Read A New World: Taken Online

Authors: John O'Brien

A New World: Taken (5 page)

“Bannerman, were you able to get spare parts for the water pump?”
 
I ask opening our meeting.
 
I want to hurry this up so I can get a move on but I know this is important to our ultimate survival as well.

“I did.
 
I also have spare solar panel replacements in case we lose some,” he replies.

“Good.
 
I figure if we lose a generator, then we can pick one up and just replace it rather than tinker with it,” I say.

“I already have a couple unbolted and ready to go,” Bannerman says to which I nod.

“Frank?”
 
I ask wanting to hear what he has from his end.

“Well, we’ve picked up a lot of night runner bands and they seem to have settled down to a specific area but there are still roving bands.
 
I haven’t been able to isolate anything down as yet.
 
There isn’t a particular pattern emerging from any of the bands although it does seem that the major streets are utilized to a great extent.
 
The band sizes seem to change from time to time with no pattern there either.
 
I think the roving bands we see are moving because of food.
 
My guess is that their food is becoming even scarcer within the city, especially with us picking up other survivors in the area.
 
We’ll probably start seeing them move out into the country.
 
We’re continuing to set traps but finding they’re being tripped with less frequency.
 
Our cameras have picked up a couple of packs trying to scale the walls at night but their visits are infrequent.
 
As far as we can tell, they’re pretty much leaving this area alone for the time being,” he reports.

We seem to have reached a status quo with regards to the night runners.
 
They have the night and we have the day.
 
We still have to tread into their dangerous domain for supplies and will still need to do that, regardless of our food stores.
 
Hopefully the trips will be less frequent once we get our long-term food needs in order.
 
Thoughts of clearing the area of night runners still runs through my mind but the enormity and anxiety over the kids is my most prevalent thought right now.
 
At least I know where they’re at and that gives some relief; not much, but some.

“Okay.
 
So, what’s our priority then?”
 
I ask.
 
I know my thoughts but I want to hear their concerns as well.

“Well, I’d like to get the wind turbines and water tower in place so we don’t have to rely on the generator so much.
 
The diesel, even with treatments, isn’t going to last much longer.
 
We basically have until next summer and then our mobility will be decreased substantially.
 
That is unless we want to explore Bio-diesel options.
 
That will require more trips into buildings for supplies and growing crops specifically for that purpose,” Bannerman answers.

“Okay, we’ll need to research how to create that as I have no idea, well, next to no idea, what that process entails.
 
Bannerman, will you see if someone knows about that.
 
I suppose we could raid a bookstore or library and see if we can come up with something there as well,” I say.

“Personally, I think we need to get the food supplies and greenhouse going.
 
The sooner we can get that established, the sooner we can stay out of the buildings.
 
At least to a greater extent,” Drescoll offers.

“I agree.
 
I think that should be our priority.
 
I believe we are in a good position now to start building for the long-term.
 
I’m not in disagreement with our need to create alternate water and power supplies but we have that now.
 
We need to keep in mind that the night runners may be adapting to this new world as well and we don’t know what that means.
 
We’ve seen their ability to adapt quickly to situations in fights and don’t know how that will translate to other things.
 
The timing is right for getting our food supplies in order before something else comes up.
 
That’s what I think anyway,” Frank says in support of Drescoll.

“I’m not saying we don’t need that.
 
We just need those other things as well and I’ll be more comfortable knowing we have a more long-term solution to getting our water supply.
 
That could be the turbines or Bio-diesel.
 
Food, we can hunt for if necessary but if we lose our water supply, then we may find most of our day spent around gathering enough of it,” Bannerman replies.

“How long would it take to get the turbines and water tower in place?”
 
Lynn asks.

“Good question.
 
Both Frank and I have discussed it to a degree and we think maybe three months all told.
 
That’s disassembling one, hauling it back, and setting it up.
 
That’s a conservative estimate but it’s better to plan that way.
 
Another factor is that, as of now, we only have a little time left with usable fuel.
 
After that, hauling anything is out of the question,” Bannerman answers.

“How many people do you think you’ll need?”
 
I ask.

“Well, the nearest wind turbines we know of are down in the Columbia Gorge so travel there daily isn’t an option.
 
So, we’ll need security, equipment; meaning cranes and transport vehicles, and teams to operate the equipment.
 
The same teams could do the dismantling.
 
The security is because they’ll have to stay down there until it’s finished.
 
How long is anyone’s guess.
 
I would say three teams minimum depending on how much security you want them to have.
 
The security would have to include night shifts so my thinking is, one team dismantling and loading, one team for day security and one team for night security,” he answers.

“That would leave us with five operational teams here.
 
I think we could get along with that.
 
What do you think Lynn?” I ask.

“I think we can manage but, if we do this now, remember you’re taking one team with you.
 
That leaves us precious little for any other operations.
 
The people we picked up will be able to help with building and such but they won’t be ready for any combat-oriented aspects for some time,” she replies.
 
“I also have to say I’m not all that keen on leaving those teams out for an extended stay.
 
I mean, if I’m hearing this right, they’ll be gone for three months?”

“No, I don’t think they’ll have to be gone for that long.
 
