by Chris James
Back to Chapter Five
On to Chapter Seven
Rated Mature 18+
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"I don't like this one damn bit," Matt said. "You could have been killed."
"It was my fault," Rick said. "As a military outfit they stink, except they do seem to have a good deal of technology at work. I didn't know they could detect us."
"We did not expect to see armed men in a state park," Tim said. "Isn't that illegal?"
Matt shook his head. "Illegal doesn't seem to bother them, and now instead of one prisoner they have three."
"Boze and Ed didn't resist," Bill said. "I think they did that to keep the militia from discovering the boys. From what Tim says these guys didn't want to kidnap anyone, but this Joab character does."
"I think the militia is more than one big organization," Rick said. "The ordinary members think this is some kind of Christian duty, but Joab and his inner circle have something else going on."
"How does that change the problem at hand?" Matt asked. "People are going to get killed if we send in a large SWAT team."
"Then go arrest my father," BD said. "You have enough evidence of illegal activities to do that."
"They would still have to take on that militia compound," Bill said. "Matt, I think you should go to Centennial and talk to that trooper."
"Miller? I'd have to check and see where he's on patrol, but why do you think he's going to tell us anything?"
"You outrank him but take some muscle with you," Bill said.
"I can do that, but he may not know anything."
"Oh I bet he does," Rick said. "Things have a way of getting around in a small outfit like that. We have to try, and we need an answer today."
"Okay, I agree," Matt said.
The hike through the scrub and rock was difficult, especially since their hands were bound behind them. Ed had started off protesting but Boze silenced him with a glance. It would do no good to whine, they both knew that. But they had to go along if only to put some distance between these militia clowns and the boys hiding in the rocks. Ed might be rattled but Boze was fairly calm because these guys had made one big mistake, they had left Rick behind.
Rick had been his number two almost since the day Boze started his business. He might be the technical genius in the company now but that had evolved after several difficult and bloody assignments in South America.
Leaving Rick free to affect a rescue gave Boze a sense of satisfaction, and it would work if these clowns just took them back to the compound and locked them up. The militia had no proof that they were anything but bird watchers. He just hoped that these guys had their hands full with other things to do and would leave them alone.
But why were they so worried that someone was spying on them? It had to be more than paranoia or Monica, they were planning something. The closer they got to whatever the operation the higher the sense of security and that was the norm in any military outfit. It wasn't just BD they were after since they had no way of knowing how deeply the boy had penetrated their records.
No, it was something else and perhaps the best way to discover that was from the inside. So Boze stumbled along, fostering the image of a klutz in the wild. Most guys thought bird watchers were less than manly, but his stumbles seemed to worry Ed.
"I can't get a good footing with my hands behind me," Boze said.
"Just be careful, don't break an ankle."
"Be quiet," the militia man beside Ed said. "Don't piss off the sergeant."
They finally reached the road and the going got easier. Ed wondered if they were going to hike all the way around the lake and cross the dam, but then they came to an armored personnel carrier hidden in the pines. These guys sure did have a lot of military equipment.
"Inside," the sergeant ordered.
Boze and Ed were pushed up the short ramp at the rear of the vehicle and shoved into seats along the wall. The sergeant produced two black bags and covered their heads. It was hot and there was much less air to breathe but before Ed could object the vehicle was moving.
The service road led to the dam where it crossed and headed off towards a gate at the county highway. Boze could tell when they crossed the dam by the sound of the heavy duty tires on the wooden roadbed. Here they would have to turn right to reach the highway…but they didn't. There was a pause and the vehicle turned left and pulled off the service road.
This must be a back entrance to the compound, Boze thought, but he could see nothing, not even the sun to tell him which way they were headed. The APC bumped over rough terrain and came to a stop.
"Open the gate," the sergeant said, and one of the vehicle doors opened and slammed shut. A moment later they were moving again. Now they must be inside the compound and the road was smoother. Boze tried to picture their path through the trees towards the barn since that had to be their destination. They wouldn't be allowed to see where they were and then the vehicle stopped and the ramp was lowered.
