Author's note: One of my hobbies is making comic books. This story involves some of my characters, though I’ve chosen to use their alter-egos instead of their professional names.

While still trying to stay alert, Natalie reflected as she walked through a hallway in Dawn’s hideout. Dawn had said already that when her father had died, she had lost her rudder. Having a half-sister who had become rich through her criminal dealings had only made things worse, and so did the circumstances surrounding her discharge from the Army less than a month into Basic Training. With Dawn’s unstable mind and confused moral compass, Natalie could understand what had led Dawn to choose the path she had chosen. Still, she couldn’t let her understanding get in the way of her mission. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone, even Dawn. She was sick, and she couldn’t get the help she needed without being apprehended. Not pursuing Dawn would be as much a lack of compassion as a lack of justice.

Tabitha had sent Natalie to infiltrate and investigate Dawn’s hideout as part of their plan to uncover her latest plot. In response to Tabitha’s warning, she had let her know that she didn’t take the mission lightly. She knew what had happened to Dirk the first time he had crossed Dawn, how she had managed to inject him with a sedative and place him inside a gas chamber to die. He was on the brink of death when his teammates found and rescued him. During their most recent encounter, Tabitha herself had suffered broken bones at the madwoman’s hands. Even though Dawn was currently out with her henchmen, Natalie was still cautious. Her mask would protect her from any noxious gas, and her weapons were within easy reach.

Slowly she made her way into a room which evidentially served as a study. Stacked neatly near the desk were several thick blue notebooks. In the middle of the desk one notebook lay by itself. Natalie knew that Dawn was frequently seen writing in a blue notebook, even during confrontations. When Dirk awoke inside the gas chamber, he noted that Dawn was writing in a blue notebook before she noticed him recovering from the knock-out drug and stopped to converse with him before turning on the gas and leaving him. When Tabitha first confronted her, she had been writing in a blue notebook when she approached. Natalie herself had seen her with a blue notebook and a pencil clutched in her hands, holding them like she couldn’t lose her grip on them for an instant.

She knew that many criminals kept a record of their deeds, so she saw an opportunity to obtain evidence. She picked up the notebook on the desk, opened it to a random page, looked at the two pages before her eyes, and froze, first from confusion, and then from shock. She flipped to the next page, flipped a few pages back, and then started leafing through the notebook, trying to determine if she was really seeing what she was seeing. Setting the notebook back on the desk, she grabbed one from the pile and began looking through it. Eventually she leafed through every notebook in the pile. To her alarm, each one was entirely filled with the exact same phrase, written clearly in Dawn’s own handwriting.

“I have no rudder. I have no rudder. I have no rudder. I have no rudder. I have no rudder.”

Natalie shakily re-stacked the rest of the notebooks the way they were and lay the first notebook back on the desk. As she gathered herself and pondered this latest discovery, she saw in her peripheral vision a gloved hand slide toward the notebook on the desk. Natalie whipped around to come face-to-face with Dawn, who angrily glared directly into Natalie’s eyes as she took the notebook and tucked it under her arm. Natalie grabbed a weapon in the event Dawn attacked, but something, either fear or something she saw in Dawn’s eyes, prevented her from raising it. Dawn continued to fix her gaze on her, then in a harsh whisper barked, “Get out!” and walked out of the study, leaving the stunned Natalie to decide her next course of action.

Written by Raidra
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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