As they drove down the road Dana was staring at the dog. He stared back, a straw in his mouth from the shake that Twitch, distracted by the scenery, held for him.
“He can use a straw?”
Twitch shot her a look of surprise as if to say “don’t they all?” but just nodded when he realized it must 'not be a thing'.
“Don’t overthink it.” was John’s unsolicited response.
“Try that park over on the right” said Jax, concentrating on her laptop. “Signals good.”
The staccato of a turn signal filled the pause as John turned into small paved lot, empty of vehicles. He parked near the comfort station.
Twitch leant over and opened the sliding door, inviting a symphony of chirping insects, birds and the pleasing swish of leaves. He inhaled deeply
Skookum started slurping the cup Twith was still holding, watching the awestruck expression as Dana looked back.
Then he jumped off the chair looked back and forth out the door and leapt, silently landing on the grass, several feet away. Hetarted sniffing the well kept grass then headed to a group of trees to catch up on his "peemail".
John grabbed a paper bag and gathered up the small amount of garbage around the van finishing by holding the bag in front of Twitch who slurped to empty his cup. He was eyeing Skooks cup as he did so.
“You slurp from that other cup and I’m going to hurl!” Dana said harshly.
John started laughing.
“Standard.” Jax piped up; the gang eventually figured out it was a Commonweath expression that actually meant something like 'Of course', "doggy drool is nasty."
John looked back as he stepped out of the van to head for the trash bin. “Were’s that gutsy babe that decked the two guys in the bar?”
“That was different!” Dana snapped back, not really irriated.
“Jax, BlueTooth.” John said, back to business.
Jax began organizing items at her workstation and pulled out a small folding table placing it in the centre of the vehicle where they could all be seated.
She placed a small module in the middle of the table activating it. A soft ‘pong’ sound eminating as she did so. She pulled a key from string on her neck and dropped on her knees to put it into a floor safe door. The door was well concealed under the carpeting and opened almost the whole way along the length of the wall opposite the door.
The contents included some formidable looking weapons, cash, passports and very official looking documents that bore Canadian, Mexican and United States flags and seals. Jax removed a flip phone and opened it.
“Connected” came a disembodied voice from the module.
Twitch stepped out the door to locate Skook, who was in the middle of 'replying', he waited until the dog finished and motioned his head. Skook zipped back.
Jax waited for the boys to climb back in and hit a key as they sat. The sound of a ringing phone began. Dana slid the door shut right after the dog jumped in.
“Yes” answered a distorted, asexual voice eminating from the module.
“The location proved positive, one hundred percent and our freshest ID to date.”
“Maybe as short as a few weeks, outside, a month and a half?”
John looked at Twitch and he nodded.
“Was the sacrificial chamber there?”
“Yes, possibble there was a victim too. A child.”
There was silence.
Finally, “Strengthen your resolve.” the voice said.
The entire group nodded as they made eye contact with each of the other, grave expressions all.
“The chamber” continued John “is about ten meters down and opens into a cavern that is about six meters wide and maybe ten meters in length. Along the entire length of the North East wall there is fissure, a narrow gap that simply goes down. Way down. I dropped a rock and never heard the impact.”
"I think it is from that crack, that the hydrogen sulfide might be eminating.”
“We’re putting protocols in place for this type of exploration in the future.” Dana chimed in.
“HS2 is reactive as well.”
“So no medictating in the sacrificial chamber then?” Jax was smiling, making the universal gesture of a toker.
“Your jocularity, though always clever, is mis-timed.” said the voice.
“Apologies” the smile disappeared, as did those of the others.
“Some vague marks were scored into the wall above the fissure but otherwise the chamber was clear of anything but footprints; none of value.” John finished.
“Good work on finding the location guys, especially Jax’s insights. A lot of peripheral knowledge came from that.”
The Handler understood the value of NOT letting a tacit reprimand fester. The joke was actually pretty funny.
“I think we need to go back.” John said.
“Agreed. Please get some photos using IR and UV. Also, take luminol and apply it near the rim.
John nodded gravely, “Maybe get DNA if there’s any...” he really hoped the kid had just strayed onto the property and then made it home.
“Yes, if there is any blood residue.”
More silence. “A kid...” said Dana softly.
“I assume you took some pictures.” The voice enquired.