The Butterfly Dragon: We Who Stand On Guard - Episode 04 (Final Draft Complete)

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Excerpts From The Butterfly Dragon: We Who Stand On Guard - Episode 03

Men's Employee Change Room - Marriot Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel - Canada

Trent stood in front of the tall mirror in the employee change room, first, straightening his hand tied bow tie, after which he checked his side burns to ensure their height reached the bottom of each lobe. He adjusted his red vest atop of his white button down shirt, which crowned his gray slacks.

"So? How long have you been with housekeeping?" Trent looked deep into the mirror, mustering as much bravado and charm as he could.

"I've always admired housekeeping. Its the very place where this hotel is made," he raised one eyebrow, looking seductively at the mirror.

"Have you ever been to the Drake's buffet the morning after? No! No! No! That's sooo not me," Trent said, shaking his head as he looked at his feet.

"Look, I'm finished at four AM. Would you like to get a coffee at Fran's up the street?" asked Trent of his own reflection.

"No, but how bout a beer?" asked his friend James, who'd just donned his bellhop uniform.

"You're not my type, James," Trent snickered at his friend.

"Are you still pining about that woman from housekeeping?" asked James as he straightened his tie.

"Practice makes perfect, doesn't it?" asked Trent as he closed his locker and readied himself for his shift.

"Good, because I'm a romantic at heart. Besides, I heard she'll be working catering tonight. Was her name Rysalyn? I think that's her. So get in there and give it your best shot. Some opportunities only knock once in a lifetime, Trent. Don't lose out. Gotta run," James jogged out the door of the change room and made his way to the Ballrooms.

Trent looked one last time in the mirror, envisioning the protagonist of his masterpiece in progress: Storm And Shore.

"Ms. Emberly: That's what we're all about. Making sure that this here fire lights the night. Every night, and that this shore remains in our possession until dawn," Trent spoke the last line of the first act of his play, poignantly.

He then stepped out of the change room and out into the big hall, striding confidently to the front lobby of the Marriot.

The Parking Lot Of Rose's Veterinarian Center, Pickering, Ontario, Canada

Stanton sat in the front seat of his heavy duty pickup truck, the door closed and the audio stealth system engaged. It was a system that for all spoken audio emitted from within the truck, would produce an audio waveform in the exact opposite phase, hence cancelling the vibration caused by audio upon the windows of the truck. Counter intelligence services were known to carry pocket sized precision laser equipment that could hear the spoken audio within a vehicle, simply by measuring the vibration of the windshield. The stealth system was a formidable countermeasure against that and other means of scrying upon agents such as Stanton.

"Stanton, Bradley Alexander, Unit 54109621EF responding to your report," Stanton spoke aloud, keeping his head down as he did as a precaution against lip reading.

"54109621EF, copy that. We received the chemical analysis and confirmed your hypothesis. The explosive compound was in fact RDX and Nitrogen Dioxide, utilizing a station super transistor as the detonator. That's a negative on Nuclear, Biological or Chemical weapons of mass destruction. As it turns out, we ran that through our database and this particular modus operandi is a signature bomb recipe crafted by a group known as Hard Cel. They are relatively new on the mercenary scene and offer their services to the highest bidder on the DD Web," command reported to Stanton.

"I'm sorry Sir, the DD Web? Say again?" confirmed Stanton.

"The DD Web. The Deep Dark Web. Think of the Dark Web, and this is its more secure third generation offspring. It is Quantum Decryption proof, meaning that even with state of the art decryption hardware, neither us nor our allies around the world can break it for surveillance purposes. However, we can infiltrate it, and fortunately, we've had someone close to the inside for three years now," command reported.

"So how are we supposed to get these guys and interrogate them?" asked Stanton.

"Our insider, Doctor M or DRM, managed to finagle enough information to correlate the identity of one of the potential ingredient couriers. They call him Mister Eck. Presumably his online handle is derived from the name of Wim Van Eck, a computer engineer who wrote the first scientific papers describing TEMPEST vulnerability in computers and communication. Despite Mister Eck's propensity for blowing the heck out of people and places, he also has a soft spot for weddings. He's attending a reception tonight, in Toronto at the Sheraton Marriot Center in Ballroom 2. Be on the lookout for a stocky male, five foot nine inches tall. Approximately ninety five kilograms, with dark hair and blue eyes," command reported.

"How am I supposed to get in there? What's my cover?" asked Stanton.

"Given the impromptu nature of this event, we couldn't convincingly stage an alternate identity for you. However, we have managed to intercept a call from the Sheraton concerning electrical maintenance. In fact, this one might be right up Elena, Matt and Dave's alley professionally," command informed him.

"No offence command, but they're civilians. They're very raw around the edges not to mention they don't have any of the training necessary for an operation of this latitude," Stanton corrected command.

"But you do, and your best assets are your friends and coworkers. The security at the reception will likely be light. Its a wedding reception, not an underground bunker," command reported to Stanton.

"Sir, there's a big difference between certainty and likely. I can say with certainty that I don't want to put my friends at risk without them receiving the proper training," Stanton challenged command.

