NFPD Officer Blakeney heard the bang several streets way. He had been continuing the surveillance of Joe Spivey's place while Crabbe's squad were off duty.
Up until then, his night had been mind-crushingly boring.
The only thing of note had been when two local busy-bodies had pushed him from behind and got him to the floor demanding an explanation why he had been hanging around in a dark alley for
the past few hours.
In the few minutes it had taken him to explain that although he was in plainclothes, he was, in fact, a Police Officer and if they would just let go of his arms,
he would show them his ID The worst part of the whole episode was that when Blakeney finally got to his feet and the watchman's curiosity had been sated,
Joe Spivey had come out the house he was supposed to be watching and driven off somewhere. Crabbe was going to be furious.
That was before the explosion. Now Blakeney was sprinting towards the Plaza area, as were an increasing number of Union Guards who were appearing from various other streets.
As they all sprinted past the barracks, their number was swelled by a stream of military personnel issuing out of the gate along with a couple of jeeps.
At the corner, Blakeney and his multitude were met by an equally large number of people running from opposite and other directions. Some running to, some away from the scene.
The converging tides of humanity merged into a confused scuffling mass. Mayhem.
So no one noticed a rusty flatbed truck with a smirking driver, or the amused face poking out of the top of a pile of crushed boxes that were piled in the back.
The truck merely turned off into a side street.
"The Plod has gone," Silja noted.
Silja and Kirsten had been keeping a vigil at one of the darkened upstairs windows since Joe and Finny had left some hours before. Kirsten nodded in the faint candlelight.
Anneka was half asleep draped around Kirsten. Kirsten supported the toddler's rump with one arm and patted her back with the other hand, rocking her gently.
The street outside was empty, echoing only with the sound of tripped alarms and further away the sound of sirens and horns in the direction of the plaza.
"I hope they are all right," Kirsten whispered. Anneka had been scared awake by the bang and had only just stopped crying.
"Yeah," Silja replied, keeping the concern out of her voice.
It was only a few minutes later when the sound of excited girly chatter and heavier footfalls came from the stairway. The door swung open revealing two grinning faces.
Joe pushed Finny forward and Finny took a deep breath ready to proudly gush out the story of her deeds. She was stopped as Kirsten indicated the sleeping Anneka.
Finny's mouth clamped the words inside.
"She done good," Joe said as they moved closer. Finney nodded, still holding her breath.
"You got it?" Silja asked, hopefully. Joe nodded beaming,
Relieved beyond measure, Silja dashed forward and gave Joe a huge long tight hug which took Joe entirely by surprise.
Having a nineteen-year-old hanging around his neck had Joe at a disadvantage, he stared helplessly at Kirsten. Kirsten managed to stifle the smirk into Anneka's sleeping form.
It was Finny who stopped the embrace. She explosively let out the breath she had been holding since she walked into the room.
The look of pride in herself was obvious as she pulled out the files from inside her outfit and presented them toward Silja.
Silja let go of Joe and hunkered down to receive them.
"I'll take those." Said Joe.
Finny's hands were suddenly as empty as Silja's. Another similarity the two girls found themselves sharing was a look of blank confusion as they stared at Joe.
Joe, oblivious to this, separated the two folders, the thick one in one hand and the much slimmer one in the other.
He compared the titles before quickly bundling them together again and thrusting them under his arm. Only then did he look up and take in the indignation blossoming on Silja's face.
"But..." Was as far as Silja got before she found herself talking to Joe's back because Joe was in the process of propelling a surprised and confused Finny in the direction of his Study.
"I just need a quick word with Finny."
Two seconds later, Kirsten and Silja were alone in the hallway staring at a closed door. Silja turned to Kirsten.
Kirsten's face darkened into a gathering storm.
"I'll deal with this." She marched past Silja towards Joe's study door. Realising she didn't have a free hand to open the door with, Kirsten spun on her heel and marched back to Silja.
"Silja, please put Anneka to bed for me."
Silja's face went from confusion to frustrated anger in a heartbeat.
To have her most intimate history almost in her hands, only to have it snatched away again was beyond the pale and now to be dismissed like she was... was...
Words of fury bubbled to the surface. But then she saw the look of quiet determination and the held back wrath behind Kirsten's almond eyes.
In previous confrontations between Joe and herself, Silja was well aware that they tended to rapidly decline into a slanging match of raised voices and stubborn intractability.
At the end of which nothing was resolved, and both combatants could end up sulking, possibly for days. Joe and Silja were too much alike.
'Two donkeys in a kicking contest' was how Kirsten described these events.
Kirsten on, the other hand knew how to handle men. And Joe... Well, up to a point. A point only very rarely reached throughout their entire relationship. Silja knew all of this.
She held her tongue, and the sleeping toddler was gently passed from one safe set of arms to another. Silja gave Kirsten a little nod and then turned towards the stairs.