Arrowhead Pack Alpha House
The home became more and more crowded as the snow tapered off, and the roads started to open. I had organized a driver to take my Mom and DEA Director Frank Grimes to the ‘hospital,’ turning down offers to bring an ambulance. “You need all the rigs you can get on the road to handle the car crashes,” I said. “Both of my patients are stable, and they will be fine as long as they are driven there by someone else.”
The lead detective relented about eleven in the morning, after conducting his interview with Colletta. She described grabbing one of the rifles kept in her room and going out in the hall to cover the stairway; she fired and hit at least one man in self-defense, then hid in a room when the grenades started flying. There wasn’t much else she could say. Frank declined until he could speak with Counsel. “Nothing personal,” he told them, “but with everything going on with my suspension, I need to talk with him first.” They exchanged contact information before he let him go.
We laid Frank across the back seat, and I hugged Mom before she got in the passenger seat. “Stay safe,” I whispered. “We’ll take good care of him.”
“I know you will. I love you, Chase.” I closed the door, watching her drive away as Deputy Andersen stood by me. They didn’t want me talking to anyone else until I’d completed my interviews. If only they knew I had been talking all morning to my Pack about everything that was going on!
“You stay safe too,” Colletta said. “I don’t like having the Sons around, and not knowing if the police will stop them before they can attack again.”
“We have a few people we can trust. Rori knows people from when her family lived up here, and they won’t play along with the Feds if they try that shit again. I love you, Mom.” I turned and walked back inside, finding Detective Thomasson as he hung up the phone. He didn’t look happy. “How long until I can move my babies from upstairs?”
“I have no idea,” he said as he shook his head. “My boss’s phone has been blowing up all morning. The DEA in Duluth is on the way; they are to take over the investigation until the Sons of Tezcatlipoca Task Force arrives this afternoon. Meanwhile, I’ve just been ordered not to touch anything until the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension crime scene van arrives from the Cities.”
“That’s going to take hours! The storm isn’t through there yet!” Any thought of getting my home back before dinner was evaporating.
I looked around; there wasn’t much I could do out here now. The television had been turned off, and the kitchen was a crime scene. “I have a coffee machine in my office. Do you mind if I move in there?”
“Only if I can have a cup,” he said. “This storm has been worse than most. I’ve barely slept in the past thirty hours.”
“Come on, bring the others if you want.” He told Deputy Andersen to keep an eye on things down here, and since Detective Miller was still upstairs with the rest of my family, he waved for Deputy Cooper to join us. They followed me into my office; I invited them to sit down and got the coffee pot going. I turned on the TV to Fox News, leaving the volume low, then sat down in my desk chair. “How are the Lundegaard’s doing?”
“Pretty shaken up, I guess. Both have been taken by ambulance to get checked out.” He raised his nose at the smell of the brewing coffee; it was Caribou, not that cheap stuff. Life is too short for bad coffee. “Did you know them well?”
“I’d met them at a party, and I've seen them when they would take their pontoon boat out on the lake with their grandkids. Nice people, don’t ya know.” Dang, I was starting to pick up a Minnesota accent already.
“It could have been a lot worse if your friend hadn’t gone to check on them. When the rest didn’t return, the guy they left behind went to kill them. My Deputy said Mr. Carlson shot just before he did.” I just nodded, getting up and grabbing a few coffee cups off the shelf and lining them up. “What do you think this is about, Mr. Nygaard? Why would the Sons be after you?”
“Because they blame me for the death of some of their men, Detective.” I told them about how I had brought some of my trained guard dogs down with me to Orlando to help out my friends in the Steel Brotherhood. “When the Sons attacked, my people were outside the gates. We saw them using the adjoining buildings, and my wife and I got up there with our dogs. We killed them, and the Sons know it was us. These guys hold a grudge, and they don’t hesitate to kill women or children. Hell, to them, that’s a bonus.”
“You knew they were coming?”
