Cassie stood with Julie outside Big Bertha and watched as the trucks with flatbeds loaded with prefab buildings pulled into the camp site. As each truck pulled to a stop, one of her crew questioned its driver about which load he was carrying, then directed the driver where to unload and setup.
It was loud and appeared completely disorderly. In her mind Cassie could see what the end results would be. The first to be assembled was one big building, that would become “We Find It” Mine Site Headquarters. Her office would be moved out of Big Bertha and into a semi-permanent location.
There would be an office for Julie Summer as well and she would control access to Cassie.
The front entrance opened into a reception area with a waiting area and a reception desk. To the side of that area would be the security office with two rooms. The first would be general security and the second the office of Special Deputy US Marshal Clint Wilson. A hallway would open in front of security and reach all the way to the rear wall where there would be an alarm emergency.
Another central hallway would intersect the main hallway with multiple offices off each set of halls.
Cassie’s door would have a sign that stated:
Cassandra Howly Howard, VP
Mineral Location and
She had paid extra to get these building shipped and assembled. Tiny told her that the headhunting company had found a very likely prospect to become their Director of Mining Operation. At present Tiny and Cassie were doing that job together. That would be one more step to relieve the pressure she was under. She could stay, at most, another month.
The company was growing by leap and bounds. From 38 employees at the beginning of summer they were now over 200. The official Company Headquarters was located in Sonora, Texas, her hometown where she would be spending most of her time for the next few years. Her Dad was there and was on their Board of Directors.
Their company by-laws were strictly drawn up. There was no age limit, in either direction, to sit on the board. Every member of the Board must own or control at least five percent of the stock of the company. Presently that was Tiny with forty-five percent, Cassie with twenty-five percent, George Howard five percent, and Wesley as director-elect of the employee association which held five percent, with twenty percent held in reserve by the company which Tiny could vote.
A prefab apartment building with ten apartments was being set up for female employees to have a place to live on site. Julie was thinking seriously about moving into one as she now slept in Bertha with Cassie during the week and went home to her family on weekends.
“Cassie, I’m going over to the setup area and talk to the person in charge. I’ll find out how soon we can start moving in. We have an interview with Scott Whitehair tomorrow about the position of Director of Mining Operations. If the offices are not ready we will have to use Bertha and it really needs a good cleaning inside.”
“Are you saying I’m sloppy, Julie?”
“No, I live here too, so it’s not just you.”
“Yes, you are right and that’s one of the reasons we needed the offices.”
“Using Bertha is like using an office in your home that was converted from the nursery, not very professional.”
“Julie, remember you need to go to Bonners Ferry today to interview for the receptionist and office manager positions.”
“Ouch, that going to be really good, I know everybody in town. They know me and they are just not going to have any respect for me and will not believe I can hire or not.”
“Well you can until I say differently, just be impartial. Use your knowledge about them. You probably know all their little dirty secrets as well as their strengths. Look at it this way; it’s your company, would you want that person working for you?
One more thing, document everything, any and all reasons for not hiring or hiring for a different position then the position they wanted. Oh, tell them, no matter your decision, they will be contacted later. Then fill out a letter with an envelope and send it with all the information to your uncle Joe Buckley to review.”
“Tell him that you want to cover your legal position for failing to hire or to hire for another position. Let’s see how he handles it.”
“Mention a secret or two to each applicant, and then bring up the fact that they can’t hide anything from you. Make sure you ask the hard question: ‘Do you really want a job or not?’”
“Oh, one more thing Julie, you are no longer my Administrative Assistant, you are the Executive Administrative Assistant, and raise your salary to Six thousand a month. First thing in Bonners Ferry get yourself some business cards made up. Get a few right away to hand out at the interviews. Grab a couple of prepaid debit cards to be sure and have available money to pay for things”
“But but…I have not been here two months yet!”
“Those times are guide lines, they are not law.”
Julie wandered off slightly dazed. She was stumbling all over the place, her mind going in circles and not paying attention where she was walking. She started to fall and was jerked to an abrupt stop by a big hand grabbing her upper arm.
