Found and Lost

Gabriella gasped, something was wrong. Something must have happened to Michael. Presently she filled Casey in on what she could see.
 "What, really? That's terrible. What must have happened to him?"
 "I don't know, but we'd better find out."
 Looking around to see if anybody was watching Gabriella saw that nobody was there and tried the handle. It was locked.
 "Damn. Locked. What are we gonna do?"
 "Maybe we could get the University security on it?"
 "Yeah, because they would believe us wouldn't they. For all we know, they are in on it! After all, that man was being escorted by the professors."
 "Hmm. That's true. Perhaps we could, I dunno, crap. No, I'm stumped. I have no idea."
 Gabriella racked her brains for a moment, trying to come up with a solution. She wasn't sure why she was so concerned about this man, why she felt the need to help him so strongly but it was there all the same. She had to do something, it was just the right thing to do. Suddenly, an idea popped into her head - the thread!
 "Casey, the thread, I could follow the thread!"
 "You know, the one leading out of the man, out of Michael. It seemed to travel through walls, so it's not bound by the Aetheric echoes of physical reality. That means that if we can find it, we can work out what direction it's pointing in and that will be exactly the direction that Michael is in!"
 "Gab! You're a genius!"
 Gabriella blushed and smiled awkwardly. In an attempt to throw attention off of her self she changed the subject. "Come on, we need to find that thread!"
 "So how do we do that? You're the only one who can see it."
 "Well I guess we circle the area. It has to be around here somewhere."
 "Okay, you start searching, I've got an idea." Casey said. "I'll be back in a bit!"
 Casey ran off and Gabriella stood there for a moment wondering how to respond. She shrugged, she had work to do. First of all she began to search the surrounding corridors about the room, but the thread was nowhere to be seen. That meant something though she wasn't quite sure what. She circled again further out from the room and then it came to her. Of course, if the thread was pointing directly to something else, it would be a straightline which meant if Michael was at the same height as she was, she'd have seen it by now, assuming he was somewhere near the room. If not, then the thread could be above or below her and she'd never see it. She sat down for a moment and tried to think of where it had been pointing when she first saw it but she couldn't remember. It had gone through a wall and she had bumped into him near the lecture theatre. If she went there maybe she could work out which way it had gone.

It took Gabriella only a few minutes to reach the corridor where she had first met Michael. She tried to replay the events earlier back in her mind. She had been distracted, walking quickly from her dorm to the lecture theatre, the door to the lecture theatre had been on her right when she bumped into Michael coming the other way. She'd seen the thread trailing behind him, down the corridor slightly and then into a wall. That meant the the thread's end was somewhere in that direction. If she could reach what was at the other end, she could trace Michael back from it, but she had no idea how far away it was. Thmain thing she remembered though was that it had barely moved as Michael had, meaning the point of origin must be some distance away. As long as he was still on campus somewhere, that meant as long as she focussed her search efforts in areas past this point in the direction of the origin of the thread she had a better chance of finding it and then following it back to Michael.

Her AT notified her she had an incoming call from Casey.

"Casey! Where did you disappear to?"

"I went to find all the other students that are experts at Aethersight, like you. A few agreed to help so where do you want us?"

"Wow Casey! You're amazing!" Gabriella burst out, blushing again even though Casey was only on the other end of an AT. She composed herself and then proceeded to relay everything she had worked out.

"It's sounds like you're the amazing one Gab, that's genius. Right, we'll get on it and meet your there, kay?"


As Gabriella made her way, scanning the halls one by one she decided she wasn't having much luck. She was sure she'd have seen it by now. She guessed her previous thoughts were right - Michael was either above or below her. She called Casey.


"Uhuh? You find him yet?"

"Not yet, I don't think he's on this floor, he's either upstairs in one of the upper floors or in the basement level. I'm gonna go search down there as I don't need sight anyway."

"You want me to come with?"

_Yes._ "No, you'll probably just striggle down there, the lights aren't working still after the flood last Spring. You lead the rest of the gang upstairs."

"Okay! Good luck!"

Gabriella carried on searching until she found an entrance to the basement level. The basement had been offlimits for sometime due to a broken water main flooding the entire level last Spring. The place was a mess and still dangerously slippery, with the electrics damaged by the water the lights were all out and so it was strictly forbidden for students to go down there under any circumstances, however, Gabriella decided Michael was more important and besides, she didn't need light anyway - she saw using Aetherics, having used it all her live considering she had been born blind.

The steps down to the basement were still slippery from the water damage, as were the the bannisters that went along the sides of the walls to guide her down. However, despite a few minor slips she managed to get down the stairs without any incident.

The basement level had been mostly used for storage and so it was made up of large, open areas supported by concrete pillars spaced evenly about to hold up the rest of the university above. The areas were occasioannly divided into rooms, mostly when it mirrored the structural walls above in order to provide extra stability for the universities structure.