“I knew they might come. That’s why I had my sister and her husband here, the dogs here, and extra people around.” The coffee was ready, and I poured out three cups. I grabbed the cream out of the small fridge and some sugar packets before handing the cups out. “I’m under no delusions with these guys. If we hadn’t been able to take out those snipers, we could have lost the whole Orlando Chapter, including dozens of women and children. They were going to keep shooting us until the fire took us out.”
A call came over the radio. “Deputy Thomasson, come in.”
“Thomasson,” he said.
“We received a call from a snowmobiler on Arrowhead Lake; he says he found four bodies out there. Can you respond?”
“10-4, dispatch. What is the location?” It was well out on the lake; you couldn’t see that far out through the snow, but visibility had improved to where I could see the other houses around us. He looked over at me. “Is there a way to get out on the lake without going to the public boat launch?”
“Yeah, we have a launch point over here,” I said. I pointed down by where the beach was, just past where the houses ended.
“Thanks.” He set his cup down, but I grabbed a couple of travel mugs instead. He poured the rest of his coffee in before I topped it off. “I hope no one was stupid enough to stay in an ice house during this storm.” They walked out, leaving me alone in the office.
“Baby, how are you doing up there?”
“Bored. Nothing new on the news. Coral and I have been calling family; your brothers are bringing the plane and will be here as soon as they can.”
I didn’t expect them to stay away, not when their baby brother’s home had been attacked by the Sons TWICE now. Sawyer probably started packing as soon as the news hit. “I don’t think I want them coming here; the Alphas should stay at Oxbow with the others.”
“Sawyer and Carson will be going there with their Betas, but the plane will be full. Sawyer said you might need help, and you know what that means.” I did; he was bringing some of his best warriors with him to bolster our defenses. There were a few Alphas who resented my Mate, and the blessing that she was. If we were out of the way, whoever ended up with our daughter would carry the bloodline blessing instead. “The mates aren’t coming.”
“Probably for the best, given how badly this Alpha Summit could go. You’re not going anywhere; I can’t risk you or the babies. Not when you can’t shift. We’ll surround you and the babies with so many warriors it won’t matter how many they send.”
“I’m more worried about the Pack, Chase. Coral said that the Council could strip the pack from us and take over, even dissolve our Pack. I can’t allow that, not when the women are just starting to recover.”
I’d been meeting with the women who had been abused and enslaved since the Pack started to form, one on one and in small groups. They were learning to trust again, coming out of their shells; moving to Packs where former abusers lived would set them back. “We won’t let them. We have enough allies to hold them off, I think.”
“I hope so. If even one of our allies turns against us because of the exposure risk, we might not be able to stop it.”
We had to. I would not allow the Council to take over my Pack, and no one was going to control my daughter.
“Alpha, we have completed the evacuation of all but the warriors,” the guard at the entrance said. “The last vehicle just left for Oxbow. The kitchen left a cooler for you on your porch.”
“Thank you, Brian.” I looked at the clock; it was almost eleven, and I was hungry again. I walked out of my office, nodding at Deputy Andersen as he sat at the kitchen table looking at his phone. I walked to the front door, opening it and picking up the big cooler. I brought it over to the kitchen table, unpacking some of the pulled pork and steak sandwiches that had been wrapped up for us. “You hungry? They left us more than enough,” I said as I put one of each sandwich and some chips on the table for me. “BBQ Pork or steak,” I said as I held them out.
“Pork,” he said.
“Can I take these upstairs?”
“No, I’ll have him come down.” He sent a text, and a minute later, Detective Miller worked his way downstairs. I had set aside a couple more sandwiches for the guys on the lake and handed him the rest. “There’s plenty for you too,” I said. “Wait a sec.” I ran back to my office fridge, grabbing a bunch of Cokes and putting them in a bag for them.
“Thanks,” he said as he started picking his way up the stairs around the bodies that hadn’t been moved yet.
