Supernatural Science Fiction posted June 11, 2011 Chapters:  ...8 9 -10- 11 


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Making plans for another mission in Two Rivers

A chapter in the book Weapon

Proactive Prey

by SeLF

With heightened awareness and great caution, we made our way back to Iris's building. After doing a thorough inspection of the service alley next to it, and checking the pickup for bugs, or worse, we punched in our door code, secured the electronic lock, and raced upstairs to the loft. While I locked the door, Henry checked the view of the street from the large, living room window. After several minutes of surveillance in the dark, he concluded we were secure. The street was as quiet and deserted as usual. No unfamiliar vehicles were parked anywhere nearby. No big, black SUV appeared. We did not turn on any lamps that might cast light on the drawn vertical blinds of the big window overlooking the street.

That Sunday morning, the roomy, lion's claw foot bathtub became our think tank.

"This is what we know. The guy, or guys, in the SUV works for Still Water. Still Water works for Chetwyn Spears. They look after his supposedly legit domestic business ventures. He also hired them to provide personal security for his daughter and her estate in Two Rivers.

"This is what we have heard. They have an even bigger role in his business ventures abroad, especially in underdeveloped and politically volatile third world countries. They hire mercenaries, ex-military special ops, like me, for their privately funded, armed troops for unethical and/or illegal activities, like crushing opposition from the locals, and human trafficking.

"Okay, 'Tas, I see that furrow in your forehead; what are you thinking?"

"First of all, they may be ex-military, but if they're mixed up in trafficking people, they are definitely not like you. Not even close.

"Second, it was you, wasn't it, who discovered that Deryl Drusen might have had some connection to the Cadre? That he had met the group, but there was no paper trail or other hard evidence to indicate they might have been in collusion?"

He nodded.

"Well, you've heard the story of how Arthur and I met."

His expression was one of total focus. "Yes. That happened before I knew of either one of you. I met Arthur first, because he came to stay at the Citadel. He told me about how you rescued him from thugs in the gulley. You rendered them unconscious - initially, he thought you used a Taser -- and then carried him through the gulley, and the tunnel, and gave him sanctuary here for almost a week.

"At that time, no one knew who those guys were working for. Even now, we don't know their personal identities."

"That's right. No one saw them around town again after that. And then there were a couple of other mystery men who appeared and questioned the street people about having seen either one of them, because they 'lost' something important, remember? These two turned out to be two of Drusen's enforcers."

He nodded.

"Arthur told me the mystery men were trying to beat him into submission to be a personal sex slave for a potential customer. A wealthy businessman saw Arthur on the street and wanted to meet him. I thought then they referred to Drusen. But, Drusen died from a bullet from his own gun on the old, abandoned highway, when he tried to kill Adam, Matt, you, and me."

Henry was now sitting upright in the tub. "Go on."

"Arthur's dad, and a young woman whose body showed evidence of longterm abuse, were murdered execution style, months before Arthur became a target."

"Continue."

"Well, now, this is where my speculation fizzles out. What was the connection, if any, between Denis Grandcoeur, and Drusen, or the Cadre? Is the wealthy businessman Spears, or another Cadre member, or someone else altogether?

"Who are they hunting for? Because they tailed us, I thought it might be me. Like you said, you and I didn't know each other when I met Arthur in the gulley that Sunday night, so I don't think it's you they're interested in."

"But why would they be interested in me? Maybe because one, or both, of the guys beating on Arthur did tell someone about getting zapped by a person unknown. And I'd bet that the person they talked to, or were interrogated by, was less than pleased with their having lost this young man that someone thought might be a valuable commodity.

"I was wearing the same kind of clothing then; dark grey hoodie, with the hood pulled down over my forehead, and my turtleneck pulled up over my lower face. Tonight, I wore a knit cap rather than the hood to conceal my hair, but I think maybe something clicked when they saw us on patrol; they drove around again to confirm their hunch.

"They might be interested in me as a person of interest for interrogation, but I think it's Arthur they're really after."

Henry effortlessly jumped out of the tub, grabbed a towel, and hurried to my old, landline phone on the computer desk. Whit put the call through to Lee. They had a brief discusion and an hour later, he and I left for the Citadel to have a brunch meeting with Lee, Arthur, and the rest of our team. Frank would meet us there.




