Jon looked Arner over, amazed that the rough warrior would allow a ten-year old -- well, an almost eleven-year old -- to be his side man. “How many Old Ones have you killed?” he had to ask.
Arner snorted. “Hundreds. Not nearly enough.” He almost looked angry at himself for killing so few. Jon didn’t think he knew anyone in Gander’s Gulch who had killed more than a dozen at the most. His own father had killed only three.
Jon watched Arner stand absolutely motionless by the window. The man didn’t so much as twitch a finger. Only his eyes moved as he looked out over the middle of the town. Jon didn’t think the sergeant would attract any attention, even if enemy eyes passed right over him.
The boy made himself go totally still as he sat on the floor, to see if he could pull it off like Arner. It wasn’t easy. The instant he tried to be utterly motionless, stuff began to itch.
“I heard you Freetowners work with the ones who aren’t done transforming. Becomings. That they help you destroy the Pyramids.” Jon tried saying this without moving his lips.
“We do. While they’re still human enough to be safe.”
“What happens to them when they aren’t safe anymore?”
“We send them away.”
“They don’t come back?”
“No. I make sure they don’t.”
Jon thought how awesome Arner was to be so feared that that Old Ones didn’t dare return to Freetown after they’d left. He’d never met such a brave man before.
Arner’s voice was so low the boy had to strain to hear him. “Quiet for a bit, Jon. I see some mutants walking around, and we don’t know how well they hear.”
Jon clamped his mouth together. He wouldn’t make a sound, not even if a rat came into the tower. Not even if a rat bit him. Because Arner wouldn’t let a rat bite faze him. Heck, Jon almost wished a rat would come in and bite him, just so he could sit still and quiet and impress Arner.