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Authors: Glen Tate

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BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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Ron started to scream out, “These men were coming to my house and to Len’s to burn us down. Judy Kilmer told us so.” Ron wanted everyone to know what had happened and why.

When another crowd of people timidly came out to see the commotion, Ron repeated what he’d previously said about Carlos and the others and what they were planning to do.

Then he added, to the now-larger crowd, “They said they were going to show us that the ‘legitimate authorities were still in charge.’”

Ron pointed down at the dead bodies and yelled, “There you have it, folks. The ‘legitimate authorities’ with a can of gas coming to burn out two families. That’s your ‘legitimate authorities’ for you. That’s what they do. But they’re ‘legitimate’ so it must be okay – right?”

Everyone was silent. It was time for Ron to yell out what he’d been wishing he could say for months.

“The Patriots have won!” he screamed. “We have taken the city. And our intelligence is telling us about things like what these guys planned to do, how they planned, and when they were going to do it,” he said pointing down at the bodies. “We know about everything. Everything.”

He paused. He wanted the word “everything” to settle into them.

“So this is your chance, your only chance, to come clean,” he yelled, looking each of them in the eye. “Come and tell me all the things you were forced to do for the ‘legitimate authorities’ and you will be pardoned. I will see to it that you are pardoned. Work with us and we’ll take care of you. No revenge. Forgive and forget. Forgive and forget.”

Ron paused and then yelled, “But if you continue to fight us, you’ll end up like them. We know everything.
Everything
.”

Later that morning, people came over to Ron’s house and wanted to talk to him privately. Ron had a notebook of paper and took notes as people confessed what they’d done for the government. They were ashamed. The most common thing they admitted was turning in neighbors in an attempt to get extra FCard credits. No one did anything that led to anyone dying or going to a TDF, but still. People were tattling on, or outright lying about, their neighbors to gain favor with Carlos so they could get extra little things and not be a target themselves.

Everyone stressed that to Ron. “We just did this so they wouldn’t come after us,” they said. Exactly, Ron thought. Help out the system that you know is doing terrible things, just so you will be left alone. So you will keep your privileges. So no one will think you’re a “right-winger.” Helping the system so they don’t come after you. That’s how it had been for a long time.

Ron looked at his notes. Confession after confession of shameful and regrettable things. Friends betraying friends. What he read bothered him, disturbed him. This was sick and stuff like this wasn’t supposed to happen in America. But this wasn’t America anymore.

 

Chapter 320

Reconciliation

(January 3)

 

 

“The Governor?” Grant asked the soldier who had grabbed his arm. The governor of the old state? The Lima governor? Huh?

“The Interim Governor,” the soldier said. “Gov. Trenton.”

What?

“Ben Trenton?” Grant asked, jokingly.

“Yes, sir,” the soldier said. “That’s his first name. I’m pretty sure.”

No way. How could this soldier know that Grant and Ben were old friends? Or that they had talked about how crazy it would be if Ben ever were the governor. Grant thought he was hallucinating from the sleep deprivation.

“Are you kidding me, soldier?” Grant asked, in his lieutenant’s voice. “I’m not in a laughing mood right now,” he said, looking over at Wes.

“No, sir,” the soldier said confidently. “Gov. Trenton’s office wants to see you. A security detail will be arriving in a few minutes to take you there.”

This must be real, Grant thought. Shit. Ben was really the governor—or Interim Governor or whatever he was. What are the odds?

You should know by now.

Hearing the outside voice gave Grant goose bumps. It comforted him, too, because he knew the things that were happening, especially Wes' death, were supposed to happen.

Grant still couldn’t fully believe that Ben was the Governor. All the evidence pointed toward that—especially if a security detail came soon and took Grant. But … Grant couldn’t really comprehend it all. He had slowly come to understand and accept all the “coincidences.” Getting the cabin, knowing Ted and Chip, Gideon’s semi, having all the food and guns out at Pierce Point. But Ben as Governor was just too much. It made all the things out at Pierce Point and with the 17th seem like they were mere preparations for something truly big.

Yes.

Grant’s goose bumps came back when he heard the outside thought confirm his assumptions. Grant had thought things were already pretty amazing, but this was an order of magnitude more amazing.

This got Grant thinking. He tried to suspend his normal thought process which looked at things in terms of what is likely to happen, instead of what miracles could possibly happen. Okay, he told himself as he waited for the security detail to pick him, anything is possible. Anything. Think big. Don’t limit yourself to the likely.

What should Grant try to do at the Governor’s Office? What would be considered thinking big?

Blank. Grant’s mind was blank. He had no idea. He didn’t know what to ask the Governor for or what he needed to accomplish. Blank.

Reconciliation.

That was it! Avoiding a French Revolution outcome. Preventing the people of this state from tearing each other apart for decades with reprisals and blood feuds. Getting people to reconcile with their former enemies and to move on and make things livable again in this place.

A pick-up full of contractor-looking guys pulled up to the vehicle checkpoint at the intersection in front of the brewery. The driver showed something to the guards, they pointed toward Grant and Grant signaled that he was coming over.

Grant started walking toward the truck. He came up to the driver, who had a State Patrol badge out. The old state badge. It was pretty obvious he wasn’t a Lima, though.

“Looks like you’re my ride,” Grant said to him. He noticed that many of the contractor guys had “Wash. State Guard” name tapes on their jackets.

“Your name, sir?” the driver asked.

“Lt. Grant Matson,” Grant said.

“Then we are your ride, sir,” the driver replied.

One of the occupants of the cab, who was in standard State Guard fatigues with name tapes and all, got out and made room for Grant.

“No,” Grant said to the soldier, who he noticed had captain’s bars on his uniform. “No, sir,” Grant added, seeing the bars. “I ride in the back. I’m used to it.”

