“Is that it, up ahead?” Zara asked, leaning towards the dashboard as a settlement appeared to the west of the interstate. Compared to her home city of La Estrella, it was tiny. Not a hint of a high rise or skyscraper. At a guess she’d have thought the tallest building was four stories at best.
“That’s Watertown. We’ll be going past the outskirts. Brading’s to the east.” Albert explained, double checking the GuideLight mapping app on his phone. “There’s a regular bus service, the town has an elementary school but for anything beyond that? They all come here.”
Zara was quiet as the city drew closer, nibbling on the tips of a lock of hair. Summer was drawing to a close, so their surroundings were bright and the plant life still vibrant. “It’s different out here to what I was expecting.” She finally spoke, staring out the window at the city as they skirted past it on the interstate. “But I’m not sure what I was expecting.”
“You’ve spent most of your life in one of the largest cities in America, Zara. I doubt many of the shows you watch are set out here.” Albert replied, getting into lane for the turn off onto US Route 212.
“Hey, that reminds me! We didn’t cover the other stuff I asked about. Why out here, and how do we even know to look out here for this new hero?” The blonde suddenly asked, shuffling about in the passenger seat to focus on her uncle.
Albert was quiet until he got a little further out from Watertown. “We’re not sure as to why it would be someone out here. We know it is someone out here due to the efforts of mystics, seers, and those more attuned to the mysterious sides of our abilities.” A smile crossed his lips. “We actually have your father to thank, in a way. He suggested a while back that we use the information gleaned from the more magically-inclined by running it through a computer system with the ability to match references and draw up shortlists to investigate.”
“B-VOS.” Zara stated. The AI that helped run the day-to-day activities of VIGIL could process vast amounts of data in a short length of time. “So we know where to look. How do we know who we’re looking for?”
“With the help of an artifact on loan from the Ravensburg Museum, and good old fashioned leg work.” Catching her confused look, he went on. “We ask about town. Find out if anything strange has occurred. Unusual sporting achievements, miraculous saves, feats of strength.”
“Narrow it down and then use the artifact to verify?”
A proud smile was shot her way. “That’s right.”
Miles of rural countryside passed by before Zara sat up, seeing a small settlement come into view. “Is that-”
Zara slumped down in her seat. “I bet Adam’s battling the L.E.Mentals or busting a InterCon smuggling ring right now.” She sighed.
“Your brother did offer to let you shadow him. You were the one who wanted to go on a ‘proper mission’.”
The fledgling heroine couldn’t help but laugh. “Funny thing is, I passed on that as I didn’t want to be in the shadow of family. Now I’m in a car with my uncle playing spot the silo.”
“It’s important for us to make contact and extend an offer to this new hero.”
“Because Libertas never joined?” Zara guessed, getting a nod of acknowledgement.
“Plus some of the more science focused among us are hoping to get an avatar-class newline in the scanner to gather information on their nature. Their powers are limited outside of their country of origin.”
“And VIGIL has scanners in the US, one on the space station, and one north and south of the borders.” The teen guessed.
Another nod from her uncle. “Plus… It’s been nice spending some time with you.”
He sounded a little low as he spoke, so Zara leaned over to peck him on the cheek. “Don’t mind my grumbling, Uncle. I’m just not used to being this far from civilization.” She joked. “It’ll be better when we finally get to Bra- is that it?!” Her excited tones filled the car as she spotted another cluster of buildings coming up on the road, just south.
“That’s Goodwin.” Albert chuckled, patting her on the shoulder as she flomped back onto her seat. “We’ve still got a ways to go.” The sound of teenage disappointment was one the father of three was used to. “I might regret this later but… you can put another album on.”
That was all it took to perk Zara up again. “Don’t worry, it’s not Tokyo Dragonboyz!” She proclaimed, rooting through her bag to find a certain jewel case. A CD-R was quickly pulled with it, a rough scrawl of black marker pen on the front of the disc. “I burnt the Ultramachines album leak!”
As technoscreeching burst forth from the speakers, Radiant wouldn’t be regretting it later. He was regretting it right then and there.