The IT Files: Miranda's Resolve

by Zero

These are all tales of hijinks that Tucker has with his magical gizmo, which take place in what will be known from now on as the 'Tuckerverse'. This series chronicles the adventures of the International Temporal Enforcement Agency, also known as IT or ITEA. You may want to read more of Tucker's tales from the beginning, or catch up on the latest chapter before continuing; the lead characters are introduced in the first story. The most recent IT Files tale is here. There is also a chronological index to the series. [Ed.]

Joint Task Force HQ, Hong Kong, China

               Before joining Interpol, Raymond Bishop had briefly worked for the UK's MI5 and had been assigned to do a rare task overseas in Hong Kong when it was still under control of the British. Ray had even been in Hong Kong during the last day it was under the UK's control, and had fond memories back then, even meeting a lovely woman he'd spent some time with. Now years later, Raymond hated the fact that he was back once again and currently powerless.

               The forty-year old Brit adjusted his blue suit's red and black tie as he stood before one of the largest groups of agents he'd seen in assigned to a single case: Five agents were from Interpol, who'd been covering the case since it was first reported, and another four from the International Temporal Enforcement Agency, who'd only come on two weeks ago but was now technically in charge. In spite of being Interpol, rather than ITEA, Raymond was nonetheless the most experienced agent in the group, being the London section chief and IT's personal liaison within the international police force.

               "The total is now at an even twenty, and that's only the ones we know about," began Raymond, his voice carrying a bit of a frustrated edge. "Twenty women who within the last month, possibly longer, have been abducted as the investigation and our surveillance area gets bigger and bigger every day. Our only saving grace is we've managed to stop two other human smuggling ships from leaving port, but they seemingly have no connection to this case. This is why Interpol asked me to come in: I need to know what you know, what your leads are, and why haven't we caught the god-damn kidnappers yet?"

               A collection of sighs came from around the table, and Raymond couldn't blame them: as he'd pointed out, twenty kidnappings or more in the recent months, all apparently connected to human trafficking but no clear suspect. Hui Lan, the Chinese leader of IT's Team Gamma, spoke up first. "The fact of the matter is these kidnappers are extremely unpredictable," explained Hui. "Interpol only got wind of the abductions after Hong Kong police realized the kidnappings seemed to be the same style as human trafficking that weÕve seen in the past. IT only got involved when it was suspected the reason why some witnesses couldn't remember much of anything was due to Type-7 sedative use."

               "A big problem has been the suspect's vehicle, as well as the location of the abductions," continued Rurik Chekhol, leader of the nearly all-Russian Interpol team. "Other than the fact that the vehicle was black and was some sort of van, we know nothing. Thanks to the witnesses being extremely unobservant, most likely due to the suggested involvement of Type-7, no one has been able to offered a license plate or even a model. Sketch artists suggest it might be an older Beijing Automotive model, but that's about it. Out of the twenty women on our list, only four of the abductions had any witnesses at all, and none of them saw the kidnappers. Besides all that, there's the simple fact that our grid still covers most of the south end of the city, that's it."

               "The only good news is we've established a pattern with the targets," brought up Gregory Barnes, the only American or indeed non-Russian on Rurik's team. "As one might expect, the targets are young women who are out by themselves, they tend to be walking on secluded streets, are below thirty years of age and tend to wear large coats. A goodly number of these women were also sex workers, which may be why they were targeted in the first place." Raymond nodded thoughtfully at Gregory's remarks, knowing all too well after all his years with Interpol that being a prostitute was a dangerous job in any country.

               "What about undercover operations?" Raymond asked next. "Have you tried putting someone out as bait?"

               "With so little information on what these people are up to we've been trying to avoid it," explained Hui's second-in-command, Miranda Ohala. "We can't put someone out on the street unless we can be sure they'll be targeted and if so what they'll be facing. As stated, the Type-7 element is merely suspected, but the rumours that these women were being smuggled out of the country disguised as mannequins drew us to this case."

               "I thought it was because you like making our jobs harder," muttered Interpol agent Victor Morozov, loud enough for everyone to hear. A few warning glances were shared but no one rose to the challenge that seemed to accompany the remark.

               "Well, lets not waste more time with me looking for answers, you should get back to work," decided Raymond, making a note of all the tension. "Agent Lan, please remain behind. I do have a couple of IT-related questions."

               "Of course, Chief Bishop," replied Hui, staying in her seat while everyone else rose and proceeded out of the small conference room. Interpol agent Tatiana Lebedev and IT agent Suzanna Ortiz practically given each other the evil eye as they exited together. Hui herself gave Miranda an unusual smile as the Hawaiian exited, leaving Hui and Raymond alone.

               "Okay, what the hell was that all about?" asked Raymond as soon as the doors closed.

               "Rurik's team and the ITEA have a complicated history," replied Hui, not bothering to ask why she was being interrogated rather than Victor. "Their old leader, Ivan Popov, joined up with us when we formed, but they all chose to stay with Interpol. The team all respected Ivan, but Rurik is more of a computer technician than a team leader. Quite frankly, I believe they resent us for taking their favourite commander as well as hampering their investigation with our presence."

               "A good field leader can be hard to come by," noted Raymond, nodding and sitting down next to Hui. "I know we'd never met before the first Interpol/IT meeting in London but I do know your history with the force, Agent Lan. You were one of the best shots we'd ever had with small arms, and you were good at getting anyone to follow you into a tactical situation in spite of your age and gender, which are still challenges even today. However..."

               "... Ah, so this is why you wanted to talk to me first?" realized Hui.

               "Yes, I'm afraid so," admitted Raymond, looking a bit guilty. "Your track record shows you work best with small teams, and even then you seem to be better at improvising than planning. Most of your missions in the past have had a tendency of proving the old adage that no plan survives first contact with the enemy."

               "So you're saying I work better with small groups when I get ambushed, rather than doing the ambushing?" asked Hui, a bit perplexed.

               "That's just what your history shows," offered Raymond, trying to back off his point a bit. "Honestly, Agent Lan, if it wasn't for the fact that this assignment is where it is, I would have contacted Lucienne by now to recommend that she should assign someone else to lead this case. You are a capable leader Hui, you're just a bit out of your depth here."

               "Plus, combine that with commanding a team that doesn't like me on general principles and we've got our current situation," finished Hui, understanding though not exactly thrilled. "I can see why Interpol is concerned, Ray; I just need to do this. The Hong Kong police were pretty mad when an entirely foreign team was assigned the case. The locals are a bit happier now that I'm running the show, but even they're getting antsy since so many women have been taken."

               "You're quickly running out of time, Agent Lan, so you all need to work this out and catch these people before the shit hits the fan," declared Raymond. The Interpol section chief then moved to stand, but hesitated. "Look, for what it's worth, Lucienne thinks the world of you. When the two of us had the meeting to discuss team formations back when the ITEA first formed, she insisted you be given one, though granted at the time it was just you and Agent Ohala. I do see what she sees in you."

               "I'll take that as high praise from the man who trained her," offered Hui, flashing Raymond a smile as he turned to leave the room.