Boze and Ed were yanked to their feet, a militia man on either side guiding them. A short walk and they were inside a building where the feeling of sunshine and fresh air was gone. They were led down a ramp and then a few steps. Boze heard the sounds of a door being unlocked before they were escorted into a room.
When the bags were removed they were standing in a concrete cell and a militia member cut the plastic ties off their wrists with a pair of cutters. He stepped back and watched as their eyes adjusted to the dim light of the cell.
"Behave and you'll get three meals a day. No yelling and don't pee on the floor, use the bucket. The Commander will be here shortly to speak with you." And with that he did an about face and the door slammed shut.
"What the hell ... " Ed began and Boze silenced him with a finger to his lips.
"I'm sorry, Ed. I never should have brought you out to the park this morning," Boze said.
He was standing in the middle of the room and gazing at the walls and the ceiling. The cell was empty except for two cots, the bucket and the overhead light fixture. A tiny space but fortunately there was a small barred opening just below the ceiling which allowed Boze to see daylight outside. Ed knew he was looking for listening devices which were bound to be hidden somewhere.
"What is your wife going to do when you don't come home for dinner?" Boze said.
Ed grinned and played along. "Oh she'll throw a fit like always." He joined the hunt and it didn't take long for them to find a microphone hidden in the ceiling light fixture.
"I don't get it," Ed continued. "Guys with guns in a state park, and they think we're spies?"
"Some kind of militia, and aren't all those guys a little paranoid? At least I saw the eagle I was looking for."
"Great. We're in the middle of a big fucking mess and all you think about is birds," Ed said.
"What else can we do?"
Boze continued wandering the room looking to see if there were any other devices spying on them. He was examining the steel door when he heard footsteps and the bolt slid open on the other side. He quickly crossed the room and sat down on one of the cots.
The door opened to reveal two militia men in the hallway, one of them holding an MP5, the HK version of an assault machine gun. Another figure strode into the room…a man dressed in black fatigues with a gold cross pinned on each lapel, the Commander.
"Gentlemen. We have reason to believe you were spying on our facility from across the lake…"
"Now wait up," Ed said. "I don't know anything about you or what your people are doing here."
"That remains to be seen," The Commander said. "We will do a little research into your backgrounds, and if, as you say, your presence was all about studying nature then you will be released. Unfortunately you come at a bad time for us so you will be held for a while. Please try to make the best of this inconvenience."
The Commander turned to go and stopped. "Don't attempt anything foolish. My men have a low tolerance for anyone who disrupts our activities." The man smiled. "Have a Blessed Day."
The door slammed shut and the bolt was thrown. Ed looked at Boze and raised his eyebrows.
"The Christian thing to say I suppose. So we aren't going anywhere for a while. It's too bad we don't have a deck of cards. I could play Solitaire for hours to pass the time."
"I just hope they don't forget its lunchtime…and I need water," Ed said.
If they had any doubts that their conversations were being overheard that was put to rest when the door opened thirty minutes later and two trays of food were shoved inside. The same two guards with machine guns, only one of them grinned when he tossed in two decks of cards.
"Ah, room service," Boze said while Ed looked at the food. Ham sandwiches and chips on a Styrofoam plate. Edible but at least they were each given two bottles of spring water.
"They didn't give much thought to keeping people locked up for any length of time," Ed said. "The room is rather small." The girl was probably in a cell much like this one…so why had they let her out into that cage?
Ed picked up his sandwich and bit into it, admiring the taste. While it wasn't deli quality the meat seemed good so he guessed these militia guys ate well. Perhaps he would withhold judgment until dinner was served.
Boze opened the cards and shuffled them on his cot…he needed time to think. Rick would lead the boys to safety and they would return to the hotel. His first reaction would be to call in the heavies for a rescue. That meant Jocko and his crew would fall out of the sky and there would be dead militia guys all over the place. Jocko was rarely subtle.
That would come as a surprise to this Commander and his men. They had no idea what this little bit of stupidity would do to them before they were dead. And then there would be hell to pay for running an operation in country. That many dead bodies would certainly raise a few eyebrows in secret circles and Boze would suffer for it.
