The next day Julia and I were left at home while Tom and Jason went to meet with Monroe. I had been sitting in my room reading the book Rights of Man by Thomas Paine. I had been staring at the same page for hours. It wasn't that it didn't have interesting points, it was all about revolutions and governments I could see why Monroe had banned it, it was just that I was too nervous about Jason to focus.
"Ciara?" Julia called coming down the hall. "Are you awake?"
"Yeah, just reading. Any word yet?"
"I'm sure they'll be back soon. The boys were gone a while, weren't they? They probably just have a lot of things to talk about," I assured her. It was then that the front door opened and we heard Tom and Jason come in. We both breathed out a sigh of relief when we heard them talking quietly. Jason came upstairs and Julia left my room. "How'd it go?" I asked.
"General Monroe isn't going to have me killed or shipped off to California, so that's a good thing I guess."
"You guess? I'd say that's an excellent thing!"
"The girl I was looking for is in danger. Monroe is taking me off her case and he's reassigned the most ruthless of all the militia soldiers in my place."
"Why do you care about what happens to her? You were supposed to bring her in, weren't you?"
"Yeah, I was but I couldn't do it. I let her go and now she and her friends are going to die anyways."
"Do you save damsels in distress every day, or should I be worried?" I asked jokingly.
"I saved her because he reminded me of you, or should I say she reminded me of Elizabeth."
"If she's in trouble you should help her. It's the right thing to do."
"Monroe won't be happy about it," he said.
"Oh, screw Monroe. If he wants some innocent girl and her friends dead he should talk to me about it. I could trigger the war with one coded letter to Georgia, obviously he doesn't want that."
"I shouldn't be gone long," Jason told me.
He put his hand on my cheek and looked into my eyes for a moment before kissing me. It was the first time we'd kissed since I'd been Elizabeth and he'd been Nate. "You be careful too, it's just as dangerous here as anywhere else."
It had been over two weeks and I was starting to get worried about Jason. I doubted he would have had much trouble finding the whereabouts of the girl and it shouldn't have taken him long traveling by himself to reach her. The only thing I could imagine going wrong was if Monroe's soldier had caught him, in which case Bass probably knew something about it.
When I got to Monroe's office he was sitting at the desk flipping through some papers and drinking a glass of some alcohol or another. "Where's Jason?"
"Hm?" He mumbled looking up. "Oh, Ciara, I was wondering when you might stop in for another visit. I haven't seen much of you since Jason returned."
"Where is he?" I asked.
"How would I know? He isn't out on a job for me. He's on temporary leave," Bass said.
"I don't know why you assume I had something to do with it. Maybe he just got cold feet about the wedding.
"I am here as an emissary of Georgia and it's really up to me how things work out between our nations. Either you tell me where Jason is or I leave."
He laughed. "I would like to see you try. I'll tell you what, I tell you where Jason is and you give me information about Georgia."
"I am a bargaining piece, not a spy."
"I'm curious about how Georgia works. We have laws and militias to keep our citizens in line."
"So do we, but we don't use them to terrorize people. Our citizens love Georgia. They choose to live in Georgia because we treat them well. That is the glue of a strong society. Trust between the people and the government. Something you do not have here." I took a breath. "I could help you, rebuild I mean. The Republic doesn't have to be horrible. It would be an awkward transition, sure. But once the people realized that there were changes happening for their benefit you could have an actual republic."
"As opposed to?"
"You are aware the definition of a republic is a state in which the power resides with the people's elected representatives. Last time I checked you didn't hold any elections."
"And you have in Georiga?"
"We don't claim to be a republic, do we?" I asked. "We have state representatives and they all work with President Jackson. That's a story for another time. I answered your question, now answer mine. Where is Jason?"
As soon as I left Monroe's office I went to find Tom. "Monroe told me where I could find Jason. I think you should probably go with me, I have the feeling I'm going to need help carrying him out."
We went to one of the prison buildings and down to the bottom floor. One of the rooms at the far end of the hall had a glass wall and inside we could see Jason sitting tied to a chair, his back facing us. I threw open the door and went to his side. He was a mess, bloody and bruised and generally terrible looking. "Jason?" I touched his cheek and he moaned in pain.
"We need to get him back home," Tom said. I helped him pick Jason up and as delicately as we could we carried him back across the compound to the house. I pushed the door open and almost tripped over Julia. She gasped when she saw the state Jason was in. She helped us move him into one of the guest rooms down the hall so we didn't have to carry him upstairs.
"Is he going to be alright?" She asked worried.
"I think he'll be fine," Tom said.
"What the fuck was Bass thinking?" I snapped.
"Whatever Jason was off doing must have really pissed Monroe off," Tom said.
"Oh god," I said.
"What?" Julia asked.
"He was off helping that girl. I told him to go save her, because it was the right thing to do. He said Monroe wouldn't like it," I explained.
"Which girl, Charlie Matheson?" Tom asked.
"I don't know, he didn't tell me her name. It was the girl he was looking for in Chicago." I paused. "Matheson? As in Miles Matheson?"
"How do you know Miles?"