* * *

               Miranda Ohala massaged her lover Hui Lan's back as she lay on the bed of their private room in the HQ, which was a large apartment space Interpol had rented for the operation. Six apartments, four were used for housing the ten agents on the case; one for all the major op-tech equipment and one spare, which was where the main discussions were held and was now where Raymond was sleeping. "So after he chewed you out, did you talk to Rurik?" asked Miranda, using the massage that Hui had taught her to soothe the Chinese woman's aches.

               "Yes, and he pretty much broke down right in front of me," sighed Hui as she let out a few moans of pleasure. "Rurik's a terrible leader and he knows it. The guy is the most experienced on that team but he's a computer specialist, and that's about it. Victor and Tatiana don't take him seriously enough, but at least Gregory and Anna are fine with him."

               "Well, Greg was promoted to second-in-command, so he can't really complain," pointed out Miranda, continuing to work a particular section of Hui's back. "Don't know why Anna's on board though. Think she's sleeping with one of them?"

               "These guys aren't like us, they don't fraternize," breathed Hui. "Ivan was a pretty classic leader after all, and he led that team for three years. To go from having a super agent to a super geek in charge is going to cause problems no matter what. I think Anna's just sweet on Rurik because they're both more like scientists than agents."

               "I guess IT does have a high amount of fraternization for a professional agency," noted Miranda. "Of course, that was what Lucienne intended. Still, we've got Lucienne and Tasia, you and me, Cassandra and JB, Marika and Dieter, Suzanna and William..."

               "And those are just the ones that are out in the open," confirmed Hui, smiling. "But back to Rurik; I think he'll be okay, he just needs to show some guts."

               "Speaking of guts, roll over," Ohala laughed Miranda, smiling even wider when her lover did as was asked. The two women, both naked, proceeded to collapse into a single heap, locked in a passionate embrace.

* * *

The Next Day

               "We have a situation," Sophia Katsopolis reported, walking into the operations room of the HQ. The IT agent was in her mid-thirties but Miranda noticed the younger Gregory Barnes eyeing Sophie's large breasts for a few seconds before looking up fully. Sophia's sultry body was one of the main reasons she was so good at espionage, as from experience Miranda knew attractive agents had an easier time looking a part because they needed to simply look less appealing as necessary rather than more.

               "What is it?" asked Hui, taking a report from Sophie's hand.

               "Zhen Tu, the wife of ambassador Bei Tu, went missing last night," revealed Sophia, her face grim. Bei Tu was the Chinese ambassador to India, who was back home for a few weeks on some sort of break. Up until now most of the victims had been prostitutes, but a few other people as well were abducted, including a school teacher, though none of them of any major social standing. Now that an ambassador's wife was among the missing, the case's priority just jumped up six notches.

               "Son of a bitch!" shouted Victor, standing up from his chair in front of a computer and shoving it aside. "We're all going to fry for this, and it's all because you people left us with a guy who can't lead a thirsty camel to water on an island!"

               "Victor, watch it," warned Anna Sokolov almost immediately.

               "Why, Rurik's not about to object, are you?" snapped Tatiana, directing her comments towards her team leader. "You just like sitting at a computer, not having to deal with people."

               "That's over the line!" shouted Suzanna, unable to restrain herself.

               "What do you care; you quit Interpol, remember?" hissed Tatiana in reply.

               "Alright, cut the crap!" yelled Hui, silencing the room with the power of her surprisingly loud voice. "Sophia, go brief Chief Bishop, he'll need to know about this. Miranda, get on the horn with the Hong Kong police department and get anything not covered in the report. Suzanna, you've dealt with ambassadors before, put in a call to Bei Tu and see if you can get any information from him."

               "Nice, what are we, scenery?" spat Victor as the three IT agents moved to get to work. "Who the hell are you to-"

               "Victor, shut the hell up or get out of this building," came Rurik's voice, the Interpol agent standing and glaring at his subordinate like he was dirt. "The Agency is the lead on this case, so Agent Lan can assign whoever she wants to whatever she wants. You speak Chinese, Agent Ortiz doesn't, so why don't you go help her?"

               "Whatever," grumbled Victor, getting up to go join Suzanna.

               "The exit is over there Victor; leave right now, since you obviously don't understand that being told to shut up means closing your damn mouth," declared Rurik, pointing towards the apartment door. "You're off this assignment until you can cool your head. Go get a nice baozi; the place down the street makes some good ones." Clearly eager to make another remark, Victor surprisingly did as he was told and left the apartment. "Would you like to join him too, Tatiana, or can you get back to this incident and use the information from the report to refine the search area?" The Russian woman stared at Rurik for a few moments before nodding and getting to work, turning back to face her computer.

               "What can we do?" asked Gregory, indicating himself and Anna.

               "We need some of our own people at the scene of the crime, and you two are ideal," explained Rurik. "I'll text you the name of the officer in charge before you arrive."

               "Here's the address," offered Hui, handing Gregory a slip of paper as he moved to leave with Anna in tow. Miranda smiled as she watched the two leave, Anna clearly moving to hold Gregory's hand as they left. It seemed she was right about there being fraternization on the team, just not with who she'd expected.

               "Rurik..." Tatiana said a moment later, stopping to turn and glance at her team leader. "Look, I'm... I'm sorry about what I–"

               "It's alright, we've all been a bit edgy lately," offered Rurik, patting the blond on the back before focusing his attention on Hui. "We've got the ball rolling on this, but unless we get really lucky, this is probably another clean getaway. I think we need to try a temptation tactic."

               "I was just thinking that," confirmed Hui. "Lets go join Sophia and Raymond; I've got an idea." With that the two leaders left the room, leaving only Miranda and Tatiana, Suzanna was off in a side room working on a call to the ambassador's house. Miranda was on hold with the Hong Kong PD.

               "I didn't know Rurik had that in him," remarked Tatiana after a few moments of silence.

               "Sometimes it takes tough situations for people to show their real mettle," commented Miranda, still on hold. "I can't tell you how often Hui and I have been put in sticky situations, but our determination always beats out our lack of confidence."

               "I wish I could say the same," sighed Tatiana, leaning back. "Victor always resented Rurik getting the command job and then not even being made second himself. Lately even his complaining started to make sense to me though. I'm just glad I was wrong to doubt him."

* * *

               A few hours after Zhen Tu was reported kidnapped Hui was back in her room with Miranda, the Team Gamma leader dressed in a white halter top, black silk shorts, and thigh-high white patent leather high-heeled boots that left nothing to the imagination; a large tan-coloured trench-coat lay on the bed. "Are you sure you want to do it this way?" asked Miranda, handing her lover a small glass of Type-7 mixed with water.

               "You know I get uncomfortable with other people doing my make-up and hair, and since we need a very specific look for this role I can't really do it myself," explained Hui, who was sitting on a stool. The Chinese woman was more or less dressed like a prostitute, her top and shorts revealing everything and her nails already done in a gaudy pink colour, tacky bracelets on both arms as well as rings that didn't match.

