Date: Monday 4 February 2041ce 1550z
Location: Reno Command, Reno, Nevada (-0800)
Hitchens settled into his chair as the other officers sat down.
“So,” he said in a tone that none could mistake as anything other than grim. “We now have a good idea where the ruler of Aberdeen is.”
“Yes, General,” Director Preston confirmed.
“Well,” he said, sounding relieved. “Good. Now that we’ve got Aberdeen leadership in our sites, whether it’s this queen of their or not, does anyone in this room have an idea of how take them out without three nuclear weapons getting used on our own population?”
His question was answered by silence.
How was this possible?
Nueman’s seat was empty, the director of cyber security last seen digging through a mountain of numbers and math attempting to determine the answer to that very question.
Hitchens had instructed him to skip a few meetings unless he had something to report so as not to interrupt his work.
Doc trained me well.
“How long before we lose them to three-card monte?”
Hitchens meant the way the camps would crisscross one another, trading members, vehicles and tents to keep the legendary Queen’s Camp from being identified for any useful length of time. Already, two packs were identified as moving in the direction of the target. They might luck out and retain the queen’s position, but more packs would mingle with that one and she would eventually be lost again.
“Hard to say, Sir,” Colonel Rowe finally replied.
“Impossible to say,” Hitchens said in correction. “We could lose her tomorrow, or a week if we’re lucky. Honestly, I don’t understand why they bother. We know exactly where they are right now, and here we sit like a bunch of recently spayed and neutered puppies.”
“I believe that’s the way they see us, General,” an intelligence agent named Lua said. “They’re the wolves, we’re the inbred dogs.”
“Someone needs to educate them on how genetics work,” he mused in reference to population counts.
No one laughed, though a smirk or two were noticeable.
Not a time for levity.
“Of our recently deceased?”
Preston cleared his throat. “Yes, Sir. The two captives have been identified as Corporal Garcia and Private Rome. Shortly before fifteen hundred, they managed to escape their bonds and attack their captors. Several of the raiders were killed, but Garcia and Rome were subdued. One of the raiders… Then cut Garcia’s throat.”
He glanced at his datapad, momentarily relieved that he didn’t have to make that call.
“Family?” he asked.
“A husband and wife, plus child.”
Why don’t they just shack up like the good ol’ days?
Polyamorous marriage was still a foreign concept to him even if most of the people around him, including those his same age, had adopted the practice.
“General,” a technician at a side terminal said, “they’ve reached the camp.”
This day will never end…