Hyle sat up with the assistance of Taiyoko. Bob watched and both men looked worried. The Lightbearer folded his arms.
"We have found the vehicle used by Seeker Troy, Sister Sun Feng and Acolyte Benedict."
Hyle again felt her world start to shift. The Lightbearer's face was far from smiling.
"There had been a firefight. Sister Sun Feng and Acolyte Benedict were killed at the scene.
At least one of the assailants, we think there were four of them, was injured by Sister Sun Feng's sword before she was shot down..."
Hyle jumped to her feet and would have advanced on the Lightbearer if Taiyoko had not held her back.
"What about my daughter?!"
'Bob' remained unruffled.
"There was no sign of Seeker Troy. The tracks at the scene suggest she was forcibly removed and put into a vehicle which drove off in the direction of New Flagstaff."
Hyle sank back onto the mattress and Taiyoko sat down beside her. Bob turned and opened the door, but before stepping through into the corridor, Bob looked back.
"We are extending every effort to locate Seeker Troy. I understand that as the Esteemed Mother of Seeker Troy and mayor of Hope Springs, you have your own resources.
Please keep us informed if you make any progress in locating our Seeker."
"Your Seeker?" Hyle growled at the closed door. "My fucking daughter!"
Tiayoko put his hand on Hyle's shoulder.
"And he's only calling me 'Esteemed Mother' to my face. Cursed Mother is how they really say."
Tai could feel Hyle shaking under his hand, but the shaking had changed from shock to something else, something more forceful. He found a few words to try and placate Hyle.
"Bob San ah say he putting all he effort to find Tukiko Koishii."
Hyle stood up.
"Sure, a whole bunch of monks cruising around Flagstaff. That will be inconspicuous. Whoever has Tuki will be keeping her well hid, they'll see this lot coming, ten kilometres out."
Tai shifted his weight on the couch watching Hyle with patient detachment as she paced across the floor a few times, deep in thought. Hyle leaned over the crib and kissed her Grandson.
Tai didn't hear exactly what she said but what he saw looked like a promise.
Hyle turned and faced Tai. Tai recognised the look, it was pure determination. He had only seen it a time or two before, but when it did appear, things happened.
"You must stay here with Ichiro. And keep an eye on that Bob one. These people give me the willies." Hyle instructed Tai as she pulled on her jacket. "Tell Archbishop Bob or whatever he is...
" Hyle paused. "Tell him I'm going to find MY Daughter!"
A second later, Tai watched the door slam and listened to Hyle's heels clicking their way up the corridor. He rolled his eyes, then had to smile.
As Hyle drove towards New Flagstaff, she made a few calls. To Nurse Maisie at the clinic. To Theis, But only to tell him he had the helm of The Waffelhus. She tried Reavy again. Again no reply.
And finally, she tried Joe, but again, no response. Joe had obviously gone to ground. Hyle couldn't blame him for that. Joe had once been Miss Brown's trusted second in command.
What had happened to make him turn on her, Hyle didn't know, but she knew that his death would be slow and painful should she ever catch up with him.
Hyle considered Miss Brown, clearly the source of the danger. She had met her a few times before and knew she was formidable. And very bright.
But how, within a few hours of being locked away could she have gathered the resources to force a gun battle in broad daylight and kidnap Tuki?
Every time she thought of Tuki, Hyle felt her guts twist with worry, almost forcing her to puke, Hyle fought against the nausea.
Whatever happened, Hyle knew she had to be as strong and forthright as Brown if there was to be a good outcome.
Hyle thought back to her search for her sister, Sorja. How she had had to fight the darkness of her self-doubt and loathing inside her head which almost let her give up.
She could not let that happen. She had succeeded then; she would succeed now.
Besides, that was five years ago, and a lot of water had passed the bridge since. Hyle had changed a lot since then.
Hyle decided Joe had to be her first port of call, to compare notes on Brown. Did he know Tuki was missing? Maybe a good place to start would be Rodney at the New Flagstaff Auction.
She parked her car along a side street out of sight.
Unfortunately, Hyle's bright pink motor was too well known around The Plaza, and given the circumstances, it would be better to be a little more inconspicuous.
Rodney turned out to be useless. He had not seen Joe around, heard nothing out of the ordinary save word of a gun battle earlier, south of town, but that was nothing out of the ordinary.
Hyle elected not to expand on that. She gave Rodney a note which he must give to Joe should he turn up and bade him good day.
Hyle saw the thug leaning on her car about ten meters after she walked around the corner. He stood up. She slowed.
She heard gravel scrunch several paces behind her. Hyle walked carefully towards her car and the grinning thug.
Damn! Hyle thought. Her gun was in the boot of the car.
Hyle smiled at the thug as the distance slowly closed, she listened carefully, judging the distance of the steps behind her.
The first thug drew his blade, it was long but very dull, uncared for. Hyle tugged the zip of her jacket open.
Naturally, the thug's gaze dropped to her chest. He who hesitates, they say.
A shiny polished leather boot connected perfectly with his balls; the thug dropped like the sack of shit he was.
Hyle heard the footsteps behind break into a run, she spun, levelling a flat hand, which caught the other thug just under his larynx. He went down gurgling like a drain.
As Hyle sped away to safety, she made a mental note to thank Reavy for her patience while she taught Hyle a few self-defence tricks.