"Then consider them assets to your cover. Frankly, I might remind you that the best assets we have don't even know they're assets. If your friends knew what they were taking part in, they'd be a danger to themselves not to mention they'd put the whole operation at risk. There's a reason why you as an agent have the weight of knowing, and most of our other assets do not. Unless you'd like to see another similar bombing here, or read about the death of innocent people abroad, I'd suggest that you sort out your conscience and carry out what is requested of you," command reminded Stanton.

"Give me the details, and I'll put together an improvised plan, with three alternatives. As you request, I'll present this option without letting Elena, Matt or Dave know that they'll be taking part in such an operation. I'll also need an extraction and interrogation team for Mister Eck," Stanton asserted to command.

"That we'll have on standby. Just contact us from your phone or truck, citing the response code: TANGO ECHOLON CHARLIE KANGAROO. The reception starts at eight o'clock, so you'll have plenty of time to prepare. The person who made the call for a contractor electrician is named Anne Reed. She works as the maintenance manager during the afternoon shift. She'll be expecting you," command reported to him.

"Copy that. 54109621EF Over and out," Stanton pressed the disconnect button without waiting for the reply.

"Now how the hell am I going get Elena, Matt and Dave to come along on this...?" Stanton punched his steering wheel once, and then pulled out of the Veterinarian Clinic parking lot on his way to the Pickering Power Plant.


A few hours later, during their lunch hour at the Pickering Power Plant, Elena, Dave, Matt and Stanton all sit down together to eat. As Elena finds out that her coworkers had bet on the outcome of her date, Stanton quickly tries to change the subject and invites his friends to help him with his other job that night.

"Is there anyone who didn't bet on my date?" she asked rhetorically.

Matt and Stanton both put their hands up.

"How'd you and Dave like to help me with a side job I have tonight. You'd be helping me a lot, especially seeing as its a commercially rated electrical job. Its for a hotel, so it might actually be a lot of fun, not to mention I'll pay you both for it handsomely," Stanton spoke, quickly changing the subject.

"What hotel?" Elena asked, suddenly enthusiastic.

"The Sheraton, in downtown Toronto. Its a Marriot. A nice place. You can dress casual for the gig, the better you blend in the better. Not to mention, dinner and drinks are on me. What do you say?" asked Stanton, looking to Elena and then Dave.

"If I can get permission from Carol, I'd love to. With my take on your side job, and what I won with a well placed bet over Elena's date, I should be doing pretty good this weekend," Dave smiled, looking over to Elena.

"You bet against me having a good date! You jerk!" Elena stood and began assaulting him with a nearby folded newspaper.

Everyone in the cafeteria once again stopped and laughed at Elena and Dave's antics.

Elena then sat down, and turned to Stanton.

"I'd love to help you out on this job. Besides, it sounds like it might be fun. That, and its the weekend tomorrow," Elena replied to Stanton's request.

"Perfect. You're welcome too if you'd like to come Matt?" asked Stanton, not wanting to leave his old friend out.

"I would, but my son, his wife and I are taking the grand kids out to the movies tonight, but thanks for asking," Matt replied, still amused by Elena and Dave's playful display.

"You have fun tonight then. Elena? Dave? We'll leave from here and go directly to the hotel. They'll be giving me a complimentary room. We can get cleaned up there. Sound good?" asked Stanton in confirmation.

"I'm good with that," Elena replied.

"Me too, once I recover from the concussion Elena delivered with that newspaper," Dave replied, smirking at Elena.

"Great. We'll meet up at reception and leave together. They'll have parking for us as well," Stanton assured them as he stood up with his tray of empty dishes.

"See you then big guy," Dave nodded to Stanton.

"Thanks for lunch!" Elena added.

Stanton made his way out of the cafeteria and made a call on his satellite phone.

Everything was in place for that night's operation to apprehend and extract Mister Eck.

The Butterfly Dragon: We Who Stand On Guard - Episode 04

Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel - Willow Ballroom And Waterfall Gardens

The Mistress And The Bellhop

Trent held his hand over his mouth, trying his best to get a whiff of his own breath as he picked up his pace on his way to the catering station just outside of the Willow Ballroom.

"Good. That's passable..." he said to himself, quickly slipping on his dress gloves.

He nodded as he passed another hotel employee. He then rounded the corner cautiously and spotted his friend James off in the distance.

"Come on!" James mouthed, waving to him as the Ballroom reception party started to fill the Mezzanine.

Trent walked over casually and shook James' hand.

"So how goes it?" Trent asked.

"So far, so good. We're dealing mostly with overnight guests, but there has already been a few who are staying for a week or more," James told him, indicating that there was some big money to be had there that night working this gig.

"That's great, but that's not what I meant," Trent looked at his coworker coyly.

"I knew you'd say that. She's over there. I've been keeping an eye on her for you," James attempted to nudge Trent, nearly falling over seeing as Trent was already on his way over to the catering station.

Trent admired how the caterers had arranged the entire presentation of Hors d’Oeuvres to mirror the look and style of the neighbouring Waterfall Gardens. The metal cabinet trays were all decoratively embossed with relief work and lined with ice, which was arranged to appear as a flowing river of water and a tiny waterfall which housed the crowning menu item, imported Caviar spread onto wedges of Eel steak, embellished with a piece of flowering cilantro.

