The leaders of the newly arrived gangs swung off their bikes and approached Roy’s men. A few minutes of conversation followed by handshakes. The opening of the door interrupted Brand’s conversation. Little Abe led the unknown bikers into the building. The ear-shattering din of revving engines died off returning the acreage to an eerie silence.
Brand gave the Manager a final look then walked over to Little Abe.
"This is San Diego," Abe introduced the Disciples leader, standing next to Diego, Abe motioned to Harv Greely, the man leading the Montana Grave Runners. The three men were already planning the demise of the Wolves rivals.
“Time to run the bastards out of your city." San Diego espoused. "The guys and I are looking forward to the challenge of driving those losers over the mountains all the way to the coast.”
Little Abe laughingly agreed. “Those that will be able to run…I think that by the time the nights over, most will only be able to crawl or have to be carried away.” He focused on Brand and explained what the extra manpower would mean in putting a stop to the Cartels siege of the city.
The mood inside the Quonset changed. The Wolves gang members, who only a short time earlier, were looking up at a war from the losing end, breathed a sigh of relief. Although Roy's men stood tall in the face of the advancing Warriors, their attitudes strengthened at the addition to their depleted ranks. From the back of the Quonset, cartwheels scraped across the worn concrete floor. Loud voices quieted as everyone looked in search of the interruption. Cases of beer towered from a rickety cart, loaded from a back room and offered as a sign of friendship. The sight of the wobbling beer cart drew hoots and yells of encouragement.
Brand glanced around the room at the mingling of tough men sporting the various colours of gang symbols. He noted the change in atmosphere. The sight of the wagon loaded with beer helped smooth tensions among the newly introduced bikers, as it rolled from the far end of the room. The quiet, reflective mood of the Wolves from minutes earlier changed to a lightened, celebratory feeling.
The pungent smell of burning weed wafted into the air joining the sound of opening beer cans and loud approval. The members of the various gangs grew boisterous as they settled into a sense of ease with the each other.
Standing to the side Brand half listened as the bikers drank beer and plotted to return the city to the Wolves. Shouted questions of who and how many men should be employed to attack chosen Warrior hangouts.
Susan appeared. Her features etched with concern as she scanned the leagues of men. Strangers sporting vests and jackets stitched with colourful patches denoting unfamiliar emblems of the different gangs flooded the interior of the room. Pushing through the growing crowd, she crossed the floor and stood by Brand’s side. The two stood quietly, mesmerized, as the melding alliance of bikers argued over details. The air interrupted at times by loud displays of anger toward their now common enemy.
Brand took Susan’s hand and pulled her away from the bikers back toward the office leaving the door open. He began searching the desk and drawers. The ravaging pain haunting his body after days of abuse begged for a reprieve. He rifled through drawers filled with receipts and notebooks, pens and envelopes.
“What did Cartwright tell you?” Susan asked. “Is he privy to the Colombians inner workings? What do they plan on doing? Did he identify the leader of the Moreno Cartel?” Susan bombarded Brand with questions. Her words betrayed her curiosity, the tone of her voice bordering on panic.
Brand half listened to her questions. His mind occupied. His joints ached, the blood vessels in his head sparked with each beat of his heart. If only…the second drawer down, on the left side of the desk rewarded his effort and fortified his belief in human behaviour. Nine times out of ten, in drawers of an office desk, you would find a bottle of pills.
Facts were facts. The same held true for other traits. When people were nervous, they let their guard slip. No matter the façade they presented, certain mannerisms were hard to disguise. These ruminations flashed across his consciousness in between the jolts of pain throbbing in his skull.
Relief for the headache came in the form of a bottle of painkillers. The key to understanding the Cartels weakness came in the philosophical quest to find something that he knew lay waiting for discovery. Brand popped the lid off the pill bottle and dumped two tablets into his palm. Tossing the plastic container back into the drawer, he turned his search to the side of the office. A collection of liquor bottles sat on a shelf.
