"Why? Who did it?"
They both looked around when a flock of startled birds broke cover. "Uh-oh," she said, and reached under the bench.
He mouthed a question.
Maira glanced up at him. Puzzlement became surprise when he saw her eyes grow fierce at the sight of something behind him. He stepped back and whirled around in time to see the hovercam dive to the right. She'd pulled out a homemade device of some kind and was pointing it at the drone. It wobbled and lost altitude. She pulled a trigger. It careened wildly, but not before it caught her face with an oddly colored laser flash. She dropped the device and fell on her side, clearly in pain, her fingers twitching. The drone smacked into a cypress knee, spun around and fell into the swamp.
Alphon was frantic. He knelt beside her and cradled her head in his hand. "What was that? Are you okay?"
She took a breath. "Ne" Neuroleptic laser." She had trouble pronouncing the words. "Those drones aren't just for surveillance."
"Why? What did we do?"
"Not" what we did. What" we might do."
"What we might do? For god's sake, what's going on here?"
She struggled to get up, so he helped her onto the bench. "Aren't you paying attention? You told me yourself that you specialized in identifying event cascades."
Alphon shook his head in confusion. "What does that have to do with--?"
"So do they."
"The people who sent that drone."
She steadied herself and pointed a finger at him. "Social event cascades."