               "I was talking about becoming the bait," pointed out Miranda, frowning as Hui took the glass from her.  ÒYou should be leading, not taking point.Ó

               "It's okay, we know the ring works, plus Victor and Tatiana have both agreed to do surveillance, not to mention we set up a few hidden cameras in the area I'll be walking," listed off Hui, confident in the plan. It was simple enough: Hui would pose as a whore, circle a few blocks randomly with Victor and Tatiana posing as a couple who were also walking home, following a block behind. Anna and Rurik would be monitoring the cameras they'd set up back at HQ, while Gregory, Sophia, Suzanna and Miranda would all drive around the area in unmarked vehicles. Raymond, not technically being a member of the operation, would also be back at HQ; his only task to call in the Hong Kong Special Duties unit if needed.

The main reason the unit, which was essentially a Special Weapons and Tactics team, wasn't already active was they were still being equipped with the mandated ITEA weaponry for the mission. While IT was sanctioned to use Type-7 ammunition, they were also the only recognized field users until the drug could finally be ratified for commercial use. Hui, Rurik and Raymond had all agreed that they didn't want to use bullets unless they had to, instead equipping the team with electro-static rounds and Type-7 dart weapons.

               "Alright then, lets get going then," sighed Miranda, clearly distressed. Hui considered offering words of support, but since she'd be unfrozen soon she decided to save any more calming words she had for later. Nodding, Hui drank the mixture she'd been given and moments later froze in place, her face neutral and the glass held in her left hand, raised to chin level but her arm in vertical alignment. Looking at the woman she loved Miranda couldn't help but immediately give her a kiss, always finding it cute when Hui froze. If it wasn't for the time restriction Miranda would of considered going a bit further, but instead relented and removed the glass from Hui's stiffened fingers and got to work applying make-up to her waxwork-still face.

               "I swear you guys use that drug for the most mundane reasons imaginable," remarked Raymond, announcing his arrival as he entered the room and noticing HuiÕs motionless pose. The British man was smiling and had with him a ring box containing the final item needed to help with Hui's cover. For her cover, Hui already had a set of special spiked knuckles in her bag coated with Type-7; the weapons were not exactly Hui's speciality but she did know how to use them and they weren't unheard of for Hong Kong prostitutes to use. Besides the weapon, Hui had a modified cell phone whose obvious power button didn't shut it off, thus allowing for it to be traced even when disabled, assuming it wasn't smashed or dropped. In case the phone was lost, which it was assumed it might, Hui's left shoe had a back-up tracking device built into the heel which activated when a certain distance from the phone. The rule about the phone being away from the back-up tracker was due to concerns about battery life, thus the sensor was put in place to ensure the device didn't run out of power before it would lead the team to the agent's location. The last item Hui needed was revealed as Raymond opened the box: a small and simple-looking steel ring rested inside.

               "Were you briefed on these?" asked Miranda she took the open box from Raymond and put it down nearby, not wanting to put it on HuiÕs finger until the make-up job was done.

               "Sort of," acknowledged Ray with a shrug. "It works like those control chips or something: you put it on and Type-7 won't affect you. Agent Getachew, along with Directors Bran and Paddington, developed it."

               "More or less, though Marika was the main brain behind it," confirmed Miranda as she finished with HuiÕs eye-liner and moved on to the blush. "We're calling it the Immunity Ring. It's pretty much a blank chip that doesn't look like one and works overtime to get rid of any excess Type-7 in the body."

               "I can see how this will give her an edge then," smirked Raymond, impressed by the little item.

               "It isn't perfected yet though," mused Miranda, frowning as she spoke. "If we use a Freeze-Key, anyone wearing a ring will be affected, but they're working on a way to properly shield the wearer. I'm hoping it won't come to that."

               "So do I," agreed Ray as Miranda moved on to do the lipstick. There was silence for a moment, Ray just standing by and watching as Miranda applied the item to Hui's rigid lips, even parting them to make sure it was applied properly.  The Chinese agent remained a motionless, unblinking canvas.  "You've noticed, right?"

               "Noticed what?" asked Miranda as she stepped back, holding Hui's head with her right hand as she examined her work so far.

               "Barnes and Sokolov," revealed Raymond, shaking his head. "I have to admit I was surprised: I spoke with agent Lebedev about it and she had no idea. Still, it's clear those two have a... personal relationship."

               "It's like they weren't even trying," agreed Miranda with a sigh, stopping her work on Hui to face the Interpol man. "Do you have a point, or are you just trying to make distracting conversation?"

               "You and agent Lan know full well Interpol's stance on personal relationships," pointed out Raymond, moving away from the wall he'd been leaning against and circling Hui. "In spite of some tension this team is a good one, even after Popov joined your agency. Ideally I should be putting in a report to have the two split up, but..."

               "But...?" echoed Miranda, confused and feeling slightly jealous at how Raymond was looking at her partner, but she reminded herself he was probably just looking for any blatant signs that she wasn't actually a whore.

               "I'd prefer you didn't go around repeating this, but I'm a bit of a romantic," confessed Raymond, having finished circling Hui and now standing very close to Miranda. "Normally I wouldn't even stand like this when I know the other person is in a relationship, but I have this annoying habit of wanting to see how people react when I get a bit too close to them." With that Raymond stepped back and Miranda cracked a weak smile, a bit amused by the odd bit of behaviour Ray had exhibited. "Interpol probably won't let them stay together, but there is another possibility..."

               "Are you suggesting... recruitment?" asked Miranda, raising an eyebrow. She wanted to smile but Miranda wasn't entirely following Raymond's logic.

               "Well, they do have at least one friend in the ITEA," pointed out Ray, leaning back on another wall and crossing his arms. "Their experience with Type-7 has now increased since we're all but certain its a factor in this case. Combine that with the fact that they helped you tangle with the Paradise Foundation back when you were all with us, and it makes sense really."

               "That's true, but I doubt the team would want to be separated..." mused Miranda, finally deciding to remove the ring from the box. "We're a bit pressed for time right now, but I'll keep this all in mind. Maybe you can talk to them and Hui and I will talk to Lucy and we'll see what happens?"

               "I'd rather they just got the job offer, but I see your point," shrugged Raymond, watching intently as Miranda carefully slid the steel ring onto Hui's left ring finger. Ray didn't hear it, but Miranda picked up an almost mute click, indicating the needle inside the ring had deployed. Within two seconds Hui blinked, as was common after people unfroze, and glanced over at the unexpected guest.

               "Hello Chief Bishop," greeted Hui with a nod. "I'm ready to deploy."

* * *

               The night was cold but Hui's special trench-coat was keeping her fairly warm, though her exposed legs were not helping. The ITEA agent tried to pick up the pace to offset the cold, all the while being mindful of anyone she passed and any vehicles that went by. It was now just past two in the morning so the amount of people out on the streets had dwindled quite a bit, but there were was still enough activity that Hui couldn't always spot Victor and Tatiana whenever she did a tactical turn to make sure she wasn't being snuck up on.

               It seemed like hours for Hui, her legs slowly feeling like she'd dipped them in liquid nitrogen or gotten injected with citric Type-7, but it was only an hour before at last she caught sight of a woman in a wool cap, which she recalled her Canadian friend Colette called a toque, and a fur-lined coat, the woman having popped up at least four times as she'd done her walk, always in front of her and looking right at her. This time the woman watching Hui had a cell phone out and appeared to be sending a text.

