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This is the 16th in the series with the NSW Police Force Murder Squad Detectives Joseph Lind and Marjory Hendricks as the main characters.
Democracies around the world have invested large sums of money and personnel in their fight against “home grown” terrorism.
Since the commencement of the Syrian conflict and the emergence of the brutal and inhumane ISIL movement, this investment has increased exponentially.
Australia with arguably a greater number per capita base of fanatical Muslim fighters going into this part of the world has recently introduced new laws and increased funding for Anti-terrorist/counter-terrorist measures to be instigated against these “home-grown” fanatics.
Unexplained deaths and disappearances across the nation have severely diminished the surveillance subject 'base' of suspected home-grown Terrorists that cannot be denied or ignored.
Would these Commonwealth Organisations 'blow the whistle' on detecting this significant decrease in the number of surveillance subjects under their control? Would the Government be the very ones to implement a covert operation to reduce these numbers of 'suspects' thus saving Millions of Taxpayers money? And would they ever confess to such a regime ever being in place? And would those high ranking Officials ever be bought to justice regardless of the benefits that an economic solution of this magnitude be introduced?
The Murder Team of Lind and Hendricks of the NSW Police Force are allotted three murders that appear to be totally unrelated.
If this is the case, why are several Commonwealth Counter-Terrorist Organisations scrambling over themselves attempting to take control of these murders?
It was becoming a rarer occurrence. Seeing the boys on their hogs in double file, roaring up the Motorway proudly displaying their 'colours'.
Especially since laws were changed forbidding the congregation of 'The Boys' wearing 'Colour' numbering more than a couple. No gathering on a Public Street with 'colour' showing. Denoting to one and all what Gang they belonged to. Proudly displayed. A rare occurrence these days. Yes indeedy!
A beer or two with the mates was out of the question, as though the taste was somehow diluted by the fact that 'colours' were worn while enjoying the past-time!
A stream of boys on their hogs roared up the Motorway.
Perhaps an afternoon drinking session at a Pub some distance away. A gathering of several Chapters from up and down the coast. From Newcastle, through the Central Coast to the Sydney burbs.
Their Colours proudly displayed. A direct snub at the Cops and their recently legislated Laws.
The White Skulls Motor Bike gang.
They'd been decimated some time back by desertions, murders and OD's.
They were making a 'come back', having doubled their number over the past eighteen months. All because of the charismatic Boss of the Club who could sell ice to Eskimos… and given half the chance, would more than likely do so!
As they passed slower moving vehicles, the very base of the road seemed to vibrate with the sounds of their Harleys. The riders sitting on the Hogs seeming to take little interest in the cars that they overtook. Their eyes glued instead, on the road ahead. Stern looks on the faces of those that you could see as very few were without face patches or kerchiefs covering their mugs.
The vision of incognito priority one to most of the riders.
And 'Rubberneckers' they weren't!
Perhaps ten pair in perfect formation as though they spent their leisure hours practising the arrangement like the participants of a Marching Band. Crowded in their Club House yard, practising the ‘abreast’ formation until they could ride with their eyes closed. A very strict configuration that had The Boss at the head of the legion.
Then came four Police Motorcycle Units and two brightly coloured Highway Patrol Vehicles.
Vehicles in the outside lane veered to the inside as the parade drew closer not wanting to be the one who did not permit free passage of the lot. They needed not have worried though for the occasional driver who remained rooted to the outside lane was overtaken by the stream going around them. For some moments that vehicle was completely surrounded. The driver now terrified of his position. The roar of the bikes all enveloping. The vibration worrying as it entered the very bones of the inconsiderate driver. There wasn't a glance or a shift in the heads of the Hog riders as they cut to the inside, overtook then veered back to the fast lane.
The formation not even breaking its speed or form in the movement. Like a stream of red hot lava coursing down the side of a volcano crater. Nothing stopped the onward progression.
The Cops too, copied the process, though they glared at the ignorant, maybe overwhelmed driver as they passed them by. Letting them know in no uncertain terms, that they were indeed lucky to have survived the ordeal.