The Salmon was cut into little fish shaped pieces and arranged in such a way that it appeared to be climbing the steps of the waterfall. Scattered around on other outcroppings were other dishes of various size and make, each holding the finest of foods.

"So in addition to being a work of art yourself, you're also an artist?" Trent asked her, as he admired her artisanship, looking for a way to start a conversation with her.

"I'm sorry, I didn't get your name," she maintained her stature very professionally and Trent, being a writer astutely observed that many men had already likely hit on her that night.

"Forgive me. I'm Trent. I hope that it wouldn't be a bother for you to tell me your name?" asked Trent, proceeding very carefully while hiding that fact well.

"A bother? What makes you think that I would relinquish that such as my name to someone that hasn't earned it?" asked Rysalyn, her face concealing her true emotions within.

Trent looked deep into her eyes, using every bit of empathy within him to try and read her that moment, but to his amazement, he simply couldn't.

"A quest? And I can't think of a more worthy prize than to learn your name from your own lips," Trent smiled, seemingly unperturbed by the challenge she'd presented him though inside he was struggling against an intense stage fright that transcended even standing naked in front of an audience of a thousand.

A smile ever so barely visible, slowly crept its way into the corner of her luscious red lips. Trent observed and felt a slight bit of relief, that maybe she was letting him know that it was alright to proceed.

"Aren't you supposed to be assisting with bellhop matters?" asked the head of the catering department from behind him.

"I was merely inspecting the buffet so that I could direct the guests here and let them know what was on the menu. Many of them have traveled a distance and could likely use a fine bit of nourishment to keep them going for the night," Trent quickly responded tactfully.

"My dear, I need you to give a tour to one of the guests. A VIP. He just arrived," the manager addressed Rysalyn, who listened to him carefully, keeping herself very well concealed even from him.

"May I suggest that I give that tour? I've been with the hotel for the better part of six years now, and I know this fine and sometimes fickle lady very well. I'd be more than glad to," Trent suggested, making his sell as any great thespian might.

"This tour needs a lady's touch, but thank you for your offer," the manager replied to Trent.

"Right away Mister Chambliente," Rysalyn replied, stepping out from behind the buffet and heading in the direction to which Mister Chambliente had pointed.

Trent accompanied her.

"We can continue our conversation later perhaps?" he asked her politely.

"If time permits, we can. You've been here for some time. As you venture in your quest, it might be good to check in with me so that I know your progress," she answered him encouragingly.

"That I shall certainly do milady," Trent said, continuing with their little role-play as he walked with her. 

Their progress forward was halted when Trent slammed into a very solid wall of a man.

Trent looked up and into the eyes of the biggest man he'd ever seen. The man scowled at Trent for his carelessness and the embarrassment he'd caused.

"I beg your pardon sir! I was so distracted that I missed even a mountain of a man as yourself..." Trent responded to the man, whose face flattened into a menacing scowl.

"Dare you show such a face in the presence of a lady!" Trent, though terrified of the man, spoke his mind in protection of the woman he was accompanying.

The man observed Rysalyn, whose face appeared ever so frightened if not to back Trent's words, then perhaps in sincerity.

The giant of a man quickly changed his demeanor, suddenly embarrassed that he'd frightened a lady.

"Now how about that tour?" asked another very well dressed man, who'd stepped between Rysalyn and Trent while he faced the giant.

Rysalyn winked at Trent as she and the man left on the tour.

"Sorry kid, I had to move in," the man said to Trent as Rysalyn led him on their tour.

Trent stood beside the giant as they both watched her leave with the other man.

"Don't worry. You'll see her again. I'm sure of it," the giant said to Trent reassuringly with a thick Baltic accent.

"Thanks. No hard feelings, eh?" asked Trent.

"You watch your step, I watch my face. No harm done," the giant replied to Trent.

"Deal," Trent quickly replied, barely able to shake hands with the giant due to the size difference of their paws.

A Turn Towards Intrigue

Trent suddenly had an idea when he saw James pulling two luggage trollies by himself and in the same direction that Rysalyn had taken for the tour.

"I'm headed in the same direction for a bit, let me help you out," Trent grabbed the other trolly.

"Thanks. I was just telling Mrs. Krantz about the Sauna and Whirlpool here..." James threw the ball to Trent.

"One of the finest such bathing decks accompanied by several world class whirlpools and a contained sauna, with several private compartments if you prefer, and a bar by the pool side," Trent added the finishing touch.

"Sounds lovely," Mrs. Krantz, an attractive woman in her late forties accompanied them as they pulled her and her husband's luggage.

"Seeing as you're with the wedding party, and I know for certain you had a long journey to get here, I suggest that you make the buffet your first stop. There's plenty of chilled Caviar and seafood available for your consumption. Enough so to give you the energy to keep you dancing with all of those bride's maids," Trent smiled as they reached the elevator.

A short distance away, he spotted Rysalyn and the man to whom she was giving the tour. They had just rounded the corner where Rysalyn was directing him towards the Mezzanine fountain area.