               Moments later, as Hui turned to go up a street that had no one else in sight, that an everyday Bejing Automotive van in jet black pulled up beside her, the side door opening and a woman who wore a toque but clearly wasn't Chinese came out, a rag in her hand. Chloroform! realized Hui as she reacted, stepping back and reaching into her purse, but the woman was quick on her feet and got a leg behind the IT agent's, tripping her. The foreign woman was on top of Hui instantly, clearly having skills of her own, and Hui discarded her purse in favour of just trying to choke the woman with a blow to the throat followed by a grasp. The technique might of worked had the attacker moved both of her hands to her hit neck, but instead she swept forward with the one holding the rag and Hui promptly struggled in vain to stop the anaesthetic-soaked rag from rendering her unconscious. As HuiÕs thoughts faded out she had to remind herself that being caught had always been a possibility and she would most likely be found before long, thanks to her tracking devices.

* * *

               "Just once I'd of liked it if the food Tatiana picked up wasn't Chinese," grumbled Anna as Rurik merely smiled and shook his head, watching the monitors while the pair ate. The team leader was trying to avoid bringing up the elephant in the room, namely that Raymond and a few others had picked up on her supposedly secret relationship with Gregory, but he worried it would make them fail to notice any changes occurring on the monitors and he didn't want more distractions than the bland food they already had.

               "This district isn't known for its variety," pointed out Rurik in between bites of steamed bun. "I think the closest place you can get a hamburger is twenty minutes away, and we're not driving that far for food."

               "Forget burgers, I'd just kill for some syrniki!" exclaimed Anna, causing Rurik to laugh a bit as the team, in spite of most being Russian, tended to hate Eastern-European food, preferring Italian and American cuisine.

               "Hang on, that woman is back," Rurik then noticed, watching the monitors and spotting the woman in the fur coat he'd seen a few times already. "She's sending a text. Watch for activity, we might need to radio the cars."

               "Right, I– there, a black van, coming in from the west!" Anna suddenly observed. "I can't see inside and I swear they've got something on the license plate to make it blurry!"

               "Autos, this is the Garage, we have a possible hit on Humanity Road by the Japanese sushi bar!" shouted Rurik into the radio microphone, watching in horror as the van pulled up beside Hui, perfectly blocking their view. "Anna, get Victor and Tatiana on this!" Rurik could only watch helplessly as he saw the tell-tale shadows of a struggle alongside the van, but he still couldn't see what was going on. Rurik had no idea if the vanÕs placement was bad luck or they'd actually noticed the camera.

               "Foot unit is moving in now," announced Anna, noticing on her camera Victor and Tatiana drawing their guns and training them on the woman with the fur-lined coat. Tatiana clearly shouted something before the woman suddenly jumped back, slipping around the corner. Undeterred, Tatiana and Victor followed. On Rurik's monitor there were clear signs of muzzle flashes and, moments later, the van was moving, but there was no sign of Hui and Victor and Tatiana were both out of frame, though their shadows were present. Based on the lack of movement from the shadows and their heights, Rurik guessed they were either standing really still or had been frozen, most likely by Type-7 darts.

               "Auto units, the vehicle is on the move!" Rurik all but roared into the microphone. "Do you have them?! The Foot unit is down and will need extraction! Anyone not going after the vehicle pick them up!"

               "This is Sophia, I'm on the van," came one voice.

               "Miranda here, I'm on them too," came a second.

               "Gregory, I just lost them on Harmony Way, I hit a red and there's a patrol car in behind me," announced a male voice.

               "Suzanna, I'm coming up on the Foot unit now..." declared a fourth voice. "Oh boy, their guns are out and they're frozen solid. We're lucky this street is empty..."

               "Sophia again, I've lost them, they must have that van rigged to totally shut off its lights," came the first voice, followed by a curse in Greek. As Raymond walked into the room behind Rurik there came the sound of screeching tires and a crash, then a weak cough.

               "What was that, who did that?" yelled Rurik, concerned.

               "Miranda..." came a clearly stunned voice. "I tried to cut them off but another van hit me with a PIT maneuver and now I've lost them. I think there's flashing lights..."

               "Bloody hell," sighed Raymond, pulling out his cell phone. "I'll call the HKPD, you get on tracking Agent Lan."

* * *

               Hui's first sign she was awake was that her nose tingled while she was slumped forward, her arms felt bound to something while her head was feeling like a hammer had been taken to it. Slowly the Chinese agent blinked and managed to keep her eyes open, gently lifting her head up to be looking at a fairly beautiful woman with a strong chin and a skin tone that made her think she was probably either part Native-American or part Middle-Eastern. The woman, the same one who had attacked Hui earlier, was wearing a black tank top and grey cargo pants, the fabric hugging her lower area tightly, specifically around the crotch area, leaving little to the imagination about her rear while there was plenty of space for her legs. The room, Hui noted, seemed to be a sparse office with very little around, just a few filing cabinets and a lone plant, probably fake, in one of the corners. A window took up most of one wall, but the glare was making it hard for Hui to make out what was on the other side, though it appeared to be the kind of steel walkway you'd find in warehouses. "How's my pretty little whore?" asked the woman in very good Chinese, her accent placing her from Luo Yang, though she definitely wasn't a native from that region.

               "What..." gasped Hui in her own native Mandarin, trying to sound innocent and scared, while in reality there was very little to fear; Hui was certain she'd be rescued before long and was really a bit shocked she hadnÕt been already. Based on how much time she'd assumed had passed, Hui figured her phone had been ditched and the joint team was busy trying to follow the back-up and decide on a plan of attack. Like herself, Hui figured the task force had no idea what they'd be running into.

               "Don't try that, I know you're not just any old prostitute," laughed the woman, planting herself on Hui's restrained legs and holding her face. Based on how soft the seat felt, Hui guessed she was strapped to a wheel-bound computer chair of some sort, though the lack of moment suggested it was bolted to the ground like a barber's seat. "You're too clean-looking, and you had some moves," noted the woman, poking at one of Hui's breasts, which caused the agent to realize her jacket was gone, though it wasn't a shock theyÕd have searched her. "I guess your pimp decided to send a tougher girl to deal with the recent abductions? Figured something who knew how to fight would teach us not to steal his girls? Well, Mrs. Earth doesn't move for anyone." There was a chuckle from a nearby voice at the bad joke.

               "I must say I love that you're called Mrs," remarked the second woman that came into view; this one was the Chinese woman from the street who'd been wearing the fur-lined coat. The woman was now wearing a Kevlar vest over a black T-shirt and had black cargo pants on her legs, a sub-machine gun slung over her shoulder.

               "It's just a ranking system, like how I call you Miss Tao," pointed out Miss Earth, before going back to looking at Hui. "Anyhow, I think we should break this one down a little before we give it to her. It's always fun showing these street thug enforcer types who the real professionals are."

