The night was cold and the wind blew steadily across the bay's once still water. What little light that was offered by the moon and the small candle lamp casted shadows and fear. A rowboat not meant for the sea, but was proper enough for this outing on the bay. The rower towed the boat into a shallow sea cave that one had to look very carefully for in order to see it. Indeed it was carefully hidden for the mission at hand. A secret lie within the rocky walls. One that if a mortal man were to find it would give him unattained wealth beyond imagination, but certain death towards the prize. A mermaid was currently swimming among the shallows waiting for the one inside the rowboat. Who now had made himself seen inside the cave.
"You are late. Your highness." She said slowly moving her tail to and fro following the wave of the water.
"I had business to attend to." The one revealed was the one and only Prince Nuada, son of King Balor. The prince climbed out of his vessel and tied it with sturdy rope to a rock.
"You say that every time when you visit. I do not need to remind you of what happens when you break a promise to mermaid, or do I?" The mermaid moved in a smooth flow to the elf.
"No, you do not need to inform me of the laws of your people."
"Good, now tell me stories about the world. Do humans truly find us a myth?"
"Sad isn't it?"
"Not exactly. Now it will be more fun to scare the new recruits of the ships that sail by my little cave."
"Won't your mother scold you for such a thing?"
"She has been telling me that for years since we came here from the Caribbean. Then again that is migration for you."
"I thought you said migration was no longer a part of your lives?"
"It isn't anymore. Mother says the ships of today are too choppy for any of us to go around. The days of fearless swimming have ended with motor boats. Apparently they create more of an explosion these days. Apparently one called Lusitania sunk not too long ago and took ten of my aunts with them. She may have a point about those then."
"You sometimes bring up the most morbid of tidbits."
"I know. Your point?"
"None what so ever. I still owe you the night of answers to your infernal questions."
"If you are going to act like this then you can get back in your little boat and go." She swished her tail and splashed Nuada in the process. The mermaid was still young and childlike in her ways. The Prince knew this and yet he had set himself up to suffer from the slight bruising of her feelings. Though he did not relish in the fact that he was now wet and could get even more soaked, he continued with his words.
"I mean that in the best way that I can. Do you have a question that I can answer for you?"
"There is one. Will you come next time?"
"I will come as always on the third weekend of the month to visit with you, as our agreement states." Her once turned away form came back to his view a smile was once upon her face again.
"Good." He stays for the rest of the night and converses with the mermaid. The dawn is about to come and he leaves for his journey to continue. As he was leaving a group was entering. A group that the Prince was to meet later.
"Are you sure this is legit Blue? I mean we get half-assed calls all the time." Hellboy lite his cigar as he took a deep breath. Manning who had come on the voyage was trying to not get sick from the scent of the cigar. He had a case of sea sickness so bad that the slightest smell could make him up chuck. At least he hoped it was just sea sickness and not food poisoning from the fish he ate.
"I am positive that this is a legit claim. A mermaid! After nearly 97 years since the last report. Granted that was of the dead bodies that the bureau had to clean up before the public could get wind of it. Now we have the chance to observe and perhaps convince her to come and join us."
"Is that the reason you had to come? To convince her to join us? Or to get yourself a girl friend?"
"I am not here for a date. This is a mission like the rest."
"Ah guys are we going to get this done or what?" Liz was already starting to get into a weird swing of moods lately and Hellboy did not want her to go off like she was known to do lately.
"Let's get this over with. Which way Blue?"
"Our sources had said that it was over in that bay over there. Should I enter first?"
"Isn't this your element?"
"Here I go." Abe took a leap and fell into the water worthy of the best Olympic swimmer. He turned on his underwater mic and location sensor before shoving off sort to speak.
"I so far see quite an interesting variety of aquatic flora and fauna."
"Enough with the science talk Abe. Just tell us if you see her."
"So far that would be a no. But I have only been here a few seconds." A wave of energy rippled past Abe that held an electric current of a living creature. Abe cautiously moved toward the source praying it was not a shark. Sense told him he was to close inland for them to be around. Still caution didn't hurt. He saw that whatever it had been it was gone now. Then he heard something a lulling hum that vibrated in his ear drums with urges to follow. He tried to hold back, but his urges overcame him and he followed the sweet sound.