It was noon before the first Federal Agents arrived. The Drug Enforcement Agency had recently set up a satellite office inside the Duluth Police Department, responding to the growth in methamphetamine production and the opioid crisis in the area. It was a small office, only two agents, and they arrived in their black Suburban wearing dark suits and sunglasses. “Agents Murdoch and Clark,” the taller one said as I let them in.
“Chase Nygaard, welcome to my home.” They came in, and I showed them where they could hang their jackets. They took wiped their dress shoes off and pulled booties out of their pockets.
“Deputy Andersen, why is the crime victim still running loose in the crime scene,” Murdoch asked.
“Because I can’t get my wife and family out of the bedroom, and I’m not leaving without them,” I said. “Maybe if you guys would let the men process the scene so they could use a stairway, we’d be out of your hair.”
“I have my orders too, and they say I have to wait for Crime Scene,” he said. He shook his head as he looked at the food on the table. “You’ve got dead bodies all around, and you’re eating lunch?”
“They’ve been here for over six hours,” I said as I sat down. “I’ve kind of gotten used to them. Sandwich?”
It was four more hours before BCA Crime Scene cleared one of the stairways, and I could get my family back. We wrapped the babies up and moved quickly through the frigid wind until we were at Keith and Coral’s house. I settled them in, and Keith immediately went to his office to pull up the surveillance. As Beta, he had access to the security feed from within my house, same as the Security office. “Everything locked down?”
“Yes. The basement door is locked and alarmed, safe room and tunnels locked and hidden.”
“The extra warriors are settled and in the rotation?”
“Yes, we’re keeping them out of sight. Sawyer’s plane brought eight extras that we’re pairing them up with our people. With our own and Oxbow, we’ve got thirty warriors ready. We don’t want the police to notice, so a low-key presence at the gate is all we are showing. We’re ready, though.”
“I know you are.” I went back and held my babies, hoping that tomorrow at this time things would all be the same, and knowing there was no chance of that.
FBI Commander Irene Lindstrom’s POV
FBI Jet Approaching Duluth, MN
When this was over, I was going to book an all-inclusive vacation on some beach and drink myself into oblivion.
I’d barely slept, and I had spent more time calming down Washington than I had spent overseeing the investigation. The losses in the raids on the clubhouses had the States involved screaming for justice, but the photos from the Border the entire Administration on edge. The Central Intelligence Agency, State Department, and the Drug Enforcement Agency were all worried that a Cartel war was now spreading into the United States. My priority, straight from the President himself, was to round up the Sons of Tezcatlipoca before the Tijuana cartel killed them all.
Not that they weren’t doing a FINE job of killing themselves off. Not only had all the Presidents gotten together where their heads could be lopped off, now I had Sonsicles on the lake. The news out of the North Shore kept getting worse. First, six Sons of Tezcatlipoca gang members were dead following an unsuccessful attack on the home of a prominent member of the Steel Brotherhood. Another attack after Orlando could easily spill this into a bloody war with a much larger biker gang, one we had so far kept at bay. The gory photos of the President’s heads, complete with spikes into their skulls and tied together like Christmas ornaments, now had competition. The snowmobiler who discovered the four bodies frozen on the lake had shared the photo on Facebook, where it soon went viral. The men were frozen together and to the ice, and the Sheriff’s Department was caught on camera using chainsaws to try to get them free. The television shows loved this.
One of the news shows even had a live interview with the retired couple who had been held hostage and nearly killed. They thanked their neighbor Ron Carlson, a close friend, and neighbor of Chase Nygaard, for coming to their rescue.
Now I have to deal with two dozen-plus Sons, holed up in a Duluth hotel, with more arriving every hour. I looked over at my assistant. “Bob, is Hostage Rescue in place?”
“They are, Commander. They are linked up with Duluth SWAT and planning contingencies. The team leader agrees that an assault on the hotel is the last resort. It will take another six hours to relocate the guests in the surrounding rooms, and we’re still in town. If they fire back or the assault isn’t perfect, civilians will be in the crossfire.”
