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[Fiction] Finding

z-The Morrigan

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Hans nervously straightened his tie as he knocked on the door. He shouldn't be nervous, but this was important. Well, it was important to him. This mystery around the red-eyed nova was beginning to consume his free time; after he'd gotten off duty today, he'd had himself warped to Atlanta, Georgia. Hopefully, this was the right Richard Wilson, the one who had previously owned the Denver house in which the nova had been interested. He wanted to get this done so that it would stop bothering him.

The door opened, and Hans found himself looking down at a woman of African descent. "Good evening," he said in his nearly-perfect English. "My name is Hans Braun. I am also known as Nachtlöwe, from Team Tomorrow Europe. May I have a moment of your time?"

"Team Tomorrow? In Europe?" the woman asked, surprised. "Why would you want to talk to me?"

"I'm looking for the previous owner of a house in Denver, Colorado," Hans said, keeping his voice soft and pleasant. "It was owned by a Richard Wilson, and I believe that is the current owner of this house. Was this your house?"

"No," the woman said, shaking her head. Hans' heart sank, only to rebound when she said, "But my husband lived in Colorado for a while. Let me get him." She hesitated, then said, "Come on in, please."

"Thank you," Hans beamed, and received a smile in return. She left him in the entrance way while she disappeared deeper into the house.

After a moment, a man, also of African descent, stepped into the hall. "Hello," he said, extending his hand to Hans without hesitation. "Isabel said something about you wanting to speak with me about the house in Denver? Is there a problem with it?"

"Not a problem," Hans said, trying to reassure the man. "A mystery, perhaps. A nova has taken an interest in the house, and I'm trying to find out why."

Richard frowned thoughtfully. "I don't know," he said, "there was nothing special about that house. Well, it was special to me." A flicker of sorrow passed over his face, and Hans did not pressure further. "What kind of interest?"

"When I found her, she was standing on the doorstep, looking at the names on the mailbox," Hans said, rubbing his fingers together nervously. He forced himself to stop the nervous gesture as he said, "The current residents of the house can think of nothing that might interest a nova. Do you have anything that might generate a nova's interest in you or your former house?"

Richard was silent for a long beat. That grief reappeared as he reluctantly said, "My wife... she was a nova. She died, though, about three years ago."

"I know this is painful," Hans said, wishing he were more comfortable dealing with others' extreme emotions. "But may I ask how she died?"

"She was an elite," Richard said, his voice tight with pain. "She died in action, somewhere in Africa." He broke off, agitated. "Can I just get you the documents her company gave me? I'm sure they'll be more helpful than me."

"Please, and thank you, sir," Hans said, hating that he was stirring up this kind of pain. Richard nodded curtly and disappeared again; this time, it was a much longer wait before he returned with a dusty folder.

"You'll have to look at it here," Richard said, "this is my only copy." He pointed to a chair. "Take your time, and give a shout if you need anything."

Hans watched his gracious host walk away. Clearly, the man needed a moment to himself, to recover. Once Richard had turned a corner into another part of the house, Hans opened the folder.

The very first thing was a death certificate. "Madeline Wilson," he muttered, reading aloud. He was suddenly aware of the volume of even his soft-spoken tone, and he fell silent, reading through the file.

He believed that there were no answers here when he saw the name of the company: Vyse Contracting. She had been working for Vyse? Did she know the red-eyed nova?

He turned over an affidavit verifying her death by a Dr. Camden and froze. The last piece of the puzzle fell into place. With shaking hands, Hans picked up the picture of the woman; she was smiling, and clean, but there was no mistaking that face. Even without the red eyes and impossible beauty, Hans recognized her. He breathed, "She is the red-eyed nova!"

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