May 5, 2015: Alliance
Tanner and his crew are back from their “undisclosed location”. The three trucks we loaned them were loaded down so heavily that I thought the springs would collapse. I offered to loan them my gooseneck trailer too, but they thought that would attract too much attention. As it turns out, wherever they went, they didn’t encounter too many people. Tanner said they had a couple small run-ins, but nothing of consequence – certainly nothing on the order of their run-in on the southern edge of the Union Creek area.
So, it would seem that things are a bit safer as one goes north. (Tanner was willing to share their general direction of travel with me, if not their specific destination.) I guess that makes sense. Population density drops considerably a few miles north of the South Dakota border … unless you head east toward the Twin Cities. Fewer people equals fewer bad people – at least in theory. I suppose that’s why the northern tip of Idaho was so popular for bug-out locations. Not many people up that way. Of course, the same could be said for most of South and North Dakota. Harsh winters up there, though. The weather could take as big a toll as marauders if you’re not prepared for it. If you’re used to living in a relatively temperate climate, the cold, snow and wind along the western Canadian border could make for a rude awakening.
We had a good conversation today, Tanner and I, about their plans for our trucks and their supplies. I’m a giving man, but there are a few things that we could use. My suggestion that we could work out a trade didn’t take Tanner by surprise, but I could tell that their load was already much smaller than they had anticipated when they set out with two five-ton trucks. One three-quarter ton pickup and two half-tons don’t even come close.
Tanner was forthright, “I’d like to share some supplies with you, David, but I’m already going back hat in hand to apologize for losing four trucks and bringing back a small fraction of the supplies that we need.”
I just nodded letting him talk his way through it.
“We should have taken your deuce, but I was concerned about another attack and thought it better to blend in with the civilian vehicles,” Tanner shuffled his feet in the dirt.
Silence settled over the two of us like a cloud of dust on a still day.
Tanner looked up from the ground, “What do you need the most?”
“I’d say our biggest need in the near future will be heavy weapons, ammunition and a better trained fighting force,” I replied. “The character that took your vehicles doesn’t sound like a guy who’s going to stop any time soon. In all likelihood, he’s the one that probed us. Based on your description of his arms, equipment and manpower, we’re in for a heck of a fight.”
“What if we left you a couple heavy weapons with ammunition,” I could tell Tanner was forming his thoughts as he spoke, “and some small arms ammunition as a sort of down payment for the use of the weapons you loaned us, the trucks and the fuel?”
“A down payment?” I gave him a look.
“Yeah, with full payment to be negotiated later,” Tanner didn’t sound too convinced about his offer.
“I like you, Tanner,” I said, “but that leaves me on the short end of an already short stick.”
“Agreed, it’s a pretty short stick,” Tanner was almost apologizing.
I gave his offer some thought.
“How about this,” I counter-offered, “you and two of your men stay here. The rest, including the guy with the broken leg, drive the trucks – minus the heavy weapons and ammo you already offered up – back to your HQ.”
I could tell Tanner didn’t like what he was hearing.
“We’ll send one of our people with them.” I assured him.
Tanner still looked skeptical.
“The primary purpose of this approach is to build an alliance between our two groups.” I looked Tanner in the eye. “We’re going to need one another … and others like us, if there are any.”
I could tell that Tanner agreed with me. He knew we were going to need a larger, better-equipped fighting force if we were going to survive.
Tanner swore for the first time since I’d met him. “You’re right. We need to get you and Gunny together to figure out how we can support one another.”
After thinking about it for a moment, Tanner made a second offer, “What if we left two of the trucks here and just the two of us took one down to meet with Gunny?”
“Sorry. No go,” I responded. “I’m a family man and I’m staying here with my family.”
“I guess we’re back to your plan then,” Tanner sighed.
“It’s not so bad here,” I joked.
“That’s not it,” Tanner seemed defeated. “I don’t want to send my guys back to report on a failed mission without me.”
“Blame it on me,” I said.
“Just another failure,” Tanner spit onto the grass a few feet from where we stood. “I should have done a better job negotiating with you.”
“This is a win for both groups in the long run,” I pointed out.
“Yeah, but the short-term is kind of ugly,” Tanner rejoined.
“I get it.” I would have patted him on the shoulder but I wasn’t sure I could reach it.