Chapter 15

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Joanna nearly jumped out of her chair when Charlotte silently walked through the doors of the officer's lounge. Calling it a lounge, of course, was being generous. Other than a few soft green chairs and a coffee table in the middle, the room was every bit as drab, grey, and threadbare as the rest of the military base.

Sophia, who was sitting across from her guzzling a bottle of beer, looked completely nonplussed. "Well if it isn't our triumphant Princess," she said with a playful drone. "You want me to dye my hair again for our little roleplay?"

"Come on Sophia. It wasn't that bad. You barely had to be around, playing the deadbeat mom that you were," Charlotte said while rolling her eyes.

"You had me essentially babysit that boy for seven years before you finally picked him up. I don't know if you've heard... but I don't like kids at all! There's a reason I chose a career where having kids isn't encouraged anyway."

"Oh stop being so dramatic. You and Alex have more in common than you'd think. I never heard the end of him complaining about you. And who else would I have called to invent an identity on the spot?"

Sophia shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. "I don't know, the rest of the RIC? Being spies is kind of what the whole organization's for."

Charlotte's smile faded into a wistful, dark frown.

Sophia let out a defeated groan. "Oh come on Char, lighten up. Just making small talk ya know? I'd do it again if you asked, though not without complaining some more." She stood up from her cushioned chair and patted Charlotte on the back. "Besides, you didn't come here just to shoot the breeze with us did ya? You're probably here to fix our little screw up with Lanniston."

"Actually I'm more worried about the arsenals, factories, and power plants the Dans managed to destroy while cutting their way to the city. And out of it. They're gone. Navy jets circled over and found nothing but our own civilians locked up in the jailhouses."

"Oh." Sophia visibly deflated.

Joanna furrowed her eyebrows. " Let me guess. Zoe Kruger's leading them. Bitch has never lost a battle in her life." She stood up and looked both of her friends in the eye. "The most dangerous enemy is the one too stupid to be afraid."

"I wouldn't exactly call Zoe Kruger stupid," Charlotte muttered.

Joanna shook her head. "All I'm saying is I don't want you rushing into this thinking it's just another band of cave dwelling savages like last time."

Charlotte raised an eyebrow. "Goodness, I thought you were supposed to be the easygoing one among us."

"Getting our asses handed to us battle after battle doesn't leave me in the mood to joke around." Joanna grumbled.

"Are you still upset about that whole mess with Alex and Sophia?" Charlotte asked.

Joanna had to blink a few times to register what Charlotte was saying. She was tempted to deny it, but the indignation in her gut forced her to double down. "He's just a kid, and you made him think he had to arrest his mom for treason. It's not exactly like his family life was easy before that either!"

"Hey, I'm telling you, that boy and I didn't get along anyway," Sophia said, taking another sip of her drink. "If anything, I was expecting him to punch me a few times out of anger." A crooked grin came onto her face. "Would've been nice. I like rough boys."

"Ugh, gross," Joanna said with a scoff.

"What? We're not actually blood related. It'd be kinky don't ya think? 'Hey sweety, come for mommy.' Nothing like some saucy roleplay to keep things interesting."

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