The threesome rode side-by-side behind the soldiers and group of wagons. As the slow pace of the horses lulled them into daydreams, their minds wandered to the events of the past few days.
The soldier on the left thought about how when he had first heard of this assignment he cursed the day he'd ever met Bill Brennan, but as the days wore on and the promise of excitement in Indian Territory got ever closer he silently thanked his friend for suggesting to the General that he come along.
The soldier on the right, Cpl. William M. Brennan, let his mind drift to the warm afternoon when he had gone to the barns to choose the horses for their travel. The smell of hay and horse teased his memory on the dusty trail and he slowly looked from animal to animal. The black gelding who had been snorting fire ever since they left the barn was perfect for his best friend, Jack. The roan with the strip down its nose had been his own personal favorite for a while, and when he saw the pretty little bay with the straight legs and promise of sure feet he knew it would be perfect for her.
Katherine McInnis sat on that pretty bay pony and shrugged her shoulders. The ride had been long, and was sure to be longer. Even if she dropped dead from exhaustion, she wasn't going to show it and curse her good fortune. She thought about the day the General had finally consented to speak to her, consent was too kind a word, and smiled to herself. He had pulled her into the office so quickly it was all she could do not to jump for joy. Finally she might get some answers.
"Miss McInnis, as I've told you before, our offices have heard nothing." began the General.
"But you do agree that Colonel Leavenworth left St. Louis?" she asked, and the General nodded his agreement. "The men of the 3rd Infantry with him?" Another nod. "My brother among those men?" A third and final nod. "Well then General, you can see my frustration at not having heard anything more. No letters, no mention whatsoever. I can see that you are getting your post," she waved to an assortment of maps and plans across the General's office, the least of which detailed something called a 'Permanent Military Indian Frontier' and carried on "what would you expect me to do?"
She had been amazed at her good fortune. After nearly an hour of heated argument, the General promised her escort as far as the Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. It was the last point that she had heard from her brother, but it was a fair enough place to start.