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from Sasha's Journey by Sheri Conaway

Copyright © 2014–2021 Sheri Conaway

Chapter 28

Sebastian gazed sightlessly through the plate glass behind his desk into the darkness. Lights from the city far below the 30th story window mimicked the stars pockmarking the sky. He’d long since turned his attention inward, away from the droning voice reporting on the progress of the makeshift training camps. He already knew what they contained as he’d spent more time at the camps than his office in recent weeks. The decision to move students into groups with similar talents was proving effective. Most of the uprooted teens had reached or exceeded their full potential faster than anyone could have predicted. He wondered if the immersive, baptism-by-fire methods they were employing sped up the learning process, or if it was more akin to a baby born prematurely whose development increases to compensate for the early delivery.

He stopped mid-stride half-way through his 20th lap around the office, putting out a massive paw to keep his assistant from crashing into him. His thoughts matched the orbit he’d been making. He realized he’d long since lost track of the voices sharing their observations, and likely missed critical information he needed to make some difficult decisions. Forcing his attention back to the present moment, he leaned against the carved wooden desk to still his need to pace.

“...ready within the next two weeks.” Came from a rather serious looking young man to Sebastian’s left.

“I’m sorry, Greg” said Sebastian. “I’m afraid my mind took a detour for a moment. What did you say would be ready within the next two weeks?”

Coughing to hide a smile, the Instructor in charge of training the Guardians repeated his statement. “I said those with Guardian potential are progressing much more rapidly than we expected and should be ready to join the patrols within the next two weeks.”

“Since the reports we’ve been receiving indicate efforts to derail the Transition have escalated, this is great news!” Sebastian growled. “We’re going to need the Guardians’ help, not only to protect the Star Guides, but to engage in offensive efforts to remove threats which are growing stronger, the longer we delay. It is becoming increasingly apparent the people behind the situation in Adamsville have absorbed a rather impressive collection of towns and their inhabitants while we labored under the misapprehension the Transition was proceeding without opposition.”

Though the entire Council bore responsibility for the poor decisions which were making them scramble to minimize the fallout, Sebastian was holding himself accountable for both the failure to recognize the obvious and the reason they were now gathered.

“That sounds pretty vague, Sebastian.” Greg complained. “How can we set up any kind of defense or offense if we have no idea who or what we’re looking for?”

“Your point is taken, Greg. We’re all working somewhat blindly at the moment, but I’ve been assured we’ll soon have a clearer picture of who and what we’re facing.” Sebastian tried his best to sound convincing. The dull gray of his eyes, and lids drooping from lack of sleep reflected his concern over the failure to establish communication with the mine’s inhabitants.

“I have been informed the Star Guides who were captured were not taken against their will at all. A small group has been working secretly to gain access to information which will provide insight into their captors and their true purpose. They decided the best way to obtain this information was to allow whoever is behind the plan to believe they’d captured people who were instrumental to the success of the Transition. The effort was launched by Phil and Barbara Gillian.” He paused as Greg’s eyes lit with recognition. “I see you know their reputation” he remarked with a grimace. “Tess has been working with their daughter, Sasha to serve as a conduit for retrieving the inform...

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