|Overview of areas-of-operation|
The orders for Thibodeaux’s squad to infiltrate the region west of Doan Creek, south of the Red Cedar River was met with disbelief.
Argument was squashed by the fact that the orders were handed out by the LT and the Political Officer. The boots-on-the-ground didn’t have much respect for the LT. They called him the “Smile Balloon”. The Political Officer, on the other hand, was universally feared.
A scanty, three-days worth of food rations were handed out. They were also issued radios, batteries, maps, ammunition.
To ensure that regions south of the river were not populated by “coast watchers”. Sayed intended to saturate those regions by mortar with VX to clear them of watchers and render them impassible by the Buffer-Zone defenders.
Thibodeaux’s squad was assigned a sector from a half-mile north of Howell Road to a half-mile south of Howell Road. His orders were simple. Report westward movement. Engage.
You didn’t have to be a graduate of West Point to see that it was a suicide mission.
Thibodeaux and his squad waded across the Red Cedar under the cover of darkness and moved south to their designated sector.
They had been promised resupply but nobody had considered the logistical difficulties that would be encountered after Sayed saturated the region south of the sanitized route with VX. That was the thing about first efforts: Everybody made rookie mistakes.
Sayed continued to drain trucks from Ann Arbor. The People’s Collective Voice had belatedly recognized Ann Arbor’s precarious food security situation and had dug the spurs into Sayed.
The Collective Voice was long on “Pure Theory” people and short on “Practical Application” people. The fact that there is often a long lag between recognizing a need and the execution of all actions needed to satisfy that need was not foremost in their minds. The hypothetical models rarely considered those lag-times. Command-and-fullfillment were simultaneous in their mental models.
That was biting them now.
As a military commander, Sayed would have preferred to “pacified” territory before committing all of Ann Arbor’s rolling stock. Sayed had no issues wagering 5% of the rolling stock. He saw that as Venture Capital. His issue was putting EVERY truck in harm’s way. The PCV over-rode Sayed’s inherent caution.
The marshaling area in Howell was so packed it was difficult for people to walk around in it and more trucks were arriving hourly. It was a jack-in-the-box awaiting the final turn of the handle.
“So why are you trying to sell me the property you and Keagan filed on?” Wyatt asked.
“I don’t think I can keep it. It is too much.” Tikka said.
“But you are doing a great job on my claim and Keagan’s. I don’t get it.” Wyatt said.
“A couple of half-acre gardens are one thing” Tikka said.
“A forty-acre farm is something entirely different” Tikka said. “It is more than what one woman can manage.”
“I don’t see any problem” Wyatt said. “You are very pretty and I have never met a sweeter, kinder human being. You shouldn’t have any problem finding a husband.”
In fact, Tikka was short and still had the ghost of acne scars on her face. By pre-Ebola standards of beauty, she fell short of “beautiful”.
“There are complications” Tikka informed him after a short pause.
“Like what?” Wyatt challenged.
“I don’t always tell the truth” Tikka admitted.
Wyatt frowned. This was not a turn of conversation he had anticipated. “What do you mean?”
“There are three ways to tell a lie. One is to tell the truth badly. One is to tell a story that is 99% truth and 1% falsehood. The third way to tell a lie is to just keep your mouth shut” Tikka confided.
Wyatt was still in the dark and he told Tikka as much.
“I never told Keagan. I have a two-year-old-daughter. Her father died during Ebola. It was never the right time...I was afraid he would not want me if he knew I came with baggage” Tikka said.
Wyatt was taken aback. He started to defend Keagan but then stopped. He didn’t know. Tikka might have been right. Some guys are like that.
“But where is your daughter?” Wyatt asked.
“She is staying with my mother” Tikka told him.
Wyatt felt a surge of righteous anger.
“Any man...any GOOD man would be proud to take both you and your daughter into his home” Wyatt stoutly asserted.
Tikka looked up at Wyatt. There were tears in her eyes and anguish in her voice. “Would he take a second child too? I am more than a month late on my period. I think...no, I know...I am carrying Keagan’s baby.”