Afflictions: Part Twenty Seven

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A few hours after their discussion with Paul, Anastasia and Vanessa sat on a couch in the loft, having dinner. Anastasia sighed with contentment. Even if Paul was being difficult, she had a friend in Vanessa. She’d never really expected the two of them to get along together, but after Vanessa came back last year, she just made an effort to be nice to her. Things went naturally from there. That was especially nice since they were all going out on missions together periodically.

“So where do you think we should start?” Vanessa asked, once she’d finished the last bite of her sandwich.

Anastasia thought for a moment. Mr. Smith had said a lot of things that were at least a little alarming. As far as things they should look into, though, there were really only a couple. “Well, I think the two things we should focus on are gonna be looking into the DSR’s connections, and the people your dad said he was working with.”

“I think it might be best if we wait for Jude to get back before we start poking with the DSR…” Vanessa paused. “Besides, my dad said they were on their own now anyways.”

“I guess that’s true. We should still look into it, but I guess that can wait until later.”

“So that just leaves the people my dad was working with.” Vanessa nodded in thought, and took a sip from her drink.

“Did you recognize the names of either of the people he talked about? Vondrasek and Felix?”

“No, not really.” Vanessa thought for a moment. “If my dad was working with them as an equal, that probably means they’re rich businessmen.”

“That’s true. Do you think your dad would have business ties with them then?”

“Probably.” She sighed. “The problem with that, is that Cinnistar is really big, so trying to trace and business connections would be hard. Not to mention the fact that if there are business connections, it’s probably being done through a series of shell corporations, so that would be even harder to trace.”

Anastasia thought for a moment. They really weren’t even really looking for a needle in a haystack, they were looking for a particular piece of hay in a haystack. She needed to find some kind of direct connection to start with, but it was Vanessa with all of the firsthand knowledge. She didn’t even really know how big businesses worked. “Do you know any executives or anything that you can trust?”

“Well…” Vanessa hesitated. “Not really, when you think about it. I can’t trust my dad anymore, and all of the people I would know are personally close to my dad. I doubt any of them would be any more help than just going back to my dad and trusting whatever he says.”

“That’s gonna make this tough then. We don’t have anything to go on as a starting point. Should we just go back to your dad, and get more information?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. We should at least look into part of this ourselves, so we aren’t just taking his word for it. I don’t think he’d just lie, but if we ask him where to start, he could send us down a path that would be the least damaging for him and the people that he works with.” Vanessa shook her head. “No, we need to do this ourselves. There has to be something.”

Anastasia quickly ran through a few ideas in her head. They could look at the contracts that Cinnistar has taken, and start poking around the ones that seem to be related to supers. The problem with that was the fact that there were probably too many to go through, and as Vanessa said, they were probably done using shell corporations. If there was some kind of research lab, they could go to that. Then again, Vanessa wouldn’t know about anything secret, and they could most likely easily hide anything incriminating.

“I think I have an idea!” Vanessa shouted suddenly. “The prison was run by the people my dad worked with, right? At that prison, there were a good few people that had worked at Cinnistar. Given that, I think that could mean that there would be some kind of direct connection at Cinnistar.”

“So if we went to where one of those people worked…”

“We should be able to find some kind of lead!” Vanessa pumped her fist.

“Do you actually know where any of them worked, though?”

“Well, I don’t know where they worked, but there was one particular person in there with me that worked for my dad, who we could easily ask.”

“Did Ashley work with your dad?”

Vanessa nodded, jumped to her feet, and went off down the stairs. Anastasia chased after her.

If there was some kind of direct connection between Cinnistar and the other people that Mr. Smith worked with, and they knew a specific department, they should easily be able to find some kind of direct link. All they needed to do was get Ashley to give them a list of people to talk to that still work there. Ideally they’d want any kind of suspicious figures, as well as some of her most trusted coworkers.

She felt a bit of smug satisfaction. They didn’t need Paul’s visions for this at all. If he wanted to rot alone in his room, that was his prerogative. They were just fine without him. The sense of satisfaction was tainted with a hint of sadness. It was still more fun to do things together.


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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.

Hard to believe another week has already gone by. Everything is going well enough on my end. Not well enough for me to write, but it looks like I won’t get a vacation this year, so I’ll have some time to write later.

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