Scene 5: Just some street, Tuen Mun

[i]For a brief moment, Ming wonders if Huang has asked permission to take the security camera tapes yet ... then she shrugs. Somebody else's problem.

Ming quietly dodges up the stairs to the second floor, following the sound of the radio.[/i]

Upstairs, the rooms have more of a lived-in look. There's a double bed in one room, that looks quite lived-in. There's a couple of box rooms, in the literal sense of the word. There's also another bedroom, looking unused but curiously uncluttered. The radio is on a low table in a corner of the top landing. There's a small TV in the main bedroom, but it has a coathanger aerial and no video recorder.


A cloud passes over the shopkeeper's face momentarily, and when his habitual smile returns it seems bittersweet, somehow.

Old Shopkeeper: That is Lin. Our daughter. Lovely girl, full of life. Went missing thirty, more than thirty years ago. Never saw her again. Police did nothing- what could they do? We were not important. No-one saw anything. My wife still blames the police for not finding her. I try not to think about it. Take joy in the children that come in here.

He turns away and busies himself with a shelf of cigarettes, but you suspect it's more to shield his face than to get any work done.

Ming looks around on the wall where she saw the security camera wires entering the building.

Ming finds the front of the house, and estimates the wires would come through in one of the box rooms. After a little heaving, she pushes a heavy box far enough to find an inexpertly drilled hole in the wall. From it, two wires dangle uselessly into the building.

[i]Ming groans under her breath, and rolls her eyes dramatically. Figures.

She hikes it back downstairs to the counter, and pushes in on the conversation between Huang and the Shopkeeper.[/i]

Ming: Don't suppose you have a working security camera hereabouts, huh? Or know about another one around the neighborhood somewhere? Like, maybe the woman across the street has a webcam on her pet Pekinese, or something?

Ming suddenly realizes her irritation is showing, and remembers her manners.

Ming: Err ... "Sir." If you'd be so kind as to help one of HK's finest in her investigations, that is.

Ming flashes the old man a winning smile.

Huang is snapped out of the daze that the old man's story has put him in, and indicates Ming with one hand.

Huang: This is Ni Ming Shi. I usually call her Ming to save time. But she's right. Anything that might be of use to us would be helpful.

[i]Huang pauses for a moment, mulling over what he's going to say next. Talking to people about the supernatural is never easy, especially if you do not know whether or not they are in the know, as you never know how the hell they're going to react.

He lowers his voice to a conspiratorial whisper.[/i]

Huang: Even if it involves things that you may consider too weird for CIS to believe in a thousand years.

The old man brushes the corner of his eye briefly and shakes his head.

Old Shopkeeper: We don't have the money here for things like that. I got a broken camera- stops kids from grabbing sweets- but I don't know of any others. He thinks for a minute Everything we know we have told you. You are spending all this time on that poor girl. Why didn't you spend so much effort all those years ago to find our girl? The police, they told us we were careless, that it was our fault she ran away. Why can't you just leave us alone now?

Ming: Sorry for the trouble, sir. And I'm sorry for your loss, as well.

Ming heads for the door.

Nic sees Ming entering the main shop again from the back, and follows her towards the front of the store. He listens to the exchange between the shopkeeper and his comrades. After Ming leaves, Nic quietly thanks the old man once more for his time, and slowly exits the shop.

Nic: (to himself ) This is such crap! Not only have we not found the current missing girl, but these poor people never found out where their daughter disappeared to all those years ago! I swear, somebody, real soon, is gonna pay for putting these families through this ordeal!

Nic cracks his knuckles loudly. With his face set angrily, he proceeds down the street towards the area where Mingxia disappeared.

And with that, Huang is alone with the shopkeeper. His face takes on one of the weariest looks that we've seen from him so far.

Huang: I do not know who was in charge of your daughter's case, as it's been thirty years since it all happened. I must have been a kid myself back then, and at least one of my partners hadn't even been born yet. I do not know why they failed to find her, but I'm willing to bet that both you and your wife have your theories, chief among them being that they just didn't care. And don't even get me started on my theories, because I'm not exactly the department's biggest fan either, and I'd be here all night.

But right now, we have more pressing matters. There is still hope for Mingxia. She is still alive, but I do not know how long she has left. There is another family out there who needs us, and we are not going to let them down like our predecessors did with you.

Huang sighs, pays for his drink, then turns to leave.

Huang: I'm going now. Thank you both for your time. You two have yourselves a good day.

And with that, Huang heads out the door. The instant the door closes behind him, we see Huang close his eyes and light up another cigarette, taking his first slow drag before blowing out the smoke in a thin jet dispersed by the breeze. He lets in a deep breath of fresh air before letting it out slowly through his nose. And then he starts advancing toward Nic and Ming, his face a mask of deadly calm, and only his eyes betraying the fact that he is just as mad as Nic at this moment.

[i]The wind has picked up while the investigators were in the shop, and it's whisking old sheets of newspaper and rubbish down the road. Local eddies lift a plastic bag high into the air and over the row of buildings near the garages.

