Supernatural Science Fiction posted May 3, 2011 Chapters:  ...5 6 -7- 8... 

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
'Tas has a bit of 'post mission depression'.

A chapter in the book Weapon

Where Do We Go From Here?

by SeLF

Henry made a reservation for one of the small, private dining rooms at the Two Rivers Resort. The five of us were joined by Constables Mickie Kelly and Owen Mahaffey, and Staff Sergeant David Prescott. The private room meant we could talk shop over our meal, and some of us would not be gawked at. In Prescott's words, Adam, Henry, and I resembled "bar-brawl combatants". Initially, we were a subdued group, still recovering from our early morning efforts. However, when presented with our aromatic and savoury orders, the energy level picked up. The table was simply and elegantly set with a linen tablecloth and napkins, and an amazing centrepiece created from succulent fruit slices, which our polite server encouraged us to eat. Good food, and some prizewinning local ales and wines, completed the relaxed ambience of the room.

Prescott was especially pleased by Henry's invitation; it was his opportunity to discuss having the Two Rivers Detachment linked to the anti-trafficking network. On the way to the resort, he had talked to Mickie about co-ordinating it. With her training in communications and technology, she had already established a working relationship with municipal and federal police forces back east, Interpol, and other international agencies, in tracking down online pedophiles.

"We'll have to arrange for the two of you to visit the anti-trafficking hub at the Citadel", said Henry. "And if the detachment at 500 Mile House came on board, that would give us two more areas in the province where human trafficking registers on law enforcement's radar."

"I'll talk to the officer in charge there," said Prescott. "Maybe, together, we could visit 'the hub', as you call it."

Adam, Matt, and Garth joined in the enthusiastic conversation. With Henry, they
would explain the day-to-day running of the hub, and the sanctuary. Perhaps because of fatigue, I was content to observe and listen. That's when I really noticed Owen on the other side of the table. While pleasant and courteous in demeanour, he hardly spoke during dinner; he hadn't eaten much, either. While his eyes followed the animated discussion with interest, I sensed there was something else on his mind. He stood to get some coffee from the beverage table. I decided to get a refill myself.

"Those guys are whip smart, and they love what they do," he observed as we stood side-by-side.

"Yes, they are excellent intelligence gatherers and security providers," I said as I offered him some cream for his coffee. "That's what Lee Sterling hired them to do. She was pleasantly surprised to learn they were also capable field operatives. The latter they became out of necessity."

After an awkward pause, I cut to the chase.

"Constable Mahaffey, I want to thank you for showing up when you did. You saved my partner's life. I know he wants to thank you personally for that. When we prepare to leave, please just hang back a moment so he can talk to you.

"And don't beat yourself up. It was a good shoot, which is amazing, given the thunder, lightning, darkness, and wind-driven rain. If the man had squeezed off another shot, it could have been at Henry's unprotected head."

He sighed audibly and closed his eyes for a moment.

"That was the first time I've shot anyone. Actually, it was the first time I've even drawn my gun, let alone fired it, while on duty."

"Mahaffey, you didn't kill him. You brought one of the bad guys back, alive. Several witnesses, myself included, will attest to that. Henry and I will give our official statements tomorrow before we return to Haven Lake. Thanks to you, a criminal will be tried, sentenced, and removed from circulation for a number of years."

The tiny lines of tension around his eyes and mouth eased. I smiled outright when he picked up a Nanaimo bar, a butter tart, a shortbread cookie, and a fruit parfait from the dessert tray on his way back to the table. I love Nanaimo bars - that's precisely the problem - so, instead, I took one of the great looking parfaits and one of those melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies.

We sat together, enjoyed our coffee and dessert treats, and pillaged the centrepiece, while our dinner companions strategized and bounced ideas around. Because his anxiety had eased, he opened up and we had a good chat. And, he would see a counsellor; it was standard procedure for anyone on the force after such an incident.

"Mahaffey, you should ask for a container to take your dinner home with you. I think you'll feel more like eating in a couple of hours. The food is really wonderful."

In a few minutes, the room attendant came by, and he did just that, along with some extra goodies from the dessert tray, and the centrepiece.

David Prescott had not had any spirits with his dinner because he had to return to the detachment. Before he left, he told our team that Crown counsel Gale Travis got permission to get the farm workers' documents from Leland Stromann's safe at the mansion owned by Melora Mulvey.

"Travis said one of the officers thought she looked dismayed when they showed up with a warrant. She claimed to have no knowledge of either the documents, or their rightful owners. She turned white when he told her Stromann had trafficked the farm workers. She's either an excellent actress and guilty as hell, or really doesn't know what this friend of her father's is involved in.

"The wheels are in motion to get Stromann, who has suddenly disappeared from Calgary. We assume he's on the run and we've placed an APB. He'll probably seek safety in a country which has one of his many offshore bank accounts, and no extradition treaty with Canada."

This didn't surprise us. We succeeded in destroying his operations here and knew his identity. He had considerable resources, at various locations, to flee the resulting heat.

"I wish I could stay and talk with you all longer, because this has been very interesting, but I do have to get back to prepare official statements for the press tomorrow."

Matt spoke up then. "I know Mickie and Owen came with you. I'm the designated driver, so I'll get them home tonight."

He and Garth alternated in that department because neither one of them drank very often. In B.C., the legal limit is .04. Just one drink could get you in the slammer overnight.

Henry and I decided to walk home so we could talk.

