Fifteen minutes later I breached the border of the woods and came back to colony ground to find four werewolves in a semicircle and Hiram Yoder standing silently at their focus. I dropped to the ground.
The werewolves didn't notice me; they were entirely intent on Yoder, who continued to stand stock-still. Two of the werewolves had spears trained on him, ready to run him through if he moved. He didn't. All four of them clicked and hissed, the hisses falling in and out of my sonic range; this was why Jane heard them before the rest of us did.
One of the werewolves came forward to Yoder, hissing and clicking at him, stocky and muscular where Yoder was tall and trim. It had a simple stone knife in one hand. It reached out a claw and poked Yoder hard in the chest; Yoder took it and stood there, silently. The thing grabbed his right arm and began to sniff and examine it; Yoder offered no resistance. Yoder was a Mennonite, a pacifist.
The werewolf suddenly struck Yoder hard on the arm, perhaps testing him. Yoder staggered a bit from the blow but stood his ground. The werewolf let out a rapid series of chirps and then the others did, too; I suspected they were laughing.
The werewolf raked his claws across Yoder's face, shredding the man's right cheek with an audible scraping sound. Blood poured down Yoder's face; he involuntarily clutched it with his hand. The werewolf cooed and stared at Yoder, its four eyes unblinking, waiting to see what he would do.
Yoder dropped his hand from his ruined face and looked directly at the werewolf. He slowly turned his head to offer his other cheek.
The werewolf stepped away from Yoder and back toward its own, chirping. The two who had spears trained on Yoder let them drop slightly. I breathed a sigh of relief and looked down for a second, registering my own cold sweat. Yoder had kept himself alive by not offering resistance; the creatures, whatever else they were, were smart enough to see that he was not a threat.
I raised my head again to see one of the werewolves staring directly at me.
It let out a trilling cry. The werewolf closest to Yoder glanced over at me, snarled and drove his stone knife into Yoder. Yoder stiffened. I raised my rifle and shot the werewolf in the head. It fell; the other werewolves bolted back into the woods.
I ran over to Yoder, who had collapsed on the ground, and was pawing gingerly at the stone knife. "Don't touch it," I said. If the knife had nicked any major blood vessels, pulling it out could cause him to bleed out.
"It hurts," Yoder said. He looked up at me and smiled, gritting his teeth. "Well, it almost worked."
"It did work," I said. "I'm sorry, Hiram. This wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for me."
"Not your fault," Hiram said. "I saw you drop and hide. Saw you give me a chance. You did the right thing." He reached out toward the corpse of the werewolf, touching the sprawled leg. "Wish you didn't have to shoot it," he said.
"I'm sorry," I said again. Hiram didn't have anything more to say.
The Last Colony