               "You don't want to ask about those two foreigners I tagged?" asked Miss Tao, surprised.  ÒThey arenÕt any locals.Ó

               "You never got an agency ID on them, meaning they're probably just bodyguards hired to watch her, which means she may be more valuable than your typical streetwalker," shrugged Mrs. Earth, shaking her head as she moved off of Hui's lap. "So my dear... are you curious as to what awaits you?"

               "This is all a mistake," sniffed Hui, working up tears, though she wasn't sure if it was working as well as she was hoping.

               "Right, says the woman who had brass knuckles in her purse," laughed Mrs. Earth, motioning towards the window. "We've got over thirty pretty little whores, just like you, all ready to be shipped overseas where horny millionaires will pay through the nose for you. And why? Because you're going to be like this!" As Mrs. Earth gestured, Miss Tao opened up the only door leading into the room, in from a bland-looking hallway came Zhen Tu; the mid-thirties ambassadorÕs wife was dressed only in black lingerie and walking slowly into the room with a blank expression on her face. The robotic movement instantly made Hui know the abductors were using Type-7 chips. Why they'd chloroformed her instead of just using Type-7 right away, Hui didn't know.

               "We have a special drug that turns people into puppets, just like this," mocked Miss Tao, poking the ambassador's wife all over her chest. "Number thirty-two, raise your arms up above your head and sing us a birthday song." Immediately Zhen obeyed, singing something in Hindi.

               "You monsters!" screamed Hui, trying to play the part of being terrified as she struggled in her chair.

               "I think that will do," giggled Earth, drawing a large Desert Eagle from behind her back and firing once into Hui's chest. The impact from a large dart hitting her chest hurt, but Hui knew it was loaded with Type-7 and quickly faked freezing up, having practised the trick many times before.

               "I still say we should call it a mannequin gun or something," laughed Miss Tao as she looked at HuiÕs frozen body in delight.  ÒSuch a pretty little statue she is.Ó

               "We can decide later, right now I need you to go and get a chip ready for this whore while I call the boss," snapped Earth as Hui quietly hoped the pair would leave the room soon and allow her a chance to break free.

* * *

               Victor was laying on the couch in the apartment's main sitting room, his body still rigid with his arms extended in front of him like he held a gun, though the weapon had been removed when Suzanna had picked them up. Tatiana held a similar pose, though with some effort they'd manage to part her arms enough to remove her jacket and leave her standing there in a fairly tight pair of blue jeans and a white short-sleeved blouse, her hair framing her face and her mouth slightly agape as she'd been shouting when the Type-7 dart had hit.

               "TheyÕve modified the formula to use a different kind of stiffener," grumbled Anna as she sat at her laptop, a device connected to it analyzing a sample of Victor's blood. "It was good Suzanna noticed; otherwise using the antidote might of just made them conscious but unable to move. I can only imagine that driving a person insane."

               "Well this is really turning into a bit of a cock-up," sighed Raymond, shaking his head. "Tell me you can find a way to get them out of this."

               "Fortunately, we've seen this variant before, once we know what they were given we can modify the antidote to compensate," offered Sophia, who was at her own laptop and sending status updates to the ITEA HQ in London. "Our field kits include the usual additives we'll need, and if it turns out to be exotic, HKPD can ideally get us what we need within the hour. By then Rurik should have coordinated with Special Duties unit and we'll have a joint task force ready to raid Hui's location."

               Miranda said nothing, still tense. The van that had run her off the road had vanished after the collision, leaving her at the mercy of the HKPD while she spoke only a few dozen sentences of Mandarin. Luckily her special agency ID hadn't been crushed in the impact and Sophia had arrived moments later to better explain the situation, being a bit more skilled at the local languages than Miranda. Three blocks away from the crash Gregory had found Hui's purse and cell phone, and by the time they'd finally gotten back to the makeshift field base Rurik already had Hui traced to the warehouse district, specifically a privately-operated dock, which typically meant human traffickers. The only real cock-up, as Ray had called it, was not being fully prepared for modified Type-7, though as Sophia pointed out they did have possible additives needed to address the problem in their field kits. The real source of Miranda's tension was that she'd hoped it wouldn't come to Hui actually being taken, and the fact that she'd tried and failed to rescue her lover was tearing up Miranda's heart.

               Stepping out into the hall, Miranda nearly ran into Gregory, whose hands would have easily touched her breasts. "Sorry Agent Ohala, especially about what nearly happened there," offered Greg with a slight grin. In spite of not being a fan of accidental breast contact, Miranda couldn't help but give the Interpol agent a weak smile.

               "Could of been worse: I've seen people lock lips during collisions before," chuckled Miranda, getting a nervous one from Greg in response.

               "Rurik's just on the phone with the lieutenant now, they're equipped and ready to move within the hour," explained Greg, delivering his report. "They're just finishing the blueprint analysis now, but it looks like, given the area, we can only get in the front. The warehouse is an older one, it doesn't have to follow fire regulations. The vents are too small for that kind of entrance too, not that it would easily work since the roof doesn't look to be too soundproof."

               "So we'll just have to come in hot with smoke and flash-bombs and hope they don't try to start a hostage situation," sighed Miranda, shaking her head. "These stand-offs were why I quit working for the police department. I hated ugly situations where it would of been so much easier to have someone in undercover to neutralize the problem before it began."

               "I thought you left to be with Agent Lan," grinned Gregory, causing Miranda to give him a look.

               "People playing hide the romance shouldn't joke about others and theirs," snipped Miranda, suddenly feeling guilty as she saw the ashen look on Greg's face as he realized that she knew about him and Anna.

               "When did you...?"

               "You two made it too obvious when Rurik finally grew a pair," confessed Miranda, making sure the nearby doors were closed as she continued. "Look, all the senior agents know, including Ray. If you don't come clean you won't have the chance to work it out yourselves, and you can kiss your chances of staying together goodbye."

               "I swear we had a job we were doing here... oh right, catching bad guys," spat Gregory, clearly angry. "Why do these damn regulations exist when these situations clearly aren't a problem?!"

               "Because of the old fear that it impairs judgement and ruins productivity," sighed Miranda, offering Greg a reassuring touch on his shoulder. "After the raid, talk to Bishop. He's the romantic sort, I think. The ITEA purposely eliminated the fraternization code from the charter so this wouldn't be a problem, though it doesn't help that most of the people who've joined us were already fraternizing at their old agencies."

               "Right," was all Greg managed before moving to enter the living area, leaving Miranda alone in the hallway, silently resolving to make sure that not only was her love saved, but so were the others involved in the case, figuratively or literally.

* * *

               Hui's body was tense, but she was glad the fifty-cal dart had pushed her back into her seat, meaning the main part of her pose she had to lock up perfectly was her open mouth, which was naturally getting quite dry. It was the dryness that worried Hui, as she knew typically those with Type-7 in their body were effectively in stasis, meaning even things like sweat and mouth moisture remained more or less the same. Luckily for the IT, agent while Earth had unfortunately never left the room, using a laptop sitting on a school-sized desk she hadn't noticed earlier, she was too busy having a conversation with someone to notice the few telltale signs that Hui wasn't frozen.