“And by God, we can’t afford that press,” I said. “What is their recommendation?”
“Allow the Sons to gather together. We are assuming they are after Nygaard and his wife, maybe the others who were part of the defense of the Orlando clubhouse. We stay back, and we wait for them to head north, then we intercept them on a remote stretch of road. The two are inspecting likely ambush points by helicopter now.”
I heard my phone ring and looked down. It was my Task Force watch, Deputy Commander Linda Royce. “Lindstrom,” I said.
“Commander, we have some updates for you,” she said. “Carlos Pachino confirmed what we suspected about the warehouse near the Los Angeles clubhouse. It was a money drop; each of the Charters would distribute the product, collect the cash, and deliver it to Los Angeles. Only four people knew of the location; the President, Vice President, Master at Arms, and the driver from each Chapter. On the designated day, cash would be dropped off and counted. The money would then be palletized and packed for shipment to Mexico.”
“How much cash are we talking about, Linda?”
“The San Francisco Chapter share this delivery was two point two million.”
“Jesus.” There were fifteen Chapters, making it a target worth killing over. “Any leads on who did it?”
“They’re connected. Someone hacked County and Caltrans, and they copied the previous day’s camera surveillance into the day of the hit. It all points to a professional, resourceful intelligence operation. We’ve got nothing but the text message that Director Grimes sent.”
Grimes. I couldn’t believe he was dirty, but this operation was coordinated with our raid on the Clubhouse. Only a Cartel rip crew, trained ex-military, could pull it off in that short a time. “We still think Grimes is dirty?”
“There’s no other explanation. The information Grimes gave to us was good, almost too good. You can’t get intelligence that complete and accurate from a single person inside the organization; no one person would have access to all of it. Our theory is that the Tijuana Cartel is backing Grimes, using us to push the Sinaloa Cartel US distribution system out of the way so they can take over the West Coast and Rockies.”
My headache just got a lot worse. Grimes was in Minnesota, and he got hurt in the attack on Chase Nygaard’s home. “Do we think Chase and Rori are part of the Tijuana Cartel? Is that why he flew off to Minnesota after saying he was vacationing with his family?”
“It would answer a lot of our questions, boss. He looks to be romantically involved with Chase’s mother; she might have recruited him. Chase and Rori have millions of dollars in assets that we can’t explain. Chase was in Los Angeles before the raids, not far from the Cartel’s US operations. Finally, the two are in tight with the Steel Brotherhood leadership. If he made a deal to get the Steel Brotherhood into the drug distribution business, the Club has nationwide connections and far more resources than the Sons ever did.”
What a mess. “And in Orlando, the entire Club bought new motorcycles using money Chase provided.” I was going to put this guy away, I vowed. “Do we have enough to get a search warrant, at least?”
“We’re talking to the judge now. We haven’t found many answers in his background, and Rori’s background is problematic. The two have kept out of sight when they aren’t in gunfights.”
“Her name changed in the victim protection program, and her Dad was a cop. I got an earful from Duluth Police earlier.” Her father had worked with both the Chief and the Captain, and both were angry as hell that we hadn’t warned Rori of the attack. It was poor judgment by my former nightshift Deputy and the source of more ass-chewings from Washington.
“Yes, but most of the money is in her name, and there are blocks of time where we have no record of her whatsoever. We’ll find out, though.”
I had to focus our efforts. “Priority change from on high, Linda. I want all available assets in the Task Force focused on finding and arresting the remaining Sons that are at large. They are on the run, and I want them in jail before the Tijuana Cartel, or Nygaard’s men can find them.”
“Boss, we are close, we just need to keep digging.”
“It’s a direct order, Linda. Get me a warrant I can use to search his house, but we focus on the Sons.” The pilot made an announcement. “I have to go. I’ll call you when I get to the hotel.”
“Good hunting, Commander.” I ended the call and put my laptop away. It was going to be a long afternoon.