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May Blood Pave My Way Home is a 2017 short story written by Weston Ochse, published by Titan Books as part of the anthology Predator: If It Bleeds. In the story, a unit of African-American cavalry soldiers pursuing Pancho Villa and his rebels through Mexico discover that the local Comanche tribe have made a very strange alliance.

Plot

Lieutenant Providence Pope contends with his inexperienced superior officer Captain Sunderson as their unit, the 10th Cavalry Regiment, pursues Pancho Villa's army through Mexico. Frustrated by Sunderson's lack of tactical intelligence but bound to follow his orders, Pope does his best to prepare the men, almost all African-Americans, in the poorly-chosen location selected by the Captain for their overnight stop.

While Pope and Sunderson discuss their plans going forward in Sunderson's tent, an experienced soldier (named Husker John) enters and tells them that their sentries have disappeared. Immediately suspecting a sneak attack by Native Americans, Pope heads outside and quietly takes command of his men, discreetly instructing them to prepare through coded whistles in order to fool the attackers into believing they still have the element of surprise. Without having his men rise from where they had been sleeping, Pope orders them to fire along the ground — they succeed in killing several of the Comanche warriors that had been silently crawling toward their location. The remaining Native Americans charge the soldiers and open fighting breaks out.

Amidst the chaos, Pope encounters a strange, huge warrior fighting alongside the Comanches that seemingly appears and disappears from sight at will. Pope shoots the giant, wounding it, before Husker John tackles it to the floor and bludgeons it with a large rock, incapacitating it. Pope recovers its strange handheld net-firing pistol, killing a charging Comanche with it, before he witnesses another of the phantom warriors carving a path through his troops. He threatens to kill the wounded warrior, thereby coercing the second creature into halting its assault, which eerily repeats his words back to him. Engaging the creature in halting conversation, Pope learns that the giants are Yautja, and that they fight alongside the Comanches.

With the skirmish dying down, the surviving cavalry soldiers surround the Yautja, but Pope orders them to hold their fire. However, Sunderson ignores his order and draws his pistol — the Yautja kills him with a flying disc before he can get off a single shot. The Yautja takes his wounded comrade and vanishes into the night. Pope takes stock of the dead and wounded, before falling asleep.

He is awoken by one of his men, who informs him that the sentries have taken a Comanche prisoner who claims to have a message for Pope. Meeting with the prisoner, he learns that the Yautja consider their confrontation incomplete, and that they wish for four of the Americans' best warriors to face four of their own in single combat. After the confrontation — win or lose — the rest of the cavalry will be free to go, the implication being that to refuse will condemn them all. With no alternative, Pope accepts, and orders the prisoner to be released. Pope volunteers himself for the confrontation, as do Husker John and a seasoned Corporal named Motes. To complete the group of four, Pope enlists the help of Conroy, an Irishman in the regiment's motorcycle reconnaissance unit and one of the few white men in the regiment other than himself.

Later that day, the four men solemnly march into the next valley, where the confrontation is to take place. They take all the weapons they can carry, while Conroy also takes his motorcycle. They find a large group of Yautja gathered in the amphitheater-like canyon, and are confronted by the four individuals selected to be their opponents. Pope negotiates the terms of the confrontation with the Yautja he spoke with the previous night; the Yautja agree to remove their armor, so long as the humans also lay down their firearms and fight with only bladed weapons.

Motes is the first to engage one of the creatures. He fights well but is quickly overpowered, the creature cutting his throat before beheading him. The Yautja celebrate their victory as Husker John retrieves Motes' body. Conroy is next, fighting from his motorcycle like a Medieval jouster. The duel degenerates into a brawl on the floor, during which both parties kill each other. With the arena cleared, Motes steps up. He charges the Yautja and takes it by surprise, slipping behind it and slicing its throat open, killing it.

With the other duels fought, Pope faces the final contender. As he approaches, the creature unexpectedly fires one of its wrist-mounted blades, hitting Pope in the shoulder. It moves in for the kill, disarming Pope of his hatchet and preparing to finish him, but the Lieutenant snatches the Yautja's net pistol from where it hangs at its waist and shoots it in the head. As it fight to remove the contracting net, Pope pulls the blade from his shoulder and stabs the creature through the eye, killing it.

While Pope patches his wound, Husker John talks with the head Yautja. After loading the bodies of the two dead men onto their horses, Husker John reveals that the creatures have asked him to join their ranks, and he intends to accept. Pope does not argue, and rides off towards the rest of his men, intending to tell them Husker John died along with Motes and Conroy. He considers his future, electing to leave the army now that his commission is complete and planning to track down a young woman he had loved before he set off to join the cavalry.

Trivia

  • May Blood Pave My Way Home is one of several stories in Predator: If It Bleeds to feature real historical individuals or events as a framework for its tale — the 10th Cavalry Regiment was indeed part of General John J. Pershing's Mexican Expedition that pursued revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa into Mexico from 1916 to 1917. However, while the regiment and campaign were real, the characters in the story are fictitious.
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