The source of the humming was the original goal of the group. The mermaid. There she sat upon a rock. Stroking the fishes that swam around her. Her hair dark gradating to light red and her tail the perfect shade of coral. Her eyes were strange yet beautiful. Changing color to her reaction to Abe. They had first been a shade of lilac and now they were steel grey.
"Who are you? Are you an almost?"
"No, I don't think that I am an almost. As for who I am I am Abraham Sapien. Pleasure to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too Abraham. I am known as Melusine."
"As in the Melusine?"
"No, that was my Great Grandmother. Whose story is well known. I was just named after her."
"I see. Do you mind if I ask you some questions?"
"What kind of questions? Because if you are trying something then I will not be merciful." Her eyes turned red with the growing length of her incisors.
"You mean you will eat me?"
"What? NO! No! I don't eat meat. I am a vegetarian. I just was showing that I could fight you if it came down to that."
"I see. The questions are easy enough to answer. I am part of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. They have selected a small group of us to come and present a proposal that you join us."
"What does this bureau do exactly? You aren't a testing facility are you? Because my people have already been through enough and there is no way I am going to some stupid human research facility."
"I wouldn't say that we are that. The bureau helps the world not be destroyed by occult threats. We are a worthwhile organization. You get to see the world, fight some bad guys, and learn new things. Improve on any powers you may have."
"What kind of things?" The question was sharp and demanding of an answer. Her eyes returned to their steel gray.
"Many things. Trade, other cultures, the occult, poetry if you have an interest in it. What else would you be interested in?"
"Can you find people? Hard to locate people?"
"Good! I will join this bureau on one condition. You find someone for me. Deal?" Her hand struck out and Abe in confusion just stuck out his own hand. She shook it vicariously and then sped towards the surface.
"Are you coming or not Abe? I need you to lead the way!"
"Oh of course. Right this way." The two make it to the boat and Hellboy was surprised to find that she had some so willingly. Abe was the first to get on to the boat and then lifts Melusine onto the deck.
"Should we get her in some water or something?"
"No, it's alright I just need to dry a little and…" Her tail disappeared and legs formed. And to the luck of the men on the boat. A wrap around skirt covered her legs. She got up to stand nearly falling in the process, but given a few minutes she could walk like she was a land walker by birth.
"I don't see what my sisters and brothers complain about. Walking isn't that big a deal." She said as she walked around the deck.
"Brothers? Sisters? How many of you are there?"
"A lot more than you'll know and I am not at liberty to tell you more. Merpeople keep their lives secret for a reason. Especially when traveling in Asia. Do not even get me started on how bad that is to get discovered there."
"Well Abe looks like that book of yours will have to wait."
"I was hoping you could tell us more about your people. To add to my knowledge of the world's unseen beings."
"Sorry Abe. But it was decided long ago that when, I mean if we visit land that info on us be kept at the min."
"How old are you girlie?"
"64 years old, but in mermaid years it is the equivalent to a young adult of a human."
"That explains the lingo."
"No need to get sarcastic big guy. So what do you need me to do? I mean you guys recruited me for a job right? There has to be something you guys need my help with."
"Not at the moment. Right now our mission was to get you to join us willingly. We did that. Now we head back to head quarters before Manning loses anymore vital organs he hasn't puked out yet."
"Seasickness, right? Try chewing on some peppermint. It will help with your stomach." Manning's response was to puke even more. So they all made a speedy and timely by the records that were given to the higher-ups home.
Melusine was curious about every room that the bureau had under its roof. This wasn't good when you had supernatural creatures that someone was trying to tranquilize and missed because some newbie ran in asking questions and then got escorted by Hellboy out. Yes, it was a Kodak day for the agents at the bureau.
"You have got to stop going off on a tangent like that. You still have other things to do right now."
"Jeez are you always like a dad?"
"Hard to believe but we are the ones who often scold or redirect him in paternal fashion." Abe responded.
"I'll believe that when I see it. (Sigh) What do I need to do?"
"We have to get an eye scan, fingerprints, id picture, health information and other things so you can officially be instated." Liz said already leading her to the agent waiting to get started. The eye scan, fingerprint, id picture and health notices were a breeze, but the files personal information was difficult to get since she would not give out anything past her name and species everything else was zip! The agent finally came to terms with the light file and gave her a badge. Officially instated now she went to the room they had prepared. Which was a large tank and room area with nothing in it.
