“You know we should make this a more regular thing,” Adelaide said as Agent Price pulled off her blindfold, “you already kidnap me at least once a month, why not once a week? Because, you know, I’ve got loads and loads of time to listen to you berate me about how bad my team is doing.”
“Well,” Price said flatly, “this time I’m not the one that wants to talk to you.”
For the first time Adelaide focused in on her surroundings and realised that they weren’t in the usual room, but in a small waiting area next to a smart looking office door. It had a plaque nailed to it that looked like someone polished every day. It shone with the glow of importance. Adelaide leaned closer.
“The Director of Extra-Normal Relations,” she murmured, “who’s that, your boss?”
“It doesn’t matter who she is,” Price replied, “only that she wants to speak to you and it’s very important that you listen.”
Price opened the door with a flourish and ushered Adelaide in. It was a large, windowless office, well-lit and with a feeling of emptiness. There were no chairs in front of the large desk, only one behind it. In this chair sat the Director of Extra-Normal Relations. She looked up at Adelaide and smiled broadly. It was not a friendly smile, rather it was the sort of smile a bird of prey would give a small rodent if it was able to.
“Miss Bruce!” She cried, “Delighted to finally meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you and all of it’s been good. My congratulations, incidentally, on spraying Agent Price in the face with a bottle of deodorant. The whole department would like to extend its hand in thanks for finally doing what we’ve all so desperately wanted to for ages.”
“Would you like me to fetch you tea Director?” Price said icily from the back of the room.
“If you wouldn’t mind,” the Director with a grin. He nodded and stepped out, closing the door behind him with a particularly solid thump. The Director chuckled to herself and reshuffled the papers in front of her.
“Poor Price,” she said under her breath, “he tries so hard, too. I shouldn’t insult him, really I shouldn’t, I just can’t help myself.”
Adelaide had begun to grow a little impatient and stepped forward.
“What do you want from me,” she asked, trying to meet the Director’s eyes.
“You’re keen aren’t you?” The Director nodded, “good. I need something from you, as it happens. Your little team, have you ever wondered why it was you that was picked as the leader?”
“Price said I was a random choice,” Adelaide raised an eyebrow.
“Yes, well I like Price to think you were random,” the Director said, “but honestly, look at me and tell me you see someone who does anything at random.”
Adelaide looked at her. She shook her head. The Director smiled and leaned back, forming a bridge with her fingers in front of her.
“That’s what I thought,” she said, “now listen closely because this next part is very important.”
For the first time in her entire life, Adelaide couldn’t think of a sarcastic response. She nodded and watched the Director intently.
“This Department wasn’t always the Department of Extra-Normal Relations, and I, believe it or not, have not always been the Director. Once we were the no less snazzily named Department for Occult Investigations. It was my Predecessors’ job not to make sure super-humans and normals got on, but instead to hunt down super-humans and other weird things and… remove them. Nowadays that kind of thing is generally frowned upon, so we’ve changed with the times.”
“Yes,” Adelaide said slowly, uncertain, “But where do I come in to this?”
The Director pushed off from her desk and spun herself around in her chair.
“I was hoping you’d say that,” she said with manic amusement, “because actually, it has a lot to do with you. One of my predecessors, back in… when was it? eighteen-ninety-one I think, was a man named Henry Bruce. Ring any bells?”
“That’s… my name.”
“Give the girl a prize!” the Director cried, standing up and pressing her fists into the table, “yes, Henry Bruce, your ancestor. In eighty-one he made a quite startling discovery. He discovered the Source.”
“What?” Adelaide’s eyes widened, she didn’t know whether to laugh or stare in astonishment. The Director’s searching eyes gazed at her with the look of a professional angler.
“Hmph,” she smirked, “I know, I was fairly surprised too when I discovered that my predecessor had one of the biggest scientific mysteries in the entirety of the civilised world locked in the Department’s basement.”
“So what is it? Why are you hiding it? Why haven’t you told anyone?” Adelaide’s words slipped messily out in an unruly jumble.
“Why haven’t we told anyone?” The Director’s smile turned to a frown of mild irritation, “Because for some reason it doesn’t work anymore. My techies have been scratching their heads over it since I came into the post, and we can’t understand exactly how to get it going again. But we have good evidence that it does work. Amadeus is living proof of that.”
“So that’s how he was made,” Adelaide nodded. She was beyond surprises now. It made sense that Amadeus worked for the Director, hadn’t he said something about a secret government agency?
“Yes,” the Director nodded, “with a little piece of the Source that was still working. It’s used up now and I’d like some more. Which is where you come in. Your great-great-something grandfather took copious notes about every aspect of his job, but a chunk of them are missing from the records, the time during which he found the Source. I don’t believe he didn’t make any, so my theory is he kept them for himself. I need you to find them for me. You’re his descendant, have a look around. I’m sure they’ll be lying around in you attic or something.”
There was a moment of quiet as Adelaide thought about it. Eventually she nodded.
“Fine,” she said, “I’ll find his notes, sure. But what do I get from it?”
“The quiet satisfaction of a job well done.”
The Director laughed, it had an unpleasant echo to it. She lowered herself back into her chair.
“I like you,” she said, “fine. Do this job for me and I’ll show you the Source itself. I’m sure you’re dying to have a peek at it.”
Adelaide didn’t even blink.