Even though it had cost the life of another NAP trooper, the recent hunting expeditions were proof to Frank Carragher that progress was being made. Major Toombs stood at half-attention in his superior’s office. The young sniper who had lost his life the day before, Zack Charles, had only been twenty-four years old. Three years earlier, he had graduated from a police sciences program at a community college in Peoria, Illinois.
“Major, those two enemy combatants who were eliminated yesterday. Have you been able to identify them yet?”
“Yes Sir. Mike Rundle and Pete Grimshaw. They are from the district.”
“I assume that they were on the list of missing individuals.”
“That I can’t answer Sir.”
Carragher sat down in front of the Mac computer on top of his desk. He double-clicked a folder on the desktop titled ‘Residents Unaccounted For’. Of the more than one hundred citizens still unaccounted for, at least twenty had been flagged as potential threats to national security.
“You know Major, it’s really interesting perusing these files. There’s one young lady on the list…just let me bring up her file.” Carragher clicked on the file for Sarah Jane Pearce. Sarah Jane’s smiling photo appeared on the screen. “There it is. Sarah Jane Pearce. Age twenty-five. Law student at Thompson University. Environmental and social justice activist. Arrested during an anti-pipeline protest near Prince George two years ago. Oh, I notice that her file has been flagged.”
Carragher browsed some other files.
“Some of these individuals have extensive military experience.”
“I wonder how many of them have hooked up with Jake Scribner yet.”
“Oh for Heaven’s sake Major! Would you stop chasing that ghost? Put Scribner out of your mind. If I spent as much time worrying about that loser as you do, I’d get nothing done.”
For Brian Vance, spending long days in the burning desert sun guarding bridges or the Kamloops Airport was about as exciting as watching a pair of house flies mating. After the recent ambush that claimed the lives of three of their own, the Paras were on high alert. It pained Vance to see three of his fellow countrymen killed. This evening, as a flaming orange fireball of a sun signalled the close of another scorcher, Vance, Peter Huggins and two others members of the British Parachute Regiment, Harold Palmer and Mike Mooney, sat around the barracks playing cards and drinking beer. Cool air cranked out of an old air conditioner. There was very little to do in the city outside of their shifts.
On most days, it was boring. Vance yearned for the green, rolling hills of his homeland. He prayed that his time in Canada would not end being sent back to England in a coffin draped in the Union Jack. Although Vance generally got along with his fellow soldiers and even enjoyed good times with them, he was still a loner at heart. He found it hard to get into tonight’s game.
“Hey Vance.” Mooney took a puff of a cigar. “You playing with us or are you off in your own little world as usual?”
“Sorry.” Vance turned back to his mates. “Guess my mind was wandering.”
Palmer leaned in closer as if there was something major he had to tell his comrades but didn’t want anybody else to hear.
“Looks like our answer to the lack of female affection has finally arrived,” he said with a lewd smile.
“What do you mean Harold?” Vance asked.
“I’m not too sure if you blokes are aware of this or not, but a bunch of the guards over at the re-education centre have a small though lucrative business going on the side,” Palmer said.
“I know about it,” Vance stated. “They’re trafficking innocent women and girls.”
“That’s a bit harsh but yes,” Palmer replied. “And for a hundred Amero each, our needs will get taken care of.”
“I’m all for that,” Mooney said with a smile.
“Sign me up as well,” Huggins added.
Vance was outraged at the way his mates were acting.
“How can you guys have anything to do with this? These so-called escorts are being coerced into doing this.” Vance’s comrades could feel the outrage in his voice.
“They’re no good for anything else,” Mooney said snidely. “Shit Brian, you wanting to be a virgin until you’re forty? You gotta live a bit mate.”
“I want no part of this.” The young para’s eyes were adamant. Set in stone.
“Figures.” Mooney smiled mockingly at Vance. “Always had a feeling young Brian here was a fag.”
Vance got up.
“Fuck you, Mooney.”
This caused Mooney to get angry. Mooney, who was over six feet with broad shoulders and a barrelled chest, glowered over his smaller colleague.
“I’d love to see how tough you are you spoiled little wanker.”
At that moment, Sergeant Allan Dowling entered the barracks.
“What the Hell is going on here?” The veteran paratrooper’s voice was booming.
Mooney quickly distanced himself from Vance.
“Nothing Sergeant,” Mooney said as Dowling glared at him with penetrating eyes.
Dowling looked upon Vance.
“Just a little disagreement Sergeant. We’re all good here,” Vance stated.
Not totally convinced that everything was fine, Dowling left the room. Mooney scowled menacingly at Vance.
“You better watch yourself there Vance. You turn against your mates, you’ve got nothing.