"What do you mean?"
Maira pointed at a nearby workbench. "I said I'm a maker. I build stuff. But there's something else that I can make, and that frightens the hell out of them."
"Trouble. It only takes one person to bring down the biggest adversary you can imagine."
He shrugged. "The ringleader? I don't get it. If they were so worried that you'd do something to hurt them, why haven't they taken you out before this?"
"Because I kept to myself. And besides, the ringleader isn't the person I was talking about."
"The first follower. The person who realizes that the so-called leader has a point, and is willing to do whatever it takes to follow it through, to make something happen."
Alphon shook his head. "So what?" He backed up a step. "They can kill that person, too! Me!"
"Whatever it takes," she repeated, cradling the hovercam to her chest. "And what it takes is to make everyone a first follower. The puppet masters are paranoid about social event cascades because they know what will happen if one takes root. But that's your specialty. And all the information you need to do it is right--."
The hovercam exploded. What remained of Maira collapsed in front of him. He stared at her bloody remains in shock for a few seconds, and then started to hyperventilate. An instant later, he balled his fists and stiffened. "No! No! No! No! No!" he shouted at the walls. "That's not going to stop this cascade, you cretins. You've picked the wrong guy."
He raced from shed to shed, taking stock of what was where. He was surrounded by the means to stay alive. She said the information was here, too. And he knew their weakness. What remained was to prep all of the potential event cascades he'd already identified to get people's attention, and use those events to show them what was really happening, and why. But most importantly, he needed to trick the greedy monsters into setting it all off themselves. He may have been Maira's first follower, but he was about to set up the worlds biggest trap, with himself as the bait.
Copyright 2013 by P. Orin Zack