Supernatural Science Fiction posted April 14, 2011 Chapters:  ...3 4 -5- 6... 

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
In spite of problems, the team perseveres.

A chapter in the book Weapon

Fallout And Expediency

by SeLF

Patrick phoned us with an update 9:30 a.m. After the responding officers heard his story, they requested to take evidence photos of his still-healing bruises and abrasions inflicted by Bosworth and Struthers. He obliged. All the emergency vehicles were gone, including the fire truck, which stayed for a couple of hours to ensure any hot spots were quelled. A forensic team was still on site meticulously gathering evidence in and around the barn. The entire property had been declared a crime scene. For security, a patrol car was stationed at the driveway entrance to the farm, while others regularly patrolled the road around the property.

"Bosworth is in the hospital," said Patrick. "The others were taken to the detachment for booking. Struthers had a raving fit when he saw the smouldering ruins of the Mazda. I heard him yelling. Well, I think everyone heard him yelling. One of the officers, Constable Michaela Kelly, was ready to regag him with the duct tape."

Henry's face creased into a smile at the image. "Who is the officer in charge?" he asked.

"Staff Sergeant David Prescott. He came out because it was an unusual call. I gave him the anti-trafficking contact numbers and told him Leland Stromann keeps the documents for the workers at the mansion. You should hear from him any time now. Miss Sterling, too, regarding obtaining statements from Faye and Elizabeth about the death threats made by Bosworth and Struthers. He has contacted the 500 Hundred Mile House detachment about getting victims' statements at the safe facility."

"We're looking forward to talking to him. There are a couple of legal ins-and-outs that need to be dealt with expeditiously in the next few days," said Henry.

I knew he was thinking about the raid on the modular housing factory, among other things.

"Well," Patrick continued, "right now, he knows how much I want to join my family. I talked to Faye and Elizabeth, and Ken Steward, while Prescott was here. He spoke to them, too. Elizabeth told him how impressed they are with your group's setup; he was very interested in what she had to say. I'm looking forward to seeing it myself. Later today, I'll make my official statement at the detachment before driving to Haven Lake. There, I'll connect with Ken and follow him to the Citadel. Because of the police presence here, the farm will be secure for the next several days."

He stopped abruptly. He took in a couple of deep, ragged breaths.

"Patrick, are you alright?" I asked.

His breathing calmed, but his voice was thick with emotion. "I'm better than alright. I'm almost floating because a huge weight has been lifted. My family is safe. I will probably sleep better tonight than I have in many months, what with losing my farm, and then this nightmare. I'm SO grateful you two showed up on the doorstep on Tuesday afternoon."


After his call, Henry, Adam, Garth and I discussed our options. Matt had not yet returned from 500 Hundred Mile House.

Adam, tightly wound to the point of pacing, and direct as always, started the conversation.

"Why don't we just go to the detachment now and tell them why we did what we did? I mean, if we could figure out what was going on, why didn't they? Okay, I already know the answer to that one. Human trafficking is the focus of our group. The Mounties have all kinds of illegal activities to try and stay on top of, and not enough manpower to be everywhere at once. I get that. But, they're still going to be p.o.'d because we ventured into their domain. They might even think we tried to show them up.

"Given the problems they've had of late with questionable calls made by officers in the field, the Dudley Doright image has taken some big hits. If media gets wind of our intervention, and the Mounties' total unawareness of trafficked people working as slave labour in Two Rivers, it will cause them greater embarrassment, and possibly raise questions of collusion."

"We could work with them as a joint task force."

Every head swivelled in Garth's direction. He was tucked away in a big armchair in the far corner of the room.

"Why not? I'm going on record now that I will continue with nighttime surveillance of the factory for the next few nights. There is still unfinished, serious business here. Maybe Staff Sergeant Prescott would consider loaning us one of his men, or women, to be a liaison. That way, when stuff happens, and it will, their media spokesperson can announce it was a cooperative undercover operation. The detachment was simply utilizing our broader knowledge of human trafficking and comprehensive network of intel sharing and gathering. They could put a very favourable spin on the whole thing."

He moved forward in the chair and added, "The bottom line is, we have a moral obligation to continue when we know in our guts what's happening. People are suffering even as we sit here discussing this."

He slumped back in his chair. His first in-the-field participation with the group had left him pale with fatigue, and twitchy from all the coffee he had consumed in the past two days. It had been a troubling, up-close revelation for him.

"We'll talk to Matt when he returns. I don't think he'd disagree with Garth," said Henry. "I'll call the detachment now."


At 2:30 that afternoon, all of us, including Matt, walked into David Prescott's office. An unhappy looking crown counsel lawyer was with him. After introductions, Prescott informed us Gale Travis was waiting for a judge to sign a warrant to obtain the personal documents of the trafficked victims. Both had viewed most of the tape footage and seen the photos of Patrick. That partly accounted for Travis's dark countenance. He wanted to throw the book at Struthers and Bosworth. The news made my spirit soar. However, he was irate that we, and not the RCMP, had secured all the evidence. Most of it, with the exception of the physical assaults on Patrick and the death threats against him and his family, could be bounced because of our being on the property without a search warrant.

