Serial Saturday #15: The Storm
The sky outside the conference room window was menacing as Wei-Ting and Pei-Shan stared at the eivdence they had pinned up on the board at the far end of the room. Neither of them said anything until finally Pei-Shan spoke.
"So, what have we found out?" Pei-Shan said. "Her mom was the daughter of a Nationalist general and either defected or was captured and taken over there. Falls in love. Gets married. Has a kid, tries to come home and gets shalled by our military for her trouble. Fast forward to today. Kid make some kind of souped up VPN. Hops a boat out of there and winds up dead on a beach here with a knife in her belly."
"You should have told me," Wei-Ting said.
"Told you what?" Pei-Shan sighed. "That I feel on a grenade of a bribery ring to keep my sister out of jail and nearly went down with the other dity cops for my troubles? There's no good way to work that into a conversation."
Wei-Ting said nothing and Pei-Shan growled. "I've been clean as a whistle and done damn good police work since Tainan. Now can we please get back to the mystery of the dead girl and her souped up VPN?"
"Okay," Wei-Ting sighed, "But it's not just a VPN. I've been digging through the code we got and it's like nothing I've ever seen. There's algorithims that could conceivably allow it to evolve and it's got encryption that has to be quantum resistant."
"Talk to me like I'm not a computer nerd," Pei-Shan said.
"It looks like a VPN," Wei-Ting said. "But everyone has those. It's how they can illegally download music and games from the west. But if you dig a little deeper, you realize it's not. It's a worm. It's burrowing into the infrastructure of their internet doing all kinds of things it shouldn't be able to do and I don't know if they can detect it."
"So, it's like an invisible bomb?"
"Maybe?" Wei-Ting said. "A lot of the code on this is beyond me. But Shan was right. This is a big deal."
The door to the room slammed open and the Chief burst in, his face furious.
"What did I tell you?"
"I told you to stop your inquiries," the Chief said. "I assumed that you- especially you, Pei-Shan, not so much the rookie, would know what I meant by that."
"What happened?" Pei-Shan asked.
"I got a message from my counterpart across the water," the Chief said. "He spun an interesting yarn for me. Apparently, the rookie here took a little trip to an apartment building in Old Amoy. Which wouldn't be a big deal except that the daughter of a prominent Party member hasn't been seen in a few days and that just happened to be where her apartment was located."
Wei-Ting's face went white. "Sir, I can explain-"
"Oh good, you can explain!" The Chief shouted. "Just what I was looking for, an explanation of why you were digging around- not even in another county's jurisdiction, but in the jurisdiction of an entirely different country! I can't wait to hear this one."
"He was pursuing a lead," Pei-Shan said.
"Oh, so you thought thais was a good idea too?" The Chief asked.
"Look, I know this is bad," Pei-Shan said. "We just need a little more time."
"No," the Chief said. "It's too late. I told you both to handle this disreetly and you can't even manage that. Do you have any idea of the type of shitstorm that is about to land on my desk?"
"Flirting isn't going to work this time either. Just count your blessings that this storm is pulling back west otherwise I'd have had you patrolling Wuqiu for the duration of this."
"So what is going to happen to us?" Wei-Ting asked.
"Seven day suspension. Both of you," the Chief said. "Now get out of my sight."
Pei-Shan began to argue with the Chief again, but Wei-Ting didn't need to be told twice. In a daze, he stood up and felt himself walking out of the conference room, across the bullpen where the other Detectives had their desks and down the stairs. It was all falling apart now. His career was most likely over and that meant--
"Back to Kaohsiung." He couldn't go back there. He pushed the front doors of the police bureau open and walked down the steps. The rain had begun.