"Forgive me Mrs. Krantz, but I must depart. I'm sure we'll see you at the reception. I'm Trent. If you need anything, don't feel afraid to ask," Trent smiled at Mrs. Krantz, and James nodded to his friend and coworker.

Trent watched as the man to which Rysalyn was giving the tour grabbed a full plate of food from a nearby room service cart. Rysalyn by that time was looking the other way, still delivering the dialogue of her tour when the man slipped off with the plate of food, heading in the direction of an approaching rotund man. The man with the plate of food then tripped as if it were a not-so-well practiced prat fall, dumping all of the food on the plate into the rotund man's face.

The rotund man began cursing and swearing at Rysalyn's tour guest as he tried apologizing profusely for the alleged accident. The rotund man began wiping the food and sauce from his face with his hands as Trent watched from behind a corner.

"My lovely tour guide here told me the men's facility is just over there..." the man apologizing pointed out the washrooms to the rotund man.

Trent quickly made his way into the washroom ahead of them and unseen. He quickly made his way through the second door and into the lavatory. When he heard the outer door of the washroom open, something in him told him instinctually to hide.

He quickly but quietly ran for one of the bathroom stalls, opening the door and letting it close to a natural position as he stepped up onto the toilet seat balancing on it with his feet. He waited quietly as the second inner door opened. He heard the heavy fall of footsteps as a rotund man approached the bathroom sink and then the sound of running water.

Trent peeked out from the stall ever so slightly, and watched as the man in his mid-thirties, about two hundred and ten pounds washed his face carefully. Trent then noticed that the man wasn't so much obese as he was packed with muscle. Possibly a body builder of some kind or at the very least, a dead-lifter.

The outer door opened again followed by the inner door a moment later.

"Look, I'm so sorry about that. I don't know how that happened but I must have stumbled or something..." Trent looked through the crack in the stall door and saw the man that Rysalyn had been giving the tour.

"Just stay away from me! You've already done enough!" the heavier set muscular man finished wiping his face and was on his way to wipe off when the other man, suddenly struck him from behind.

The blow was quick and silent, hitting the man in the small of his back between his shoulder blades. The big man stumbled nearly falling to the floor before he managed to get himself turned around. He threw a punch with his massive arm, cleanly missing the smaller and faster man, who merely stepped back and then almost faster than the eye could see, struck out again at the larger man, hitting him twice just above the bridge of his nose.

The big man fell forward unconscious as the smaller man moved quickly to catch him before he hit the floor. The inner door suddenly opened, and Trent could see a woman in heels running to help the smaller man catch the larger one.

"Quick! Get the door lock!" the smaller man yelled.

Trent heard the woman's heels as she ran back to the door and sealed it with the bolt lock from keys she'd produced.

"Hurry up! Damn this guy's heavy!" the man said to the lady.

The lady remained silent.

"We need one of those luggage carts. That and a blanket and we should be able to get him to the pickup point," the man stated.

"I'll get one of the bellhops to bring one," the woman spoke softly, her voice eerily familiar.

"Try the guy you charmed earlier. He was practically falling all over you..." the smaller man said to her.

"You mean Trent? No. I don't want to get him involved in this," Rysalyn replied, much to Trent's surprise.

"Well you'd better find one soon before one of the other employees comes looking," the smaller man said.

"Are you always this difficult to work with, Foller?" asked Rysalyn.

"Objectively or subjectively?" Foller evaded her question.

The Bellhop And The Operatives 

"Forget it. I'll just go find a luggage cart myself..." Rysalyn went to leave when Trent stepped out of the stall.

"Uhhh... Hi," he said with a charmingly boyish smile on his face.

"What the hell are you doing here?!" asked Foller, startled by the young man's sudden appearance.

"I was just going to ask you the same question," Trent replied, looking at the unconscious man still face down on the floor.

"He's having a heart attack! We need to get him to a special care vehicle just outside..." Foller spoke quickly.

"In a luggage cart with a blanket over him?" Trent confirmed that he'd heard them correctly.

"Trent. This man is a dangerous man. We have apprehended him and are preparing him for transport where he'll be questioned by authorities. His answers might save many lives. You have to believe us!" Rysalyn pleaded with him, being more sincere than Foller had been earlier.

"I'll get the luggage cart and a furniture blanket for you. Trust me," Trent looked to Rysalyn, his eyes  wild with fear definitely nowhere near the way he'd been looking at her before.

Trent heard the sound of the internal machining of a hand gun click as Foller chambered a round from the magazine, drawing the weapon from his jacket.

"You're not going anywhere. He could make a run for it, and then where would we be?" asked Foller looking first to Trent and then to Rysalyn.

"Look, you've got no choice but to trust me now, unless you're going to kill me?" Trent looked to Foller first, his hands up in the air.

He then looked to Rysalyn, his eyes somewhat calmed and trying desperately to find the woman he'd found at the buffet.

"I trust you. Let him do it!" Rysalyn looked at Trent, perhaps trying to find him as much so as he was trying to find her.

"If you so much as utter a word of this to anyone, you and I will have words later. Got it?" confirmed Foller, looking Trent squarely between the eyes.

