Noon found the Dreadniks reunited at the Wherehouse.
“Anyone find anything?” Bear asked.
Everyone there, but Woodrow, shook their heads.
“I did.” he said, “I found the wagon.”
“Where?” Jon asked.
“Finorio Braneegan’s Car Dump.”
“Braneegan…where have I heard that name before?” Jon asked, “Wasn’t he the Azzamat who supposedly killed a guy?”
“That’s just a rumor.” Woodrow said.
“Azzamat…” Mike ruminated, “Someone refresh my memory?”
“They’re related to the Frellam,” Spencer said, “Cousins, you might say.”
Mike knew about the Frellam from books. They were a tall, broad, and hairy race that lived in the Skidderex Mountains, which separated Marriak from the cold waste of Sartholter in the north, where the Ridlaks (from which the Frellam descended) still lived.
“The Azzamat,” Spencer continued, “Are basically Frellam who decided to assimilate with civilization, rather than head for the mountains. You could say they’re more sophisticated than the Frellam; they wear clothes, they speak Thrist, they’re slightly less hairy, and they don’t eat people, but they can be just as dangerous when driven to anger.”
“That’s a stereotype,” Peggy said, “They’re not ALL hotheads.”
Spencer rolled his eyes, but did not reply.
“Where is this place, Woodrow?” Dom asked, “Is it far?”
“It’s in the outskirts, close to Elderberry; a good hour’s walk from here.” Woodrow answered, “It’s situated in a low area; from the street you can look down on it, which was how I happened to see the wagon. Braneegan hadn’t taken it into the Labyrinth yet. The spot is pretty isolated; hardly any traffic on the street. I’d wonder how he keeps a business afloat there, if I didn’t know better.”
“That’s good,” Bear said, “When the time comes to liberate the wagon, we can launch operations from there.”
“We’re gonna steal it back?” Callie asked.
“We sure as hell aren’t gonna buy it back.” Bear replied.
“There are problems though,” Woodrow said, “If we intend a febwith…”
“What’s a febwith?” Mike asked.
“A plan or scheme, to achieve certain ends,” Jon explained, “And the implementation of said plans.”
“The problems are thus,” Woodrow continued, “Though Braneegan’s employees leave work come evening, Braneegan himself lives there, at the dump. He has a small shack that serves as his home. The whole lot is surrounded by a high chain link fence with big double sliding doors at the entrance that are shut and padlocked at night. There are big light poles in various places that keep the place well-lit until dawn. While he doesn’t have any kind of professional security system, he does have five gallanashes that he releases from their cages when day is done. They roam freely around the place until morning. Gods only know how he gets them back in their cages before he opens for business.”
“I doubt you gleaned all that in passing.” Bear said, "How did you know to look in that out-of-the-way place?"
“I used to know the place when it was Jake’s Car Dump. Jake Hauge was a real nice guy who used to let us roundicant kids hang around in the Labyrinth. In winter, you could escape from cold winds there; and in the heat of summer, it was cool.”
“What is this Labyrinth you keep mentioning?” Jon asked.
“It’s the actual dump, where the cars are stacked. It’s like a maze in there, easy to get lost if you don’t know the layout. That’s why we called it the Labyrinth. When Braneegan bought the place, however; he was less than tolerant of us. He put up the fence and the lights; then he brought in the gallanashes. Who’s gonna mess with five blood-thirsty gallanashes?”
“We are, apparently.” Corrina said, with a sour grimace.
“Yes, we are,” Jon said, “But first, lunch.”
They were all tired and hungry from the walking.
Foods were brought forth from the kitchenette, and they all sat down and ate. Ravenous as they were, there was little talking at the table this time around, except to ask each other to pass this or that.
After lunch, they all got up and sat at a different table; a planning table. It had a black slate top, and Woodrow now used a piece of chalk to draw upon it a rough diagram of Braneegan’s Car Dump; as well as a map showing how to get there.
The diagram described a circular area, two thirds of which was taken up by the Labyrinth; drawn as a large grid of cluttered squares. In the space between the Labyrinth and the front gate doors, was a small square under which the legend “F.B.’s shack” was written. To the right were representations of machinery and various trucks and towing vehicles; to the left were representations of garage stalls, as well as the cages where the gallanashes were kept locked up during the day.
“Do you still have the keys to the wagon, Mike?” Jon asked.
“Give them to Woodrow. If the wagon has been taken into the Labyrinth by the time we get there, Woodrow knows the layout and can go in and get it.”
Mike took out his keys, and slid them to Woodrow.
"What if it's on top of a stack?" Mike asked.
"Then the jig is up." Woodrow said, "We go home."
“Okay,” Jon said, “First, I think we should send scouts over there to keep an eye on the place.” He looked around. “Kevin and Edward. You guys haven’t had the chance to get out today. What about it guys?”
“Sure!” said Edward.
“When do we start?” Kevin asked.
“Not now,” Jon said, “But soon. This febwith is going down tonight, after Braneegan has closed up and gone to bed.”