As she trod in the darkness she could feel the soft squelch of watterlogged paper underfoot. There was nothing down her Aetherically, no stains of anger or loss, no emotions at all. No-one came down here any more and so the place had faded to a near uniform shade of neutral indifference. However, she spotted some slight traces of deception in the distance, a sure sign something was going on that wanted to remain hidden.

She followed the signs until she eventually came across a small room. It was stained with the signs of pain, madness, hate and misery. It looked hideous, ugly and yet it was strangely compelling, like looking at an open wound. She'd never seen somewhere so horrible and she was suddenly sick that such a thing could be going on beneath her while she studied and had fun with her other oblivious student friends.

As she got closer, something caught her eye, the glittering thread of loss that seem to be attached to Michael. It lead through the wall into that awful place. Something terrible must be happening to him!

Without further thought for her safety she ran towards the room but the door was locked. Helpless, she held an ear up against the door to see if she could hear anything.

"Just tell us what he said Michael. Tell us Triad's words, again."

"I already told you! It was nonsense, that was all he said!"

"Really? A brief sentence and then dismissal? That's an awful lot of effort to go to for so little Michael. I don't think so."

"Look I'm telling you the bloody truth! Arthur said you were meant to be friends! Why are you doing this?"

"We're friends when it suits us. Something is in motion though Michael, something important and we can't have Triad interferring. The last visitor was most illuminating, why don't you illuminate us Michael. Show us the light."


"God damn it, he's passed out again. Look, let's leave him alone for a little while and then come back, I'm sure we can come up with some more... inventive means of persuading him when he comes around and finally thinks it's all over."

"Fine. But we're on a tight schedule, we need to know tonight, tomorrow at the latest."

"We'll break him, or at least confirm he is telling the truth by then. Don't worry. Tell X everything is going fine."

"Is it?"

"Yes. Everything is in place. We've had enough of waiting, We're going to do what should have been done from the start and fix this stupid situation with Triad. It's not some kind of benevolent dictator, look what situation it got this poor fool into!"

"Ha! And you really think another one is the right way to go?"

"Power like that shouldn't be in one... things... hands, brother. Another one is the only choice we can make to level the playing field, but this one will be loyal to the Aetherics, and only them."

"And you're sure we can trust the doctor? That he can pull it off?"

"You sound like you're starting to have doubts, that's a lot of questions."

"No, no! I'm just checking up on you. We can't afford to have a weak link, not now."


Gabriella heard the sound of metal grinding against metal and quickly ducked out of the way and the door slid open and the sound of feet squelching off echoed in the empty basement. The door was secured shut again and then the two man walked off, presumably to clean up. She recognised one of the men as a professor, the other one, the one who sounded like a fanatic, she hadn't seen before. When she was sure they had gone she let out a deep breath and opened the door.

Gabriella heard the sound of metal grinding against metal and quickly ducked out of the way and the door slid open and the sound of feet squelching off echoed in the empty basement. The door was secured shut again and then the two man walked off, presumably to clean up. She recognised one of the men as a professor, the other one, the one who sounded like a fanatic, she hadn't seen before. When she was sure they had gone she let out a deep breath and opened the door.

Inside Michael was slumped in a chair, he was strapped down with thick bindings of high-gauge wire which were in turn rigged to a generator which was, thankfully, now switched off. He looked badly beaten, no longer the happy, handsome man she had met only a few hours earlier.

"Psst. Are you okay?" Gabriella whispered, afraid she might get caught.

There was no answer. She went up to him and shock his shoulder. Her hand came away bloody.

"Michael, you've got to wake up! I'm trying to rescue you!"

Slowly Michael opened his eyes. "What? Is this some kind of trick? I told you, I don't know anything else."

"No trick Michael. My names Gabriella, we ran into each other in the hall, remember? I thought you might be in trouble, seems I was right. I'm going to try and untie you now so try not to move."

Michael grunted in agreement and Gabriella slowly began to unwind the thick, heavy wire securing Michael to the chair. When she finished one arm, Michael helped, using his free hand to begin unwinding the wire on his legs. With both of them at it Michael was free in a few minutes.

"Do you need help to walk?" Gabriella asked.

"No, I'll be f-" Michael said as he stumbled to his feet, almsot falling over. "Actually, yes."

Gabriella supported him under the armpit with her shoulder and began walking him out the way she had come. Then she had a horrible thought, she couldn't just carry Michael through the campus, someone would spot her and they would most likely both be captured. She was already sure one of the professors was in on it, whatever 'it' was, she couldn't risk them being found and captured.

She called Casey again.

"Casey, I found him."

"That's brilliant! Where are you?"

"I'm down in the basement but there's a problem. They were torturing him, there's no way I can sneak him through the campus, is there any other way out of the basement level?"

Casey thought for a moment. "Hmm, maybe. They added that new drainage system to get rid of all the water after the flooding, maybe you could use that?"

"Do you know where it is?"



The End

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