Chapter 32 Thursday, 0900 hours (9 AM)
The police acted quickly and efficiently. The local precinct wasn’t large enough to hold everyone, so vans took them over to some kind of barracks.
First, the police attempted to decide who were Calfers and who were the hostages. The first cut seemed to be based purely on age. Rom's scout uniform saved him however, and he was placed in with the hostages. Rom looked around for Elliot, but he wasn't with them in the barracks. He had indeed vanished.
A police lieutenant interrogated the hostages as a group. The lieutenant seemed most interested in a half-eaten body that they'd come across as they'd secured the zoo. The guy it seems, was an FBI agent, and he was armed.
The hostages, when asked, said they knew nothing about him, as he'd not been a captive with them. Rom, upset that he had to lie, especially while wearing a scout uniform, also expressed ignorance of the man.
The police were satisfied. They allowed Rom to phone Alan to arrange transport back to the van which was still parked at the zoo. Then they let the hostages go home.
As he walked out of the police barracks, Rom felt reasonably happy about how he comported himself through all this. He'd kept his cool and used his scout skills. He and his pack had come through unscathed, and the Ithaca werewolf pack was safe. Kit might need some counseling though.
As they stood on the sidewalk, Rom and scouts waiting for Alan, and Derek and Jeffrey waiting for a cab, Rom thought about the details. He was eager to get the kids back to his van and to go back upstate - back home. He also wanted his pack and his raft back, and of course Alan would want his cell phone returned.
"Oh my gosh, the cell phone," he said, suddenly remembering.
"You had a cell phone?" asked Derek.
"Yeah, but I totally forgot about it." Rom started to laugh. "Maybe I didn't keep my cool that well after all."
Then Chaba drove up in his car. Putting Kit in charge of his scouts, Rom ran across the street to tell Chaba the good news. He looked in the driver's window and then saw Elliot in the passenger seat.
"Oh my gosh. How did you get here? And where's your car?"
Elliot laughed. "I and my car both got away clean."
Rom turned to Chaba, to tell him what happened, but Chaba put up a hand.
"You did well, Rom. Elliot told me what happened." Chaba leaned forward, almost nose to nose with Rom. "I know what happened. Everything." Chaba leaned even closer. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"
Chaba sat back and laughed. "I assumed you've learned your lesson."
"Yes, sir. I'll never computer hack again. And I'll never disobey the pack."
"Good. Now, do you need transportation?"
"No. Alan's coming with his van."
"Good," said Chaba. He turned to Elliot. "Hold the fort for a bit. I want to go over and say hello to the scouts before we go. One of them is my grandson."
Chaba and Rom crossed the street just as Alan drove up in his SUV. But Kit had already negotiated for the police to drive them back to the car in a police wagon. The kids opted for the police wagon.
While Chaba chatted with the kids, Rom thanked Alan, returned the cell-phone and waved as he drove off.
Chaba came up to him. "I'll see you in Ithaca. Elliot and I have a lot to do to prepare for his move upstate."
Rom said goodbye to Chaba and then joined his scouts waiting impatiently in the police wagon.
It was good being back in the familiar van. Rom made sure the scouts were belted in, and started off. New York was a dangerous city, and he was glad to leave it.
Kit was back to his usual ebullient self, although he did joke about becoming a vegetarian after seeing all manner of deaths, both human and animal. Once out of the city, Kit and the scouts dozed off, leaving Rom the chance to think.
He thought about the chain of events that might well have led to the destruction of the Ithaca Werewolf community. It was his fault. He had started the series of events by his computer hacking. Rom realized his hacking days were over. He had lost the desire. And anyway, Chaba would skin him alive if he did it again.
Rom imagined the dreadful things that could have come to pass, but he did not dwell on it. It was not in the nature of his species to do so.