Entry 25 – Boarding
We almost made it. As the last of our vehicles descended to the beach and our means of transport, the sounds of gunfire pierced the air. High above the cliffs, a lone Dublin PD team was taking shots at the tyres of our wheeled vehicles. I hesitated at that point – yes, we could have solved the problem with a single salvo but was there a point in killing even more people just doing their jobs? Espinoza solved the dilemma for me and the sharp cracks of an autocannon meant I needn't bother pondering the issue any longer.
The loading process took several hours, during which we were occasionally fired upon from the cliffs. The ship's own firepower was, however, more than sufficient to deter any attacks. All the while, our resident hacker was working on the data we had acquired.
Several hours later, we were well on our way. The sea was calm and there was not a cloud in sight. The cutter easily towed us back to the deep water, a feat made possible by our ship's keel-less design and from there, home. Or so we thought.
In the evening, all of us gathered on the cutter in an improvised briefing room where the hacker was already waiting, eager to share her findings. A thought came to me suddenly – the purpose of our mission was becoming known to a lot of people and as any security expert would tell you, the risk of leaks increases exponentially with people involved. Nevertheless, if Ferguson trusted her, so did I – or rather, as in many other matters, I had no choice. And speaking of Ferguson, she appeared on a large screen almost as soon as I entered the room, giving each of us an approving nod. She was clearly in a good mood and I had no idea if that bode well or ill for us. I was about to find out.
"Thank you for gathering. Jim, please lock the door behind you," she asked Twocrows who was the last to arrive. Then she addressed the gathered group.
"First, I'd like to congratulate you all on a job well done. According to my sources, Sage is reeling from the blow and blames local insurgents. They have already started rounding up the families of those suspected of terrorism. We expected this would happen and this outcome is ideal for us. They'll find their scapegoat and nobody will suspect our involvement."
Her matter-of-fact statement hit me like a hammer. Why didn't I realize someone would get the blame? Everyone in the room kept their expression neutral, was I supposed to be the only voice of conscience? Suddenly, I felt tired, so incredibly tired of everything that was happening. But my trouble were far from over, it was to be a long, long summer.
"Now, to the results. We have acquired a significant amount of data thanks to Miss Li here."
The hacker was positively beaming with pride as if she hadn't realized the 'innocents will get the blame' part. Or, worse, it didn't bother her in the slightest. I just shook my head.
"The good news is, our intel was once again correct. O'Neill learned about the Arizona incident through his network of agents almost immediately, that much is clear. Don't give me that look, Gail – it's important to verify the quality of your sources. The bad news is that we found almost nothing concrete so far. Our technicians will sift through the data for months to come. There is, however, one interesting bit that we managed to catch. The files referring to the incident also contain a lot of references to something called 'Eclipse.' We ran the same word through other files we have on Sage and can say with a high amount of certainty it is a project Sage is running for a third party customer. We don't have the customer's name but we don't need it – it's obvious enough once you hear the location of the project."
"Ladies and gentlemen," she made a short pause for dramatic effect, "what would you say to a trip to Italy?"