Thus, she found herself sitting at her desk late one night, going over her plans to infiltrate the Vanmorzen manor once again. The plan was simple. Basically, she was planning to sneak into the manor alone. The deaths of her clanmates still weighed on her heavily, and she had no intention of leading any more members of Clan Mekoval to their deaths, especially at the Vanmorzen manor. She was planning to bring four teammates, but their roles were going to be simply to observe the outside of the manor and signal her if any reinforcements were sent in. She would be the only one to actually enter the manor, and with her speed, strength, and ability to turn invisible, she reasoned that even the Storm Corps would be no match for her.
It was a simple plan, but still she worked on it, and still she worried. This would be the greatest test of her skill as a thief. If she failed, it would probably mean her death, or at least her imprisonment in Mokotal Fortress. If she survived, she would be shamed, and her leadership in the clan would be greatly diminished. She needed to succeed this time. She needed to prove to everyone, not least herself, that she really was the best thief in the city.
She didn’t notice at first when the door opened and the newest Clan Leader entered. She was so engrossed in her work that the Clan Leader made it almost to her desk before Alessandra realized that she was there.
“Good thing I’m not coming here to kill you,” Meela said with a laugh in response to Alessandra’s jump.
“Good thing I have subordinates who know how to knock,” Alessandra said with a growl, but she softened the harshness of her response slightly with a smile.
“I didn’t think Clan Leaders needed to knock,” Meela replied, settling down in the chair opposite Alessandra’s desk.
“Yeah, yeah,” Alessandra said. Picking a Clan Leader to replace Ilnorat had been easier than Alessandra had imagined. She knew she needed to pick someone she could trust, and the only three people she trusted in the clan were Mikaelo, Halidasa, and Meela. Mikaelo was out because everyone in the clan knew how close she was to him, and they would accuse her of favoritism, and that left Halidasa and Meela. Alessandra came very close to choosing Halidasa, because she didn’t know Meela very well, but ultimately she decided that Halidasa just didn’t have the temperament to be a leader. In addition, Halidasa had been acting quite distant from Alessandra ever since Bezzum’s death, and Alessandra didn’t want to have to deal with a Clan Leader who she had tension with. So that left Meela.
Alessandra had had some reservations about choosing Meela, considering Meela’s inexperience. After all, Meela had only been made a full member of the clan during Alessandra’s exile, so that meant she’d gone from being an apprentice to a Clan Leader in the space of a couple of weeks. The other Clan Leaders had been concerned that she was too young, and had voiced their objections loudly. Even Torea had tried to convince Alessandra to pick someone else. And Alessandra did consider choosing someone else for a short time, but in the end, her gut told her that Meela would be a great Clan Leader, and she decided to go with her gut. So far, her gut had been proven right.
Even though Alessandra’s one encounter with Meela had been during the training class Alessandra had taught right before her exile, Meela had made an impression on her that Alessandra had been pleased to discover over the past two months was accurate. Alessandra had wanted a Clan Leader who was skilled, strong, not afraid to speak her mind, but also not one who would put up her heels and dig in when proven wrong. Alessandra’s brief experience with Meela had led her to believe that Meela was all of those things, and she had been correct. Meela was a capable leader who said what she thought, fought for what she believed was right, but was not afraid to admit she was wrong. Even the other Clan Leaders respected her after a very short time, despite resisting her appointment.
“Are you still working on the Vanmorzen manor plan?” Meela asked, stretching her legs out in front of her and crossing them at her heels.
“Yes, I’m still working on the Vanmorzen manor plan,” Alessandra said with a sigh
“What more could there possibly be to do? I’ve never seen a simpler plan,” Meela said. “Are you reworking it so that you’re not taking on all the risk?”
“No!” Alessandra said vehemently. “I am not going to let anyone else die at the Vanmorzen manor. If I fail there again, at least no one else will pay for my mistakes.”
“Okay, okay, I get it,” Meela said, putting up her hands as if to ward off a blow. “But seriously, what are you waiting for? Why even bother with a plan? With your speed and your strength, even the Storm Corps won’t have a chance against you.”
“I don’t want to be overconfident,” Alessandra said. “I was far too overconfident last time, and my team paid for it. I won’t have a repeat of that.”
“Your team died because Bezzum set an ambush for you,” Meela said with a sigh. “Everyone knows that now. The Storm Corps knew you were coming last time. They won’t this time.”
“Maybe,” Alessandra replied. “I can’t know that. Maybe there are other spies in the clan. In any case, there’s no reason for me to risk anyone but myself, so I’m not going to.”
“You’re probably right,” Meela said, and then shrugged. “Well, that’s not what I came here for. Mikaelo’s back.”
“Oh, good,” Alessandra said, sitting up straighter. “Did you tell him to come up here?”
“He’s on his way. Got a pretty good haul too, by the looks of it.”
“Excellent. I’m glad to hear it.”
To be continued…