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    quokka
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Firestorm - 16. FS Chapter 16

“Sorry for being late sir, I seem to be still having trouble with being followed, no matter which way I go from home” I said as I entered the office, “Yes, I am aware of the situation, I had another call from the AFP, they seem to agree that all the stolen cars are a result of this Dean Linton man, they are suggesting that your friend and her son go into Protective custody, and I agree with them” the CO said to me.

“Sir, may I suggest, maybe Angela and Tom could spend the next two weeks with me at Bindoon, that way we will be well out of public view” I suggested, “Yes, that could be one solution… very well, as long as they can pay for their share of the food, they have my permission to stay at the BTF - Bindoon training facility, under your care and protection” Lt Colonel Harding said to me.

Over the next two hours, we discussed what else needed doing before the cadets arrived, and the Lt Colonel informed us that had arranged for the Cadet Under Officers and Cadet Warrant Officers from each unit, are to arrive a day before the rest of the cadets, this was a total of 36 cadets that would arrive at 1100 hours on the Sunday morning, after they all meet at Irwin Barracks, and travel up in an Army truck.

After the meeting, while the three Corporals were loading up the two portable toilets and water tank onto the second truck, I called Aunty Jean, to let her know of the plan to keep Angela and Tom safe, and she let me know that she would have them at Campbell Barracks within an hour. I reminded Aunty Jean to bring some form of ID with them, so they can be allowed into the base.

I was at the gate when Aunty Jean’s car arrived, and standing next to the gate guard as the car came to a stop, I saw Angela and Tom crouching down in the back seat, staying out of sight, “They have permission to enter Sergeant, let them through” I said to the gate guard, who looked at me for a moment, before opening the gate. Drive around to the back of the administration building, I will meet you there” I said to Aunty Jean, who nodded her head in understanding, and drove off.

At the back of the building, I assisted Angela and Tom out of the back of the car, and led them and my aunt inside to my office, where Lt Colonel Harding was waiting, and I introduced the visitors to my CO. After a brief chat, I said goodbye to Aunty Jean, and retrieving Angela and Tom’s backpacks, I watched my Aunty leave, as she went to do some shopping. A little while later, WO Owens, and Corporal’s Gregson, Masterson & Hays headed off the base in the two large Army trucks, heading for Bindoon.

Once I had gathered all the planning material and packed it into the boxes, I loaded it into my vehicle, along with the two backpacks, before letting Angela and Tom know it was time to load up and get moving. For the trip, out of the city and outer suburbs, Angela and Tom remained low, and out of sight, until I knew that we were not being followed, and instead of heading north on the Great Northern Highway, we headed North East on Toodyay Road, to the town of Toodyay, where we stopped briefly for some lunch, before continuing north to the training facility.

Just eight kilometres before the front gate to the training facility, I turned left onto a minor gravel road, turned around and stopped a few hundred metres past the intersection. Telling Angela and Tom to stay in the vehicle, I jogged back to the intersection and remained hidden, till I observed a vehicle passing by about a minute later, and I didn’t like the feeling that we were being followed, so I made a call to the AFP giving a description of the vehicle, its rego plate number, and the direction it was heading.

I took my time walking back to the vehicle, and get buckled in. “I just called in that vehicle that just passed, if it was following us, then we won’t have to worry anymore, so from now on we can relax a little but stills stay alert, just in case” I said to my passengers, as we turned back onto the road, then soon after turned right onto a firebreak track, that heads north along the boundary of a neighbouring farming property. “Sorry about this rough ride, I am taking another way into the training facility, that is not usually possible” explained.

After about 3 kilometres we reached the boundary of the training facility. I stopped to make a quick phone call to the facility, and Corporal Masterson answered the call, “Benning here Corporal, do me a favour and jump into a vehicle. head to the front gate, if there is an orange coloured Holden Trax, with personal plates lingering around near the entry, try to ask him what his business is at this location.

I have a feeling you won’t get a chance though, as he will probably race away. Get back to me in which direction he is heading” I said as soon as the call was answered. “Yes Staff, right away” Corporal Masterson said and he ended the call, and we set off again to followed the base boundary northwards. There is a 1 ½ metre high wire mesh fence, continuing north, as we drove on along the fire break, and periodically there was a warning sign attached to the fence.

When my phone rang, I stopped before answering the phone, and after listening for a moment, I frowned, “Call the AFP, let them know what has happened, and if you can give them a description of the driver, then can you come and unlock the gate near the northeast facility, as we are driving along the outside of the boundary” I asked before ending the call. When we reached the gate, Corporal’s Masterson and Gregson were there waiting for us, with one of the trucks parked nearby, and they had the gate open ready for us.