Trent looked back at Foller, seeing a man devoid of conscience.

Trent then turned to Rysalyn, who returned his gaze.

"See you soon," she said, pulling him down to her face and giving him a light kiss on the lips.

He looked at her in shock and amazement as she turned and unlocked the door for him. She then opened it and let him out of the bathroom.

Trent ran out through the second door and walked quickly over to the elevators where there were three luggage carts and a stack of blankets nearby tucked away in a service corridor. He grabbed a few blankets and put them on the cart, dragging the cart back to the bathroom.

When he got to the second door, he knocked three times.

"It's me. I have the cart," Trent said loudly enough for Rysalyn to hear.

The latch on the door clicked, and she opened it for him.

"Over here kid!  Right beside him. Rysalyn, lock the door again until we get him on the cart and covered up," Foller ordered Rysalyn.

Rysalyn immediately locked the door again, checking it to be sure.

"How much can you lift kid?" asked Foller, once again patronizing Trent.

"I don't know... uhhh... sixty kilograms maybe?" Trent replied, though fitness wasn't a major aspect of his daily routine that he prioritized.

If his work gave him exercise, then that was his exercise for the day.

"Sixty kilograms? So about a hundred and forty pounds eh? Alright. You get his feet, I'll get his shoulders. We lift straight upwards on three, and place him down firmly onto the cart again. Ready?" asked Foller.

"As I'll ever be," Trent replied, trying to grab hold of the man's ankles.

"One. Two. Three..." Foller counted down.

They both struggled, just barely getting the man into the air enough to clear the edge of the cart. They then dropped him onto the platform of the cart, his feet dangling slightly over the edge. They then covered him in a blanket while Rysalyn draped the luggage cart with the remaining blankets.

"Not bad," Rysalyn remarked.

"I'll say. Just be grateful that he didn't piss his pants like the last one," Foller said nonchalantly.

"You mean this isn't the first?" asked Trent, somewhat in shock.

"Grab the back of the cart. You're pushing, I'm driving. Follow my lead as the lady covers for us. Got it?" asked Foller.

"Alright. What choice do I have? I'm your prisoner no doubt," Trent replied, grabbing the rails on the cart.

"That's the attitude. Now push as she gets the doors!" Foller ordered.

Trent pushed and the cart rolled rather easily on the marble floor. They navigated through the first door successfully but when they got out of the second, pushing the cart became much more difficult on the carpeted halls. Trent pushed with all of the strength he could muster and the cart slowly began moving once again.

Foller steered them in the direction towards one of the side exits that would take them out into the covered parking area reserved for the management employees.

"What's that smell?" asked Trent, suddenly overwhelmed by a rank and foul odour.

"Our guest here passed wind. When you're unconscious, your abdominal muscles relax and gas can pass rather easily through the colon and intestinal tract. Just be thankful it wasn't a number two though," Foller said quite comfortably as he steered the cart.

Trent suddenly became very frightened and intimidated by the man steering the cart. He felt shivers throughout his body as he thought about the qualities Foller had revealed to him thus far.

Trent looked to either side, and considered making a run for it before they proceeded through the exit into the parking area. He then looked to Rysalyn, who glanced quickly at him encouragingly, as if to say I'm sorry.

Trent smirked ever so slightly, deciding at that moment that he was only staying on board for her, and nothing else. When he had the chance, he'd grab her and run them both to safety and ensure that this psycho was apprehended by the authorities.

They steered the cart out into the parking area, where a large van was waiting a short distance away with its back doors opened. Two large men in suits stood at either side of the van's doors awaiting them.

When they arrived at the van with the cart, Foller spoke.

"Trent, get in the van there beside that man with the short hair. Then the lady. The two galutes here will load the body into the van and onto the gurney while I get into the driver's seat. We're going to drive a short distance away, confirm our success and we'll relinquish you and the lady at that point, dropping you both back at the hotel. Got it?" asked Foller to confirm, the two gallutes looking at each other and then grimacing at Foller for his remark.

"Alright," Trent responded, stepping up into the van where he turned around and offered his hand to Rysalyn.

She accepted it, and he pulled her up into the van where they sat beside one another. The two gallutes as Foller had referred to them, easily lifted the man's body up and onto a gurney already in the van, which was locked on rails so as not to move while the van was in motion. Foller by this time was already in the driver's seat, as the first gallute got in the back of the van, while the second closed the back doors and got in the front passenger seat.

Foller carefully drove forward through the empty parking space ahead of them, heading for the exit ramp.

"So Doc, how's it looking?" asked Foller as he pulled out onto the street.

"I'm just checking his biometrics now..." the man Foller had called Doc responded with a thick Sri-Lankan accent. 

The Doc placed a small plastic clip on the unconscious man's index finger. The clip looked like an intricate plastic clothes peg, with a couple of flashing LEDs. The Doc then pulled a smartphone out of his pocket and checked the screen.

"Talk to me Doc!" Foller pushed the man.

"Just checking him now. He's a bit high on the cholesterol scale. He should cut down on greasy foods. Eat more veggies and the like," the Doc remarked.

