
Lest they become stewards of their own burdens.
Maybe there was a higher calling for his people as well; maybe they could be more to the Network than just a source of HYDRO ELECTRIC OUTPUT.