Derek’s hand moved automatically to where his gun would normally be holstered. Then he remembered that he hadn’t had enough time to get a new one issued at the office. It didn’t matter anyway; it seemed to be a false alarm.
Derek propped himself up on the couch and looked over the back. Laurie and Emma were reading the morning paper with white faces while Beatrice was cleaning her gun in the plush armchair at the edge of the lounge.
Derek let himself fall back on the couch and closed his eyes. Something was wrong with the world apparently; he was glad they were all on the same page now. Then Derek’s eyes snapped open; there was nothing in his world bad enough to affect Emma like that. “What is it?” he asked, as he stood up.
Laurie made frantic beckoning motions with her hand and Derek went to read over her shoulder.
When he first saw the picture his first thought was that the press had been remarkably slow about getting onto the ‘Gamble Developments’ story; the building looked exactly the same as he remembered from investigating it earlier; all fire, smoke, and rubble.
Then his eye caught the word ‘Second’ in the headline, and the words, ‘Dancer Collective’ in the caption, and he remembered that, as a semi-secret, quasi-government organization, the office had always operated under a pseudonym. Oh crap, he thought, now I’ll never get my gun reissued.
The office was destroyed. Chief, Lenard and Casper would have been inside. They had lost their base of operations, and their best support staff.
Derek rubbed his mouth. Worst of all this meant that the people behind the retained Demon knew exactly which organization was hunting them. Derek scanned the article for the time when the explosion was meant to have happened. They had picked a time when Mckingle and most of the field agents would have been inside; these people weren’t messing around.
Thinking about field agents made him think of Team Two. Tony had gone out to do a normal mission; he could easily have completed his mission and been inside the office when the Demon had broken through. Derek squeezed his hand into a fist and thought about what he would do if Tony turned out to be inside.
Laurie turned the page and Derek; who had been thinking that the situation couldn’t possibly get any worst immediately revised his opinion.
The article continued on the second page; it was topped by giant pictures of Laurie and himself. Derek wondered what he had done to warrant a two page article in his honour and found that the paper had been thoughtful enough to provide a running tally at the side of the article.
Derek read and learnt that between them, he and Laurie were wanted for:
· Destroying an abandoned Sanatorium, and kidnapping an old man in the process (See page A12 for the man’s tearful interview)
· Their possible connection with the paramilitary group that invaded Symphony.
· Destroying a helicopter, and a gremlin, and killing three men in the desert
· Stealing a blimp and flying it around in a manner calculated to cause panic.
· Kidnapping a man from the rich area of the city
· Setting fire to a manor of great historical significance
· Assaulting the guards of the aforementioned manor of great historical significance
· Public indecency during the act of assaulting the guards of the aforementioned manor of great historical significance
· Their possible connection to the destruction of a house in the slums
· Their destruction of a valuable blimp belonging to the sports stadium.
· Noise pollution late at night by setting off a obscene light show over a densely populated area
· The destruction of several city blocks by methods yet to be determined
· Finally they were wanted for questioning in relation to the two building in the financial district. (This note was accompanied by a picture of Derek standing in front of Gamble developments as it burned, with a note at the bottom; ‘the criminal always returns to the scene of the crime’)
The rest of the article seemed to be given over to psychological evaluations of Laurie and Derek. Derek read long enough to learn that he was an ‘Anarchistic, media triggered, low yield sociopath’ before he took his eyes away from the paper.
He couldn’t see any way out of the situation he was in. He didn’t know anyone high enough up the political food chain to get him out of being prosecuted for the crimes he had genuinely committed at least.
Derek blamed the mission. He looked at the door, behind which Mckingle was hiding, and thought about getting an early start on the ‘bad cop’ routine; when Laurie started talking softly.
Laurie spoke with a tone of command that Derek was certain hadn’t been there before. She gave orders out to everyone, and Derek was already driving home in Team Three’s personal sedan before it occurred to him to question them.