xxviii. ss battleship

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xxviii

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xxviii. SS BATTLESHIP

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY

The news can be relentless.

It had been a week after the incident at the awards dinner, and so far, the 24 hour news cycle was still consumed by what happened. Many theories circulated about who was responsible for the death of at least a dozen diplomats.

In tandem was the breaking news that the famous statue had been stolen from the Louvre. This series of unfortunate events led many to speculate a large government-level conspiracy. No one, except me, knew the truth.

Everyone was still recovering from injuries sustained that night. Ace's left arm was wounded, Chase had a black eye, Skye had twisted her foot, and Xavier had several dark bruises. Only I was relatively unharmed since I pretty much hid behind Ace the entire time.

Even my wrists, which Thirteen had bruised, had disappeared.

The Director stood, downtrodden in the front of the debriefing room. His eyes were worn with crows feet that seemed to escalate over the last couple of weeks. A long sigh escapes from his lips.

"I'm taking this team off of Thirteen's case and turning it to a joint secret services council of the US," the Director states. He then turns to face me. "It's become too... personal."

"But—," I protest.

"Enough, Octavia. I've made my decision."

Thirteen's threat resurfaced in my mind. The safety of the little family I had left was at risk. If I told Ace or the agency, who knew the repercussions. The Director's reasoning was understandable. Though unbeknownst to them, I absolutely had to see the USB.

"I'm the best cryptographer you have—at least let me try to crack it."

"I told you, it's gotten too personal," the Director asserts. "It's time for this team to get a new mission."

"Who's going to take over the case?"

"An international council of secret service members. The USB will be transferred from inventory next week. This team is going to get new missions effective immediately."

My lips pull into a thin, bureaucratic-hating smile. It was official—I'd been forced to betray the agency.

~

The moon watched cast a dim glow on the Hudson River as I looked through my binoculars. Under the guise of night, Ace and I waited silently on a speedboat by the docks. Every once in awhile, a large transport ship would bellow through the mouth of the upper New York bay.

Our mission was to sink a transport container the SS Oscar.

"What's so important on this ship that we have to sink it?" I murmur to Ace.

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