"He was in the military with my dad, he used to visit. How many people from that family does Bass need? Why does he even care so much?"
"Didn't you know Miles was Bass right hand man up until he abandoned Monroe a couple of years ago?"
"Suddenly things make a little bit more sense."
I hardly ever left Jason's side while he was recovering. He was mostly unconscious but I was determined to be there as soon as he opened his eyes. Julia brought my meals to his room and I slept on the loveseat couch, despite it being much too small to stretch out comfortably. A few days after Tom and I rescued Jason, Monroe stopped by. I could hear him talking to Tom in the living room.
"Your son not only disobeyed one of your direct orders but he also tried to sabotage a very important mission. No one else would have had the chance to make a second mistake, but because he is your son I gave him a second chance. Now I give him a choice, either he reports immediately to the California Commonwealth or he faces execution for treason," Monroe told Tom.
"Crossing the Plains Nation is as good as a death sentence," Tom said.
"At least he will have the chance to fight for his life."
"What about Ciara?"
"She will remain here. I can't imagine President Jackson would be pleased if I sent his daughter to California. I'm sure we can find another young man who would be a more suitable match for her." After that they moved farther away and I couldn't hear the rest of the conversation. I could assume though that Tom would chose reassignment to California over a death sentence. Either way I was not willing to part with Jason so soon after I'd found him.
I began rounding up the maids. As I had learned in Georgia the maids knew the most details about everyone's lives. I used to have my own pack of maids that spanned three or four states of the Federation. I had them gather in the guest room where Jason was still barely conscious, I thought it would trigger their caring natures and make them more eager to help. "Molly, Casey, Anna Beth, the three of you are here because I know you work in the households of the most important militia families. I need your help; I need dirt that could convince Monroe to expel a different family from the area."
"A maid keeps her families dirty laundry clean," Casey said.
"Of course, but a woman also knows what's best for herself and for others," I told her.
"What would be in it for us," Anna Beth asked.
"Protection, if Monroe finds out about your spying. There's nothing he can do against me. And after this is all settled I will make sure you each have a little extra to fill your pockets." They dispersed; all I could do now was wait.
It was hardly two hours before Molly returned. "I have something Ms. Jackson."
"Oh, don't call me that. That makes me sound incredibly old. What did you find?"
"One of the other officers was talking with his wife about their son. He's been missing for some time, you see, and most people presumed he was dead. I heard her tell him that she wanted to see her son no matter the consequences."
"Consequences?" I asked curiously.
"Their son is a rebel, she said it herself. The family will be under tremendous investigation, it always happens after a national security breach. Most likely Monroe will have no choice but to exile the entire family, you never know who could be a rebel spy," Molly told me.
"Obviously whoever tells Monroe about this will greatly appreciated, I'm sure. I suppose he might even be likely to grant a favor to that person."
"It's very likely yes. You should tell him before anyone else finds out." She pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket and handed it to me. "Here's the man's name."
"Thank you very much, Molly. You've been a tremendous help," I told her as I pocket the paper.
I had to wait around outside Monroe's office for a good hour before he finished his meeting. I pushed through the door before all the men even had a chance to leave. One of the men was still talking to Bass and I walked in between them. "Excuse me, sir. General Monroe and I have some very important business to discus. Life and death matters, you understand." I shooed him out and closed the door behind him.
"What's so important you couldn't wait until I finished my meeting to tell me?" Bass asked. He offered me a seat but I shook my head.
"I have information about a possible rebel spy in your midst."
"A rebel spy? Why would you know anything about that?" He asked curiously.
"Rebel spies killed the three soldiers charged with bring me from Georgia. I know how dangerous and unpredictable they can be," I told him. "Like I said, one of your very own has a rebel for a son. My sources tell me that father and son have been meeting secretly to discus important Militia information," I lied. I handed him the paper Molly had given me. "This is the man you should be looking into."
"I suppose you want something in exchange for this information," Monroe said taking the note.
"Only for Jason to remain in the Republic, all of his mistakes forgiven, nothing much."
"As long as you promise to keep in line yourself, a simple request I think."
"Nothing much at all."
The next afternoon I was sitting my Jason's bedside with Julia. "Monroe needs to be dealt with," Julia said. I glanced up from my book. "You can see it, can't you? He's crazy. You need to be careful, he's been cordial so far but if you don't do as he says he could turn to violence."
"I'm too important for that," I told her.
"I'm not the only one who thinks Monroe isn't fit for his position any longer. There are more who would rise up against him, given the chance. Tom could take his place. Once you and Jason are married, Georgia and the Republic could coexist or even work towards putting the country back together."
"You cannot repeat that to anyone," I told her.
"Ciara, you know it's true."
"Julia, what you're saying is treason, true or not."
After a moment she nodded curtly. "Of course, you're right."
Julia was right, Monroe was crazy. The Republic would be better off with someone else in charge, maybe not Tom but someone. As much as I wanted to agree with her I couldn't. Monroe held all the cards. If he got power then Georgia would be in danger and I would be the only thing stopping him from destroying my home.