It has been eight months since the wedding, and life has been moving down various paths for all the family members.
Jared and Liam took a three-week honeymoon to explore a few areas of interest in Canada. The first place they visited was Algonquin Park in Ontario, spending a few days canoeing through the lakes and islands. Jared took the opportunity to learn more about Tom Thomson, a member of the Group of Seven Canadian painters. As a child, Jared had started painting with watercolours but enjoyed being able to work with oil paints and Thomson had influenced his style of painting landscapes. The two young men canoed on Canoe Lake, visiting the spot where Thomson had died under mysterious circumstances many years ago. The death was considered to be suspicious with theories of an accident, suicide, or possibly even murder. Both had knelt in prayer at the location his body had been recovered.
Another location was in southern Ontario near a little town of Lucan. During grade 6, Liam had read a book called The Black Donnelly's in English class. The book was about a family from Ireland who had settled in the area and were murdered by a vigilante committee after a series of events during the 1880's. In northern Ontario, they visited Fort William. In Manitoba, they visited Fort Gilbralter, Lower Fort Gary, and The Canadian Human Rights Museum. A trip up to Churchill Manitoba visited the Prince of Wales Fort, polar bear watching in a tundra buggy and then boat trip to watch beluga whales.
The next location they visited was the Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan, following the story of Grey Owl. Grey Owl's real name was Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, born near Hastings, Sussex, England 1888. The story is a long one, but Belaney was an active conservationist and writer who also created a false story of his indigenous ancestry with the name of Grey Owl. The cabin he built to live in remains at the park, including the actual beaver dam inside it where he raised the orphan beaver who would become his pet, Jelly Roll. Jared and Liam canoed some of the historical routes through the waterway systems ending up at Stanley Mission before finishing at Missinipi. The weather for the three weeks was beautiful, the all-body tans of both men were very dark upon their return. Jared and Liam spent many nights together on the shores of the river or a lake watching the sunset at the end of each day, holding hands. The time the lovers spent alone together allowed them to learn how to depend upon the other while acting as one blended spirit.
Jesse, Zane, Jared, Liam, Troy, and Tyler had moved out to the new houses in the compound or as they commonly called it now, the village. The men were a tribe and a family so it was quite natural for them to live in the village together. The house built in anticipation for Darren and Josh's use was still empty, but the family saw it as a chance for someone to join them instead of the loss of two brothers. There had been lots of discussion around the dress code for the men while in the village. There were a few people who would be coming out to visit them, and most of those were considered family. The level of clothing was entirely dependent upon the season and temperature. If someone was invited or expected where nudity would be an issue, they would let everyone know to dress appropriately. It was to prevent embarrassment of the guests, not the brothers.
Conner and Mark were still living with Frank, but they stayed over most weekends at the village. Frank also visited the village regularly, playing cribbage or just talking with Grandfather. He even took Mathew out with him for ride-alongs in the police car to learn about police work. The ulterior motive was Frank enjoyed spending time with Mathew as much as Grandfather enjoyed spending time with Frank. It had been a long time since Mathew had a person to call friend. Unfortunately for Frank, Grandfather loved playing with the siren on the police car.
Conner was accepted into the primary paramedic program. He had already finished the classroom portion of the program and completing his practicum with the ambulance service. Mark was enjoying himself in the Commerce Department at the University, doing very well in his classes.
The new office complex was open and running well. Although some special interest groups had protested, they gave up when it got cold outside. The majority of the community accepted the new ambulance base and medical clinic with open arms. The food bank and LGBTQ2 drop-in centre became very busy in a short time. Jesse and the associates in the law office were also a success. The grand opening was well attended by local dignitaries, and even a couple of politicians who hoped getting their picture of this type of event could be used to gain votes from the LGBTQ2 community.