Nic is at the side of the road, waiting impatiently for a break in the traffic so he can cross. Huang has caught up with him and Ming, letting the brisk air snatch away the smoke from his cigarette.

Across the road, more can be seen of the garages. The tarmac has quite a few dustbins left on it, some empty and some filled with stewing filth. There's an old car with heavily corroded panels and no wheels. The garages themselves are a largely featureless row of steel doors set in concrete. The buildings around the garages are all much taller, three storeys, and overshadow them. No windows look out from the buildings onto the tarmac.

From this angle, it's obvious that at the far end of the area there's another way out onto one of the cross-wise roads of the junction. It looks exactly like the kind of shortcut where bad things can happen.[/i]

[i]Huang takes another drag and lets the wind pick up the smoke. Everything about this place is putting the maverick cop's senses on alert. No windows looking out onto this place means no witnesses. Concrete and steel matches Nic's vision perfectly. And it's certainly out of the way enough for no one to find out for a while if something went wrong. If anyone wanted to kidnap someone, this would be the perfect place to do so.

Huang draws his Beretta and chambers his first round, holding the weapon in both hands and going straight into business mode, keeping his voice low so only the others with him can hear.[/i]

Huang: Stay sharp and keep your eyes and ears open. I have a feeling that this is where Mingxia got grabbed, and whoever did the job may still be out there.

[i]At the first break in traffic, Nic jogs across the road towards the forboding array of garages. He stands on the tarmac, and some of the omnipresent litter blows around his legs like small tumbleweeds.

When his companions approach, Nic points to the crossroads of the junction[/i].

Nic: That looks like exactly the kind of shortcut where bad things can happen, guys. If Mingxia were cutting through here to get to school, or meet some friends, she may have stumbled onto something in the garages that she wasn't supposed to see. This is the last place we have left to get some clues, and the sooner the better.

Nic begins walking pointedly towards the grungiest area of the garages, a determined stride carrying him quickly towards the last place Mingxia was seen.

As Nic heads off, Huang shakes his head angrily and then heads forward after him, aiming his weapon toward the ground.

Huang: Dammit, Nic, do not go off alone! Not without one of us at your side!

Nic looks back at Huang, then glances down at the drawn weapon in his partner's hand. Nic realizes that perhaps he's too used to dealing with opponents who use black magic, voodoo, and potions instead of 9mm bullets.

Nic: Right. So the plan is... you go first.

Nic pauses to allow Huang to get a few steps ahead of him, while he tucks his shirt in behind the police badge on his belt, making it clearly visible to anyone he may meet.

[i]Huang nods, then starts taking slow and controlled strides toward Nic's destination, the others following behind, Huang keeping his Beretta at eye level and trained on the opening ahead as he moves, listening for any signs of movement in the garages in case Mingxia or any bad guys should be inside.

He gives the old car a once-over, noting it as a possible hiding spot for bad guys or a source of cover if all hell should break loose.[/i]

The car looks like it was stripped of anything valuable and abandoned. There are enough panels missing or rusted through that it provides little cover unless you climb underneath it.

The rustiest and dirtiest garage door is covered in graffiti, but otherwise unremarkable.

Huang being working his way down the row of garages warily. He tries the handle very gently to see if it's open, and if not moves on. The design of these garages is such that they won't unlock from the inside.

Nic is puzzled. Huang has been moving down the row methodically, but there was one garage he walked right past without trying. As Nic studies the garage, he sees a lingering aura of influence magic radiating off it.

Nic slips up to the garage Huang passed, pressing up against the wall beside the door. He holds his hand up to halt Ming Shi, and calls out to Ken just loudly enough to be heard.

Nic: Psssst! Huang! You missed one, but that's because someone wanted you to miss it. This one smells of magic. Probably disguised so we wouldn't notice it, and pass right by.

Nic pulls out a piece of chalk, and begins lightly and quietly etching obscure symbols on the garage door. They look vaguely Egyptian.

Nic: (whispering still) I can't tell if the magic was cast by a human or by something less than human, so I'm Purifying this doorway and hopefully the interior before we go in. If there's a supernatural being around, it'll be either trapped inside and weakened, or prevented from entering once we're in.

Nic slips the chalk away, and the markings on the garage door seem to evaporate into invisibility. Nic smiles.

Nic: Don't worry; the Purification is still there. Just don't want to advertise that it is. Now, let's find out what's so important about this sucker.

As Nic lays down why Huang missed the garage, the maverick cop's eyes go steel. He's been subject to this kind of sorcerous mind-screw before, and it was usually Arthur who would point this out. He approaches the garage in question until he's right beside Nic and Ming.

Huang: So this is why CIS didn't find anything. I hate sorcerers. Present company excepted.

Huang tightens his grip on the Beretta.

Huang: There's only one reason to pull a stunt like this -- someone's got something to hide. Either Mingxia is in there, the bad guys are, or whatever she may have stumbled upon. Either way, get ready. Who wants to do the honors?