“Ms. Summer, are you trying to kill yourself? Wake up; you cannot be walking around where construction and moving equipment is running.”
Her body had twisted as it came to such a quick stop and she was looking up at the sky and the silhouette of a man. He relaxed his grip but did not release her as he pulled her back to her feet. Then she saw him clearly. It was Clint Wilson, their head of security, a tall good looking man, about ten years older than her. She blushed at her thoughts but he was good looking.
“Oh, thank you Mr. Wilson, I was just shocked by what Cassie did.”
“Cassie, huh? What did she do now give you a couple of million in gold to put in your socks?”
“Oh my god, that would be just like her wouldn’t it? She treats it all like it was just metal. No she promoted me and gave me a raise!”
“I thought you were her Administrative Assistant? What did she promote you to, VP in charge of paperwork?”
“No but almost, she just made me the Executive Administrative Assistant.”
“Hum, that’s like Sergeant Major in the army. Well congratulations! I’ve been watching and you’ve earned it. Did you know that you have increased Cassie’s effectiveness by over three hundred percent since you have been here?” With that, he turned and rotated her with him and waved at the buildings going up all over the mine site. He turned and looked at her, “Tell you what, this Friday I’ll pick you up at your family home and we’ll go out for a celebratory dinner.”
“Egh, what? Me?” Her voice squeaked, “but I thought you and Cassie…”
Clint started laughing, “Me and Cassie? You do know I’m a Special Deputy US Marshal?”
After a pause Julie said.”Yes I did but what’s that have to do with dating Cassie, is it because she is one also?”
Clint wiped a tear from laughing so hard from his eye. “No Julie but I am really surprised you don’t know, Cassie is only thirteen; there’s nobody in the company young enough to date her. Most of the men don’t even know her age but are scared to death of even thinking of dating her. Now all the interns think they are in love with her, but it’s just overgrown admiration.”
“THIRTEEN! You are kidding me, right?”
“Nope, Tiny told me once that he thought she was seventeen the first time he met her and that was when she was twelve. That is one amazing female but let me tell you she even scares me. Let’s get back to the more important things, Friday night 2000?”
“YES! Oh yes I really want to celebrate.”
“Okay, now be careful, we have a date this weekend.”
She turned to walk away then stopped. What was she doing out here? Oh yes, finding out how soon they could start moving into the offices. With that she strolled toward the building supervisor.
An hour later she caught up with Cassie, “Cassie, they will have the office completed by tomorrow afternoon, which will be too late. How about catching Mr. Whitehair and setting the meeting in town. We could use the restaurant at the Casino. It’s very nice.”
“Good idea; I have something I need to do in town and tomorrow will be good time to do it. You go ahead and make the arrangements and plan to be with me. You take off for town now and spend the night with your family. When and where should I meet you tomorrow?”
The next morning, Cassie was up early to get instructions to everyone before she headed to Bonners Ferry. By the time she came back to the mine site everything would be ready.
This was one of the times Cassie really missed being able to see herself in a mirror. She scanned herself as closely as she could. The 360 degree vision was handy. She really needed to get her hair trimmed as it was getting a little raggedy in the rear. But the suit actually ‘looked’ good on her! The suit made her look in her twenties.
She put on a sturdy dress belt with her pants. The belt now supported her clipped on holster and her credentials. With her jacket just hanging unbuttoned neither was detectable by normal sight. She went by her home office and put a letter into her briefcase.
Outside Big Bertha her new Tahoe was waiting. Her shotgun was held fast by a clip on the dashboard. An M4 was in a carrying case that slid under her seat in the Tahoe. The only reason she could even get the M4 was because of her Special Deputy US Marshal appointment. Testing at their range near the Mill site had shown her that with her blind sight she was a fully qualified expert with all the weapons.
Getting in on the passenger side, she opened her briefcase and took out her backup, a Glock 27 that she wore in a holster in the small of her back with a standard 9 round magazine.
Her regular pistol was a Glock 23 with the full optional 17 round magazine on her right hip.
Cassie normally did not wear her backup but the first thing she did when she woke up this morning was to check out her backup to be sure it was loaded. To her that meant she was going to be carrying it. She used the .40 caliber and that meant all her magazines were interchangeable. Her extra magazines were all 17 rounds.
