Trinary Chaos: The Azalea Effect

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Signs and Wonders

“Here in the Department of Anomalous Events, we investigate more than just these weird stuff. We also occasionally investigate murder,” Xavier lectured, standing in the Wyvern Base theatre room, which was filled by students. Being new, Jack, Stacy, Maizie, and Leo were there, learning the basics as well. “Tomorrow, we’re all going on a field trip - but it’s more like a field mission! Now, let’s see this Vibrant News news clip.”

Xavier pressed a button, and the projector began playing.

“...and in our next section of news, we’re talking about the mysterious incidents on the under-construction Transcontinental Atlantic Bridge,” Maxwell Stevenson began, “Remember, this bridge has been under construction for six years, and is now complete, with the opening supposed to be next month, on Halloween! The bridge starts in Florida and Portugal. It is an underwater tunnel, and it uses state-of-the-art technology, like their train, which is how travel will work. Fun fact: 70 percent of the tunnel is glass! Unfortunately, weird things have been happening- workers have been reporting strange voices and creepy things happening. Last week, four employees died, specifically in the Atlantic Resort. Unfortunately, we don’t know how they died, but as soon as it’s solved, we can get right on schedule and open right on Halloween! In other news, parents are complaining that trampolines are too religious...”

Xavier turned the projector off.

“So,” Xavier began, “as the DAE sponsors the Department of Defense, we have asked permission to have a ‘school trip’ there. Our friends at DoD agreed, and that’s where we’re going!”

Everybody cheered, people of all ages, from young as thirteen to the not so young, like 64, or 59. Then again, there were only about twenty people in the room.

“Alright, calm down,” a woman ordered, appearing from behind a curtain. “Now, those of you allowed will leave. Those not allowed will remain here, where I and some other project leaders give a lecture about our respective projects.”

“Okay!” Xavier resumed, “Meet at the skyport by nine this night. The planes we’ll be taking are Lancelot-81320, Lancelot-82520, Criedo-22330, and Soulrise-384120. We’ll be arriving at the AtBridge Airport, where we will then take the train to the crime scene, near the hotel. Class dismissed.”

And that was that. Class was over.

The twenty went out, all happily chatting about the trip. Students and the four all went to their next classes, all eagerly waiting until the nighttime.

Meanwhile, let us go to the bridge, where stranger things are happening.

“Agent Li, any ideas?” the owner of the bridge asked. Her name was Lisette O’Connor, a rich billionaire who won a lottery and decided to profit with the bridge.

“Please, call me Eva-Rose. Now, these are definitely murders,” the agent concluded. “Though I don’t understand who would do this. I’ve heard the victims were all reliable workers.”

“Exactly, I only hire the best,” the construction director popped in.

“And you are?”

“Oh!” Lisette chimed, “This is Raul Corzova, our hotel construction director.”

“I see, and you two are sure?”

“Yes,” Raul answered, “we only want the best for the bridge.”

“So, what of these talks of irrational voices and mysterious happenings?”

“The ocean is a mysterious place,” Lisette informed.

“And?”

“Yeah, we really don’t know what’s been killing those employees,” Raul added.

What? Don’t you mean who?”

“Agent Li, I don’t exactly believe that one of our people just decided to go on a murder spree. Oh, and their deaths aren’t exactly making sense,” informed Lisette.

“True. Now, as we are extremely deep, the first died from being crushed by water pressure,” the agent began, “how could this happen. There’s only three ways out of the tunnel, and none of them head into the sea.”

“If you don’t count the outpost buildings,” Raul informed, “those have ways into the ocean. Nobody uses those because none of them have been outfitted with our new class of submarine, and the fact that it takes a very specific code to open those doors as of now.”

“Right, that wouldn’t make sense,” Agent Li agreed, “so how in the world did the victim manage to be spotted dead, above the tunnel?”

“Exactly, it isn’t possible,” Raul concluded.

“The second victim had no body. How exactly was she identified?”

“W-well,” Lisette began, “I’ve been told that the hotel received a cardboard box. Inside the box were teeth, hair, and… peanuts. All stuffed to the brim.”

“Which doesn’t make any sense either,” the agent added, “why the peanuts, and where the body is now. And the third victim, whom I heard, spontaneously combusted?”

“Correct,” Raul commented, “about a dozen workers and the camera saw this happening.”

