Precious Cargo

All characters appearing in this story are mine of my own design.
This story is a work of fiction based upon nothing in particular.

Precious Cargo is copyright © The Silver Coyote

To The Rescue

"What did you get out of her, Hector?" the disembodied voice asked from the speaker phone in the captain's office.

"I have not concluded my investigation yet, sir." Hector replied. "I am waiting for Miss Shapir to... regain her faculties."

"I see. Her crew mates are providing us with verifiable data, but nothing on the director as of yet. Any luck there?"

"No sir, not yet."

The voice sounded disappointed, sighing slightly. "I see. What about the fur she was with?"

"We're checking him out. He's a twenty four year old fox, a resident of Orange County, California. He claims he picked her up hitch hiking in Page, Arizona." Hector looked briefly at some notes. "He's here in Hurricane. We are concentrating on Natalie, we'll figure out what to do with him later."

"Very well, Hector. I look forward to your complete success, as usual."

"Thank you, sir. You will not be disappointed."

The circuit went dead. Hector looked at the captain and the FBI fur in turn. "Questions, gentlefurs?" Head shakes in the negative from each of them. "Very well. I will give you a complete and detailed report when I have concluded my interrogation."

An ursine chill ran up the spine of the captain. He had never had to deal with anything like this before, and it was causing him no small amount of discomfort. The IPF fur's strong-arm tactics would have been illegal in the extreme ten years ago. Until the creation of the IPF, prisoners had rights. Now, under circumstances that pertained to or indicated the possibility of domestic or international terrorism, rights of prisoners were completely ignored. This allowed, even encouraged, Gestapo-like tactics where interrogation and imprisonment were concerned. The chill up his spine caused the captain to shiver slightly in his chair.

This was not lost on Hector. "My apologies, gentlefurs, for the quality and caliber of the interrogation. Difficult times call for difficult measures, no?" The FBI fur nodded, the corners of his mouth ever so slightly turned up. The captain said nothing, sat motionless, staring at the coyote with a face made devoid of all expression.

"Very well," Hector said with finality. "Who is speaking with the fur she was with? What's his name?"

The captain spoke up. "Mike Harland. My department is handling that. I will have a report for you before end of shift at eight AM."

"Thank you, captain. The IPF appreciates your cooperation and support. Your governor will receive a full report of your excellent assistance in this matter."

The captain felt slightly queasy. "Thank you, sir."


By the time Joe and Annie arrived at the county jail in Hurricane it was almost two AM. As the AC300AT rumbled into the parking lot Joe addressed his wife and daughter, who were both fully awake. "I'll go in and find out what's happening. You two keep the pooch company until I get the low down, and I'll come get you when I can."

"Joe," Annie looked at him.

"Yes, love?"

"Be careful," she looked worried.

"I will." Braking to a halt in a parking space one row back from the station front door, he set the brakes and shut down the diesel engine. Leaning to his right quickly, he stole a kiss from his wife's cheek. Turning his head slightly he winked at his daughter. Addressing the kali he said "Mojave, mind the store." And then he was gone, walking into the building.


"Who may I say is calling?" the officer at the desk asked. She was about thirty or so, with her right arm in a sling.

"Joe Latrans. I'd like to speak to the officer in charge about a young man being detained here." Joe smiled pleasantly.

"One moment, please." The officer dialed a number on her desk phone. Joe looked around the small, empty lobby area while they waited for the desk officer's call to connect.

"Captain? There's a citizen here wishing to speak to you about someone we've detained." She paused and then looked up to Joe. "The prisoner's name?"

"Mike Harland."

"Mike Harland," she repeated into the phone. After a very brief pause, a look of surprise flashed across her face, only to be masked by a blank look a moment later. "Yes sir. Joe Latrans." Another pause. "Yes sir. I'll tell him. Thank you, sir." Placing the pawset on the cradle she looked again to Joe. "Captain Jenkins will be with you in a moment, sir. Please have a seat." She motioned towards a row of chairs along a wall.

"How'd you hurt yourself?" Joe asked by way of making conversation. At two in the morning there wasn't much else going on in the station.

"I took a bullet in a drug bust a couple of weeks ago." She paused, looking at him with a mixture of boredom and... fear? Joe was puzzled by her expression. "Tore up my upper arm muscles pretty good."

A door opened behind Joe and he heard his name called. "Mr. Latrans?" Turning, Joe observed two furs approaching him. The taller, thin one he assumed to be the captain in charge, the other he recognized immediately.

"Hector! Que tal, primo? Como te va?"

The IPF fur's face broke into a relaxed grin. "Jose! Bueno, mas o menos. Que tal?"

