"Father, I heard you talking about the limits of what a hard man can hold. I think we're at that limit given our own band of men. We have control over all the lakes and our base here on Mille Lacs allows us to feed from the lake's fish year-round as well as take advantage of the fresh water. We're not likely to do much better than this, not with the pressure coming from the Necromancer to the south. I think we should reconsider future plans."
"You're reconsidering whom to marry the boy off to."
"We're not going to make it as just ordinary men. We can't keep up the numbers, or the material, for much longer. As soon as whatever it is that consumes The Necromancer's attention is done, he'll turn again north and come at us with a tidal wave of zeds to wash us away. We need to take any advantage we can get if what you carved out of the ruins is to endure well into Jeremy's lifetime."
"To what do we turn then?" I said, "We sell ourselves to some witch? That will go well when Ken hears of it. The natives fled deeper into the wilderness, those that survived, and that meant going further north so they're out. Are we to produce nuclear weapons out of tinfoil and beer? Come on, son! There is only one option of that sort open to us."
"We'll tell the boy tomorrow after breakfast. It'll give him time to prepare."
"The journey. He's got to be the one to go bring Ken back. You're going to be too busy keeping the place going to go running around the field."
"You know what else that means, Father."
"Yes, and I know that some of the homesteads aren't keen on Stalkers. Too bad. It's join Ken's people or die out, and I'm not one for dying out- even if I don't have much longer myself to live."
"It's decided then?"
"Hell yes it is. Ken's got to have a daughter by now. Jeremy's marrying her and breeding heirs, like it or not."