Thursday, 22 March 2007

Chapter 29: Surveying The Wreckage

The ambulances were quick to arrive but the paramedics had very little work to do. One member of the tactical aid unit had survived but he was unconscious and bleeding heavily and was rushed off to hospital leaving me to review the remnants of the carnage.

Expelled bullets and shells littered the broken asphalt of the road. The dead bodies were being peeled out of long pools of sticky blood and zipped into body bags. More police were arriving and attempting to divert the heavy traffic in any direction other than towards the wreckage but the rubber-neckers just couldn’t help themselves and every few seconds I heard the crunch of another fender bender.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I saw a swarm of vehicles heading my way that detectives dread the most.

The television crews are here.

The broadcast dishes on the top of their vans wobbled and threatened to fall off as they drew to a halt. The doors all flew open at once and I was faced with a herd of reporters running towards me, brandishing microphones and cameras like a medieval charge towards the enemy. I hate to stereotype people but sometimes when a group of individuals fulfil the same criteria, it’s difficult not to.

Bloody reporters. They’re all the same.

I recognised several faces. I’m sure they were almost as reluctant to talk to me as I was to deal with them but I was the senior officer on site. Some of my colleagues are best friends with the media and others even make a few pennies on the side by tipping them off but I can’t be bothered with them. Unless I decide to use the media to help an investigation, they just get in the way and can even ruin an open and shut case with the wrong type of editorial.

I counted five microphones being thrust into my face and almost in perfect unison I heard a male and female combination of ‘What happened here, Detective? How many are dead?’

‘No comment.’

‘Come on, Detective. You must know who did this? Witnesses said it was a targeted attack on the police by a military outfit.’

‘Was it a terrorist attack?’

‘No comment.’

‘Were you hurt in the attack, detective?’

‘Did you fire your weapon?’

‘No comment.’

‘But detective...’

‘Look,’ I protested, ‘you’ll just have to wait for the official statement.’ At that moment, my mobile phone rang and I did my best to take the call out of range of the microphones.

‘Ryder, what the hell is going on? Why am I watching you on TV?’ shouted Captain Nash.

‘You won’t believe this, Captain,’ I said.

‘I’ve got an entire tactical aid unit dead or unconscious. You’re the only one there who made it through so tell me what happened.’

‘I’m still piecing it together, sir. Our investigation led us to a property belonging to one of the scientists from Mantek. I witnessed a military squad capture the scientist and escape with him in a helicopter. In the process of trying to stop the kidnap, there was a gunfight and the tactical aid unit was neutralised.’

‘So who the hell are these people, detective?’

‘I don’t know yet sir but we still have leads. I’m going back to the property now to pick up Agent Simpson. Something’s happening in the city today and we need to move fast.’

‘You’re damn right, detective. Call me as soon as you have any news.’

‘Yes sir, but I’m worried we’re going to need more tactical aid before the end of the day.’

‘Do your best, detective. You’re my best man but try to keep the dead bodies out of the news next time. Right now I’m looking at body bags on TV. It’s going to be all over prime time.’

With that, he was gone. As usual, he was more bothered about looking bad on the news than getting the job done. My phone rang again as soon as I had hung up on Captain Nash.

‘Hi, Tom. It’s Jane. Backup has just arrived and I got your number from Dispatch. Are you okay?’

‘A few bruises but I’ll live. We’re into something bigger than I’ve ever seen here, Agent Simpson.’

I walked over to the empty van that was lying on its side and looked inside. It was splattered with blood and the metalwork was riddled with bullet holes. On first sight, I could see no equipment left behind other than rifles or any other clues that might help the investigation.

‘We still don’t know who these guys are,’ I continued, ‘and they’re killing cops for fun.’

‘We have to find the scientists,’ she said, very assertively, ‘the police officer’s body has just been picked up and it’s being taken to the hospital. We should check it out.’

‘You’re right. I’ll come and pick you up.’

‘No, don’t worry. I’m going to ride in the ambulance. I’ll meet you at the hospital.’

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