Chapter 1

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The floor bounced as Genevieve climbed out of bed. Swaying, she glared at the unruly wood planks. She didn't have time for flouncing flooring; she had work to do. She staggered over to the trunk, collapsed beside it and managed to open it after only three tries. Was she still drunk? Impossible. The masquerade had been hours ago. She didn't remember drinking that much wine, though right now remembering much of anything was an issue.

Murmuring a quiet apology to the green gown she'd worn the previous night, she dug underneath it for her trousers and shirt. Dressing was a wrestling match, but she eventually won. She shuffled back to the trunk and took a small mechanical mouse out of one of the many drawers in the trunk. A key on the chatelaine still laying on the dress started the mechanism, wheels spinning against her palm. The eyes glowed a deep red, the little ears twitching much too realistically. Of all the devices Professor Gray kept her supplied with, the mice were her favorite. She vaguely remembered using it last night at the ball to follow ... dammit, who? The mouse would tell her.

It took her a couple of tries to get the mouse situated on the playback device with her hands shaking and vision blurred. It finally clicked into place, and she slumped back on the floor.

"This will do. Shut the door." There was no mistaking General Desroches voice.

Desroches was the leader of Galey's military and a very nasty thorn in the Prime Minister's side as well as a vocal supporter of the Abolitionist movement. The movement being the entire reason she was in Galey. The Abolitionists imprisoned or murdered hundreds on the grounds of 'gender and sexual purity.' To threaten to turn someone over to the Abolitionists was tantamount to a death threat. Genevieve worked closely with a local aristocrat, Lord Loïc D'Aramitz, to smuggle those marked for arrest to her home in Orandon where Queen Astrea would grant them asylum.

"You needed to speak with me?" The second voice was muffled and barely audible, though it sounded familiar.

"I wanted to talk to you personally. Some things should never be committed to paper," Desroches said.

"I see."

"Take a seat," Desroches said. "Did you bring the document?"

"Yes. It took quite some searching. I found it buried in one of the old university archives. I had three copies made and put the original in a safe location."

The rustling of paper and a grunt.

"Good. This will change everything." Desroches said.

"What of the Prime Minister?"

"I will take care of him. He's our last impediment here in Galey. Are you certain you can find someone to carry out the task in Orandon?"

"I've already set things in motion. I've made certain nothing can be traced back to me."

"So, when is this plan of yours to take place?"

"Soon. I have a list of dates and times when Astrea will be vulnerable. The soonest I can manage is three weeks from now. When will you be disposing of the PM?"

"Well within that time frame. Everything is already in place for his successor to take power."

"I cannot imagine that's been easy considering his spy network."

"It hasn't. He's a cunning one but even the wiliest fox will fall for the right bait."

The conversation broke off as the clock struck midnight.

Genevieve shuddered. They were talking about assassinating not one, but two political leaders in the span of a month. But what did they stand to gain from this? She needed that document and to find a way to warn both the Prime Minister and Queen Astrea.

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