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[Fiction] Echoes of Thunder: Can you hear the Drum?

Lou Anne Burgess

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From: “Watokiconpi” <watokico@aim.op>

To: undisclosed recipients

Sent: Monday, August 7, 2017 5:15PM

Subject: Can you hear the Drum?

Can you hear the Drum? The Wasicu have beaten it. Can you hear the death cry of the Wakinyan? The Wasicu have caused it. Can you feel the coming of the Wasicu? They gather their strength to take everything from us.

They are coming. They want to take everything we have left. They have taken our land, they have taken our women, they have taken our dignity. Now they have taken the best of us.

Wakinyan lies dead upon the sacred ground of Wounded Knee. The home of Wakinyan is empty, the hide covering of the cave mouth ripped from the stone, the only sign of recent life a blanket marked with blood. They have taken Ptehehincalasanwin, surely death when it comes will be a blessed release for her.

The time comes brothers. We must Dance the Ghost Dance. They have taken our leaders. They have denied us a return to glory. In their eyes we are mortally wounded.

Can you hear the Drum? Can you see the grasping hands of the Wasicu coming to take the last of what is ours?

Can you hear it, can you see them? Then join The Dance. In their arrogance, they have taken more than they can handle. Let us brew a storm large enough that the Wakinyan cannot resist its call. Let us light a fire in their world that will guide Ptehehincalasanwin back to this world again.

We Dance for The Wakinyan and Ptehehincalasanwin. We dance for our past and what was taken from us. We dance for our future and what we will have again. We dance for respect.

We dance for vengeance and remembrance.

Remember the Thunderbird.

– Watokiconpi

* * * * *

Wednesday August 16, 2017

1600 Central Daylight Time

The security guard never saw it coming. He should have seen the trucks coming up the road, the dust plume they raised could be seen for miles. Four pickup trucks, two of them easily into their fourth decade of use rode up to the entrance to Myrtle Mining and Milling. But no one was expected today, and visitors would tap the horn if he needed to let them through. He never saw the men get out of the lead truck. War paint shone in the dusty air, bones and beads gleamed against leather as they moved. The sun glittered from weapons.

No, he never saw it coming, his eyes were glued to his small OpNet device. He couldn’t get enough of the coverage of what had happened near Wounded Knee. GNN and N! were still carrying it as their top story a week later. Wakinyan, that crazy fucking birdman nova was dead, Good fucking riddance. But then those other Novas went and destroyed the weapon, was that good or bad, the talking heads were debating whether some new evidence that had turned up about the weapon was legitimate or not.

The knife slid easily along the line of his throat. His key ring and the map of the facility showed the young men all they needed to know.

* * * * *

“What the fuck man?” Dwayne Robb flicked his hand out to rap his partner Stan Kukula on the elbow. “Get a load of that shit.” Bringing himself to his full six foot four height he cleared his throat and spoke with authority. “You’re not supposed to be here.” Stan turned and looked, a group of young men in Indian costumes like extras on some Old West movie were heading their way and he didn’t like their bearing. Then he saw the weapons and was raising his radio to his mouth when the bullets bit into him.

* * * * *

August 7 - 14, 2017

The word went out by ham radio. The word went out by phone. The word went out by email

They came from every corner of Lakota territory and even beyond; women and men, youths and children. They came with new costumes from demonstrations and competitions, they came with costumes that were passed down for generations. They came with food and water, and they came with weapons. They came to dance, they came to sing, and if they could not dance or sing, they came to support those who could. And they came to kill.

When they came, he met them. Before that day, he had been Ryan, but the news and the blood of their leaders had touched him. Long had he worshipped the Wakinyan, long had he thought himself one of the Braves that would fight with Wakinyan when he moved against the Wasicu. But that was always in the future. When the news had come he had run from his home to Inyan Kara. He had seen that The White Buffalo Calf Woman had been taken. What they used as a door was rent from the wall and a blanket, the blood on it still fresh greeted him. Wakinyan would not fight against the Wasicu, they had killed him, and they had taken her.

