Dark Coup
Olsen said, “probably at least six months before the next phase can be implemented.”
    “The next phase,” Sanford thought, and looked around to see who else might be able to hear the Colonel.  Nobody was close enough to hear, though, as Sanford looked at his watch and continued to wait and listen, and wonder.  “The next phase of what?”
    “I’ve taken care of the holdout,” Olsen said.  “Two days ago.  Fort Campbell was taken, intact, with minimal loss of life or resources on our side.”
    “Sir,” Olsen said, obviously trying to hold onto his patience.  “ I care about the loss of life!  My soldiers aren’t a commodity, and they certainly can’t be replaced at the drop of a hat.”
     “No, Sir,” Olsen said after another pause.  “Well, of course California has already been disarmed.  It was all but disarmed before the power went out!”
    “Heh,” Sanford thought, “good point, but what is he talking about?”
    Olsen paused again as the person on the other end of the line spoke.  “With all due respect, Sir, you gave me the Southeastern United States.”  Olsen said.  “Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia.  Sir, are you aware that there are people living in the West Virginia mountains that still don’t know the power is even out?”
    By now it was obvious to Sanford that Olsen was alone in his office, but on the radio with someone.  That begged the question, who in the world could he possibly be on the radio with ?
    “No, I’m not quite finished,” Olsen said.  It didn’t seem to matter.  From the sound of disgust Olsen had just made, Sanford was pretty sure the other end of the line had already broken the connection. Sanford heard a drawer slam shut and then waited for a count of ten before turning and knocking on the door.
    “Come in!” Olsen yelled.
    “Problem, Major?” Olsen asked, once their meeting had ended.
    “No, Sir,” Sanford said.
    “Are you sure,” Olsen asked again.
    Sanford realized, belatedly, he’d been wearing his emotions on his sleeve and the Colonel had picked up on his unease.  He needed to cover himself to get the Colonel off his back.  “Absolutely, Sir,” he said.  “More of a question, if I may.”
    “You can ask, Son,” Olsen said.  “No promises of an answer.”
    Sanford nodded in understanding.
    “What’s our endgame, Sir?”  Sanford asked.  “What are we ultimately trying to accomplish?  We haven’t heard from the President, or anyone else in the chain of succession, ever.  We found and dusted off ARCLiTE, and deployed it basically on our own authority …so,” Sanford shrugged, “what’s the end goal?”
    Olsen leaned forward and folded his arms on his desk.  “Son,” he said, “I’m going to say this one time.  Things are under control.  You’re doing a fine job following orders, and as long as you continue to, things will work out just fine for you.”
    The weight of Olsen’s gaze, and the only thinly-veiled threat, dried Sanford’s mouth.
    “Trust me,” Olsen said.  “You don’t want to end up on the wrong side of this one.”
    May 30, 2013 - On the road between Fort Campbell and Promised Land
    “Do we have a final count yet,” Ben asked the current radio operator in his Humvee.
    Ben had been on the move for two days and had slept for maybe four hours total since leaving the base.  He still couldn’t use the word ‘abandon’, but he was too much of a realist to use ‘egress’. 
    “Sir,” the Sergeant said, “we had to leave eighty-one that were too wounded to move.  We lost seventeen.  Nobody new since the final push out the back.”
    Ben shook his head.  “Including the walking wounded, that’s almost three-hundred men.”
    “Sir,” the Sergeant manning the radio interrupted Ben’s reverie.  “The lead Humvee is requesting a destination.”
    The group Ben headed made quite a sight with all of their Light Attack

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