Not one, but two sleek, black police helicopters approached the building in the classic wingman formation. Miho stood motionless near the roof's maintenance shed. The escort banked off to hover while the lead chopper landed smoothly in the center of the helipad. Ducking slightly, the ribbons whipping furiously in her hair, she moved to the airship as the door opened, and climbed aboard as if she did this sort of thing every day. Nor was she surprised to find Sonoda Meimi as well as her husband waiting for her. There was a third man in the passenger compartment that she didn't recognize. Miho took the rear-facing seat directly behind the pilot. As the pilot spun up the rotors for takeoff, she accepted the intercom headset Sonoda offered her, and settled it on her head.
"Good afternoon, Inspector-san, Meimi-san." She gave the woman a knowing smile. "It's been a long time."
"Goodness, yes it has, Tohya-san. I'm glad to see you well." Meimi answered.
"You mentioned the waterfront." The inspector said, "anyplace in particular?"
"Not yet, Inspector. Yuki-san is on some sort of boat. If we can sweep the area, I expect to get something more."
Sonoda nodded, and spoke to the pilot. The chopper veered off and headed towards the distant shimmer of water. The second airship, which Miho had noted was filled with a police swat team, fell into position on their flank.
Inspector Sonoda then indicated the other man. "Tohya-san, this is Detective Shinsi. He's in charge of the investigation into Yuki's kidnapping." The detective nodded gravely to her. He was a serious looking middle-aged man, whose round, mustached face was lined with fatigue and strain.
Miho greeted the detective politely, then lifted an eyebrow slightly towards Sonoda.
"The Cataclysm Division doesn't usually investigate kidnapping cases." Sonoda said with a grim smile, "I've been detached from my normal duties to assist, but I'm not an expert in these matters. Detective Shinsi has been briefed on your role in the case. He's also familiar with my wife's…capabilities.
"I see. Do we know what the kidnappers want?"
"We do," answered the detective. Miho appreciated that he evidently had no problem briefing a teenage girl on the details of his case. He was a man who cared more for solving crime than dwelling on the dignity of his position. "They want Mrs. Sonoda to do a job for them.
Miho glanced at Meimi "They want her to…take something?"
"Not quite. The object is in a vault in the mansion of a known crime boss. It's protected against theft with a pyrotechnic failsafe. If an attempt is made on the contents, and that attempt gets past the initial security measures, a mix of jet fuel and oxygen is released in the vault and ignited, destroying everything in it, and melting the safe itself to slag."
"That seems rather extreme."
"That depends on how bad it would be if the contents fell into an enemy's hands." Shinsi replied. "We don't even know what's in there. They just want Mrs. Sonada to trip the Sampson device without being detected."
Miho considered that. There was no doubt that Meimi could easily accomplish such a simple task. There was also no doubt that she would not.
"They don't know much about magic girls, do they?"
"I knew that when they kidnapped my daughter," said Sonoda Meimi, her dark eyes flashing.
"Indeed. Inspector Sonoda, I think I know what the answer will be, but if it's our best chance to get Yuki-san back safely, I'd be willing to do this thing."
The three regarded her in stunned silence for a moment. Inspector Sonoda looked like he couldn't have said anything if he wanted to.
"Thank you, dear," Meimi said, reaching across to pat her knee. "But do you really think that will be necessary?"
Miho's grin was pure mischief. "No." Then she turned serious. "But I wanted you to know…the offer was sincere."
"…Thank you." The inspector finally managed.
At that moment the pilot interrupted them. They had reached the waterfront.
"Which way, Detective?"
Shinsi looked at Miho. She was gazing out the cockpit window, her eyes unfocused, listening.
"To the left, please, Detective."
Detective Shinsi nodded to the pilot and the choppers veered off, heading north along the waterfront.
"Do we know what we're looking for?" the pilot wanted to know.
Miho thought a moment, then shook her head.
"Not yet. But I think we're getting closer. A little faster please, Detective, and have your men prepare; we're going to want to surprise them if we can." As Shinsi confirmed the instructions to the pilot Tohya turned towards the window, staring out, forward. The airship nosed down a bit as it picked up speed.
Inspector Sonoda glanced at his wife questioningly. She was studying Miho intently, but finally shook her head slightly, shrugging her shoulders. Whatever Miho was sensing, she couldn't feel it.

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