The door swished open and Adree walked in, dressed in long red trousers and a white T-shirt. Her left forearm was bandaged; clearly the medical unit hadn’t thought it worth putting her arm in a sling. Nevertheless, Tobias narrowed his eyes at the sight of it. Despite the fact he had passed all the physical requirements for leadership and never turned down a necessary battle, Tobias was at heart a diplomat and a scholar. His main focus was reconstruction, particularly the Archive, and these last few years he had become drawn further and further into his research and religious study. It had been hard to accept Adree’s talents lay in combat, and he had never become accustomed to his daughter coming back from her missions battered and bruised.

Still, he took great pride in her. She was tough and cheerful and smart, and he loved her dearly. Ignoring protocol – she was, after all, one of his senior commanders – Tobias crossed the room and hugged her. “It’s good to have you back.”

She hugged him back, then drew away and pressed a hand against his cheek. “Thank you.”

“How’s the arm?” He pulled out a chair for her opposite his desk.

Adree sat in it, legs crossed. “It’s fine. They ran a full check and they’re not much more than scratches.” She smiled. “You don’t need to worry so much.”

Tobias laughed a little as he settled back in his own chair. “I keep forgetting it’s impossible to keep anything from someone with the telepathic gene. Even fatherly concern.”

With a sigh, Adree pushed a strand of hair out of her eyes. “I suppose.”

He saw her expression, and leaned forwards, hands clasped on his desk. “I may not have your gift, Adree, but I can tell the mission’s on your mind.”

She shook her head, as if she was annoyed at herself. “It was a failure.”

“I wouldn’t say that.” Tobias turned a sheet of paper over on his desk. “I read your preliminary report. It sounds as if you might have gained some valuable intelligence.”

“But Athellus Borden is still at large.”

Tobias steepled his fingers. “And that’s really what’s bothering you.”

Adree nodded.

He nodded, reassuringly. “Don’t concern yourself with him. If he’s come back to the city, he’s here for a reason. I can guess what it is, too. That means he isn’t going anywhere just yet. You’ll have your chance again, Adree, and next time you’ll be better prepared.”

“I was so close this time, though. If it hadn’t been for the other two –“

He dismissed this with a wave of his hand. “So he’s gained a couple of allies in his years away. It’s not going to help him. Borden’s going to end up dead in any case.” Tobias leaned back, comfortably. “Give me your detailed report, from the beginning.”



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