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*Final instalment in the 'Little British Girl' Trilogy *
One year after Elia’s death, and the entire planet is rebelling. With the news of Xander’s assassination attempt against his own daughter alarming the world, Elda and Luci are leading a powerful resistance, competing with the Southern rebellium, with no powerful government to stop either of them.
And yet, nothing seems to have changed.
Annabeth, alongside Beverly, Zacharia, and Steve Ryans, hide out amidst the chaos , unable to prevent what’s happening right in front of them. Disheartened and helpless.
Then one day, a girl turns up, a girl with heterochromia, with some interesting letters, and some even more interesting information. Could it be that Xander Moore had another daughter? And that Luci has a half-sister?

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11. Chapter 11 (one year earlier)

“When I said I’d join you and go against Zacharia’s strict instructions I was under the impression that we’d spend more than one day planning before we stormed off all guns blazing ready to fight.” Robin moans, keeping her voice hushed and her head down as we move along the street.

“I’ve spent weeks planning missions which somehow managed to fail in the end. I told you, we need to strike while the iron’s hot.” I remind her, keeping my pace up. We have to get to the base at exactly five o’clock, when a lot of the lower-level agents are leaving at it will be easy to sneak in. Any earlier and we’ll have to linger around, creating suspicion. And later and we’ll miss our window of opportunity.

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this…” Robin trails off, grimacing. I just smile. Ever since I left that crammed emergency base I’ve barely stopped smiling. Leaving was a risk, but it was also a step towards freedom. The ability to do what I want when I want without having to ask for permission first. The ability to actually do something. I think Robin misses the sense of safety and security, the knowledge that even if this all fails she’ll have somewhere to go tonight has been stripped away from her. I don’t miss it. I let the fear motivate me.

I glance down at my watch, it’s 4:57 and we’re about two minutes away, we should get there bang on time, with one minute spare to think about the best way in.

“That’s the building,” Robin notices, subtly gesturing to the old run-down warehouse in the distance, “The entrance we need is on the left-side of the building, towards the back.” As we get closer more and more of the structure emerges out of the horizon. To a passer-by it would look like just another abandoned factory, yet more evidence of a collapsing society. The walls are decorated with old paper-residue from large posters which have been ripped off and trashed, and the wood beneath them is damp and rough. The windows are blacked out by mud and filth, and the floor around it is decorated by the sharp pieces of fallen roof tiles. It blends in well with the other desolate property around it, drawing no attention to itself whatsoever.

“Wait here.” I instruct her, causing us both to halt a couple of meters away from the entrance. I look back down at my watch, 4:59, one minute to go. We both stand silently, loitering around the street corner, counting down the seconds in our heads...Three...Two...One-

Just like that, my legs spring to life, racing forwards as a crowd of people begin to flow out of the building, their shift for the day over and finished. I don’t need to look behind me to see if Robin is there, I can feel her against my back as we both push through the crowd, mumbling apologies and excuses like ‘I left my car keys in there’. We eventually slide through, and step to the side to let the rest of the agents out. It almost feels too easy. Then again, these are the secretaries and low-level agents who get to leave at five each day. The real professionals practically sleep here, they wouldn’t be so easy to get past. A few moments later the exit is deserted once more and we’re alone again. I turn to open up the door to the rest of the building, when Robin grabs my hand and yanks it backwards.

“Don’t!” She snaps, “The doorknobs carry a strong electrical charge, it’s a known-trick in the South, there’s a fingerprint scanner on the right that I can use to get us in.” I drop my arm and watch as she lifts up a hidden flap to reveal the scanner, allowing my heart-rate to slow again. I know that Robin has entry clearance, but I’m still revealed when the door opens, allowing us to get inside.

Inside, the base is a mess. The originally high-tech building has been reduced to a filthy, chaotic, and broken set of corridors. Signs hang on hinges, doors are left wide open, and windows have been smashed through and badly replaced by cardboard and duct-tape. The floor is wet due to leaks in the roofing, and old propaganda posters lay across it, completely submerged, their ink running with the current. It looks almost even more of a mess than it did on the outside.

“Where’s the nearest computer room?” I ask Robin, getting down to business.

