Energia, Web Novel

Chapter 49: Pride, Trust, and Opportunity

Energia: Titans of Verità
Table of Contents (For Catching Up)

Anna didn’t watch Hinata sulk out of the Commander’s office. She was too engrossed in her own thoughts to care, or even notice.

Any one request. Could this be the break she was looking for? The smooth path up the mountain? If she did this, if she teamed up with the others just this once, she could get everything she had wanted in one fell swoop. Commander Milldrew had dangled the answers she had been searching for all this time right in front of her face like a carrot on a stick.

But can I trust them?

She eyed Tommy and Eitan, scanning their features as if she was seeing them for the first time. How much did she really know about these two men? Tommy seemed to be an open book, at least on the surface. She had learned a little more of Eitan’s family struggles after the incident in the Israeli Sector; his selfish greed had actually turned out to be quite selfless. They seemed good enough people.

Anna had known ‘good people’, though. More often than not, they would scorn her, abandon her, or betray her. The best person she knew was her father, and even he was reluctant to support her. How far could she go with these two before they left her for their own purposes?

That they would, she had no doubt. Tommy seemed friendly, but she could see the ambition in his eyes. Eitan’s greed may be selfless, but it was still greed. Sooner or later, these two would put a knife in her back to pursue their own ends. How long would that take?

Then there was Hinata. Anna still knew precious little about the Shinobi. Of the three of them, she was the one Anna trusted the least. She seemed to live in a different world from the rest of them. Eitan and Tommy were at least human. But Hinata? That woman seemed more a force than a person.

Blinking, Anna looked around. Wait. Where did she go?

“Perhaps the rest of you should follow her example,” Commander Milldrew said. “Take some time to think on my offer. Dismissed.” With that, he turned back to gazing out the window, as if he were searching for something in the city.

Eitan didn’t wait. He stood, gave an awkward salute, then all but ran through the door. Tommy, on the other hand, stood still, waiting. Anna didn’t wait to see what he was up to. Instead, she made her way out, forgetting to salute the Commander altogether.

As she passed through the twisting black metal hallway, she weighed her options. Option one: decline the deal and climb the mountain of rank the old fashioned way. Not impossible, but far too time consuming. Option two: team up with her three… friends? Is that what they were? She shook her head. No. They’d use her just as soon as she would them. Still, if she used them, she could get what she wanted in a single day. What did it matter if they used her, too?

The problem with that was Eitan and Hinata. Tommy was ready and eager, that much was obvious. But if she couldn’t get those two to go along with it, what was she supposed to do? I’m thinking like I’ve already made up my mind, she realized. But… have I?

She ran a hand through her hair and growled through her teeth. She had no idea what she was thinking anymore. The Commander dangles one carrot on a stick in front of her, and suddenly she’s willing to toss aside her pride and place her faith in three people she barely even knew. But how was she supposed to ignore a carrot like this one?

A buzzing in her pocket took her out of her thoughts. Frowning, she withdrew her holo-phone and flicked it open, bringing the screen to life. The blue light flickered, then displayed an image she hadn’t seen since joining ORDER: a picture of her as a little girl hugging her father’s leg. Above it, the word ‘Dad’ blinked softly.

For a moment, she could only stare at it in amazement. Her dad hadn’t called her since… well, one of the last times she had been arrested back home in the German Sector. Why was he calling her now? Had he only just heard about the incident?

With a start, she realized she had left the phone ringing for nearly a full minute. Quickly, she tapped to pick up and put the device to her ear. “Dad?”

“Hey, sweetheart,” her father’s voice said in her ear as if he were standing right beside her. He sounded equal parts tired and worried. “Do you have a minute? There’s something I need to talk to you about.”

“Okay,” Anna said slowly, curious and concerned. “What is it?”

“I’d prefer to say it in person. Meet you for lunch? At the usual spot?”

The ‘usual spot’ was a bratwurst stand in the German Sector’s market district. She and her father hadn’t been there together since she was a little girl. In fact, that’s where they had taken the photo she had kept as his contact profile. Why on Verità did he want to go there?

Better question: when did his timing get so good?

“Sure. There’s actually something I want to ask you, too.”

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