Victoria was pissed. First the bastards implied she was a fake and then that reporter’s attitude had just set her off. “Abomination. Shit, I guess I should have expected this but I wasn’t prepared for how angry it would make me. We are NOT an abomination.”
“You were amazing Tori!” Yuen-Ja came from the stairs at the side of the stage with a brilliant smile on her face. “That bastard will think twice before confronting you in public again. He will likely write a scathing article though; the press isn’t to be trusted. Are you ready to look for poppa now?”
“Yes, we will find your father. I’m not exactly sure how but I think I know a good place to start.” Victoria had no idea how to start looking for the girl’s father, but if she could enlist her help and maybe get ADAM to lend a hand it was possible they could hack into the hotel security system and get video footage of where he might be. “Do you have any idea where to start? Can we go to the police? That seems like a good place to start don’t you think?”
The girl looked at her like she had suggested asking the devil for help. “According to your country and mine, I do not exist. Poppa got asylum and I traveled here in secret. The authorities are nothing but corrupt killers in any case. I do not trust them. You should not trust them either. The moment you trust them and let down your guard they kick in your door. Governments always have bigger guns than civilians do.”
It was hard for Victoria to listen to a girl so young talk about these sorts of things so pragmatically. She knew her young friend had experienced horrors beyond anything most people would see outside of war and this served as a reminder of that.
“But that’s not how things are here Yuen-Ja, our government is by the people and for the people.” Victoria said, “We can trust the authorities to help us.”
“Surely you are joking. Just look what happened when you trusted your military, they almost assassinated Adam. You of all people should know better than to trust them.” The girl responded, giving her a look of disbelief.
That hit a little closer to home than she would have liked. She frowned, trying to reconcile her thoughts about her country and the freedoms she enjoyed with the actions of the military software.
“It must have just been a piece of badly written code.” She said finally.
“Victoria, there you are!” Eugene was walking briskly up to her and Yuen-Ja. “We have an hour in the trade hall and then our flight leaves this evening at seven.” He glanced at the young Korean girl, “Is she going to be all right?”
“Eugene, we need to talk. I can’t leave until I help her find her father. She doesn’t know where he is and after the incident earlier I’m not certain he’s alive.”
“We can’t afford to get involved any more than we already are. Christ Victoria, I don’t know exactly what’s going on but our lives are in serious danger even if we don’t start meddling with this … whatever is going on.”
“Look we are involved, like it or not.” Victoria snapped, “Or at least I am involved, she saved our lives and I’m not going to just forget that.”
“Yeah, and you saved her life back.” He hissed, “That doesn’t make you even? Damn it Victoria I … we are so close to getting out of this alive and ahead of…” his voice trailed off and he took a deep breath. She could actually see the blood drain from his face.
“Hey. What’s wrong Eugene?” Her brow furrowed in concern, “Are you OK? You look like someone walked over your grave.” She glanced at Yuen-Ja who was completely ignoring their argument and furiously typing on her laptop, heads up display strapped to her head.
“I know you flipped out and killed a few guys who weren’t expecting you to be there, but the people involved here don’t give a shit if you’re a teenager or a little kid if they think you have what they want they will extract it.” He shuddered. “These people are dangerous. More than dangerous, I really think they are psychopaths.”
“Let’s get one thing straight here Eugene. We didn’t KILL anyone. You say these people are psychopathic killers? All the more reason not to let them do what they want with an eleven year old girl wouldn’t you agree?” She had been advancing on him, but now she took a step back and gave him a direct look, “How exactly do you know so much about this group of people anyway? What aren’t you telling us?”
Eugene glanced around, although the antechamber they were in appeared to be empty he was hesitant to continue. “I don’t really think this is the time or place to discuss this.”
Yuen-Ja looked up and tugged Victoria’s skirt, “Tori, I might have found him. One of the rooms on the top floor of our hotel has been making phone calls to a cell phone that I have traced to a North Korean national who is currently in the country. They have also been making calls to the Iranian Ambassador’s office. If they don’t have him, they are looking for him.”
“Is there any way we can get up there unnoticed?” She was interrupted by a crash followed by screams of alarm from outside.
They made their way out through the atrium and saw a crowd of people standing around something on the street. Police officers were converging on the scene.
“What happened?” Victoria asked a passerby, one of the doctors from the audience.
“I don’t know, I think someone jumped.”