“There’s one down the corridor on the left, and it should be empty at this time of day as well.” She recalls, pointing me in the right direction. I don’t need to be told twice, I turn sharply to the left and hurry down the corridor, spotting the door to the computer lab on the right-hand side. Having learnt my lesson from before, I allow Robin in front to open up the door, sighing in relief when I see that it is in fact deserted. “I have a login...wait a sec…” Robin sits down at the first computer we come to, typing away. “I don’t have high security clearance though, this won’t let us access much stuff of importance. Do you think you can hack it?”

“I’m no Luci Reeds...but I think I can get us past a few firewalls.” I nod, sitting down beside her and pulling the keyboard towards me, typing away. It’s not as hard as I expect it to be, I haven’t hacked in ages, there was no need for it back in Yuma with Luci around, but these firewalls don’t seem at all unique from any others, they’re almost suspiciously easy to get through. Still, I feel a little ‘victory rush’ when I finally get through. “This should be enough for us to find something good to leak... Here, you know the layout of these systems better than I do.” I pass the keyboard back to Robin, letting her take the lead.

Robin gets to work, opening window after window and scanning through deleted emails for something worth releasing to the public. It’s odd, we’re not here as resistance agents, we’re rebels, rogues...traitors, and yet, we’re sticking with the traditional negative propaganda method that the resistance used to stick to like glue. Sitting here almost reminds me of being back in Arizona, down in the basement surrounded by all the tech I had no clue how to use, listening to the sound of constant hurried typing, fading in and out as I just sat there, relaxed...safe-

“This might be good.” Robin cuts me off from my thoughts, tilting the screen so I can see it. “It’s some sort of mission plan, I can’t make sense of it but it seems pretty serious, it was hard to reach…” I zone out, focusing less on her voice and more on the screen in front of me.

CODENAME REDBOX-DOWN:

SPECIAL AGENTS D AND X WILL LEAD THIS MISSION, WITH AGENTS R AND W AS RESERVES. WHEN MOON 5 ARRIVES THE ABOVE LISTED AGENTS WILL DETONATE THE RBD BOMB AT POINT 000.

MISSION APPROVED BY OFFICERS GRACE DEAN AND CHARLES GREER

“...can you understand it? It’s all a bunch of jibberish to me, I’ve never been much of a field agent and writing up reports and plans like this isn’t in my job description-”

“This mission hasn’t happened yet…” I trail off, interrupting Robin.

“What?”

“Moon 5, that’s code for the fifth full-moon of the year. That hasn’t come yet. This is a plan for a future mission...but what?” I mumble on, thinking as I speak. I read the information over once more...what does ‘redbox-down’ mean?

“Where’s point 000?” Robin comes up with a different question, “That’s where they’re planning to detonate a bomb, do you know where it is?”

“I...um- err…” I fumble, the name does ring a bell but it’s not the sort of code language we used back in the North. Point 000...the point that lies exactly in the middle… “Robin, I think we’ve stumbled upon something we shouldn’t have.” I suddenly release, my heart skipping a beat as I re-read the plan, now understanding every single word.

“What do you mean? Annabeth, where’s point 000?” Robin quizzes me, concern leaking into her usually calm and collected voice.

“We should go.” I get up out of my seat, still for some reason unable to draw my eyes away from the screen. “Turn that thing off, let’s get out of here.”

“Annabeth, tell me what’s going on.” Robin gets to her feet, tired of being kept in the dark. I sigh, giving in.

“Point 000 is the main center for interzonal relations,” I reveal, my voice hoarse and barely able to reach a volume just louder than a whisper, “That’s what ‘redbox-down’ means, ‘redbox’ is code for one of those old British phone boxes, that symbolises the center, as it’s where the two zones communicate, and well ‘down’ means...well...you get the picture.”

“They’re planning to blow up the main center for interzonal relations? That’s crazy! With workers and visitors combined that building could contain up to a thousand people…” Robin realises, trying to register what I’m telling her.

“We need to get out of here now.” I try to snap her out of it, needing her to be on top-form, “If they find us and find out that we’ve seen this they’ll never let us leave. We need to go. We need to tell Zacharia about this, he’ll be able to do more than us.” Robin clenches her jaw, forcing her fear and shock to the back of her mind and snapping back into action.

“Let’s go.” She nods.

