Chapter 9

Darius was marking books in his study when he heard his doortone. He ignored it. He ignored just about everything these days, since he'd completely lost his composure that day in the coffee shop. Darius went to work, did his job, came home.

“Good evening Master Hawk.” Netty appeared at the study door and frightened the life out of him. “I used my key. Don't mind me.”

“Actually, I do mind, Netty.” Darius stood up and went over to persuade Netty to leave. “I'm very busy. Now if ... what the hell's all this?” His sitting room was full of people! Zach, Axel Samson and a woman who Darius didn't even know, plus Netty. “This isn't a public house! Look I'd appreciate it if you all left. I'm tired and I'm busy.”

“Busy driving yourself into a depression.” Netty said. “Please Master Hawk, there are a lot of people who care. People who are genuinely concerned about you.”

“Netty ... look, I'm very grateful, really I am.” Darius said wearily. “Thank you, all of you, for your concern but there's no need. I'm fine. I just need to be left alone to get on with things. Please?”

“Yours.” Zach handed Darius an envelope. It was his invitation to Governmental dinner, addressed to Master D Hawk and Guest.

“I think I'll give it a miss.” Darius glared holes through Zach. “Uncalled for, Zach. Below the belt.”

“I'm sorry, it wasn't meant to wind you up. You could always go to the dinner and show them who's boss.” Zach nodded.

“You know damned fine I'm not going.” Darius said menacingly. “My reason for attending that dinner no longer stands. Remember? Please leave, all of you.”

“Netty?” The woman who Darius didn't know, nodded at Darius' wall clock. “Once the Border Bodies change shift, it'll make it more difficult, even with Bowles' help.

“What?” Darius said suspiciously. “Never mind, I probably don't want to know. And you are?”

“Elizabeth Fox.”

“Darius we have a mini cruiser in my yard.” Alex spoke up and Darius had to sit down, rather heavily. “Oh don't worry, my parents are on Al Kazik.”

“Oh and that's meant to make me feel better?” Darius squealed hysterically.

“Listen!” Axel waved his hands at Darius. “The Border Bodies change shifts in forty five minutes and Sergeant Bowles has managed to hack into the rotas so it'll take them at least fifteen minutes to sort out where they're supposed to be. You can be over in the Minor Sector in that time, and Barney Cope will meet you behind the jailhouse.”

“H ... h ... hang on!” Darius sobbed. “Axel are you mad? Just ... just! Zach? Sergeant Bowles hacked the rotas?”

“He's worked very hard on it.” Zach nodded seriously.

“And I'm supposed to do what? Exactly? Please don't state the obvious, any of you.” Darius felt numb with sheer shock.

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