I flip through my phone as agents keep pouring into the house. Cody, Devin, Jason, and Chase are all busying talking with the other agents and then each other.
Apparently, Thirteen’s run off. That really doesn’t surprise me.
My hand moves to my pocket, where I’ve stashed the envelope she handed me. The desire to open it is almost overwhelming, but I just fist my hand at my side instead. I walk over to where Chase is. Out of all the guys, I prefer to deal with him. He’s the one least likely to shoot me.
“What’s up?” I ask him and he just shakes his head and runs a hand through his hair. “You look stressed.”
He gives me a flat look. “Thirteen’s gone missing,” He mutters. I raise my eyebrows. “Well, I guess missing isn’t exactly the right word. She’s disappeared, run off, whatever you want to call it.”
“And this is a problem because . . .” I trail off, waiting for him to fill in the blank,
Chase just shakes his head. “Cody’s just . . . disappointed doesn’t seem like the right word. And Jason’s pissed. I have a feeling Cody will be feeling that way eventually too.”
“Ah yes,” I say. “Pissy agents, who wants to deal with them,” Chase gives me another flat look accompanied closely by a glare, so I hold my hands up in surrender and walk off.
“Head’s up!” Someone shouts, but before I get the chance to turn around, much less duck, I’m hit in the head.
Pain erupts across the back of my head and I stagger. I turn to look at what exactly hit me, only to see that it’s a gun. Who the hell throws guns? I get my answer when another one sores through the air toward me. I jump out of the way, only to turn in time to see Devin throw yet another one.
Clearly, he was supposed to be in charge of gathering up all the guns that my father and his guards had been using. And clearly, he thought chucking them all at me was a much better idea. I glare at him and he doesn’t even bother to try and look innocent, he just throws the next one right at me, never taking his eyes off me.
“Devin!” Chase calls out and Devin freezes in the motion of throwing yet another gun at me. “Some of those are still loaded. We do not need them going off!”
Devin get’s this horrible mischievous glint his eyes and throws the gun in his hands at me anyway. So I do the only rational thing to do at this moment, I begin throwing them back. Devin lets out a yelp when one of the guns come in contact with his shin.
Chase mutters something under his breath that I don’t catch before catching one of the guns midair before it can crash into Devin’s face. I curse Chase out under my breath and Devin smiles smugly back at me. Chase snatches the rest of the guns from Devin, putting them in a black duffle bag and then comes over and relieves me of the rest of them.
“Don’t either one of you have anything better to do?” He growls as he zips up the bag.
Devin opens his mouth to answer, but the front door open and a man I haven’t yet seen walks into the room as is he owns the place. I crinkle my nose up in disgust as I take in his confident, yet arrogant posture, and his commanding presence. His face is blank as he surveys the room. As his eyes scan over all the agents, each one visibly stands up straighter.
All except Devin, who waves overenthusiastically and blows the man a kiss. He sends Devin a glare that would likely send everyone except Thirteen running, but Devin just laughs loudly.
He walks up to Chase. “Where’s Thirteen?” He questions and Chase shrugs.
“Don’t know. She disappeared shortly after she got Martin.”
This seems to anger the man. He makes a dismissive wave the other men at his sides and they scatter, taking charge of the situation. I walk over to Jason.
“Who are they?” I ask him. He gives me an annoyed look as if he can’t understand why I’m talking to him.
“That’s the chief. Chief Zero.”
I nod. “I don’t like him,” I mutter under my breath. Jason hears me and shakes his head, a small smile spreading across his face.
“There’s hope for you yet,” He tells me, his eyes staying glued to the chief.
Suddenly the chief turns towards me and comes walking over. I turn with every intention of running, but Jason’s hand clamps down on my shoulder hard as he holds me in place.
“You’re not going anywhere,” He says quietly as the chief approaches.
He comes to a stop in front Jason and I, and I involuntarily shudder. “So,” He starts. “You’re Martin’s son, correct? Garrett’s younger brother?”
“Older brother,” I immediately correct him. He narrows his eyes at me.
“How come I’ve never heard of you before?”
I shrug. “Beats me.”
His eyes narrow even further. “How do I know you are who you say you are?”
“Would you like a DNA test?”
Jason starts coughing to hide his laugh and Zero’s face seems to start turning red as he struggles to control himself. I really don’t understand what it is I’m saying wrong. I mean, I am answering his questions after all.
Zero doesn’t say anything else and simply turns and walks away, going back to talk to some other poor, defenseless agent. Jason starts laughing as soon as he’s out of earshot.
I shrug and shake my head. “I don’t see what I did that’s amusing you so much.”
He smiles. “Zero doesn’t like to be questioned or correct, and he doesn’t like smartass remarks, but of course, you just had to respond to his questions using all of those.”
I just nod before walking off into one of the empty rooms so I have some privacy. I stick my hand in pocket and pull out the envelope. She did say not to open it until they were all out of here, but I think he not being here is good enough.
I tear open the seal and pull out a few different pieces of paper. Most them I don’t understand. I don’t know what they are. They look like they’re some kind of form. I frown as I unfold the last piece of paper and stare at the neat handwriting. A letter.
I realize you’re probably already aware of what happened to the agency all those years ago since your father and brother both played a rather significant role in it. What you probably don’t know, is what Zero did afterward.
We had lost too many agents. Over half the agency really, probably closer to ¾’s of it. So zero gave the agents he deemed his most trusted, three stars.
I realize you don’t know what that means, but basically, it’s this, he gave us three chances to give to three people. People we trusted and felt would make amazing agents one day, and he’d have no choice but to take them, even if he didn’t want to. There are three stars engraved on the back of our badges, and every time we use one of those chances, the star is completely filled in. So, basically, I’m giving you a choice, an opportunity.
You and I both know Garrett will be coming after you, and I can do everything I can to try and stop him, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to. So, I give you this choice. You can choose to take it, or not, that’s completely up to you. But I’m using one of my stars on you, Zack, if you want it.
Take care and stay alive,
I stare at the letter in my hands, not quite comprehending the words written on it. It’s only then that I realize there’s one more thing in the envelope. I pull it out. There’s a yellow sticky note stuck to the front with a phone number and an address written on it, along with the words If you decide you want to.
I pull off the sticky note only to see the metallic silver shine of a badge I’ve seen once before. Three stars are engraved on the back of the badge, just like she said, but none of them have been filled out. She’s never used one of her chances before.
I turn the badge over in my hands so I can see the front, and my breath catches in my throat. It’s like most government badges I’ve seen, with a few minor differences, but what catches my attention is what’s been engraved on the front. Agent 13 has been engraved neatly on the front, but underneath that, there’s something else.
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