The Cuckoo's Progeny
20: Traffic Stop

Copyright© 2016 Vincent Berg. All rights reserved.

“We’re making progress,” Gary said, indicating their newest addition. “Xi certainly knows where she’s going.”

“I’m not making the same turn-by-turn decisions Be did,” she explained. “I can tell which direction we want and approximately how far away it is.”

Gary slowed and eased into the right-hand, slower-traffic lane.

“Why are we slowing?” Al asked.

“There’s a police car behind us. It was behind the other cars, but now it’s following us.”

Al glanced over his shoulder, noting the vehicle. “If it was Col. Powell, he would have stopped us by now. This is likely legitimate.”

“He’s not advancing. I suspect he’s running our license plates.”

“Should we split up?” Betty asked.

Al took in the procession of cars trailing them. “No, if we do, they’ll call in reinforcements. Our best play is to hope it’s innocent and we can talk our way out of it.”

Blue lights filled the car. Gary groaned, pulling over to the curb. The others pulled in behind them. “I’ll handle it again. Hopefully this won’t amount to anything.”

After several moments, Betty glanced at her watch. “What’s taking them so long?”

Al checked again before leaning back and closing his eyes. “They’re probably checking our licenses, problematic since they’re stolen, but let’s not assume the worst yet.”

Several minutes later, everyone grew fidgety when another cruiser arrived, pulling ahead of the line of vehicles.

That’s not good,” Gary said.

Betty clutched Al’s side, Xi reaching a hand out to the two of them. “What should we do?”

“There’s not much we can do. We broke the law, so they have every right to arrest us. The police aren’t our enemies. They don’t present the risk Col. Powell does.”

“He’s getting out of his car,” Betty observed.

“All right, everyone relax.” Al flexed his fingers, laying his hands on his thighs. “Just play it cool, however it plays out.”

The patrolman approached as the other cop stood in the background. Gary rolled his window down. “Yes, officer?”

“Can I see your license and registration?” Instead of answering, Gary turned to Al, who leaned forward.

“I’m sorry, but we can’t do that.”

The lawman’s hand went to his gun. “You realize we’ll arrest you for impeding an investigation and examine them once we confiscate your belongings.”

“It doesn’t matter, officer, as long as we get our phone call. That’ll clarify everything. May I ask what the charges are?”

“Right now, they’re for pissing me off, but one of your friends is driving a stolen car.”

“Then why question us?” Gary demanded. Al tried to wave him off, but it went unnoticed.

“There was only one car reported stolen, but we suspect several were taken. As the leader of this group, we approached you first. Seems it was the right choice, as you recognize the futility of denying the charges.”

“We’re neither confirming nor denying anything,” Al corrected. “We just refuse to admit to anything which might implicate us.”

The officer turned, shouting to the other policemen. “Search each of the vehicles. They’re probably carrying something.” Turning back, he backed away from the door. “Exit the vehicle, one at a time, keeping your hands up. No fast moves.”

“You’ll have no problems with us. We respect the police. You’re free to search the cars, though you won’t find anything aside from trash and snacks.” Al glanced back as his hands were cuffed. The other patrolmen did the same with the others. He didn’t know what they planned to do with the string of cars. Towing them away would block interstate traffic and take time. As they were loaded into the back of several State police cruisers, Al was consoling and calming his people telepathically while trying to calculate their next step. This complicated matters.

“Managing Director Mary Ticard. May I help you?”

“Mary, this is Albert Collins. We’ve run into a ... little problem.”

“I don’t doubt it. For someone so quick to rescue others, you seem to encounter trouble often. What’s wrong?”

“We’ve been arrested by the state police in Waynesville for possession of a stolen car. They charged thirteen of us based on a single car, so I suspect they’re looking for something more.”

“You drove stolen cars across state lines? Damn! Those are federal charges in that case. I had a regional director of the FBI keeping an eye out for you so he could intercede on your behalf. I’ve got no immediate contacts where you’re at. This will take some time, and I may not be successful at it. Not everyone takes to pressure by the CIA in domestic matters. Give me some time and let me see what I can accomplish.”

“On a related note, whatever happened to Col. Powell? Did you catch him?”

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