He caught his breath. Ryan had run into the cave, but he was no longer Ryan. Watokiconpi ran out and started to spread the word; and now the word returned. Those who came to Dance, he directed to Abigail who lead the dancing. Those who came to answer his call, the call to vengeance, he pulled aside and spoke to for he and his advisors had a plan. In a large tent he had a map of the Dakotas and the states around them. As groups of Braves came to answer the call, he marked their targets in red. It was where Wasicu blood would flow.

* * * * *

The dancing began within sight of the monument to Wakinyan that had marked the Pow Wow of the previous year. The first circle was in motion exactly a week after the moment the drum had been beaten to announce the death of Wakinyan at Wounded Knee. The second and third circles formed as the afternoon passed into the evening. They rested and ate just after night fall. Fires were lit and the dancing began anew. In this way passed the first night and morning after the Lakota began their fight against the Wasicu and broke the already worthless treaties that had bound them.

* * * * *

Wednesday August 16, 2017

1845 Central Daylight Time

Burt Norton had always lived a rather divided adult life. He loved New York with its different foods available all times of the day and night. But he hated its regulations and what a business owner had to do to feel safe. He hated rural life with its lack of civilization, but loved the freedom to do nearly any damn thing you wanted the way you wanted as long as no one got hurt. In New York, Burt owned and ran the chain of Crazy Louie’s Pawn Shops, here in South Dakota, he ran Burt’s guns.

During the summer months, Burt preferred to spend his time here in the Dakotas where the weather was more comfortable and the people much more pleasant. He was preparing to lock up for the night when a last few customers came in. He kept an eye on them as he went about the beginning of the normal locking up procedures. At first it was easy because they were together, he didn’t notice at first when they split up. It had just crossed his mind to look for the ones that he didn’t see when the crossbow bolts struck him in the back and neck.

Burt’s reflexes were good, his hand reached his concealed carry weapon, but he was dead as his fingers closed around the handle.

* * * * *

Thursday August 17, 2017


Thoughout the Dakota territory scenes like this played out all through the night as gun shops became armories for the emergent revolution. Not every attempted seizure was successful and not every one avoided the attention of the police overnight. By the next morning, most authorities state wide knew that there was a wide spread problem. Mines and gun shops had been raided and the owners and operators left for dead.

As the day drew on the scale of the problem became apparent. The attack at Wounded Knee had started something thought long dead and a nation that thought it had put racial issues aside with the dawn of the Nova Age discovered just how fragile the idea of racial harmony truly was.

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Monday August 21, 2007

Late Afternoon

"What do you mean, not your problem?!?"

The United States envoy to the Directive was usually a well-composed man, a cog in the wheels of Washington used to the pressures of the environment. Right now, this cog was about to slip his gear, his face turning red as he shouted.

"You went and killed that damned Wakinyan, without consulting with us! Now the whole damned Lakota nation is rioting - hell, staging an uprising! - and you have the gall to stand here and tell me it's not your problem?!?"

The envoy to the United States from the Directive, meanwhile, was the picture of calm and composure, as he replied, "Yes, I am telling you that these riots are not our problem. We took care of the clear and present nova threat; it is entirely up to civilian authorities to deal with these riots by the baseline citizenry. Now, did you have anything further to discuss?"

For a brief moment, the U.S. envoy pictured his hands latched around the neck of his counterpart as he dashed the oh-so calm man's brains out on his desk. And in that brief moment of speachlessness, the envoy of the Directive calmly turned and walked out of the office.

Once the room no longer appeared in shades of red, the U.S. envoy took a deep breath, then reached to his phone and dialed a number he knew by heart.

"Mr. President? They've left us holding the bag."

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Sunday August 20th, 2017


Nathaniel Bright-Sky stared up at the burning heavens. He was lying on his back and he couldn't move. His chest screamed in agony with each breath he took. He was coughing blood. Two Wasicu walked close to him and were talking. They both wore camouflage uniforms with helmets. They bore guns, and grenades, and so much more. The Wasicu always had more.

