“Congratulations, Senator.” Jonas said. “What will you do with your new-found power?”
“Consolidate it. Make it grow. Are you still going to be a part of that?” Senator Parker asked.
“I have your back like no other.” Jonas said.
“Even realizing I might have to sacrifice you to further our goal of reuniting the country?”
“You can count on me to be a good soldier.”
“Good, I will do everything I can to make sure that doesn’t become necessary. I am afraid this isn’t merely a social call to receive your accolades for my becoming Senate Majority Leader.”
“I suspect you have people better able to praise you than I.” Jonas said.
“Definitely, though I value yours more than most. The problem, Jonas, is ‘Operation Backdoor’.”
“Oh?” This had to do with that zombie derelict they had recovered in Denver. “Is that not working out?”
“Doctor Taylor has run into complications. I need someone to find President <###NAME###>.”
“That could be quite a challenge. He doesn’t seem to want to be found.”
“Well the other parents were nuked. Probably it is understandable that he wants to keep a low profile.”
“Right now, you’re the best. You can take a squad of handpicked men and head up to Bellingham and pick up his trail there.”
“I could, and I will if you insist, but Senator, you have to understand things are not won out here in Nebraska. There is still fighting, and it has been picking up. The Iowan’s are evolving strategies to deal with us. I may be the best to track down <###NAME###>, but I am also the best man for this job right now.”
“No one is irreplaceable, Jonas.”
“So find someone else to chase after <###NAME###>.”
Parker was silent for a long moment, giving Jonas the thought that he had pushed her too far. “No. I need you on this. We could lose Iowa. I wouldn’t cry too much over that. We need this woman. This comes from Pythia.”
“I thought she was taken out?”
“She lives on. It’s hard to kill you, if you can see the future. Her time wasn’t over and she said saying her name to you would get you on board this project.”
Damnit. The last thing Parker wanted to do was go off chasing fairies when things were heating up on the front. “She was…is right. I’m in. When do you need me to come back?”
“Come back via jet, tonight. Put Marla in charge or something.”
“Sergeant Kuntz? You’ve got to be kidding! You are kidding. Command will go to someone competent, an officer.”
“Good, then Marla can come with you. Plus, another handful of people. Maybe one of the kids?”
God help me. “You said I get to choose. You’ve already saddled me with Marla. If I may be so bold as to select the rest of my team myself I would appreciate it.”
“Kids are disarming.”
“The kids you’re referring to are dead and he would spot them ten miles off.”
“I heard he has a soft spot for kids. You met him, what’s he like?”
“He doesn’t have any soft spots.” Jonas told her. “I didn’t know him that well.”
“It doesn’t seem like anyone I can find did.” Parker said.
“The purges were thorough. If anyone knew him too well, they disappeared.”
“Fair enough. Tonight. I don’t care who you put in charge. They can hold the line where it is as far as I care. Things have changed and so have our priorities.”
“Understood. Will you be meeting us?”
“I’m afraid not. You will have everything you need waiting for you in Portland.”
“Things have changed, like I said. Seattle isn’t secure anymore. I’ll send the latest intel on the area over to you. I think you’ll find your target up closer to Alaska than Bellingham.”
“You never make things easier, Parker.”
“I’ve never given you a task you couldn’t handle.”
“I’m a good little soldier.” Jonas said.
“I see you more as the right tool for the right job.” Parker hung up.
Great, I’m a tool. Jonas couldn’t help but wonder when she would discard him. He shook his head, When I’ve served every purpose she can think of for me.
“Marla!” Jonas called, when his aide, Parker’s chief spy on him, came in he said, “We’re heading to Portland tonight. Send in any Lieutenants you can find, zombies. I don’t care who, so long as they have served under me at least three months.”
In twenty minutes Jonas was talking with six lieutenants and getting lists of their best men from them. He chose to take one squad that had seen a lot of action further north, almost into old Canada from one of the platoons on leave. Better to take a squad as a whole than try and piece one together. This group had come up against Iowa’s F Company on several occasions and even got the better of them on one or two of them. The squad he chose had suffered four casualties, leaving six men and women, a Sergeant Mason Butler, Corporal Ethan Miller and four privates, three women and one man.
Their Lieutenant, a man named Grant protested that they needed some R&R.
“Look, Lieutenant, I hear what you’re saying. They just got mauled and need a little down time. This should be a cush assignment, probably no fighting. More of an intel gathering gig. That squad is familiar with the area I’m going to and there should be plenty of down time.”
“We have all heard that before, sir! My guys are from Oregon, you want to tell me you’re going to Oregon?”
“Seattle, maybe further north.”
“Out of their range, sir. You might as well take a fresh team.”
“Your people have gone toe to toe with F company. There is literally no higher threat than that that I can think of. Anyone else they come up against will seem like a vacation. We leave tonight, go tell your men to meet me here with their gear in an hour.”
He left fuming, but would do his job. “Marla, cut orders for them and yourself. I’ll sign them and get Bella over here, she’s taking over while we’re away.”
“Dumpy? Sir, are you sure?” Marla asked.
“Just do it.”
Marla left his presence mumbling, “Bella Dumphrey in command? Might as well just run all of our troops straight east to the slaughter.”
Jonas ignored her. When he was alone he sent out a message to another aide to get his travel bag ready, with civilian clothing. Then Jonas leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. Dad? He sent out, Its happened. They’re coming for you.
A message came back after only a few seconds, Understood.