She figured if she needed the extra magazines then she needed the extra rounds as well. It was uncomfortable to sit in the car with the holster in the small of her back, but she’d rather be uncomfortable then out of bullets.
Clint walked over and got into the driver’s seat. Turning to look at her, he studied her for a moment. “Cassie, why me today; you have gone to town many a time with Julie or one of the interns driving? But this morning you sent me word that you wanted me to drive today.”
“Clint, I can sometimes see things before they really happen. Sometimes it’s just a feeling. This time it’s a feeling, but since I am going to fire our lawyer and transfer all his records to another lawyer and he might try to cause trouble, I will use that as an excuse instead of ‘my gut’”.
“Good answer, my gut has saved my ass a couple of times, ‘my gut’ is a great answer.”
He drove out of the mine site and down to the ford. It took hardly any time before they were going down the County Road. Since the company trucks used the County Road so much they had made arrangements with the county to help pay the cost of maintaining the road, so the drive was much smoother then a normal county road.
“Clint when you get into town, head for the Commercial Office building downtown. Before we get there let’s test the lights and siren.” Cassie pointed at two switches on the dash.
He reached over and flipped both switches for a second or two. A siren began to howl and underneath the front grill red and blue lights began to flash. Then he turned them were off. “Okay! That worked.”
They pulled into the parking lot and Cassie opened her briefcase and removed her parking signs that told everybody that this was her car; Special Deputy US Marshal Cassandra Howard.
Clint took his position to the rear left side of Cassie and his eyes scanned the street and roofline.
She pushed the door of the office building open and stepped inside. “Clint, someone was watching for us but I could not pinpoint them!”
“Damn, I felt something too.”
They took the elevator up to the third floor. Stepping out of the elevator Clint spotted two men in work uniforms with a dolly waiting outside the lawyer’s office.
The men, who had been slouching against a wall, stood straight on seeing them approach. “Ms. Howard, Peter Albright, Bonners Ferry Transfer and Storage, I was told to meet you here and wait until you arrived.”
“Thanks, Mr. Albright; we will be just a minute. Do you have some boxes in case they are needed?”
“Yes Ma’am, we are a full service company, we will box it, load it, transfer it or store it.”
“Well I am not sure what we will find, but I would like everything we move out to be boxed in your boxes, before they are moved. Do you know how to reach the mining site out off County Road 111?”
“Yes, ma’am, my brother went to work out there.”
“Good, that’s where you will deliver what you pick up here. Ask for Colossal and get his signature.”
He grinned, “Yes Ma’am”
“Have you met Colossal?”
“Yes, he came over with my brother last weekend.”
“Tell you what I changed my mind, take everything to Attorney Joe Buckley’s office.”
“Let’s do this Clint.”
She opened the door and entered Arthur G. Washburn’s office.
The neatly dressed and coiffured middle-aged receptionist looked up as they entered. “May I help you?”
“I am Cassandra Howly Howard. I am here to terminate the relationship between Mr. Arthur G. Washburn and our company ‘We Find It’ and to take into my possession all files, documents and any other possible assets of the said company that might be in Mr. Arthur G. Washburn’s possession.”
“Oh dear, one moment please.” she reached for her intercom, but at that time the door into Washburn’s inner office opened. He stood looking first at Cassie and then took a quick glance at Clint, but his eyes went back to Cassie and stayed.
He turned and entered his office saying over his shoulder, “Come on in.”
They followed him. Along one wall were four cardboard filing boxes. He waved at the boxes as he took his seat behind his desk. “I was here all night being sure to pack up everything I could find that applied to your company. Ms. Howard, that box on the right has an unopened Fed Ex package addressed to you.”
“I had nothing to do with instigating the events that led to me having that package. One of your crew showed up with a letter stating that I would pay him one thousand dollars for any documents that he would bring to me to hold. The letter was from a previously retained client. Upon my seeing who the package belonged to I took possession and put it in your company files.”
“Wait, when we hired you were you already retained by the other company or client?”
“Yes and when you approached me I should have realized that a conflict of interest might arise and turned you down. That was my first mistake!”