               "You're certain they're all actually street women?" asked a distorted voice that sounded male but Hui couldn't be sure, though she'd heard Earth call him Void.

               "We just found out one of them is an ambassador's wife, but it's too risky to set her loose," admitted Earth; Hui was unable to see the woman since she was out of her limited vision's view but assumed she would be making some kind of apologetic motion. "However, this means we're going to close up the operations here and ship out tonight; our next target area will be a different city. I know a few ports in Japan that might work, and I'm guessing our clients would like some women we could pass off as being Geisha, don't you think?"

               "Good incentive, but we're already working on getting you a location in Mexico," remarked Void. "A few of our clients in the US are suckers for, and I'm using air-quotes here, 'peasant girls.' I've already spoken to the Triads, the pay-off they're getting should keep them happy."

               "Just don't give them any Type-7, I'd hate to think of what would happen if the formula got out," warned Earth, surprising Hui. Here were people willingly kidnapping dozens of women, including a diplomat's wife, yet they were worried about other criminals getting their hands on Type-7? If it wasn't for the fact that it would have broken character, Hui would of laughed.

               "Don't worry about that, just get the shipment ready to move," insisted Void, and with that Hui heard a sound that most likely meant the conversation was over. Sure enough Earth then proceeded to walk over to stand in front of Hui, coincidentally right as Miss Tao re-entered the room.

               "Chip's ready, I just need to apply it," announced Tao as she approached Earth, her left hand outstretched with something, clearly a chip, in her palm.

               "Alright," nodded Earth, then moving to free Hui's hands with a knife, her bindings were simply duct tape. The IT agent quickly wondered why, but then guessed that, given how much she'd fallen back into the chair, it would be easier to apply the chip if they could lean her forward with her arms free, and since she was supposed to be frozen they wouldn't have to worry about her resisting.

               Much to Earth and Tao's surprise, as Hui's left arm was freed she didn't hesitate in taking action, quickly twisting the former's wrist to collect the knife and rapidly cut free her leg restraints, then kicking the surprised Tao in the chin while spinning in the chair. The combination knocked down both of the room's villains, enabling Hui the extra time she needed to free her other arm and stand up, rushing over to Tao, retrieve the dropped chip, and then apply it to the stunned woman's neck. Tao was now frozen while on her back, right on top of her machine gun with her hands holding her bleeding face, her eyes squinting in shock. As Hui whirled to face Earth, the kidnapper had already recovered from being knocked down and struck, knocking HuiÕs knife away.

               "I'll make you pay for that, you little whore!" spat Earth in English, going for her Desert Eagle. Hui reacted, kicking the large pistol away before Earth could finish drawing it. As the pistol clattered to the floor, Earth charged, grabbing Hui by the base of the neck while the Asian woman leaned backwards, pitching Earth the same way. Hui then got a surprise of her own when Earth successfully recovered from the attempted throw and landed on her feet, promptly kicking backwards and sending Hui to the floor.

               "Nice moves!" managed Hui in English as she sprang up, cutting Earth off from retrieving her modified gun.

               "Shit, you're with that temporal agency aren't you," cursed Earth as she took up a fighting stance.

               "You've heard of us?" asked Hui in surprise, then regretting it as she took up a  stance of her  own.

               "You really have no idea who I work for do you?" laughed Earth in response, then looking at Hui's stance. "Wu-Shu? Cute, but this isn't Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I hope you're ready to die, little one!"

               "You realize we're probably about the same age, right?" fired back Hui as the two began to spar, Earth's strikes fast and to the point, many going for Hui's joints while hers focused on the body. After a few quick blows the pair needed to step back, Hui's left elbow having been hyper-extended, possibly sprained or even cracked, but Earth had been hit a few times and wouldn't be able to bend without feeling a few fresh bruises.

               "I guess you people do you know your stuff, but even if you beat me you'll have to deal with our little army..." coughed Earth, a hint of blood trickling from her lips. "They've been programmed to shoot anyone on sight that isn't one of us or in the system..."

* * *

               Eight men were all the Special Duties unit could have ready with the modified MP5s when they  met up with the Interpol/ITEA task force just outside of the warehouse. The leader, lieutenant Tommy Chen, made Miranda nervous, but none the less he seemed clear on the stakes. The eight tactical officers would join the rest that would move in, which included Suzanna, Sophia, Miranda, Gregory and the recently recovered Tatiana, Victor hanging back at the observation van with Rurik, Anna and even Raymond, who'd decided he'd be of use in the vehicle. Ideally Sophia and Suzanna shouldn't go in, neither being that good  at shooting, but their experience in situations that dealt with Type-7 meant they'd be valuable none the less. The big problem, however, was that they'd have to rely on Kevlar to deal with any darts, and there weren't full suits for the Interpol and IT agents. Even worse, they couldn't use blank chips as they didn't know if the enemy was using  chips, thus the plan was to use a Freeze-Key to shut down any active chips in the area once the situation was assessed. The problem with that plan was that Hui, even with the immunity ring, would still be frozen by the Freeze-Key as it didn't offer proper shielding against it.

               "I know its a risk, but triggering the device early will immobilize our agent, and we don't know if it will benefit our strike in any way," Raymond told Chen, having effectively taken charge in spite of it not really being his job. The fact was, Ray wanted the situation resolved and as the most senior agent present decided it was on his shoulders. No one complained, Ray being fairly smart and respected if nothing else.

               "I'll have a Key on me and trigger it the second I feel we're safe to use it," announced Miranda, holding up the small black box while dressed in blue coveralls with a tactical vest over top, her modified Glock resting in its holster on her hip.

               "Fine, lets just do this," shrugged Chen, turning and exiting the van. Miranda followed, the pair greeted by the sight of seven men with MP5s in black armour, the ITEA and Interpol agents nearby dressed like Miranda, Gregory hefting a C7 assault rifle while Tatiana was favouring a Remington shotgun loaded with electro-static rounds. All the guns were modified to fire Type-7 darts, which were the loaded ammo of choice for everyone but Tatiana, while they also had clips of electro-static rounds if needed. If there was time the team could of taken more time to scout the situation, but with Hui possibly going to be exposed at any moment and the ITEA analyst team back in London learning that a suspicious shipment was due to leave tomorrow it was an act-now kind of situation.

               "Load up, I've got point," ordered Chen, producing a camera wand from his belt and leading his team towards the warehouse, the group moving quietly and quickly, Miranda's team following as they were less-armoured. The warehouse was fairly non-descriptive, being a big cement block with a giant metal shutter that acted as a primarily door, but the side doors were what the team was focusing on. Four of Chen's team went over to one side, Gregory and Suzanna going with them, while the rest took another, Chen using the camera to check under the door.

               "I see multiple subjects, but they're all standing there..." noted Chen quietly. "I do see weapons though. Your assessment, Agent Ohala?"

               "They don't sound active, but they could go live at any moment," mused Miranda. "Still, we don't know if they're chipped. Everyone switch to static rounds. If they're not chipped, we're in luck, but any opposition we do run into will still be stunned. You can't just fire and forget at non-chipped targets though, so use the time to change back."