Jesse and Zane had met Dirk and Austin when they visited the construction site one day. They were both construction tradespersons, and during their visit ("Back in Jared II: <a href=\"https:\/\/storylover.us\/?t=2R6PCUp1hDOSwdJR\">Chapter 24<\/a>") had told the story of how Dirk's son had been killed by four drunk rednecks for being gay. Dirk was straight and Austin gay, but they lived together with no problems. They raised Canaan together and survived his loss through each other. Both had been specially invited to the grand opening. When the bronze plaque was unveiled by Jesse naming the LGBTQ2 section the Canaan Breck Outreach Centre, the big man almost hugged both Jesse and Zane to death. Dirk was 6'6", 60-inch chest, 18.5" upper arms and had been previously described as the size of a yeti who blocked out the sun when he stood by Zane. The huge man had tears running down his face as he released the two, and then tightly held Dirk as he exclaimed, "Our boy did exactly what he said he would do; he's made a difference."
Patrick was still with his mother and would be until school was finished. After that, he was talking about moving out to be with his brothers. When she had been first introduced to Adam she had been hesitant as well as concerned. Patrick's mother, Annie, was worried about the age difference between them. Although it was only a few years she was still concerned. But she watched the two young men together and all of her concerns were gone. His mother had met someone, and although Patrick liked her boyfriend, he wanted to give them some space. His mother was very proud of her son, and she considered herself to be the stepmom for Adam, Tyler, and Troy. She got to know everyone when they stopped in for supper or they would bring her out to the village for special holidays and feasts. Annie, Molly, and Melanie got along very well as well. Adam had been accepted into the police academy and was due to graduate later this month. He was at the Academy during the week and allowed off base on the weekends. Patrick has fit in well with the tight friendship which existed between Adam, Mark, and Conner while remaining very close with Tyler and Troy.
Over the winter, Grandfather had stayed in one of the apartments or as he called it now, his second home. Jack and Molly visited often as did John. Melanie and Ryan were together officially as a couple. They had a house together in the city and Melanie spent half of her time in town and the other half at the head office. Ryan's son recovered from his ordeal and is working as a security guard. He hopes to be accepted into university as an electrical engineer.
In the fall, Jared had taken Jesse, Patrick, Conner, Mark, and Liam hunting with Grandfather. They learned their lessons well and each shot a moose and elk. They learned how to field dress the animals as well as butcher them for freezing. Grandfather also taught the young men about sun drying the red meat and fish they caught in the traditional ways. The stretching and tanning of the hides was hard work, but everyone enjoyed working on it together. Traditionally, the stretching and scraping of the hides was done as a group activity. It was during this time stories were told and the young were taught the ways of the tribe. The freezers were full as they headed into winter.
Grandfather also took Adam, Liam, Jared, Zane, and Patrick into the wilderness to collect and dry the special plants or medicines they needed. Patrick and Adam both had the old knowledge coming forward in their minds but were still amazed at how many of the traditional plants were the high-priced medicines of today. Grandfather and Jared also assisted all of them to make their own archery equipment in the traditional way. Conner and Mark became very proficient at the use of the equipment. Before the snow fell, the rest had also become very skilled with their bows and arrows, knife, and axe throwing as well as the spear.
The family had enjoyed many days at the cabin over the winter. Many of them had never tried ice fishing before and Jesse had wanted to know how the boat worked on ice for trolling. Snowmobiling was something else many of the young men had never done before. It didn't take long before they were all competent at that as well. Conner was the only one involved in an accident while driving the snowmobile. He hadn't suffered any serious injuries other than a few bumps, bruises, and damaged ego. He swore the tree had jumped out in front of him on the trail. The reoccurring comments now include references to migrating trees, tree crossings, and tree zones. Tyler had a couple of traffic signs made just for Conner. He hung one on the laneway into the cabin and it showed a large tree on a yellow diamond, with a little yellow rectangle below stating 'crossing ahead'. The other one he hung inside the front laneway into the village. It was a large white rectangular sign showing two humanized trees throwing a Frisbee. On the bottom, it said, "Watch for playing trees." Conner sputters every time he sees the signs; Mark laughs.
