The briefing is about to start. I know I should be more focused on the task at hand, but my mind keeps going back to Kaname.
My life changed so much since I was assigned to guard her. I find it still difficult to be a normal teenager, and more often than not screw things up. I know that. I am trying, though. And she helps me.
But the feelings I have for her are so new, exciting and frightening at the same time. I want to keep her safe, I want to protect her, I want to see her smile and laugh, and I want to be part of her life. I know I'm not worthy of her. How could I be? I'm a mercenary. A killer.
She opened up a softer side in me, though. A side I didn't even know existed. A side I want to explore further. It was because of her I got a taste of what normal means. What living in peace could look like. But to keep that peace I need to find those who hunt her and want to exploit her.
I promised her I would call her once I reach the submarine, but it's past two a.m. in Tokyo and she is probably asleep. And she should be. Tomorrow is the Kanji test. She needs her rest. But I texted her telling her I arrived safely.
"Attention," Lt. Com. Kalinin says as he steps into the front of the briefing room. We all stand up and salute as the Captain enters. If I wouldn't know what Tessa is capable of, I would find her mere presence among us ridiculous. But she is a brilliant strategist and a kind human being who is the epitome of all the good Mithril stands for. I am glad I have met her, too.
"Please, sit down everyone," she says in a grave voice.
We all do as instructed and watch as the Lt. Com. prepares the screen, while typing on the connected laptop. Immediately, a message appears on the wide screen.
To: Teletha Testarossa. Tuatha de Danann submarine, Mithril
Subject: Allegiance proposal
Ms. Testarossa, for a while now I had the pleasure to watch you operate your high-tech submarine, Tuatha de Danann. I am very impressed by it. Don't worry, I do not wish to take it away from you. I have no need for it in my world.
I wanted to seize this opportunity to applaud your hard work and dedication to keep the world safe. Also, I want to congratulate your fantastic team, both the AS pilots and the entire submarine personnel.
In the attachment to this email you will find a thorough investigative report on several Mithril members who are at least suspicious. Of course, I am kind in saying so. I am no fool. Mithril hires mercenaries and only part of the people there, value honesty, justice and peace above all else.
Believe it or not, Ms. Testarossa, I am your ally. If I wanted to hurt you, I would've. But as it so happens I want to protect the very same people you want to keep safe. You will most likely show this email to your most trusted staff members, and I even recommend it. I am, as far as you know, a faceless entity who wants to deceive you.
But as a token of my honesty, I will attach a file which will allow you to investigate certain members and find out if they are honest or not. These very members will meet in two weeks-time to negotiate a special contract with your sworn enemy, Amalgam. Details about the meeting place and the people involved are in the attachment, as mentioned.
Your window of opportunity will be open just for a short while. After it closes you might never get the chance again.
It is up to you.
Whether or not you decide to accept my help, I will continue to monitor both Mithril and Amalgam and if necessary take the ones down who want to destroy our planet.
"What the hell?" I hear Kurz right next to me.
"Confused?" Tessa asks. "I was so too. I received this email about two weeks ago. Several things happened since then," she says and most of us nod. "While we were preoccupied with the Hong Kong incident I had our best analysts research this matter. Abraham's Daughter is one of the world's best hackers. We do not know the identity of the hacker, nor if it is a he or a she."
"Is this hacker an enemy?" Mao asks.
"We don't know. I contacted my superiors to discuss this and by mentioning a few names I was led to believe that Abraham's Daughter might be onto something. This is what this mission is all about. I will leave it to Lt. Com. Kalinin to explain to you the parameters of your mission. But whether or not this information is accurate, we can't rule out this hacker as a possible enemy," Tessa tells us and allows Kalinin to lay out the plan and assign jobs for this mission.
The Lt. Com. thoroughly explains what each of us has to do, who the targets are, what to look for, what to expect, and where everything will go down.
According to the information provided by Abraham's Daughter, the meeting will take place in Cairo. Mithril doesn't have an alliance agreement with the Egyptian government, so we need to lay low. Only Arbalest will be authorized on this mission. The rest of the Urzu team will go undercover.
The three Mithril agents who allegedly will switch sides are Mark Woodsworth, based in Sydney, Australia and part of the Research Division, Arash Bahadur from the Intelligence Division, and Francesco Giuliani from communications. Looking over their profiles, all of them have extended knowledge about several operations and new tech. They aren't key players within the organization, but have enough clearance to gather intel on Mithril and its agents. Having these three switch sides would be beneficial for the enemy and make us vulnerable to attacks.
"Any questions?" Kalinin asks, and when no one raises their hand he dismisses us.
Mao, Kurz and I decide to eat a late-night snack. This new information and prospect of several moles ruined my sleep. We enter the spacious cafeteria and sit down at a table. Kalinin soon joins us, as well as Tessa and Clouseau. They sit opposite of us, and I wonder if they have anything else to tell us. I'm sure everything relevant was said during the briefing.
"Who do you think this hacker is?" Mao asks.
"I don't know. But Abraham's Daughter is one of the best there is. She was able to hack the U.S. government leaving no trace, and it seems she hacked us, although our computer specialists can't find a breach," Tessa says hanging her head.
"She?" Clouseau asks. "I thought the gender of the hacker is unknown."
"We decided to call the hacker a she, because of the nickname," Tessa explains. Makes sense. It is already confusing to talk about this person.
"If she didn't leave any trace, how do we know that she hacked the U.S. government? Or us for that matter?" Kurz asks a valid question.
"She called the White House to tell them they've been compromised," Kalinin states.
"What?" Kurz and I ask at the same time.
"Girl's got balls," Mao says with a smirk.
"It's not funny, Melissa," Tessa chastises.
"I know it's not. But still. Why did she even call them?"
"According to our contact in the White House, Abraham's Daughter called to alert the President himself of the breach," Kalinin starts explaining. "She laid out how rudimentary his cyber-security is and how easy it was to breach. She then requested that the best computer scientist available to the President should trace her steps to concur what she was saying. As it turns out, she entered their system undetected by their security and breached every firewall implemented to keep hackers out."
"What happened then?" Clouseau asks, just as curious as I am.
"As you can guess, it was impossible for the U.S. government to vet her, since she never showed herself. But as a token of her honesty and will to help them, she provided them with massive intel on a terrorist cell right there in Washington D.C.," Kalinin continues. "Obviously, they are still reluctant to trust a hacker who so easily breached their security, but recognized that she wasn't their enemy. For the time being."
"It's kind of what she is doing right now," Kurz summarizes.
"Yes," Tessa agrees. "But we still need to corroborate her claims. This is why it's imperative that this mission runs smoothly."
We remain in the cafeteria for a while longer, each of us speculating what the real goal of this hacker is. Why hasn't she come forth before? Why now? Why give us so little to work on?
I wish I was back in Tokyo. I wish I was with Kaname.