"Why don't you tell him that when he wakes up, Doc. Heck, you can give him a full physical for all I care. I just want to make sure we have our guy!" Foller insisted.

"He's a very close match," the Doc replied.

"Close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades, Doc," Foller quickly blurted back.

"No. I mean biometrically, this man is very close to Mister Eck on many levels, but unfortunately this is not the Mister Eck we're looking for," the Doc responded firmly with his prognosis.

The van very suddenly skidded to a halt, Trent grabbing hold of Rysalin to protect her as they slammed into the front cage of the van. The car behind them skidded to a halt, nearly colliding with the back of the van. The driver pulled around cursing and swearing as he drove past them, holding his horn.

"What?!!!" Foller shouted in question at the Doc.

"As you can see from the calm look in my eyes, I said very clearly that this is not the Mister Eck for which we are looking," the Doc replied collected and rationally.

The Real Engineers

Elena had just left the hotel room following Dave and Stanton and they headed for the elevator. Stanton, pulling a tool cart behind him handed Elena and Dave their hard hats and safety glasses.

"Here. We're doing this to code as usual so you're going to need these," Stanton said to them.

"When it comes to safety, I always come equipped," Dave replied, accepting Stanton's orange hard hat and pulling his own safety goggles from his pocket, which looked more like they belonged with a steampunk cosplay costume.

"That's the Dave that I know," Elena remarked, recalling that years before Dave had married his wife Carol, that she and Dave had been an item for a year's time.

Carol knew about their previous relationship, but in the time that Carol had come to know Elena, they had become very good friends and there were never trust issues between the three of them.

"My daughter Hannah bought them for me. They're actually CCOHS certified too," Dave added, looking very much like a nerd wearing them.

"They're perfect Dave. You in a nutshell," Stanton remarked upon getting a glance at his friend and coworker as they arrived at fingers-free presence detecting elevators.

The elevator arrived about ten seconds later as Stanton and Elena checked messages on their phones.

As they stepped onto the elevator, Stanton's phone rang, immediately letting him know who was calling. He clicked a button onscreen and switched to his ear-insert headset, pocketing his phone carefully on his toolbelt.

"Hi Stacey! How are you?" Stanton answered the phone.

"Copy that 54109621EF. You're not alone. I'll make this quick. Apparently another handler who was overseeing aspects of the same case, issued an approval for the same operation: capture and extract Mister Eck from the premises of the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel for holding and interrogation," Stanton's handler informed him.

"Oh really? That's great to hear, Stacey. So who are you working with and how is this new job going?" asked Stanton of his handler, speaking more like he was speaking to an old friend.

"54109621EF, it was issued and approved without my knowledge for unit 54109617CT," Stanton's handler told him.

"I'm sorry, I don't recall that name. Is it someone with whom we've worked before?" asked Stanton.

"Affirmative 54109621EF. 54109617CT is an old friend of yours. A little off the rails so to speak..." his handler told him.

"Ohhhhh. That makes sense. A bit of competitive rivalry perhaps?" Stanton's frustration level rose ever so slightly when he figured out that his handler was referring to Foller.

"Precisely 54109617CT. However, we just received word that he extracted the wrong target. The target had a look alike, substitute for security purposes and 54109617CT's error means that you're going to have to pick up the slack for it. We've ascertained that if the substitute doesn't make direct contact with Mister Eck at the buffet at precisely nine thirty, he will escape and we'll lose our only chance to nab him," Stanton's handler spoke grimly of the situation.

Stanton looked checked his watch. It was nine minutes after nine.

"That's cutting it a little close don't you think? I mean I'm sure that you can handle it Stacey, but you really should be more cautious next time, especially when accepting that kind of gig," Stanton kept the pressure to a minimum, already figuring out alternative plans that would work in the time frame that was left.

"Copy that 54109621EF. We'll be awaiting your signal at nine thirty. Over and out," Stanton's handler hung up.

"Thanks for calling Stacey. We'll catch up later," Stanton tapped the button thrice on his ear insert to hang up the phone.

"Sorry, that was one of my old friends. So here's what we've got to do. Dave, I'm going to need you to get over to the power relay which should be in the Oak room behind one of the panels, which is closed and off limits right now or so I've been assured. I'm going to need you to cut the power to the lighting for the Mezzanine and Ballrooms at a specific time, and only for a few moments, giving me enough time to rewire their Muzak, Intercom system and A/V System, routing it through the lighting relay, as its currently routed through the industrial rated 600 volt line for some strange reason. I'll be switching it to the 120 volt service," Stanton explained to Dave.

"And what can I do while he's doddling with the 120 volt service?" asked Elena, poking fun at Dave.

"I have something special in mind for you, however we're going to have to be covert about this. The service window for emergency repairs to CRTC covered communications systems states that outages of longer than two minutes are required to be reported to the CRTC and Hydro One. We're going to be fixing a system that powers the cellular receiving tower of the Sheraton Centre, but because we're doing these repairs within the two minute window, we aren't required to fill out CRTC paperwork and because we're Hydro One Engineers, we can oversee this ourselves without the paperwork. So when Dave cuts the line for the 600 volt to 120 volt transfer I'm working on, you're going cut the line powering the cellular tower for exactly one minute and thirty seconds. Within that time, I should be able to patch both systems, while ensuring that the interoperability of the Intercom and Cellular systems of the hotel are up to standards. Got it?" asked Stanton of Elena.