“Last, we have the fourth victim… which… was… uh… found with live pythons sewn to the victim’s body. Who the hell has pythons down here?!”

“Nobody. Pets aren’t allowed here,” Lisette answered.

“And what about the mysterious events happening?”

“For a few weeks now, machines have been randomly turning on and off. Workers claimed to have seen silhouettes of people in the water, which I haven’t seen. Voices as well, voices of the dead,” Raul explained, “but those are rumours. Those things tend to happen when you’re deep underwater.”

“Interesting. I’ll be checking out the bodies now.”

But now it is time to see the surface. Far off in a distant village in Africa, a certain jet lands. But this is not from the DAE. This jet belongs to none other than Scorpion’s leader, Hage Quazi. As soon as the machine lands, village leaders begin to make their way to the machine.

Inside, one could see dozens of researchers and lab assistants all running around, while the purple haired man known as Hage Quazi walked around, checking in on every situation.

“All right people, we need the operation completed now!” ordered a young woman. This was Christie Gardner, Hage’s personal assistant. She managed the plane, as Hage did not like to be disturbed.

“We’re right on schedule,” an employee responded, “Valentine and Eddie’s portal should materialize anytime soon, along with the specimen.”

Suddenly, there was knocking on the plane’s door. Through the small window, Quazi saw a village elder and rolled his eyes. Quazi did not like to be disturbed, but he eventually had to go out, so he answered.

“What is the meaning of this?!” the elder spat, “You people have no right to be here. Nopirocs Industries or not, get out!”

“Oh, shut up!” Quazi shot, growing madder by the second.

Quazi pushed the elder out of his way and walked off the plane. Behind him, several of his supporters and his assistant followed. The elders looked in anger as they began setting up a certain machine in the village square.

“You can’t do this!” another elder yelled.

“Actually, we damn can!” Quazi declared, drawing his pistol and firing. Luckily, it was just a variant of the tranquilizer scan and control gun. Other elders were notably shocked at the sight of the unconscious human.

“Are we ready?” Christie asked. “We are all set.”

“Well then, activate.”

Christie nodded in agreement and signed an order to a technician. The technician began typing in letters and numbers on a laptop. Other workers pressed buttons, until dust began to swirl.

Colors swirled, and the villagers watched in both awe and horror. The portal soon finished stabilizing.

“W-what is that?!”

“None of your concern,” Christie replied.

“Now where are they? They should be on time,” the technician muttered.

“Be patien-” Hage began when he was rudely cut off.

For a loud rumbling began to form. The earth vibrated erratically, as if it was some sort of earthquake. Equipment fell over and Quazi drew another pistol in fear. Without warning, a large beast appeared from the portal, bellowing and rushing.

The dinosaur was a hadrosaur, specifically Corythosaurus. It had the basic shape of a hadrosaur, with one key difference- a crest. The crest was just a large bump that looked like a vertically stretched semicircle. The color of the creature was magnificent, with the crest being a spiral of reds, greens, and pinks. The body looked like a zebra’s, white with random black stripes.

Of course, nobody had time to process all that. The Corythosaurus charged into Quazi, who jumped out the way. However, a villager behind him was not so lucky and was crushed by the sheer weight of the creature.

As if to add to the problem, more Corythosaurus were appearing, coming through the portal and running.

“Close it!” Hage demanded.

“Wait- Valentine!” Christie reminded.

“Argh, fine!”

As the stampede of Corythosaurus continued, the Scorpion agents noticed the cause of the stampede. It was the specimen they were looking for, specifically a Dromaeosaurid. The raptors were slightly shorter than humans, relatively short for theropods. They seemed to be the cause of the stampede, with each one biting and snapping to try to isolate weaker Corythosaurus.

Suddenly, Valentine and Eddie came through, coughing up dust as they fell face first into the floor.

“Close the portal!” Quazi demanded.

“It will be done.”

Suddenly, a Dromaeosaurid launched itself at a weak looking Corythosaurus, hitting one of the machines in the process. The herd animal turned in fear, crushing consoles and destroying valuable equipment with its tail.

“Uh oh. Close it!”

“Sir, we can close it from the plane!” Christie informed.

“Quick, let’s go!” a technician yelled.

The small Scorpion group ran straight to the plane, where they fired a laser that hit the portal. The portal shrank, gave a shockwave, and closed. As they did so, they watched the villagers screaming in panic as the dinosaurs stampeded.

