While drinking at Crash the gang meets Diamond – an old flame of Original Cindy. She’s out of gaol and looking to turn a new leaf – and that leaf involves getting back together with Original Cindy as soon as possible. The old spark comes back and after much flirting and bouncing off each other (which, it being Original Cindy, you know is awesome) they kiss – and Diamond spends the night.
Max has a mission from Logan – there’s a very bad man who buys and sells weapons. Recently he has been extra troublesome and stole some of the poor secured nuclear weapons from the US’s stockpile, less well protected after the Pulse hit. Logan, naturally, isn’t fond of this being sold and wants to get all the details he can – but it’s on a disc and in a safe in the man’s highly paranoid security. Time for Max to step up. As an added bonus Max intends to pocket any spare money he has lying around to try and get a water heater for her squatter apartment.
Because security is so tight she goes and scouts it first as a Jampony messenger, using her X5 vision to see the laser trip-wires that cover the approach to the safe.
While out on the town, teasing Cindy for copying her style from Diamond (which she hotly denies), they’re set upon by a gang of men who don’t expect to find Max in the middle of them. After she tears them apart she wonders with Logan who they were – clearly not Mantecore, clearly not expecting and X5 and she hasn’t done anything to get on the bad side of the arms dealer yet. Logan does some digging and finds they’re part of a mercenary band and she may want to lie low – after getting the disc of course.
Diamond, meanwhile, has been noticing that Max isn’t just a bike messenger. Seeing the fighting skills and, while Max takes a shower, searching her stuff and finding thieves tools which, added to the odd expensive luxury item Max has around she shouldn’t be able to afford, she assumes Max steals to supplement her income (not inaccurate). She doesn’t judge this – but she does offer to back Max up if she has a job going at all. Max shuts her down and becomes uncomfortable with a nosy – and observant – person living so close to her when she has so many secrets to hide and asks Cindy to move her out. Cindy isn’t pleased, as expected – but we thankfully miss lots of angst and temper tantrums I half expected. Cindy doesn’t lose her ever-loving mind just because she’s in love and her friendship with Max doesn’t shred because there’s romance in the area.
Max goes on her job for the disk, X5 abilities getting her to the safe and past all the traps with elegant ease – but she’s followed by Diamond who takes the opportunity to run off with the bag of loot and, in doing so, sets off the alarm that traps Max until the police show up.
The police are classic post-Pulse corrupt, openly telling her all the people who are interested in what she was doing stealing (her reply is awesome: “you must be all worn out working for all these people.” But it quickly becomes clear that they’re not interested in Max - they’re interested in Diamond, who has apparently escaped from prison, not just been released. Max doesn’t co-operate and is drugged.
She wakes in an isolation cell where she is checked for contagious disease and 2 suited men being very very concerned about said disease. Upon finding she is free from plague, they reiterate the need to find Diamond and plan to have Max killed – which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t work out and Max gets away
Time to hit Logan and Sebastian, expert in all conspiracy theories. The guy she met runs Synthodyne, a pharmaceutical company that made a killing stockpiling flu vaccines and then releasing them at an inflated price during a lethal epidemic – nice people. Since then they have used their massive wealth to diversify into all kinds of companies – including prisons and viral warfare research. And they’ve brought the 2 together – testing manufactured viral weapons on prisoners after falsely convincing them that they’re dying from AIDS or Cancer and need treatment (therefore they sign the nice papers to get their meds). Diamond has been infected with a plague that is highly lethal and highly contagious – as soon as the meds she had in prison wears off.