"Pre or post transformer power?" confirmed Elena.

"Between the cellular tower and the transformer, not between the transformer and the power source," Stanton raised his eyebrows to be clear to Elena.

"But won't that cut off cellular communications for that time frame?" asked Elena, already knowing full well that Stanton understood what he was doing.

"Yes, it will, but given the fact we're doing a transfer from the 600 volt service to the 120 volt service, there's the risk of a capacitor spike or even a rapid discharge. There's a rather large capacitor between the cellular tower and transformer, so I need you to avoid the spike. A one minute and thirty second outage is negligible. Two or more minutes is out of the question and will get us in trouble. A lot of trouble," Stanton clarified to Elena.

"Alright. I think I can handle it," Elena smiled, enjoying the technical challenge.

"I know you can. The both of you. That's why I picked you for the gig," Stanton smiled at both of them, nervously checking his watch again.

"Wait a second big guy. You didn't choose us. We chose you," Dave smiled from behind his steampunk goggles.

"One more thing. We have to have all of this done before nine-thirty. I'll be giving you the go-ahead signal via the conference line I setup on our field radios in exactly thirteen minutes. Have everything ready by that time and those systems down for that minute and a half window," Stanton told them as they stepped out of the elevator.

"And what time is it now?" Elena asked Stanton.

"It's nine-twelve," Stanton responded, handing them each a toolkit from his tool cart and sending them on their way.

Stanton in the meantime quickly pulled his tool cart into the service corridor beside the elevators, parking it behind some of the dinner and luggage carts already there. He then left the corridor and started on his way towards the ballrooms to find his target.

Nine After Gabe

Halmand sat at the steering wheel for a change, perhaps the first time since he'd started working with Tricia, though her allowing him to drive was more of a convenience than anything. Her seatbelt firmly on, she sat in the passenger seat with her tablet and note pad, going over details of what they'd learned from Gabe during his debriefing. Linda Delmore sat in the back seat, similarly buckled in and with her own note taking tools. The both of them were auditing the information they'd exchanged to ensure they got the information sharing deal for which they'd bargained.

"So as far as you know, the only intelligence CIA has about Habus Macill relates to his time illegally in the Korean neutral zone, running his so called re-education 'school', correct?" confirmed Tricia with Linda.

"Correct. According to the CIA files on Habus Macill, he applied for Visa status in the United States under the assumed name of Menk Sturgis..." Linda began.

"...sturdy mind... possibly latin," Tricia remarked aloud about Habus Macill's chosen alias for his U.S. Visa application.

"...possibly. Anyway, he applied for a Visa in Washington, which was denied him during the processing of his file. A series of alarms were raised as a result of his background check and he consequently fled. First to the Mediterranean region where he was almost nabbed thanks to an INTERPOL bulletin, and then to South Korea, under an alias he only used long enough to get established. From that point three months later, he entered illegally into the neutral zone with his followers and began building his School of the re-Education Of Society, or SEOS," Linda explained to Tricia.

"That's new to us, everything up until his establishing of SEOS. The KNP shared that with us a year ago, we're assuming a few months before the joint operation infiltrating the school was ordered," Tricia confirmed for Linda's notes.

"We provided real-time Satellite Intelligence for the operation and for the subsequent airstrike that occurred after the extraction. From that point, we lost track of Habus. About a week after the operation, two FBI agents working in South Korea investigating the case made contact with Ai Yuanlin Ying..." Linda shared some more of her notes.

"Heylyn Yates?" confirmed Tricia.

"Exactly. The fashion designer? She was allegedly there in the region for the purposes of adoption, though Korean authorities are not under any binding treaty to share information relating to infants, unless it is expressly in the interests of their protection," Linda elaborated on her intel.

"That's good. I can use that. I'll give you the fact that a child is under her (and our) protection here, though I can't elaborate about the infant or her relations any more than that," Tricia confirmed for Linda's file.

"Fair enough," Linda replied, adding the notes to her own case file.

"What's got us puzzled is the fact that if Habus Macill has returned, our intelligence indicates that he'd have only had three weeks to enlist followers and grow his cloister to the estimated three hundred thousand members we assume are a part of it, which as you can probably guess is next to impossible," Tricia shared one of the mysteries standing out in her case log.

"That's got us stumped too. I haven't got anything to give you on that matter, but I can share something about one of our questions that might help. About a year and a half ago, we started tracking a series of transactions occurring throughout the banking system that we believed were part of an organized siphoning system. What's got us stumped is that these transactions all started occurring at roughly the same time," Linda revealed to Tricia, who looked up from her notes and first to Halmand, and then over her shoulder at Linda.

"That sounds like something familiar..." Halmand remarked, keeping his eyes on the road as he listened.

"Go on..." Tricia encouraged Linda.