"Medivac is two minutes out Captain, but we aren't going to have enough room. We need to get another two rides in here."

The man identified as Captain turned on his compatriot. His face was clouded with a grim anger.

"Our men go out first. All of them."

"But sir, some of the Indians are pretty badly hurt. They may bleed to death."

The first man's pleas were plaintive. It was almost as if he gave a damn.

"That's a real possibility," the Captain responded, "but not something I'm going to lose sleep over."

The captain turned his back on the other man, ending the conversation. As he did so, he noticed Bright-Sky staring up at him. Hate-filled eyes stared back at him.

Hate, reckless hate, had been the point. This patrol from the South Dakota National Guard had been to the Rondell Mining Facility. These Wasicu had seen what the People had done there. The mutilated bodies of their kin and they had come from that bloody place looking for a fight. There had been an easy trail to follow too.

The Guardsmen had rolled right into Nathaniel's band's well place ambush. What the Lakota hadn't counted on was the immediate, deadly, and accurate close air support. The Wasicu had fought their way out of the ambush and trapped the Lakota warriors in turn. Not one of the band of eleven had escaped. Most had died fighting. Now it was Nathaniel's time to die.

It was the way of the Wasicu. They had so much - too much - and yet they wanted more. They wanted his life, his land, and his Gods. They had so many Gods of their own, but they had killed the Spirits of the Lakota out of fear and jealousy. Everything was turning to ash.


Captain Brubaker watched the young Lakota die. He knew what separated him and his squad from these Indians wasn't talent, but training. He had known an ambush was coming, but didn't see it until he rolled right into it. Still, he had planned ahead. He had out-thought and out-fought this Warband. Now they were dead and dying - most of them. Maybe two would make it. The ambush had cost him three men dead and five others wounded. These were three men he knew, and three wives he would have to explain why they died.

Did he hate the Lakota?

Hell yes he did. They had made themselves The Enemy.


Throughout Sunday and early Monday little skirmishes like the one outside of the Rondell Mine took place along the edge between were the Lakota claimed their border ran and were the National Guard troops were gathering. The score was about even, but slightly favored the Lakota. Both sides knew that would change. The Lakota couldn't afford to trade losses with the far more numerous Whites. The Guardsmen knew that their numbers and their technological edge would grow ... then there would be payback.

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August 24, 2017, midday

Alex WhiteElk had thought he'd known rage, but it wasn't until he watched his grandmother bury her son next to his own mother that he understood true fury. And to know that they'd killed Wakinyan, and blamed his uncle for it somehow, only made it worse.

"Hey, WhiteMan, opps, I mean, Elk," someone called, and the young man man ground his teeth, ignoring them. "Hey, Apple, I'm talking to you!"

Hands seized him and spun him around, and Alex groaned inwardly when he realized that Charlie Shantz had taken an interest in him. Charlie's family was big into the "return to the old ways" and Wakinyan's death had turned the family as a whole ugly. They'd believed that Wakinyan was the Thunderbird; Alex had never been sure, but it seemed possible. "Charlie, let me go!" Alex snapped, pulling against the hands holding him.

"There's been talk, Alex," Charlie hissed, his copper skin darker than Alex's, which probably didn't help perceptions right now. "Talk that the WhiteElk are as white as their name implies."

"Fuck you, Shantz," Alex spat. "I'm as much Lakota as you."

"Then prove it," Charlie dared.

"What, do you want me to create a signal fire?" Alex growled, rolling his eyes. "Skin a buffalo? What makes me not Lakota, Charlie, since you seem to be the final word on that."

"Watokiconpi is holding a meeting tomorrow at Inyan Kara, and you need to be there, Alex," Charlie said, releasing the smaller Lakota and straightening his shirt. "You need to show that the WhiteElks are still Lakota, rather than wasicu wearing Lakota suits. You need to prove this for your family, while you can."

"While I can?" Alex asked, suddenly nervous. That sounded bad.

