Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

“Hey, Cherry. Who’s that freak you know? Reynard?”
Constable Dalforth grins nastily.
Inspector Cherry Fasslin of the Tactical Response Group grimaces. He knows she knows exactly who he’s insulting. She also knows he wouldn’t say word one if that particular gent were actually nearby.
“It’s Reinhardt. Why?”
“Maybe you should call him. The polar bear has a katana. Might be a challenge.”
Cherry sighs. She’s spent so long working on animorph relations with members of the regular police. This caveman seems to have missed every session.
“Constable Dalforth, that’s a white-pelted ursimorph with an ōdachi. Calling it a polar bear might offend it, and calling it’s heirloom monumental blade a small sword is sure to.”
“I see a furball with a samurai sword, I’m not worried about the niceties. I call in the TRG. You are the TRG, aren’t you?”
Officer Lupin Blue has moved up on Dalforth’s blind side.
Her whispered greeting causes him to jump, literally, which ruins his trained response to spin, crouch, and be ready to defend or draw. He lands with his feet mid-move and stumbles sideways until he bounces off a gyrocar.
“’kin’ ’ell, a moggie.” His voice is flat with anger.
Cherry winces. Definitely missed every session.
Lupin’s ears drop flat.
“That would be felimorph, but you’re forgiven. Once.”
“’kin’ TRG…”
His red-faced reply trails off as the barking laughter of the ursimorph gets louder.
Cherry looks over. It’s leaning on a lamppost, ōdachi resting on a shoulder, pointing at Dalforth.
“You can’t dance for shit, notepad.”
Dalforth’s hand goes to his sidearm.
“What did he just call me?”
Officer Joe Tremaine, the other member of Cherry’s patrol, places a hand on the shoulder of Dalforth’s gun arm.
“He called you a ‘Notepad’. It’s military slang for a police officer who’s not as tough as they act. I think he’s nailed you, mate.”
Dalforth glances about.
Cherry hopes he sees what she does: Joe is leaning forward, using his long reach, so he has room to react. Lupin’s taken two steps back, has a hand on her sidearm. If Dalforth tries anything, he’ll be down before his piece clears the holster.
The laughter stops.
“Ey, TRG boss lady. You the one who knows our Cat?”
Cherry gives a quick smile and discreetly gestures for the snipers to stand down.
“Had dinner at her and Marie’s place last night. What’s with the blade, big bear? Bit late in the day for a shave.”
The ursimorph chuckles, swings a giant scabbard round from behind, then sweeps the ōdachi into it with a single, smooth movement. Standing with the scabbarded blade in one hand, it salutes her.
“I’m Captain Seiji Guevara. Been away for a while. Got myself turned about in these rebuilt back ways, saw a uniform exchanging packets with someone, went to ask directions. The someone scarpered. The uniform screamed and drew on me. I had a flashback, caught it in time, but drew before I stepped back. We were in a standoff until he holstered his piece when you lot rolled in.”
Cherry nods. As it happens, she recognises his name. Reinhardt mentioned it last night.
“Officer Blue, could you update Captain Guevara’s datapad with the latest Southwark maps? Then we’ll let him get on his way.”
She checks her datapad, then glares at Dalforth.
“After that, we’re going to have a long chat with Constable Dalforth about why he’s so far from his beat, who that someone was, what’s in the other packet, and why he’s so jumpy.”
Dalforth swallows so hard they hear it.
Joe chuckles.
“Gotcha, dirty badge.”