“Okay. We’ll sleep on it and discuss it again in the morning,” Alexei sighed. YEHOVAH, please show us what to do to destroy the League of Nations, he silently prayed. He reached over to his left and pressed a button, ending the call. He turned to Anastasia who had been standing nearby, waiting for him to finish.
“So, what did you want me for?” Anastasia piped up.
“You grew up in the Peak. You should know it extremely well, right?”
She nodded, titling her head like she was wondering what he would want.
“Well,” Alexei continued, “I want you to draw up a plan of the Peak, write down anything you know about it, so we can use it to formulate a plan of attack.”
“I had already thought of that,” Anastasia replied. “I have been drawing up a plan, and am almost finished. I just have to finish a few things on it first.”
He nodded. “Great. Go and finish it. It’s important,” he ordered.
“I know,” she smiled and turned and left the room, shutting the door.
He leaned back in his chair and sighed. He desperately wished none of this had happened. He thought of all the people who had died – people he did not know, faces he would never see. Is it worth it? He saw John’s face. Then his mind replayed John walking to the end of the building and then the explosion. I don’t think I can –
Alexei turned his head away. He did not want anyone to know he was starting to cry. He wanted to be alone. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Zipporah crouch down beside the chair. She did not say anything, but just sat there. “Fergus just called in. They have set up the peripheral protection unit as well as the inside one,” Zipporah said.
Alexei nodded, not trusting himself just yet not to cry infront of Zipporah.
“I have checked on the wounded in the hospital,” Zipporah continued in a casual tone. “I’m positive that they will live.” Alexei nodded again, keeping his face averted. She turned and looked at him. “And what about you?”
“What about me?” he asked defensively, surreptitiously wiping his eyes. He glanced at her and saw that she looked very concerned about him.
“You seem really down.”
“How am I supposed to react when people are dying in these plans of ours?!” He had not meant to speak angrily at her. He noticed that she looked down at the floor, surprised by his outburst. “People are dying, and you wonder why I am upset!”
She was silent for a moment. “I’m sorry, Alexei. I didn’t think.”
“Is it even worth it?” he snapped, venting his frustration, ignoring her apology.
He sensed that she was looking at him again, studying him. He could not stand her scrutiny and stood up and began pacing as his leg had healed. “Is what worth it?” she asked quietly.
He stopped, but would not look at her. “This! Fighting the League! Things go wrong and people get killed.” Angry tears began spilling down his cheeks. “Is fighting the League really worth all that? Worth people losing their sons, daughters, parents, siblings, spouses, friends, etc?” He sat down, suddenly feeling tired as the anger left his body. He rested his head between his hands, staring at the floor.
“I don’t know,” Zipporah said quietly. She fiddled around with her shoe lace. “We knew that all those things could happen when we started.”
“And is that supposed to make it any easier?”
“No. But once you start something like this, you can’t just quit in the middle. You have to keep going until it’s finished one way or the other.”
“Why?” He lifted his head and looked at her.
“Because if you quit now, things will be even worse. The League will kill even more people as punishment. The League won’t let any of the rebellious regions get away with this – they will do whatever they can to make it hell on earth for them. We can’t let that happen,” Zipporah replied.
Alexei broke eye contact and stared off into space as he thought about what Zipporah had just said. “You’re right. It’s just…when you see people very close to you die…” he stopped there as he knew she knew who he was talking about.
“I understand,” she replied, also thinking of John. “But that is another reason why we should continue.”
He wiped his eyes again. “You’re right. Sorry about all that,” he apologised.
“Don’t apologise. We all go through these phases every once in a while,” she told him.
She smiled at him. “What are friends for?” Right then, he thought she looked absolutely stunning and seriously considered telling her how he felt about her. But then she seemed to grow embarrassed and quickly stood up. “Um…I’ve got to go and make sure – for the final time – that the inner protection unit knows what to do before I retire,” she said apologetically. She headed for the door. He started to follow her, but stopped when she turned back to him. “You need to go to sleep. It’s almost eleven at night.”
He chuckled. “Yes, Mother. What would I do without you?”
She gave a playful smile. “You would die of boredom. You can’t live without my genius,” she joked. They cracked up laughing.
“What genius?” he teased.
“I don’t know,” she shrugged and headed out the doorway. He stared after her, wishing she had stayed. She made everything seem brighter. Anyway, might as well go to bed. He stood up and walked through the house until he arrived at his current bedroom door. He opened it and entered, shutting it behind him. He was so tired, he did not bother changing into any pyjamas and just crashed onto the bed, instantly dropping off to sleep.
