“Ladies and Gentleman. While Davis and Mohammad are organising for Lamar’s funeral the three of us are going to organise the search patterns for the weekend.”
Penny and Wu both nodded.
Sheriff Rose continued. “It’s not exciting work but as you two are leaving tomorrow I need to make what little use of you I can. We’re going to start with the area immediately around the mountains, the majority of the operations we’ve discovered established themselves in the gorge. After that I need you to take a look at our shift rosters and assign each team a search area that fits within their available time. My people are eager to help, they’ve all volunteered for extra hours to search, but try not to push them too hard as they have to be in good shape mentally when they’re on their regular shifts.”
Sheriff Rose paused for a moment, like a thought had just occurred to her. “Oh of all the lousy… One moment people, Mr Lin’s hollering for me at the front desk.”
“Well let’s see what he wants.” Penny said as she stood up. “C’mon Wu.”
Out in the reception a distraught Mr. Lin was yelling at the robot receptionist, he held a battered tablet in one hand. “I don’t have time to argue with you. Get the Sheriff out here right now.”
Sheriff Rose walked out with a hand up to calm him. “All right Mr. Lin, here I am. What seems to be the problem?”
Lin moved from red-faced with anger to fraught with worry in the blink of an eye. “Oh thank the gods Sheriff. It’s my son, they’ve taken my son hostage.”
Penny instantly appeared at the Sheriff’s shoulder. “Who has?”
“The bandits.” He cried. “They left me this.” He showed them the tablet. As soon as the Sheriff swiped the screen a video began to play.
It showed Jie tied to a chair surrounded by gun barrels all pointing at him. The camera panned a little to the side and Mad Mac McCarty’s face appeared in the right half of the screen.
“Hello Mister Lin.” Mad Mac grinned. “Don’t you just got yourself a good, strong, healthy boy there. Be a shame if anything were to happen to him. My associates and I can protect him for you, even give him back after a while. But in order for us to do that we’re going to need some things from you. A good 20 million somethings if you catch my drift. If you want the boy back be at the following coordinates at 13:00 this Sunday.”
The camera went to pan back towards Jie, but was suddenly ripped back to Mac’s face. “Oh and I shouldn’t need to mention that you’d best not share this little message with the Sheriff or any other authorities you might know to approach. Those coordinates are for a wide open plain so if I see company as I fly over I might just send your son down to you extra-quick-like. Scan me? You have yourself some time to think about it, but one way or another I’m putting your son on those exact coordinates. Bye bye now.”
And with that the screen went blank, leaving only the listed coordinates on the display.
Sheriff Rose looked up from the screen, the colour in her face had faded. “Mr Lin, do you even have 20 million credits in liquid assets?”
“No.” He said. “I’m putting one of my farms on the market and arranging a loan as we speak.”
Wu scratched his chin. “Sunday doesn’t give us a lot of time.”
Penny shot Wu a worried look. But she stopped herself from saying anything in front of Mr. Lin.
“There’s one more thing.” Mr Lin said. Taking his own tablet out of his briefcase. “After the incident at the noodle house I feared for Jie’s safety and hid a tracking device on him.”
Mr Lin pulled up the GPS display of Ernutet, showing exactly where Jie was on the surface.
Sheriff Rose put her hand on Mr Lin’s arm. “Mr. Lin are you sure about this? With this information we could confront them, but the risk to your son’s life is enormous.”
Mr Lin pulled his arms close around his waist. “I know. I know. But if I don’t come to you and try to bring these men to justice, next week it could be one of my neighbour’s children. I’m terrified of never seeing my son again, but I can’t bear the thought of this happening to anyone else.”
Sheriff Rose looked him in the eye. “Thank you Mr Lin, this’ll be a big help. And don’t worry, we will do everything we can to get your son back.”
Mr Lin rubbed his eyes and shook the Sheriff’s hand. “Thank you Sheriff. Just bring my boy back to me.”
When Mr Lin had gone Penny turned to Sheriff Rose. Her heart jumped into her throat.
“Sheriff.” She began. “I’m so sorry. But I have to leave this in your hands.”
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