"Do you think we could go shopping?"
"Do you have money?" Liz asked already knowing the answer.
"I know how to get some." And like that she started crying really hard. Sobs that attracted the looks of passing agents. Looks that casted that didn't help Liz from freaked out.
"Stop crying. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings! Okay?"
"You didn't." She said stopping her crying like she had been faking. The tears were real and had stopped falling. Then formed into harden pearls? Liz bent down and picked up one of the 'tears' finding that it was indeed a perfectly formed white pearl. There were other white pearls and some pink ones as well.
"You cry pearls?"
"Obviously someone has never read mythology on a mermaid. But yeah. No big deal. Although they are fake tears."
"You see if a mermaid cries pearls. The tears have no feeling. Like most material things. If are cheeks are wet with tears that stay liquefied they are real and quite powerful. But enough about those tears. Let's get going. We can take these to a jeweler in exchange for cash and then go shopping."
"Can we go now?"
"Sure. Just give me a sec. Wait here." Liz raced down the hall hearing a loud Okay! Behind her. She made it to Abe with the pearl still in her hand.
"Abe has there ever been a myth about mermaids turning tears into pearls?"
"There are several of those yes."
"One of them is true. Look."
"Is that a…?"
"Yes, she just did this in front of me."
"She wanted to go shopping and then the subject of money popped up and she showed me how she could get money. What I want to know is, is this legal?"
"I am not sure. This is a real pearl and one that any jeweler would love to have in its collection."
"I'm sure that they would. If you don't think it's illegal then we'll be out shopping." Liz snatched the pearl out of Abe's hand.
The girls head to the jewelry stories leaving with a generous amount of money to which they bought a bed, wardrobe, dresser, TV, bean bag chairs, sea plants, plastic bubbles, colorful rocks, a mini fridge and a water proof color changing light. The stuff was going to be delivered to the bureau since something else was to be done. Now it was time for the serious shopping clothes shopping.
"I never knew that shopping could be such a fun activity. No wonder all those rich girls on yachts talk about it so much. It's not as bad as Lance says it is either."
"Who's Lance your underwater boyfriend?"
"No. He's a guy I talk to." Her head turns to the side.
"He tells me about the world above. Though when he talks about it. It sounds worse than what I see. Granted not everything I see here is really pleasing to the eye."
"Sounds like a real joy."
"He's not all bad. Just a little depressing to talk to sometimes. Especially when he goes on and on about some vendetta he has."
"I think that's what he was talking about. But I didn't listen to him that often. Would you if heard it every time you saw him?"
"No, I don't think I would. And I wouldn't take him that seriously."
"He's alright after he gets over his rant after that he just answers whatever question I have for him that day and about his family. Sometimes, when it's not painful for him."
"Sounds like you two are close."
"In a way. We just have known each other for a long time and did you feel that?" Her eyes dart from side to side in quick succession as she stopped on the walkway.
"I didn't feel anything. Are you okay?"
"It's nothing wrong per say. But you might want to get inside a store soon or under an awning."
"We are about to get a downpour." That's when the clouds decided to let loose its overgrown bundle. The rain came down soaking anyone in its range immediately to the bone.
"How did you know that was going to happen?" Liz said taking cover under the awning of a pharmacy store. Melusine stayed out in the water relishing in the feeling of the rain only to be pulled under the awning.
"Mermaids are very in tune with weather and the earth. We have to be in order to avoid getting swept up in a hurricane or blown over by a tsunami."
"You mean you can tell when bad weather is coming without fault?"
"To a degree, a mermaid can still be swept up if she doesn't pay attention."
"Like how you got swept up in the rain there and nearly blew your cover?"
"Look at your hands and you tell me." Melusine looked down at her hands to find that some of her scales were returning. Surprising Melusine greatly.
"Well my Mom was lying about her not having any fresh water blood."
"It's another mermaid thing. There are distinct differences with sea and Lake Merpeople. A mermaid of pure sea blood will only have her scales shown by water if it is salt water. A mermaid of pure lake water same thing but with fresh water. But you guys found me in the sea and now my scales show in fresh water that means I have mixed blood."
"Pure bloods hold high reign in your world too?"
"Not exactly. A mixed blood is actually more sought after. A pure blood is so common that it's mainstream."
"Then why would your mother say she was a pure blood?"
