Brand brushed the dust off his clothes while Chad shifted gears. The tractor-trailer unit gaining momentum, the burning warehouse becoming smaller in the truck's mirrors as the truck rolled over the tree-lined road back toward Castlegar. Waiting until they were safely south of the small B.C. city, Brand dug the confiscated cell phone out of his pocket, dialled 911 and left an anonymous tip regarding the blast at the warehouse. Ignoring the dispatcher's questions for his name and location, he abruptly ended the call, tossed the phone into the passing ditch and lit a cigarette.
Fifty minutes after the explosion, the Latino drug boss roused from his stupor, stared at the still smoke covered sky while consciousness slowly crept through the fog in his brain and struggled to sit up. Shock, and then a sickening realization confronted his thoughts as the man stared open mouthed at the destroyed warehouse. Ignoring the piercing pain of the bullet wound, he dug his hand into his pocket, his fingers clawing for a cell phone.
Loyalty to his bosses and the cartel's business came long before he would worry about his well being. A call went out to the Warriors clubhouse in Calgary, then a second, more urgent call to a similar clubhouse on the southern outskirts of Castlegar. There, all available members and associates rushed to their bikes, the attack on the supply warehouse a matter to be dealt with swiftly and without prejudice. The Latino was finishing the second of the calls when the sounds of screaming sirens filled the air.
The first motorcycle that passed the rig escaped Brand's notice. Caught unawares, he watched the B.C. landscape unfold outside the truck's window. The ramifications from his demolition of the warehouse would indeed produce a loud and angry blowback from the Warriors and their cartel business partners. Brand accepted the challenge. The Warriors fired the first shots; the loss of the building and the shipment were only a small price compared to his dead friend and the hospitalized guide. The destruction at the warehouse would work two fold. Cripple the cartel's drug distribution and focus the eyes of the local law on the out of the way location.
The pair had recently crossed the short mountain range, slowed through the streets of Creston and joined the Crowsnest highway traveling in an eastern direction. The twin ribbon of asphalt traversed the lower end of the province, winding among forests of pine and cedar trees, scattered farms, meandering rivers, and kilometers of green meadows and thick forests.
A short drive up the road and Brand saw the biker a second time. Parked on the side of the road. The man lounged against his machine, a phone held to his ear, the man's eyes locked on the moving truck as it passed the stationary bike.
Brand's mind snapped to the present. The patches on the biker's vest, colours of the Warrior’s bike club. A disturbing but not unexpected thought ran through Brand's mind. A scout for the Warriors reporting back on the truck's whereabouts. Brand glanced at the truck's speedometer. Chad sat stoically in his seat, his hands covering the wheel and the gear shifter. The man was not relaxed, his face still a strained pasty shade, but his whining had stopped.
The highway straightened out. The B.C. city of Cranbrook, the next major population, was less than an hour ahead. A few short kilometers after spotting the lone biker, a roar from behind the truck drew Brand's eyes to the side mirror.
A pair of bikes raced up behind the 18-wheeler. Brand watched the bikers and looking above the pair, studied the open road to the west. Small black objects began appearing in the distance. Soon the lanes behind the trailer were filling with two wheeled hellions.
“Theses two lanes should widen into four shortly, correct?” Brand looked across the cab at Chad. Chad returned his gaze, a look of confusion wrinkling his brows..
“A few more kilometers, why?”
“How about hills. Any large enough to bog down our speed?”
“Nothing serious. Not really.” Again Chad asked why.
Brand continued watching out the side mirror, the reflection filled with motorcycles and men wearing biker colours.
“We have company.”
“The bikers from the warehouse? Oh, shit.” Chad exclaimed.
“Probably. But we’re about to find out.”
The lanes around the truck became flooded with the roar of motorbikes.
“I don’t care if you run the bastards over, but do not even think about slowing down.” Brand ordered Chad, his voice stern. The truck driver glanced in the side mirrors, the bikes now swarming around the cab, Chad's hands already clawing for the gear shifter.
“I…I can’t. I’m not going to run anybody over.” Chad protested.
Brand stared at the trucker, his mind racing.
“Fine. Get out of your seat, just keep a hand on the wheel until I can grab it.”
“Are you crazy. We’ll hit the ditch.”
“When I tell you to.” Brand repeated leaving no room for argument.
Brand watched the bikers crowd the truck.
“Move.” Brand shouted jolting Chad into action. Brand stood and squeezed in between the seats leaving an awkward path to the passenger's seat. Chad hesitated, frozen with doubt. Brand grabbed a handful of Chad’s shirt and tugged. The truck driver glanced from the scene on the road up to Brand, his face white with fear. Reluctantly, he removed his feet from the petals, one hand gripping the steering wheel as he clumsily rose.
Brand pulled harder on Chad's shirt speeding the exchange, brushing the driver past. Chad stumbled in the cramped space, bumping Brand as he reached for the wheel. Brand’s hands shot forward to gain control the truck. The powerful engine whined and lurched from lack of fuel before veering toward the ditch. The trailer swung into the opposing lane forcing bikers to scatter. Brand settled quickly into the driver’s seat, one hand clutching the wheel, the other working the gearshift, fighting to straighten the rig.
