Afflictions: Part Four

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Arte and Ashley stood in the middle of the loft. All of the furniture had been moved to create a large workspace with a clear path to their bedroom. Strewn around the workspace were various sized pieces of laminated particleboard, tools, and hardware. Ashley had wanted to have her own desk, and Arte was going to provide. She’d already worked up a decent sweat just bringing it upstairs and laying out the pieces, but was still ready to get going. After all, she had one sizable advantage over normal people in assembling manufactured furniture.

She pulled out the instructions and began to flip through them. Once she felt that she had a good grasp of the structure, she set about making the outline. She carefully drew out a series of lasers in the shape of the desk, using the measurements in the book. After a few minutes, she had a wireframe desk outline, and was ready to put it together. She followed the instructions from there, but using the outline to hold the pieces in place made cut out most of the awkward rotations and positioning. Once she was done, she held her breath, and dissipated the wire frame. Much to her relief, the desk did not crumble to pieces, and it all looked right.

“Okay, I think I’m ready to move it. Do you mind giving me a hand?”

Arte and Ashley both took opposite sides of the desk, and went towards their bedroom. About halfway there, her phone began to ring, but she ignored it until the desk was in place.

“Alright, hold on, I’m getting a call.” Arte pulled out her phone, saw who it was from. “It’s from Josh, hold on.” She said, as she stepped out of the room.

They were definitely on better terms with the DSR than they were last year. Daniels stepped down, and they picked some interim director, who became the official director a few months ago. He was a little weird, but he was nice enough. It was agreed that they’d still be able to live in the house, but that they were no longer on house arrest. Zoey was allowed to come on missions as a part time, as Jude and her dad agreed. Vanessa, Paul, and Anastasia were rolled into the deal and moved in. It was a little cramped, but they managed. With Jude on vacation, nobody was even sleeping in a makeshift bedroom. While Arte wasn’t wild about Zoey coming on missions, she supposed it wasn’t really her decision. All she could really do was make sure she was safe when she did.

“Hey, it’s Arte.”

“Heya, Arte! Josh here. Wanted to check if you’re free for a mission right now.” He sounded calm enough so it wasn’t anything world ending. He seemed to default to Jude usually, but if he wasn’t available then he’d go for her.

“When exactly do you mean by ‘right now’?”

“I’d say tomorrow if you can. It’s a little late to get started today.”

Arte thought for a moment. She wasn’t really doing anything at the moment. She was looking after Paul and Deven a little bit, but they could be left alone. Deven had been fine lately, and the worst Paul would do was move things around. There was whatever Vanessa had going on, but she seemed to have that under control. Josh was framing this like a question, but Arte had a feeling she could only get away with so much. It was a job, after all, and it was probably smart to save your vetoes for when you need them.

“Sure. What’s the job?”

“Well, this is a little bit different than usual…” He hesitated.

Arte had a bad feeling about the way he said this. Usually there was someone that needed to be arrested, or someone that needed to be investigated. She was thinking it was the latter since he seemed to be asking for just her, and not a team.

“We’ve got something going on at a school, and we want someone to go undercover. There’s a long-term substitute position available for math, and we thought you’d be the best one for the job, since you have a college degree.”

She hung her head. Of course it had to be teaching. She’d wanted to have her degree in case this whole superhero thing didn’t work out, but she didn’t think she’d ever be asked to use it. Ashley and her were the only ones on the team who went to college, since the rest were younger when they got their powers, so they were the only choices really. At least if he wanted it to be under cover.

“I guess that’s fine? I used to tutor a few years ago, so I guess that counts as teaching experience. What’s the situation?” She figured it had to be a missing kid, since it was at the school, but she wanted to be sure.

“Kid went missing a few days ago. Left home to go meet a friend one night, and never came back.” Josh paused for a moment. “We think it’s something related to supers, since it’s where Zoey goes to school, and there have been police reports of strange phenomena.”

“Alright, I think I’m gonna want Ashley to back me up on this one.” That was technically a lie, but she vastly preferred for Ashley to be in the field with her then to be with someone else.

“Great! I love to see our partners collaborating!” Josh replied with way too chipper of a tone. “I’ll make a few phone calls. I need you two to brush up your resumes, and send them on my way.”

“Can do…” Once Arte had made sure that Ash could come with her, she started to think about what he had said happened. She had a terrible feeling about the answer to her next question.

“Hey Josh? The kid that went missing, what was their name?”

“Gimmee just a sec…” Keys clicked in the background for a moment. “Jessica Maguire.”


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Hello everyone! I’m in the midst of an eventful few weeks, so please don’t be surprised if things run a little behind. I should be able to still get posts out on time, but links and pages may be updated slower than usual, and comments may not be approved for a while. I’m 100% certain I set the upload time right on this one, so if you’re seeing this before noon, Friday, April 16th, it’s wordpress’s fault.

Photo Credit: Original

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