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:
Lady Rose led ‘Little’ Jenny into one of the gym’s practice rooms. They hadn’t sparred like this for months but she could tell the bodyguard was unsettled by the recent promotion of Gudu, Rose’s chief enforcer. Now was the time to spend some time together; boost her confidence and perhaps improve her fighting skills. Rose had Jenny, Gudu and others to protect her but she was also a capable martial artist herself. She felt that someone of her diminutive size had to compensate with superior skill. The bodyguard was very strong and powerful but she needed to work on her agility.
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
It was a shock but not a surprise.
Nikki had observed an increasing number of helicopters in the skies above San Lazaro since the crisis had started. Every day there were more of them: police and army choppers, hired transports, private birds. She reckoned it was only a matter of time before a collision occurred. When it did, it happened only a block away.
‘Any more planes this morning?’ asked Aunt Grace as she entered the kitchen.
Jenny was sitting at the window, an untouched mug of coffee in front of her. The ninth-floor apartment gave them a good view over San Lazaro and she had counted at least thirty different military aircraft during the previous day.
‘Not today. Quiet.’
Rose sat beside the accountant, watching as the man’s eyes scanned the rows of numbers on the screen. The secret rooms below Chen Office Supplies were large and luxurious but they had never quite managed to rid the underground chambers of a dank smell. Rose didn’t enjoy spending time here but it was a highly secure location. She felt like asking the accountant if he was close to finishing but she’d already done so twice and there was no sense hurrying the man. This had to be done right.
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.