Chapter Thirty-Seven: The Watch

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"I was meant to be off tonight."

"I know."

"I had a date."

"I know. I'm sorry. It's not like it's up to me."

Hari's night off was definitely cancelled.

We sat in the back of an off-roader with tinted windows as the sky darkened over Colchester town centre. Two agents I didn't know sat in the front, one of them resting her eyes while the other scanned the quiet streets.

It had been almost twenty-four hours since Éven's escape through the Glass Embassy. The army was out in force in Colchester, but no-one had reported any verifiable sightings of "the target."

It wasn't just Horseshoe. Colchester has its own garrison, and they were on the streets as well, both in plain clothes and in uniform. The regular soldiers had been told that this was a training simulation. Anyone who got eyes on a man fitting Éven's description was to maintain a safe distance and report back to command.

Once in a while, we'd get word of a possible identification and we'd drive across town to verify. I wasn't the only person on duty who had seen Éven up close, but I could see through any magic disguise he might cast over himself, so they wanted me on the scene. But it wasn't him. It was never him.

So, I spent most of the day stuck in the back of the car, playing with my phone or dozing off for an hour here and there. Every time I opened my eyes or looked up, the other agents around me seemed to change shifts.

I was almost glad when Hari came on. He didn't like me very much, and he liked me even less now that I'd ruined his date night, but at least he was a familiar face. It didn't feel as much like the army when it was Hari.

"Do you think he'll show?" I asked.

Hari gave me the side-eye.

"Do you want him to?" he asked.

Hari's radio buzzed before I could answer. He picked it up, gave his name and coordinates, and listened to instructions.

"Understood ma'am." Hari set the radio down and tapped the driver on the shoulder. She opened her eyes and shivered. "We're to rendezvous at Colchester Castle," said Hari.

"Sighting?" asked the driver.

"Briefing," said Hari.

The driver started the engine. The answer to Hari's question, was that I actually didn't want to see Éven. Not here. If Éven didn't come, it meant he had doubts. If he didn't come, it meant second thoughts. It meant he might not go through with his plans, and I might be able to reach him.

But I knew in my heart that he would come. And when he came, he would be the enemy.

* * *

As we arrived at the stout Norman fortress of Colchester Castle, I realised the local garrison weren't the only ones called in. Tents had been erected on the well-kept lawns, and army vehicles were parked all around them. Giant flood lights on scaffolds kept the darkening night at bay.

A gate guard flagged us down to check our badges.

If Horseshoe was still using the training simulation story, people were going to question it. This looked like a full-scale military operation.

All of this for Éven.

We parked, and Hari led me to a portable cabin. The head of East England Station stood outside, in conference with one of her deputies. Operator Indira Jhabvala was a handsome woman in her early twenties, with deep brown skin and bright, golden eyes.

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