Chapter 74: Plan

Light and shadows danced independently through the room. More magic had been cast within the space than the physics within the room could hold against.

The Court floated in the center of the room. The rest of The Council sat in their seas, staring at the shapes taking form on the floor. The dancing lights began to still onto the floor, forming buildings and streets, until a perfect map of the city took shape.

The Court began to chant, and a single spot of light began dancing across the city. It spiraled inwards, and then outwards, and then inwards again. Every inch of the map was covered a dozen times over, but it never stilled.

The map faded and the Court floated to the ground. He tried to get to his feet but immediately dropped to his knees. Zero and Lux went down to help him up, but he waved them away.

“He’s not in the city, not this version.” He looked to Janus. “I can’t track him outside of it without a focus.”

“He’s been leaving trails everywhere,” Janus said. “But he’s always long gone before anyone can get to him. We’ve had people scouring everywhere he’s been, but there’s never any trace. It’s like he doesn’t exist. We need another option.”

Meister continued to stare at the empty floor. It was days like today that he hated being in charge. Most of the time, it meant that he just had to sit there and tally votes, but this wasn’t the time for democracy. They needed a goal, and it was his job to decide what it was.

He looked around the room. “Slipstream, do you know anyone who’s succeeded in tracking Sliders?”

Slipstream shook his head. “Everyone’s worked on it on and off for years. Rift radiation fades in a few feet from their gates. We can detect it if we get close enough, but unless we have drones patrolling along every street, we’re never going to find him before he’s gone.”

Meister bit back a sigh. “What’s the worst case scenario? He hasn’t done anything malicious so far.”

He already knew the answer, but sometimes people needed to hear it out loud.

“If the radiation continues to permeate the city, it’ll weaken the borders between universes,” Janus said. “It’ll become easier and easier to slide through until anyone who has come in contact with a different frequency of radiation will start sliding uncontrollably. Some of us will be able to anchor ourselves, but half the sliders, and anyone they’ve been in close contact with, will start waking up in other worlds. If it goes on for longer than that…then I don’t know. It could start making everyone slip through.”

“How long do we have?”

“Months; days. I can’t say for sure. Whoever this slider is, his frequency is…off. It’s across a wider spectrum than I’ve seen from almost anyone. It could delay the process indefinitely, or it could reduce the time until convergence. We can’t risk letting him walk around.”

Meister nodded. “Does anyone have a plan?”

“I’m glad you asked.”

Everyone turned towards the door in time to see it open with a loud crash.

Will walked in with Red Racer and Miss Mirror following close behind him.

“Will,” Meister said. “I do hope you have a good reason for interrupting us. We don’t appreciate civilians interrupting our meetings, even if they’re towing two heroes behind them. One of whom we don’t even know.”

“He’s my brother,” Miss Mirror said. She stared Meister in the eye. “He needs to be here.”

Will smiled. “I wasn’t interrupting anything. You’ve spent the last three hours trying to track down someone who you’ll never find. You’ve been going about it the entirely wrong way.”

“Just tell us your plan,” Sigurd said. “I really don’t want to listen to any more politics today.”

Will’s smile faded slightly, but he kept it on his face. “Okay. I suppose we should start with this. The slider is one of mine. In fact, about half of you have met or seen him at least once. The problem is, none of us can remember him.”

Meister raised an eyebrow.

“None of our minds were altered,” Will continued. “According to Red here, his powers prevent us from actively recalling him, or seeing him, or recognizing his existence in any way.”

“Why is he leaving these trails then?” Janus asked “Why hasn’t he turned his power off?”

“I don’t think he can. I think something scared him, and he’s stuck. He’d probably been wandering around town for weeks before the radiation built up and anyone noticed him. If he can’t turn his powers off, then he needs to know that someone still remembers him, before he gives up completely.”

“The issues you were having,” Lux said. “He was the absence.”

Will nodded. “Exactly. I never could have figured it out without Red Racer’s help, because it’s impossible for most people to remember him. The only reason Red can is because he’s a runner.”

Adamant stared at Red Racer, then looked between the other members of the Council. “Are we going to talk about-“

“No.” Will, Mirror, and Zero said at the same time.

“Talk about what?” Red Racer asked. The others ignored him.

“How does this help us find him?” Janus asked.

“You’re focusing too much on where he’s been,” Will said. “Red here is probably the only person alive who can remember him. We can help you figure out where he’s going to be.”

Will nodded at Red Racer.

Red stepped forward. His eyes kept darting between the Council members. “Unimportant-ant became a hero to stop Asclepios-os. He spent most of the last year taking out his resources,a nd he’s the one who warned us about the gas bombs-ombs.

“I think we can find him if we stake out a few of his warehouses-ouses.”

“We’d need a slider at each one,” Will said. “And someone he knows with them.”

“You have a suggestion?” Meister said.

“I know just the people.”

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