Chapter 45:

Volume 2, Interlude C: “Potential” Scouting

Heroes of the Past

Ace sat on the branch of a tall tree, watching a young woman enter her house. She leaped downward, a twenty-foot plunge, and landed with grace. The former leader then knocked on the front door.Bookmark here

“Yes, how may I help you?” the young woman questioned.Bookmark here

“Sorry for bothering you so late. I’m new to the area and I’m a bit lost. Do you know where this place is?” Ace asked, showing the woman an address.Bookmark here

“Ah, this is very close. From here, you….,” the young woman directed.Bookmark here

Ace nodded, not paying attention. Her true intent was to evaluate if this person carried the “potential”. Once the young woman finished, Ace collapsed on her right knee, clutching her leg.Bookmark here

“Sorry, just a little bit tired from all my walking today. Mind giving me a hand?” Ace requested, extending her right hand out.Bookmark here

“Of course. Don’t worry, your destination is only five minutes away. Are you in need of some rest? You can sit on the bench over there,” the young woman replied, clutching Ace’s hand.Bookmark here

Ace grinned, standing back up. She thanked the woman for her help, hobbling over to the bench. With that moment of contact, she confirmed that this woman did indeed contain “potential”.Bookmark here

“Thanks. I think I’ll sit here for a bit. By the way, my name’s Ling,” Ace introduced herself using a pseudonym.Bookmark here

“I’m Tono. I hope you arrive safely at your location,” she answered, closing the door behind her.Bookmark here

Ace crossed her legs and began whistling a children’s song tune. The wind picked up and a piece of paper landed on the woman’s lap. She opened it up and scanned the contents.Bookmark here

“No need to worry about her for now. Only a selected few would be able to determine she has “potential”. For now, her powers lay dormant. There’s no reason to involve her for the foreseeable future,” Ace said, whistling her tune in between words.Bookmark here

The wind chimes above her clattered, producing an unpleasant sound. Ace sighed, standing back up again and headed toward her next destination.Bookmark here

“My lady, I monitored her as you requested,” her assistant reported.Bookmark here

“Any signs that she may awaken?” the woman questioned, tapping the desk.Bookmark here

“From my observations, she did not exhibit any noticeable signs. I also conducted an emission test, but results came back as negative,” her assistant answered, handing her a sheet of paper.Bookmark here

“I see. That is unfortunate. It may be time for me to intervene in this matter. Not too much, of course. Al, please prepare the necessary tools,” she commanded and headed over to the wall of masks.Bookmark here

Al nodded, heading toward the armory. The woman gazed at the wall, pondering which mask suited the task at hand. A majority were purchased from auctions with prices ranging from affordable to exuberant.Bookmark here

She selected a steam punk styled one. The right eye slit was a goggle, adorned with decorative golden cogs. The left eye slit was standard masquerade design with a thin rust colored mesh covering it. A gas mask mouthpiece provided the final touches.Bookmark here

“This should give her enough of a scare,” she remarked, strapping the mask on.Bookmark here

“Long, can you follow up on this for me?” Tess asked, handing him a folder.Bookmark here

“This is a file on Ace. What do you want me to find?” Long stared at the Gatekeeper with a surprised look.Bookmark here

“That is a complete list of all the locations Ace visited when she did an investigation on the Traveler. Cross reference it with the news database in the Crossroads. Mark down the locations where strange occurrences or any interesting news occur. Hopefully, this provides us a list of areas to monitor,” Tess explained.Bookmark here

“Sure, I’ll see what I can find. Anything new on what we talked about last time?” Long asked.Bookmark here

“No, we’ll maintain the status quo for now. If anything were to arise, I’ll notify everyone immediately. She’s very good at hiding her tracks,” Tess said.Bookmark here

“Got it. Have you visited Michi’s grave recently?” Long brought up.Bookmark here

“No, does something concern you about it?” Tess shook her head.Bookmark here

“I was looking at the readings around that place the other day and noticed elevated levels of abnormality. Not sure if it’s residue magic left over from what happened, but wanted to check in with you on it,” Long replied.Bookmark here

“Hmm, that is of slight concern. I’ll head over when I’m free and examine it myself. Thank you for bringing that up,” Tess decided.Bookmark here

Long nodded and left. The Gatekeeper went over to her computer, confirming the data Long spoke of earlier. She pulled up records from a different area, comparing it with the grave site. Almost a complete match. Tess scooted back from her desk, pondering what this could mean.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.