Day 115: 24 Nov 2010
I wanted to board the boat as soon as it docked, but Captain Black held up one hand to stop me.
"Hold on. We've got no idea who or what is on that boat, and you're not armed. I'll go in first."
He raised his M4 into firing position. Slowly, he inched toward the boat, sighting down the barrel of the gun as he moved. When Ronan stepped out, Black nearly shot him.
"Whoa! Calm down! He's on our side!" I said.
Black gradually lowered his weapon, not taking his eyes off Ronan for a second. Ronan just gave Black a passing glance as he sighed heavily, steam from his lungs filling the air.
He didn't look very good. Not at all. Even bundled up in his parka and hood, I could see Ronan's face looked leaner. Gaunt, I guess. He looked beyond tired.
"Cassie," he said with a weak wave. "Any luck in Texas?"
I just shook my head. Ronan nodded inland at the destroyed base.
"Yeah, you can see I didn't do a bang-up job, either. Are they here?"
"If they're on base, we haven't seen 'em," Black said. "Mind telling me who you are?"
"I told you, Captain, he's on our side. Where will they have gone, Ronan?"
"Further inland. According to the work the West Coast Syndicate was doing, the place they're looking for is about forty miles east of the base."
"That jives with my Intel. Cassie, if you're willing to vouch for this guy, I'll have my chopper take us in."
"I am," I said.
"Chopper's a bad idea, man. They'll hear it coming miles off. We need a quieter ride."
"The base has a couple of Snow Cats. Assuming Travis and his people didn't destroy them, we can take one of those most of the way, then walk it in."
"And what are we supposed to do when we get there? Let them kill us as easy as they killed everyone on the base?" I asked.
Ronan just looked at me for a long moment. He shook his head slowly.
"You mean. . . you don't know?"
"Know what?" I said.
"Cassie, honey. . . you're strong enough to kill them with your bare hands. You're the only one who can," Ronan told me.