"You have other family, who I know aren't apples. But others... they are starting to talk about running off the other wasicu, even those among us," Charlie said. There was a mean look in his eyes, clear even with the faux sympathy in them. "And sometime, apples comes up at the same time as WhiteElf. But if you come to Watokiconpi's meeting at the cave, and you help us plan against wasicu... well, clearly, that makes you Lakota, right?"

* * *

August 25, 2017, early evening

The meeting was not like Alex expected. This was serious, far too serious, and it scared the young man more than a little. The braves talked about sacrifice, and casulties, and generally looked frustrated and upset. But they also talked of resolve, and loyalty and somewhere along the way, Alex started to listen, to really hear what they were saying.

Watokiconpi had the furs from Ptesan-Wi's bed, and he had shown them the blood. And all had seen the footage from Wounded Knee, had seen their fallen god. They were talking about how the white man had taken everything from them when the white man flipped back the cloth covering entrance and entered the cave. Notably, he had a head of red hair that could only be natural, because the goatee matched perfectly. He was dressed in jeans and a casual shirt; even with the sunglasses, he looked like nothing more than a tourist - a tourist on sacred ground. "Oh, wow," he said, waving. "Full house. Should you guys... be here?"

"You should not be," Watokiconpi said, and shot him. The man tumbled backwards, his red hair snapped around him as he fell. The braves whooped, complaining about the echo in their ears and giving Watokiconpi slaps on the back. Alex stared at the entrance, horrified. He'd never seen anyone killed before, and he shuddered.

But that horror was doubled when the man stepped back into the cave. Alex nearly shrieked; he grabbed the brave nearest him, pointing at the man, trying to get people to notice him. He was a nova, he had to be; Alex wasn't relieved by the confirmation of the man's status when he saw his eyes. If anything, those inhuman orbs made it worse.

"Let's try this again," the nova growled. "But this time, it should be noted that I'm a little grumpy now, and I've lost my sunglasses. I liked those glasses. So, as I said before, should you guys be here?"

"You and your people are the invaders!" Watokiconpi yelled, his dark eyes flahsing angrily.

"Oh, that. Look, I'm just here to pick some things up for Ptesan-Wi, and then I'll be-"

"Ptesan-Wi?" Alex barked. "She's alive?!" This was great news! She could come back, and quiet the People, leading them to peace instead of a war they couldn't win.

Watokiconpi sneered. "She's not alive, or she'd be here," he growled. Turning to the white man, he snapped, "Your people have killed her, and we will see her avenged!"

The man laughed. "You're going to feel really stupid when she recuperates and comes back," he told Watokiconpi, still chuckling. "But that's your issue. I'm just here to get some of her things for her. So..." He waved in a shooing motion, indicating for the braves to get out of his way.

In answer, they moved into a tighter-knit group, forming a wall with their bodies. They couldn't stop him, not a nova, but they wouldn't just let him do it either. Alex hesitated, then joined them, feeling sick to his stomach.

The man smirked. "You are all lucky people," he said. "Because there was a time, not that long ago, that I wouldn't have let that stop me." He tilted his head, considering the line. "And I'd still consider it, save for the fact that it'd piss off Ptesan-Wi, who is my friend. But rememeber this."

He moved faster than Alex had believed possible, ending nose to nose with Watokiconpi. "There will be a day of accounting, for everyone whose death comes from your hand. And when that happens, I'll be there to watch. With popcorn, and a soft drink. You got me?" His inhuman eyes fixed on Watokiconpi with unnerving intensity.

"Wakinyan will come again, and he will eat your white skin," Watokiconpi growled.

"Sure, whatev, I'm not too worried about that," the man laughed. "I've fought Waki, mark one before, and I survived." He glanced around the room at them again. "I'll see you all again when I bring Ptesan-Wi back. Chao."

After he flew away, the braves returned to their war-talk, but Alex found that he'd soured on the discussion. Instead, depression set in. No one was going to win this war, no matter what color their skin was.

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