BAY OF BENGAL, BANGLADESH
Kyen dropped down through the hatch into the Silver Dragon. He shut the hatch and turned around. Amelia was standing nearby, watching him. “Yes, cousin?” he asked.
“Grandmother wants your report,” she stated. “In the control room.”
“Yes, I was just going to do that,” and he brushed past her. He strode over to the control room where Mary was. Kyen went over to her and knelt before her on one knee. “Grandmother,” he greeted.
“Arise,” she ordered him. He stood up. “What is your report on the tunnel?”
“I disabled all the alarms and cameras. We will be able to slip through unnoticed,” he reported.
“Great. But what about any cameras and alarms inside the tunnel?” Mary enquired.
“There is none,” Kyen told her truthfully. “Only at the entrances. No-one can get past the alarms and cameras unless they knew where they are put, how to avoid them, and also how to disable them. So, they never bothered putting any inside the tunnel itself as no-one outside the League knows that they exist.”
Mary stopped to take that in. “Okay.” Then she paused and eye-balled him. “So, you went straight to the tunnel?”
Something about the way she asked the question caused him to grow suspicious. Did she somehow know that he had taken that detour into town? “Yes,” he lied.
Her eyes narrowed slightly as she stared at him. He tried to appear calm, but was fighting off fear. Did she know what I was arranging with Jim and Chris? She then nodded and motioned for him to leave. He left the control room in a turmoil. What did she know? Why was she acting like she didn’t believe me? How could she have found out?
Mary ordered Amelia to leave and turned on a small earpiece. “Did you hear that, Saul?”
“Are you one-hundred-percent certain you saw him head into Chittagong? You followed him?”
“Affirmative. I saw him disappear into a corner fresh fruit store. I could not get close enough to try and see what he was doing as then a few patrols came by. But he stayed there for about a quarter of an hour and then left and went to the tunnel, did what he told you he did, and then came back here,” Saul replied.
What was he doing? “Keep a discreet eye on him,” and Mary turned off the earpiece.
UNDERNEATH ROME, ITALY
Anastasia tapped her foot on the floor as she sat in the darkness. Her mind kept going over the new piece of information. Why had Kyen sent me the e-mail about Mum’s trial? Why would he want to help me? He had claimed to have been against the League, helping out with the rebels. He had saved her before. He, Andrew, and the late Lucy had secretly all collaborated together against the League for a few years. She figured that he had always been against what had happened to her, and was trying to help her. But, if that was so, why did Kyen lie to her about things? Why did Andrew, too?
Though, she did feel sorry for him with him being controlled. So, when he attacked me, he was being controlled. Is that what Charles had done to him in that operation? Does Kyen have a mind-control device in him? Does that mean I have a mind-control device in me as well?
A bright light suddenly turned on. She covered her eyes, trying to block the bright light while her eyes adjusted. What’s going on now? She lowered her hands and looked around, still sitting. The room was painted grey. The light had lowered in intensity and was now a very dull light. Her eyes swept the room as she slowly took her surroundings in.
Nothing new. Just the walls, the floor, the dull light…
She reached out and grabbed it, pulling it towards her. It was a backpack – a black one with two pockets on the sides. It felt heavy. She unzipped it and peered inside. There was a clear plastic bottle full of water, a packet of beef jerky, a vial of yellow liquid, a syringe, a ski and snowboard helmet, protective eyewear, a pair of thick gloves, a white and grey jacket, and a pair of women’s white snow boots. There was also a teleporter and a grey flat circular…disc? Anastasia zipped it up again. How did it get here? And what’s it for?
“Anastasia, you are going to the Tibet Mountains, in China.”
It was the man again. She could not see him, or where his voice was coming from. “What is all this stuff for?” and she motioned at the backpack and the items inside.
“For the job that I want you to do,” the man replied. She felt a small puff of wind and something being slapped onto her forehead but she could not see what it was or what put it on. She tried to reach up to rip the thing off, but her arm refused to move. Move! she mentally commanded her arm, but she could not move. She stood up, unzipped the backpack and pulled out the boots. Stop! But her limbs refused to stop.
She laced up the boots, then reached into backpack and pulled out the jacket. She put it on, zipping up her jacket. Anastasia tried to stop, tried to throw the backpack away, but her body would not do what she wanted. She put on the helmet, the protective eyewear and slipped on the gloves. “Don’t bother resisting,” the man told her. “You cannot stop what you are doing. You are only able to do and say what I command you to do and say.”
