We returned to Fikhos's gloriously illuminated office in the Department of Housing. His back was to us but one of his aides tersely alerted him to our presence.
He turned around beaming. "That certainly didn't take long, sir," he said, striding forward for another handshake. "I hope you learned something useful from Reprocessing?"
"Yep," I said warily. It was hard not to like a guy with such an earnest demeanor and such a firm handshake. "But it led me back here."
Fikhos appeared taken aback by the news and I honestly couldn't tell if it was genuine or well-acted. "To my department?" he asked. "You mean the masks and things were requested by…one of mine?"
"Rathros," I said.
Fikhos stared at me in mute shock for a moment and then gave his head one stubborn shake. "No," he told me. "That can't be right. Are you sure?"
"I'm not really sure of anything right now," I admitted. "But it's all I have to go on at the moment."
Jaelin jumped in to hurry things along for what felt like the hundredth time. "If you could just track down Rathros for us so we could talk to him?" she asked. She spoke impatiently, phrasing it as a question but inflecting it as an order.
"I'll do you one better," Fikhos said. He called a burly slate-colored aide over to us. "Jashon, I need you to find Rathros and bring him to this office immediately. Don't let him leave." Jashon grunted to signify his understanding and disappeared.
Turning back to us, Fikhos said, "It might take him some time to find him. In the meantime, I thought we could go down to Rathros's bunk. If he's there, we'll talk to him. If he's not, maybe you'll be able to learn something from his bunkmate."
That sounded reasonable. Fikhos was being accommodating and trying to cover multiple bases. Glancing at Sylnie and Jaelin to see if they had any concerns, I said, "Yeah, why not?"