“I’m sorry, but so far we haven’t found anything,” Mr. Transport said.
Sean Pendleton nodded, keeping himself calm. It was a skill he hadn’t always had. Back in his younger years he’d been brash, with something of a temper, though never anything that compared to Victor’s. It was only training, and his experience on the job, that had taught him to stay calm no matter what he was dealing with. So he was calm as he took the news. Then he calmly rose from the table where Mr. Numbers, Mr. Transport, and Dean Blaine were still sitting, and he calmly lifted his chair up and smashed it against the wall into many calm pieces.
“I’m fine,” he said, dropping the splintered remains onto the concrete floor. “I’ll clean it up later.” Sean stepped over the mess he’d made and grabbed another chair, bringing it back to the table.
The upside to holding their meetings in the abandoned Hero bunker was that they didn’t have to worry about whatever prying ears and eyes might be in Lander, and they could make a mess as needed. The downside was that they had to clean up those messes themselves, which had left Sean sorely missing the janitorial staff. Especially when he kept getting the same bad news over and over.
“I understand you’re frustrated, but you knew this wouldn’t be a simple task,” Dean Blaine replied. “You searched for years on your own and came up with nothing; Charles Adair has only had more time to bury leads since then. If Shelby is out there, she’d been put in a place specifically designed to foil even those of us with resources and training.”
“Normally, this is exactly where we would be able to shine,” Mr. Numbers said. “Unfortunately, given Charles Adair’s deep involvement with our organization, it would be folly to assume that we can trust any of the others. Even if he doesn’t have them in his pocket, his wealth and power would make it tantalizing to sell us out to him. Pity, Mrs. Tracking would be able to handle the whole ordeal in no time.”
“Don’t count on it,” Sean said. “I went to every Super with location abilities I could find, none of them turned up a thing. Maybe he’s got someone with neutralization powers at her side or some other ability that masks her, but Shelby is not that easy to find.”
“Perhaps you’re right,” Mr. Numbers said. In truth, he’d already suspected such a possibility; it only his faith in his team member’s capabilities that prompted a belief that she might succeed.
“All we know for sure is that from each angle we come at, Shelby Adair turns up as dead,” Mr. Transport told them. “We’re using every channel we can without alerting someone that we’re looking, and none have turned up even a single scrap of information. Outside of Alice’s dream visitor, there has been no corroboration that Shelby Adair is alive.”
“Right now we have a single unconfirmed outlier claiming a different situation than countless other trusted resources,” Mr. Numbers said. “I don’t wish to be insensitive, but I presume you both know that the logical conclusion to draw in such circumstances is.”
Sean looked up from the table, his long-practiced calm quickly melting away. For a moment, his body seemed to shimmer and turn see-through as his emotions attempted to overwhelm the control of his power. That ended with a single glance from Dean Blaine, though it did nothing to stop the building storm of Sean’s wrath.
“Don’t you say it. Don’t you dare tell what you’re thinking. After all these years I finally get a clue to finding my sister and you want me to write it off? Why? Because we don’t know if we can trust the person who gave it to us?” Sean lifted himself from table, this time knocking the chair back from the force of his legs. “Newsflash, Numbers, we’ve having a secret meeting in an underground bunker because we have no fucking idea who we can trust! We’re hiding from friends, fellow professors, even family in my case. All because no one is trustworthy. Well guess what, this Abridail guy might be mysterious and unknown, but he sure as shit seems to believe what he’s selling. You heard Esme when she told us about Alice’s dream. I’m not ignoring what he’s offering just because your ‘sources’ seem to disagree.”
Mr. Numbers stood as well, meeting Sean’s aggression with a fierce voice of his own. “I was merely pointing out the logical explanation so that we could focus on-”
“Enough.” Dean Blaine didn’t stand up, or raise his voice. He didn’t even look at them when he talked. He simply spoke with the expectation that he would be listened to; that others would obey. Shockingly, that is precisely what happened, as both Sean and Mr. Numbers quieted down and stared at him, waiting to hear what he had to say. Zero might have been a greater warrior than Blaine, but years training and dealing with Supers had made Blaine the far superior leader.
“Mr. Numbers is right; we can’t afford to spin our wheels like this forever. With only one dream walker’s word to go on, it’s not a productive use of our time. Not with Globe still at large and a possible mole in our school. Assuming Shelby is alive, Charles has clearly covered every route we might use to find her, which makes looking around like this pointless.”
Dean Blaine held up a hand, halting Sean’s objection before momentum could build. “That said, Sean is also right. We can’t afford to ignore the possibility that Shelby really is still out there just because Abridail isn’t someone we’ve dealt with. Even aside from the moral aspect, I can’t be the only one who finds the timeframe of all of this too coincidental. I don’t see the thread connecting them yet, but all that madness happening around the same time, and both with events centering on Charles and Phil… no, this is worth pursuing. Demands pursuing. But we’re not going to get anywhere by groping blindly about.”
“What do you suggest?” Mr. Transport asked.
“We’re going after the only solid lead we have: we need to find Abridail,” Dean Blaine declared.
“How? It’s obviously a fake name, and without a name or picture there’s no locator than can run someone down,” Mr. Numbers pointed out.
“Obviously we won’t be able to find him, since he took such pains to not be found. However, we do have the capability of drawing him out,” Dean Blaine reminded them. “He has been involved in the entry of two student’s dreams thus far: Alice and Vince’s. These occurred only when their mental defenses were shut down by Rich Weaver’s unique ability. Thus, it seems if we want to learn more from, or about, Abridail, the best option is to have Rich put them under again. Lucky for us, I happen to be the one in charge of the student’s curriculum. And I think a supplemental lesson may just be in order.”