The woman rested her forehead against the cold floor. “I understand.” She sobbed.
“Thank you.” Penny breathed. “Please remain here until further notice. If you need to contact me, here is my frequency.” Penny then got up off the poor woman and continued down the corridor. “Wu I’ve got another one tied up in the corridors, help her to her feet and meet me in the bridge with everyone.”
At the bridge Penny dashed around the doorway with her baton out and her pistol up.
Up on the raised section of the bridge, a short distance away from the main window, the man Penny had seen earlier in the Hawaiian shirt held up a white flag made from a napkin and a satay skewer and gave it a timid wave.
“Je me rends.” He said.
“Cute.” Penny said. She moved up the stairs to him, turning her back away from the only entrance into the room. “How many members of your crew are there?”
“Just the seven of us.” He said, eyeing her pistol nervously.
“Name them.” Penny said.
“Uhhh, Me, my wife, Bristol (that’s the big guy not my wife), Hae Lee the mechanic, Brook the scary lady with the blue hair, Doc Bradley and Mac, the boss.” As he went through the list his right leg kept shaking. Penny noticed because his knee kept bumping the control console and caused the beer in the pint glass on its surface to shake.
Penny did the numbers in her head. “Then you’re the last one.”
His face fell. “Oh no.” He croaked.
Penny sighed. “We took the black woman and the mechanic alive. Kneel down with your hands behind your head and I can make sure we do the same for you.”
The pilot gasped for breath. “Oh thank god she’s still alive. Let me, let me just.”
He clumsily got out of his chair and knelt down, facing away from her with his hands up.
Wu appeared in the door way, proceeded by Elena and Hae Lee with their hands behind their backs. “Got ’em.” Wu said. “What’s the plan now?”
While Wu had the two ladies covered by pistol Penny felt comfortable enough to put Mac’s gun on the magnetic holster on her other thigh and cable tie the pilot’s hands behind his back.
“Alright.” Penny said. “We’ve got some questions for you. Question number one is: Where’s Jie?”
The pilot opened his mouth first. “He’s not…”
“Don’t you dare say another word Wat See Ong.” Elena yelled at him.
Wat looked pleadingly at his wife. “C’mon honey, we’re done for here. All we can do now is save ourselves.”
Elena went to move towards him but Wu put a hand on her shoulder to keep her there. “I mean it Wat, not another word. We have the right to silence and we’re gonna use it. Understand?”
Wu looked up at Penny. “I can put her out again if it makes this easier?”
“Took the words from my mouth.” Penny said.
“No don’t hurt her, I’ll tell you everything!” Wat yelled.
“Damn it Wat. You keep your mouth shut for once. You hear me? Not a word.”
Wu poked Elena in the neck from both sides. She went limp again.
“Don’t worry.” Penny said. “It doesn’t hurt when he does that. So where’s Jie?”
Wat licked his lips. “Uhhh.”
Penny recalled her helmet to its place at her back. “Look.” She said. “It’s obvious you’re not a fighter, neither is Hae Lee down there. I don’t think either of you ever wanted to hurt anybody.”
Wat enthusiastically shook his head.
“But a young man’s life is hanging in the balance and I…”
“Tell her.” Hae Lee cried out.
Wat slumped against his chair. “Aw hell. I never wanted any of this. It was fun when we were ripping off salvage from derelicts, but this job? I’m not proud of any of it, but the woman I love can’t say no to her old C.O. and that guy’s a monster.” Wat sighed. “Jie’s not here.”
“Well then where is he?”
“He’s at the mine.” Wat said, defeated.
Penny cocked her head to one side. “The kerium mine?”
“Yeah.” Wat said. “Mr Lin’s secret mine.”
“MR LIN?” Wu yelled.
Wat just kept talking. “We never had the kid, it was all just a trap we set for you and the Sheriff. When you didn’t leave after arresting Wu. Lin thought you were sniffing around for the mine. So he wanted you both out of the picture.”
Wu’s mouth hung open. “It can’t be?”
Penny eyed Wu suspiciously. “Why not?”
Wu composed himself. “Lin’s one of us. The Black Mask Society do not condone eco-terrorism. We just don’t do it.”
Penny shrugged at him. “Looks like Lin thought the profits were worth the risk.”
“Well he’s wrong.” Wu growled. “No profit is worth destroying the livelihood of every farmer in Occidan. The Black Mask Society stands up for the little guy, we don’t rip the bread from his hands to make an easy credit.”
Penny held up a hand to stop him. “Alright, stop grandstanding at me.”
“I’m serious Ranger.” Wu looked her dead in the eye. “Take me to Lin’s secret mine, let me end him and wipe the stain from the Society’s honour and I promise you: I will let you take me into custody without a fight. I won’t try to run away again and I won’t try to contact Sifu. I will give myself up to you.”
Beside him, Wu didn’t see it, but Hae Lee looked awestruck up at him.
Penny turned back to Wat. “Let’s get a channel to the constabulary open. Let them know where they can find their illegal mine.”
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