"I don't know. Could be a number of reasons. Didn't want false friends, getting things she didn't feel she deserved, annoying marriage proposals. My mom refuses to remarry after my father's death. Which could also explain why Mom said I was a pure salty."
"You lost me again."
"I am half human. My father was a mortal man who chooses to live as a merman when he and my mother married. Another rarity in the merworld. Sure there are tales of mermaids and merman having affairs with humans, but not many marry and have children with them. Add the fact that I am a mixed blood and bam! I'm a hot item for marriage to a high prince of the sea. Not that I would even think of marrying that perv. Now that I am on land I don't think I will go back underwater. Especially when I can do this." She moves her hand over her arms. Steam rises and her scales shrink back into her skin.
"And this as well." Her palm is held flat and open as tiny drops of water freeze in midair with the slightest movement of her hand the drops move together becoming spherical and cold. A glass ball is the result. Giving it a little shake causing tiny snowflakes fall within it.
"A working snow globe made entirely out of water."
"Okay. We better get going before someone sees this and it is time to head back to the bureau. I bet Manning is going to have a seizure when he sees all those moving men bringing your stuff in."
"Let's just say that he looks at the budget very closely."
"But we didn't…"
"You know that and I know that. But he doesn't know that."
"Oh! I see."
"Yep, wouldn't want to miss that show. Come on."
The girls arrive at the bureau in time to see that Manning was shoveling antacids down like candy. When he saw that the girls had just come in he went off.
"What were you thinking? We can't afford all this! We're on a budget people a budget! Do you know what that means? We have to stay within the means and not overspend on things that we don't have the funds for and I am sorry, but we have got to send these things back."
"We did have the funds for them."
"Our new agent here paid for these things with her own money. Not the bureaus." Liz said patting the girl on the head. Manning was dumbfounded for a minute and then relieved and then went back to being dumbfounded.
"Where did you get the money?"
"I made it. Sorta."
"You went out and let her use counterfeit money?"
"No, the currency I had used was pearls that I cried and then sold them to get paper money from jewelers. I am saying this really slow so you don't get confused and if you have a question please don't shout it out. That would be bad for your health." Manning looked more confused than ever and was about to ask something when an important official came into the room. Manning was pulled away to talk to him and Liz went off to see Hellboy about something leaving Melusine alone to do the decorating of her room. Which she thoroughly enjoyed.
Hellboy came in with a bored expression on his face. Melusine wasn't she was going to like this. And she was right.
"Come on Mel your training starts now."
"Don't call my Mel." She rose from her spot and followed Hellboy down the halls into a large training room where Manning and Abe were waiting for them.
"Ah, so this is the Cadet that has just joined us. Isn't she a little young?" Cadet as he would call her from now on moved into place. Abe went to the other side and Hellboy sat down next to Manning.
"She's 64 years old."
"She can't be older a college kid."
"That's being a mermaid for ya. Long life and youth. Now let's see what junior has for us." Leaning back to enjoy the show Hellboy looks out at the two about to spar.
"Have you had any training with hand to hand combat?"
"I bet she knows hand to fin combat."
"Manning, did you really just make a pun?"
"Whoops I got to go." Manning left the group to answer a call from a higher up.
"Since I have been on land no. In the sea we had a form kind of. Let's just go with no." Melusine shrugs. Abe blinks once then twice. He poses in a traditional thought pose and then he gets an idea.
"Liz mentioned something about you having control over water. Perhaps starting there shall be our first task. Then we shall teach you the ways of hand to hand combat." As Abe says this he goes and grabs a bucket. Filling it with water. Then he places it in front of Melusine and waits. Melusine looks at the bucket her eyebrow arches not sure what she should attempt to try. She had trained before in control of this element since they discovered she had it. Freezing water, turning into steam or mist as a cover to get away. Seriously her first day of training on land was going to be something she trained years for in the sea. What a waste of a first day she thought. Better get it over with.
She rose her hand palm up and the water rose with it creating a standing swell. Quick movement of the hand falling down adds pressure and movement flying straight at Abe. The force of the speeding water smashed Abe into the wall. Abe was surprised to have felt the strength of her simple move.
"You have trained before with your powers." Abe said panting slightly as he rose up.
"Whenever there is one that shows promise of power over our element we are sent to a teacher in order to learn the fundamentals of water and then we train on our own."
