CHAPTER NAVIGATION BAR
TALES OF BUFFALO COMMONS
" MOBILIZATION "
Senior Lieutenant Finnegan climbed into the Command Alcove of his Troop Carrier with a weariness he'd not realized had descended upon him. He wanted to sleep, and in fact could probably slip into slumber with no more effort than closing his eyes, but he wasn't done working yet.* * *
In fact, he hadn't even removed his external gear, the deflective array vest that everyone had been wearing since Cumming's death.
He sat up and activated the Comm-Link and then keyed in a line to Command back at Rapid City. They'd just finished a week of negotiation between the White Creek natives and the residents of Coogan's Bluff, that had followed nearly two days of talks with the natives themselves, which had come on the heels of a confrontation with the citizen's of Coogan's Bluff, who where the ones who had killed Chip.
Finn couldn't figure out why the name “Chip” kept popping up in his mind every time he thought of Cummings. Certainly the two had no connection he was aware of, yet it kept happening.
Finn slumped in his seat while he waited for the line to connect. Just thinking about this made him tired.
A moment later Colonel Mariska Potvin was on the other end of the line. That was a surprise as she was the senior officer on the ground for the Buffalo Commons mission.
Finn made his report putting, he believed, particular and clear emphasis, on the evidence that third parties were in the Commons agitating otherwise peaceful people in an attempt to create resistance for Network forces.
“And…?” Was her reply. It threw Finn off balance.
“Colonel, teams need to be cognizant of this and do what they can to investigate.”
Potvin looked weary herself, that might explain the terse reply he got, at least that's how Finnegan chose to see it. They closed off without any indication given the information would be shared with anyone. It was demoralizing.
He'd lost a valued member of his crew, the first time someone under his Command had been killed. The problem was it was dredging up the feelings of mourning he was still burdened with for Ethan Frohman.
Finn took a deep breath in. He'd been working the team hard on outside physical activity because that was how he dealt with loss, punishing physical effort until exhaustion made thinking impossible.
Yet that strategy had put the team in the line of fire and cost him another. He was going to have to find another way to deal with this and much as he resisted the idea, that might include resorting to the Command Therapy packets in the system.
Finn shook that off. Despite the evidence to the contrary he still felt Command Therapy was a crutch for those who didn't have the fortitude to address the issue themselves. He didn't need that help, not by a long shot.
With the last erg of energy Finn toggled the doors to the alcove to show himself “busy” and then let slumber claim him. He just needed some sleep, that's all.
Victor John Warez sat behind the antique wooden desk of his high and mighty office and, with both hands planted palm down on the surface, took in the history of the position he held. It had involved a great deal of hard work and sacrifice to get here.
He wouldn't admit much of the sacrifice had been his ideals, mostly because it would never have occurred to him. The fact that he'd changed the spelling of his last name to look European, even in a country with a 52% Spanish population, was simply a practical matter to get old money for his campaign.
The fact he'd reversed his opinions on numerous issues was dismissed because his old positions weren't “informed enough” to be solid. He was an old style politician in the new style vein, not afraid to admit he'd been ignorant so long as he stressed the effort he took to become more informed.
He'd divorced his first wife early on and remarried someone with better connections to the establishment, a word he still had trouble saying. That was odd really, he was eloquent enough but his accent, a mix of southern slang and mid-west reality, simply made certain combinations of syllables sound like they were hesitating as they came out of his mouth.
People called it his folksy charm, but he began to view it as a sort of speech impediment that, and now that he was President, he'd have to find someone to therapeutically help him eliminate it.
So here it was, his last moments before the day's work began. Seconds to go before the first appointment of the day unleashed a barrage only diminished because his area of responsibility was a fraction of what past holders of this office had faced.
Warez thought about that a moment. There had been a time in history when Presidents of the United States held sway over most of the continent, when their decisions sent ripples around the World, and when, during one, all too brief, point in history the U.S., as it was known then, had been the only recognized Superpower on the planet.
How things had changed.
The door opened and Secretary of Defence Drew Yanech entered with two other advisors. Warez rose and moved to the seating area ahead of his desk, a more civilized place for briefings, and sat. The rest waited until he was comfortable to continue.
“The Network has mobilized a fleet in support of their Troops in the Commons.”
Drew wasn't wasting time, he cut right to the chase. “Have we said anything?”
“No, Mister President.” It was Skip or Tracker or whatever name that guy that followed Yanech around all the time was called, “We were waiting for your orders.”
In truth, the idea of bringing East America into direct conflict with the Network frightened Warez. He's seen the estimates, if they wanted to, the Network could make short work of his combined Armies in days, although they'd face a tough slog if they remained. And even nuclear wasn't an option, nothing could be launched that wouldn't be neutralized by the Network before it could clear U.S. airspace.
But they had to make a show of it. East America claimed Buffalo Commons as part of its own, and would've re-entered the space immediately following defeat of the Heartland Armies a century ago if the Eco-Crisis hadn't cut their resources so badly.
“That land is ours. We never seceded it and no one else has legitimate claim. Every one of the people in that territory are Americans and we need to get them back into the fold!” It was the most forceful statement the President had ever made; it was tantamount to a declaration of War.
As usual Yanech remained calm, “Mister President. Our first, immediate concern is the presence of that much Network firepower so close to our borders.”
Warez cut him off, “No, Drew. Our first concern is the repatriation of Buffalo Commons. The Network needs to know we stand by our claim and will back it up if needed. Contact the Chief Executive and remind them Buffalo Commons belongs to the United States of America and we intend to protect our territory.”
Yanech blanched. “Mister President, are you aware of what you're suggesting?”
“Mobilize what you need. Send out the call.” Warez stood up and moved back to his desk. “They've only got twenty thousand troops in ground. We've got at least that many in the reserves.”
When he got there and saw that no one had moved he became cross, “Get going! The days where America sits idly by while foreigners trod over our land have ended.”
* * *