Tech Sergeant Scott cursed in frustration, barely restraining himself from smashing the FSOC communications panel. It had worked fine the last time he’d spoken with Colonel Blanchard but ever since, the system would not lock onto the orbiting satellite. He’d tried a dozen times, from an equal number of different locations, with the same result on each attempt. A little wheel would spin on the display while it flashed a message that the system was attempting to make a connection, but that’s as far as it ever got.
He’d rebooted the system. He’d climbed onto the roof of the Bradley and inspected the laser system that transmitted the beam. He’d cleaned the lens. He’d even said a prayer, not thinking about the irony of using every four-letter word in the book as part of a plea to God. None of it helped.
“Still not working?” Irina asked. She was seated in the back of the Bradley, sharing an MRE with Igor.
“No,” Scott said, frustration clear in his voice. “The goddamn thing won’t lock on, or maybe it will lock on but the software won’t sync, or… who the fuck knows what’s wrong with it.”
Irina translated and Igor laughed before saying something in Russian.
“Igor says you should try the Russian fix,” Irina translated.
“Yeah, what’s that?” Scott turned to look at them.
“Drink some Vodka and slap the side of the computer really hard.”
“Tell him if he’s got some Vodka I’m happy to give it a try,” Scott replied with a snort.
Irina translated and Igor smiled and shrugged.
“So what do we do now?” She asked. “Tinker is abandoned. We don’t have comms with anyone. Should we head back towards the canyons where we found Rachel?”
Scott sat back and let out a long sigh. Forcing himself to be calm he reached out and hit the button to reboot the FSOC system. Once it completed the restart he initiated the sync process, willing the spinning wheel to go away and the status to change from red to green. But it didn’t.
“That’s our best option at this point,” he said. “But we can’t spend much time looking for the Major. We need to head to Idaho. Rachel’s on the ground.”
“And where in Idaho do we start looking?” Irina asked with her eyebrows raised. “I believe it’s a fairly large state.”
Scott looked at her but didn’t have a good answer. His frustration threatened to boil over but he held back. There was no point in losing his temper with Irina. She was right. Idaho was big. And it was a long ways away. Shutting down the comm app he loaded the navigation system and started looking.
Idaho was about 1,400 miles away from where they were sitting on the windswept Oklahoma prairie. And the damn state was over 80,000 square miles. Clicking a couple of icons he had the system generate a route to Idaho. Once it came up he had the system calculate drive time.
A Bradley’s top speed is 40 miles per hour. Maintaining that speed for 1,400 miles wasn’t reasonable, so he calculated using a 30 miles per hour average. 44 hours without fuel stops, but they’d have to stop five times to fill the big vehicle’s tank. Best time would be 48 hours, but it would probably be longer than that, depending on what they ran into along the way. Then, once they got there, where the hell did they start looking?
“OK, so going to Idaho may not be a smart move. Let’s get rolling and see if we can find the Major.”
Scott cleared the route to Idaho and set up a new path that would take them back to the area where they had found Rachel and Joe. At least they had a starting point to search for the Major.
Irina finished up her meal and went back to the front of the vehicle where she climbed into the driver’s station. Starting the engine she goosed the throttle and put them on the route Scott had sent to her nav station.