"Look. I hear what you all are telling me. I'm saying I still want to go to Two Rivers next weekend and be eyes and ears. My big question to anyone here is, do you think that the Still Water security team for Melora Mulvey knows about the black SUV Still Water person, or persons? Still Water is a very big outfit, with hired guns working for mega, transnational corporations worldwide. I personally didn't see it, but I know you can't say how many people were in the SUV. It might be only one man searching for leads for someone other than Chetwyn Spears."

"That's a possibility, Arthur," said Lee. "Either way, you, and 'Tas, could be targets. Because you are determined to take the course, I want someone to be with you. Garth, you expressed an interest."

Garth flushed a little. "I did say I was impressed by her presentation."

"Great! Lee, please phone Miss Mulvey and persuade her to take just one more person. Tell her that I talked so enthusiastically about the seminar last night that Garth is convinced it would be great training for him to have. Please?"

"All right then. She gave me her private number last night when we talked. It seems that as a very young child, she met my parents at a formal, fund raising dinner party put on by her parents for a political candidate. When she talked about her work as a social psychologist, I was impressed by her sense of purpose and passion. I believe it sustains her. Even though she is the daughter of one of the founders of the Cadre, I like her.

"However, I noticed she looked fatigued, the way one looks when experiencing ongoing stress. I am good at reading people. How do you think I came to have all of you working with me? My impression of Melora is that she is not happy about her father's continued intrusion into her life. I am referring to the Still Water security team which shadows her everywhere. Nor does she appear to agree with the twisted ideology of the Cadre. Adam noticed this when he did some research on her."

Adam, Henry, and I nodded in unison.

"I mentioned it the first day when Henry and 'Tas arrived in Two Rivers. The values and qualities she stresses in her courses are the direct opposites of the narcissistic, elitist mindset of Cadre members. I think she could turn out to be an ally.

"I'll go further and say she could use our help to get away from daddy dearest and his wingy and ruthless associates."

Lee nodded and turned to Whit.

"Please try to learn the names of any Cadre members who have been at the mansion in the last year or so. And call 'The Traveller's Motel' in Two Rivers and make reservations for late Friday afternoon through Tuesday morning for Garth and Arthur. Book one of the basic, two bed units."

She looked at Garth and Arthur. "I want you two to be in constant line of sight of each other during the long weekend. I sincerely hope that it will be a great course and learning experience. When I talk to Melora, I will inquire about her policy regarding the use of cell phones and Blackberrys at the mansion when participants are not in classes, and about the security screening for checking into, and leaving, the mansion. Our mini-cams and mics might not be an option for this venture."

Frank turned to Garth. "How do you feel about being a bodyguard? I ask only because I know it wasn't included in your job description."

Garth smiled outright at that. "True. Since I began working for Lee Sterling, I've had experiences I never thought I'd ever have. Trespassing and raiding. Forging liaisons with federal law enforcement. Rescuing victims of trafficking. And that's just in the past two weeks."

We all burst out laughing, including Lee.

"I think Arthur and I will do alright."

"I agree," said Henry. " Adam, 'Tas and I should be in Two Rivers with the tech van to keep Whit informed about what's going on. We'll need you two to text us or call us if you need help. 'Tas will come up with a code phrase that means you need immediate help.

"In the next few days, we need to secure blueprints to study the layout for the mansion and grounds. 'Tas and I couldn't even see the whole building from the front gate on Sunset Vista. We need to know how many Still Water personnel work there at any given time and the location of their tech control centre."

Whit nodded in agreement. "I'll talk to Mickie at the Two Rivers detachment. I know she's been busy building a data base since the rescues. I'll brief her about this plan. You'll be clear to park the van and the truck on the street outside the mansion because it is a public thoroughfare. I'll get electrical blueprints, too, right 'Tas?"

"Absolutely. I'll need to know the location of the main and auxiliary power sources, and every possible way in and out of the mansion and the property."

