Anakin brought the Tiderian down to a landing on Oak Lawn Drive, right in front of #3317. He turned over his shoulder to the rest of the crew and said, Whhhhhhh pahhhhhh "This is your captain speaking. Please remain seated with your seatbelts securely fastened until I have turned off the fasten-seatbel sign. We know you have a choice when you fly, and we thank you for choosing Air Imperial."
Arcadian stood up. "The boy's name is George Jameson. He's 13 years old."
The Bard rose and stretched his legs, feeling them pop inconveniently. It sounded like he was getting old, and maybe he was. But that didn't mean he had to like it. "Alright. Let's get this thing goin'."
Ms. Connor stood up, unslinging her rifles and dropping them down to her seat. She pointed to Aang, Harry, and Link. "You, you, and you, fall in. The rest of you cover us."
Link stood up, pulling his gloves on a little tighter. "What have you got in mind?"
Ms. Connor put her sunglasses on. "Harry and Aang and I are going to the front door to talk to them. You're going in covertly to talk to George yourself and find out what we need to do."
Link nodded coolly. "Yes Ma'am."
The Bard smirked. "So we get the easy job, ay?"
Paul sat back, folding his hands behind his head. "She doesn't want our cynicism screwing up the diplomacy."
"Exactly." She pointed at Paul as she hit the button to lower the ramp. "I want your cynical eyes watching for signs of trouble, from here." She turned to walk down the ramp.
The Bard looked at Paul, then at Anakin. And they looked at each other again. Paul snapped his fingers and clapped once.
Anakin said, "So who wants to play Connect Four?"
Mrs. Jameson sighed when the doorbell rang. At this rate she would never get anything done. She put the plate she was holding into the dishwasher and grumbled, resolving that if it were those so-called Messengers of Light again, she was going to go get the shotgun and then call the police again. Whether they were some kind of demented brand of Je-whoever's Witnesses or some outrageous brand of child predator, she didn't care. Some things just didn't fly.
She opened the door a crack, and was surprised to see a woman in her early forties, lean, long brown hair in a pony tail, sunglasses, dressed in black cargo pants and a coal gray tank-top. Next to her stood a boy of 13, dressed like a Shaolin monk except for the blue arrow on his bald head, smiling up at her with a staff in his hand. Behind them, the pleasant face of a handsome boy with dark hair and glasses, a lightening shaped scar on his forehead, black robes, and a garish red and yellow striped tie.
The woman smiled. "Hi. You don't know me. I'm Sarah, I live down the street. This is my son Aang--"
The boy raised one hand. "Hi!"
"--and my nephew Harold, from Surrey."
The nephew nodded, smiling pleasantly. "Ma'am."
Mrs. Jameson studied them carefully. There was still some feeling out to do, and while this little troupe wasn't the strangest thing she had seen today, it was in the top ten. "Carol Jameson."
Sarah smiled. "Nice to finally meet you. Listen. I got a question. Have you seen anyone unusual in the neighborhood lately?"
Carol narrowed her eyes. "Like what."
Sarah shook her head. "Wel, Aang says he was approached by a guy dressed like an angel, claiming he was some kind of chosen one." She made scare quotes in the air. "I've been to four other houses so far and no one knows anything. I'm just trying to find out if I should be concerned or not."
Aang squinted in distaste, and looked somewhat sheepish. "He kept saying there was, like, one of me born every thousand years or something."
Bingo. Carol felt a twisting in her stomach. She quickly unlocked the chain and pulled the door open. "Thank God. Come in. We need to talk."
Carol squinted at Harold as he came in. "Nice costumes, by the way."
Harold smiled. "You like it? Aunt Sarah made them for us. We went to a fan convention today."
"Ohhh. I bet that was fun." She glanced at the enormous thing parked in the street in front of her house, and blinked in surprise.
"No. I must be halucinating." With a shaking hand, she shut the door.
Link tossed a chunk of filet mignon laced with sleeping potion to the barking dog. It went right for it and was not long for consciousness. He looked up.
The second floor rear window.
If Link were going to protect a child, putting him high up made sense. It took longer for people to get to him. Given the size of the house and its shape, he anticipated one room, heavily guarded as a decoy, with a secret compartment in the cieling. Since the guards were neutral, he would have to deal with them non-lethally.
He reached into his pack and grasped the handle of his little friend, the hookshot. With a slinging motion, he sent the hooked chain up to the wooden frame of the window. It yanked him up at rocket speed, and he finished by planting his feet against the side of the house.
He looked in the window. It was an opulent bed-chamber decorated in beige and off-white, with an ornate vanity on one wall.
But no guards. Luck was on his side. He extracted the glass-cutter he picked up in the Serpent's Tower, and etched a quick circle. With a thump from his left hand, it fell out silently. He reached in and flipped the window latch.
Once inside, he withdrew a wooden boomerang from his pack and listened at the door. It was silent. A quick peek into the hallway confirmed that there were no guards, a surprising development. He momentarily wondered if it were a trap.
He tiptoed down the hall, and spared a peek into the lavish garderobe. It smelled of perfumes and deoderant. A panel on the cieling told him where the secret space was. He sighed and shook his head. The architects of this house weren't even trying.
Finally, he came to the only other door, and listened at it.
The room was silent. Strange for the bedchamber of a child.
He pushed the door open gently. "George?"
No answer. The lump under the bedcovers did not move. Link knew there was no way a 13 year old boy was asleep at this time of the afternoon.
"My name is Link. I just want to talk."
Link noted an abundance of toys: small, colorful figurines and vehicles to match, vehicles and buildings made of lumpy blocks, a computer terminal like the one he had seen John use, and above it, a glossy tapestry showing what looked like a moblin in spiked armor.
He put up his boomerang. "I came here with some people who can help you. Will you talk to me?" He stood over the bed. Still the lump did not move.
Link knew this ploy. He reached for the covers. When he pulled them back, he nodded to the carefully arranged pillows and orange ball, entirely unsurprised. "I see."
He looked to the window. It was unlatched. A quick inspection told him that, unless this Chosen One had super-strong legs, he didn't leave that way--there was no trellis or anything to break his fall, and no sign of anything used for a ladder or rope.
Link nodded. "Alright. Plan B."
"Oy!" The Bard pointed down the ramp as Link jogged up. Paul, Anakin, and Arcadian all stood up.
Link took a moment to catch his breath. "He's not inside that house. Not in his room, or any of the secret spaces."
Arcadian looked down, sadly. "He has run away."
"No." Link looked him in the eye. "No child makes that clean an escape. Either they've sent him off to be hidden somewhere, or he's been taken."