Off to the side, the Dromaeosaurid had settled on a sick, old, Corythosaurus. While the raptors didn’t hunt in packs, they often mobbed the enemy together. As the members Scorpion watched, they saw about fourteen of them surrounding the hadrosaur.

The raptors pounced and clung on to the hadrosaur, slashing deep cuts into the creature. Still, the hadrosaur had extremely powerful skin, and was currently holding off the raptors.

The Dromaeosaurids were a discovered but inconclusive species, now revealed to be real. The animals were feather black and brown, as well as spotted like an owl. They all had sharp looking quills that ran along their backs that rattled when the raptors jumped swiftly. On the head of some of the raptors, there were crests. The crests looked quite similar to the Corythosaurus crest, even in color.

An unfortunate Dromaeosaurid pounced, but a tail flick later, it fell to the floor, dead, bones crushed. The others paid no mind and continued to mob the poor herbivore, when the hadrosaur unleashed a powerful attack.

The hadrosaur rolled on the ground, crushing the raptors. The raptors bounced off, but some were crushed. Taking advantage, the hadrosaur took the chance to run into the jungle. The creature was bleeding profusely, no doubt making the raptors hunger more.

In the jungle, the raptors did not have as much room to leap at the dinosaur. But now, the Corythosaurus was confused. It did not know where it was. The alien leaves hid the raptors as they prepared an attack.

From the shadows, a Dromaeosaurid pounced. The others followed, whistling snarls as they did.

Soon, the raptors had done enough damage to the Corythosaurus, who groaned a final time, then collapsed in pain. In response, a Dromaeosaurid slashed its guts open, killing the creature.

Now, the raptors began fighting with each other for the juiciest pieces of meat. The teamwork was now over.

A young Dromaeosaurid barely noticed Valentine until it was too late.

“Not so clever,” remarked Valentine, firing an electrified net onto the creature.

The other raptors paid no attention to the armoured Valentine. The man dragged the stunned raptor back to the plane. Like the Dinosaur Control Unit’s plane, Scorpion had a containment room as well.

The raptor thrashed against the glass walls, to no effect. It whistle-snarled and went back to eating its food.

“Good job, this is exactly what we need,” Quazi congratulated.

“Well, I’m just a mercenary. The payment?” Valentine asked.

“You can have our new portal technology for you to play around with.”

“Thank you.”

Valentine left Quazi’s private room.

“Sir, what do we do about our spy? Shall we activate Agent Glass?” Christie inquired.

“Do it. It’s time to slow down our shadows.”

“Anything else?”

“Dismissed. Set our course to Blunted Tip, Australia. There is someone we need to recruit there.”

“Who?”

“Fernando D’Souza. We will require him for the serum.”

“So it’s true, we do have the plants.”

“And so much more.”

With that, the plane lifted, and flew off into the distance. Below, the Corythosaurus looked in confusion, and began a new life in a strange new world. Things in the village would never be the same.

The train in Blunted Tip left the station, going to a new destination. The train was an old-styled steam train, though it ran on electricity. The insides were old fashioned as well, having fluffy seats and dining cars. The train was metal, but it had been painted over to look and feel like wood.

“I’ll have a black coffee,” a man ordered.

“All right, that’ll be four dollars,” the waiter replied.

The man paid and the waiter signalled another to bring a cart that had the various foods on it.

The man was Fernando D’Souza, a young budding chemical engineer working for a university. Before he had joined the university, he had been paid to concoct new variants of drugs. When the police arrested his employer, one of them happened to notice Fernando’s brilliance and gave him up to the university. Of course, he was always being watched, but he didn’t mind. The officer watching him usually didn’t ever interfere, though he noticed they didn’t like his new, orange-dyed hair and beige suit.

He always rode the train, though he kept changing the coffee to shake things up. But now he was riding back home, so that meant black coffee.

“And there we go,” muttered Fernando as he reached into his bag and pulled out a laptop. He opened the device, signed in, and continued his work. Around him, people chattered, so Fernando equipped headphones.

Ahead, was a tunnel that cut through a hill, contrasting the train’s soft yellow lights and the pitch black dark. Fernando always hated this part, because the train was slow, and that the contrast was always too surprising.

Above the train, some of Scorpion jumped down, landing with a thud. Nobody noticed, and the people began looking for a way in. They all had gas masked one to hide their identity.

