Chapter 5: The wrap-up
A short while later, the whole wing, together with the Girls Venture Corps squadron, was on the parade square while a handful of military police officers from the RCAF Police were at the scene with the phantom trio handcuffed.
After the inspections and the march past, the wing got down to the big announcement as Air Vice-Marshal Jennings took note of the captured phantom trio.
"So I've been informed that a handful of seniors from the Uplands Squadrons were instrumental in the capture of this Phantom Cadet and his two accomplices this evening." Jennings said as he looked at the handcuffed phantom trio.
"Yes indeed, sir." Wing Commander Lester Turner, the commanding officer of the RCAC 6th Wing, nodded. "The capture was coordinated by WO2 Garfield Wu, Flight Sergeant Larry Pendrick and Flight Mark Slorach of the Uplands Squadron and UO2 Rachel Leclerc, Flight Sergeant Rene Ogden and Flight Sergeant Donna Bruun of the Girls Ventures Corps affiliate squadron at Uplands."
Turner then nodded at Sanders and Warren, who nodded back at him.
"I call upon WO2 Wu, UO2 Leclerc, Flight Sergeants Pendrick, Slorach, Ogden and Bruun to the front for the unmasking and wrapping up of this mystery." Turner then said.
At the command, the six all stood at attention and simultaneously yelled "Sir!" before marching their way to the front of the parade square.
After the six gathered around the air vice-marshal, he gestured the SPs to bring the handcuffed phantom trio closer.
"I understand that these three were responsible for causing trouble for your training night. Not only did they kidnap the officers, but also several of the squadrons senior non-commissioned members, correct?" Jennings asked.
"Yes, sir." Garfield nodded. "We eventually got to the bottom of this and rescued the officers and the missing seniors, in addition to capturing the trio."
"That, we all can see." Jennings nodded. "Now, I was told that these three were using the old legend of the Phantom Cadet to cause trouble, and being someone who had taken part in pilot training at Rockcliffe during the war, I may have an idea on who this 'Phantom Cadet' could be."
"Was he someone you knew personally, sir?" Leclerc asked. "Or...actually, let's put it this way: During your time at Rockcliffe for your pilot training during the war, sir, was there anyone in your flight who can be considered to be a trouble-maker?"
"Not that I particularly recall." Jennings frowned after some thought. "However, I do remember the day when the news broke that someone from a rival flight vanished from the base. It was also the day that a cargo plane transferring goods from Rockcliffe to Uplands crashed upon landing."
"From what we've heard about the legend, that someone vanished after getting disqualified from pilot training, sir." Pendrick interjected.
"Yes indeed." Jennings nodded. "Now, I do know that there were three guys who were disqualified from pilot training that particular day, which came a couple days after those three were involved in some, well, inappropriate business."
"Such as starting a bar fight while off-duty, sir?" Bruun asked.
"Something like that." Jennings said. "Now, those three were ordered to be dismissed from their training following the RCAF Police investigation into their conduct, and they were to return home. However, one of them vanished shortly before that cargo transfer flight to Uplands was due for departure from the base."
"Do you believe that someone who vanished decided to stowaway on that flight, sir?" Garfield asked.
"I believe he did." Jennings nodded. "Heck, he didn't bother leaving with his belongings, and the whole base was on lock down as the Service Police searched for the missing cadet. It was only after we received news on the crash at Uplands that the search was called off, especially after a ground crew technician reported that he caught a glimpse of the missing cadet boarding the ill-fated flight. Protocols were later reviewed to prevent a similar incident of someone stowaway on a flight in the future."
"Anyways, I'm sure you're interested in finding out who these three phantoms are really are, sir." Garfield said.
"Of course." Jennings said. "I'm sure everyone here will appreciate it that you guys don't leave them in a cliffhanger."
"Right then." Leclerc said as she and Garfield walked over to the Phantom Cadet.
"This Phantom Cadet is none other than..." Garfield began as he and Leclerc prepared to pull the mask off.
The duo then pulled the mask off, only for the cadets from the Rockcliffe squadron to gasp when they recognized the face.
"Flight Lieutenant Derek Crane?!" They exclaimed.
Garfield and Leclerc shared a look with each other, then with the air vice-marshal, then with the officers.
It was then that the real Flight Lieutenant Derek Crane, who's the chief pilot instructor with the Rockcliffe squadron and was standing with the officers, walked over.
"But that's not possible!" Sanders said when he saw Crane walking over to them. "How can Flight Lieutenant Crane be standing at two places in the same time?"
"Hold it, everyone!" Bruun said when she noticed something. "There's another face beneath this face!"
"Two masks, eh?" Jennings asked. "In that case, who is it?"
Garfield and Leclerc nodded before pulling the second mask off, and the face that is revealed resulted in a few gasps - all from the officers and Jenning himself.
"I don't believe it!" Jennings exclaimed.
