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Chapter Forty-Four: Diana

I chose to stand in a corner of Brittany's office while Jesse chose to sit directly in front of Brittany's unrelenting gaze. We rushed over here immediately after locking Natalia up. I wanted to be anywhere but here.

Brittany massaged her temples with large circular motions with her index fingers. "How could the TWA turn our most powerful Molecular in a matter of hours?"

Jesse's hands remained folded and still in his lap. In fact, Jesse himself looked like a stature. The rising of his shoulders was the only indication he was alive. "I'm not sure they did. I believe she's been a spy this entire time."

Brittany closed her eyes and placed her elbows on her desk, causing her to hunch over. Most of her face was disguised by shadows, but it wasn't hard to read her emotions through her voice. "Didn't you vet her thoroughly?"

Jesse nodded. "Of course I did. It took me three days to corroborate every detail I knew about her and check everyone she associated with, except her parents and Telepath tenant."

Brittany's chocolate eyes opened slowly. "Did you check her?"

Jesse's thumb twitched before falling still once more. I could sense Brittany wasn't going to enjoy the answer ready to leave Jesse's mouth. Then again, it didn't take a psychic to make that prediction. "Her defensive barriers were too strong, even when she was in a coma."

Brittany's head shot up. "Do you realize how much danger you've put us in if she's really a TWA spy?" Jesse nodded, placing his eyes on his hands. "How sure are you that Natalia's a spy?" This question was directed at me.

I cleared my throat. "One hundred percent."

There was no doubt in my mind. Natalia admitted it to me in the abandoned dorm and, despite her act with Jesse, I believed her. However, her motives for being here seemed to be personal. I doubted she'd take down this Rebel base, or even the Rebels themselves, but she was a TWA princess. Her upbringing taught her to despise the Rebels. Letting her go back to her grandfather put this base at risk. Even if I remained here, the base wouldn't be safe without Natalia.

Brittany shook her head. "How could we slip up after all these years?"

"No one could've seen this coming," I whispered.

"Why are we still around?" Jesse's head rose as he posed the question. "She was at Efland for hours so she must've been debriefed. Her superiors probably know all about this place's soldiers and capabilities, so why haven't they raided? Better yet, why'd she come back?"

Brittany's brown eyes flared with sudden curiosity that made my heart drop into the pit forming in my stomach. "We need to find out. Now." I shook my head without realizing my action. "Do you have something you'd like to add, Diana?"

I froze for a moment as my mistake registered. "I believe interrogating her now would be a mistake."

Brittany leaned back in her chair, kicking her feet up on her desk. "Do you now?"

I pushed off the wall, making my way toward Brittany's desk with as much confidence as I could muster. "She's still caught up in the fantasy world she created to get access to the base. Pushing her now may cause her to retreat further into her cover. Perhaps we should play her game."

Brittany nodded as she stared up at the ceiling. Clearly, the words spewing from my mouth made sense to her because I sure as hell didn't know what I was saying. "Go on."

"She...believes someone else within the base is the TWA spy. Instead of telling her she's wrong, maybe we should say we believe her. We need to give her an excuse for her incarceration like we're making the real spy feel safe. It'll be a start, but once we gain some of her trust I'm sure she'll play into our hands.

Brittany smiled. "You're a genius."

Jesse slid to the edge of his seat, clearly unhappy. "That could take weeks to succeed. What if she misses a check in during that time? We'll all be doomed."

I nodded as I tried to figure out how to rectify this inevitable outcome with my plan to keep Jesse and Brittany away from Natalia. I couldn't trust either of them around her; my life depended on it. "Then you should prepare the troops," I said.

Jesse chuckled. "And leave someone else in charge of Natalia? I'm the only one capable of matching her abilities."

I laughed this time. "No offense, but you haven't bested Natalia once."

Jesse turned his full body so it was facing me. "Excuse me?"

I crossed my arms over my chest suddenly feeling very self-conscious under his emerald stare. "I meant you come as close to matching her abilities as any other Telepath here except one."

Jesse's emerald orbs bore into mind. "Are you suggesting yourself?!"

Brittany slipped her combat boots off her desk as she watched the standoff between Jesse and me. "I've overpowered her twice now. Once when she locked you up with Todd and the second time in the abandoned dorm. How many times have you overpowered her again?"

Jesse's nostrils flared. The color red swirled around him in time with his breathing. "None."

I leaned against the wall next to Brittany's desk in an attempt to appear calm and collected. In reality, my legs were beginning to shake underneath me and the wall was helping mask my weakness. "I think I should handle Natalia. She knows me enough to trust me in time but not enough where I could come in with an unchangeable opinion of her. I'm the perfect person to turn to her side."

Brittany smiled. "I knew you had potential to rise through the ranks when you first walked into my office. I sensed you were a leader."

Black spots crossed my vision for a brief second before my sight blurred at the mention of being a leader. It was almost like Brittany knew my dark secret. I blinked a few times to fix the vision problem as I worked to suck in air at a steady pace to stay conscious. I just succeeded in keeping Jesse and Brittany from Natalia. I couldn't jeopardize it now.

Brittany placed her hands on the surface of her battered desk. "Jesse, prepare the troops without freaking them out. I don't need deserters now. Diana, start working Natalia. It's going to be difficult if she's truly a TWA spy, but we need to know what she and the TWA are planning. The more prepared we are, the more we stand a chance against a TWA raid.

Jesse and I headed for the door. He opened the door for me and then followed after. "What game are you playing?"

I raised an eyebrow as we kept walking. "I'm not playing any game."

Jesse shook his head. "I've been a part of this fight since I was born. No one here is working for the betterment of the group over their own personal vendettas."

I shook my head. "I'm sorry I hurt your ego in there, but not everyone has an ulterior motive. I'm simply better equipped to subdue Natalia. You're better equipped to prepare the rest of the base. Nothing more, nothing less."

Jesse took a few steps back. "Whatever you say." Jesse turned and walked away.

I stood there watching him until he disappeared among the equipment and people. I had to be sure he wouldn't follow me to Natalia's holding cell. I wanted...no needed to be alone for this. Jesse would ruing any shot I had at figuring out Natalia endured during the many years she was within the king's grasp.

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