Didn’t Bleed Red 8

Hong Kong

“We don’t really know what the seaward side of the wreck looks like. When we get access to satellites we may be able to download some shots and draw that on the map. But for now, we’ve got the notes and sketches we’ve done, and all that news footage.” Miguel traced the arc he had drawn on the map of the bay, then tapped a few of the photographs pinned beside it.

“Do you need to know what the far side looks like to get in?” Kyle asked.

“Nope. Even if there’s a great big hole on the waterline round the back, it’s too much of a swim to get there. Better we take the shorter swim and spend the time looking round what’s nearest.”

“And when you get inside, do you know the way around?” Kyle asked Jasmine.

“I don’t have the exact map of that ship in all the stuff they pumped into me. But the ships are all similar, and they usually have signs in Standard and all the other languages the crews might speak.” She stared out of the windows, trying to hold a blank expression, but revealing her concern. “How do I know all that? No-one…. No human, should know how the invasion force operated.” She shuddered. “Sorry. I forget how much I’ve changed, sometimes. I think I can understand why you are all so scared of me some times.”

Her revelation was greeted with silence. Aware that she had derailed the briefing, she stepped up to the wall of photographs. From the shore, what could be seen of the spaceship was a shallow dome, marked with scars and panels, and with smaller domes and other shapes breaking up the surface. She pointed to a pair of geodesic spheres on opposite sides of the ship. “These are part of the detection system and navigation setup. I don’t know exactly what they do, they didn’t program me with how to fly one of the big ships.”

“But you flew that scout ship we found. The one that got us here.” Carla said.

“There’s a big difference between flying around in atmosphere and jumping through overspace.” Jasmine had the confused and concerned expression again. Back in Britain, before the European trip that had been interrupted by alien invasion and ended up in Hong Kong, she had still been taking driving lessons. “But there should be some of the smaller craft in there hat we can…. steal. That’s a bay door there. And so is that.”

“Do we know if there are any crew still on board?” Tonya asked.

Everyone turned to stare at her. The military men were aghast that it was one of the civilians who had thought to ask this important question. “We’ll have weapons. And Jasmine is….” Miguel offered.

“Yeah, right. The last time I fired any of your guns, it nearly kicked me over backward. I’m really good with a two-two for target shooting…. I’ll stay behind you two, if it comes to it.”

Jasmine started tapping the photograph. But she wasn’t focussing on the image, merely using the action to think something through. “If…. when we get aboard. I think I am programmed with enough information to get that sort of information from the system. And a map, so we can avoid any remnants if we have to.”

“Okay. We’re back on plan again. The sooner we can do this, the better. We need a ship, equipment, all the information we can get. Before all the countries circling the ship decide who is going on board and starts stripping it bare. How soon can you go?” Kyle asked.

“As soon as we can get equipment up to the job. We’ve had no luck yet. Maybe this Chen character has a way into the market, if we can deal with him.” Miguel suggested.

“Big if.” Carla tutted.

There was a knock on the door to the conference room. Baozhi stood in the entrance, grinning at the opportunity offered to her. “You can ask him yourself, maybe soon. The man in the white suit has found us, and he says he is here to arrange a meet with us and Chen.”

“He’s here?” Kyle’s gaze went to the planning wall, worried about it getting exposed.

“He is downstairs. I have talked with him on the speaker com. He can come to the floor below so that he sees nothing important.”

“Let’s go and talk to him, then.”