Brett called the boss five minutes after the blast.
Even though Injun Country rules required that the crew be spread through the hotel, Bunny’s room was next door to Brett's for purely logistical reasons. The echoes were still ringing and the floor still swaying when Brett and Bunny met outside their doors.
Brett and Bunny quickly found two more of the crew and Brett delegated finding the remainder of the crew and getting them assembled next to the flag-pole in front of the building.
Then Brett called the boss while Bunny started moving some of the crew’s klieg lighting and portable generators to the damaged part of the building to help with the search. The explosion had apparently knocked out the utilities. Bunny was running a mental inventory of the porta-powers and rigging they had on-site, just in case the first responders would let them assist with the search.
“Mr Ivanovich, we have a situation here.” Brett informed his boss.
Brett knew that he had awakened the boss. It was three in the morning in Texas.
“What do you have?” Mikhail asked.
Brett really did not know much. “Explosion at the hotel. Major structural damage. Does not look like a gas explosion. Still getting a roll-call.”
“Put your phone on ‘speaker’ and tuck it in your shirt pocket. I will patch-in dispatch. Anything you need, say ‘Alexa, I need...’ and then tell us what we can help with.”
Mikhail had a sense of humor. He had hired an emergency dispatcher who used to work 9-1-1 in Houston and her name was “Alexa”.
“We are here to support you, not give you more work. But I ask of you, if anybody goes to the hospital I want to know their name. I want their wives to hear it from us first.” Mikhail said.
That is the beauty of modern communication. As long as the cell towers didn’t overload, a dispatcher in Denton, Texas can support an emergency in North Hartford Connecticut almost as well as a dispatcher in Connecticut.
Brett did a quick check on his battery. His phone had been charging all night but he knew full-time speaker mode gobbled battery. Just to be sure he would be good until lunch, Brett slipped an auxiliary, 25,000 mA-hr power-pack into one of his pockets.
Brett got a call from the boss at 8:10 AM.
Brett gave him a quick rundown. “Three guys in the hospital. One sliced thigh, two blunt object traumas. One of the BOTs is still bleeding internally but they think he is going to be ‘OK’.”
One of the nice things about pre-stressed, pre-fabbed concrete construction is that the rubble is large and there are many, large air spaces. Regular masonry produces large amounts of smaller rubble that acts first as shrapnel and then as weight that smothers. In short, pre-stressed concrete means that if you are not killed outright, you have a pretty good chance of surviving
The boss said “Thank-you. I have teams on the way.”
“The bad news is that I need you in West Virginia as soon as you can drive there.”
Of course Brett had been too busy to follow the news. Mikhail brought him up-to-date regarding the additional attacks on the country’s infrastructure. Mikhail’s firm was tapped to repair the two easternmost attacks, the ones on the Big Sandy River.
“Leave Bunny in charge. Drive down to Huntington, West Virginia for briefing. The only thing I need to add is that Big Jim will help in any way he can. He will want to talk with you before you get started” Mikhail said.
“Great!” Brett thought. “That is all I need. Some pompous local who thinks he can help.:
Brett answered “Yes sir.” and hung up.
Bunny had already dispatched the next shift's crew to relieve the night crew. Standing orders were that you could not leave until your relief tagged you out.
Brett told Bunny that he was in charge as he handed over the smart-phone power-pack. Brett surmised that Bunny was going to need it. The power was still not on and it was clear that the power-outage impacted more than the hotel.
Evelyn Lovelace watched the chaos unfold from her country-home in Bolton, Massachusetts.
Mrs Lovelace was the Matriarch of the Lovelace clan. She had seen it during its heyday and she had watched the inevitable decline as far-flung arms of the dynasty had “diluted the brand” through dissolute living.
Her husband, Dorian, had been no better than any of the others. Elected to Congress he drank-and-debauched like a Roman senator and left Evelyn to clean up the messes. A raped waitress here, a love-child there. A car-crash and a brain-damaged passenger in another place. It never ended.
Evelyn was Dorian’s second wife. Dorian's first marriage had married for “love”, whatever that was.
Evelyn and Dorian’s relationship was based on business. If Evelyn was angry and resentful of Dorian’s behaviors it was because his indiscretions burned through vast quantities of the family’s political and financial capital. It seemed as if Dorian could have taken the smallest of precautions.
Most men in Dorian’s position had one or two very attractive, very fit 35 year-old women on their staff. The women were old enough to understand that their out-sized paychecks were not entirely due to their expertise in foreign affairs or energy policy. If, after five years they fell out of favor with the Senator or Representative they were given an extremely generous severance bonus for the extracurricular activities and a younger, perkier “cookie” was slotted into the rotation.
But Dorian would have none of it. He remained the perpetual juvenile who got attention by acting out and getting away with it. He made Evelyn the laughing stock of Boston and Washington D.C. and he continued his fecklessly squander the family name until his fatal heart attack.
The next generation was no better than Dorian. The family reproduced like locust and they looked to Dorian as the model of how to behave.
It had taken Evelyn fifteen years to stop the hemorrhaging. That too had come at a cost. The tabloids had taken to calling the clan “The Unlucky Lovelaces”. Hardly a year didn’t go by when some scion of the family didn’t perish in a private plane accident or a boating accident or a skiing accident.
Evelyn just barely tolerated Nancy. The Irish and the Italians had come to an agreement in Boston.
But Evelyn loathed the newest faces in her party. She thought of them as mewling drama queens who had not paid their dues and no appreciation for order or the machinations of governing.
She was completely oblivious to the irony that the Irish of the 1920s held the same position in the party as the Caribbeans, Palestinians and Somalii of the 2020s.
The muted hum of the turbine-driven generator was drowned out by the classical music she played for background. Evelyn had four different news stations playing in caption mode. She could read much more quickly than the pretty bobble-heads could talk.
Evelyn refused to be assigned the role of "footnote".