Chapter 29 - Assassin

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11th September 2311 13:16 EST - Silence was a bizarre entity. At times, it was welcoming and longed to be embraced, an opportunity to reflect and take stock, yet at this time it was undesirable and grating.

As the silence between Jason and Donnelly taunted him mercilessly, Jason's thoughts were bombarding him like a tsunami, crashing his psyche with loud unwelcome reflections.

The weapon discharge had scraped the security chief Jackson's forehead, leaving him in agony and a singed scar on his temple as the two Blue Ravens had made for the exit.

Relief had initially gripped Jason, glad that the shot was not an execution, but when the silence hit, so did the questions. Was it mercy, or had Donnelly left him to a much worse fate as the facility was set to self destruct in just over twenty minutes? Was the woman he had fallen in love with actually some psychotic murderer or was she simply doing what must be done to keep up the pretence? What sacrifices must be made to expose those responsible for some of the greatest war crimes in centuries? Could he live with himself for what he had done?

What had he done, though? Until now, he had acted in self-defence and stood by as Donnelly began her act of terror. And there it was, the realisation of it all that he had actually done nothing, and by doing nothing, he had made himself an accomplice.

Glancing over towards Donnelly, her facial expressions were ones he had not seen before. He had seen her angry, sad, frustrated, happy, gleeful and peaceful, but what he saw now was something new, something that he had only seen a handful of times before on the battlefield, specifically after the crash landing on Loki. There was devastation, hopelessness and bitterness etched deeply into her pale and corrupted features, a traumatised soul aware that her next task could be the last one that shatters her soul to the core.

As they reached a door, Donnelly suddenly stopped before placing her hand on it and lowering her head. Jason could clearly hear the deep breaths that she was taking, gasping for what little she could to prepare her for the task at hand. The breaths then changed to sniffles and when a tear dropped anxiously to the floor, splashing on the cold hard surface, it was then that Jason could see just how traumatised she was.

For the first time since the server room, she spoke, her voice cracked and hoarse, "The Ravens, they take everything from you. Take everything that makes you human."

Before Jason could react, Donnelly had already wiped her face and entered the room. As he stepped into the brightened chambers of the Duchess, he watched as Donnelly forced a smile onto her face, and it was at that moment that Jason could not believe that he had dared to doubt her.

"Josie? What on earth is happening?"

The voice was harsh and direct, cutting through the tense atmosphere like a knife. Both of the Ravens looked up, greeted by the dysfunctional disgruntled features of the Duchess Heissenberger.

"Unfortunately ma'am, we need to evacuate the facility, a major reactor failure has been diagnosed, and we've been ordered to reach the escape submersibles urgently," Donnelly replied.

"We have, my dear, not we've. Honestly, how many times must I correct you?" the Duchess responded.

"One more time?" Donnelly replied instantly, causing both women to burst into laughter. "Jackson sends his apologies for not being able to retrieve you himself."

"Oh do not concern yourself with such trivial matters, besides, I find Jackson such a bore; you are far more of an entertaining chaperone."

Donnelly smiled as she stepped towards the elderly woman who was struggling to lift herself from the bed she was resting on.

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