Glancing up, he noticed Susan sneak another troubled look out the office door toward the bound Warrior leader. She quickly pulled her gaze back inside the office when she saw him turn in her direction. What if his approach to the shootings and the Colombian’s actions were from the wrong perspective? Could he be overlooking the obvious because of personal bias? In amongst the throbbing pulse in his brain, a new train of thought presented itself. Despite himself, a flicker of a smile touched his lips. In the midst of a raging headache, a moment of absolute clarity. He knew what he had to do.
Brand squeezed past Susan, his hand gripping a bottle of amber whiskey. Spinning the cap lose, he tossed the pills into his mouth then tilted the glass bottle of whiskey, washing the pain medicine down his throat with a promise of the whiskey chaser speeding up the medication. Out of the corner of his eye, he studied Susan as she stole another furtive glance in Cartwright’s direction.
The pills slid toward his stomach, the whiskey burning the back of his throat. Brand shook his head bracing against the raw burn of the potent liquid. The scattered pieces of a troubling puzzle slowly locked together.
Brand set the bottle back on the shelf and turned to Susan. Briefly, he explained how he intended to free her father. The plan was risky but possible. The war was going to end tonight, he assured her.
“Cartwright.” He said pointing to the Warrior chained in the center of the room. “He believes that the Colombians may be holding your dad at the Millennium Casino. The gambling house perched on the western outskirts of the city," he clarified. "Warrior run, but under the control of the Colombians.” Brand paused, wondering how much of his plan he should reveal. “The top floor is strictly Cartel inhabited he told me.”
“Has that man seen dad?” She asked apprehensively. Fingers in her raised hand pointed to the man tied in the center of the milling bikers. With a worried expression, she glanced at Brand and then out of the office at the Manager.
Brand shook his head in response “No. Cartwright said he hasn’t been up to that floor for weeks but thinks it’s entirely possible that your dad could be a prisoner there. It’s all I’ve got to go on for now,” he shrugged. “Slightly better than nothing.” He said in way of an apology. Studying her face, his words conveyed the poor feelings he suffered for not having a better answer.
“I’m going to the Casino take a look later tonight.” He looked past Susan at the fusion of bikers who continued loudly plotting. “I can’t wait. If these guys clash with the Warriors, your dad could become a casualty. I won’t allow that.” He promised.
“Take me with you.” She pleaded.
“No. My idea is too dangerous. I could very well be walking into a trap.”
“The casino will be crowded. Surely the men at the Casino wouldn’t try anything with so many witnesses around.” Reasoning with him, she added. “I can blend in on the gaming floor. I should be safe among the crowds.”
Studying her, Brand pretended to turn the idea over in his head before finally giving in to her request.
“We’ll leave when it gets dark. It’ll be harder to spot us on camera when we arrive. Grab your things. I need to make a quick call, and then we’ll head into town and grab a bite to eat.”
Brand excused himself and showed Susan out of the office. Closing the door, he locked out the loud, rowdy talking of the bikers.
“…Yeah. I’m going in tonight. Do you think that will give you enough time to set up?” He listened briefly to an answer, and before he ended the call, he added. “Be sure to apologize to Sarah for me, will you. I’ve been pretty busy.” He hesitated. “Tell her I’ll call as soon as this is over.”
Grabbing a piece of paper from the desk, he scribbled a brief note and left the office. He scanned the mob of bikers gathered in the Quonset, crossing the warehouse floor when he located Little Abe. Brand pulled Abe aside, and turning his back to shield his movements he stuck the note in the bikers vest pocket.
“Read it after I leave.” He instructed Little Abe then quickly sketched out his plans for the evening. "Something I've got to check out at the Millennium," he finished the conversation when Susan joined the two men.
With Susan at his side, the two walked away from the bikers and the Quonset for Cartwright’s truck.
The discussions among the newly formed group of outlaw bikers dragged on into the early evening hours. Plans were made then changed and changed again. Each gang considered equal among the others so delegating orders became heated at times.