Despite Matt's assurances, the State Police could not deal with this mess successfully. They would be out gunned and by the time they got to these cells the occupants would be history. Boze liked history but he didn't want to be a part of it until years after his natural demise.
Andy would back Rick up and go with the experts like Jocko. Bill would seek the middle ground and slow things down until they had more information. Lawyers did that and it wasn't such a bad idea. What would Tim recommend?
Tim was a young man who was going places, Boze already knew that. The boy's history might be shocking but over the years these types of adolescent experiences had only strengthened the resolve of most men. Rick knew all about that, he was one of them.
Six years of black ops and kill squads in his military career had purged any lingering doubts Rick had about how emasculated he felt at the hands of his step-father. And since Boze had to choose his employees very carefully, because his livelihood and reputation depended on it, Rick had been cultivated slowly.
One of Boze's first contracts was a deal with the DEA to provide security for two of their agents in Colombia investigating the Medellín Cartel drug gang. That gang was long gone now, but they had been at full strength back then. Boze had a bad feeling about the job from day one since the two agents acted like a couple of stupid cowboys.
They were in a foreign country and Boze had chosen this new man as his partner because Rick had a good history and a working knowledge of Spanish. But it seems the cartel had a good bit of intelligence about the DEA and they were all snatched off the streets of Bogota by an armed gang. Outnumbered and outgunned there was nothing Boze could do.
All four of them ended up in a jungle camp bound hand and foot. There were beatings and torture until the gang members figured out which of them were agents. Two bullets later Boze and Rick were left alone to deal with their captors.
Rick had endured the beatings and torture with surprising ability. But their captors knew they were not agents and only laughed at their inept role as security guards. Rick spent some time trying to negotiate their release to no avail. He was quiet and patient until Boze figured out the man was just waiting for an opportunity to escape.
When it came Rick moved fast and Boze was right there beside him. The two guards didn't even know what hit them before they were dead and their weapons were in the hands of men who knew how to use them effectively. A dozen cartel members died that afternoon and with only a few minor wounds Bose led them out of the jungle to safety.
He had never doubted Rick after that. The man was calm and effective but few knew what lay underneath, and those that did were no longer around to talk about it. He was the perfect number two in the organization and now he would get the chance to prove it once again. And yet, Bose hoped Rick knew it might be too soon for Jocko.
Matt made a brief phone call and ascertained that Miller was in the Centennial barracks awaiting an assignment. Another short call went out to the central office in Denver and Miller was ordered to stand down and await Matt's visit.
The call to Captain Willows took much longer as Matt filled him in on the details of what they had discovered. Just knowing where the kidnapped girl was located gratified the Captain until he heard that Miller might be involved. They arranged to meet in Centennial around four o'clock.
"Okay, let's not do anything rash until I have a chance to interrogate Miller," Matt said. "Do you agree?"
"Only if you agree that the State Police would do more harm than good by barging in there," Andy said. "If we're going to allow Boze's people to handle this then Rick needs to give them a heads up and at least share the intelligence we have."
Matt didn't like it but he understood. "This will not sit well in the Governor's office, you know that. Having one private army go after another sounds like one big cluster fuck."
"I assure you it will be quick and quiet," Rick said. "I'll make sure Jocko understands there is to be no killing, just capture."
"Can he do that? Those militia guys are armed to the teeth," Bill said. "Who is this Jocko character?"
"He's…well, most of what he is will have to remain a secret. Jocko is the nickname for a gentleman who served with the British SAS, their Air Force special services department. He was sent to California to work with the Navy Seals, fell in love with America and never left. Guys like him and Boze just seem to find one another.
"I've worked with him on several different security operations in the past and I have no doubt of his ability to pull Boze and Ed out of this mess. As for the capture order, Jocko runs a very efficient squad of men who know their business. They took back an embassy last year and the terrorists didn't even know they were there until it was too late.