Grant had a surge of cockiness come over him, so he added, “I’m a 17th Irregular, sir. It’s how we roll.” He had no idea why he said that, except that he was thoroughly enjoying this moment. He knew nothing bad could happen to him, not if the Governor wanted to see him.

The captain smiled and got back into the cab. He was happy to stay warm while their guest rode in the back.

Grant climbed in the back of the truck with three other guys and the truck took off. Grant was happy that the rain had finally stopped. Grant asked the guys what unit they were in.

“We’re assigned to SOC,” one of them said, referring to the Special Operations Command.

“Let me guess,” Grant said, “You used to work with Lt. Col. Hammond at Ft. Lewis back in the day.”

The contractors smiled. “Yes, sir,” one of them answered.

“Ted Malloy is my First Sergeant,” Grant said. They all knew Ted. Some of them knew Sap, too. They talked about how many former Special Forces guys were Oath Keepers and had come over to the Patriot side. Knowing how many SF guys were at Boston Harbor shed light on why HQ was able to do all the amazing things it had been doing. They talked until the truck pulled up at the old WAB building.

Grant was shocked to see his old office. It was trashed, partially burned with broken windows. But it was full of soldiers and civilians and the lights were on. It was full of activity.

He was also surprised to be taken to the WAB offices instead of the capitol itself. He basically trusted these guys who had taken him, but he was always on guard for a trap. He wondered if this was one.

“This where we’re supposed to be?” Grant asked the driver with the State Patrol badge.

“Yes, sir,” the driver said. “This is where the Governor is. That’s classified, of course.”

“Of course,” Grant said. Okay, if this was a trap, it was so elaborate that it probably wasn’t a trap. No one would go to this much trouble just to capture little ole’ Grant Matson.

The driver led Grant into the building. Two uniformed State Patrol troopers were at the reception area. . They were in old state uniforms and had a piece of tape on their badges that said something, probably with the name of the new state on it. The new state? That sounded weird. Grant wondered what the name of his new state even was.

The troopers saw Grant with his AR, kit, and pistol and started to stop him. One of them said, “No weapons past this point, sir.”

Then Grant heard a very familiar voice, a wonderful and joyous sound.

“He’s cool, gentlemen,” Ben said to the guards. Ben came over and hugged Grant. He had to lean into it to get an above-the-arms hug because Grant had his AR slung across his front.

“That won’t do,” Grant said, referring to the partial hug. He took off his rifle, which caused the troopers to put their hands on their pistols. Grant handed his AR to the captain.

“Now we can do this,” Grant said as he held out his arms. He hugged Ben. It wasn’t a mere bro hug. It was a full-on “haven’t seen you in years, dude, thought you were dead,” hug.

Things were normal. Ben was alive. Grant was at the WAB building, just like the old days. Except Ben was the Governor and Grant was a soldier. That was definitely not normal, though it was going to be the new norm now.

“I have some people for you to see,” Ben said. He led Grant into office where Grant found Tom and Brian and even Carly!

Hugs all around. Grant was tearing up. So were they.

They all shared their fears that the other had been killed.

They caught up on how they’d escaped and hidden out as POIs, giving the short versions of each story because they didn’t have much time. Grant had the strongest feeling that everyone in that room had been protected by a mighty hand. It was an unmistakable feeling.

When the catching up was over, Grant asked, “How did you know I was in Olympia?”

“That’s actually why you’re here,” Ben said. “Send in General Roswell, please,” Ben said to Tom and Brian, who were sitting at the table in Ben’s office. Brian got up and went out of the office.

Ben said, “We have some business to talk about, Grant.”

This was it. The reason for the cabin, Pierce Point, the 17th. All of it. They were the prerequisites necessary to put Grant and Ben in this office to talk about this topic. Grant could feel the goose bumps. He knew, with absolute certainty that all the “coincidences” had led up to this office meeting. There had been a plan, a roadmap. None of this was happening by chance.

Grant hoped reconciliation would be the topic. If not, he would make it the topic, even if it meant angering Ben and losing a friend. He knew what he was supposed to do and he knew it would happen. He expected a miracle. The odds no longer applied to Grant. That wasn’t arrogant, it was humbling. He was part of something huge, a little tiny player in a vast, magnificent theatrical production that happened to be real life.

A distinguished looking military man walked in with Lt. Col. Hammond. They both came to attention when they got near Ben.

“At ease, gentlemen,” Ben said. It sounded weird to Grant, hearing Ben talk in military lingo, but someone had told Ben that saying “at ease” was what the Governor does, so Ben obliged. And he did it well, just like a real Governor. He
was
a real Governor, Grant kept telling himself.

“General Roswell and Colonel Hammond,” Ben said, “this is Lieutenant Grant Matson.” They exchanged pleasantries. Grant wanted to high five Hammond, but that wouldn’t exactly be protocol.

“General Roswell tells me,” Ben said, again sounding just like a Governor, “that we’re having some trouble with what to do with prisoners and collaborators. He and Colonel Hammond had an idea that just happened to be along the lines of what I was already thinking, and I thought of you, Grant, as maybe the person who could do it.”

Grant knew exactly what it was, but he listened patiently anyway. He needed to hear the Governor and General out.

“From a humanitarian and political perspective,” Ben began, “we can’t have a bloody twenty-year simmering civil war. We just can’t. We have to get this behind us. We have a state to rebuild. We can’t get the economy back up and running if neighbors are killing each other over old grudges about who collaborated with which side. We just can’t have it.”

Ben added, “Obviously, from a military perspective, to which I defer to General Roswell, we can’t have a long fight like this. So we need…” Ben struggled for just the right word.

“Reconciliation,” Grant said confidently.

BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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