“Hey guys, thanks for this, how are things going with the cargo that you brought up with you” I said to the two Corporal’s, “Everything is unloaded Staff, we have set up the two portable toilets and the water tank, and we have just started putting the scaffolding together” Corporal Gregson announced. “Did you add the extra items that I asked to be packed?” I asked, “Yes Staff, that is in place, ready for use” Corporal Masterson replied.

“Very good, I will meet you there” I said as I started my vehicle again and headed west on the dirt access track till we reached a “T” junction, and I turned south and after many more turns and just over 9 kilometres later, we arrived at the top of Tobruk Hill, where Corporal Hays was finishing sorting the scaffolding. In the small clearing, we saw the water tank, two portable toilets, thirty metres away, there was two large tents, and a portable table and four chairs.

“Welcome to your new home for the next two weeks” I announced to Angela and Tom, as we stepped out of the vehicle, which I had parked near to the tent. “Wow, what a view” Tom announced, as he looked around, “I thought we were going to be staying in a building somewhere” Angela said sounding a little disappointed, I am sorry, but I thought it best if we kept you well away from all of the main buildings and people that will be coming to this training facility in less than a week.

We have a major cadet training camp with 12 cadet units participating” I said to Angela and Tom, “Oh, I see, and you will be staying here with us during this time?” Angela asked me, “Yes I will be sleeping here every night, but there will be times when I will need to go to different parts of the property, but one of these three corporals will be with you at all times” I replied.

While Angela and Tom got settled into their new accommodation, I helped the three Corporal’s to build the scaffolding platform, which will be 4 metres in diameter, and 7.5 metres in height, with scaffolding stairs leading to the top platform, that is 1.5 metres below the top safety railing. A lower platform at 3.0 metres above the ground, will hold the water tank, and the space below the tank, will become a shower area.

Once the first platform was completed, we lifted the empty poly tank up onto the platform, and safety railings were put into place, to keep the tank in place until the fresh water is placed in the tank. The steps were installed as each level was completed, and we noticed Angela and Tom sitting on the chairs watching us as we continued the work. By 1500 hours, I called a stop to work for the day, even though we still have 1.5 more metres to go, and the top platform to be installed.

While the Corporal’s took the truck back to the main complex, I grabbed the sledge hammer and two steel pickets, which I hit into the ground two metres apart in one corner, before repeating the process with the other 3 corners, then using wire, I secured the platform to the steel pickets, at 2 metres and 4 metres high, so stop any movement on the platform, when there are people on the platform, and any strong winds that may appear.

I finished just before dark, and I found Angela and Tom in one of the tents, where Tom was doing some school work. I suggest that they get washed up, and load up in the vehicle, as we were going to the complex for dinner, which both of them were pleased to hear, as they had not seen any sign at the camp site so far. After a 6.5 km drive, we arrived at the complex, and as we entered the dining hall, we could smell a delicious meal, and WO Owens, the three Corporal’s and the Facility caretakers were already seated.

“So, Mitchell, how are things going at your command post on Tobruk Hill? The Warrant Officer asked me, nearly completed Sir, I have the eight tiedowns in place, and we are just two metres short from completing the tower, the water tank is in place, and the campsite is pretty much set up” I replied with a smile. “Angela and Tom, I have these for you, that you need to wear at all times, so make sure that you have them on you” WO Owens said, as he handed over ID cards for them both.

“You are now officially members of this Army facility, congratulations” I said to them with a smile, and the others in the room also congratulated them. After dinner was over, I showed Angela and Tom around the complex, while other staff members were loading up my vehicle with extra supplies that are needed for the campsite, and Corporal’s Hays and Masterton taking one of the trucks to the hill with the Inverter generator, fuel and two fire extinguishers, power extension cords,

Two large boxes that contain two VHF radios, a UHF radio, antennae for all the radios, also included is all the stationary required, and also there is two portable tables and chairs. As we climbed into the vehicle, to make the trip back to the campsite, Tom immediately noticed the boxes on the spare back seats, “What is all of this Uncle Mitch?” Tom asked me with a frown, “Oh, just a few supplies that we will need” I replied with a smile, as I quickly glance at Angela, who had looked back to see what her son was talking about.

