Getting to know a little more about the current situation in and around GSS President Dysart. I don’t see him in my head as a bad actor, per se. I do wonder why his administration decided to choke off Louisiana’s trade… antagonizing Texas in the process. When I need to know I suppose they will tell me.
This transition scene is rather brief. I want to see what kind of fireworks – if any – there are once he meets Faustina Hartmann. I wonder: will he be meeting the General or the Empress?
The last time Dysart had visited the army base, he had been met by two Hummers: one for him and his staff, the other with an M2 atop it. This time there one Hummer for him, two with machine guns, and an MRAP with a one-inch cannon on top. He returned the salute of the Major sent to meet him and immediately began asking questions.
“What changed?” he asked, looking at the additional firepower while being led to his vehicle.
“General Brant said he had a feeling,” the officer replied, climbing in and sitting opposite Dysart. “He doubled our local patrols and sent out some jeeps and Hummers. Sure enough, there is some uniformed force in an arc that begins about a mile and a half from the base’s left, up to the north, and down to the Leaf River, at Belleville, three miles up the road from us.”
“Three miles? So close!” the President was surprised. “They were that close and you had no idea? Why didn’t you radio for us to put to shore sooner?”
The Major winced at that.
“The General didn’t want to tip his hand,” he said, acknowledging the hit. “That’s why we’re backtracking a bit before taking some less obvious ways onto the base.”
“So there’s about,” Dysart recalled what he knew about the area, “a line of eight to ten miles of an unknown army around here. But nothing to the south? Has that been confirmed?”
“Absolutely, Mister President,” came the quick reply. “General Brant, upon hearing of what’s north, sent three companies south. It seems clear, sir.”
“That means,” Dysart leaned back as they left the paved road for a dirt track west into the woods, “they wanted us to know they are here, that they moved several thousand men right under our noses, and that they have not threatened the supply line. Showing off and being polite all at the same time. Interesting.”
He glanced at his windup watch.
“Looks as if I’ve time to see Brant before my meeting,” he noted. “Has there been any communication between this force and ours?”
“Yes, Mister President. About an hour ago, a detachment of what looks like eighty men, kitted out like light infantry, came to the meeting point at the northwest gate.” The Major paused and went on. “Any attempt to communicate, formally or informally, has been rebuffed.”
“And they’ve good discipline, too,” Dysart muttered. “If they came upon you so quietly, if they have armor it has to be in their rear, or you would have heard it, right?”
“Oh, yes, sir. The wind has been from the north all day; not easy to disguise the sound of a mechanized force,” the officer agreed.
They bounced along for another ten miles before coming to the east gate and a paved road. Two-thirds of a mile west from that was Camp Shelby’s headquarters. Dysart waited until the Major had exited and made a check of the area before stepping out. General Brant was just walking out of the reinforced office building to the south, completed just before the Breakup. The General saluted and then extended his hand.
“Good to see you again, Mister President,” Brant said in deep, Southern drawl, “even if under… peculiar circumstances.”
“You, too, General! I’ve got about thirty minutes and want to know what you know,” Dysart said, taking his hand. “Let’s get inside and talk.”
Down a hall and past two heavy doors, neither spoke until Brant closed the second.
“Jesus H, Robbie!” Dysart yelled. “How does, what, ten thousand men, just show up on your doorstep?”
He watched Brant stiffen.
“The failure is mine,” the General said. “If you want my resignation, you may have it.”
“What I want right now, Robbie,” Dysart replied, deflecting the offer, “is intelligence. You’ve got twenty minutes to tell me any and everything you know.”
Thirty minutes later, their little caravan, now supplemented by two trucks of soldiers and another armed Hummer, rolled west down Lee Avenue. What Brant had to tell him was very little: professional-looking uniforms and weapons, tight discipline, and, interestingly, comprised entirely of white males. About fifteen percent of the Gulf army was black and five percent women. Then again, this was their home base.
They pulled up about fifty yards short of the old covered gate. Dysart had them turn so he could bring field glasses up to his eyes to take a look for himself. Mottled field-gray uniforms that would work just as well in a forest as a town. This group seemed to bear the 6.8mm nextgen rifles which had been introduced just months before the Breakup. Where did they get so many? No sign of any motorized transport at all… did they walk here from Vicksburg? Impossible! Assume their trucks are with their armor, somewhere northwest of here. Motion caught his eye and he lifted the glasses a bit. Two four-rotor drones, one just above their group and another further back. Moving on, he saw someone looking right back at him with binoculars, who turned to talk to his buddy, who ran toward what looked like a clutch of officers next to the road. No one saluting anyone… but… that smaller figure they all seemed to focus on. Is that… her?
“Right!” Dysart said, flinging the door open. “Let’s go say hello!”