CHAPTER NAVIGATION BAR
TALES OF BUFFALO COMMONS
" MOBILIZATION "
Nearly everyone, at one point or another, were they honest, had an inappropriate thought. A moment of insanity where the “idea that not be said” flashes across one’s consciousness, often immediately dismissed for its impracticality.* * *
“I’d like to kill you.” was a common one, as was, “I’d like to sleep with her.” for some, and “I wonder what he’s like in bed?” for others.
Standing in her Quarters, staring out at space from the comforts of her make-shift Flag Officer Cabin on board the Astral Carrier JJ MOORE, Commodore Crystal Tass’ inappropriate thought appeared just as the massive array of hub and spoke that was Lagrange Station L5 came into view, “If we fired on that there’s be no one left to stop us.”
In truth that wasn’t true, and Tass’ frustration was being directed at the face of her impedance, Information Management’s Forward Command Liaison Colonel Fiche, but anyone present, were anyone present, would have to admit that Tass’ mood improved greatly as the thought crossed her mind.
As soon as Tass had gotten off the line with Colonel Fiche she tapped the line to GENCOMM the Astral Carrier’s automated switchboard, “Get me Admiral...”
It took her a moment to remember who in the Admiralty would be in charge, odd that she hadn’t been told that, or had she? Quickly Tass scurried through the various Wates on her desk until she found the original Mission Packet. “Get me Admiral Tiko Lee.”
She turned and looked out the portal again as she waited for Admiral Lee’s assistant to come on line appraising L5’s critical weak spots. The thought passed as the Station drifted out of view and was once again replaced by the glowing orb, Earth.
Along with it Tass’ mood shifted again as she entered one of those introspective moments that brought her back to her Childhood. Her Pa had never understood her interest in the outside world. For more than ten generations her family had plowed the land, eked out whatever existence they could, raised the next generation and died.
There was little doubt that Tass had been the first person in her family to leave the Commons since the Heartland Free States had collapsed, and the first one in any sort of military since before the Eco-Crisis.
She’d only returned twice since getting her commission, both times were strained affairs, the gulf of cultures between her and her kin growing in leaps and bounds between visits. But her heart still remained there, despite everything, and she worried about them.
By now her family had probably had a Network team visit them. Hopefully it had gone peacefully.
Tass wondered a moment if she could find a contact report in the Mission Database but before she could run a query the Admiral came on the line. If his expression was any indication this wasn’t going to be good.
Andrea Coombs had needed to revisit her Legend notes in order to regain a feel for a person she hadn’t been in almost a decade. She wondered as she read some of the things in her packet if she’d been drunk when she created it.
Failing any ability to remember the subtleties of the person Coombs was forced into the extremely unpleasant act of Engrammatic Refresh. She’s been lucky that they’d sampled her Engrams upon extraction or this wouldn’t have been available but it didn’t make it any more enjoyable.
Following a series of injections and hypnotic, if you could use the word, therapies, Coombs had those memories re-awakened with such a rush of recall it felt as thought she’d just come out of a coma, or, as the psychologists were fond of calling it, a psychogenic fugue state.
Regardless, she felt as though she was a stranger in her own skin and as each memory of Mary Haliburt, her legend, resurfaced she found herself needing to perform a complete makeover, literally returning herself to the person she’d never been.
That included a full shower followed by the application of various bath products she hadn’t worn in a decade.
After this her handlers sat her down to an awful meal whose sole purpose was to purge her body of enzymes common in Network food, but absent in meals available in East America.
This was a critical part of her legend because if she arrived at work smelling like a foreigner it would sub-consciously, if not actively distance people from her, and with the critically compressed time frame necessary to evaluate the threat East America posed that was the last thing they needed.
Five hours later she was stepping off a flight from Montreal and walking through the concourse at Heather Roan Poe - National Airport with the look of relief generally only seen on someone returning home from a grueling trip through a strange land.
* * *
Tass got off the line with Admiral Lee and her head was swimming. He was pushing her to delay action until they could exhaust diplomacy. Tass was adamant that East America was simply trying to buy the time to get themselves into place.
They were in fact arguing two sides of the same argument. Victory was going to be measured by who controlled the ground.
Defeat however was a different matter. The Admiralty felt East America would be quick to resort to Nukes if attacked. Tass felt that once East America took possession of Buffalo Commons they’d conclude the Network was conceding their claim.
The difference was that Tass knew East American policy toward the residents of Buffalo Commons would be aggressive resettlement and that would merely escalate the conflict.
The Admiralty however, was already looking for a simple way to make this “someone else’s problem”.
Somehow, Tass knew, she had to get her troops on the ground first.
* * *