We moved on. Freya hit me with a quick update at one point. I was glad she did. I wasn't focusing like I needed to be. I kept going back and forth between the idea of going back to the land of the Colonel and how the hell I was going to pull that one off. The other was Carol herself. The only way I could see that working was to return with her son, then take them both and split off from the Horde. I knew that was bullshit. I saw the look in her eyes. I had also felt the rush of Nights love when she was online. I finally did what I did best with problems like this. I made my mind go still, led the Carol image into a room, and shut the door on it. I had a lot of rooms like that. Some I hadn't visited in years.
I wasn't going all the way in. I figured we would bump into the Horde screening element and I would turn it over to Loco and head to West Virginia. Perhaps a detour into Brethern country to see if I could pick up a trail. There had to be some kind of network or formalized way of trading surplus kids for whatever the Colonel was paying that week.
I picked up the screening team about an hour later. Actually the bird had picked them up early and I had made a guess of where they would be based on rate of travel. I saw them before they saw me which gave me the advantage. I wasn't going in for a kill but I didn't mind patting myself on the back sometimes either. Especially when it came to sneaking around in the woods skill. I stopped about 50 feet out from where they were laid out and said "Okay. Y'all can come out now." About 15 feet from where I stood Ninja stood up. I stopped patting myself on the back.
"Ninja!" I was happy to see him. It felt like it had been forever. We embraced and I held up my fist and flashed the hold in place sign which I belatedly realized no one would understand. Then Ninja and I stepped under the canopy of the oak trees that were growing along the edge of the stream bed I had been following. No sense in standing out in the open. Someone must have understood it behind me as no one pushed forward.
"Hey G! Damn. How's life? I missed the connection the other day." He grinned "I was busy."
"Busy? Oh yeah. How are you and her doing?" Damn if I could remember the name of the girl he had picked up at the bridge coming into Ohio. "Oh. Not her. I moved on." He grinned again. I laughed, shook my head, and thought "Ninj has discovered sex...finally."
"Yeah. We got some catching up to do. So them people you bringing in, they behind you?"
"I hope so" I told him.
He lowered his voice and said "I hear Carol is with them." It wasn't a question. He knew and was fishing for my reaction while watching my eyes as he did. "Yeah. She is. How's Night?"
He laughed, tried to choke it down, and didn't succeed. "Oh brother. She is trying so hard to be an iron ass about it." I interrupted him "What? Does the entire world know?" He almost stopped laughing and held his hand in a placating gesture "No. Just the people that were linked and me." He added "Night told me. Shelli has no clue unless Max told her which I doubt because she asked me what was her problem." He laughed again "My sister thinks she is being so calm and cool. If she had a half a brain she would realize that everyone knows she is really pissed about something and they are staying as far away from her as possible."
I shook my head and told him "Ninja...life is just too fucking complicated sometimes."
He was still grinning "Yeah. Let me help you out on that." He whistled, and Night stepped from behind the tree that had hid her. I looked at him and said "You know...you're an asshole" but I was grinning and moving towards her at the same time.