"But somehow, we can." Crane said as Merkley and Flight Lieutenant Jordan Bennett, training officer of the Level 4 cadets from the Connaught squadron, walked over.
"Indeed." Bennett nodded. "This man is former Rockcliffe squadron sponsoring committee chair from the Optimist Club, Ronald Paul. He was forced out of the committee and arrested after we found him to have embezzled funds we've raised for the Royal Canadian Legion and for the wing."
"At that time, I was volunteering at the squadron as a regular forces volunteer." Jennings said. "And I was the one who specifically asked these three to investigate the fundraising problem."
FLASHBACK - Fifteen Years Ago
November 8, 1955
That early evening, Flight Sergeant Jordan Bennett was ready to meet up with the seniors prior to the beginning of the training night when he ran into Flight Lieutenant Henry Jennings, who beckoned him to speak to him in private.
"What is it, sir?" Bennett asked in greeting.
"How good are you with financial numbers and transactions, Flight Sergeant Bennett?" Jennings asked.
"Ah, I'm taking an accounting course in school, sir." Bennett said. "Why?"
Jennings took out two files and handed them to Bennett.
"The numbers on the first file detail the amount we've fundraised for the Royal Canadian Legion through poppy distributions this past weekend." Jennings said. "However, they don't match up with the fundraising number indicated in the receipt we received from the Legion."
Bennett took a close look at the two files, taking note of the dates and the numbers, before he nodded.
"You're right, sir." He said. "The numbers don't add up."
"Yes, and I need you to get to the bottom of this and find out what happened to the $76,000 that was raised." Jennings instructed. "After all, you have did some volunteering with the Ottawa Police, have you not?"
"Yes, sir." Bennett nodded. "I'll get to the bottom of this."
"Excellent." Jennings said. "Let me know if you've found something."
END OF FLASHBACK
"So I've assembled a small team to dig into the numbers." Bennett said. "Then-Sergeants Merkley and Crane joined in."
"I even remember what was Derek's first reaction when we asked him about the assignment." Merkley added. "First thing he did was that he went to his stuff and returned with a magnifying glass and wearing a deerstalker in the place of his wedge."
"Anyways, our little investigation led us to find that someone in the squadron has been embezzling funds raised for the Legion." Bennett said. "Someone in the sponsoring committee, as a matter a fact."
"Our investigation soon led us to zero in on Mr. Paul, who everyone noticed to be spending more than he earned at work." Merkley said. "And then we made our move after Derek and then-Flight Lieutenant Jennings found something that confirmed our suspicions."
"We sure crashed that sponsoring committee meeting that day, and I'll never forget what then-Sergeant Crane did when Mr. Paul was exposed." Jennings added.
FLASHBACK - Fifteen Years Ago
November 22, 1955
"There's nowhere to go, Mr. Paul." Jennings spoke. "We've got evidence of you embezzling funds raised for the Legion, and the police will soon be here."
"Not if you catch me first!" Mr. Paul said defiantly before suddenly shoving Bennett out of the way and took off running.
Seeing Mr. Paul running, Jennings, Bennett and Merkley quickly ran after him.
Crane, who was returning from the washroom, happened to be walking nearby when he heard Jennings shouted, "Stop him!"
Seeing the running Paul, Crane looked around and saw an empty rubbish bin. Recalling something, he picked up the rubbish bin and walked in a certain direction.
Eventually, Mr. Paul reached his parked car outside the barracks. Looking around, he saw no one around and headed for his car.
However, just as he was about to unlock the car door and get in, Crane suddenly jumped him and placed the rubbish bin over his head before pushing him to the ground.
As Mr. Paul tried to get out, Crane took out a pencil and started poking the man, causing Mr. Paul to yelp in pain.
Crane then saw Jennings and the others looking around, and he dropped what he was doing and raced over to flag them down.
When they rushed over, they found Mr. Paul running away with the rubbish bin still over his head.
However, his freedom was short-lived, as a couple of nearby patrolling Service Police officers heard the quartet's calls for Mr. Paul to be stopped and rushed over to stop him.
"That's him alright." Jennings said to the two SPs. "Mr. Ronald Paul has been embezzling funds raised for the Legion."
Crane then held up his right hand, gesturing them "Not yet" before pulling out his pencil.
"Just to make sure." Crane said as he held up his pencil.
Then, as Jennings, Bennett, Merkley and the two SPs looked on, Crane proceeded to poke Mr. Paul with the pencil.
Identifying Mr. Paul's yelps in pain as he poked him with the pencil, Crane turned to Jennings and nodded.
"It's him alright." He said.
END OF FLASHBACK
"Wow, sounds like Flight Lieutenant Crane has a unique way of identifying culprits, sir." Garfield remarked after the four officers related the story.
"Yes, he sure has." Jennings nodded. "After the arrest, Mr. Paul's residence was raided and he was found to have been evading taxes for years and as a result, he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison."