"So Matt, you will have to send in a force to pick up the militia guys but they won't be dead, just neutralized. Our guys will go in at night, locate the hostages and by dawn the militia in the compound will be out of commission."
"It sounds too good to be true," Matt said.
"No offense to your SWAT teams, but this is guerilla warfare and we trained long and hard to get this good. I would love to tell you how many commendations we have but then I'd have to kill you," Rick said, but he was smiling.
"Are you planning to go in with them?" Tim asked.
"No, I'll be their outside Intel man. We have some pretty high tech communications gear in play so it will be like I'm there."
"I wish I could help," Mitch said.
Rick grinned. "Maybe I can find something for you to do."
Matt left for Centennial and Rick commandeered the table in his hotel room to set up a communications station. Tim and BD went to their room to wash up before dinner so Andy and Bill took a walk outside around the parking lot.
"I think your boy has something for BD," Andy said. "Are you sorry I ever brought him to your door?"
"No, of course not. I think Tim has a lot of empathy for BD and this situation has drawn them closer. I trust Tim to do the right thing."
"I never had the guts to do the right thing when I was their age," Andy said.
"Tell me about it," Bill replied. "It's not just the courage gay boys have these days, the climate is different. You and I were probably afraid of being called out for being gay…they don't have the same fear. Tim may not have the intellectual experience BD does but he's had some intense years of development. I think they're pretty equal in most regards."
"I agree. I'm sorry we had to involve Matt in any of this. That must put a strain on your relationship."
"Oh not at all, Matt takes his badge off at the bedroom door," Bill said. "I never figured a lawyer and a cop could forge a bond like this but it's something we both need. It's a sharing kind of thing, he cooks and I eat."
Andy laughed for a moment and then became somber. "I hope Boze and Ed are all right. The Chief is probably cussing me out for getting him involved in this. But he has always been sure of the people around him so I know he expects Rick to do the right thing."
"Dangerous guys in the dark," Bill said with a grin. "What could possibly go wrong with that?"
"All kinds of things and you know it. Are we going to wait dinner until Matt gets back?"
"I'll wait until six-thirty, but you guys can go ahead if you get hungry, you have a family to take care of" Bill said.
"Yeah, Mitch is pretty enamored of this business. He's always been a geek of sorts and anything involving technology attracts him."
"I wonder where BD learned all his ability on the computer?"
"They learn by doing, but that can get expensive," Andy said. "Mitch has crashed more computers than I care to remember, and that wasn't cheap. But his keyboarding skills far outrun mine. And books, he reads far more than I ever did at that age."
"Is he dating?"
"In ninth grade? No, girls are still alien creatures to him and his friends."
"I was just wondering if his father being gay would cause any issues among his friends."
"No again, his friends think I'm cool." Andy laughed. "Mitch isn't shy about who I am, Bill. In fact he's quite proud of it. Last year when Mitch was thirteen I took him to the Pride Festival in downtown Denver. You know those things get pretty wild, but Mitch enjoyed it.
"I had talked to him about what to expect, but of course he had already seen photos of the event online. But he dressed conservatively that day until we got down to the parade and then he took off his sweater. Under it he wore a rainbow colored T-shirt that he had ordered online, something I had never seen.
"'I am proud of my gay father,' it said across the front, and it nearly brought me to tears. I've had moments like this with him throughout his life and that expression of love was a topper. But what I loved the most about that moment is that all day long Mitch received compliments for his message, and I saw the smiles other men gave us. Every gay man should have a son…it keeps me real."
Bill nodded. "Tim never really knew his real father and the man who came after that nearly killed him. I've spent the past few years allowing him to ease into our relationship. He was a needy boy at Mitch's age and some of that has changed, but not all of it. Despite the strong exterior I still think there's a child inside who needs encouragement and affection."
Andy clapped a hand on Bill's shoulder. "Give him time…you have the rest of your lives to learn what that love means. Your relationship with Matt sets a fine example of what a partnership can do for a gay man."
"Yeah, and what if Tim falls for BD? Neither of them have any experience in that department. Tim was locked up at that wilderness school and there were no relationships in the curriculum. BD hasn't done much better around that family of his, and what will happen to the boy when this is all over?"
