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The Great Locomotive Chase


  The Yonah was an older engine than the General but of the same 4-4-0 gauge. She had been removed from service from the Western and Atlantic Railroad previously and put into use transporting coal and iron for a privately owned mining company. She lacked the beauty and flash of the General but was, nonetheless, an iron horse, and she could run. As the pole car rolled into the Etowah station, the Yonah was resting on the turntable. The men jumped off the pole car, and I followed. I knew I'd have to be insistent or Fuller would leave me behind at the first convenient moment. Kipp could execute another persuasive mind invasion as he'd done previously on the resolute conductor, if needed. The initial suggestion was made before he found out I was a female, and his doubts as to the appropriateness of my being present had grown since that jaw dropping revelation. I looked down at Kipp. He stared back and began to wag his tail. I think it was his eternal optimism that fueled his energy; there was no doubt in his mind that we would find Peter. The ride on the pole car had helped dry his fur although mud and dirt was clinging to his undercarriage. Poor Elani was forlorn looking, her ears drooping with misery. It was then Kipp took things in hand with inspirational energy. "Listen, Elani. You have to change your attitude. Things happen in this business. In case you didn't get the memo, this is a dangerous line of work. You need to man up, get your game face on, and help focus on Peter. We will find him, and we won't stop until we do." I'm not sure where Kipp was acquiring his impressive store of slang expressions and fashionable phrases, but I considered that we might want to have less television on at the house. I recalled his uttering things such as "Talk to the paw", "I've got your back", and more recently, "Do you feel me?". Yes, time to read more and watch less television. "Kipp, be prepared to plant another suggestion if the men decide to leave us behind," I said, cutting into his kick butt speech to Elani. "And you might want to read about a man named George Patton," I added. "Sure, boss," he replied. "And who is George Patton?" Kipp asked, looking up at me. "A very tough man, a general in World War 2," I replied. "He gave a lot of motivational speeches, some of which his troops regretted receiving. I met him once," I added, off-handedly. Meanwhile, the men were maneuvering the Yonah onto the turntable, connecting the tender as well as a flat car. Murphy realized they needed to take repair items due to the nagging notion that the fugitives on the General would probably continue to damage the tracks up ahead of us. Some of our party left us at that point, and only Fuller, Murphy and Cain boarded the new train. There were some scattered Confederate soldiers loitering near the siding, who appeared to have nothing pressing, and they jumped aboard too, gathering on the open flat car that was hitched to the tender. I ran towards the Yonah and put my hand on the railing to climb aboard, planning to sit on the front of the tender. Fuller stared at me, the notions of Kipp's implanted ideas having faded in the excitement of the chase. But oddly, Kipp had no need to intervene. Murphy stepped to the edge of the engine and held his hand out to me. "You've earned the right to be here," he said.  

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