I opened my big mouth. "Couldn't that regrettable fact be mitigated by what the physical evidence and testimonies reveal about the systematic cruelty and outright criminal disregard for human rights shown towards the victims? For crying out loud, they were bought, sold and treated like commodities!"

I bristled with frustration. Henry's calm and serious expression caught my eye; he shook his head once, almost imperceptibly.

I wrestled to rein in my feelings. Doing a twist-and-shout routine wasn't going to help, especially if I were to inadvertently light up in the staff sergeant's office.

Gale Travis looked at me, not unsympathetically. His bloodshot, world-weary eyes had dark, packed bags under them.

"There is powerful evidence of physical and sexual abuse on the tapes. But, that gets only Bosworth and Struthers, not the night guards, and certainly not Stromann. This is frustrating for me, too," he added.

I was unapologetic, but somewhat mollified.

"Mr. Travis, have you ever driven past the 'Green Homes' factory? Have you looked at its exterior? It is a very ominous looking place, with a lot of sophisticated electronic security. There is nothing green and open about it. Even suppliers have to clear security to deliver their goods. The same with truckers picking up the finished product. I bet interested individual customers can't access the place without a special, carefully staged and scripted, appointment. From the appearance of the exterior, one would think they were developing cutting edge, top secret, nano-technology instead of manufacturing environmentally friendly modular homes. There is something sinister happening there."

"I believe you. But, as crown counsel, I need probable cause in order to get a warrant."

I looked directly at Prescott before locking eyes with Henry across the room. The rest of the team looked to our focused and fearless leader to respond.

"A new member of this group made a smart suggestion worth considering. What if we worked together? We are convinced the factory is the second location in Two Rivers using trafficked persons for slave labour. The person who owns both properties is part of a group involved in human trafficking, primarily for industrial and agricultural labourers."

Prescott leaned forward in his chair.

"Constable Kelly told me a few days ago about someone from Haven Lake inquiring if we knew about a group called The Cadre. That was one of your people."

"Yes. We've been gathering information about them. Sir, are you aware that they are a far right wing group in their political ideology, and highly elitist and exclusionary in their twisted view of Christianity? Because they regard themselves as the chosen ones, they act with impunity. The poor, they think, are here merely to serve their needs, like slaves.

"This kind of attitude is irrational, but if you stop and think about it, you can see it has already slithered into mainstream business thinking. All you have to do is look at all the people in this country, this province, who are working at 'slave wage' jobs with no benefits. People having to be on call 24/7 for their jobs, without pay. Not getting paid for overtime hours. Look at the union busting efforts of right wing political ideologists south of us. Money buys power, privilege, and control. The top one percent of the population wants total control, not just of economics and industry, but of government, as well.

"The Cadre is here in Two Rivers. Leland Stromann stays at the mansion at 224610 Sunset Vista when he's in town. He owns the farm under the name 'Good Health Fruit And Produce', and the plant in the industrial park known as 'Green Homes'."

Henry stopped there. All eyes, including Travis's, settled on Prescott.

After a brief silence, he asked, "When were you planning to do the raid?" His facial expression was dead serious.

Henry nodded at Adam to continue.

"We need to do nighttime surveillance of the property to get numbers on guards and labourers. We would do the rescue at night when that part of town is empty and quiet. We're certain the victims are shut up in a smaller, fenced building on the factory property, which is already totally surrounded by a ten foot high fence equipped with surveillance cameras.

"We'll watch and learn for the next three nights, and then make our move just after 3:00 a.m., Monday."

Adam hesitated for a moment and then stood, and straightened to his full height. At attention, he was impressive.

"Staff Sergeant Prescott, we would appreciate having a liaison officer from the detachment do surveillance with us from our state-of-the-art tech van as part of a joint task force. The van is in the parking lot if you'd like to check it out."


In the hallway, we ran into Constable Kelly and Patrick Entwistle. He had just given his statement. Now, he was heading to Haven Lake where he would connect with Ken and proceed to the Citadel to reunite with his family.

After we said our goodbyes, Staff Sergeant Prescott looked at the freckled face of the sandy haired, ten-year veteran Kelly and said, "This is in your area of expertise, Constable; I'd like you to join us. This is the group that rescued the farm workers this morning. They have a state-of-the-technology surveillance van that will interest you, and have offered their assistance in a joint effort against human traffickers in our community. Your background is perfect to be the liaison intelligence officer."


When we got back to the motel, Garth, Adam, and Matt ate and then slept for a few hours before going to work. Michaela Kelly had left the detachment early to do the same before joining our guys. She would use an unmarked car to meet them at the vantage point Henry and I had found.

After they had gone to work, we phoned Lee to discuss events of the last couple of days. She was impressed by what we had accomplished so far. Because detachments from Haven Lake, Two Rivers, and 500 Mile House were now involved, she felt that success at the warehouse would ensure a great deal of favourable media coverage for the RCMP. Taking on modern day slavery would go a long way to restoring the public's trust in our iconic national law enforcement service.

