He slowly opened the entrance and stepped out of the leanto, listening carefully for any nearby activity. All was silent. The mob had either given up the search or taken it elsewhere. His best guess was they had exhausted themselves and were all asleep in their tents, and he would circle around them to confirm this before heading back.
Sure enough, all the tents were zipped, the fires snuffed. He was about to head back into cover and leave when he noticed the Remington bolt-action rifle laying just outside one of the tents. Surely this was the weapon they had fired the warning shots from. He had to have it.
Jesse stripped himself of his gear and left his own rifle in the bush, discarding it for the toy it was. He crept into the open of the campsite as quietly as the ground below would allow, his situational awareness at an almost uncanny high. A fucking bird moved and he stopped and crouched low, relaxing himself only when it flew overhead.
When he was close enough to the rifle to grab it he could hear the nearby tent's residents sleeping. No snoring but definitely a pattern of breathing steady and slow enough to assure him they were dreaming. He picked up the gun and examined it. It was a fine rifle, beautiful and clean. He assumed it had only been fired at cans or the sky. It was ready to fire, with one bullet in the chamber.
Jesse had not actually expected these people to shoot him before, but surely if they caught him sneaking around the camp and stealing arms, they would defend themselves. BBs aside, he and Lucas had started this war. He decided he would have to find ammunition.
He didn't have to look far.
The flap to the tent he stood almost in front of was partially open at the end. He could see inside, just a bit. There was a foot, a bottle of scotch, and sure enough: some rounds for the rifle.
His heart raced as he dropped to his knees and lowered his head for a better peek into the tent. A man and a woman lay together, asleep. He had to grab these bullets and run like hell. He slowly reached into the tent, and took hold of the ammo. As he pulled it out, he went slow as to not make contact with the bottle, to avoid the clang of metal on glass. He almost had it before the man grabbed him.
"The fuck you doin', boy!?"
Jesse jumped back as the man yelled at him, but the hand around his wrist prevented him from going anywhere. He dropped the rifle and it hit the ground, discharging. The blast stunned everyone for a moment as the bullet sang through the air and pierced a tent. There was a scream. Jesse reached his free hand down to his boot and unsnapped a knife. In one movement he removed it from its sheath and brought it up, cutting the man's wrist. The man jerked his arm, letting go of Jesse, who yanked away his hand full of bullets and picked the rifle up.
Before anyone could unzip their tents and emerge, Jesse was gone. He ran through the woods with the grace of a deer, hurdling rocks and downed trees. He heard them firing, yelling. He might have heard someone crying.
When he was comfortable with his distance from the campers, he stopped and reloaded the rifle. All of his gear was back there, stashed in that bush, so he had to pocket the bullets. It was getting lighter very fast as the sun rose, and he figured out his direction and headed back to his own campsite. They would have to gather any identifying evidence and flee, leaving behind anything else that might slow them down. Jesse was almost positive the discharged shot hit someone in that tent, and he was in deep shit.
Lucas pulled the night-vision goggles off his head. The sun was up enough now that he could see better into the trees than with the goggles on. Tony had still not returned for him, yet.
The rest of the evening was the highlight of his weekend by far, if not this month. Mark learned why they called him Hubble as he brought out a telescope. The guy was obsessed with the stars and showed Mark some planet or other. Mark was only slightly interested, but faked enthusiasm in return for his hospitality.
Just as the light of the morning started to break, the music finally stopped. It was unbearable to Mark, the constant improvisation. Songs seemed to go on forever and all wove into one another. Occasionally he might recognize part of something he knew, but before he could get into it the riffs changed and became something entirely different. Hubble and the girl explained to him the concept of jamming, and he really didn't like it.
Mark did end up fucking that girl sometime after Hubble passed out. She had gotten him drunk enough to either forget about or ignore what he considered ridiculously poor hygiene. He actually liked everything about her, save her hairy pits. He had been unable to hold in his "fucking gross" when he noticed her legs too, were unshaven. She had just laughed at him.
They talked a long time, mostly random, flirtatious conversation. She never would explain her refusal to trim her body hair, but as they made jokes about it and consumed a mass amount of drink, he was able to let it go. Despite her lack of grooming, Mark still thought she was hot.
Her name had been some kind of bird. Mark couldn't remember which. Sparrow? Dove? As they lay snuggling a bit after intercourse, he called her "Lovebird", and she laughed.
This was a first for Mark. Regardless of how many girls he had sex with, he had never actually slept with one. But as the two of them spooned, he found himself to drift off easily, and with a smile on his face; even through the wrinkle in his nose from her body odor.