"Your cultures customs are interesting. But you have never had to deal with someone hand to hand?"
"No, I have not. My mother and I stay out of conflict. Or at least attempt to."
"Well we should teach you some form of it. Pay close attention to what is done." Abe trains Melusine with little to no result of anything going right. Each time Melusine would use her ability over water and each time Abe would remind her that she had to stop using them in order to learn. But he was learning that it was hard to go against nature.
"We should take a break for now. I can see we have quite a bit of training to do before field work shall be allowed." Abe walked with Melusine to her room and then left her to go and relax in the library.
Three hours later there came a big boom! Melusine rushed out of the room and then had to fall back as sold metal object slashed its way down the hall.
"What was that? Is anyone hurt?" Melusine looked out the door carefully to see Abe and Manning in the hallway.
"We are fine, Ms. Melusine. Are you alright?"
"I didn't get hit by the moving object. So I am alright, but what caused it?"
"I believe it was Liz. She and Red have been having a couple's spat. I think."
"That was a spat? Will I need to carry around a fire extinguisher if the spats get worse?" She said as inched closer to the wall.
"No. You should be fine. Liz has more control." Manning reveled the truth in his face as he looked at Abe and his somewhat lie. Then Red started to move which gave the clue that he was there. Melusine followed the others into his room.
There was clutter and mess, some things were on fire, but nothing was a pile of ashes. Thankfully no one was either. But Liz was on fire like a roman candle. Scaring Melusine, until Abe confirmed to her that Liz was a pyrokinetic. Calming her a little. Water and fire do not always have the best relationship. Nor at the moment did Hellboy and Liz. Liz started to say something really important that would help their relationship and she was on a major roll when. (weeee-errrrrrrrr-weeeeee-errrrrrrr!)
Hellboy gets up and moves through the door in swift ease at avoiding the conversation that would have come. Melusine was confused and scared at the sound. Abe seeing her reaction.
"Manning, are we going to take our newest agent with us?"
"She is coming as an observer. She is not to go inside."
"You mean, I'm not allowed to help?"
"You can help by staying out of the way. You need to train more first then go in the field." Melusine pouted but followed behind the others. She goes into the garbage truck surprised to find all the mechanical devices fit into it. They go through the streets where large crowds have come along to see what the commotion was about. The team embarks from the garbage truck. Melusine was the only one left in the truck to observe the mechanics of weapons. Apparently that was to be her training for the night. Looking over weapons, not firing them off, not touching them. Just looking at them and that's it. Melusine felt that it was going to be one long night.
Ten minutes pass that felt like two hours. Melusine bored out of her mind finds a radio commuter link and decides to listen in without them knowing. She listened in as the team progressed through the Action house. No bodies had been found, but there were signs of something having gone through and destroying the place. Abe was the found that there were hundreds of tiny little creatures inside the walls, burrowing and that they eat and poop soon after.
"Burrowing? Eating large amounts? Hundreds? I wonder could they be…? No they couldn't, unless?" Melusine said quietly to herself. Thinking that she had a feeling that she knew what these creatures were. She hoped though that she wasn't right. If she was the team was certainly in danger. That's when Abe made the connection they were tooth fairies. Not grannies who give you money for teeth, but those that ate the teeth and bodies of those made of calcium.
"You guys have got to get out of there now!"
"Mel? Is that you?"
"Yes and don't call me Mel, Hellboy. You guys have got to get out of there. Tooth fairies attack in swarms and quickly!"
"What are you doing on the communicator? You're not in the building are you?"
"That doesn't matter you need to get out!"
"Hey it's kind of cute."
"What's going on?"
"No, don't!" Screams follow on the line. Melusine in panic jumps from her seat and for the door. Only to be stopped by one of the agents left behind.
"Let me go! I have to go in and help them!"
"No. Orders are that you are to stay here."
"Orders are made to be broken at times like this!"
"Geez, she's talking like Hellboy already." The agent throws her back into the seat and forces her to stay down. She writhes and wriggles trying to break free from the man's grasp. Till finally she slips out of it and goes off into the streets heading towards the building. She stops halfway when an explosion of fire flares out of a window shaking the residents below. Fear encases her at this point. Should she go back to the truck or go into the possible inferno and chaos?
