Ozark Retreat
test run. Several of the MAG members were unaware of the extent of the community aspects of the retreat. Most were pleased. A tiny handful were vocal about where their money was spent. Brady offered to buy them out. All refused and let it go.
    It was the first time many of the MAG members had met. Brady made it obvious that he was in overall charge, and final arbitrator of all disputes. But he encouraged them to get together, get to know one another, and work out the group dynamics of who would be in charge of what aspect of the community, and set up a division of labor for the various community tasks.
    One of the first tasks set up for that first day of the two-day event was to organize an inspection and approval of everyone’s MAG required equipment and supplies. There was a wide disparity in preparedness states. Several people were encouraged to upgrade what they already had. More than a few were congratulated on their state of preparedness. No one was asked to reveal their entire preparations, only the MAG mandated ones.
    Everyone left with a better understanding of what the retreat provided them and their responsibility to it and the MAG, beside the monetary aspect of it. The second farmer and his wife decided to take up permanent residence. That would allow the acquisition of the farm animals. Two of the minor investors were college students and agreed to stay and help during the summer school break for just a small salary.
    Harry was recovered and ready to go back to the agency, but his wife didn’t want him to go back. She was afraid he might be killed. So Harry took a dispatching job with the county and he and his wife and first child also took up permanent residency. Brady was satisfied that the place would be well looked after while he continued to work.

    Brady worked for the corporation until late in 2010, when his two-year contract was up. He didn’t renew it. The company was giving him basic cases, using salaried agents to work the more lucrative insurance recovery cases that Brady was so good at solving.
    He continued to work, mostly as a courier, respecting the non-competition agreement he’d signed for the company. Brady had specifically exempted courier work from the agreement, along with a couple of other lines of work that he enjoyed that wouldn’t really impact the company if he was on the playing field.
    It was on the return trip into St. Louis after a New York to LA courier delivery that Brady heard the news about Taiwan. The Captain of the aircraft announced it. The sitting Taiwanese government had passed a resolution to call a constitutional congress as the first step to Independence. China had begun to attack the near coast of Taiwan, in preparation to invade.
    Brady didn’t quite hold his breath until they landed, but he would have if he could have. He felt much better when he was sitting in the Suburban, armed again. He listened to the news as he drove toward his apartment.
    His landline was ringing when he arrived at the apartment. It was Barbara, asking him if he’d heard the news.
    “Yeah. On the plane.”
    “We’re bugging out first thing in the morning,” Barbara told him. “What about you?”
    “Maybe. I want to see how this begins to track out. I have another job I’m supposed to start Monday.”
    “You hear the weather forecast?”
    “No. I haven’t. Why?”
    “An arctic front is headed this way. They’re predicting a foot of snow accumulation here by Saturday morning. Freezing rain twenty miles north and south of an east west line through Poplar Bluff. You know what ice storms do to that country.”
    “Yeah. Look. I just don’t know. I think you’re smart to leave tomorrow. Don’t be surprised if you see me in your rearview mirror. But don’t count on it, either.”
    “You take care, Brady. Don’t wait too long, if this Taiwan situation gets worse. I know you are a dedicated worker, even independently, but don’t let it get you

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