Most of the time mentioned will be setting the turbine up on this end and attaching it directly to the pump,” Bannerman answers.

“Then how long do you see them being out on their own?
 
We won’t be able to respond quickly if they need help,” Lynn says.

“Honestly, I don’t really know what it will take to dismantle one. I can’t see more than a week.
 
If it takes longer than that, then we’ll have a different set of problems and the project may be more complex than we’re capable of doing.
 
We can always put a time limit in place and if they aren’t finished by that time, then they come home,” Bannerman answers.

“I’m a little more comfortable with that.
 
If they do go, then we should head north and pick up some Stryker vehicles for them to hole up in during the night and for added protection,” Lynn says.

“I agree.
 
I’m not terribly comfortable with them being so far away from help, especially considering what we just had happen.
 
And the radios might be spotty if functional at all.
 
We need to think about getting longer range, more effective communications set up prior to sending them down.
 
Maybe set up UHF with remote antennas on a hilltop.
 
The gorge itself will make it hard to get radio signals in and out of,” I add.

“That might work.
 
I’ll talk to Corporal Taylor and see if he has other ideas as well,” Lynn says.

“Okay.
 
So, is everyone in agreement about doing both then; looking into a wind turbine and finish setting up shop here?”
 
I ask.
 
Everyone nods in agreement.

“Lynn, I’ll leave you to it,” I say giving her a kiss on the cheek.
 
“Greg, you’re with me.
 
I’ll go find Red and we’re off.”

“Jack, can I talk to you for a sec?”
 
Lynn asks.

“Sure, babe,” I answer.
 
“Greg, find Red and I’ll meet you out there.”

“Sure thing,” Greg responds.

“What’s up?”
 
I ask with Greg’s boots clicking across the floor on his way out.

“I’ll come right to it.
 
You’ve been a little distant since Nic.
 
I know that was hard and you’re still hurting inside, but you’ve shut me out, or at least starting to.
 
I want to be a part of the solution, not someone to keep at arm’s length.
 
I just miss being close like we were,” she says.

I sigh heavily thinking she’s right.
 
It’s just the way I am to a degree.
 
When something hurts like that, I tend to keep everything at a distance until the pain subsides.
 
A defense mechanism I guess.
 
And now with the kids, well, the walls are wrapped pretty tight.
 
Lynn continues looking into my eyes knowing that I’m thinking.
 
She knows I like to take my time answering questions like that.

“You know, you’re right and I’m sorry.
 
I just don’t want to feel that kind of pain again and I’ve been insulating myself against it.
 
And now, well, it’s doubly so.
 
I’m sorry, hon, it wasn’t right and I’ll try,” I say wrapping my arms around her and bringing her close.

“I’m not so sure I really like this new world,” I whisper into her ear.
 
“I’ve done nothing but make mistakes and it’s eating a hole in my gut.”

Lynn pushes away but not out of my arms.
 
“Jack, you know very well that’s not true.
 
We’ve all made mistakes but that’s expected with all of the unknown we’ve had to deal with.
 
I think we, and that includes you, have done a fine job getting us to this point.
 
We’re alive and that’s what counts.”

“Nic isn’t,” I say softly.

A tear forms in her eye.
 
“I know, Jack, and I’m so sorry.
 
I didn’t mean, well, I’m sorry.
 
I didn’t mean to say that.
 
I meant to say that we’ve come through a lot and I don’t think we’ve made mistakes doing it.
 
We’ve just had to deal with some pretty majorly fucked-up shit and made the best decisions with what we knew.
 
Ask anyone here and they’ll agree that you’ve made great choices.
 
Now get the fuck out of here before you make me cry,” she says pushing away.

“Oh, and Jack, don’t go in there by yourself, please,” Lynn adds.

“I can’t promise anything but I won’t do anything rash.
 
How’s that?”
 
I ask.

“I guess it’ll have to do,” she answers leaning forward to give me a kiss which I happily return and hold her close once again. Separating, I tell her I think I’ll take all of Greg’s team along with Red to scout with if she thinks she can spare them.

“I’m glad you’re taking more and don’t feel you have to, or can, do this alone.
 
We’ll be just fine here.
 
What about taking a Stryker or two yourself?”
 
She asks.

“Too big and noisy.
 
We’ll be fine but I’m taking three instead of just the two Humvees,” I answer.

“Okay, Jack, I love you,” she says as we part.

“I love you too.”

I meet Greg close to the entrance and inform him of the change.
 
He heads off to gather the rest of Echo Team while I inform Red Team of our plan.
 
Emerging from the building into the brightness of the sunlit morning, feeling the light, fresh breeze as it drifts across the tall brown grass of the adjacent fields, I see Bannerman standing with his face skyward, letting the sun fall on him.
 
I am hesitant to interrupt his obviously serene moment.
 
He has done so much to help after our rocky start that he deserves any moment of serenity he can get.
 
I do feel an anxiousness wanting to get a move on but I know that feeling of peace and those times where you just want to experience the moment and let it fill you.
 
I wait until I see him take a breath and sigh.
 
Coming out of his reverie and looking around, he sees me standing to the side and nods.

I had a thought emerging from the building and approach.
 
“Wish we could just take this day to relax and enjoy this sunny day,” I say.

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