               "Works for me," Chen acknowledged, having the two teams change their clips. "Stand by, breaching with flash-bangs in five... four... three... two... one..." At the last word the door was kicked open and immediately two flash-bangs were thrown inside, the door promptly being closed again. Over on the other side the secondary team replicated the act, and after some muffled bursts the doors were opened again, two Special Duties men leading.

               "Down on the ground!" shouted several people in Mandarin, Cantonese and English. At first there was no movement, the dark warehouse silent. Over thirty women stood in uneven rows, all dressed in black lingerie with UMP sub-machine guns hanging from their backs. The floor was also littered with dozens of large crates, some wood, some metal and some plastic, a small lab even visible in the back. On Miranda's side of the warehouse was a metal staircase leading up to an empty walkway as well as what appeared to be an elevated office, which was where Miranda saw flickers of light that indicated movement. As a few people pointed their guns at the office window however the rows of women suddenly moved, readying their guns and opening fire immediately.

               "Return fire!" yelled Chen as he dove for cover, many others doing the same. One of Chen's men took a full barrage from a short distance away, knocking him down. Darts covered his armour and based on how his body had locked up, his gun pointing at the ceiling, Miranda guessed he was frozen. The man wasn't alone, Suzanna standing with her left arm raised seemingly in surprise, her right arm extended with her gun pointed at a target, her face looking serious and her knees bent, her hair up in a tactical ponytail. Across the way Miranda made out Tatiana collapsing like Chen's man had, no doubt also slightly annoyed at getting  frozen again so quickly, her left leg elevated off of the ground but her shotgun hugging her chest, her lips parted and her eyebrows slightly raised, her own bun coming loose. The chaos hadn't all been bad for the strike force however, the gun-wielding women having their numbers easily cut in half. The electro-static rounds had easily shorted out over a dozen chips, the dark-haired Chinese women standing around in almost matching poses, their stances neutral and their guns trained from the hip at targets, their faces blank.  In spite of the initial  massive damage the strike team had done however it was clear the chipped women were given some sort of tactical programming as many  had now taken cover and a couple were even holding their fire, apparently trying to protect something.

               "They're well-programmed," noted Sophia, who was crouching next to Miranda. "Hui must be upstairs."

               "Trigger the damn Key!" shouted Chen suddenly as, across the way, one of his men went down, his helmet knocked off by a barrage and a dart now in his cheek.

               "We can't until our agent is safe!" screamed back Miranda.

               "It's one person versus my entire team, now do it!" yelled Chen, ceasing fire and moving towards Miranda in frustration. In a flash of worry, afraid Chen would endanger her superior as well as the woman she loved, Miranda decided to act irrationally, instead leaping up and making a dash for the stairs. Chen could be heard howling anger as he moved to cover Miranda, Sophia joining in and the pair picking off two chipped women who would of hit Miranda well before she hit the steps. As the gunfight continued, the numbers now appearing to be seven against  fourteen in the chipped squad's favour, Miranda reached the office and managed to open the door, it not even locked.

               Hui was on the ground, clutching her left arm while leaning against the wall, an unknown woman training a Desert Eagle on her. Miranda raised her Glock as the other woman spun around, the pair firing their guns almost in synch. Miranda felt a dart hit her in the chest and by the impact realized it had penetrated, but luckily she was conscious just long enough to see her own dart hit home.

* * *

               The fight with Earth had been brutal, and ultimately Hui had lost, her left elbow's joint hit again and now in severe pain, her knees also not doing well. In spite of her initially starting off strong, Earth had managed to outfight her and now had the gun, which was pointed at Hui. The gun wouldn't of been a problem, except that during the conflict, Hui's ring come off, practically torn off as Earth had tried to snap her wrist but instead managed to just drag her grip down Hui's hand. "I guess the fact that you're cowering means whatever made you immune to my mannequin gun the first time won't work now," noted Earth as she trained her weapon on Hui. "I hope you enjoyed playing a sex slave, because that's all you'll be once I'm done with you." The pair in reality knew the raid on the warehouse had begun, though the act had distracted Hui more than Earth, but the villain had already pointed out that, since she'd preset her chipped captives to act as guards they would be able to handle the threat, though Hui guessed they hadn't counted on a Freeze-Key being involved.

               Any retort Hui had was abandoned when Miranda suddenly entered the room, the agent then trading shots with Earth and both women hit, Miranda dropping a familiar box as the dart penetrated her vest. Earth was posed pointing the gun towards Miranda with her left hand, her body turned and her right hand on her hip, almost like she didn't care about the threat she'd shot at. Miranda meanwhile was leaning back and looked alert, her eyes wide and her left arm hugging her chest while her right, holding her own gun, pointed at the almost bored-looking Earth. Hui didn't have a chance to appreciate the poses however as she quickly rushed over and grabbed the fallen Freeze-Key, triggering it right away. With the turn of a knob suddenly almost all of the weapons-fire below stopped, over a dozen women in black underwear suddenly freezing with their UMP machine guns held at the ready, some crouching behind crates, others bracing behind support columns, two even while standing and shooting from the hip. "We're clear!" Hui immediately shouted, looking at Miranda with a sigh of relief.

* * *

               "You know this is bullshit, right Tommy?" spat Hui, now watching as the Special Duties agent's men lifted Earth into a prison wagon. It had been only an hour since the strike but things were already messy. While the ITEA, Interpol and Special Duties agents who'd been frozen were all being transported back to the joint task force HQ for detox, the lieutenant had already gotten the police commissioner and local Interpol section chief to agree that the HKPD would have jurisdiction over Earth and Tao, the latter already loaded into the wagon. In spite of her anger Hui was amused at the sight of Earth, now posed with both her hands on her hips for ease of transport, looking bored as three men tried to pull her sideways into the truck. If ever the was an example of how Type-7 turned people into mannequins, it was that.

               "You lost the right to call me that after we broke up," fired back Chen, who was in fact Hui's ex-boyfriend. Before joining Interpol Chen and Hui had served together in Shanghai, Hui being the same rank as him. One of the reasons Hui had even joined Interpol was to avoid fraternization issues, thus allowing her to date Tommy, but eventually he'd broken it off and she'd started a relationship with Miranda.

               "Fine, Lieutenant," sighed Hui, emphasizing the title with disdain. "The fact remains she may have useful information relevant to my agency!"

               "And we'll be sure to pass it along after she'd been interrogated," Chen assured Hui, almost sounding smug as he told her the way things would be going. "Ambassador Bei Tu pushed for this, and considering his wife was nearly sold into slavery you can't blame anyone for agreeing with his wishes. The guy nearly wanted to sue you guys after she was nabbed, you know."

               "This is a crock and you know it," fumed Hui, though she was fairly restrained in spite of some anger seeping out of her voice, her body language at the least subdued. The cast a medic had put around her elbow and the pain-killers she'd been given weren't helping Hui properly express herself.

               "Little bit, but if you'd like to know, I'd of been fine with it even if you weren't involved," confessed Tommy, offering a bit of a coy grin. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy you being screwed by this though."