Around the supper hour, the Crypt Riders from the Northern part of the province rode into the already crowded lot of the Wolves metal building. Close on the heels of the parade of outlaws came a small police presence. Singletary squad cars followed the caravan of roaring motorbikes. Officers watched as groups of bikers turned off the secondary highway. A long line of rattling machines and dusty riders flowed out of sight disappearing onto the grassy entrance of a yard. The police cars remained on the shoulder of the secondary road unable to enter the private land. The pairs of uniforms bided their time in idling patrol cars broadcasting updates to their superiors, recording plate numbers and staring at a narrow view offered of the yard between breaks in the shielding bushes.
The recent arrival of a large number of riders wearing unfamiliar colours and entering the city proper caused concern for the cops in charge of keeping law and order in the greater Calgary area. The bikers had so far broken no rules. The unexpected appearance of hundreds of bikers in the area created an atmosphere of concern for the police waiting nervously on the sidelines. Keeping an eye on the gathering, while showing a police presence was the only action available.
Joining in on the plans for a raid against the Warrior faction, the Crypt Riders became impatient.
“We didn’t drive all this way to sit around drinking beer and cackle like a bunch of old ladies.” Matt Henley, the frontman of the Crypts biker gang, shouted while urging his fellow compatriots to action.
“What about the cops sitting outside.” Asked a junior member.
“They’re waiting for us to move.”
“Not enough of them to bother with.” Little Abe responded. “When we leave, we leave in small groups. The cops can’t follow all of us. We join up again once we’re closer to our targets.”
As dark began descending, the men crowded in the building set the beer aside and fuelled by the booze and drugs, focused on the long night ahead. Little Abe began dispatching small units of riders away from the Quonset. Sets of four or six men mounted bikes and re-entered the highway, turning toward the city.
After a number of the men left, Abe motioned to San Diego of the Devils Disciples, Harv Greely from the Grave Runners and Henley of the Crypts.
"Mount up." He said. "The cops know who I am. When we leave, I'm sure that the uniforms posted out front will follow us." He raised his voice and spoke over the dying noise from the remaining men. "Give us a twenty-minute head start and then ride to your assignments."
Abe gave final instructions to the men who would leave the premises last.
"Remove what you can and then burn the building to the ground. After tonight, the police will return with warrants to search the place."
The police assigned with spying on the gathering, sat in their cars, thumbs on car mikes, reporting as the bikers slowly filed out of the Quonset. Every few minutes a group of 3 or 4 men climbed on their bikes and left the area. Updates issued across police channels and back to central dispatch. The police were aware that trouble was heading for the city, but with no legal cause to stop the bikers, all the law enforcement in the area could do was prepare for the battle they knew was about to happen.
The leaders of the separate outlaw gangs rode together out of the yard with Little Abe in the lead. The four men wheeled onto the secondary road past the idling squad cars. Recognition of Little Abe had the desired effect. The officers watching the acreage rammed the squad cars into gear and followed the men north.
A grim smile etched Little Abe's face as he led the procession away from the Quonset allowing the largest part of bikers to leave unhindered. He motored into the city lights and wove among the evening traffic to the northeast quadrant of the city. Abe rolled his bike into a hospital parking lot. The same hospital that Roy Thundercloud was recovering from the gunshot wounds a night earlier.
Little Abe dismounted. He glanced past the vehicles filling the lot, his smile growing as he spied the squad cars roll to a stop at the entrance to the hospital grounds. With the police forces eyes focused on him, the next part of the plan now had a chance to unfold.
Hanging his helmet on the bike handlebars, Abe led the visiting bikers into the hospital. Before the attack on the Warriors could begin, a visit to the bed-ridden leader of the Wolves in a show of respect.
At a strip club in the mid-Northwest of the city, half a dozen Warriors leaned against their bikes smoking and talking. The conversation ending abruptly as one by one their heads swivelled, their voices drowned out by the sound of motorcycles turning into the parking lot.