The procession was perhaps halfway through a long, easy sweeping, right-hand curve when the lead rider seemed to jerk, his body falling forward to slump over the chrome petrol tank of his hog. The bike careened to the left across the two traffic lanes, up onto the sloping bank beside the roadway. Coming to an angry stop against a clump of Wattle trees. The rider flying through the air, crumpling onto the ground with the heavy bike skidding over him before coming to rest.
It seemed to take some time for the parade to realise the situation. The procession veered onto the breakdown lane to retrace their route against the traffic, coming to a stop at the point where their beloved Leader had careened into the bush. They parked their hogs keeping a semblance of order as though this was expected. One beside the other, facing out onto the busy traffic lanes.
The second in line rider did not have to sprint that far into the bush to stand over the remains of his Leader.
It was obvious that he was dead.
At first a heart attack came to mind.
Perhaps a stroke.
The Boss guy was one of those waiting to happen.
Too many tokes. Too many smokes. Too much grog.
"F**k mate. What a way to go out! On ya Hog roaring up the Highway. Man... that's true nirvana!" The guy said in a croaky voice, as he knelt over his fallen leader.
It was then that he noticed that half of the Boss's face was missing. An exit wound from a high calibre bullet had made its mess. This was not how the old bloke would have wanted to go out, he thought to himself.
He slowly stood, his hands covered in the blood of his mate and leader.
He looked about, half expecting the cowardly shooter to come crawling out of the bush.
That was never going to happen.
Immediately the Second-in-Command thought of a rival gang. They had been flexing their muscles lately. Selling drugs to a few of the regulars for a lower price than what was the accepted market level.
They'd pay for this.
In a bloody big way, he promised himself.
The Cops then started to flex their muscles, wanting to take control of the situation.
Ordering all the boys away from the scene.
They just wanted to pay their respects to a cool and admired leader who had lead them for a lot of years. Through a lot of pain. A lot of laughter. A lot of shit-faced hours.
They wanted to make sure that the Boss's Hog was looked after.
Given due respect.
There was a protocol to adhere to, though the Cops seemed oblivious of that fact. The guys started to grumble. Some resorting to words flung at the Cops.
Several more sirens could be heard coming from both directions up and down the multi-lane motorway.
Some-one needed to take control, otherwise there could be a rebellion right here. And now. The 2IC needed to assert his authority before several others leapt into the void wanting the coveted 'top dog' status.
The ascension role eagerly sought and often fought over. Like here, over the still warm corpse of the former leader.
The Homicide death was never solved.
No-one was ever bought to justice for the 'sniper' killing of the CEO of the Gang, though Police suspected that it was a contract killing that originated from inside the Club itself!
There were suspicious thoughts by the Second-in-Command of the White Skulls. He the rightful heir to the throne and the natural recipient of Top Dog. But he was out of his depth, perhaps shaken more than others by the death of his best mate, so he failed to show the rank and file that he was willing and able to accept the role of 'Leader of the Pack'. Because of this, his own Lieutenant, Alek 'The Pole' Pojaski had stepped straight over the head of the 2IC and had taken immediate control, even inheriting the former wife of the deceased as a sort of trophy prize.
A beautifully executed coup.
It was the way of the movement as a whole! Politics was not the exclusive practise of those who inhabited Parliament House in Canberra. Though the 'boys' tended to erupt into violence instead of taking it as part of a game. Discussing the pros and cons. Politicking was not their forte.
There were rumblings of 'The Pole' being guilty of organising the shooting of the elderly leader, but that is where the suppositions remained, as a slight, whispered out of ear-shot of the new Boss, who always had a reputation for cruelty.
The disposed Leader quietly sank into the mire of the rank and file and not long after, retired from the gang completely, citing rheumatism as the reason why he had lost his mojo in wanting to mount his hog.
The position of the Shooter was never conclusively proven.
Clem 'Lofty' Hills Series:
Murder Squad Series: