It was a happy ending to a long, arduous ordeal. Once the residents of Kamloops had taken back the former provincial correctional centre, all of the child detainees were reunited with their loved ones. Jake, Nicole and Arielle received a thunderous applause from the massive crowd that had packed into Seymour Street. On a sidewalk, a large group of men armed with rifles and shotguns guarded one hundred or so captured NAP troopers and Norwegian peacekeepers. Among them was Lieutenant Hochner. The bodies of hundreds of NAP troopers, UN soldiers and townspeople who’d been involved in the rebellion were strewn wildly across Seymour and adjacent streets.
Kevin Sorenson, Marty Smith, Jeff and Ben Hinton, Sarah Jane Pearce, Robert Hunt, Brian Vance and Father Tuck waited at the front of the cheering crowd.
Hunt pumped Jake’s hand.
“You’re the most famous person in this city since I don’t know when,” Hunt said exuberantly.
“Ironically, neither of us is even from around here.”
Chris Templeton and Mallory Hutchinson exited the Metrolife Financial building. They waded through the crowd until they reached their friends.
“Mallory!” Sarah Jane was so overwhelmed by joy. She cried happily.
The girls hugged each other tightly.
After the provincial jail was liberated, Ryan Stanfield changed out of his uniform and joined the others. Stanfield helped Bridgette to locate her son. Nicole spotted Bridgette in the crowd with Josiah and Stanfield. She rushed over to her.
“Bridgette! You’re alive.”
The two women embraced warmly.
“If I didn’t have you to lean on in there…” Bridgette could barely get the words out she was so emotional.
“Is this your son?”
“This is Josiah.” Bridgette smiled through her tears. “Josiah, this is Arielle Clare’s mommy.”
Jake shook hands with several well-wishers before walking over to where Nicole was.
“Bridgette, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, Jake Scribner.”
“So this is the Jake Scribner everyone’s been talking about?” Bridgette said.
“My God, I didn’t think that I was this popular.” Jake said.
Still very emotional, Bridgette hugged Jake and gave him a peck on the cheek. Jake looked upon Stanfield.
“Are you Ryan Stanfield?”
The young man with broad shoulders and rugged good looks nodded in response.
“It’s good to know that there are still some people in this world who will risk life and limb to do what’s right,” Jake said.
Jake, Nicole, Arielle, Bridgette and Stanfield walked over to where the rest of the group were congregated. Jeff Hinton shook Jake’s hand.
“Jake, I don’t know what to say but we aced this test.” Jeff said with a smile.
“You’re like a modern-day William Wallace,” Ben stated.
“Well, as far as historical freedom fighters go, I’ve always been sort of partial to Robin Hood, Spartacus or even Tuvia Bielski,” Jake said. “To be honest, I realize that I can take a lot of the credit but certainly not all of it. We did this together.” Jake smiled at Brian Vance. “And if it wasn’t for this turncoat, we wouldn’t have been able to pull off this daring takeover. So Brian, what are your plans for the future?”
“I’m not a hundred percent sure,” Vance replied. “I’ll never be able to return home. Probably settle somewhere in B.C.”
“What will we do with all of those prisoners of war?” Chris Templeton asked. “We can barely feed ourselves right now, much less those pieces of shit.”
“They’ll be processed, detained, charged with various war crimes,” Jake explained. “Some will be locked up while others will get a one-way ticket to the gallows.”
“Personally,” Kevin said. “If I have anything to do with it, they will all receive harsh punishment. In my opinion, none of them deserve to live.”
“I agree with you there, Kevin,” Tuck chimed in. “But it is only fair that they receive one final grace from a priest. Even some of history’s vilest criminals have confessed during their moment of execution.”
Jake put his arms around Nicole and Arielle.
“Whatever happens from here on out, we won’t fret about it tonight.” Nicole said.
“Where are you going right now, Jake?” Mallory asked.
Jake held Nicole close to him. They kissed passionately.
“Oh, I don’t know. Head home. That’s if there even is one to go back to. Catch up on some much-needed sleep as well as lovemaking. I think we all need a heavy dose of R&R before the real hard work of rebuilding begins.” Jake said.
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