Real life got in the way, but I finally got a chance to get some more of the story typed up. Things are settling down so hopefully I'll be able to update again before too long.


None of the video feeds were telling me anything. Wherever Ashlocke was, it wasn't one of the locations we knew about. Random facial recognition was starting to look like a plausible course of action.

Bren had been running some analysis of his own, but I wasn't paying much attention until he said something.

"Jess, I could be wrong here, but doesn't it seem like Ashlocke chooses similar locations for all his hideouts?"

I frowned, thinking but I couldn't bring any specifics to mind. Before I could ask, he shunted his analysis to my desktop. Now Brennan doesn't like computer work much, but he's smarter than people give him credit for. He's good at seeing connections when he takes the time to look. And this time he'd definitely found something.

"Jess?

I pulled up a map of the city.

"Jess!"

Zooming in on the industrial sections of the city, I started marking the factors Bren had found. A hand landed heavily on my shoulder, startling me, and I half-turned. Bren reached past me, turning off the monitor and shaking his head slightly.

"Take a break first, bro. You haven't eaten since we got back."

I started to protest but my stomach growled loud enough for him to hear. Bren just chuckled.

"Come on, let's get some food in 'll be more focused once you've filled that black hole you call a stomach."

A glance at my watch told me it was later than I'd thought. Brennan was probably right. I hated the idea of delaying the search but if I didn't take care, I'd be in no shape to help Roslin when we did find her.

Bren didn't quite sigh when I stood up, but there was definitely a touch of relief on his face.

Food, and a break from the data, did help. When I got back to the computer, it had already finished the search I'd input. Only four locations hit all the factors Bren had come up with. They were as good as any place else to start.

A couple of hours later I was double checking all my research - certain it couldn't be that easy. But it all checked out. Two vehicles had arrived at my most likely location within the last hour. There wasn't much in the way of video coverage, and the angles were bad, but I was able to identify Ashlocke and one of his followers. That was more than enough evidence for me.

I surfaced from the research to find that Sanctuary was asleep - or as close as it ever came. It appeared everyone had decided to get some rest. I was too wound up to do the same.

I was tempted to wake everyone up - I didn't want Roslin in Ashlocke's hands any longer than necessary. But Adam would insist on proof that Roslin was there. All I had so far was proof that Ashlocke was there.

I knew better - really I did - but I hesitated for less than a minute before leaving a message for Adam and heading for the Helix. I could scout the place out and with any luck I'd find something that would convince Adam. As long as I was careful, it should be safe enough. Ashlocke had no reason to realize we'd found his new location.

It didn't take long to get there, but I spent the entire trip figuring out what reasons I was going to give Adam for why I was going off on my own. To say he was going to be upset with me was an understatement. I already knew the disappointed look I was going to get from him when I got back and he found out. Brennan or Shal he'd expect to go off on their own, but I tended to play by the rules.

Bren and Shal weren't going to be too happy with me either. But twice now, I'd left Roslin's safety in just their hands - and twice they'd failed to keep her safe. I wasn't willing to trust her safety to just their hands a third time.

I set the stealthed Helix down in a parking lot across the street. The only indication anyone was there were two vehicles sitting outside. Not helpful. If I wanted something to show for this little midnight jaunt, I was going to have to get down on the ground and scout things out.

It was quiet, not surprising since this part of town was pretty much deserted after dark. The building Ashlocke was holed up in was supposed to be deserted. The company that held the title had gone bankrupt and all its assets were in escrow until the court determined whether or not to sell them to pay the debts.

I had to get pretty close before it became obvious the property wasn't deserted. Even then it was only little things - a glimmer of light from an upper window, footprints where none should be. Stuff like that.

I was going to have to go inside. There was no new information to be had from out here. What I should do it go back to Sanctuary and get Shal or Emma. By the time we'd get back, it would be daylight though and that much harder to get in without being spotted. No, Roslin might not have that kind of time.

I phased through the back wall, near the corner furthest from the street. It put me in a dusty storage room, which was fine with me. From the depth of the dust, no one had been in it for a long time.

There was enough light coming through the windows for me to keep from tripping over things on my way to the door. Once there, I did something I usually avoid. Phasing, I stuck my head and shoulders through the door to take a look. Being phased made me hard to see and almost impossible to hit. Only a few other molecular class mutants have abilities that can counter my phase.

I caught sight of one of Ashlocke's people just as they turned the corner at the end of the hall, but that was it. Stepping the rest of the way through the door, I inhaled and dropped the phase. It took a second to shake off the lingering hint of pain that an extended phase always causes.

I'm not as stealthy as Shal, but I can move quietly when I need to. I made it to the end of the hall and stopped. So far this had been too easy for my comfort. I wasn't about to let my concentration slip.

A glance around the corner showed me an empty hallway and a set of stairs. The light I'd seen from outside had been on the second floor, so that seemed as good a destination as any. I eased around the corner and made for the stairs.

There was no telling what I'd find when I got to the top. That little voice in the back of my head was telling me how stupid I was being. I had to get some proof other than a blurry camera image if I was going to convince Adam. Stupid or not, I couldn't convince myself to leave yet.

I should have listened to that little voice. I knew better. A whisper of movement was all the warning I had before I found myself face to face with the wall. Before I even had time to decide whether to mass or phase, I heard a click and felt something cold on the back of my neck.

Damn.

I winced as the subdermal governor pierced my skin. I could try to fight my way out, but all I was likely to get for it was bruises. Yep, I should have listened. I was just going to have to go with it and see what happened. I was pretty sure a personal visit from Ashlocke was in my immediate future.

The guy who nailed me was good. He stayed behind me, never letting me get a look at his face. Back down the stairs, down a different hallway. Then down another set of stairs. He left me in a room with a metal door and a single chair for furnishing.

Lovely. Even without the governor, I'd have been reluctant to try phasing out of a basement. It wasn't like I could levitate. Dirt would suffocate me just the same as rock would.