New York never changed. The large bulletproof window of the 99th Precinct building looked out over the same towering skyscrapers and packed hover lanes that Brogan remembered so vividly.
A lot had happened in the five years since he’d last taken in the view. Come to that, a lot had happened in the past five weeks.
It had taken Slomo a solid week to decrypt the file that Brogan had received. The little RSA unit nearly had a meltdown in the process. The decrypted file contained an urgent message from Brogan and Haldane’s former commanding officer, Captain Ulysses Donovan.
As was his style, Donovan wasted little time on pleasantries. The message stated that he desperately needed Brogan and Haldane’s help and that they should make the journey from Altor to Earth as soon as possible.
Naturally, Captain Podly was more than a little bemused when the pair told him about the summons. But after responses to their inquiries through official channels were met with stony silence and no further information was forthcoming, Podly reluctantly agreed to give Brogan and Haldane an official leave of absence to pursue the matter.
One long interplanetary star-liner journey later and the pair were back on their home world.
Getting an audience with Donovan had been a job in itself. They had been ordered to report to the Captain with vital information about an ongoing snack-trafficking investigation. But when they were finally given clearance to meet Donovan in his hundredth-floor office, it became clear the investigation spiel was nothing more than a ruse.
“Thanks for coming.” Donovan’s voice was gruffer than Brogan remembered. The man looked tired, or at least more tired than either of the others recalled seeing him before.
“Nice to be back, Sir.” Brogan said. “Though I have to say your message was a little out of the blue. What exactly is going on here? You wouldn’t bring us all the way back because of a snack-trafficking investigation.”
Donovan nodded sombrely as he replied, “You’re dead right I wouldn’t.”
“Good!” Haldane said with a grin, “Because I already ate.”
Brogan shot him a look and Haldane gestured as if to say “What?”
Donovan took a deep breath, “Fellas… There’s something going on in this city and I don’t like it. You two are the only ones I can trust to get to the bottom of it.”
Brogan cleared his throat, trying to disguise the scepticism in his voice, “That’s not exactly an answer, Captain. Can you be a little more, uh, specific?”
“Yeah, I know we’re good, but even we might need a little more to go on.” Haldane added with a chuckle.
Donovan chose to ignore Haldane’s remark. “The criminal element in this city is growing more rapidly than we can check it. Every operation we mount against high-profile targets either fails completely, or they get away and leave a low-level nobody to take the fall.” Donovan leaned forward in his chair, resting his elbows on the transparent top of his desk.
“I could write off one or two incidents as a coincidence. Heck, I could write off several of them as a string of bad luck.” He sighed heavily. “Gentlemen, we’ve had no less than twenty such failures in as many weeks. That’s not coincidence. It’s not bad luck either.”
Haldane’s tone lost its mirth, “So either your targets have suddenly become clairvoyant or…”
“You’ve got a mole.” Brogan finished.
Donovan nodded, his voice edged with frustration and fatigue, “That’s what it amounts to in my book. And given the scope of the operations we’ve mounted, I’d bet my last credit there’s more than one of ’em.”
Brogan met Donovan’s eyes. “That’s why you can’t trust anyone here. That’s why you sent for us.”
“Do you have any leads? Anything at all for us to go on?” Haldane asked eagerly.
“The last operation was particularly sloppy. File 14041929, a recovered cache of stolen arms went missing in transit. It’s as good a place to start as any. You know, having you two back here and on the job is already making me feel better. I guess it’s—”
Donovan never finished the sentence. The armoured glass of the window behind him disintegrated in an instant as the projectile smashed through it and slammed into his back.
Alarms blared out shrilly and an emergency shield of solid steel dropped down in front of the shattered window.
Brogan and Haldane leapt to their feet from their instinctive crouched positions. They were beside the Captain’s crumpled body in less than a second.
Haldane felt Donovan’s wrist as his partner tried to stop the deep red patch spreading across the back of the Captain’s uniform shirt.
“I’ve got a weak pulse, Brogan!”
“I’ve gotta stop this bleeding! Come on, Captain! Stay with me!”
“I’ll get an emergency med kit!” Haldane yelled and tore out of the office.
Donovan’s mouth twitched as he barely managed to utter, “Bro-gan…”
The Captain’s body went limp in Brogan’s arms.
In the midst of the chaos around him, Brogan was certain of one thing; He was going to find the person responsible and make sure that justice was served.
TO BE CONTINUED…