“That statement leads to the question, what was your second mistake.”
“Not severing my relations to my other client when I knew for sure there was a conflict of interest. My third mistake was not notifying you as soon as I took possession of your package.”
“Hum, Mr. Washburn, you seemed to have covered all the bases. In these circumstances what would your advice be?”
“What I think you are already doing; terminate your legal relationship with my firm and take back possession of all materials in that I might have and retain another lawyer that has a cleaner reputation then mine.”
“Mr. Washburn, you are very sharp. It’s too bad that you could not keep your nose clean with us. Now I have some men that will take possession of those boxes and transfer them to storage. Would that be okay with you that they now enter your office.”
He laughed, “Ms. Howard, I am regretting this more and more. You are recording this are you not? Your wording is impeccable leaving no doubt of what you mean.”
Standing he said, “At your pleasure Ms. Howard.” He waved at the boxes.
Peter Albright had re-loaded all the materials into his boxes and was out of the office in less than ten minutes.
“We will be leaving now, Mr. Washburn.”
“One moment, Ms. Howard, I don’t want you to make a mistake. I have heard through one of my contacts that there are some strangers asking about you. They appear to have some “heavy hitters” with them. I have nothing to do with them and, to the best of my knowledge, nobody that I am working with is working with them. Be careful.”
With that they left Washburn’s office, hopefully never to see him again. “Clint?”
“We’ll move very carefully. I don’t know what you can do but whatever; we need to be on very high alert.”
“I have to do three more things here in town. First get Julie, then go to Joe Buckley’s office and finally meet with Mr. Whitehair.”
“I sure hope the trouble can hold off until after the Whitehair interview. We really need a Director of Mining to take over running our mining operations.”
The trip to get Julie was without incident as was the trip to her Uncle’s office. They were very careful exiting the car and then walking into Joe Buckley’s office. He was very pleased to see his niece.
“Excuse me a minute Ms. Howard.” Then he picked up a file folder off his desk and handed it to his niece. “Caroline Staffer is a piece of work, she was trying to set you up for a sexual discrimination law suit. Good documentation, she still might sue but you have your ducks in a row.”
“Now what can I do for you?”
“We would like to retain you as our local attorney for things like what you just did for your niece. We need to make sure we dot our ‘I’’s and cross our ‘T’’s.”
“I thought you already had a local attorney?”
“We did until about forty five minutes ago. If you agree we have four boxes of materials in a truck out back.”
“I heard some good things about your company and also some rumors that it’s all a government cover-up for some military convert operations. Looking at who is passing those rumors on I am sure you are not. So, on thirty days probation on both parties part, I will agree. Bring in your boxes.”
Cassie took out her cell phone and called Albright, “Peter, bring the boxes up to Joe Buckley’s office.”
“We have to run, Mr. Buckley. I have a meeting at the Casino Restaurant in forty five minutes. So I need to rush.”
“They serve a mean rib-eye there, so don’t let me hold you up.”
The three of them exited the office and took the elevator down to the lobby. “Still clear Clint.”
Cassie still felt watched, but her scans did not detect anyone who appeared to be taking any interest in them. Their arrival at the Casino was almost anti-climatic except that Julie had no idea what was going on around her.
The host at the restaurant recognized their party and seated them in a secluded area away from any windows, their preferred location.
“I have a guest, a Mr. Whitehair, coming. Please show him to our table when he arrives.”
“Yes Ms. Howard, I will do so.”
They sat at the table for awhile, conversing. Cassie came to the conclusion that Julie had again done her superb job interviewing the prospective new employees the night before. She felt like she was picking up the vibes between Julie and Clint.
She fought and succeeded in hiding her smile. Obviously while she had not been around they had begun to make friends and maybe more.
Cassie noticed that the host was headed their way, followed by a man with the slight appearance of a Native American. She stood, and of course the others did also.
The host lay a menu down in front of the vacant chair, nodded at her and then left.
“Yes Ms. Howard?”
“I’m pleased to meet you. This is my Executive Assistant Julie Summer and my head of Security, Special Deputy US Marshal Clint Wilson.”
