Swamped Chapter 61 Page 8

It would be easier if you had the actual letter, you suppose. You could let her catch a glimpse of it, try to catch her attention that way. Work from there.

But it’s locked in Tom’s closet. All you’ve got is a copy of the message in your notebook, not to mention a couple dozen attempts at playing around with it.

Well… there was that odd reaction when she denied peeking at messages. It didn’t look like a lie, but maybe getting back to the subject will clear something up.

You flip to the “clean” page, with the original coded message, unsullied by your notes.

“So you wouldn’t recognize this, then.”

Penelope just stares at you, confused.

“It looks like gibberish. Just a jumble of letters.”

“It’s your missing message from earlier today. It’s in code. Now, if it were going to another officer, I could understand that, for security and all. But it wasn’t from Ash to an officer, was it?”

Penelope doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t seem to know what to say.

“And sure, maybe there’s other people he sends orders to where it’s important enough to keep a secret. I could imagine a repair squad being quietly sent to fix something when we want to be very sure the Marshguards don’t know it’s broken. But you know, given who Ash was sending this to, that doesn’t seem like it either, does it. Unless I’m misremembering who it was for. Perhaps you’d like to refresh my memory there?”

Penelope looks torn between running and staying put. After a tense minute, she finally opens her mouth to answer.

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It was Vera’s subordinate.

It doesn’t matter who gets command, Ash is in charge either way.