“Follow me,” Quazi ordered, “we’ll break in there.”

“Yes, sir!” a chorus responded.

One dangerous jump later, and they were atop another car. Christie ordered something to someone, and a large drill was brought.

“My favourite part,” Quazi chuckled.

“Now!” Christie declared.

The laser drill was activated and soon, a large square was cut. Hage kicked the loose roof segment down, and jumped into the car. From above, Christie tossed him an automatic rifle.

“W-who are you?!” the guest exclaimed, saying things similar as well.

“Stand back,” Hage assured, “you won’t be harmed.”

“H-how do we know that?” a posh looking woman fearfully whimpered.

“You don’t,” Hage cooly replied.

From the hole in the roof, more of Scorpion joined Quazi, and they began to take positions, making sure nobody could report the incident to other cars.

“Now find us Fernando D’Souza!” Christie ordered.

“F-Fernando? W-what do you want with him?” someone asked.

“You know where he is?!”

“Next car.”

“Good.”

Christie and her team charged into the next car, where sure enough, Fernando was. There was panic, but the team managed to level it down.

“You want me?!” Fernando exclaimed, surprised. “Why?! Who are you people?!”

“Come with us.” stated Christie, dragging Fernando by his arm.

By now, the train had exited the tunnel and was now in the evening Australian glow. Fernando was dragged to the train’s roof.

From the skies, they all saw a large black helicopter, which was coming downwards.

“I-is that your helicopter?!” Fernando shrieked.

“It is, now shut up!” Hage Quazi demanded.

The helicopter drew closer until it was next to the train, but still quite high. A member of Scorpion threw over a rope ladder.

“We’re climbing that?! That doesn’t look very safe!” Fernando whined.

“Oh shut up!” Christie joined in.

Quazi went first, then a couple other members. Next, Christie ordered Fernando, who was helped up by some other members. Last, were all the other agents on the mission. Once that was done, Christie instructed for the ladder to be dragged back up.

In the air, they saw the plane. The plane dwarfed the helicopter, even if it was large. The ramp opened just enough to become a landing pad, where the helicopter landed.

“What the- how big is this plane?!”

“Very big,” Christie boasted, “welcome to your new job.”

“What exactly is my new job?” Fernando asked, getting off the helicopter with a bit of help from Christie.

“You will be making a specific serum for us,” Hage informed, “one that changes DNA and behavior.”

“Impossible!”

“It is possible.”

“And what if I don’t want to work for you people?”

“Then follow me,” Quazi told.

Behind them, the ramp closed. Hage Quazi led Fernando to a large metal box, where an animal moved around, rattling the cage.

“What’s in that?”

“What was its name again?” the Quazi asked Christie, “I keep forgetting these stupid names...”

Dilophosaurus. Seven meters long, two meters tall, an apex predator of the early Jurassic.”

“Now, open layer one.”

Christie nodded and pressed a big blue button. The metal entrance of the cage lifted and revealed tough glass. The glass was cracked, but it was very strong.

The Dilophosaurus was a large beast, unlike what was shown in movies. It was a large theropod, as was expected. What was not expected, was that it was feathered blue like a mockingbird, and that it had aquamarine colored crests.

“A-a dinosaur?!”

“Yes, a dinosaur,” Hage confirmed, “a real dinosaur.”

Soon afterwards, Hage picked up a fluffy white rabbit from a cage, and placed it near the Dilophosaurus. It pivots and bites, its teeth marked red with blood as the poor rabbit squealed in terror.

“Beautiful...” the man said to himself, looking at the Dilophosaurus eating the rabbit.

“So, the point is,” Christie began, “either work for us or become dinosaur chow. Plus, you’ll be getting a pretty big cheque.”

“O-okay. What can I do for you?”

“We need a serum made. From what our intelligence has gathered, you’re the best in the business. It includes a plant.”

“Okay, what do you want? What plant?”

“A new one I’ve discovered,” Hage boasted, “I found it in the Jurassic. It has extraordinary capabilities. I believe you can combine this plant’s special qualities and some other material to change a creature’s DNA to our choosing.”

“That’s not possible! Even if it is, research like that would take way too long-”

“Then I suggest you get working right away!” Hage cut in, fuming mad.

Christie escorted Fernando to his new quarters and gave the man a tour. The facilities onboard the Scorpion plane were many and state-of-the-art. Somehow, Fernando didn’t seem to be surprised at the time portals, saying that he had theorized they were possible.