The bikers crowded the front of the truck; brake lights flared as they reduced their speed. Brand didn’t. The reinforced, chrome truck bumper nudged the rear wheel of the nearest bike. The front tire of the bike bounced up, and the rider flew off to the side of the road. The bikers in front revved their engines giving the larger vehicle more space.
The group of bikes behind the truck kept growing. A smaller group separated, lining up in the second lane, ready to pass the truck.
"How hard is it going to be to straighten this rig when it starts swinging?” Brand's attention split between the highway and the growing number of obstacles lining the lanes in front of the truck.
“A bit of work, but why, we’re not fishtailing?”
Brand quickly cranked the steering right, and then just as quickly, to the left as he tapped the brakes. The trailer slowly started to pivot behind the tractor. The trailer skidded left; the sliding metal container forcing a group of bikes into the ditch and then, the trailer began a haphazard arc to the right. Brand watched as the thirty or so thousand pounds of cargo in the trailer added to the momentum, cutting a swath through the passing bikes, the riders scrambling to get out of the path of the trailer.
The trailer swung back and forth several more times, each time jerking the tractor along with it. Brand fought it back under control. He risked a quick glance at Chad, the trucker’s face drained of colour, and the man’s fingers dug firmly into the soft cushioning of the truck’s dash.
The group of bikers kept growing making daredevil rushes past the truck, crowding the lanes in front of the eighteen-wheeler, the bikers banking on slowing the semi's speed. Brand pressed the accelerator. No time to be timid. Would the tires of the big rig hold up after rolling over the bikes? It looked like he was about to find out.
A glance at the road ahead revealed a wall of black lining the highway in the near distance. Shit. More bikes and this group didn’t look like they were prepared to move. The stationary row of bikers numbered in the hundreds. The Warriors buzzing around the front of the truck noticed the waiting party too. They began clearing the lane ahead of the truck, falling in beside and behind.
Brand calculated the trucks forward momentum. He might crush a few of the metal bikes, but there was no way possible the large tractor could make the entire path, so he started to down shift into lower gears, slowing the revving engine.
As the distance closed, the line of waiting machines split in the middle, clearing a lane for the truck to pass. The lead biker stood out from the rest of the group. The man was huge. A smile of relief snuck onto Brand’s face. The leader of the group loomed largely. A Wolves of Satan patch adorned the man’s vest. Roy Thundercloud sat leaning against his bike watching the pursuit as it drew near.
The Warriors dogging the truck slowed, nervous by what confronted them. Roy nodded as Brand continued down shifting, steering the long rig through the open gap, slowly rolling past the waiting line of Wolves.
Roy waited until the truck safely passed then beckoned his men to close the gap. Brand ground through the lower gears bringing the loaded truck to a stop. He jumped from the cab and ran back toward the line of bikers. From several feet away, he watched Roy push off from his bike and walk to meet the pursuing Warriors. Roy’s large hand lifted to his neck, his massive hands grabbing a length of logging chain looped over his shoulders.
Roy began swinging the chain in the air as he moved toward the now cautiously approaching Warrior bike gang. The first Warriors to arrive straddled their bikes, creeping close to the Wolves leader. When the leading two Warriors came with in striking distance, Roy whipped the chain.
The helmet of one biker shattered under the chains force, the man falling to the pavement. The second biker leaned with his bike to avoid the bite of the steel links sending his machine sliding sideways across the pavement. The bike stopped. The engine roared as the back tire spun freely in the air.
On Roy’s cue, the Wolves advanced against their rivals. The riders at the front of the Warriors charge unable to avoid the onslaught, the members further back, slowed, knew they were out numbered, turned away from the battle, waiting to fight another day.
Cars and trucks approaching the scene from the east, and west directions slowed, noticed the fight happening on the highway, turned around and sped from the area. Brand stood watching as the two gangs clashed in the middle of the four-lane highway, the Wolves relentless in the fight against the out manned Warriors. Roy stood his ground in the center of the road, the large man swinging the logging chain, knocking opposing bikers to the road.
The rout of the Warriors lasted minutes. The members that were able climbed on their bikes and drove west. Roy left the dying fracas and walked over to Brand.
“War was in the making.” He said. “I guess this will just hasten it a bit.”
“Yeah…thanks for coming. How did you know where to look?”
“Like any good business, we have moles planted with the competition.” Roy smiled. “I put the word out after we talked. I thought about your idea of visiting the warehouse and remember I know how you operate. The fellows and me, well, we figured we’d go for a ride. Haven’t seen this beautiful province in years.”
The highway lay littered with smashed motorcycles and bleeding men. The battle was over. Roy ordered his men to mount up before the place started to smell like a pig barn. The cops couldn’t be far behind. Roy, himself included, gathered a group of the men to escort Brand and the truck back to Calgary.
“We’re heading back in that direction anyway.” He said.
“You got a family in town?” Brand asked when he and Chad were back in the truck.
“Nope. The wife and I divorced year’s back, something about me being on the road all the time and then, of course, my luck in the casinos. She took the kids and headed back to Ontario.” He stated.
“Any other ties to hold you back?”
“Good.” Brand continued. “When we get back to the city, call your insurance company and report your truck missing. Then I suggest you leave town. Drive east; a long way east. And Chad. You would be wise to avoid your house. Chances are good the Warriors will be looking for redemption. Don't become an easy target. Those boys are going to be pissed, with their warehouse destroyed and this truckload of drugs about to disappear.”