Chapter 88:

Helping by Coersion - Part 2


Explanations didn’t take much to be honest. Anna would even call this explanation ‘exactly as expected’ if someone asked her.

The idea was as simple as it could be. The high echelon wasn’t trustworthy and information was leaking. In response, loyalists were slowly diverted to Moem’s coastal guard, but things kept going awry after that.

It was very likely that this would be the same history wherever they went by now. The only exception being how the army was using the police force as the place for their loyal units.

What came from the captain after the common points was more interesting though.

It was, in summary, a problem with pirates. In a reactively small scale when compared to the number of ships in this area, but a problem with pirates nonetheless.

Half a dozen missing commerce ships and some navy outposts were raided for materials. A few cases of sudden assaults were reported too and there was the obvious problem with smuggling. All with the only caveat being the fact that no one knew how these kept going below the radar.

This one question could be answered with a good enough trap, or that was the idea that came when news about Anna's visit appeared.

“I knew ya lads had subs ‘round ‘ere!” She exclaimed, confirming her theory and the validity of her bluff. “No idea how they stay hidden under fer so long, but stealth at the sea’s all 'bout ‘em.”

“So that’s how it is... You have a good intuition, young inquisitor… It would make good if you used it better...” The tortle answered in a half complaint and half advice, both things the redhead didn’t care much about. She lacked the leeway to let things flow without her knowledge when there was no way to trust the navy yet.

Annoying people was also one of Anna’s pastimes, if not an addiction, so there was that too.

“Well, I’ve got the gist now… And I still think y'all could ask fer help instead of goin' ham like this.”

It wasn’t that much of a new idea, but it was becoming clear that each branch was working without any support from the others. In all likelihood, Louise wasn’t the only one suspecting that a mole was there, and each branch had its own plans to deal with it.

This fact could easily be one of the reasons why so much corruption and a direct mole existed in the first place, actually.

Staying hidden when neither party would relay all the information available was much easier than if they had a unified front. Minako, for one, even conducted a purge on her temple’s ranks without warning a single soul.

“Do you have any idea of how much of a hypocrite you’re being right now?” Karim asked as she understood what her partner was trying to say, and found it to be a very idiotic remark in relation to the gunslinger inquisitor. “You’re pretty much the quintessential loner.”

“You looked a lot like a loner during our little struggle at the temple.” The kitsune also added from the side, likely remembering Annabeth trying to leave for a solo rampage. “I had to force… I mean, convince you to stay put even.”

It was easy to know that 'convince' wasn't the word there, but it wasn’t the time to argue about that. Anna had to fight for her honor right now.

“Imma loner that works with the team!” The redhead answered in outrage before explaining her point in a very concise way. “Mah’ fightin’ style works better one-on-one, but I’m a very good team player… Just think ‘bout it, ay? I even tell y’all all the things that pop up, things I shouldn’t...”

Her arguments were energetic but not that convincing with all things considered. It was also a big tangent to the whole situation.

“Aham!” Captain Morgan cleared his throat, interrupting the worthless discussion that shouldn’t be happening here anyway. “I’m unsure what’s the situation… But I would like to ask the unrelated personal to leave… At least until we’ve sorted out the situation…”

The scolding brought silence to the bridge as each of the three girls looked back to the turtle captain. One of them was blushing and trying to hide her face, one suddenly went to her ‘meeting mode’ and apologized, and the last one had a strained smile on her face as she notice her slip.

It was funny that the bashfulness of their reactions seemed to be related to their heights, though.

“Sorry ‘bout that, ‘cap, but I kinda need to say a li’l bit more…” Anna continued with her forced smile still in place and furthering the redness of her partner’s face. “I’d like if ya could call our good admiral and tell him that we’ll be helpin’ y’all while we’re ‘ere. It’s kinda our job as the ‘independent’ division.”

“You are serious…?” The once kind captain was turning into a tired and annoyed old man as he spent more and more time talking with the red-annoyance. This one bit of the conversation she couldn’t concede, though, as this was likely the whole point of their visit.

“Yeah. Not sure if y’know, but this fox lady ‘ere tried to do the same thing without warnin’ a soul, and that’s why we got that whole problem from a few days ago.” She continued with a meaningful nod toward Minako. “Cleanin’ the house’s messy, but I’m good at it. And it’s always easier when ya can throw the blame on a common enemy, ay?”

This was the same plan the boss lady was using and it had value for a reason, anyone high enough in the hierarchy would know that.

Dealing with traitors was always a messy affair and something one could hardly make public without causing even more chaos. Having an easy target to put blame on was always useful in this situation. And it would be even better if said target was willing to paint herself.

Using this card had the risk of showing Annabeth’s true intent to their enemies, but that was the reason why she waited until the chance appeared. As long as it wasn’t obvious that they were constantly on the hunt for traitors, it shouldn’t be a problem. Even more with a certain cloaked figure helping misdirect the other side.

“You’re very shrewd and very confident for your age... Makes me wonder how strong you are…” The morphing captain said with a growing aura full of fighting spirit on his back. “Not bad, young lady… Not bad at all…”

“And I think I can see why yer the one in command of our ferry…”

It was getting clear that this old man wasn’t the good uncle he seemed to be at the start of the trip, but his being like this was better in this situation. It was easier to rule out a cliched old-guard officer from being a mole than it was with a hard-to-read good guy.

“I’ll talk with the admiral… Return to the quarters I gave you…” He answered and shooed the girls from his bridge right after, only leaving the last phrase with them as the doors were locked. “We’re not in the clear until we dock…”

And with this problem out of the way, although not in a clean way as with the tooris before, a cover plan ended making itself.

The only possible problem after this would be convincing the admiral to let them move on with it.