“Valentine!” Hage called.

“Yes, Mister Quazi?”

“Our spy tells me tells me that the DAE team that’s been against us are now at the transcontinental bridge doing some routine-murder-solving. Take this chance to assassinate them.”

“They call themselves the DCU.”

“What?”

“Our enemy team- the Dinosaur Control Unit?”

“Oh. I thought they were the DAE.”

“It’s a nickname for their specific team.”

“I see. Well, get on with it! I want them dead!”

“Yes, sir!”

“Oh, and use your new flashy sword thing!”

“That? I call it the displacement blade. It uses a micro-sized time portal that displaces objects, allowing me to cut through anything by displacing the atoms and-.”

“Yes, yes, Valentine, now get on with it!”

Valentine did as he was told, getting on a jet and flying to Florida. Once there, he managed to intercept the DCU group, stalking them from behind. He watched and followed them onto the train, as well as to the murder site.

Valentine watched the agents in training solve the peculiar case. They found out Raul was the murderer, who had actually constructed some hidden paths. He was murdered because the four had found out some sensitive information about the bridge’s construction material. The first body was thrown out of one such secret path, the second victim was presented differently to confuse the detectives, the third had been underneath a peculiar leaky spray that had a flammable liquid. Just at the right time, Raul had activated a small round device that burned the liquid. The fourth victim had pythons that were revealed to be another counter for the evidence. The voices were placed to scare people away from the hidden path entrances.

“Amazing,” Agent Li applauded, “who are you people again?”

“FBI trainees, and I’m their teacher,” Xavier lied.

“Then we’ll be having some cool new agents soon.”

Then, they were all dismissed. The regular DAE trainees all grouped together, and the DCU to another group. Valentine took the chance to assassinate them.

Valentine was wearing a disguise. He had a mask on that changed his face, so nobody recognized the man.

“This ice-cream is amazing!” Maizie cheered.

“You always say that,” Jack countered.

But Valentine only saw the four new agents, plus Xavier. But it would do. He put his left hand on a silenced pistol.

“Hello,” he greeted, “nice ice-cream y’all have. Where are you from?”

“We’re just visitors,” Leo lied.

“Too bad,” Valentine chuckled.

“He’s got a gun!” Xavier shouted, reaching for his own in the process. Valentine stood and aimed his weapon. He took out another and started firing.

“Cover!” Leo yelled.

The five took cover as bystanders fled the scene. When Valentine fired, the others fired back, twice as strong.

“Who the hell is this guy?!” Stacy shrieked.

“No idea!” Jack replied.

One by one, the bullets dried up.

“I’m out!” Valentine yelled, “And by my count, you guys are as well.”

“Well then, surrender!” Xavier shouted back, “five beats one!”

Valentine flicked his extendable sword to full length and activated the black energy.

“Oh my god! It’s him!” Maizie realized.

“Yes, me- Claudius Valentine.”

Valentine slashed the bar he was hiding behind in half, demonstrating his blade’s ability. “C’mon, let’s make this easy. Don’t make me chase you!”

“Kitten, Daena,” Xavier radioed, “I need backup ASAP!”

Valentine walked around, searching for the hidden agents, destroying furniture as he did.

Jack jumped out of the shadows and threw a chair at Valentine, who cut the chair to bits. Still, the cut pieces slammed into him, momentarily distracting the assassin.

“Now!” Jack shouted, “RUN!”

“Not so fast!” Valentine growled, chasing after the five.

“The train!” Xavier shouted, “Maizie, get the train running!”

The five went aboard the train, and Maizie managed to hack her way into making

the train go. Valentine hopped aboard at the last second and began walking toward Jack and Stacy.

“Well, well, well,” Valentine mocked, “how does it feel to know you’re doomed.”

But Valentine was walking straight into a trap. Jack and Stacy rushed to the other car, equipped themselves with chairs and slammed it into the couplings. Claudius watched in annoyance as the coupling broke, sending Valentine’s train car away.

“We’re safe, for now,” Xavier panted, “having read his file, he’ll soon find ot how to activate the machinery from his parts.”

“W-what do we do now?” Maizie stammered. “We’re gonna die!”

“We’ll get to the plane in about two hours if we wait,” Xavier began, “Maizie, see

if you can push this train to the limit. I heard it can go much faster.”

