Ooo! Plot!

Not much… but in the captain’s comment in the end: a glimmering of plot.

Hey, it’s American adoption of the DoI Day… I need to add some kind of military engagement!

“Special Observer Clarke.” The captain’s voice was not that of a happy man. “How nice to see you again.”

His tone and posture belie his words.

In Sandy River Delta Park, just east of the City, the captain was overseeing two cavalry detachments acting as dragoons in a wargame against a reinforced platoon from the heavy weapons unit of the Special Police. He was already unhappy that the evaluators were saying his side was losing. The appearance of the troublesome political made it worse.

“I’ve – ”

“Wait.” Eyeing the field, he toggled his radio. “I said ‘spread out,’ Reilly, not disperse!”

“If they see that…” he muttered.

The sudden waving of orange flags by the evaluators indicated the dropping of mortars onto the thinned left line. With a shout of “the City!” a squad charged. More flags: black ones.

“That’s that,” he huffed.

“How was it you lost?” She was genuinely curious, after he’d done so much so well at the dam.

He took one last look through his field glasses.

“I’d like to say it’s because the Special Police get all the best equipment, and lots of it. But my men are better trained.” He lowered them. “No, that up-and-coming leftenent, Bakke, got the best of me.”

He sighed.

“Little Checkist shit. He is gifted, though.” Another sigh and he turned his horse to face Nichole’s mare, Toast. “What can I do for you, miss?”

“Just wanted to visit with the men,” she began, “but I knew to check in with you first, sir.”

A civilian, she sat straight in her saddle but did not salute.

“Well… that’s fine.” He let his gaze go out to the mess of the wargame. “It might be a while before they are all back in laager.”

“May I help?”

For just a moment he recalled everything that happened at the dam.

“Please.”

A playful thought suddenly danced in her mind. With slight movements in her hands and thighs Toast cantered out into the middle of the faux battlefield. Turning to the northwest her eyes took in the otherwise concealed positions of second detachment.

“The game’s over, rascals!” she amplified. Some on the small peninsula turned to see who it was; many just in joy to see her again. Sorry for her mare, she pulled back on the reins. Toast reared.

“Do you expect to live forever?!” Toast turned southeast and dropped. “Follow me!”

Even with the exercise concluded, the men leapt to their feet and charged the field behind her. Even the demoralized ‘losers’ of first detachment came along.

In the corners of her eyes she noted the Pins were nonplussed.

Across the old, unused Interstate 84, at the edge of the woods, Nichole slid off of her horse, confident she wouldn’t wander far. She turned back to the mass of soldiers closing on her position.

“Friends and allies!” she shouted, her voice echoing. “The field is ours!”

They might have lost the wargame, but they – all of them – will remember this!

En mass, they closed around her. First Detachment anxious to meet the girl they’d heard about. Second Detachment to be reunited with the mascot that died for them. She thought Senior Scout Reilly would never let her go until she was suddenly torn loose and tossed into the air.

“Nichole!” John Brunelli shouted, his hands up to once again take her from Heaven’s.

“Nichole! NICHOLE! NICHOLE!!” The rest of the troopers took up the chant.

Easily seeing and hearing what was going on from his half mile away, Muller steadied his horse.

The Mayor’s going to hear of this, he mused. And, he’s not going to like it at all.

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