When we arrived back at the camp site, the generator was quietly purring away, with a number of spotlights, attached to the scaffolding tower, some of them shining around the campsite, and others shining up the tower. “Wow, this is incredible” Tom said as he jumped out of the vehicle to check everything, and Angela joined her son, to look around the now improved campsite.

The truck had been and gone again, by the time we had arrived, and they had set up the lights, got the generator in place in a small hole to reduce the noise levels, the tower below the tank, now has tarpaulins on three sides and a wooden panelling wall and door on the side facing the campsite on the last side, and inside this area, there is a wooden grated flooring and a drainage ditch, and a shower rose above, and in one corner there is a portable gas water heater, and fluorescent light in another corner.

While they were looking around, I unloaded my car fridge and placed it into the vacant tent, then moved the portable table from outside, into the tents, and placed the car fridge onto it, and plugged it into the power board that had been set up in there. Already in the tent was two large eskies, that contains plenty of food for the three of us. I decided to leave the rest of the supplies in the vehicle, until the top of the tower was completed, so I opened up the side awning and rolled out my swag under it.

“It looks like some people have been busy while we were away for dinner” Angela said with a smile, and I gave a little chuckle, “Just a little bit, the campsite will be complete by the end of tomorrow, once we have the top platform completed and a roof on it, then we can get the command post furnished with the portable tables and chairs, and install the two radios, and lighting that will be needed” I replied.

“Will Mum and I be allowed to be at the top?” Tom asked me, “Yes Tom, but not when we have training exercises in progress, then it is out of bounds, until it is over for the day, although on some days we will be doing training at night time as well” I replied. “That will be fine, I have brought plenty of school work to keep Tom busy, so we can stay out of the way” Angela said to me with a smile, before she said good night to me and took Tom to the tent to get ready for bed time.

The next morning, I was up early, I changed into a fresh work uniform, and went for a short walk around the base of the hill, before returning to the camp, and I began carting large rocks to the camp, to form a camp fire ring, just 1.5 metres east of the scaffolding tower, and I had it completed by the time Angela appeared from their tent.

“Good morning, I’m sorry if I woke you, I am an early riser, and after my morning walk, I had to do something to keep myself busy” I explained with a smile. “That is fine Mitch, I am a light sleeper, and surprisingly I slept well on that camp stretcher bed” Angela replied. “You will find all the food in the other tent, and I will get the camp fire started” I replied.

From the back of my vehicle, I pulled out a hessian bag, that was filled with dry fire wood and kindling, and a hotplate, and I soon had the fire going, and the hotplate was in place, with Angela appearing with eggs, bacon, sausages and bread to make toast, and I let her take over with the cooking duties, while I began to cart sections of the scaffolding up to the top, to try and get the tower completed.

When Angela called Tom and me to come and get breakfast, I had already set up one of the extra fold up tables, and breakfast was laid out on the table, with plates, cups and cutlery laid out. Tom, still dressed in his pyjamas, staggered out of the tent, and he looked around, before heading to the table. “Good morning sunshine” I said to Tom with a smile, and Tom grumbled a reply, which made me chuckle.

Considering that it was only 6.30 in the morning, I didn’t blame him for being a little grumpy at this time of the morning. As I had finished my breakfast, I could hear an approaching vehicle, and I dashed up the tower, to see who was coming, and smiled, when I saw an Army vehicle approaching, and I made my way back to the ground. A few minutes later Corporal’s Masterson and Gregson stepped out of their vehicle, and I smiled as they approached, “Morning guys, I have a thought about this tower, I think we will only make it 6 metres high, and the remaining scaffolding can be used to make a side lean-too for a camp kitchen area” I announced.

 

BIG thanks to my Beta Reader Chris for all of his hard work.

Thanks mate...

Copyright July 2017 Preston Wigglesworth All Rights Reserved

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Chapter Comments

As predictable as the stolen car stalker has been, it would seem easier to me to lead him into an area where he could be boxed in and couldn't get away..

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I truly hope that Angela and Tom could be safe, her ex boyfriend sounds like a lot of trouble, and he acts that way as well by stalking them everywhere they go he shows up. One thing I hope could happen is that he tries to get onto the training base while the training is going on and they can finally arrest the guy or shot him either way would be preferable. I believe that Mitch has the training site well stocked with everything they'll need to have while at the site. Keep up the great work, this story is so interesting the characters are so well thought out and personable. 

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How is this guy tracking them?  I agree with Butcher56- he needs to be caught on the training grounds which would put him under the military justice system. (If the Australian system is like the US one)

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