Jake warmed his hands over the small open fire that had been constructed near the mouth of the abandoned mine. The trio had spent a good portion of the day chopping and splitting firewood. Kevin tinkered with the radio. It had recently stopped working. Mallory, feeling a bit antsy, went outside for a walk. It was late afternoon. She breathed in the cool, fresh air. A shudder shot through Mallory’s body as she heard a sudden noise. Her eyes darted in all directions. The young woman froze as a tall man dressed in warm clothing, his eyes obscured by sunglasses, suddenly emerged from the forest. Mallory quickly retreated inside the mine.
“There’s somebody out there!”
Kevin set his tools down. Jake stood up.
“Just one person?” Jake asked. If indeed a Special Forces team had snuck up on the encampment, they would all be in the process of being killed right now.
“Yeah.” Mallory breathed heavily. “I couldn’t get a good look at his face.”
Jake reached for the AR-15 leaning against a wall.
“Kevin, grab one of those rifles. If this individual is hostile, he won’t be getting any closer than he is right now.”
Jake and Kevin stepped outside. They raised their weapons at eye level at the stranger in their midst. He acted as though he already knew them.
“It’s okay. I’m from…”
“Do not proceed any further,” Kevin ordered. “This will be your first and only warning.”
“Please identify yourself,” Jake commanded.
Tuck removed the toque and sunglasses. Jake was shocked to see a familiar face standing no more than twenty meters away from him.
“Father Julian Tuck? I’m so sorry. If I had have known…”
“Don’t worry about it,” Tuck said.
“How did, I meant to say, how were you able to get up here?”
“I did something no man of the cloth is supposed to do,” Tuck replied with a wry smile. “I had to employ some good old-fashioned bullshit.”
“You’re in good company,” Kevin laughed.
Jake and Kevin lowered their rifles. Jake pumped Tuck’s hand.
“It’s great to see you again, Father.” Upon seeing Tuck, the lingering question that had been burning inside of him for the past six months automatically returned. “What happened to Nicole? I just remember that horrific day back in April. Oh God, I hope she isn’t gone permanently.”
“Nicole is alive and well. So is Arielle.”
Jake’s eyes went as wide as saucers.
“Where are they?”
Tuck followed Kevin and Jake into the living area of the mine. Tuck removed his coat, which Mallory hung on a wall hook.
“On the same day that you fled into the mountains, they were arrested and detained in the former provincial jail,” Tuck explained. “It’s currently being used as a ‘re-education’ camp. Anyway, about a month ago, Nicole and Arielle were sent to live with Frank Carragher.”
“Who is Frank Carragher?” Jake asked.
“The administrator of the Thompson-Nicola district. Guy is a power-mad control freak. He has a predilection for using woman as his sex slaves.”
“Thanks for the heads-up, Father,” Jake said. “I’m dying to wrap my hands around his throat.”
“Father…? Sorry, I don’t know your name,” Mallory said.
“Julian Tuck. I’m rector of Sacred Heart Parish in Kamloops.”
“Our friend was captured during a battle over a month ago,” Mallory explained.
“Her name is Sarah Jane Pearce,” Tuck said.
“You know her?!” Mallory’s eyes went wide with excitement.
“I’ve talked to her a few times. She’s being held at re-education centre.”
“How is she doing? I doubt they’d be treating her very hospitably.”
“They aren’t. They’ve been coercing and even torturing Sarah Jane into telling them the location of your hideout.”
“That would explain all of those helicopters and jets flying around here blowing up everything that remotely looks like an enemy base,” Jake said. “So, how did you find us?”
“I’ve been counselling Sarah Jane,” Tuck replied. “Two nights ago, after I saved her from a round of electric torture, she very discreetly told me. Jake, the biggest reason I risked my life driving up here is to bring you all back to town. It’s time to finish this fight once and for all.”
Jake was a bit taken aback.
“Father, realistically, there is no way that the three of us can merely sneak back into Kamloops, kill a thousand or so NAP and UN soldiers, rescue Nicole and Arielle-it isn’t like I haven’t dreamed of doing such a thing-and then liberate the entire city.”
“What do you think I’ve been trying to tell you since we got into this mess?” Kevin said to Jake with a laugh.
“Perhaps you’re all not up on current events, but an active resistance movement is growing within the city. There are riots every day. Believe me, we are winning. There have been bombings, assassinations of NAP officers, sabotage. People are sick and tired of being treated like slaves and they are not going to take it anymore,” Tuck said.
“Getting back to Nicole,” Jake said. “Where is she and Arielle living now? I know for a fact that Nicole would never do such a thing willingly.”
“Carragher has a mansion in the West End. But he spends a good portion of his time in the seat of power for the entire district, which is the Canfield Building downtown.”
“The resistance in the city. How much are you privy to it?” Kevin asked.
“I’m actively involved. I’m their eyes and ears inside of the detention centre. Jake, do you know a gentleman by the man of Robert Hunt?”
“Name doesn’t ring a bell. Should I know him?”
“Bob and his wife are, or should I say were good friends with Nicole’s parents. They were killed, in case you didn’t know. Anyway, Bob is a retired RCMP officer who lives in the city.”
“We also have another unlikely ally in this fight. There is a young British paratrooper who’s been secretly working with our group. He’s going to get us onto the base,” Tuck explained.
“The base?” Mallory asked.
“Yeah, the old Kamloops Airport. It’s the official nerve centre for the North American Police and United Nations forces that are in charge of policing the district. Rumors are swirling around that there is going to be a massive riot tomorrow evening. That will keep the majority of the troops tied up. As soon as we get in, there’s a meeting at Hunt’s house. If everything goes as planned, it will finally be over tomorrow evening.”