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:
The Hungry Donuts store was on fire. The flames seemed to be emanating from the kitchen and some kind of blast had blown out the windows. Lucky happened to be passing by and he realized this was a chance to grab some complex carbs for his ever-hungry group of friends. Armed as ever with his recurve bow, he approached carefully, worried that the noise might draw CyMS or other dangers.
‘That’s close enough,’ said one of the guards when they were within ten feet. The trio stopped and Gadget spoke up.
‘We’re here to trade. We need some trans-lithium Mark Five power cells by Excelsior Power.’
‘Haven’t seen you three around here before.’
‘We live some distance away but we heard about the store. We’re unarmed.’
Rose Lin – aka ‘Lady Rose’ – thought her crew had done a decent job of transforming a SUPER BUYS storeroom into an office. She took care not to spend too much time in one location and it was always useful to have another secure meeting place. As well as a large mahogany desk and numerous chairs, the office was furnished with a state-of-the-art computer and a few potted plants (all fake). The other essential she had insisted on was a small but well-equipped bar. Lady Rose only drank Taiwanese whiskey. She poured herself a good measure, added some ice, then sat behind the desk. It was to be a busy night and she wondered which of her subordinates would arrive first.
Fei had to search three cabinets before she found it. With the metal drawer open, the narrow beam of the flashlight illuminated a black, rectangular object that looked very much like a DNA drive. But Fei had memorised the images Lady Rose had sent and she knew what this was. By lifting the object and clicking a button hidden within a cavity, she activated the prototype
Looking forward to the weekend, son. Love you, Mom.
Jeff ‘Rhino’ Xu wondered how many times he had read the text message. A hundred? Two hundred? Probably more. He felt embarrassed; ashamed. He was a senior figure in the Red Dragon gang, respected and feared by the criminal fraternity of San Lazaro; and yet here he was, sitting alone, reading the last message he’d received from his parents.
There hadn’t been much time to pack. Flash’s neighborhood had been evacuated by the army two weeks into the crisis and all he had with him was what he’d been able to throw into his car. He’d remembered most of the important stuff: his expensive collection of suits, his 1985 Thorens turntable, his jazz collection and his revolver. He’d also risked a drive down to Republic Square to liberate his drone, which he knew might prove crucial. Fortunately, the skeleton crew on duty had allowed him access to the tech stores. But in his haste, Flash had forgotten to take any spare batteries.