Previous Story: 44. What Do Animals Eat? Part 2
Buck was on afternoon patrol with Lance when the message came in from Flash. He was actually quite glad of the interruption. Lance was a nice enough guy but he did talk a lot about how the Regal Canadian Cavalry was the best police force in the world. Buck was less pleased when Flash explained the reason for his message:
‘I’ve had TMI up checking the area – looking for any criminal activity as you asked.’
TMI was Flash’s surveillance drone, a very valuable piece of equipment.
‘I’m following a group of four staking out the First National Bank. They’re in pairs, checking the area. We’ve seen several of them before. Looks like the Red Dragons.’
Buck didn’t like the sound of that. He knew that some banks had already been robbed by criminals taking advantage of the crisis. He wasn’t about to let that happen again.
‘How long have they been there?’
‘Quarter of an hour.’
‘We can be there in ten. Could do with some reinforcements. Who’s on duty with you?’
‘Great, can you two meet us at the fountain in Bush Park?’
‘Already on our way. Buck. Shall I bring the TMI?’
‘Definitely. See you at the fountain.’
Buck turned to see Lance staring intently at him while holding the reins of his horse, Charger.
‘A new assignment?’
‘Yep,’ said Buck, ‘and it may get interesting.’
Rhino used a storefront window to straighten his tie. He was beginning to get bored. Several feet away, Fei fiddled with the controls of her adaptive suit.
‘If Lady Rose wants something from the bank, why can’t we just blow it open?’
Fei rolled her eyes. ‘Were you listening earlier? We don’t need to.’
Actually, Rhino had only been half-listening. He’d spent the previous night with a beautiful Korean girl and couldn’t stop thinking about her. After a long, bad run, he’d finally scored.
‘The FXM-3 has some data on it which we need.’
‘That’s the prototype DNA drive you stole from Collingwood?’
‘Yes,’ replied Fei impatiently, ‘H3x seems to think it could relate-’
‘To the CyMS. Yeah, I remember that bit.’
‘Why did you stash it at First National?’
‘Because Rose told me to!’ snapped Fei. ‘The safety deposit boxes are hard to crack. Can you tell me anywhere safer?’
‘Under your bed?’
‘You’re not half as funny as you think you are.’
Rhino sighed. He wanted to fit in a workout before dinner. ‘What’s taking so long?’
‘It’s a bank,’ said Fei. ‘Might be others in the area. Rose wants to be sure we don’t have any company. We don’t want anyone else getting their hands on the FXM-3.’
Buck was used to being impressed by Pai. He’d known her for a while but had never grasped the full range of her abilities. After they’d met up at the fountain, the four of them approached the First National Bank from the rear, hoping to catch their foes unawares. Using her wrist-mounted computer, Pai had identified a small staff entrance. There were two locks in place but she bypassed these in a minute and they were soon filing inside. Buck took the lead, with Flash right behind him. Lance had tied Charger up outside.
‘The Dragons can’t be too far away,’ replied Flash, his trusty revolver already in hand.
‘Where’s TMI?’ asked Buck.
‘Hovering above. Lost track of them when we moved but it’s in monitoring mode. I’m on it.’
They reached the central lobby, where there were four large supporting columns and a collection of long-dead pot plants. To their right were the bank counters and booths, beyond them the entrance – a large revolving door. To the left was a broad corridor that led to three vaults.
Pai was looking in that direction. ‘Look there, two of the doors are open. One’s shut.’
‘Let’s check it out,’ said Buck.
The four of them were almost there when Flash spoke.
‘Hold up, guys. TMI’s showing four approaching the entrance. Looks like the Red Dragons. Told you they wouldn’t be long.’
Rhino drew his CK 75-C pistol as he and Fei joined Little Jenny and Lady Rose on the steps of the bank. Jenny had just slotted a magazine into her Tech-9. Neither Fei or Lady Rose seemed to have a weapon, which was fine with Rhino. He had five spare magazines in his holster and belt. He enjoyed shooting.
Rose silently led the way up the steps, Jenny and Fei behind her. Rhino took a last look around and saw no threat. Once through the revolving door, they found the place quiet and empty.