               "You're an ass-hole," fired out Hui, regretting it instantly as it just made Chen grin even more as he turned to leave.

               "Maybe, but at least I'm competent," remarked Tommy as he moved to enter the passenger side of the wagon. "See you around, Agent Hui Lan."

               As the wagon prepared to depart, the three men getting in the back with Tao and Earth, Sophia came up beside her. While the IT agent hadn't been hit by a dart, she'd wrenched her neck as she'd tried to avoid a potential shot fired at her too hard and was now holding an icepack just to the left of below her chin. "So that was Tommy, huh?" remarked Sophie as the wagon began pulling away. "Bit of a prick."

               "Thanks," replied Hui with a sad smile. Thanks to Bei Tu she'd have to just work with the fact that someone code-named Void was giving Earth orders, not that it helped.

               "I just got a call from Lori back at HQ, she's managed to ID our Earthen friend, at least," revealed Sophia, holding up her cell-phone, which had a picture of Mrs.Earth and a short blurb below it, the contents of an email. "Tamaya Qillaq, a suspected human trafficker. She's from Portland originally. A known associate is Zhen Shan, who was once arrested for human smuggling, though she charges didn't stick." With the press of a button Sophia's phone showed a picture of Miss Tao, confirming she was Zhen Shan. "Shan does have confirmed ties to the Triads, so it might of been them."

               "Probably was, but the fact that she spoke English with her boss bothers me," mused Hui, then shaking her head. "I'm going back to HQ. I want to make sure everyone who was frozen is brought up to speed."

               "Say hi to Suzanna and Miranda for me," offered Sophia as she watched her team leader move off, then turning to go and join Gregory, who was talking with a local cop.

* * *

               Rurik and Raymond were sitting in the main office space  of the task force HQ, both drinking coffee while the former made a couple of glances at the frozen women that were placed off to the side. Suzanna and Tatiana both stood like statues, their poses having barely changed since they were transported in. Their weapons had been removed but Suzanna almost looked like she was replicating a pose from the opening sequence of a James Bond movie. Tatiana meanwhile was a mess, hitting the floor having left her hair in disarray, and even standing her so her arms were at her sides still made her look like she'd just had sex but hadn't had time to properly re-dress, her vest also  loose as they'd needed to check the impacts, the blond having been hit at  least four times. "Agent Lan, good to see you're more or less intact," offered Raymond as Hui walked in.

               "You haven't revived them yet?" asked Hui in surprise.

               "We ran out of the booster the antidote needs, so Anna is tracking some down," explained Rurik. "We used up the last of it on the Lieutenant's men so we could show we weren't playing favourites."

               "I figure anything we can do to convince them to hand over Qillaq and Shan to us is a good idea," added Ray. "Lori sent us the message about their identities."

               "The good news is it was only ordinary Type-7 in that Desert Eagle, so Agent Ohala can be revived whenever," continued Rurik. "We moved her into your room as we figured you might want to... debrief her, personally."

               "Probably," agreed Hui, trying not to roll her eyes at how unsubtle Rurik was. "Anything else?"

               "Actually yes," revealed Rurik, glancing at Raymond quickly. "I've been talking with Chief Bishop and, well, based on our team's current violations with Interpol policy, if we stay as we are we'd be split up. So I was wondering if..."

               "Pending a talk with his team, he'd like them to be considered to join the ITEA," Raymond finished for the younger man. "Given that they're experienced in dealing with Type-7 an a diverse lot, they should be valuable assets to your agency."

               "I look forward to seeing that be approved," grinned Hui, getting a happy smile from Rurik in return. "I'll talk to you both later, I really should get some rest while I have the chance." Nodding at them both, Hui hurried off into her room.

               Miranda stood in the centre of the small bedroom, right next to the bed, her pose having changed since she was extracted from the warehouse as, unlike the other agents, she wasn't as overly stiff. The Hawaiian's head was tilted forward and her arms were raised, clearly having been moved by being drooped between two other people and dragged, Hui actually a bit surprised she was balanced. Miranda's vest has also been removed due to the large-calibre dart that had been sitting in it, a hole even visible in the overall suit the agent was wearing. Even as she took in the funny-looking sight of her lover standing there like a marionette with invisible strings Hui speculated that Earth had probably found it easier to convert larger-calibre firearms into dart weapons due to the greater size involved, as while groups like the Paradise Foundation had managed typically converting guns wasn't easy for the underground criminal types, even if they had easier access to some of the required materials.

               "Hello, my precious saviour," whispered Hui, having walked up to Hui and positioned her lips right by Miranda's ear. The Chinese woman then proceeded to remove the elastic that held the Hawaiian's low ponytail in place, letting her hair hang loose. Hui proceeded to then run her hands through Miranda's hair and leaned in, beginning to passionately kiss her lover before gently leaning forward, the pair ending up on the bed together. Hearing footsteps just outside her door Hui stopped for a moment, but when no one knocked or, worse, tried to enter, Hui simply smiled and touched the zipper near the top of Miranda's hidden cleavage.

               "I figure the best way to thank you for saving my life is to make sure you wake up feeling fantastic," Hui practically giggled, slowly unzipping the coverall and, after exposing Miranda's red sports bra, removed that too, leaving the woman's breasts exposed. While it was impossible to stimulate someone who was under the effects of Type-7, being they were essentially in stasis, actions done to them while frozen could still be felt after the person was brought out of it if the revival was almost immediately afterwords. Knowing this, Hui worked her well-honed tongue around Miranda's well-proportioned breasts, knowing that if Miranda weren't frozen they'd instantly become quite pointy. Not one to go too far without joining in, Hui removed her own top and bra next, then producing a vial of the counter-agent and pouring it into her own mouth while not swallowing. Pressing herself against Miranda's motionless form, Hui let her lips lock with her lover's and allowed the liquid from her mouth to depart, it promptly going down Miranda's throat. After a few moments Hui felt Miranda's nipples stimulate and was aware of motions replicating her own, their lips working together and their exposed chests caressing. After two minutes Hui finally broke contact at the lips, smiling while Miranda looked at her dreamily.

               "That's one hell of a thank you," moaned Miranda, extremely aroused. "Shouldn't I be debriefed?"

               "Yes, and later I'll tell you what happened with those criminals we caught," giggled Hui, Miranda joining in spite of the bad joke, the pair sharing a loving embrace as they both worked to remove the clothing covering their lower bodies.


The End


Raymond Bishop - Clive Owen

Miranda Ohala - Malika Dudley

Hui Lan - Cecilia Cheung

Sophia Katsopolis - Sofia Milos

Suzanna Ortiz - Eva La Rue

Rurik Chekhol - Ryan Phillipe

Victor Morozov - Victor Webster

Gregory Barnes - Milo Ventimiglia

Anna Sokolov - Allison Mack

Tatiana Lebedev - Yvonne Strahovski

Zhen Shan AKA Miss Tao - Zhang Ziyi

Tamaya Qillaq AKA Mrs. Earth - Mickie James

Zhen Tu - Lin Chi-ling

No Name AKA Mr. Void - Nolan North

Tommy Chen - Chang Chen

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