Eugene was already pushing his way through the crowd shouting “I’m a doctor!”
“It’s sick, I saw his brains on the sidewalk!” A hysterical woman was walking shakily towards a bench. “God, he almost hit me. He wanted to die too, he didn’t scream or anything.”
“Who was it?”
“Some Asian guy, I don’t know he was wearing a nice blue suit though, maybe he was a businessman or something. I’m not sticking around to find out.”
“It is poppa. I know it is. Let’s get out of here as fast as we can. It is because of me that they killed both poppa and mommy. We need to go.” Tears were streaming down Yuen-Ja’s cheeks.
“It’s not your fault dear, you didn’t do anything.” Victoria tried to take the girl’s hand but she slapped it away.
“You do not know ANYTHING Tori. It doesn’t matter though; there is not anything they can offer me not to do it now. It would not have mattered anyway but now they know I do not have anything to lose.” Her voice was bitter and angry, not sounding at all like a preteen girl’s.
“Yuen-Ja, is there anything I can do to help?” Victoria asked, noting thankfully that speaking Mandarin no longer made her temples throb. “How can you be certain the person out there is your father? Let me check and see if it’s him.”
“No. We need to leave now.” The girl insisted, “You probably should not be seen with me. Not to worry Tori, I will not let anyone do anything to you.”
“Why don’t you come with me instead? Revenge won’t bring them back you know. Be honest Yuen-Ja, this has something to do with you stealing that information from that military spy satellite doesn’t it?” Victoria folded her arms and gave her a penetrating look.
Yuen-Ja’s lower lip trembled, “How could they know? I was so careful”
“Just come with me. I’m sure I’ll be able to figure out a way for you to stay at my place.” Victoria said, “It can’t be that hard to get some forged documents or something. Hell if we turn that information over to the military they might even grant you asylum.”
“I refuse to trust your government. Why do YOU trust them? They are the ones who infected your Adam with the disease that almost killed you both. They are the ones who allowed the killers to attack and capture poppa. They are the ones who are allowing the Iranian pigs to buy enriched Uranium from North Korea so that they can continue their military ambition at the expense of the rest of the people of North Korea. I’m not going to let it stand. I’m going to make them pay.” The force of this tirade literally made the little girl’s body shake.
“This might be your only chance to get away without being killed.” Victoria knelt down to look the girl in the eye. “They think they have silenced their target don’t they? They think your father is the one they were after right? If you come with me now you will fall off the face of the Earth. You can start over.”
Yuen-Ja looked at her; hope beginning to dawn behind her eyes. “I can stay with you? I can be part of your family?” The girl’s lower lip trembled, ”I could go to school?”
Victoria was at a loss for words, “Of course you can! We will do whatever it takes to get you immigrated. I’ll make it contingent to my handing over of the information they asked me for.” Yuen-Ja hadn’t been going to school? She turned to Eugene who had come up a short time before.
“The police already had their own investigators there. They didn’t need my assistance.” He ran his hand through his hair and sighed, “So mind telling me what you were talking about?”
“Just discussing our options and I think we’ve come up with the best possible scenario.” She looked back at Yuen-Ja who was looking off toward the street where her father lay smashed into the pavement.
“I will come with you then sister, as long as Adam is not my brother. He’s already my friend and I don’t think of him as a brother at all.” She gave Victoria an inscrutable look.
“OK, let’s go somewhere I can make a call in private.” Victoria said, “Can you make me a disk of the data or something?”
“I have to give them back the data?” Yuen-Ja protested, “But it’s MINE!”
“Well you can keep a copy; if I don’t have something to hand over how am I going to help you out? Maybe it could be partially corrupted or something?” Victoria suggested, “I don’t know a lot about whatever it is you do, but I need something if I’m going to have some kind of leverage to get you immigrated. It has to be intact enough that they think they’ve got what they are after though.”
“Fine. I’ll make you a copy. I’m still allowing it to be released on the website. It’s timed anyway so they won’t be able to trace it to me.” She crossed her arms, “I’m going to do it no matter what you say, even if you say you won’t take me with you.”
“Nothing you could say would make me not take you with me Yuen-Ja. I have no idea what the fallout will be but I’ll take responsibility for not stopping you. The world hasn’t been fair to you and you deserve to take what retribution you believe is justified.” She took the girl’s hand, “Come on, let’s go home.”