“Deputy US Marshal?”
“Special Deputy US Marshal, I do not get paid by the government, it just gives me Federal Authority. That’s a real help when working on Federal Land and near state and International Borders.” Clint answered the implied question from Whitehair.
Cassie took over the conversation, “Mr. Whitehair I have read your resume and the Consulting firm’s report that recommended you. I understand that you are retired from your previous employers. Why start up the hassle at a new company?”
“I retired at my previous company before I said something that would have gotten me fired. That way, I walked off with my entire pension and other benefits. I need them. I have three teenage children.”
“Your resume and application mentioned you are a native to Idaho?”
“I am sure it also mentions I was born on the Nez Perce reservation. I attracted the attention of the tribal council and earned a scholarship to a very good school that had a degree program in mining engineering. That’s what helped me find a good job in my home state. So that’s where I’ve spent my whole career.”
“What was the thing that you were afraid you were going to say that would have gotten you fired?”
“I could not let their slip-shod way of operating continue without objecting. The company had recently been bought out and the new owners were cutting back on safety, waste management, and the reporting of events to both OSHA and EPA.”
“So, if you saw those same things in our company what would you do?”
“I would report them to upper management and if their policies were not changed, then I would again quit.”
“Mr. Whitehair, what do you know about our company and our operation?”
The interview continued for over an hour. Near the end of the hour Cassie signaled the host and he sent a waiter over to take their orders. The drink order was without any alcohol. The rib-eyes were just as good as Joe Buckley had said.
Sitting back later, relaxing with coffee, Cassie opened the negotiation. “Mr. Whitehair, I liked your position on safety and pollution from mine waste. I hate what mining and oil/gas drilling can do to the surface, but we need the resources to keep civilization going.”
“I am going to hire you if we can agree on the rest of the negotiation. What do you need in salary and benefits?”
“It really depends on what I am being hired to do?”
“Director of Mining Operations; you will be in control of all mining and milling on site. You will be in charge of all hiring and firing other than the Security and office workers. There are some employees that are not primarily mining employees and most will be leaving the site for other positions. They are old time employees and helped find and setup this mining operation. They will be going back to their primary work.”
“We have five placer claim associations under contract to the Employee Association which is our answer to the miners union.”
“All employee of our company are member of the Employee Association with one basic share in the EA. The company has the same one share as does each officer in the company. This Association holds five percent of the company. The original employees own the placer claims but pool their gold findings. We have contracts with those original employees that will allow the Company to take over the placer claims in the future.
At the present time the assets of the Employee Association is over eight million dollars. For approximately 200 employees, that is forty thousand dollar per employee, but it’s not that simple. Every new employee starts off at a different level on the asset division formula level. You would not start at that level, but I can guarantee that by this time tomorrow, if you agree, you will have at least a thousand dollars to your credit.”
“Now what do you want?”
“Good health insurance for my whole family. We have no major illness in the family to my knowledge. I would also like a good pension plan and a salary of Two hundred thousand a year.”
Cassie reached down and picked up her briefcase, opening it she took out a small stack of forms. “First you need to sign the non-disclosure form. Then, here is your employment contract for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars per year. There is the Employee Association membership agreement. Then the rest is about education benefits for all members of your family. The Employee Association membership plus the Profit Sharing plan should set you up for a really good retirement. The Employee Association’s share of any company profits will go into a Profit Sharing plan for the employees of the company”
“I would like you to come out to the site tomorrow and take a tour. Then, if possible, report for work in two weeks.”
“Now that you signed that non-disclosure agreement. We are mining a vein that is approximately six inches by twelve inches and over two miles long. We are taking out a million dollars in value of gold for every foot to foot and half we mine. So we are not worried that we are paying fifty percent higher wages then union scale and we are paying one hundred percent of the premiums for a top Health Insurance plan for our employees.”
“You do what you said you wanted and we will both be happy. We do no smelting or refining of our ore other then basic milling on site.”
Whitehair was reading through all the papers he had in his hand. “You have to be joking, this is impossible. You are mining 90% pure gold?”