Another flame shoots out of the building a large object comes through. A deep red object. One that she knew. Hellboy was falling from the sky down on to earth. Melusine ran towards him praying he was still alive. A crowd had formed around him as he rose up from the street and shot two tooth fairies. Cameras start their systems taking as many pictures as they can for their readers. Hellboy stands smiling and waving. Melusine felt the need to laugh which was soon silenced when the two agents from before had found caught her. They took her into a separate car back to the Bureau. Where she was to put it frankly put under house arrest. Till the others got back.
Which maybe hours away with the way the reporters kept hounding at him on the TV. Luck though had it so they got back much sooner and Manning had a few choice words for Cadet.
"What were you thinking?"
"I was trying to help."
"What did I say about helping? I said that you could help by staying out of it and observing. Instead you try and get in the middle of it. Not to mention your little stunt with the communicator could have cost us. What were thinking about chatting on it like that?"
"I was trying to warn the others about the tooth fairies!"
"You and Hellboy certainly have a lot in common. I can tell that much."
"You barely know me!"
"Doesn't matter right now, Cadet. We are getting someone new and he is going to help keep this place from going belly up. I suggest you learn to follow orders and follow them well. Because this man is a professional. Good night Cadet." As he left the room she threw the nearest object at the door. No effect did it make instead it just flopped to the floor like the pillow it was. She grabbed another and started to scream into it. She was so frustrated. These people had come to ask for her help, to join a team and they do this. They keep her away from helping, get mad at her for trying to help. They were treating her like a child.
The next day the team was assembled to meet the new agent. Melusine was being kept under close watch by the other agents.
"Did they ever treat you like this?" Melusine asks Liz.
"Just relax and ignore Manning. He gets on everyone's nerves." Liz was silenced by the arrival of the new agent. A man in a metal and cloth outfit, which to Melusine resembled an ancient diving suit from before her time.
"Johann Krauss, at your service." He said with a flourishing bow that was quick and to the point. His voice was other worldly and strong, a German accent was not hidden in his voice.
"Ah I see that you are the new face that tried to be a nuisance."
"I wasn't trying to be a…" Johann swatted away her comment like a buzzing fly. He turned around heading towards Abe.
"Yes, yes. Now I understand that you are the brains of this team." He went on to talk with Abe. Melusine did not like this man. Hellboy was reserved as well over the new guy.
Melusine was sorely tempted to freeze Mr. Krauss to the floor, but didn't want to make an even worse impression on the ectoplasmic moron. The group travels on, but Krauss stops and turns around to Melusine.
"I am going to request that you skip out on this mission. You have already proven that you still have more to learn before being allowed in the field. Please return to your room or if you wish you may train. Either way stay out of our way."
"Fine." She said in an eerily calm way that was unnoticed by all except one of the members. Who was starting to find a kindred spirit in the newbie.
"Well you heard the man, Cadet. Go on to your room or what not." Manning said pushing the girl away. Melusine went on down the hall, took the turn towards her room and went in. She took some water and laid it down on the floor. She swirled it around and concentrated very close. The waters swirled around and around and then stilled showing images from the room the others had gathered in. She saw them overlooking the tooth fairy corpse they had collected. She heard as they discussed where the tooth fairy had come from.
A tooth fairy was hard to come by. The only way one could get them was the Troll Market. 'The Troll Market Duh!' She knew where it was and she was going to get the drop on the perp and prove that she wasn't a nuisance. Or should she just go ahead and tell them now?
"Naw they figure it out." She slipped out of the bureau with relative ease. No one was really paying attention to her. She went under the bridge and through the meat fridge that she had trouble not getting sick from. She looked into the wide large surroundings. Creatures were flying overhead, various beings were here and there, selling and buying various wears. Melusine walked around looking for any suspicious characters that may know who bought some tooth fairies. She caught sight of a man in a cloak moving around that she felt suspicious about. He wasn't staying at stalls and shopping like a normal person would do. He left each one quickly. Had he caught on to her? Had he seen her and was trying to shake her away from the truth? Or could he be on the run from deadly assassins and he thought she was one of them?
Whatever the reason she was determined to get to the bottom of this and the tooth fairy thing. If she didn't get into Mondo trouble first. The perp she was trailing went off somewhere and she lost him.
"Great. I lost the one lead I had and have to start over again. Or so she thought.