"Estoy bien." Joe hugged the IPF fur warmly.

The captain stopped in his tracks, surprised to say the least. As the two coyotes stood back from each other, Captain Jenkins discreetly moved his hand away from the butt of his service revolver, nodding to the desk officer on the other side of the counter to do likewise. Willing himself to relax, he addressed the IPF agent. "You know this fur?"

"Yes," Hector said pleasantly, turning to the captain. "I trained him several years ago. He works for us, in a way." Indicating each fur to the other, Hector introduced the two. "Joe Latrans, this is Captain Brian Jenkins, Utah State Police. Captain Jenkins, this is Joe Latrans." The two furs shook paws.

The position of the captain's paw at first glance had not been lost on Joe. He wondered why the atmosphere in the room felt so tight and unpredictable. The captain's pawshake was firm, however, and Joe assumed there was a story yet to be learned in the process of unfolding here at the station.

Hector turned to Joe. "Good to see you again, my friend. What brings you here?"

Joe smiled easily at his friend. "I understand my son has been detained here. I came to find out why."

"You son?" Now it was Hector's turn to look almost shocked.

"My step son, actually. He is my wife's son by a previous marriage. His name is Mike Harland. He's a fox mix, 24, six foot one, 170, brown over hazel. He called us last night and told us he was here. He was en route home from Durango, Colorado via the Four Corners area and Page, Arizona when he was detained. That's all I really know."

"Ah, well, that confirms a couple of things." Hector allowed. "Come with us. We have an interesting story for you."


"What could be keeping them?" Annie wondered aloud, her paws working over themselves in her lap.

The stereo system in the truck played tunes from an old Nirvana CD that Annie had dug out of the center console. The volume was low, it was distracting background music for those who waited with what patience they could muster.

Debbie, sitting in the driver's seat, glanced at her mother with a confident expression. "Don't worry, mom. They're probably having to process paperwork and stuff. Dad will take care of it, you'll see."

It was obvious to Annie that Debbie was not worried in the slightest about the unknown proceedings going on inside the Utah State Police building in front of them. Debbie's confidence calmed Annie somewhat. Still, Annie would feel much better about things when they were back on the road and heading away from this place.

Mojave stood on the jump seat with her head between the two females in front. Sensing Annie's concern, she turned and kissed her on the cheek.

Annie turned to look at their pooch. "Thank you, sweeties," she said, petting the kali while looking at her daughter.


Joe stood in Natalie's interrogation room with Hector, Captain Jenkins, and the FBI agent. Natalie was seated across a table from them, each paw wrapped in bandages. Each paw had a neat, nine millimeter bullet hole through the center of it. One leg was propped up, an enormous amount of bandages wrapped around where her knee cap had been. Natalie's spirit and will had been broken along with her body. She had a blank, disconnected look on her face, and her body language spoke loudly of dejection. She slouched in her chair, staring vacantly at the wall across the room from her.

"Your usual efficiency, I see," Joe commented dryly to Hector.

"With my usual results," Hector replied without bravado. Turning his attention to the ferret once again, he said "Natalie. I have a couple more questions for you."

She gazed at him blankly, nodding slightly.

"The fur we picked you up with. Is he part of your crew?"

Natalie shook her head slowly in the negative.

Hector effected an attitude of disbelief as his voice rumbled in reply. "Natalie..."

Abject terror leapt seemingly unbidden to her face. She stared him in the eye and shook her head violently, repeating "No... no... no..."

"Had you ever met or seen him before yesterday afternoon?"

Another negative head shake, less violent than the last.

"Thank you, Natalie." Hector smiled hugely.

Turning to the small group of furs, Hector addressed the tall, thin brown bear. "Captain Jenkins, I am satisfied that the young fur you have in custody, my friend's son, had no part in this ferret's sordid life and business. I have no reason to ask you to detain him further."

Captain Jenkins turned to the black tiger in the FBI issue suit, the question plainly visible on his face. "Agent Arnold?"

"The FBI has no interest in Mister Harland," Agent Arnold said simply. The agent shrugged, smiling briefly.

Captain Jenkins snorted slightly and reached for a telephone on the wall. He dialed an internal extension. "Jake? Brian." The captain paused briefly. "I'm sending a citizen by the name of Joe Latrans down to you. Release the prisoner Mike Harland to him. Process him out, all charges have been dropped." Another pause, then "Thanks, Jake."

The captain terminated the call and then dialed another extension. "Harold, this is Captain Jenkins... Yes, thanks. Do you have the Jeep Cherokee we brought in yesterday afternoon on the Natalie Shapir bust?" He waited while the officer on the other end of the line ran through some paperwork at his desk. "Yeah, the red four door," the Captain confirmed. Another brief pause, then "Good. I'm sending a citizen by the name of Joe Latrans down to see you. Release the vehicle to him as soon as he gets there. We have no further interest in it, process it out." Another pause, then "Thank you."