Jared and Jesse had studied the implications (financial and legal) of obtaining a helicopter for use with the ambulance. Jesse, Jack, John, and Jared had reached an agreement, a memorandum of understanding for financing it. The ambulance service had reached an agreement with the Provincial Health Services for the services of their "Life Flight." Bear Investments and McAdam Construction set up a new company, Nistawoyou Air, and purchased and AgustaWestland AW139 for use as a life flight. It has the capability of a dual crew in the cockpit, 306 kph with a range of 1,100 km or 5 hours and 13 minutes of time. It was due for delivery in the spring. The translation literally is three rivers meeting and refers to rivers at the cabin, the village, and the city. The main ambulance base has a new helicopter landing pad in the back of it as well as a large service building. Melanie and Dawn located a couple of helicopter pilots who had done medivac in the military and hired them as the primary pilots. They also located a former Chief Warrant Officer as the certified mechanic to service it.
A second helicopter purchased was a Bell 412EPI. This unit could be leased for medium loads equipment, bucketing forest fires, moving crews, moving medical teams with a capacity of 14 passengers. This flew at 135 mph or 218 kph. It has a 350-mile range with a 20-minute fuel reserve.
A third helicopter was due for arrival in the spring as well. They had found a reasonably priced Astar 350 B2. Passenger capacity of 5 or 6, 212 kph, a maximum range of 592 km or 2.8 hours of use with a 30-minute reserve. This unit could be leased for airlifting light equipment, bucketing forest fires, moving crews, moving medical teams, assisting with the police or as transportation. Jesse had Cliff permanently moved to town as the Chief Operations Officer of Safety for McAdam Construction, reporting directly to him.
Jared, Jesse, Liam, Zane, Tyler, Troy, Ryan, Cliff, and Melanie spent time at a helicopter school in Alberta to first obtain their basic licence, commercial, instrument and night flying status. Over seven months, they all rotated in and out to get their hours. With the two very experienced pilots now on staff, it would give everyone the chance to keep flying to improve their skills
The family had finally accepted the loss of Darren and Josh. Of course, no one liked the loss, but they accepted it. Tyler had commented once, "Whoever said time heals everything was a liar. All time does is make you numb to the pain so it gives the illusion of it going away." His statement was never discussed or repeated by the family; they just numbly agreed.
There was a complete police investigation of the incident. The Coroner also held an inquest into the shooting, and after five months of investigation followed by a public hearing, they found nothing to make recommendations for the improvement in the handling of it. The Coroner did issue commendations to both the police and ambulance crews for their extreme professionalism and dedication to everyone at the scene.
Unknown to the brothers, during the Coroner's investigation, Liam had been called into the college Dean's office for an interview with the investigator. Everyone who had contact with Beau at the college was interviewed; not just Liam. They had interview Liam about the day Beau was kicked out of his class and the subsequent removal from the college for drug use. At the end of the interview, the investigator and the college officials had found everything had been handled correctly; nothing more could've been done to prevent or even predict this type of event.
Previously, Liam had missed the connection between the shooter Beau, and the Beau he had kicked out of class. The day he was caught stoned in class was determined through the investigation to be a major factor in pushing him over the edge. The investigator had assured Liam they were just exploring every possibility for a root cause of the shooting, not to be seen as placing blame on him or the college. The college and Liam had acted appropriately by following the requirements of its Substance Abuse Policy as well as the Student Code of Conduct Policy handling of Beau's event. This was the first time Liam had ever second-guessed himself, even if it was just for a moment before overtly dismissing it. It was also the first time Liam had not openly shared something with his brothers, and more importantly, his soulmate. With the previously mentioned two events, the third strike was it also became the first time he lied to his family. Liam had assured them nothing was wrong. If this was baseball, Liam would have struck out.