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:
Walter ran along the fence and dropped down beside Jugger. The elephant was standing on one of the main zoo paths, stripping bark from a tree with her tusks then eating it.
I didn’t know you liked that stuff.
It’s not bad, replied Jugger miserably. And there’s nothing else left.
Walter had done his best to help the group find food but it was especially difficult for the larger animals. He thought chimpanzees ate a lot but their appetites were small compared to Jugger or Bob the bear.
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.
Walter awoke to the sound of Jugger’s roar. He swung down from the branch he’d been sleeping on and dropped to the ground. Even though he could now sleep anywhere in the zoo, he liked his old home in the ape house, especially the outside section. Looking at the sky, he reckoned the sun hadn’t been up long. He expected Jugger wanted him to do something; she usually did.
Professor Malcolm Biederman had been monitoring the news all week. First the reporters talked about the avian flu: how San Lazaro had been unusually badly affected; how various vaccines were failing to contain the spread. Then it was all about how the airports were shutting down and the military was taking control of the city.
A lot can change in a month. San Lazaro was a modern, attractive city, popular for its West Coast location and diverse population. But the winter of 2050 was unusually mild; a perfect breeding ground for the latest bout of avian flu. Parts of Asia and Europe had already been struck and now the virus had reached the United States. When the first cases emerged, the media termed the event Day 0. The virus mutated rapidly. Even the elite team of scientists sent to deal with the outbreak were helpless, unable to make any progress in finding a cure.