"They'll both be eighteen," Andy said. "If they pair up I can't think of a better mentor than you."
"Oh hell, I'm no fairy godmother," Bill said, but then he grinned. "I guess I could learn."
The conversation between BD and Tim when they went back to their room was anything but jocular. In fact it was downright depressing. While BD had remained quiet during most of the discussion about rescuing Boze, Ed and Monica, his mind had not been silent.
"I am such a fuck up," BD said after Tim closed the door. "I started all this. I got Monica kidnapped and now Boze and Ed. All these guys are risking their lives for…for what? I never should have screwed with my father's business. I should have just let Barry put me in that ex-gay school and be done with it."
"Who is Barry?" Tim asked.
"My older brother, my father's ass kisser. When my father couldn't discipline me anymore Barry took over that role. He's eight years older than me and I never took him seriously enough. He was always such a pious prick. Yes father this, yes father that, I didn't know he was such a mean bastard until he beat me."
"He assaulted you?"
"Oh hell yeah, more times than I care to remember. Once he found out I was gay it was like open season on little brother. If I'd had a gun I would have…sorry. I always say the wrong things in front of you."
They were just standing there when Tim slid his arms around BD's shoulders and gave him a hug. The initial resistance quickly melted and BD hugged back.
"I did what I had to do," Tim said, speaking with a calm and gentle voice. "It may have been the wrong thing to do, I still haven't decided that. But my life needed to change and that's what happened. Don't blame yourself for any of this…blame your family for creating this mess. You came seeking help and all these people have stepped up for you, and that includes me."
Tim could feel BD trembling and he held on until he was sure the boy was crying. How many times had he cried in Grant's arms when Providence had seemed like the end of the world? He could not let go until BD felt reassured.
It felt good…necessary. And so this is how it begins, Tim thought, and he smiled as he stroked BD's soft hair. If I have to choose a boy this one will do just fine.
At first Trooper Miller had been defiant about his membership in God's Chosen. Matt had calmly sat the man down in the interrogation room and asked why he had felt the need to join a radical Christian organization. Miller had quickly responded with his First Amendment rights to religious freedom.
"That's all well and good, Miller, you do have religious freedoms," Matt said. "At least until that organization becomes criminal in the eyes of the law. Are you aware of their recent activities?"
"No, Sergeant. God's Chosen is a patriotic movement. The only criminals are in the government. They're trying to do away with our Constitution and create a new world order."
"Where did you hear these things?"
"Joab has brought in experts, given us lectures about the dangers…maybe I need a lawyer," Miller said.
"Sure, the union can always provide you with one. But if you go that route then you'll be on suspension pending an administrative hearing."
"You can't do that…on whose authority?"
That was when the door opened and Captain Willows walked in the room. Miller jumped to his feet and stood at attention while Matt continued to sit calmly at the table. Perhaps it was the familiarity Matt displayed with the captain that broke Miller's will to resist. Matt was sure he had never personally met the Captain before.
Willows took a seat and urged Miller to sit back down. "These are some pretty serious accusations, Trooper. So far this secret organization you belong to is involved in kidnapping, assault, and possession of illegal firearms. Are you willingly a part of that?"
Miller was stunned which only advanced Matt's understanding that most of the God's Chosen militia were ignorant of what the inner cadre were doing. How easily some people were duped into joining. Unfortunately for Miller the law would paint him with the same brush as the rest. It wouldn't take long for a Grand Jury to see the conspiracy behind these activities.
"I don't know anything about any of that, Captain, I assure you."
"Have you met Joab? Is he the leader of your group?" Matt asked.
Miller nodded. "He's the Commander."
"Have you participated in any of the military training?" Willows asked.
Miller seemed reluctant to answer but Willows sat quietly and stared at Miller.
"We've done some weapons training with the M-16, and some maneuvers. I'm the best shot in my group."
