Afflictions: Part Seventeen

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Arte and Ashley sat in their car, trying to keep up a light conversation, while also secretly watching Webb’s car. Arte had placed two trackers on his car, one relatively in the open, and one very well hidden. Her trackers, a new feature of her amulet, should be invisible to the naked eye, but she wasn’t sure exactly what this guy had going on, so she decided to go with two.

Soon enough, Mr. Webb went towards his car, with a frown and a general glare under his glasses. Arte couldn’t tell, but he seemed to hesitate a moment on the way to his car, but whatever it was didn’t seem to faze him for long. He got into his car, and started it up. She was a little worried he noticed the tracker, but he seemed to leave it be, so it was doubtful.

They gave him a minute to get ahead of them, before pulling out after him. On their way out of the parking lot, Arte noticed a man standing in the security guard’s station. She thought it was a little late for him to still be there, but she had enough going on in her head right now. She was keeping up a mental map of each turn Webb made, mapping those turns onto her phone, and relaying them to Ashley as she drove.

He made a series of turns that Arte could barely keep up with, but if she was right, he parked outside of… a grocery store?

She relayed directions to Ashley, and soon enough they were in a grocery store parking lot. Arte felt the tracker nearby, and spotted his burgundy Camry. He didn’t seem to be in it, so they pulled into a spot as far away from him as they could, while still being with the bulk of the cars.

“So I guess he’s getting groceries?” Ashley said, looking out the window across the parking lot.

“Evidently.” Arte nodded. “He may have noticed the tracker and decided to go somewhere innocent looking.”

“I feel like it’s more plausible that he is just getting groceries.” Ashley shrugged. “Your trackers are invisible right?”

“They should be, but if he’s actually associated with this, then who knows what kind of powers he could have.” Arte sighed. They didn’t really have all that much info on him, except that he was acting weird. “I’ve been noticing a lot of irregularities around the school, so I think we’re dealing with some kind of super here.”

A few silent minutes of worrying pass, and eventually Webb came out with a few grocery bags. He spends a few seconds positioning them in his passenger seat, before getting back into his car, and pulling out of the parking lot.

They tailed him again in the same manner, leaving a minute or so after him, with Arte navigating. He seemed to be going on a string of mundane errands. First he went to the comic shop, and came out with a bag, then he went to the hardware store and came out with something else.

“Are you sure he’s up to something? I think he’s just going on errands.” Ashley sighed. “We’ve been following him for like an hour now.”

“I want to at least work out everywhere this guy regularly goes. He’s our only suspect really, so I think we should look into him.” She hoped he would wrap it up soon, since it seemed Ashley was losing patience some. “Besides, you get to spend time driving around with me. I’d call that a nice thing.”

Ashley rolled her eyes. “Obviously that’s a nice thing, but I’d still rather hang out at home, and not tail a potential suspect. Not to mention I’m really starting to question how suspicious he looks.

Arte sensed him coming to a stop again and began to try to pinpoint where. “How many errands is he going on…” She muttered as she manipulated the map. Something was strange about his stop this time. There weren’t any major shops around, and if she was correct, he was pulling into some warehouse. She did some cursory googling, and found that this used to be a shipping warehouse, but closed down a few years ago. It’s currently abandoned.

“I think we have him now.” Arte’s heart began to race. She couldn’t think of a single mundane reason to be pulling into an abandoned warehouse. They needed to be on their guard now.

She directed Arte to the parking lot of a neighboring building a bit away, so their car wouldn’t be visible. His car still hadn’t moved, so she figured he had settled in there. They got out of the car, and started going, when Arte stopped.

The DSR had given them protective gear to wear under their clothes, so Arte wasn’t worried about that, but she did want to make sure Ashley could defend herself if things went downhill. “Ash, did you grab your pistol? We don’t know what this guy has up his sleeve.”

“Yeah, I pulled it out of the car safe.” Ashley nodded and fell in behind her.

They made their way around buildings to the back of the warehouse. The pair surveilled through the exterior windows, but couldn’t see anything of note inside. His car was here, and one of the doors was open with footprints leading up to it, so he was definitely inside, they just didn’t know where.

“Alright,” Arte whispered, “I’m gonna go in first with a wall up. You keep your hand on the gun, and keep close behind me.”

Ashley nodded, and Arte summoned a translucent plane in front of herself. Nearly silent, they went in through a door that was unlocked on the opposite side of the building as where Webb went in. Inside, shelves with decaying boxes lined the warehouse floor. It looked like they came into the biggest area of the place.

They began to clear rows, with Arte swinging out the translucent wall before they looked in. They repeated this for a few rows, not finding anything.

Arte was beginning to get antsy.

She repeated the maneuver, swinging the shield out in front of her before moving, and found Webb standing with a gun pointed right at her. She readied a laser, gestured for Ashley to freeze, and locked eyes with him.

“How confident in your shield are you?” The man asked flatly.

Arte swore. It was a trap.

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

I’ve mildly stalled on season 4, but I’m setting a reasonable writing schedule to carry forwards. I’m about to get busy again, but I think I should be able to manage. Anyways, new One-Off post coming Tuesday! Look forwards to that. I’ve been polishing this for a while now.

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