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Vancouver, British Colombia—July 6, 2398


Special Inspector Michael Pedroni peered up from writing his report to find Chief Inspector Aoki briskly walking towards his desk. The CI looked irritated, which meant something crawled up his aft orifice and laid eggs. And now he was about to hatch them all over Pedroni.

CI Aoki dropped a memory sphere and a flimsy report folder on Pedroni’s desk. “The El Sayed case. It’s yours with an upgrade.”

Pedroni narrowed his eyes. “The kidnapping case? I thought that was Boucher’s.”

“Well the ever-efficient Boucher decided he’d rather have a burst appendix.” Aoki fussed with his tie, a favored habit when something bothered him. “Bulletin on the case. It’s no longer a kidnapping.”

Pedroni’s stomach clenched, hoping it wasn’t the worst and the boy wasn’t dead, making it a murder case. These high profile kidnappings never ended well. El Sayed was a wealthy woman from Cairo, and from what he heard of the case, ICSP had her stalling in paying up the ransom so they could establish the boy’s location.

“The El Sayed boy’s been retrieved. Found him in Austria—the mother’s about to raise hell. Some vigilante-styled ninja woman got the boy, shot up the place he was held and dropped him off at the mother’s front door.”

“The boy’s unharmed?” Pedroni reached for the file, about to open it.

“Yes, yes,” Aoki flapped a hand impatiently. “Boy’s fine—had the time of his life and won’t shut up about his adventure. The mother’s ranting and raving about the ICSP dragging their ass about and—” he ground his teeth together. “Look. El Sayed is saying we’re a bunch of idiots who couldn’t find our own asses. Some ninja woman tracked the boy, retrieved him, brought him home safe. You tell me who’s looking better in this case. El Sayed just made a press release and we just looked like the class fools.”

“She hire this vigilante?”

“El Sayed claims not. But you never can tell with these mega-billionaires. HQ thinks she’s telling the truth and Boucher’s tap on the comms can back it up. She’s clean. Your case is the vigilante. Now get your ass to Austria and find this ninja lady. Asap!”

“What about the murder-suicide I’m on?”

“Give it to Boucher. They’re dead, aren’t they? They’re not going anywhere. I’m sure they’ll keep until Boucher’s recovered.”

A grimace formed on Pedroni’s face. He liked to finish his cases. The murder-suicide, while straightforward and nearly closed, still needed reports filed and evidence logged and all those other, exciting, admin stuff that officially closed a case. He supposed Boucher could handle it; the man was a stickler for detail, especially with celebrity cases, which was why he’d ended up with the El Sayed case.

“I’ve arranged for transport to leave in an hour. Get to the sky terminal–you’re on an orbiter. Everything we got so far is in that file.” Aoki turned to leave but glowered at Pedroni. “Which isn’t much. Get this vigilante, Pedroni. Use that ace detective brain of yours and track this bitch.”

Austria, is it? I’ve never been. Pedroni blew out a breath as he stood and gathered up his things. “Yes, sir.”

Leaving the oppressive violent crimes unit in New York had been the best decision he’d made in his life. He’d had enough of senseless murders and violence. Aside from the occasional dead body or serial murder, now he had fraud cases, international crimes, kidnapping, and, he glanced at the open folder with a raised brow, sexy vigilantes.