The captain terminated this call and made a final one to the front desk officer. "Janet? Captain Jenkins. Mister Latrans has concluded his business here, and will be leaving us with Mister Harland and Mister Harland's vehicle. They are both free to go. Put out appropriate information about the furs and the vehicle on the statewide MDT network. I do not want their travel in our state to be further impeded in any way." He paused as Janet read back his instructions for a confirmation. "That's right." He smiled slightly. "How's the arm?" He waited for a moment, then finished with "Good. Keep up the therapy and your good work at the front desk. You'll be back on special assignment before you know it. Good bye."

The captain hung up the phone and turned to face the group of furs, his smile fading. "That's one loose end wrapped up," he said to no one in particular.

Joe held out his paw to the captain, who took it in a pawshake. "Thank you, Captain Jenkins. I won't forget this." Joe looked him in the eyes for emphasis.

"Glad to help, Mister Latrans." The expression in Brian Jenkins' eyes was a mixture of abhorrence and relief. Brian Jenkins was personally disgusted by the IPF agent's tactics, and had initially applied that disgust to Joe as well. He was beginning to re-think his opinion of Joe, who had never been identified as an IPF agent or officer. He was relieved that Joe's son, whom he personally had believed to be innocent all along, was free to go, and was greatly relieved that the young fur named Mike had been spared an introduction to the tactics of the Interstate Police Force. "Travel safely in my state," he finally said to Joe, his smile making a brief reappearance as he nodded his head toward him.

"I will, sir, thank you." Next Joe took Hector's paw in both of his. "No sé agradecerle. Mil gracias, mi amigo. Le debo," he said as they shook paws warmly.

"De nada, Jose. Pozo del sueño. Guarde la fe, primo." Hector slapped Joe gently on the shoulder.

Releasing his friend's paw, Joe nodded towards the black tiger from FBI. "Agent Arnold, good day."

"Good day, Mister Latrans."


A small reunion took place at about three AM in the parking lot of the Washington County Sheriff's office and State Police substation in Hurricane. Mike tearfully embraced his mother and sister, who shed tears of relief themselves, and briefly recounted what little of the story was his to tell as they waited for his Jeep to be brought around from the impound lot behind the station. Joe promised them all a full version of the story after they'd had some sleep and a meal.

In Joe's absence Annie had made reservations for two rooms at a local motel she remembered just down Interstate 15 in Saint George. As Mike's Jeep was being parked next to the AC300AT, she gave Mike written directions and instructed Debbie to ride with him. After the initial emotion had played down a bit, and after Mike had been introduced to the newest member of the family, they mounted their respective vehicles and drove south to Saint George and their motel rooms. Debbie and Mojave rode with Mike.

An exhausted Mike Harland was asleep before his head it the pillow. He slept the dreamless, deep sleep of one once sentenced and then exonerated. Mojave and Debbie shared the second bed in Mike's room, and they both were asleep within moments of Mike's achieving his seemingly comatose state.

Still ignorant of the caliber of criminal activity Mike had been accidentally associated with, Annie dropped off to sleep quickly, too. Only Joe lay awake, beside his wife, until almost dawn, pondering the work still left to be done in the defense of his family and his homeland. It was messy, ugly work, but he was convinced the American Dream would die without it. The cancer had to be removed. To ignore this massive social disease any longer was to invite certain death upon his country and all it stood for, and therefor all who lived within her borders.

Joe sighed. All he wanted out of life was an opportunity to love his wife and share in her life, and to enjoy watching his children grow and start their own families. Why were there so many miserable bastards in the world who wanted to stir up so much trouble? He stared at the ceiling.

God, deliver us from the evil which permeates my nation and the world. The armies of The One Who Hates are allied and arrayed against your faithful furs. Guide us as we return to the teachings of your son, Jesus Christ, and help us to overcome the evil which desires to destroy everything that is good and holy about the nation we once built upon the bedrock of your teachings.

Look with love and patience upon your soldiers, Lord, and help us in our struggles. Remind us, Lord, for who and what we fight, and keep us humble and strong. Grant us victory so that your love might shine for the world to see.

Lord, thank you for the blessings you have bestowed upon me: my wife Annie, my kids, my health. Share with me some small portion of your wisdom such that I may serve you well and remain able to enjoy the love of my family.

Joe closed his eyes, and sleep finally took him as the horizon in the east began to grow light with the approaching sun.

To Chapter Twenty Five: The Way Home.

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