Cairo and Lucky were harnessed and Joyce was trailing to give her a day to recover.
Sally took the first shift walking.
Unlike the other days, though, Sally was able to keep up with the wagon.
Steve would shake the reins and get the speed up but the horses quickly slowed down. In fact, Sally had to slow down lest she get ahead of the wagon.
After ten minutes, Sally pointed out that they were averaging less than three miles per hour compared to the four-point-five miles per hour of the previous two days. Steve knew they were not going as fast but without keeping an eye on Sally, he didn’t have a frame of reference to know just HOW slow.
The horses did not defy his commands to speed up. The problem was that the increased speed dissipated like a fart in a windstorm.
Two hours later, Steve hopped down and Walt drove. Walt was no more successful than Steve.
By lunch they had only covered twelve miles versus the eighteen they had covered on the previous two days. Clearly, they were not going to make another thirteen miles in the remaining two hours.
As Steve was bringing the horses back from where they had been grazing, Sally asked Steve “Is it physically possible to hitch up just one horse?”
Steve looked at the double whiffle-tree and said, “Sure, but I don’t see your point.”
“I want you to hook up just Lucky” Sally said. She expected scathing criticism.
Steve, very reasonably he thought, pointed out “We are behind already. I don’t see the point in hitching up just one horse when we can’t make time with two.”
Sally had a hard time putting her thoughts into words. “I don’t think it is a physical problem. I think it is an attitude problem.”
“You can laugh at me, but I think Joyce was kicking Cairo’s ass because she can’t stand slackers. She knew the second he started sandbagging and wasn’t going to let him get away with it.” Sally said.
“Yeah, that might be so, but the horses need to rotate through their day off.” Steve said. He had forgotten his anger as he was trying to get a handle on Sally’s proposed solution.
“They will all get their breaks if this works. We run Joyce and Caire together for two days and run Lucky solo for one day. In fact, Lucky gets two ‘off’ days.” Sally said.
Lucky had no issues with being put in the trace solo. He was a sociable animal and slowed down because Cairo did. As long as Cairo was tied in back where he couldn't see him and as long as his humans stayed right behind him, he had no issues with pulling the lightweight wagon at a snappy 4.7 miles per hour. He didn’t even mind pulling an extra ninety minutes. He really was a moose.
That night Walt slept in the wagon and Sally and Steve slept beneath the awning.
“What is the matter, Honey?” Dysen asked.
Quinn had stopped his scooter beside the road. Of course, Dysen did the same. Quinn had pulled out his binoculars and glassed the surrounding country. Quinn had kicked at a rock before hopping back onto his scooter. That was not the best move for a guy with scabbed over ankles.
“I shouldn’t take it out on you” Quinn said. “It is just that I get frustrated. I want to go hiking to get the lay-of-the land, but it is just too big and I can’t get around like I used to.”
“So you can figure out how to defend it?” Dysen guessed.
“Yeah. I don’t know any other way to get started.” Quinn confessed.
“That, and just don’t see any way to stop 5000 hostiles.” Quinn said.
“What is the worst that can happen?” Dysen asked. She once had an academic counselor who called this “reframing”. Put boundaries around your fears and then start driving wooden stakes through them.
“The hostiles feign an attack and draw us out of position. Then the main attack comes after we are pulled out-of-position.” Quinn said.
After thinking another minute Quinn added “With 5000 fighters, hell, they could attack in two places and blow through us at both of them.”
“I didn’t hear Chernovsky say he expected you to stop them. I heard him say you had to put some pain on them.” Dysen said.
“Suppose they did attack in two places. What would you do to put the most pain on them?” Dysen asked.
“I don’t know” Quinn said. “If I move too many people to the first attack then I will leave second avenue almost defenseless.”
“OK then...If you were attacking, how far apart would your main attack be from the feign? They wouldn’t be right next to each other, would they?” Dysen asked.
“No, I would spread them out. Having them right next to each other would defeat the purpose. They would have to be at least three miles apart and six would be better.” Quinn assured her.
“But it could be three miles, yes?” Dysen persisted.
“Well, of course.” Quinn said.
“Did I ever tell you that I played basketball?” Dysen asked.
At five-foot nothing, that seemed improbable to Quinn but he wasn’t going to say that.
“When we played a team where we could not match up player-for-player, our coach had us play zone defense. We usually got beaten, but the games were closer than if we played man-to-man.” Dysen said.
“I don’t know anything about combat, but what if the defenders played zone defense. If the hostiles attack at Mason Road, for instance, all of our fighters who live on Mason Road and the roads one mile north and one mile south are tasked with defending the attack. Everybody else provides logistic support but does not reposition.” Dysen proposed
"So at ten fighters per square mile, that would be 150-to-200 fighters. How much pain could 150 fighters put on an invasion of 2500 or 5000 fighters?" Dysen asked rhetorically?
Quinn turned that over in his mind. The concept had promise. The plan was simple and local lines-of-communication were likely to be fast and difficult to compromise. From what Quinn had seen of the fog-of-war, those virtues could compensate for a host of shortcomings.