After a few more minutes of Liam begging me to stay, I finally left.
"Why do you need to see that stuff?" Piper asked innocently.
"They took away my best friend because she knows important stuff. Whatever she knows is going to be recorded so they don't forget."
Piper nodded thoughtfully. "Don't you know the important stuff?"
"No. I guess no one ever wanted to tell me. That's why I've got to find out." It suddenly occurred to me how stupid I was being. I couldn't bring Piper. She was just a little kid, and I couldn't risk getting her killed too. But where else was I supposed to take her? I couldn't leave her standing in the street waiting for me, and Halon could never know about what I was going to do.
I glanced back at the warehouse. Could I leave her with Liam?
Wanting to keep things short, I got Liam to open the door back up. Before he could speak, I nudged Piper inside. "I need you to watch her for an hour. If I'm not back by then, I'm probably dead, and you need to find a man named Halon Storms. Take Piper to him."
Liam stared at me in disbelief. "Marina, you can't expect me to-"
I turned and ran like the army was after me. He owed me a favor, anyway. He could at least take care of a hyperactive little girl for an hour.
As it turned out, the building was a lot further away than I'd thought. It left me even less time to break in.
It was as heavily guarded as Liam had said. A feeling of despair washed over me. How was I supposed to get past all of them? I wasn't a superhero. I'd never be able to fight my way through.
The least I could do was get inside. They couldn't arrest me for that, right? It was a public building.
I tried to ignore the guard standing beside the ornate wooden door.
"You here for school?" He asked gruffly.
"Uh, yeah. School."
I hadn't been to school since I was twelve. Not that it mattered. I'd already learned most everything I would need in life. I would die a ship mechanic, not some genius scientist.
I pushed the doors open to find a large, empty marble room. The only thing occupying the space was a fat wooden desk and an old woman with glasses sitting behind it. She smiled tiredly. "Can I help you darling?"
"Yeah. I'm doing a… project for school. It's about crime. I was wondering if I could get a look at some records?"
She frowned uncertainly. "What kind of records?"
"Nothing too important. Just the names of recent criminals."
She hesitated, and held up a finger. "Wait here." She hobbled through a door directly behind her desk. I noticed another door adjacent to the one she'd gone through. It was padlocked-a good sign that I shouldn't be in there. Of course, it was probably exactly where I wanted to be.
"Thanks for your help but my Mom just called. I have to go. I'm leaving now."
Instead of heading toward the door I'd come through, I quickly fiddled with the padlock. I was an expert at picking locks, and they hadn't made it particularly difficult.
Just as the old woman returned to her desk, I unhooked the padlock and slipped through. By the grace of God, no guards were waiting on the other side. I breathed a tiny sigh of relief.
The door had led to a long hallway that veered off in two different directions. As stealthily as possible, I peeked around each of the corners. There were vaults as far as the eye could see in either direction, but only one had a guard posted outside of it. Of course, that was probably my vault.
Would anyone really notice if I knocked out one guy?
I whirled around the corner as quickly as possible. Before the guard had a chance to react, I'd landed a sharp kick on his torso. It brought him to his knees, giving me a chance to whack his temple hard enough that he dropped to the floor-out cold. I sort of pitied the guy, but he'd be alright. A circle of keys hung from his waist.
I managed to rip them off, jamming each one into the vault lock as fast as possible. Eventually I found the right key, and the door opened with an ear-splitting metallic screech.
A file cabinet to my right was labeled Interrogations. All I had to do was find Cotto's name in there.
I ripped it open and rifled through as quickly as possible. Someone was already going to know that I had been here. I just had to get in and out fast enough.
Though it couldn't have been more than seconds until I found her file, it felt like an eternity. I yanked it out, skimming over the interrogation.
Investigator Setkaze: How much do you know about Operation Honorable Justice?
Suspect Cotto Macy: Not a damn thing.
Investigator Setkaze: I've got a lot of intelligence on you, Ms. Macy. I've got files on every person you've ever met.
Suspect Cotto Macy: And they'll tell you I don't know anything. I'm the first officer on a cargo ship. That's it.
Investigator Setkaze: I've got a list of your crew right here. Halon Storms, age 27. Chase Fisher, age 22. Devon Derrego, age 25. Daton Guardsboro, age 26. Linden Gates, age 26. Cayrem Shatton, age 27. Marina Castlebrook, age 16. And last but not least, Cotto Macy, age 26. So you see, Ms. Macy, I know everything I need to know about you. I know where every person on this list is right now, and I'm able to have all of them killed in a heartbeat.
Suspect Cotto Macy: That's not legal.
Investigator Setkaze: Oh, I assure you, the law is on my side. Which ones should I kill first? Or should I do it one by one until you talk to me?
Suspect Cotto Macy: You wouldn't do that.
Investigator Setkaze: Alright, then let me radio my boss. We'll knock off the captain first.
Suspect Cotto Macy: I'll kill you if you try.
Investigator Setkaze: Just tell me what you know or I'll have them all assassinated.
Suspect Cotto Macy: If I tell you, you won't lay a finger on any of them, right?
Investigator Setkaze: You have my word.