“If you don’t mind, I’d like a piece of the action as well.” Mike said, “I don’t want anyone thinking they’re out there taking risks I wouldn’t take. So count me in.”
“Me too.” said Callie.
“Okay, you’re both in,” Jon said, “But I only want to send a small task force; maybe six or seven people. I intend to go, that’s one. Mike and Callie make three. Woodrow, of course. Rak, to pick the padlock and open the doors. Add our scouts, Kevin and Edward, and that’s seven. Now, what are our tasks, people?”
“The gallanashes have to be dealt with; as well as Braneegan himself.” Dom said, “If he wakes up during the operation, things could get hairy. Pardon the pun.”
“I think I know how we can deal with those gallanashes.” Spencer said, “Gallanashes love raw meat, right?”
“That’s right,” said Rak, “We can use meat to distract them.”
“Not just that. We can poison the meat.” Spencer said, “That way, they won’t be a problem.”
“I don’t know about that.” Callie said, “Poisoning them? Isn’t that a bit cruel?”
“They’d kill you if they had a chance.” Corrina said.
“Just how badly do you want your wagon back?” Woodrow asked Callie, “If you don’t have the stomach for what we might have to do to pull this off, then maybe we don’t do this. No skin off my nose.”
“We don’t have to poison them, you know,” Callie said, “If we can find a way to sedate them.”
“That’s a good idea,” Bear said, “And if we can sedate the gallanashes, we can sedate Braneegan as well.”
“Now that you mention it, there’s this stuff called Tullaxiffan,” Spencer said, “It’s pretty lethal straight up, but when diluted and used in small quantities, it can be used to sedate large animals or people without killing them. They wake up a few hours later feeling like crap, but no worse for wear.”
“Do you know where you can get a bottle?” Jon asked, “And can you get it by tonight?”
“Yes and yes.” Spencer said, “But we’ll also need hypodermic needle syringes. You know---like what they use to give you a shot or draw blood? Also some raw meat the gallanashes will eat that we can spike.”
“What are the needles for?” Kevin asked.
“To take out Braneegan.” Spencer replied, “But also for the gallanashes. Some might get less of the spiked meat than others. Someone has to make sure they all stay down.”
“I’ll provide you with baffin from the Wosh after the meeting.” Jon said to Spencer, “You get the Taxamuffin stuff, I’ll send someone over to the MetroMart butcher to get the meat, and someone to get the syringes at the pharmacy. Any other ideas?”
“We’ll have to deliver the meat while we’re still outside.” Bear said.
“We just toss over the fence,” Rak said, “In plastic bags. When the gallanashes smell the meat, they’ll just tear through the bags to get to it.”
“The fence is pretty high, and just throwing the bags is a little too random for my comfort,” Woodrow said, “What if we lower the meat down somehow?”
“Rak’s fishing pole.” Bear said, “Remember when Rak got a little wacky with the shoplifting and pounded a fishing pole for no apparent reason?”
“There was a reason!” Rak said, affronted; then smiled sheepishly, “Nah, there was no reason. I did go goofy there, for awhile. Remember the kitty cookie jar?”
“You mean the one Kitty busted?” Edward asked.
“You could never prove that, could ya?” Kitty said, smugly.
“Guess the place wasn’t big enough for two kitties.” Dom said with a snort of laughter.
“ANYWAY,” Bear said, bringing them back to the discussion at hand, “We can use Rak’s fishing pole to lower the meat to the other side of the fence.” She pointed to an empty spot on Woodrow’s diagram, between the gallanash cages, and the nearby perimeter of the Labyrinth. “There.”
“Alright,” Dom said, “Let’s break this down. Who does what and when.”
“Simple.” Jon said, “Kevin and Edward leave around three or four to keep an eye on Braneegan’s place. Come nightfall, Mike, Callie, Woodrow, Rak, and I head off to the car dump with the stuff. When we get there, Callie, Kevin, and Edward go to that spot Bear just pointed out, with the bags of meat and Rak’s fishing pole. The rest of us will head down to the front gate, so Rak can start working on the lock. The gallanash team will feed the gallanashes. When the big cats go down, the gallanash team will head to the front gate to inform the rest of us. The padlock will have been picked by then, and we’ll open the front gate and go in. Except Rak, who will close the gates behind us and remain stationed there until our return. Gallanash team then goes make sure the kitties stay down, by giving them all an extra shot of sleepytime, while Woodrow goes off to get the wagon, and Mike and I go into Braneegan’s shack, with a syringe each of the Taxalax, or whatever it’s called.”
“Why do you need two people for that?” Callie asked.
“Because if Braneegan wakes up,” Jon said, “It may fall on one of us to be the distraction, while the other guy sneaks up behind him to give him the jab of sedative.”
“Oh,” said Callie, “Sounds like fun.”
“After that, Woodrow gets the wagon, should it be there, and drives it up to the front. Everyone gets in. Rak opens the gate and lets us through; closes the gate, re-locks it, and gets in the wagon. Then we drive back home in style. Any questions?”
Heads shook; no one had any.
“Okay then,” Jon said, “Let’s get it done.”