The upside to wearing biker colours alerted people to who you rode for and warned them to leave you alone. The downside: everyone knew which gang you rode with. The approaching band of bikers wasn't wearing Warrior colours or patches. The colours they wore were from three provinces east. The Desperados motorcycle gang out of Ontario. The Desperados gang’s colours and insignia were unknown to the local boys.
The bikers wearing the Warrior colours pushed upright off the bike seats, unfinished cigarettes flung to the ground. The men eyed the approaching riders, uncertain of the newcomer's intentions. The new squad rode up to the waiting Warriors. The leader of the group stopped in front of the Calgary squad. Straddling his machine, he removed his helmet and sat on his bike. A grim face scanned the confused men.
The man shouted at the Warriors over the rumble of his bike’s engine.
“This your establishment?” He asked.
The Warrior closet to the man stepped forward. “Names Ike. You’re on Warrior turf friend.” He braced the man with more confidence than he was feeling.
The Desperado’s leader just smiled back. “Ike is it. Good to meet you. I’m John Harvey.” The frontman for the Desperados returned the greeting. He motioned with his head signalling his intentions. Men, dusty from the long ride, rolled their loud bikes past the leader surrounding the Warriors. Kickstands dug into the gravelled lot while the men dismounted. The rattle of chains and the glitter off street lights reflected off lengths of metal pipes freed from saddlebags sent a wave of fear through the small group of Warriors.
“How many men are inside?” Harvey asked the Warrior named Ike. Ike gulped down his nervousness. The question was rhetoric. The number of Warriors outside and the number of bikes they stood clustered beside were equal in number.”
Harvey eyed the man. “Do you have a phone, Ike?” The Warrior patted his pocket.
“Pull it out,” Harvey commanded. “I want you to send a message to your clan. Choose the number you dial carefully. You'll only get one chance.” John Harvey waited while the Warrior fumbled the phone from his pocket.
“What message?” Ike asked.
“Tell whoever answers to listen to your words very carefully and then spread the message through your organization." Harvey lit a cigarette while Ike dialled his phone." Harvey listened as Ike spoke to his contact. "Tell them; Hells Warriors run in this city is over. Warn your compadrès that any who choose not to put this city skyline in their bikes rear view mirrors within the hour will... Well, let's just say they will understand my message very soon.”
John Harvey motioned to his men. “I want half of you to head into the club. Empty it out then burn it down.” Harvey sat on his bike. He listened to the sound of kickstands digging scraping the ground and the crunch of footsteps. He eyed the puzzled Warriors, never letting his eyes stray from the men in front of him.
The Warriors watched with wide eyes as a several of the Desperados climbed the stairs to the entrance of the strip club.
When the Desperados left an hour later, frantic emergency calls from shocked bystanders who happened onto the scene summoned the police. Volleys signifying the escalating of the simmering war began.
The unconscious Warrior bikers littered the parking lot of the strip club. The six men wearing Warrior colours were severely beaten and left as a warning of the long night to come. The Desperados herded patrons and staff out into the parking lot before the trashing the interior and then tossing cocktails of flaming rags stuffed in bottles of liquor across the empty business. Smoke rose slowly from the interior of the club. Not a three-alarm blaze yet, but the flammable material lining the club's walls and floors would fuel the fire into one.
As the evening wore on, the merging of the Desperados and Little Abe and his posse, tore a path of destruction against clubs and bars tied to the Warriors. In the path of the cleansing, bikers wearing Warriors colours fell in their wake.
The Warriors who could move were stripped of their colours and warned to leave the city while they were still able to ride. The next time around, the disenfranchised bikers would be lucky if a bad beating was all they received.
The Warrior/ Colombian faction started the war. On this night, the Wolves and their new allies were determined to end it. By morning the city would be the turf of Hells Warriors or the Wolves of Satan. The days of the city split between the two rival gangs was ending.