Apocalypse origins, p.32
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       Apocalypse Origins, p.32

           R.A. Neely
 

  ***

  Brian waited as the woman and her escort approached them. Brian nodded as she arrived. "We'd be happy to meet with your leader," he said. I have all of the village officials with me, I hope that's alright."

  Shirley nodded pleasantly, "That's completely fine. If you'll follow me?" Brian nodded and followed Shirley as she led the way back to the camp. 

  The walk was fairly short, these people were nearly camped on their doorstep. He had to admit he was impressed as they arrived. All of the tents were set up in a neat and orderly fashion. Everyone appeared to be busy in some way, the whole place had an atmosphere of discipline. He also noticed more guards, a lot more. He relaxed a bit as he realized he had made the right decision. However this went down tonight, he'd saved the lives of his people. There was no way they would have been able to stop these guys if they had come in using force. 

  "I neglected to mention," Shirley said as they walked, "if you're armed you'll be permitted to carry within the camp. You will however be searched before your meeting. Your weapons will be returned to you when you leave."

  "That's perfectly understandable," Brian replied. He hoped that Roland would keep his mouth shut. Now that he'd seen some of their camp, the last thing he wanted to do was antagonize these people.

  Shirley led them to a large tent that stood in the center of the camp. Brian noticed a white flag waving in the breeze and took note of the lion printed on it. "It's not much to look at," Shirley explained, "but we have to make do with what we find. If you'll excuse me for just a moment." She nodded to the guards standing on either side of the entrance and stepped inside.

  She returned a few moments later and smiled. "We weren't expecting so many so while they're making arrangements I wonder if you might like a tour of the camp?"

  "That would be appreciated," Brian replied. Shirley led them around the camp and Brian quickly noticed most of the sights were military in nature. This was planned no doubt. A subtle way of showing that they had no chance if this turned to open conflict. One of the last things Shirley showed them was a training session. Brian noted that it was an all-female class and was impressed. Not only did they have a sizable fighting force, even their women were capable of fighting. They looked pretty vicious too. Brian had little doubt that any of them would be able to take him down. 

  Shirley noticed his look. “We rescued these women from some bandits a while back. There’s actually an argument going that they might be fiercer than our men.”

  Shirley led the way back to the tent and Brian realized he had little choice in what happened tonight. The tour had the cemented the fact that these, what'd they call themselves? That these Gregorians could simply take their town if they were so inclined. But he took some comfort in the fact that this could happen peacefully. At least his people wouldn't be killed if their leader kept his word. He felt pretty confident about that. If Shirley was telling the truth about the women he had seen, then that meant they tried to do good.

  When they arrived back at the tent, each of them was thoroughly searched. Fortunately, no one had tried anything stupid. David was the only armed with his pistol. Once they were cleared, the guards nodded and Shirley led the way inside the tent.

  It was an open area dominated by a large table in the center of the room. The table was arrayed with a number of dishes and Brian's mouth watered at the cut of venison situated in the center of the table. He also noticed several bottles of wine. He might lose control of his city tonight, but at least he would eat well.

  "Please have a seat," Shirley said. "Gregory will be with you shortly." Shirley seated herself and looked at them expectantly. 

  Brian found a seat and got comfortable. Gregory, huh? That was the first time he'd heard their leader's name. David and Mary sat on either side of him and he smiled pleasantly. "At least we'll eat well he whispered quietly. David nodded and glanced towards the venison. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been able to eat this well.

  Roland and his wife sat near the head of the table, no doubt in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with Gregory when he arrived. Brian really hoped they wouldn't do or say something stupid. The tent flap rustled and Brian turned to see who entered the room.
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