After the Apocalypse
Chapter 68: An Early Hike

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

"Okay, I'm sure you're wondering why I've called you here, right?" began Howey.

As he paused for a breath, Jerry Reid interrupted him, "Because you've always wanted to say that?"

Everyone chuckled for a moment before Howey's stern look told them this was no laughing matter.

"The truth is, we may be in trouble. As you know, Steve and Lou encountered some hostiles in town. Woods and Hall left two nights ago and haven't been heard from, and now Milon, Lou and Mark may be gone too. We have to react as if our location has been compromised."

"Compromised?" asked Dickson.

"Yes," said John. "It's possible that someone has either captured or observed them and is now aware of our existence and location." He paused for a moment to allow his words to sink in, "If that is the case, then we may be subject to attack by hostile forces."

"Don't you think you might be over-reacting?" asked Steve Clark.

"Maybe, but the safety of my family depends on us being ready and I'm not taking any chances."

At the mention of the word family, the other ten arrowmen in the room fell silent. Ever since the attack, thoughts of home and family had been on everyone's mind. They didn't talk about it much, especially in front of the younger arrowmen, but everyone was, of course, curious and worried about the welfare of their own families.

"Okay, so what we need to do," continued Howey, aware of the effect his words had had on the others, "is to establish a perimeter defense."

"How are we going to do that?" asked Jerry, "it's an awfully big camp."

"True," replied Howey, "but we'll start with the obvious. Anyone entering D-A is liable to come in through only a handful of checkpoints."

He rolled out a map of the camp before continuing, "If we have control of the gate at Eagle's Nest, the bridge over Trout Lake, and the turn at the corral, no one is going to be able to attack us by without us knowing about it."

"What if they come on foot?" asked Harig.

"And what about the sensors we already have from the ranger alarm," asked Reid.

"Well, the ranger alarm doesn't work too well in snow - the reflectors get blocked and it sends all kinds of false positives. We had to disable it yesterday and it hasn't been back on since. And if they come on foot, they won't be much of a threat. I don't think I'd want to try to sneak up on a group of veteran Capture the Objective players."

Everyone laughed at John's joke, then they split into three teams of three. John's plan was actually pretty ingenious. He'd given them a walkie-talkie, some fish-line and a specially rigged switch. The switch would power the walkie-talkies on if anyone pulled out the fish line, by taping the morse code sensors on, they'd get an audible tone. Each of them was tuned to a different channel, so they'd know which one had tripped. As long as the batteries held out, they'd be fine.

"Now for the hard part," said John. "We need to verify that we really have covered all the entrances. We also need to assess our security."

"I don't like the sound of this," said Harig.

"Me neither," piped in Dickson.

"Come on," said John, "it's just a little perimeter hike."

"We're not due for another of those until Winter Camp forty-one," said the Beast, who had just entered the cabin, "but, given that there may be extenuating circumstances, I'm in."

"Good," said John, "we could use the help. I'll take one team, you take one. Steve, you take the third. Now, if you do encounter something out there, remember that your first priority is to report it."

"Huh?" asked Harig. "What does that mean?"

"It means "don't be a damn fool and get your head blown off by some stranger"", said Clark. "It's probably the most important advice any advisor ever gave you."

"Oh," said Harig.

"Let's get going," said Howey. "I'd love to have Hall and Woods set those things off when they're coming back for dinner."

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