Rozena sneaked a glance at her phone, to check the time. When Emma’s steady breathing told her that her friend was asleep, she slipped out of the room.

The corridors outside were carpeted so it was easy to run along without a sound. Rozena hoped that she would not meet anyone. She’d had to change into her night clothes, otherwise Emma would have suspected that she was up to something. So she was wearing her best pyjamas and a white dressing gown for use of the guests that she’d found in the hotel closet.

The message had said to meet up on the hotel roof, but Rozena had no idea how to get there. She found some stairs and followed them up as far as she could go. Then, luckily, she discovered another door with a smaller stairway that led even further up. She pushed open the door and found herself at the very top of the hotel, on a big, concrete area with a low parapet wall around the edge.

It was dark, and a chilly wind bit at her so that she had to pull the dressing gown close around her. A clattering roar drew her attention; suddenly there was a dark shape between her and the stars. Her hair and clothes whipped about her in the wind of the helicopter’s rotors.

Rozena stood well back as it landed. Colin was in the pilot seat, and Zazi was next to him, opening the door as soon as the helicopter touched down. Behind her was Trevor, clad in a long, dark, leather coat. All three of them came to meet her.

“Hello!” said Zazi. “We have to hurry. Come on, we need to tell you what your mission is.”

Rozena wanted to wait till the helicopter’s rotors had stopped turning, but Zazi waved her impatiently closer.

“Our target is a man called Mark van Reenen,” she said, giving Rozena a file and nodding at her to open it. “That’s his picture, see?”

“He’s a businessman,” said Trevor. “But SCRAM says he’s really involved in smuggling weapons to right-wing terrorists here in South Africa.” He looked at her, and Rozena became suddenly very self-conscious of how she must look, standing there in her pink bunny pyjamas and the white dressing gown.

“You cold?” he said, and without waiting for an answer, took off his leather coat and slipped it over her shoulders. The coat was still warm from his body, and Rozena found herself blushing furiously. “Thanks,” she said.

Zazi was still talking. “We are going to be tracking this Mr van Reenen, spying on him. If we can prove that he’s meeting with certain known criminals, that will make it easier to prove to the authorities that he’s up to no good. Here.”

She flipped a page in the file and showed Rozena a picture of a girl with long, pale brown hair and blue eyes. “This is his daughter, Natasha van Reenen. She’s one of the other Rising Star finalists.”

“She is?” Rozena stared at the photo. It was hard to imagine that this innocent-looking girl was the daughter of a criminal arms dealer.

“She is,” confirmed Zazi. “And she’s here in this hotel, just like you and all the other Rising Star competitors. Your task is to make friends with her.”

Rozena stared at Zazi. “What?”

Zazi nodded. “SCRAM believe that Natasha is not as innocent as she seems. Apparently, she helps her father communicate with the arms dealers and mercenaries.”

Rozena’s phone buzzed in the pocket of her nightgown.

“That,” said Zazi, “was SCRAM sending you a link where you can download a virus which they want you to plant on Natasha’s tablet computer. She won’t know it’s there – it’s called a trojan virus. Once that’s done, SCRAM will have access to all her messages, email, her Facebook, everything.”

“You’re the only one who can do it,” said Trevor, looking down at Rozena. “You have to get her to trust you. And … if you put one foot wrong, a whole gang of criminal killers will know about it.”


Tell us: Have you heard of any computer viruses? Have you ever had a virus cause trouble on your digital device?