I don’t need to be told twice, as soon as the words escape her mouth I jolt forwards, rushing to the door. We walk swiftly down the corridors, keeping up the pace, needing to get out of this place as soon as possible. We turn the corner back to the main corridor, the exit just twenty meters or so away from us.

“Robin, what are you doing here?” Both Robin and I freeze at the sound of an all-too-familiar voice behind us...Grace Dean. With nowhere else to run, we both slowly turn around. I look pleadingly towards Robin, hoping that she can come up with a convincing excuse.

“Zacharia sent me.” She lies, going with the obvious explanation.

“To…?” Grace prompts her for more, not yet satisfied with her response.

“To...uh, to talk to you about the assassination of the Mayor of Willowbrick.”

“Yes,” I pipe in, “That’s why I’m here. I, um, I lead the mission, I’m the one responsible for its failure.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Grace sighs, raising one eyebrow. I shove my anger back down inside me, just being within one hundred meters of her makes me want to blow up this entire building. She may call herself the leader of the resistance, but she’s not. She’s part of the rebellium now. She’s a traitor to her own cause. Last year she just abandoned me and my team, as well as countless others who refused to join the alliance. She’s no leader. She’s a coward. “Zacharia didn’t tell me to expect your visit though, where is he right now? Still at the emergency base?”

“Yes!” Robin jumps in, a little too enthusiastically, “I mean, um, yes...yes he is. This was a last-minute thing, he assumed that you wouldn’t be busy at this time of day.”

“He assumed wrong. We’re very busy today.” Grace tells us, her eyes glaring at us like lasers. She pulls out her phone from her pocket and starts tapping away, with no explanation as to what she’s actually doing. It’s odd, she almosts seems on edge...but I’ve never seen Grace nervous before.

“Robin, what’s the date today?” I murmur, my voice to quiet for Grace to hear as she taps away.

“The twelfth, why?” She whispers back. My heart sinks as everything becomes clear.

“Today is the fifth full moon of the year...they’re blowing up the main center today, as in, right now.” I tell her, freezing where I stand as I struggle to think of what to do next. Do I confront Grace? Do I run? Do I snatch the phone out of her hand and try to cancel the bombing? What if that isn’t even what she’s doing on her phone? What then?

“It says here…” Grace speaks up again, turning her phone around and walking towards us so we can see the screen, “That you were logged in to a computer a few moments ago...why didn’t you go straight to reception to find me, if that is why you were sent here?”

“I...um- err, uh…” Robin struggles to think up a new excuse. I can’t blame her, my mind is blank too. Grace has corned us, there’s no easy way out of this.

“She was checking her emails for further instructions that I promised I’d send her.” I’ve never been more relieved to hear the sound of Zacharia’s voice approaching us.

“What are you doing here?” Grace asks him.

“Nice to see you too,” he remarks, “I came when I noticed my assistant had been gone for longer than I first anticipated. I can see you’re very busy though Grace, so we should all probably just leave now.”

“Very well, I have a lot to be getting on with anyway.” Grace stands down, turning sharply on her heel and walking off in the other direction. Once she’s safely out of earshot, I turn to Zacharia, speaking before he has a chance to open his mouth and start lecturing us both.

“The alliance are planning on blowing up the main center for interzonal relations tonight, we found the mission plan when we were searching through the files. We have to do something Zacharia, hundreds of people could die.” I plead with him. I expect to see shock or anger on his face, but instead, all I can make out is regret.

“One hundred and twenty-nine already have,” he sighs, “A couple hundred more are injured.”

“I-I don’t u-understand…”

“The bomb has already detonated, we’re too late. Grace isn’t busy planning the attack, she’s busy controlling the aftermath.” He explains.

“B-but…” Robin tries and fails to speak, tears brimming up in her eyes.

“Let’s go back to the base, I’ll explain everything better there. You both did all you could.”

“One day earlier and we might have been able to stop it…” I murmur, my throat swelling up and choking me. “They’re monsters.

“We need to go back to the base.” Zacharia urges us, “I promise you I want nothing more to do with the alliance after this, but I’ll deal with all of that tomorrow. For now we all need to get some rest and take some time to fully register what has happened. But you’re right Annabeth, they are monsters.” I nod, his consolidation fuelling the spark of anger inside me and igniting it into a flame.

“They’re monsters,” I repeat again, “And they’re going to pay.”

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