“But the dangers!” Leo complained.

“It’s a necessary risk.”

Sure enough, Maizie managed to push the train to the limit, and within thirty minutes they had arrived at the airport. Behind them, they saw Valentine’s segment of a train in the distance.
“What’s happening?” Daena asked, meeting them outside the plane.

“Valentine! The guy with the weird blade.”

“Kitten warned me of him. Quick, we need to leave!”

The team all gathered inside. Xavier relayed a message to the other trainees back at the hotel to sit tight and stay. Justin and Lily began the flight and started to close the ramps, but not before Valentine managed to catch up. As the ramp closed, Valentine slashed his way in, climbing onto the plane as it lifted.

Daena locked the doors behind her, but a quick slash later, the doors were open. The team rushed to cover and find weaponry.

“Come out, wherever you are! Don’t make my job hard!”

The plane shook as it reached the clouds, causing the assassin to stumble. Out of a hidden corner, Stacy smashed a fire extinguisher upon the man, causing Valentine to growl in pain.

Next, Stacy sprayed cold carbon into his face, damaging Valentine’s mask, causing it to fall to the floor, revealing a scarred and knowing face.

Last, Stacy fired a TSC gun at the man, but his clothes prevented him from being tranquilized. Valentine raised and prepared to strike when Kitten leaped from his hiding place and tackled the other.

Kitten used his mechanical hand to deliver a powerful punch into Valentine’s jaw. With his free hand, he wrestled the dangerous blade and tossed it to the side. The blade deactivated and became a relatively harmless sword.

The plane rumbled and Kitten lost his advantage. Valentine tossed him to the side and ran after his weapon, which was now rolling away. Daena kicked it away and charged at him with the electroshock batons. Valentine threw himself at her, tackling Daena. With a free hand, he reached and grabbed his displacement blade.

Daena retreated just as Valentine slashed his energized weapon.

Leo tossed a shockwave grenade, and Valentine rushed to cover. Still, the shockwave blasted him into the dining room, where he crashed into chairs and tables.

By now, Valentine realized the mission would be impossible, so he did the next best thing: Valentine put on a specialized mask he just happened to have and slashed at the plane’s walls in a circular motion.

A large segment flew away, and the assassin was sucked out of the plane.

“Hold on!” Daena warned.

“And put on a mask!” Xavier addressed, just as masks dropped from the ceilings.

The pressure system was beginning to fail, and in quick thinking, our brave pilots Justin and Lily dropped the plane down, saving everyone from certain death.

“Whew...” Maizie shuddered.

Far away, Valentine fell. He injected himself with some kind of substance. Luckily for him, his position was low enough that he didn’t instantly die. From a pocket, he found a small pouch. The pouch had two thick strings, as well as blue, smaller ones. Valentine wore the larger ones on his back like a backpack, then, he tugged at two strings and the pouch shot up, converting into a parachute.

Valentine would live another day.

Once in the ocean, he activated some sort of tracker.

Above, the pressurization system caught up. Soon landing in a field, agents of the DAE soon arrived to repair the plane.

“H-hey, how does Wyvern Base not kill us all?” Maizie inquired, “It’s really high up.”

“Oh, that’s a secret for me to know, and for you to not know,” Xavier replied, “but uh, small forcefield.”

“You guys can do that?!”

“We can generate one, but it’s too weak for any defensive properties. Just to keep the pressure good.”

“Xavier, you can’t go around giving company information like that,” Milo joked, moving out of the plane.

“Well, nobody cares,” Xavier deflected.

“Anyways, this is an indicator that there’s a spy onboard this plane.”

“A spy?” Maizie queried.

“It makes sense. Valentine wouldn’t have known for you guys to be on the bridge at that time. We were disguised as a school field trip, and the fact that only the students knew about this. Nobody has been on that plane but your team and the twenty or so soldiers stationed there. Plus, it’s that Valentine guy, and he seems to be involved with your target. So either he placed a bug in the plane or-”

“Someone’s a spy!” Xavier finished, “And let me guess- we sweeped the plane for bugs and it came back negative, and the fact that only the team was there, and there were no other agents.”

“Precisely.”

“So what do we do?”

“Pretend that there is no spy, and go about your job. Maizie, check your computers as well.”

“I suspect there’s an and here.”

“And Daniel Napoleon has gone missing.”

“Ah.”

Far away, darker things were brewing.

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