Five of us waited briefly in the foyer of the resort while Henry and Owen had a private conversation. The other four were still pumped about the ideas and plans they had generated during dinner. It was nice to see them so enthusiastic about solving technical problems and getting more communities linked up to share knowledge, experience, and assistance.

I was wrung out, and felt daunted about going up against the big guys behind the operations. Until now, we had confronted, and conquered, the street level hired help. They took the falls and did the time for the more important, powerful, and secretive decision-making members of The Cadre. They'd go to jail, keep their mouths shut, and, more than likely, receive monetary compensation for being good soldiers when they were released. And the big, bad guys remained untouchable. This kind of ride could go on forever, sapping our strength and energy, unless the grand pooh-bahs were revealed, somehow, someway, for the criminals they were.

I came out of my reverie when Henry waved a hand gently in front of my face. He knelt in the space next to the chair I occupied; he looked concerned.

"Hi. How are you doing? You have that furrow in your forehead. The only time I ever see it is if you're troubled about something. What's up?"

"I guess I'm just more tired and stiff than I thought I'd be. Too much fine white wine didn't help."

I looked around the nearly empty foyer. "Have they all gone with Matt?"

"Yes. They're still talking about creating more provincial, then national, hubs. They could be used for tracking both trafficking and internet pedophile activities. There's no doubt in my mind that they'll come up with something innovative. Adam thinks Arthur's smarts would be a definite asset in that area.

"They saw how weary you are and told me to say goodnight, they'll see you tomorrow morning."

He reached with his left hand and gently massaged the back of my neck.

"Are you sure you want to walk back? I think you're hurting, but you're so stubborn you won't say so. We could take a cab back to the motel, have a warm soak in the tub, and I could check out your back and leg.

"Did you eat all of your dinner? I didn't pay that much attention because of the brainstorming with Prescott and the others. You could probably use more electrolytes."

He helped me to my feet and I gave him a long, grateful hug.

"Don't worry, I ate. I'm just tired and, . . . I don't know,. . . disappointed, perhaps. But not with the team's performance. Not at all. Our guys brought down numerous thugs. But that's just it; the thugs are the grunts, not the bosses.

"We have got to get the bosses."

We walked back to the motel to get some air. This evening, it was cool and fresh, washed clean by the wind and rain from last night. As we approached an intersection, we saw two large, stately, maple trees in the lot on the corner. While waiting for the light to change, I breathed deeply, inhaling almost to the point of hyperventilating. I couldn't get enough of the rich, green scent of the wind-scattered leaves on the still damp grass. Henry smiled as he led me across the street when the light changed.

"I like that you get intoxicated on fresh air, 'Tas."

"When I combine it with some wine, I get a glorious buzz," I said, a little embarrassed.

"Thank you for treating us to a wonderful dinner and a really good time. We all enjoyed it. It's good you and Owen got to talk. I didn't ask him his age, but he can't be more than twenty-five, max.

"Twenty-two, actually."

"See? A really nice young man who has already experienced shooting a suspect in the line of duty."

"He said the talk he had with you helped alter his perspective for the better. I told him how very grateful I was that he had been there, at that moment, to prevent the guy from firing at some other, unprotected portion of my body. I also told him it's good to be so concerned about what might happen any time he has to fire his Smith and Wesson. He goes to the firing range three times a week and is meticulous about maintaining the weapon. When the critical situation arose, his reaction was automatic and, more importantly, accurate."

Back at the motel, we did the bath ritual, as he had promised. Afterwards, he rubbed muscle liniment into my back muscles and my still cranky quad. He found numerous sore spots, especially with the leg, but as the liniment absorbed into my skin, a lovely heat helped the bruised muscles to relax. I reciprocated with soothing aloe vera cream for the lash scars on his back, and for the chest burn. The starburst, now, was a deep red, not the fierce, flaming red it was early this morning. My bruises were now blue and green instead of black and blue.

As we climbed into bed, he said, "All five of us need to be at the detachment at 10:00 a.m. to give our sworn statements. Then the others can go home. We could too, or we could stay and try to make some inroads. Or, if you're tired and want to return to Haven Lake for a few days of R & R at the loft, with Snugglebutt and me, that sounds good, too. Really good."

"Great idea. Get some rest. Gather information. I've missed Snugglebutt."

I took a couple of swallows of electrolyte before adding, "I've been thinking. What if I signed up for one of Melora Mulvey's "Chart Your Course" sessions? She conducts them at the mansion at 224610 Sunset Vista. I could get a good look around. I doubt I'd be able to wear a com link, but maybe a tiny brooch with a camera might do. Scope out who is on site, or just passing through? Observe behaviour of the staff. Maybe check out the dungeon?"

Henry chuckled softly into the nape of my neck, one of my weak spots.

"I'd sign up with you."

"You don't have to. You've already been injured, twice, as my bodyguard. Once with Julianna, and then yesterday. No more, Henry."

He propped himself up on one elbow to look at me eye-to-eye. His hypnotic, pale green eyes were intense.

"I do have to. Remember, I was assigned by Lee to be like a bodyguard. If I told her that you were off, alone, in a secured location known to be frequented by some of the top members of The Cadre, she would be very upset, with both of us, but especially with me. And I wouldn't blame her. Besides, I want to because I understand your frustration."

"Well, let's talk to her about this gestating plan of mine when we get back to Haven Lake. She might come up with some interesting suggestions. Maybe one or two where putting your butt on the line is not a prerequisite.

"And maybe, by then, I won't be feeling as though we're fighting an uphill battle, taking on the rank and file, when it's really the generals we're after."


Nanaimo bars and butter tarts are two dessert confections created in Canada.
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