"Then, it seems like he was seeking revenge on the wing for his imprisonment, sir." Leclerc said.
"And I have no doubt that he and his accomplices were seeking for the valuable cargo that was said to be buried here." Slorach said.
"However, how does he know about the valuable cargo that was said to be buried here in Uplands?" Ogden asked.
"The key will be that someone who survived that plane crash back in 1944 was involved in this scheme." Jennings said as they eyed the two remaining unmasked phantoms. "Or in this case, faked the plane crash after stealing the plane, which was running low on fuel at that time."
"Is that true, Mr. Bob Goldwater?" A SP corporal asked as they yanked the two remaining masks off, revealing one of them to be a wanted fugitive.
"Bob Goldwater." Jennings said as he recognized the face. "Now that's someone I do recall having a reputation as a troublemaker back in pilot training at Rockcliffe, as well as being one of those three that got disqualified from pilot training that day."
"In addition to Mr. Ed Levant here, who was expelled from pilot training for his constantly picking fights with cadets of different ethnicities." The SP flight sergeant added as the third phantom was unmasked.
"These three have all taken part in pilot training in Rockcliffe during the war." Jennings said. "And they were disqualified and expelled from pilot training that day for causing trouble after that bar fight."
"It's my hunch that these three men got together when they were to be sent home and hijacked that cargo plane." Garfield said.
"Then, when they took off, they realized too late that the plane was running low on fuel." Bruun said. "With the military search planes hot on their trail, they staged the plane crash here and then buried the missing valuables before splitting up, but not before making an accord with each other where they will return someday when the coast is clear and dig up the stolen cargo."
"Except that they didn't count on the establishment of the new Uplands air cadet squadron in the 1960s while they were hiding out." Merkley interjected. "By this point, Mr. Paul was in prison for embezzlement and tax evasion while Mr. Levant and Mr. Goldwater were hiding elsewhere and living under assumed names."
"Living under assumed names, yes." A second SP corporal said. "But apparently they've been running scams and fraud rackets during their times waiting for Mr. Paul to get out of prison."
"Anyways, when Mr. Paul finally got released, they decided to go dig the cargo out, only to find that the Uplands squadron has been established with the barracks built above where the cargo was buried." Garfield said.
"So using the legend of the Phantom Cadet, they grabbed the officers and seniors in the two squadrons and try to scare away the others while they search the area for the buried cargo." Leclerc said. "Now, with Mr. Paul's ability to disguise himself as Flight Lieutenant Crane, they can enter the cadet training base undetected and familiarize themselves with the layout so they can carry out with their search."
"Not to mention that they can seek their revenge on the wing, particularly Flight Lieutenants Crane and Merkley, for their part in getting Mr. Paul busted." Jennings said. "I won't be surprised if they chose this particular night to strike because of my visit."
"No doubt about it, sir." Turner remarked.
"And once they're search was completed, they were then planning on getting out of the country, which explained the three one-way Penn Central train tickets to New York from Union Station they've hidden in the file cabinet in the Level 3 cadet barrack." Slorach said.
"Quite the elaborate plan if you ask me." Sanders remarked.
"Yes, and we would've gotten away with it, if it weren't for these meddling cadet warrant officers and flight sergeants!" Mr. Paul spat angrily as he and his accomplices were escorted away by the Service Police.
At the remark, Garfield suppressed an urge to chuckle. It reminded him of the little adventure he and a few new friends from the States went through this past summer at the Ottawa SuperEX.
(Note: For more information on that little adventure at the Ottawa SuperEX, please check my FanFiction story D4 Scooby-Doo! A Haunting at the Ottawa SuperEX!)
October 23, 1970
The next day, Garfield was smiling at himself as he went through the usual classes at school.
Not long after solving the mystery, Air Vice-Marshal Jennings praised him for his bravery in getting things done and clearing up the mystery and recommended him for a medal.
"All in a night's work." He thought to himself during lunch period.
Eventually, he was on his way back to his locker, where he paused at the grandfather clock at the main entrance.
The sight of the grandfather clock reminded him of his very first adventure two years ago, where he helped solve a string of thefts at school and helped unearth the secret of the last will of Bruce Stevenson in the process.
He then proceeded to take out his handkerchief out and wipe the top of the grandfather clock. It was part of his ritual every time he stopped by to look at the clock to ensure dust wasn't accumulated on it.
He then huffed at the glass cover of the clock before wiping it with his handkerchief.
"There." He remarked as the glass cover looked noticeably shinier.
He then pocketed his handkerchief before making his way to the middle stairwell.
The scene eventually shifted to the back of the grandfather clock, where the name of the clockmaker is revealed.
Garfield & Stephenson Clocks Ltd., 1895.
The adventures of Garfield Stephenson Wu continues in D4 The Final Calculus Problem!
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