Things immediately head towards a crisis, thanks to the pictures of the shootout at the minesite, which a messenger managed to send to Scotland ahead of Jonnie. While preparations are made for Bittie's funeral, Jonnie gets to meet with the chiefs in "an assembly with only one, single-minded purpose: WAR!"
When Robert the Fox shows up, he privately chastises Jonnie for not changing clothes. He's soaked with Bittie's blood, which the Argyll chief claims calls out for war. When Jonnie points out that Bittie's murderer is pretty dead at the moment, the Scots bring up Allison, the guy the Brigantes sold to the Psychlos. These two deaths of course require a blood feud and the annihilation of the Brigantes.
Jonnie is distraught - not at the idea of ethnic cleansing, but because a war would ruin his plans to get that teleporter built and figure out what's going on in the wider galaxy. So he promises the Scottish clans a "SUCCESSFUL war" if they'll follow his commands, be patient, and plan for a few months. Then "we will have war, we will have revenge, and we will have a chance of everlasting victory!"
The crowd loves this and bellows Heil Jonnie! until their voices give out. The next day they bury Bittie after a mile-long funeral proces... really? Mankind's on the verge of extinction, but there are enough people in the Edinburgh area to form a mile-long line? Anyway, wouldn't you know it but Saint Giles' Cathedral has survived the apocalypse intact, so that's where Bittie's interred. Man, it's encouraging to know that even after the near-annihilation of the human race, people still took the time to preserve those old historical landmarks for centuries.
Bittie gets promoted to a full-fledged Knight, because running unknowingly into danger thanks to completely misinterpreting the situation and getting shot in the gut for it is a screw-up beyond what mere squires are capable of. When Pattie reads the locket he got for her, she collapses across Bittie's sarcophagus, sobbing. It gets creepier later.
But Bittie was not really gone. He had become a legend. Future generations, if they survived, would hold in song and story the memory of Sir Bittie who they said had saved the life of Jonnie.
What about Allison? Or Dmitri? Or those handful of Scots who died during the strike against the Psychlos? Or the three Russians who died in Africa? Why is Bittie so special? Just because he's a kid who willingly followed a warband around? Or do you have to die within a certain distance of Jonnie to become martyred? That's it, isn't it - if you get shot in a battle, you're a casualty, but if you get shot and Jonnie cradles your dying body in his arms, you're a hero.
At least this explains why there are so few humans despite having a thousand years to build up the species' numbers. One member of your tribe gets killed by a neighbor? Blood feud and genocide. Lars and Brown Limper still need to be brought to justice for setting up the situation, but the Brigantes involved in the ambush (though I thought they were going to take Jonnie to an exploding house?) are all dead. I guess Allison still requires some sort of justice, but shouldn't that involve finding who sold him out instead of warring against an entire population?
Then again, the heroes have been looking for an excuse to wipe out the Brigantes for a while now.
Random fact for this chapter: the chief of Clanfearghus is denoted as king of Scotland and "the entire British Isles." Sucks to be English, Irish or Welsh in the year 3000.
Next chapter starts a new Part. With aliens.
Back to Part Twenty, Chapter Nine