"Look, we're not sure what the agenda is here," Matt said. "What you describe sounds like normal militia behavior. But we do have evidence that Joab is behind three kidnappings, and there are some federal firearms issues involved."
"Tell me about these maneuvers," Willows said. "Where did you hold them?"
"Not really sure. They took a dozen of us west into the mountains and tried to get us lost. We were given rations and a compass to find our way to predetermined spot, but we got lost and weren't allowed to ask anyone…we weren't even supposed to be seen. It wasn't until we crossed Little Beaver Creek and came to a road that we figured out where we were."
"And where was that?"
"Well, we just followed the road until we got to Victor, and then we sent one guy in to call for a truck to come pick us up. Good thing, too, we were just about out of rations. I don't think any of us had any real military experience."
Miller, like most of the new crop of troopers, had an associate's degree in criminal justice. Without a military background these guys would be like Boy Scouts in the wild, Matt figured.
"So you've never fired a broad range of large caliber weapons?" Matt asked.
"No, we're not even allowed to carry the M-16 off the compound property. The Commander doesn't want to see us have any accidents with the civilian population. A lot of us around here go to Dalton's range to shoot our own weapons, and then I get my pistol qualifications updated on our range."
"So heavy weapons training isn't part of your militia duty?
"No, Sir, not at all. Like I said, it's mostly field practice until we get chosen."
"Chosen for what?" Willows asked.
Miller shrugged. "Some of the guys get tapped for special assignments, but I don't know what they do to qualify for that. I had a long talk with Sergeant Bennett about my job here and I think they worry about me being a trooper. I guess that means I'll never get a special assignment."
"Perhaps you won't," Matt said. "In fact I'm sure you won't. There are some bad things going on at that compound."
"I didn't know you were even aware of that place, they try to keep it secret," Miller said.
"Secrets to cover a multitude of sins, Miller," Willows said. "There is now an official investigation underway, so if you want my advice I would stay away from there until it concludes. Sergeant Connors has recommended we place you on administrative duty for the next thirty days while all this shakes out. Do you have a problem with that?"
Miller looked at Matt. "No suspension?"
Matt shook his head. "We don't have any evidence of your involvement with the criminal activities of the militia. You do have the right to associate with them as part of your religious freedoms, but I would limit that to church activities for now. Don't be led astray by some of these guys and you'll be fine. Can we count on that?"
"Yes, Sir. I don't need any trouble."
Miller was dismissed and Willows sat quietly with Matt for a few moments. "They're all so young and naïve," Willows said. "New world order…where did that come from?"
"This Bishop Tilden and his church are a powerful influence, Boss," Matt said. "The militia leaders have probably been brainwashing the whole bunch. But Miller's comments coincide with what we've been thinking. This Commander Joab has his own gang in their midst with a different agenda and they're up to something."
"We need to find out what that is, and soon. So you don't think our SWAT guys are capable of taking them on?"
"Not head to head, we're outgunned and they have hostages. I don't like it but we need help with this," Matt said. "Meanwhile that poor girl has been captive for much too long. Somehow this is all more than trying to get the preacher's son back. I suggest we use our intelligence to backtrack all the activities we can discover about this militia."
Willows sighed. "I can't sign off on a special forces attack, even if these men you describe have worked in covert operations for the government. But I can turn a blind eye to Castle Rock for few days…get them going."
"Yeah, Castle Rock," Matt said. "Why would they take the militia on maneuvers to the west when they have the whole wilderness to the east close by? They took a great risk heading into the mountains because all those state parks are patrolled by rangers. Why would they go to Victor when they already have a militia guy living there?"
"I'll send Bonetta up there to look around, maybe he can find something," Willows said.
Matt almost laughed. "T-Bone isn't going to be happy traipsing around a dirty little mining town."
Willows smiled. "I know, but even Lieutenants need to follow orders. And speaking of that, I do have an opening…"
"Don't go there," Matt said, and he got up to leave.
"Do what you have to do, just don't tell me about it until it's over," Willows said.
"If these guys are anything like Boze and Rick then I won't even know when it starts. Have a good evening, Boss."
On to Chapter Seven
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