I hesitated a moment before adding, "It's possible the blueprints filed at city hall won't show everything actually in the mansion. I'm thinking of secret rooms or compartments where someone could hide, or be hidden. Perhaps even underground tunnels for escape purposes. And we need to know if there are other properties in Two Rivers, or the surrounding environs, which might be even indirectly connected to members of the Cadre. Although, after our two raids and the resulting police investigations and media coverage, their versions of 'safe houses' as stopovers for trafficked persons have probably been shut down and any evidence removed."

"Well," said Whit, "if the information you need is out there in cyberspace, we'll find it for you. I just hope we can track it down before Friday when you all leave for Two Rivers."




Before we left the Citadel, Henry and I talked to Frank about using his van Monday through Thursday nights for patrolling. He agreed when we told him why. We didn't want to be on foot in case "big black" might still be cruising around. And we didn't want to use the pickup because, if we did see the SUV, and it us, the driver would remember it. We required its forgettable ordinariness for the long weekend in Two Rivers.

The next few nights of neighbourhood watching were uneventful, which stood as a testament to the efficacy of our dedicated volunteers who, in pairs, took one night a week to watch over this part of town. None of us saw "big black".

On the last day leading up to our departure, we studied the blueprints Whit sent us. I paid special attention to the electrical ones. If I could disable the power, getting in and out would be relatively easy because Henry had photocopied all the plans to his memory. I hadn't realized, until now, that he has eidetic memory. It probably was very useful while he served in Afghanistan.

Adam informed us Thursday afternoon there were only four Still Water security personnel on the property at any given time. That included the two assigned as personal security for Melora Mulvey. Their onsite office was in the east wing of the mansion. Members of the Cadre also stayed there when they came to visit.

Melora lived and occasionally conducted short courses in the main wing. The rest of the time, her expertise in "contextual intelligence" was in demand by businesses worldwide for their senior and middle management teams. Her knowledge and skills had made her wealthy in her own right.




Friday morning, we took Snugglebutt and all her travel gear to the Citadel. Ken Steward had volunteered to kitty sit for us over the long weekend. From there, we all began our journey north. Garth used his Honda Civic to get Arthur and him to "The Traveller's Motel". Adam, with the big tech van, and Henry and I, with the pickup, were booked into side-by-side units at "The Riverside Inn".

"You're very quiet this morning. Are you troubled by this assignment?" Henry asked once we were on the main highway.

I let out a whoosh of a sigh. "I just keep trying to figure out what the connection might have been between Denis Grandcoeur, the girl, and Drusen and/or the Cadre. I mean, Arthur's dad was an actuary; he worked with statistics and calculated risks and premiums for insurance companies, not for organized criminal gangs of modern day slavers. I don't think he had any kind of professional connection to these creeps. I do think he had monumental bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, saw something he shouldn't have, maybe tried to help the young woman, and they both ended up tortured and murdered. It's just so horrifically wrong."

Henry placed his right hand on my shoulder and gave it a gentle, reassuring squeeze.

"I've seen too many innocent people killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and there wasn't a damn thing I could do to stop it." He paused for a moment and then almost whispered, "It's the being helpless that can really make you crazy."

I knew he referred to his time with JTF2.

"What we're doing now, with the anti-trafficking network, is an attempt to change some of that. So far, we've been not too shabby in our efforts, right?"

I nodded and planted a kiss on his hand.

"Now, tell me what word or phrase did you come up with to be the 'help' word for Arthur and Garth?"

"It's 'event horizon', the edge of a black hole."






Recognized


"contextual intelligence" - a term coined by Robert J. Sternberg, which means emotional or social intelligence, as differentiated from "componential intelligence", which means what most of us automatically think of as intelligence -- left brain thinking, scoring well on exams and I.Q. tests, and "experiential intelligence", which is our knowledge acquired through life experiences, or the school of hard knocks.

actuary -- an expert in statistics, especially one who calculates insurance risks and premiums. (Canadian Oxford Dictionary)

JTF2: Joint Task Force 2 -- The elite, special/covert ops unit of Canada's military forces chosen from the army, navy, and air force.

eidetic memory: photographic memory, or, as the Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines it: "Of, pertaining to, or designating a recollected mental image having unusual vividness and detail, as if actually visible."
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