“It’s real and we have been doing this for six weeks. We are not selling all of it either. The price of gold has continued to rise. We are storing gold at our headquarters in Texas. But we do have a half a billion cash reserve in our bank.”
“Now we will see you tomorrow afternoon. Report to our home site at the northern end of County Road 111; the security there will escort you up to the mine site.”
Cassie stood up and shook hands with Whitehair. Julie and Clint followed suit and then followed her out of the restaurant. In the lobby of the Hotel Cassie turned to Julie.
“Julie, can you get to your house to pick up your car? Clint and I have something we have to do.”
Cassie turned and sit down at a table in the hotel lobby and motion Julie to do the same.
Opening up her briefcase she removed a stack of papers and files and handed them to Julie.
“Take these back to our site. The office should be ready, and if so, file them.”
Julie hesitated as she took the papers and put them in her briefcase. “Does this mean you might not make it back tonight?”
“I hope to, but just in case I want them on site tonight.”
“Julie you saw me hire Whitehair, those documents include all his paperwork. I just want to make sure that they are filed tonight. That means he is the Director of Mining Operations whether he reports in two weeks or tonight. I like the man; I want to be sure that nobody interferes with his employment.”
Julie got up and looked at Cassie for a minute, remembering that she was only thirteen. That was one of the hardest things to believe of all the things that had happened around her in the last couple of weeks. The she glanced at Clint and saw he was staring at Cassie with a worried look in his eyes.
She looked at Cassie again, and saw the pensive expression on her face. Julie straightened up and turned toward the exit to the Hotel. She would do the job expected of her by Cassie. Cassie followed Julie with her scan narrowing it as she got further away. Julie walked over to her Uncle Joe’s office and from there she wangled a ride to her house.
Julie was safe. Cassie had found them, whoever they were. Two SUVs were parked on the main street leading toward the casino. A dump truck was just setting, idling, down a side street. Finally there was a garbage truck that had been loading cans into the truck for over thirty minutes. Cassie counted over eleven men, all well armed.
“Clint, I see eleven armed men, two SUVs, one dump truck and one garbage truck, all waiting.
“What do you want to do?”
“Let’s go start the dance. You keep down and safe, Julie would cry her eyes out if anything were to happen to you.”
“Julie? How did you know?”
She took three seventeen round magazines from her briefcase and stuck them in pockets in her jacket, destroying the impeccable tailoring.
Clint smiled as she spread the magazines around. Too bad they would not get to their Tahoe to get some heavier weapons. They turned toward the exit doors like a matched pair.
They made it half way to the Tahoe when the vehicles entered the parking lot. The two SUVs led the way and the dump truck and garbage truck turned and blocked the exits.
The SUVs accelerated and did a power turn in the middle of the parking lot, one cutting them off from their Tahoe and the other from the Casino. Doors popped open and men poured out of them. It became obvious that Cassie was their target as they mainly ignored Clint, a major mistake.
The attackers must have gotten their training from watching too much TV. Half of them were holding their weapons sideways. The other half were shooting from their hips. The sideways shooters were on target for at the most the first shot only. After that they were shooting to the sides. The ones shooting from the hips were never on target.
What a person of even moderate experience would say was simply, ’A target rich field of idiots.’
Cassie pulled her Glock 23 and began to shoot from her hips it would have been ridiculous for her to have brought it up to aim. She was using her sight to scan and every bullet hit a target. She pulled a magazine out of a pocket while she shot. Clint was on one knee reducing his available body profile and was taking out the vehicles.
When Clint finished his first magazine, neither of the SUVs was driving back out of the parking lot. Cassie was now on her second magazine. Her empty magazine was on the ground and she had pulled another out of another pocket. Cassie was not standing still; she was moving at all times mostly toward the shooters. When she finally was under cover of one of the SUVs she turned and took out the drivers of both trucks.
Cassie hollered at Clint, “Leave one whole and alive!”
She moved around the end of the SUV between her and her Tahoe. An attacker rose up inside the van and tried to shoot her in her back. Cassie did not even slow down but switched hands taking her Glock 23 in her left hand and continued to shoot while reaching behind her to pull the backup Glock 27 out of her hideaway holster. She held the gun behind her and hit the attacker between the eyes.