‘Any cash left here?’ he asked.
‘All gone long ago,’ said Fei. ‘We’re interested in the vault. It’s this-’
‘There!’ Rose pointed at a flash of red. Rhino saw movement in the lobby beyond the counters.
‘Cover!’ yelled Rose.
Rhino and the women ran forward and ducked down.
‘I thought you guys checked the area.’
Rose ignored him. ‘Fei, you said there was another way in?’
‘That’s right. Left side.’
‘We’ll keep them occupied. Use your suit if you have to.’
Fei kept low and crept back towards the revolving door.
Buck was behind one column with Pai; Flash and Lance behind another.
‘Damn it,’ he said. ‘Must have seen us.’
‘I don’t see how,’ replied Lance.
‘You’re the one wearing red,’ snapped Pai.
‘Wonder what they’re after,’ said Flash.
The words were barely out of his mouth when a hail of gunfire erupted, bullets pinging off the solid stone columns.
Lance shifted position to get a better view. ‘Looks like only two shooters.’
Buck kept his head down as chips of stone showered his head. ‘Maybe only two shooters but a lot of bullets.’
Rhino gave an approving grin as Jenny fished more magazines out of her backpack.
‘I think I’ll take a turn,’ said Lady Rose. ‘Looks like fun.’
Rhino fired three more shots at the defenders then watched as his elegant leader raised the Tech-9 and poured fire towards the vaults, a slight smile on her delicate face.
‘What is it?’ asked Buck, noting Pai glancing to her right.
‘Thought I saw … probably nothing. Hey Buck, time to make this a two-way conversation?’
‘Couldn’t agree more.’
‘Way ahead of you,’ said Flash. He peered around the column and shattered a counter window with his first bullet. Shots from Buck and Pai persuaded the Red Dragons to cease fire and take cover.
‘This thing is very useful,’ said Lance, nodding at his staff. ‘But sometimes it would be nice to have a big gun.’
Rhino sat back against a chair, waiting for a chance to return fire. He was glad to see Jenny move Rose to a safer position behind a big, solid desk. Jenny didn’t seem all that bright but she was a good bodyguard.
‘Any idea who they are?’ he shouted.
Lady Rose shook her head. ‘No. All that matters is that they’re in our way.’
Buck looked back over his shoulder. Lance was now staring at one of the vaults.
‘What is it?’
‘Thought I heard something.’
‘They can’t get past us.’
‘I know. But maybe I should go and guard the back way in?’
‘Good call. Do it.’
Lance waited for a break in the fire then sprinted away.
Rhino loaded his last magazine. ‘Getting low. How about you, Jenny?’
‘Hope Fei doesn’t take too long. You know she’s forty-four, kinda old for this type of-’
Rhino stopped talking as he spied a shimmering shape moving towards him. Fei’s adaptive suit kept her well-hidden until she deactivated it.
‘You were saying?’
‘Er … nothing.’
Lady Rose passed the Tech-9 to Jenny. ‘Do you have it?’
Fei showed her a small metal box. ‘Good to go.’
Buck’s last shot destroyed most of a counter, sending shards of wood and glass flying. He was forced to retreat when more automatic fire came his way. He looked back ten seconds later to see the four Red Dragons had retreated to the revolving door. In seconds they were back out on the street. As the three defenders stepped out from behind the columns, Lance returned.
‘All clear. I think.’
‘You think?’ said Buck.
‘Just a feeling,’ said Lance. ‘Charger seemed edgy.’
‘Probably the gunfire.’
‘More like someone had been there.’
‘They’re gone,’ said Flash confidently. ‘Guess we gave them second thoughts.’
He and Pai did a high-five. ‘One-zero to us.’
Buck couldn’t avoid the feeling that the Red Dragons had given up rather swiftly.
‘Flash, can the TMI follow them?’
‘Sorry, almost out of juice. I’d like to know what they were after.’
‘At least we stopped them getting it,’ added Lance.
‘Good result, eh, Buck?’ said Pai.
‘Yeah. I guess.’
Next Story: 45. The Hacking Contest