Aden clicked his tongue before standing up. His chair screeched against the floorboards. “We may as well take this opportunity to use all the sources that we can possibly use. Andy”—he turned to the blond teacher—“as a previous upper-rank admiral, it wouldn’t appear odd for you to jump into this war. In fact, with this new wanted list, you could use that as leverage.”
Elliot seemed to catch on to Aden’s plan. “Nielsen and I will plead with the state that they should allow us to search for the traitors. Nielsen can lead the fleet we have while I am enlisted as his captain to redeem my family’s honor. Since my little sister is blacklisted, it would seem off if I just let things stand where they are.”
Simone finally caught on and added to the plan, “We lull them into a low sense of security by allowing ourselves to be the state’s dogs. Of course, that would not be the case because we’d be keeping our friends close and our enemies even closer.”
Aden grabbed the list before crumpling it within his palm while Nielsen pondered aloud, “We need to completely revamp the crew then and scan for possible double agents. Our plans will mean nothing if someone is communicating with the enemy. Cheric, I may suggest you system check each of your machines to be sure they were not tinkered with while on our voyage.”
Olivia jotted down the suggestion onto her notepad before switching to the next page. “I need to start the preparations of minimizing the ship. Let us leave whatever adjustments to the crew to Andy. Summerfeld, you will assist by searching for any possible traps, bugs, or devices that could impede our future goals on this vessel. Assign who you want to work with you, but I’m sure it’ll be Eagle Boy when he returns with Tyler and Charlotte. Elliot, you will find the fiscal means necessary to pay for the full usage of the dock for the remaining week that we’re here. De La Croix, if you can, come up with double aliases for those people who need them as well as disguises that would be beneficial. If that is all, let’s adjourn. We have a lot to accomplish, and the sooner we finish, the sooner we can get the state off our tails.” Olivia leaned over to place all her plans into her satchel bag and then began situating the strap onto her shoulder.
Nielsen interlaced his fingers before frowning. “We have our actions figured out for the ship and crew, but we may also want to consider how the crew and ship will be affected in regards to those Relic stones.”
“I say we take a step back from the stones and concentrate on the subject at hand,” Elliot suggested, and Simone agreed.
“Those Relic stones were what placed us here in the first place, Cheric.” Aden leaned his back against the wall away from the table. “Charlotte is also another issue that has to be dealt with carefully. Zaine will assume that she is dead, which will require someone to keep a constant watch on her.”
Olivia agreed with Aden by giving the room a quick nod. “I found it odd that all those pirates wanted to kill Charie. They weren’t concerned about the stones in her possession but more on how to end her life. Robert also mentioned that someone higher up in the state wanted her dead.”
Nielsen gripped his chin in his left hand, pondering why that may be. “The highest position in the state would be Julian. Above him would be the fleet admiral, but surely, they haven’t filled in that position yet.”
Aden shook his head. “A man known as Viktor filled the position five months ago. He appeared every once in a while, issuing orders to the captains, commodores, and admirals to recruit men and women to his new training facilities and search for the Relic stones.”
Olivia paused. “I suppose we should assume he is being manipulated by Zaine to keep the state out of pirate affairs if he had ordered Charlotte’s death . . . How else could that explain the wanted list with our names on it? Though it makes me wonder what she could have done or could possibly wind up doing that would endanger his status. Further, what could Zaine have against Viktor that would make him be manipulated as such? Finally, what are these new training facilities? I have never heard of them before.”
“Apparently, they opened up for the public to learn how to fight against pirates. They didn’t want another incident such as the one that happened to Rothschild estate,” Andy Nielsen explained before crossing his arms. He turned to see Aden give a dark glance to the floor. Something was tugging at his memory, but he couldn’t depict what it was about.
“The state was using my estate as a temporary headquarter, yet it fell to the hands of pirates. What good would training facilities be?” The girl retorted before her brother interrupted her. “It was probably a tactic to raise the morale of those citizens around the world. I would not find it odd that they used such a device. As for those other questions you raised, we may have to wait on those answers. There just isn’t enough information for us to connect it all.”
“What we do know,” Simone replied sullenly, “is that the state is not on our side, and we should not rely on them to cover our flank. If anything, we are on our own, fighting for survival and looking out for those stones. Charlotte also has a role to play in all this.”
Aden snapped his attention to De La Croix. “How would you know she has a role to play?”
Simone merely waved Aden’s concern off by smiling sadly. He brought his hands together and gazed at the oak in front of him. “Intuition says so. In fact, we all have a role to play in this game.”
Olivia repositioned her bag on her shoulder before heading to the door. “Let’s discuss this later when we know more information. Presently, we know what we must do, so let us at least do as such.” She opened the door, holding it open but not before looking over her shoulder to Aden. As if reiterating Aden’s point earlier about Charlotte, Olivia continued, “I’d feel better if someone would keep a close eye on my friend. She needs someone who is capable and reliable. Role or not, she is a handful like we all have witnessed.”
Nielsen heard the suggestion in Olivia’s tone and clapped his hands together. That brought everyone’s attention to him as he winked to the raven-haired inventor. “I was supervising her throughout this past half year, but seeing as how I will be busy with the vessel, perhaps someone more suitable would suffice. Aden, what do you say?”
The hazel-eyed teacher smiled at Aden who gave him an uncertain look. He was not going to like where this was going. “I’m being demoted and now have to babysit. That’s what you want.”
“‘Demoted’ is such a strong word to use, Aden,” the teacher replied immediately, and Elliot just bluntly replied with a “correct.”
Aden turned to look at Olivia who was holding the door open. “And you wonder why I am abhorrent about these meetings.”
He walked out of the room, and Olivia chuckled. She closed the door with a smile. “You’re welcome, Summerfeld.” All she received was a brooding back of Aden walking away.
۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