Then she brought it around pointing it to her right while she finished off the magazine in her left hand gun. There were no more attackers on this side of the SUVs. She jerked open the door of the Tahoe and was pulled the case under the seat free. Within seconds she was turning with the M4 braced on her shoulder.
She took the time to kill the dump truck and the garbage truck. It was going to take a tow truck to move those two. Then she focused on the SUV nearer the Casino. Casino security was finally responding. They had first put on some vests which she did not begrudge them. She just wished she had one. “Note to self, get me a really good vest” she thought. Dodging bullets was not a fun activity.
She ‘saw’ an attacker aiming at Clint. “One target one shot” she thought as he flipped head over heel backwards. She eased out of her jacket dropping it beside the Tahoe as she walked toward the SUV blocking them from the Casino. She wanted no mistakes with the Casino Security. Her badge and credentials were now clearly visible.
Cassie noticed that one of the attackers did a double take on seeing the badge on her belt. She shot him in the shoulder making him harmless for a time.
She heard screaming from the inside of the second SUV, “Get us out of here! We will all die if we stay. Get us out of here.”
“Shut it up Liz, we knew there was a chance of that!”
“No, no, no, I mean all of us even the ones not here will die; we have to go! We have to deliver the warning! Get us out of here. She can see us and she can shoot us no matter where we hide. Get us out of here!” with that last cry a man dived into the driver seat and the SUV moved on rims toward the exits.
“Hold it Clint, that one needs to get away.”
He stood up and walked over to where she stood.
Cassie hung the M4 over her shoulder by its sling and now held her credentials and badge at head height. “US Marshals!”
Clint was keeping his eyes on the bodies lying all over the parking lot. “Why did they need to get away?”
“She needs to give warning to those who ordered the attack.”
“Always give fair warning, then worry not where your enemies will die, remember?”
“They thought they knew who they were attacking, now they will really know.”
Cassie let Clint handle the public relation nightmare in the parking lot of the Casino and Restaurant. She had a lot on her mind. This was the trouble she had seen coming back before school let out. She felt the easing of tension in her gut that she had not even known was there.
She knew that there would be a lengthy breathing space before the tension would return. She had felt that other women in the SUV there at the end. She was the reason that Cassie had not been able to get a fix on who was watching her. Liz, which was the name the man, had called her, was some kind of seer similar to what Cassie did but better in some ways, and not as good in others.
When Cassie had taken the attack toward her, Liz suddenly saw what would happen if she died. Cassie had seen it also. Liz’s family and the group they were associated with would all die. Their only chance of surviving was if Liz herself survived and got to them to warn them. Don’t attack Cassandra Howly Howard.
It took hours before they could leave the crime scene and return to the mine. Clint had contacted the Sheriff’s department and requested they take over the crime scene investigation. He made it clear they wanted a full investigation and all information to be forwarded to the Boise US Marshal’s office.
Once the sheriff arrived on the scene, he released both of them to leave. The Sheriff stayed on the scene and observed the CSI unit to be sure they’d miss nothing.
Clint also contacted the USMS in Boise and let them know what had happened and what he had done. The Chief Deputy US Marshal told him that he done the right thing. He knew the sheriff in Boundary County and knew he would do a great job.
Cassie and Clint finally were picked up by one of the company’s Super cab 4x4s. Both of Cassie’s pistols and her M4 were in the Sheriff’s custody. Clint’s pistol was also in custody. Since there were deaths involved the weapons used on site had to be checked ballistically and forensically to identify who had shot each of the wounded and killed.
When they went to enter the truck that was taking them back to the mine, the Sheriff came over and stop them. He reached behind his back and took out a Glock 27 and handed it to Clint. “It’s obvious that you need protection.”
“Thanks Sheriff, really appreciate this,”
“No problems let me have it back when you get rearmed.”
With that they drove off back to the mine site.
The next day Cassie slid a new Glock 23 in her hip holster and went to inspect their new office building. She found Julie already arranging her own office.
“How does it look?”
“Great, lots more room.”
“Every office has at least minimum furniture; desk, chairs, file cabinets and computers.”
