Panic tore through the city. The citizens demanded answers from the elders. The elders blamed the guards for their incompetence. The guards swore that they’d encountered nothing out of the ordinary during their patrols. The city argued and fought itself. They took down their dead and returned the bodies to their families. Meanwhile, a lone soldier closed the distance between the army and the city walls.
Seven feet tall in its armor, its face obscured behind its inhuman mask, and its voice distorted by electronics, the soldier stood motionless before the gates. It called out, “I have been sent to speak with the leader and representative to your city. Send him or her before me at once,” and it waited. It repeated the demand every ten minutes until an hour passed and the elders finally agreed that Bethany as the youngest and bravest of their number should treat with the enemy.
She marched out of the city gates, jaw set, dark eyes as hard as flint, and she stood before the enemy soldier, stared up into its insect-like eyes. “Why have you com here?”
“I’ve been sent to negotiate the terms of your surrender,” it droned. “You will open the city gates. Your leaders will present themselves before us for execution. These terms are non-negotiable. Do this, and your people will be spared.”
Bethany snorted and spat, her saliva hitting the soldier where its left eye should have been and running down its mask. It made no motion to clean itself. It did not react at all.
“As you wish,” it said. “The killings will continue.” And with that, it turned and walked back to join the ranks of the others.