when you said we are their food source?”

“Yeah, Captain Leonard, you’re really going to want to be sitting for this one. Like I mentioned, we are one of their food sources. They will attack on sight and eat anyone they can. They infest darkened buildings during the day and come out at night. I would avoid going into any building at any time,” I answer. “Where are you located Captain?”

“Captain Walker, I’ll determine to what extent I send my men and women into buildings,” I hear Leonard reply. Another pause ensues. “We are submerged in the strait just outside of Bangor. Where are you located, Captain?”

“We should meet then, Captain. We are based down in Olympia, approximately seventy miles south,” I answer. “We can drive up in the morning and meet you at the docks.”

“That’s a little over an hour. What about driving up and meeting us now?” Leonard asks.

“Captain, we aren’t about to leave and chance being caught out after dark. We’ll leave in the morning. I would advise keeping buttoned up during the night,” I answer.

“Very well, Captain Walker, we’ll meet you at 0900,” Leonard says.

“See you then, Walker, out,” I say.

The afternoon passes. The sound of semis and vehicles fill the lot as the sun settles toward the western horizon. The yellow light of the sunny day filtering in through the open front doors slowly becomes an orange hue and the crews filter in after completing their tasks for the day. I still feel exhausted from the night prior and, with the coming meeting with Captain Leonard in the morning, we won’t be heading out in the AC-130 tonight. I am still intent on clearing out the area to deny night runners any sanctuary in our vicinity but it seems like something always comes up to delay plans we make. We still have a lot of area to search for survivors and every day we delay means the possibility of there being fewer left. There is also still the search for the soldiers’ families. I feel on edge and stretched thin. It’s almost too much to handle and think about. Once again I long for the relaxing days in the country, when each day was bliss and relatively stress free.

As everyone heads to the dining facility in shifts, chatter and the sound of meals being eaten drift through the interior. Small peals of laughter rise above the din from time to time. It’s nice to hear and brings with it, a semblance of normalcy. I make my way to the evening group meeting feeling tense about our meeting tomorrow as I don’t know how it will go or even how I want it to go. To catch everyone up, I start the meeting by outlining the conversation with Captain Leonard.

“So, any thoughts on how to handle tomorrow?” I ask, looking at each one.

“Well, I for one think it’s great they showed up and it makes me wonder how many more are out there in similar circumstances,” Frank answers. “However, with that said, I will throw in that ship captains are used to ultimate rule over their domain. Rightly so, considering their position, but this is especially true with sub captains. He’ll be thinking the military is still viable and want to be in charge. And, he’ll be the ranking member present depending on how our date of rank works out. We’ll have to contend with that.”

“Hey, that’s more than fine with me. He can be in charge and I’ll be responsible for making sure the vehicle tires are rotated on a regular basis,” I say, feeling very weary.

“Yeah, well, hmmmm…. You know we still need functional leadership. Maybe you can go kick tires to your delight later. Right now we need to maintain the leadership we have. At least in my opinion,” Greg replies.

“So, we’re back to the original question. How do we want to handle tomorrow?” I ask.

“I think we take several teams up and present ourselves as a military unit and just see how it goes from there. We welcome them in if they want to join us but they have to understand that they will have to fit within our current way of doing things,” Lynn responds.

“What are the chances of them joining us with those stipulations? I mean, they have a vessel that, depending on how much fuel they still have, can function for years. They may choose to stay onboard and use their sub as a sanctuary. I know I would consider it,” I say.

“I would give it about a fifty-fifty chance. They’re still new to the idea that the world is a much different place so they’ll come with the old world mentality,” Frank answers.

“Okay, so we go up presenting ourselves as a military unit and see where the conversation takes us. Lynn, how many teams do you think we should take?” I ask.

“I’m thinking five teams. I’d like to take more but that would put us pretty thin on escorts tomorrow. Assuming we are continuing on with our daily tasks,” she answers.

“I think we need to keep doing what we are doing. Every day we go out there is another day ahead we get,” I say.

“Okay, then I think five teams. That will provide a good front leaving us three full teams here,” Lynn says.

“We really need more teams,” I say.

“We’re almost finished with this current training group. We can look at expanding when they finish,” Lynn says.

“How many more will we have available?” Greg asks.

“We have a good group and we may be able to field another team out of the mix from those in the secondary training. Perhaps another one when those going through the primary training finish their secondary training,” she answers. I would have expected Bannerman to chime in by this point and look over. Instead, he is looking up at the ceiling with his head tilted to the side in contemplation.

“Any thoughts? What are you thinking?” I ask, directing the question to Bannerman. He startles and gives his head a diminutive shake as he comes out of whatever reverie he was in.

“Sorry, the idea of the sub and having fuel for years took me down a side track. You know, if we could bring a sub down into the Olympia port and hook it up, or any sub for that matter, into a power supply station, that could generate power for several years. There’s a lot of logistics that would need to be worked out but we could save wear and tear on the generators. Yes, we will have the solar and wind power but I was just thinking,” Bannerman answers.

We sit in silence contemplating Bannerman’s idea and the ramifications. Yes, it would save on the wear and tear for the wind turbine and generators but there is also the danger it poses if something goes wrong. If we didn’t have the sailors around to help monitor and maintain it, I know none of us would know anything about it. And if something did go wrong, we’d have to evacuate in a hurry. Plus, the rods will wear out after a time and, other than drive the sub out and sink it far offshore, we wouldn’t know what to do at that point in time. As good as the idea sounds, the idea of something going wrong doesn’t sit well with me. The silence continues as the gears churn in each of our heads.

“What about if something goes wrong or when the fuel rods need replaced?” I ask, interrupting the silence.

“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing,” Bannerman says. “Never mind, I was just thinking. So, where were we?”

“Taking five teams up,” Greg says.

“Alright, which teams?” I say.

“Black, Blue, Red, Charlie, and Echo,” Lynn answers. “We can head up in the buses and pick up troop transports on base on the way up.”

“Okay. It will take us over an hour to get up there so we should leave around 0700,” I say.

“We’ll form up in that order when we arrive. Do we know exactly where we are going?” Lynn asks.

“I’m guessing it won’t be too hard to find. I know where the base is and we’ll just drive toward the inlet once we arrive,” I answer. “What else do we have?”

“The mines have been laid around the perimeter out to a distance of twenty meters and claymores positioned outside of the entrances,” Drescoll says. “We’ve marked the mines and everyone knows not to step within that distance of the walls. The entrance into the compound has been left free.”

“In addition to the skylights, the walls around the maintenance areas were finished around noon and the vehicles were moved in to the buildings. We also moved vehicles into the hangars at both McChord and Lewis. The hangars have windows around the upper levels and are fairly bright during the day so we should be good there. We have progress on the inner compound wall. If we use the wall crews from up north, we can complete that in a couple of days. We also won’t need the escorts as we’re working inside so we’ll only need an escort team for the trucks driving supplies back from the distribution center. We’re slowly getting the water tower up. That will take the

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