"No," he said, the wistful expression of moments before now replaced by a serious intensity. "That was a combination of short-term stupidity on the part of their rescue manager and what their lust for profits have done to the world's climate over the past century." He nodded towards his traveling companion. "It was something I learned from Phoebe's mother, Meg Butler, the woman I've been accused of murdering. If national governments had been permitted to act in the public interest and address the causes of global warming, that ice cave wouldn't have been so fragile, and the Golden State Barrage would still be standing. But the Basel cartel, which controls most of the world's central banks and writes national fiscal policy, dictates environmental and social policy as well." He shook his head in annoyance. "We've all been duped into acceding to governance that only serves them, governance that has done irreparable harm to the people and to the planet."
A dozen reporters simultaneously leapt the niceties of self-restraint and fired questions at him. Did he have proof? Could he substantiate his accusation? Would he name names? He held up his hands to stop the onslaught, and was about to speak when he was cut short by a shriek and the sound of gunfire.
Eshana started and called out to Ferd, who'd already thrown the camera drone back into manual and was turning it towards the source of the attack: the military had arrived. When she saw the buzz-cut faces on the screens of three telepresence drones hovering over the VTOL disgorging ground troops, she muttered "Gotcha!" and bolted into action.
As she strapped on a head mounted neural-induction gaming controller, Ferd swiveled the Indy-cam away from the remote weapons platforms and headed out over the lake. "They're going to want to shut me down," he said. "I'll lead them away to buy you some time."
"What are you doing?" Rafi asked.
"Taking over one of those drones," she said. "We cracked their security last year, but didn't dare make use of it for fear of losing our in. This ought to even up the game a bit."
While his sister wrestled control of the drone from its driver, Rafi found a wild feed from the press and put it on screen beside the Indy-cam's view of the two approaching military drones. Quince was on his hands and knees, straddled over a very bloody Phoebe Butler. She'd been torn apart by that first shot. Clearly, Eshana was going up against military sniper pilots. "Better hurry," he told her, "they're closing on him."
On the wild feed, Quince was just starting to stand up when the image froze, and was replaced by an error code, so Rafi wiped it aside in favor of the view from Eshana's drone. She was coming up behind the two that had gone after Ferd's borrowed Indy-cam. Without wasting a moment, she lasered the stabilizers on each of them. The sniper pilots broke left and right to try catching her in crossfire, but their craft didn't respond smoothly enough to the tight maneuver and wobbled unsteadily.
Rafi smiled when he saw what was on the screen of the captured drone as it approached Ferd's craft: it was a Guy Fawkes mask, long a symbol of the anonymous opposition to corporate governance. He was about to say something when the view spun crazily.
"Damn," Eshana said, "he's been clipped."
His worried look turned to panic at the sound of a sudden pounding on the door.
"Police!" a muffled voice called out. "Open up! We have a warrant for your arrest!"
She glanced at him, and then at the door. Ignoring the interruption, she turned her drone around and began to close in on one of the snipers.
There was a much louder noise from a cupped explosive, and the door burst open, revealing three men in black armor, one of whom leveled a rifle in their direction.
"Raf Thandri?" the leader said.
Rafi stood and turned to face them, hoping that they'd think Eshana was busy with a video game. "What's this about?"