Any legal problems the team might face, like trespassing and illegal seizure, would be dealt with by Lee and her esteemed contacts at the coast. She promised to give them a heads up in the morning about having some guests at the interim sanctuary by Tuesday or Wednesday. Tomorrow, she would get statements from Faye and Elizabeth Entwistle.

The last thing we discussed was Bosworth's and Struthers' owning the same kind of gun used to kill Arthur's dad and the still unidentified young woman. None of us believed for a moment it was just a coincidence.

"I will talk to Gilles Vaillancourt in the morning," Lee said. "He can arrange for forensic comparisons with Prescott. Solving those murders would restore some lustre to the RCMP's tarnished reputation. However, I am not going to say anything to Arthur until we know for sure, and have an airtight case.

"By the way, he aced his driving test. Early next week, he will test for operating a van with multiple passengers. He did not call you because he knew, through Whit, that circumstances had quickly become more complicated in what was supposed to be a simple, fact-finding mission.

"When this assignment is over, I promise we all will get together to break bread and relax. Frank and everyone else here is fine. So are Shy Guy and Snugglebutt, who have the run of the ground floor. Shy Guy loves the kitchen while Her Highness favours one particular chair in the library."

There was a moment of silence before she added, "All of you be very careful. We think of you every day."


The next two and a half days were spent acquiring intel about the plant and the people. Constable Kelly had recorded the movements of the work force to-and-from the factory building. Adam counted fifteen men. They were always moved late at night to the smaller, fenced building, and back to the plant in pre-dawn hours. He figured they were getting only four, maybe five, hours of sleep for every twenty-four. The rest of the time was work. Garth had seen what he thought were bandages on some of the arms and hands of three of the men. A fourth who had a bad limp wore something resembling a tensor bandage around his left ankle and foot.

They made note of other important facts. First, the workers didn't look as though they might have been trafficked from third world countries. There were no Asians or Africans among them, as near as they could tell from images taken in the dark, both with and without thermo-imaging. Second, none of the workers ever left the site. Third, the day staff carried Tasers. Fourth, the four night staff, who moved the workers to-and-fro, worked from midnight until 8:00 a.m. They carried handguns with silencers. These were the men we had to neutralize.

Barney Grier, the plant manager, was there, intermittently, on Friday. We did not see him on Saturday. It looked like he dropped in daily to check on things, and took weekends off.

On Friday before midnight, two men arrived in a large van and were checked through security. They unloaded a dozen large boxes at the factory building, and another half-dozen at the small, single storey one. They carried Tasers, too. Garth figured they were leaving food and sundry supplies.

We used our thermo-imaging goggles to try and see inside the plant and the other building. The smaller one wasn't roomy enough for fifteen men. They slept side-by-side on the floor, probably too exhausted and frightened to complain about the crowding.

The plant had five main work areas, the last of which was for partial assembly. Each had one supervisor and two floor walkers. Two teams of five supervisors and ten floor walkers worked in two shifts, one from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, and the other, 4:00 p.m. to midnight. The four guards armed with silencers worked midnight to 8:00 a.m.

While we watched and learned, Staff Sergeant Prescott had met with the volunteer co-ordinator of Two Rivers' Community Emergency Services, and a school board trustee. The plan was to set up shelter space for the men in the middle school gym for a couple of days, until their statements were gathered and their situations assessed. Afterwards, they would be moved on to the network's larger facilities in the city where they would receive individualized help.

Once again our plan was simple. Henry and I in the pickup, and Matt in the bus, join the van at the site for Sunday night. I destroy the transformer and the panel box at the back of the building cutting all power to the property. Garth distracts Constable Kelly so I can do this without her seeing me light up. She and Garth observe, record, and advise from the tech van. Henry, Adam and Matt use night goggles in the field. I use a small flashlight to provide some ambient light to aid my night vision. We neutralize and secure the armed guards in the dark. Everyone wears mics, cams, gloves, and Kevlar vests. We get the labourers on the bus which Matt drives to the school. The bus is accompanied by a police cruiser, summoned by Michaela, who told us she prefers to be called Mickie.

We use the elements of surprise, stealth, and teamwork to overcome our adversaries. In spite of the farm raid, Adam felt strongly that Grier and his gang would not be expecting us. First, there had been no media coverage at the farm. A day later, a brief report mentioned only a car fire at a rural property. Second, these kinds of illegal endeavours were like discrete, individual cells; each one has no knowledge of any others. This prevents apprehended traffickers from trying to cut legal deals by revealing identities and details because they simply don't know.

No one at the plant would be expecting us. No one on the team would be armed, except Constable Mickie Kelly.

I wouldn't need a weapon. I had become one.


The team never loses sight of who they're in the fight for.

In Canada, ONLY the members of municipal, provincial, or federal (RCMP) law enforcement bodies are legally permitted to carry Tasers.

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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