In the end, Draper didn’t have to kill three hundred people. It was still over a hundred, but Max lost count somewhere around eighty. It came as no surprise that the man had other allies among the ranks, an ‘inner circle’ of people who helped him accomplish his goals and, from what Draper said, “Prevent the unlawful overthrow of the rightful government of the United States of America.”
They were sitting, surrounded by men and women who showed up in old army vehicles and sometimes on foot. Above them hung a plethora of drones and Max could sense more of the vehicles surrounding them for miles.
Draper sat in a camp style chair behind a make-shift desk on the side of old gas station that had been repurposed as public housing. A tarp hung from the roof of the building, providing shade, but not full cover from the drones.
“These are all ours, right?” Max asked for the third time.
“Yessir.” Came the sharp answer of Corporal Jay. Max had to give the kid credit, he didn’t seem irritated at the question, just provided information that Max wanted to know.
I really should get back. I didn’t sign up for nation building.
The phone on the desk buzzed to life. It looked like a cell phone from the early 90’s, a huge brick of a thing that was mostly battery. It had a headset, wireless, but one that normally rested in a cradle on the large drab green thing.
“It’s the president.” Draper said.
President? When did that happen? I’ve been out of Iowa too long too. I really should have spoken to Nick about what’s been going on here.
Draper waved everyone to silence and picked up the phone.
From the one-sided nature of the conversation Max could tell that Draper fully believed that the bloodshed that morning was necessary to secure the nation. He pledged his loyalty to the president more than once during the conversation and then asked for direction. No more killing. That was over. Max sighed, there were, as far as Draper was concerned more killings that needed to be committed. He argued his point with the man on the other end of the line but was shut down and agreed to stop hunting the people on his list of ‘rot’ and ‘corruption’. Also, he agreed to go to the capital to meet with the president and his advisors to explain just what had happened.
After hanging up the phone Draper looked at Max, “I’ll need you there.”
“This is getting old. I’m fighting to protect these people from a far worse danger than some petty coup. What strikes me is that the guys you’ve been eliminating, well you seem to share their opinion on what we should be doing. They seem like they would be your natural allies.”
“Max, you don’t know me at all, do you? Of course, I agree with them on what we should be doing in the broader fight against the Californians. In no world that I want to live in do those decisions come from military. The course of action comes from the civilian authority. We are not some petty banana republic where the military takes over and turns everything to shit, looking out for his cronies and supporters! The traitors we have been taking down are a bigger threat to our way of life than anything outside could ever be.”
“And you’re losing.”
Draper looked around the immediate area, ever face was looking at him, he nodded, “It’s not a fight we can win. You don’t win by fighting on your own territory. We have no means of carrying the fight to the enemy. Even if the bombs we had were released to my control, how would I get them anywhere important? We’re talking in the tens of bombs here, not in the thousands. Hell, even with a thousand nuclear bombs at my disposal I don’t know if I could cripple the enemy enough to guarantee they would sue for peace or admit defeat. And then there is the climate. Things tend to flow from west to east on our continent, so radiating the west coast wouldn’t do us much good either.”
“You don’t want to surrender, but you can’t fight.” Max said.
“Exactly why politicians were made. This isn’t the movies, we don’t all scream ‘Wolverines!’ and die to the last man. Especially not against people who were, twenty years ago, part of the same country, and arguable still are. My point is, these guys, much as I agreed with some of their positions, wanted to usurp the law. I am not having any part of that.”
“So why do you want me to go with you?”
“It was requested that I come alone.”
“Lawfully requested that you come alone.”
“Fuck you, Max.” Draper said.
“You think they are going to kill you?”
“Prison is more likely, followed by a trial, more than likely a military tribunal.” Draper said, “Max, we didn’t kill enough of the bastards. There are too many still out there. Maybe enough to derail anything the politicians can do. Maybe enough to still make it happen.”
“You’re not without your supporters.” Max gestured around them, “The ones who got away are probably scurrying off like rats in the face of a fire.”
“That’s optimistic. No, they will stay in place, get me condemned of murder and, as its wartime, I’ll be executed. The anti-coup has failed.”
Something about the way Draper said it, made the statement a fact, not a conjecture. “How do you know? It seems like you know, are you just taking out your ass or is this really something you know?”
“I know. We didn’t reach the tipping point. I have…an acquaintance I’d like you to meet. We’ll need your moving capability and sometime between now and eleven hundred we can talk specifics about what I am asking of you.”
“Okay, fine.” Max said in a way that indicated it wasn’t really fine at all. “Let’s go.”
“Give me an hour. I have orders to issue while I’m still part of the chain of command.”
“An hour then? Great, I’ll be back.” Before Draper could say a word, Max disappeared.
Draper looked around at the people near him. “He’ll be back. I know him. Jay, let’s get some order’s issued. Everyone else, stay sharp, we are still operating under legal authority and we have a lot to do to if we want to make the bastards pay for everything they are trying to do.”