Serial Saturday #9: Flash Drives & Microfiches

Again, not much to say to this one, so just please enjoy part nine of my ongoing serial, Flash Drives & Microfiches:

Wei-Ting pulled into a parking space in front of the Police Bureau and quickly turned the car off and flung open the door. He was running late. The message on the dark web insisting on a meeting had gotten even more mysterious when he had replied with a single word:

Where?

The reply he had received:

Remember what happened in Guo. Noon.

That was cryptic enough to send him down an internet rabbit hole to find out that the message referred to a boulder on the top of Mount Taifu where the Generalissimo himself had written out a message in calligraphy to rally the troops and hint at one day reclaiming the mainland.

I've got to be fast, Wei-Ting thought as he bounded up the stairs to the front entrance of the Police Bureau. The geek squad owes me a favor, so I should be able to get a wire. He opened the entrance and stepped into the lobby, flashing his ID to the officer at the main desk and was about to head downstairs when-

"Rook," came the drawling voice of Detective Tan. Wei-Ting froze as he saw Detectives Hwang and Tan coming down the stairs.

"Just the man we were looking for," Hwang said.

"Detectives," Wei-Ting said.

"What are you doing here?" Hwang asked. "It's your day off, I thought."

"I need to borrow something from the geek squad," Wei-Ting said quickly.

"Oh, okay," Hwang said. "What do you need to-"

"Never mind that," Tan interrupted. "When are you going to come to do a rotation with us in vice, rook? Homicide is like a career cul-de-sac around these parts."

"I don't think homicide is a dead-end, Detective," Wei-Ting said as politely as he could. He grimaced as he saw the grin on Hwang's face. "Except, you know, in the obvious way."

Tan just rolled his eyes. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a flash drive. "You should know who your partner is, Rook."

"I trust-"

"Trust has nothing to do with it," Tan said. "You deserve to know who you're working with." He waved the flash drive at Wei-Ting. "Just take it, Rook. See for yourself."

Reluctantly, Wei-Ting took it.

"And talk the Captain," Hwang said. "We need a good rook in Vice. I'm tired of doing the coffee runs for everyone."

Tan laughed and the two of them headed out of the front door. Wei-Ting waited for a moment to be sure they had gone before breathing a sigh of relief. He slipped the flash drive into his pocket. Whatever it was, he'd read it later.

~~~

Pei-Shan hated libraries. They smelled like old people and the fact she had been forced to come all the way to New Taipei City and dig through the National Archives for answers only irritated her all the more. She sneezed for what seemed like the millionth time and all but slammed the microfiche into place. 

The old man on the beach in Lieyu was crazy. There was no other explanation. Martial law hadn't ended in Kinmen until 1993, and as a result, the news was hard to come by. There were some mentions of the incident, but you could tell that the military censors had been hard at work sanitizing the language for public consumption.

Six months before? There was nothing. She had checked every major newspaper and now she was down to her last microfiche. 

"All right," she said. "Let's check United Daily news." She began flicking through the pages one by one, not really knowing whether or not she'd find anything- not even sure of what she was looking for. "She was trying to return home."

And just like that, there it was: "Body Found On Lieyu Beach Identified As Major General's Daughter."

The Major General in question was long dead, a hero of the Civil War. There were statues of the man back in Kinmen and- Pei-Shan grabbed her phone and did a quick search on the internet. And there in the web archive for the China Post:

"Major General's Daughter Goes Missing, Presumed Drowned."

The headline was from ten years earlier.

"What the hell..." Pei-Shan breathed. "She was only trying to return home." An idea was forming in her head and it was one she didn't like that much. She checked the byline on both articles. Written by the same reporter... "I wonder-"

Five minutes later, she was running through the parking lot to her car. She had to get to Matsu and fast.

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