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Doggerland-kaart At least this time we have someone who knows how to sail the yacht. I know there’s engines and things somewhere, but I usually just let the crew do whatever it is they do. They’re professional, and more than discreet. Like everyone Sarah hires. Like me. Discretion aside, though, I don’t want to be here. And I really don’t want to go back to Doggerland.  Deon does, though, even though he was there last time, and even though his recklessness damn near got us all killed. Even if it’s not Atlantis, like the Thule Society thought it was in the ‘20’s, it’s still full of Very Bad Things. Like the “angel.” And whatever that chest was, thank God that Colin didn’t touch it while I was dead. Speaking of Deon, I find him in one of the lounge chairs, listening to his iPod and sharing an earbud with Yong. I’m not sure where Jerold is, but probably I should find out. I’m meant to be babysitting the whole team. Which is exactly what Simon called it, when he gave me the mission parameters: “Babysitting Team Viper.” As though all three of them weren’t more combat-experienced than I am, even if I am a couple years older. I can count the number of times they’ve listened to me on the fingers of one foot. Deon opens one eye as my shadow falls on him. “Holly. Trying to tan, here,” he grins up at me. “Boa’s ashamed to be seen in public with a white boy like me.” I roll my eyes and glance down at his iPod. The playlist is everything I had feared: Waterfalls, Wade in the Water, Rolling in the Deep, Smoke on the Water… it just goes on and on. Sometimes I wonder how they survive their own corniness, but it’s probably a coping mechanism. Like Sam’s Christmas lists, or Angus’s determination to adopt every stray in creation. Or Marcus’s insistence on being totally mundane for as much of the time as he possibly can. What we do isn’t just dangerous for our bodies. It can really hurt your heart sometimes. “Kit up, kids. We’re well into the North Sea and fast approaching the Dogger Bank, the Captain says.” I kick Deon’s chair once, for good measure. I don’t even use my superstrength. Much. Finally, the throb of the engines beneath us stops, and we feel the lurch and shudder as the anchor drops. The yacht doesn’t have a lot of draw, but the seabed is awfully close right now. I can even see the change in wave patterns marking the edge of the submerged landmass if I look at the horizon just-so. This isn’t where we went underwater last time, but it’s where we woke up floating, so at a guess, it’s probably the best coordinates for return. Moaning dramatically, Deon and Yong roll off their lounge chairs and start pulling on their swat gear. For this mission, we’ve swapped our usual unit patches for a Chicago flag, sort of an if-found-return-to. Not that anyone will find us at the bottom of the North Sea, across the veil into the past that this land remembers so well. Jerold finally emerges from below, already dressed and checking his weapons before tucking most of them neatly into hammerspace. I check my own gear: boots, gloves, perfect manicure that I’m probably going to spoil. I don’t need to carry a weapon, I just need to be one. “Uh… now what?” Yong frowns, staring at me. Like I would know. “It’s Deon’s show,” I defer. “’Kay,” Deon picks up the reins. “Last year we set out to locate the missing Thule Society U-boat, right? But we got more than we bargained for. After we docked in Denmark to pick Holly up, I was alone on the yacht. I began to hear strange noises, noises that the lapping of the waves could not account for. I thought I would rejoin the team, but as I emerged into the wintry sunlight on the deck, it became clear something was wrong. The clouds shifted, casting an ominous shadow on the ground. I felt something tug at my ankle, and…” “Oh man,” Jerold breaks in. “I can see your post-action report now. It was a dark and stormy night…” He holds up his hands in a frame, then stops abruptly. Through the square between his thumbs and forefingers, I can see clouds rolling in from a hole in the blue sky. —— Squeaking in under the deadline for this week’s speakeasy!  

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