“Cassie your office is all set up.”
Over the next couple of weeks Whitehair moved into his office as Director of Mining Operations. Cassie watched as he took over more and more of the work she had been doing. As the day neared for her to leave, she went to his office with a set of diagrams for him to examine.
“Whitehair, I have something for you to look over. These diagram and maps shows the location of the main gold vein throughout our claim. We also know where the vein continues off our claim. If you follow these diagrams and maps you will never lose the vein.”
With that Cassie began to lay out the papers she had brought. Whitehair stood looking over the diagrams then the maps. “How! How did you trace the vein this well? I mean you would have to have done thousands of sample drilling to get this level of accuracy!”
“Tiny would tell you I’m a dowser, but the truth is I can see the vein in the ground and where it runs. I dreamed of this lode and brought us right to it. Don’t ask me how because I have no idea!”
“But due to the accuracy of these maps and diagrams we can control the size of excavation almost down to the inches. First, that will cut our cost to a percentage of what a normal mine would be. Plus this reduces the cost refining our ore tremendously.”
“This is just the route for mining; how and when is your job to determine.”
“Okay, that is my job, normally planning the route through the ground is mine also, but you got that done. What will you be doing?”
“It is about time that I return to Sonora. My summer is about over. Julie will be taking my place for all the non-technical things to be done here.”
Cassie turned and left. She walked into Tiny’s office and sat down. He looked up at her.
”It’s time for me to go home.”
“I guess it is. How are you going to do it?”
“The Sheriff released my Tahoe so I had it towed in and repaired. It’s ready and the Sheriff said to come by and pick up our weapons.”
“Get Clint and go get those guns, then think about how you are going home.”
“I don’t want the hassle I would have going through airports so I’d like a driver for Bertha. We will drive through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma and then into Texas. Put a car hauler on the back of Bertha for the Tahoe and I am gone. Maybe it would be good to have a female driver with military experience as a companion.”
“The trip is almost 2,000 miles, Cassie.”
“I know, but it gets both Bertha and my Tahoe home with me. I’ll get Clint to find two female companions and drivers for me. He should have the contacts to be able to do that.”
A week later, Cassie and her two female companions were on the road in Idaho headed to Texas. Three days after leaving Bonners Ferry they pulled up the drive at her family Ranch house.
Cassie sat there in the passenger seat and just looked the place over. It felt good to be about to see her family for the first time in more than two months but it did not feel like home.
She saw her mother almost running down the stairs to get outside to her. Cassie stood and ran her hands down her hips to remove any wrinkles. She had finally gotten her hair trimmed in Bonners Ferry before they had hit the road. Her mother was never going to recognize Cassie. She looked like a young adult in her early twenties. She now stood five feet six inches and her weight had stabilized at 118 pounds. From the looks she had been receiving in Bonners Ferry she figured she must be pretty nice looking.
She opened the door and, for one of the few times since she had gotten Bertha, she exited from the passenger side. She turned just as her mother rushed up to Bertha. She noticed that her mother was looking over her head at the door looking for Cassie.
Sarah Howard brought her eyes down to focus on Cassie but then went back to looking at the open door of Bertha.
“Ms. Howard, where should we park this big old bitch?” Cassie looked at Elizabeth O’Keefe former Master Sergeant with Army Security.
“Betty, I told you it is Cassie when we are in an informal environment. For now, just park it to the side of the stable over there. Put the Tahoe out front in the drive.”
Cassie focused on her mother who was now staring at her, with an open mouth and bug eyed.
“Cassie? Cassie, oh my god what happened to you?”
Cassie thought for a minute then did another scan of herself. “I guess I grew up.”
“GREW UP! You have only been gone three months; you have aged eight years. That’s not growing up that is impossible!”
“Mother, I have redefined ‘impossible’.”
My thanks to Grumpybear for his editing and proofing help. But the final results are mine and all criticism should be loaded onto my shoulders.
© Virgil Lee Fuqua III and ‘vlfouquet.wordpress’, 2008-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Vlfouquet and Virgil Lee Fuqua III with appropriate and specific direction to the original contents