We found Charlie. I know I should have been jumping up and down for joy like I usually am when something goes right, but I just wasn't feeling my usual chirpy self. So while the others went off to greet Charlie, I disappeared into the room where the techies were trying to trace the call from the hostage's captor.
'Hey Mark,' I said, addressing the first geek with a computer I saw. 'What progress have you made?'
'Nothing so far. There is so much security on this operation I cannot see any way we are going to get through it. Every way we turn we hit a brick wall.'
'Don't do this to me Mark,' I said, leaning over his shoulder so I could see the screen. 'There has got to be some way to break through those barriers. You're the police for God's sake!'
'I'm sorry Alannah but there is no way I can get through.'
'I cannot accept that as an answer Mark,' I insisted. 'You are going to find a way to trace that call or I will personally beat you up.'
'I'm just following orders Alannah,' Mark protested, 'there's nothing more I can do right now.'
'Whose orders are you following? Mendrick's? King's?'
'No, he's following mine,' a new voice interrupted from behind me.
'Then I would like to know what authority you have to-' I was cut short when I saw the familiarly handsome face I had run into that morning. 'Sh*t! It's you!' George was still wearing the fingerless gloves he had been wearing earlier and he was managing to pull off geek chic very well.
'It's nice to see you too Alannah. But I would have thought I would have got a better welcome on my first day, especially as you are relying on us to get you the information you need to solve this case.'
I could still see the joviality in his expression that I had seen earlier but it was now edged with something more serious.
'You're a geeky tech guy?' I said, only realising after the words had come out that the connection between my brain and my mouth must be broken.
'Hey!' Mark protested.
'Sorry Mark, that was only meant to be said in my head.' I couldn't imagine how red my face was looking at that moment but decided to try and keep some sort of air of professionalism and attempted to pull myself together. 'So then George, what are you going to do to find the source of this call. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how urgent it is.'
'Of course not Alannah,' he replied, grinning slightly as he put the emphasis on my name. 'But at the moment we are running out of ideas.'
'You have the most high-tech equipment money can buy in this room. Why aren't you using it?'
'Because it's useless on something like this. The security surrounding this phone network is improvised, it's not anything we've come across before so we don't know how to break into it. If I were you, I'd be looking for a group with a technological wizard working for them because I don't know how else they have been able to keep us out for this long.' At this point, having said all he wanted to say, George turned to leave.
'Why didn't you say earlier that you were on this case?'
'Because I don't go around telling strangers what I do for a living,' he said, a laugh in his voice.
'Yes but you knew I was a police officer. I said I was late for my case.'
'But there are plenty of police officers out there, you could have been on any case. And besides, I would be breaking my contract if I disclosed information about a highly sensitive case to you.'
'Alannah!' Mendrick's head poked around the door, the expression on his face could only be described as furious. 'You, me, interview. Now.' And with that he disappeared back round the door.
'Got to go,' I said to George.
'I'm sure I'll see you again soon,' he said, winking at me.
I quickly caught up with Mendrick. I had never seen him this worked up, not even when we were chasing the Knight.
'What's up boss?' I asked, feeling cheerier after seeing gorgeous George again.
'You are going to prove to me and Mr Lawrence that you are the best of the best. You're going to be interviewing the guys who kidnapped Charlie. I'll have to be with you to satisfy Mr I-want-the-best, but I want you to lead the interrogation.'
'Why are we interrogating these guys again?' I asked, not sure what was exactly going on.
'Because they have tried to kidnap two members of our team. They are clearly trying to make a point.'