"The level of coordination required for such a feat is staggering, though the banks taking part in this in the onset were a small handful. Say about twelve. By a year's time that number had grown to nearly fifty. Our auditors mounted an undercover investigation, which took up until now to uncover the complex methods used in this scheme. During our wiretaps and traces, we uncovered no means by which these siphons were coordinated between banks. In other words, there was no communication at all. The perps all just suddenly started using the exact same method. The spookiest part is that every time we got close to piecing it together, their scheme evolved enough to cover their tracks, as if they were anticipating us catching up with them," Linda explained the banking scheme mystery a part of her case log.

Tricia pulled up the file on Ron Forseth, the lonely terrorist/vigilante who'd arrived at a Toronto bank with the intent to blow it up, only to end up a hero when he helped foil an armed robbery. Ron's path from a being a trusted executive for Werner-Goldstein Holdings, to his attempt to bomb a bank was a remarkable story in itself. What was even more frightening is that the bank he attempted to bomb, was currently under investigation as part of a complex siphoning scheme.

From the point Ron was apprehended, the mystery just deepened, as he struggled with a variety of mental ailments that according to the official report, led to his eventual suicide death in a care facility. Tricia however knew the details of that case, as she'd been a part of the investigation from the beginning. Ron had a spotless history in terms of his conduct as a citizen, and his own health, both mental and physical. Tricia's files indicated that from the point he'd stumbled onto whatever led to his decision to bomb the bank, had initiated a program of gas lighting, possibly psyops to render him insane.

"Do you think that you could finagle sharing the information of your financial auditors with ours?" asked Tricia intensely interested in Linda's information.

"I don't see why not, as long as there's something forthcoming you'd be interested in sharing?" Linda replied, sticking to their deal.

"I'll share our case files on one Ronald Forseth, formerly of Werner-Goldstein Holdings. He was an investment analyst. He stumbled onto something related to the financial statements of the bank they used for transfers and from that point, his case just gets more and more bizarre. Unfortunately, it ended tragically for him and his family in terms of life and loss, but with these pieces, we might be able to build a case strong enough to bring the perps to justice," Tricia insisted to Linda.

"Send me the case files without your notes. Whether or not we deem these files pertinent to our case, we'll share our auditing spreadsheets. If we find that there is a connection, we'll exchange case and financial auditor notes as well. Deal?" confirmed Linda.

"That sounds fair, but if I'm giving you these files now, I want to see the spreadsheets by no later than tomorrow at noon. Deal?" asked Tricia.

"Deal," as soon Linda agreed, Tricia hit the send button.

"Here they come," Tricia replied.

"Serendipity at work again..." Halmand responded to their negotiations.

"How so?"  asked Linda.

"Well, if we hadn't organized an impromptu operation to stage Gabe Asnon's death to protect him, then we'd have never gone to meet with him for a debriefing. You never would have pulled strings to meet with him at the same facility, and we never would have talked," Halmand replied.

"So are you saying you're superstitious?" asked Linda, interested in what Halmand's take was on the matter.

"I'm a tech kind of guy. I like science and hard data, but if there's one thing I've learned in this job: no matter what you call the strangeness of when things come together, I'll take any advantage we can get," Halmand replied, very much feeling a sense of relief upon the pieces of that case, which had been in their laps for some time now, and were all coming together.

"I couldn't agree with you more, partner," Tricia smiled smugly at him.

"That, and the serendipity of you letting me drive..." a devious smile crossed Halmand's face.

All three of them in the car broke out in joyous laughter that the case upon which they'd been working for so long was now nearing its end. 

All the victims had a hope of closure and justice.

The Reception And The Received

"So this is the place we're dropping you off at, its a party?" asked Halmand.

"Not exactly. Its a wedding reception. There's going to be a lot of nationals from around the globe there. Its a big deal, and the bride and groom have a lot of connections. One of those connections, thought it might be in our interest to attend, so he sent me," Linda told Halmand as they drove east along Queen Street, just passing Yonge Street.

"You're sure there's nothing more that might interest us?" asked Tricia.

"Why, are you looking to crash a wedding reception?" asked Linda with a healthy dose of American sarcasm.

"No. Not at all. I was just trying get the best value on our end of the deal," Tricia admitted.

"I'll tell you what. If I hear anything related to your case log, I'll be happy to negotiate another deal to exchange information," Linda kept her cards close.

"Fair enough. Just have those financial spreadsheets to us by noon tomorrow," Tricia said as they pulled up in front of the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.

"Consider it done. Thanks for everything. Its been a real pleasure," Linda said, smiling as one of the porters opened her door for her.

"Have a good time!" Tricia said to Linda as she stepped out.

"Don't forget to call us later if you need us to come and pick you up. Don't talk to any strange men, and be home before the street lights come on young lady!" Halmand said to Linda, who laughed at their antics as she got of the car.

Tricia and Halmand pulled off into the streets of downtown Toronto as Linda made her way into the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. 

Linda would head to her room first to freshen up, and then to the wedding reception where Elena, Dave and Stanton would also be.

After all, they were all there for the same target: Mister Eck.

To be continued in The Butterfly Dragon: We Who Stand On Guard - Episode 05

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