Friday, 16 March 2007

Chapter 26: Catching Up

The vans had a head start but I was confident of catching up with them. I had no idea how I was going to apprehend half a dozen armed and well-trained soldiers, if that’s indeed what they were. I jumped in the car and hit the accelerator, turning the corners I think they may have taken.

I picked up the radio. ‘This is Detective Ryder calling Dispatch.’

‘This is Dispatch. Go ahead.’

‘I need to find two black Chrysler vans that left Castle Crescent two minutes ago heading East, carrying an abducted man who holds information vital to the bombing of the Mantek building last night. Get the chopper on the case.’

‘I’m afraid that’s not possible, Detective. The helicopter is currently tracking a runaway vehicle on the Expressway.’

‘Jesus Christ, do you mean we’ve only got one chopper?’

‘That’s affirmative, Detective.’

‘Well make sure all local units keep their eyes peeled.’

‘Understood, Detective.’ The radio clicked off and back on again. ‘All units in the vicinity of Castle Crescent and the Parkway stay alert. We are looking for two black Chrysler vans heading east. Repeat…’

‘Don’t bother repeating,’ came another voice from the radio, ‘this is unit one-five-two. Two black Chrysler vans have just gone past me on the Parkway. I’m now following them. Please advise.’

‘Do not pull them over,’ I said into the radio, ‘they are heavily armed. Continue to follow and I’ll find you. Dispatch, come in.’

‘This is Dispatch. Go ahead.’

‘I need you to send a tactical aid unit to intercept the vans on the Parkway.’

‘Understood. ETA five minutes.’

I made it onto the Parkway, one of the many long roads leading from the city centre to the suburbs. I stuck the siren on the roof and ran all the lights, narrowly missing a few of the less observant commuters. Then I saw the vans in the distance, about half a mile down the road, closely followed by a patrol car.

‘Unit one-five-two, I’m right behind you.’ I said.

‘What’s the move, Detective?’

‘Keep on their tail. A tactical aid unit should be here any minute.’

I dropped a gear and floored the accelerator. Dodging in and out of the commuters, I quickly caught up with the patrol car and pulled in behind the vans.

‘Detective Ryder is it?’ came another voice from the radio.

‘This is Detective Ryder.’

‘Stop following us. Call off the tactical aid unit.’

Damn it. They’ve been listening to us the whole time, probably all day
. That’s why they turned up at the Doctor’s house just after we did.

‘Who are you? What do you want with the doctor?’

‘That is none of your business.’

‘You killed a friend of mine back there so I’m making it my business.’

‘Trust me, Detective, he’s better off dead.’

‘Do you have Doctor Owen in your custody?’

‘Yes we do,’ he replied, ‘but he’s much safer with us than he could ever be with you. Back off now and no one else will get hurt.’

I kept on the tail of the vans and moved my car closer.

The back doors of the rear van opened to reveal a man in a black military suit with a radio in his left hand and a machine gun in his right, looking directly at me. Two more men in black suits were sitting behind him but I couldn’t see Doctor Owen in there.

‘Maybe I didn’t make myself clear,’ he said into his radio, ‘back off or I’ll make you back off.’

‘You won’t shoot me. It’s broad daylight and you’re heading into the city at rush hour. Where will you go?’

‘Again, that’s none of your business,’ he said, then threw the radio to another one of the black-suited men sitting in the van. He grabbed his machine gun with both hands and fired at unit one-five-two.

Bullets cut through the bodywork until one went through a front tyre and the car went into a spin, coming to a stop after slamming into a lamppost at the side of the road. As far as I could see, the driver of the patrol car was unhurt. If he’d wanted to, I’m sure the shooter could have taken us both out with just two shots.

He turned his gun towards me but didn’t fire. Instead, he put it down and started to zip up his Kevlar vest, as did the other men in the van. One of them closed the van doors. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the reason: the tactical aid van was right behind me.

‘Welcome to the party,’ I said into my radio.

‘This is Officer Stewart of the tactical aid unit. Get behind us. We’ll take it from here.’

‘Okay. Be advised that the van in front contains an innocent witness.’

‘We’ll do our best,’ was the reply. His response wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring but these guys were the best chance of stopping the vans and rescuing the doctor. I knew their primary target was not to save life though; it was to stop the immediate threat to the public. At any cost.

I slowed down to let them past and followed them, expecting them to make their move and run the vans off the road but they stayed in pursuit without taking any action.

I looked around for a clue to why they were stalling but couldn’t see a thing.

Why aren’t they doing anything?

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