She took the teleporter out of the backpack, then zipped it up, leaving the rest inside the backpack. She slipped her arms through the backpack’s straps, putting it on. She tried to open her mouth to tell him to go to hell, but she could not open her mouth. She turned on her teleporter and typed in the co-ordinates. Why am I going to the Tibet Mountains?
Then she hit enter.
Zipporah frowned. Should I go in or not? She had felt uneasy about Anastasia when she had told her that Alexei wanted her. She had never before when she met Alexei’s sister, but now she had an uneasy feeling about her. Anastasia had not done anything wrong – she and Zipporah had saved each other before in the train station. So, why am I feeling this check about her? She had heard Alexei telling Anastasia to use her knowledge of the Peak to help them create a plan of attack, and her uneasy feeling grew even stronger.
She raised her hand and knocked on the door. “Come in,” Anastasia called out. Zipporah turned the handle and walked in. Anastasia looked up at her. She was sitting on her bed cross-legged, was wearing a grey jacket and had her holo-projector on. A holo-computer screen was infront of her and her hands were hovering just above a virtual keyboard. I must have interrupted her typing, Zipporah realized.
“Oh. Sorry for interrupting you,” and she turned to leave.
“No. That’s okay,” Anastasia called after her. Zipporah stopped and turned back to face Anastasia. Anastasia saved what she had typed up and turned off her holo-projector. “What is it, Zip?”
“Um…” Zipporah’s mind suddenly went blank. What did I want to say, again? Anastasia looked at her expectantly. “I…just wanted to remind you that in half an hour your shift starts in the peripheral protection unit.”
Anastasia nodded. “Okay.” Zipporah spotted something just slightly sticking out from underneath Anastasia’s pillow. She quickly turned around and left the room, shutting the door behind her.
Anastasia’s clone glanced down at her pillow, wondering what Zipporah had seen. Damn! She pulled the vial of yellow liquid. It had not been properly covered. So, that’s what Zipporah had noticed. Too bad for her.
UNDERNEATH ROME, ITALY
Tractatori kept his eyes glued to the holo-screen as he took the glass of Vermouth from one of his servants, who bowed and left the room. The holo-screen showed the inside of a helmet as the person trudged through the snow, climbing down a rocky mountain. Tractatori had made sure she had teleported herself as close as possible to the location without the people noticing.
He checked his watch. Anastasia should be arriving where Petrus and the Owens were in a few minutes. He turned to another holo-screen and watched as the clone prepared. He had seen the female Zipporah Peretz enter the room, and then leave. Anastasia’s clone had quietly reported in afterwards that Zipporah had noticed the vial. He sighed and shook his head. Why do people have to interfere with my plans?
BAY OF BENGAL, BANGLADESH
Kyen turned off the computer and headed for the dining room. He walked through the doorway and walked over to Mary Collins. All the other Collins in the room bowed in obeisance. Kyen bowed before Mary and then turned to face the other Collins. “Okay. I want Amelia, Saul, and twenty others to come with me into the tunnels. We will take weapons, and I have holo-map of the layout of the tunnel and the Peak. Our code name will be Ameratsu. Ameratsu will sneak through the tunnel into the Peak and lead an assault from underneath to gain control back of the Peak. While we go through the tunnel, another group will take the war machines and distract the League so that Ameratsu can safely sneak into the Peak. This second group will be called Ares. The Silver Dragon will be our base of operations and Grandmother and thirteen other people will remain here. Am I understood?”
They all nodded.
“Good. Then let’s get moving!”
Zipporah peered through the crack as Anastasia shut her bedroom door. Zipporah had hidden in the bathroom which was on the other side of the corridor and had the door open just a crack to see when Anastasia would leave. Why? Why would Anastasia have a vial filled with poison? She had once researched all different types of poisons when studying medical lessons with Einstein and how to combat them and knew that the yellow liquid was batrachotoxin. She shuddered. Who was she going to kill? She decided to hide to find out and, if needs be, stop her.
Anastasia then pulled something out from her jacket and Zipporah’s eyes went wide as she watched Anastasia check her gun to make sure it was loaded. It must have been, because she gave a satisfied grunt and hid her gun in her jacket.
She strode confidently down the corridor. Zipporah quietly opened the bathroom door the full way and edged out of the bathroom, keeping her eyes fixed on Anastasia. She treaded carefully and quietly across the floor and over to Anastasia’s door. Anastasia was reaching the end of the corridor and so far had not turned around. Zipporah tested the handle, and finding it was not locked, she silently turned it, opening the door and quickly ducking inside. She went straight over to the pillow, noting that she could not see the vial anymore.
She lifted the pillow.
But the vial full of batrachotoxin was gone.
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