Magical Security Taskforce




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Chapter 3: The Last Thing I Need

Session One

To summarize, the day had been rife with upset and failure. Troy and Kathryn had managed to defeat powerful student council members Molly and Claude, only to see Troy fail to make any noticeable impression on Renee. Before he had the chance, an evil nasty demon creature appeared... and was promptly defeated by hapless minion Bryce- an upset indeed.

After such an eventful day, it would be difficult to fully grasp the week of peace and quiet that ensued. So let's go one non-event at a time:

Kathryn's operation to get Troy some alone time with Renee was a rousing success, but Troy couldn't capitalize on it. Therefore, Troy had little incentive to make another attempt, and Molly had no intention of giving him the opportunity. The surveillance continued and the school remained off-limits to Troy outside of class. Well aware of this, Troy wisely fell into his place.

Renee continued her normal life of effortlessly being beloved by everybody. Troy's comments to her on that fateful walk did, however, make her contemplate her social standing. Of course, whenever she asked any of her close friends about it, the answer was always 'because you're the coolest person EVAR' in those exact words, which didn't help.

As for the demon attack, Molly filed her report with the MST immediately, but the review process was so damn long that she did not hear a response. Molly was eager for one, however, as such attacks were incredibly rare. With the demon factions aiming for global corruption and the MST on global patrol, piddly attacks upon innocent civilians were not very productive. It was the equivalent of punching a random person in public: it may make you feel better, but it doesn't get anything accomplished and you end up in more trouble than it's worth.

The only catch is that given the rarity of such attacks, the occasions when they did occur were under special scrutiny- meaning really long administrative review periods.

So the week of peace and quiet ensued.


Donovan was not one for peace and quiet, however. With his arm fully healed and his eyes open, he spent most of the next week in his dark room at school planning his next move. He also got really, really good at summoning that light ball.

“Illumitorium,” he chanted as he did his gesture and summoned it for at least the hundredth time that week. He set it on the table in front of him and analyzed it.

He set his palms face-down and performed the gesture again, this time without chanting. A second ball appeared and Donovan set it next to the first one. They were exactly the same size and equally luminous, but after a close inspection Donovan was convinced that the first one was bigger and brighter.


He went back to chanting for his third, but as he did, the second ball rolled off the table and landed on his foot. The distraction ruined the casting process, leaving the third ball clearly smaller, with a dimmer light that carried an unnatural green tint. Unhappy with this product, Donovan chucked it against the far wall. It ricocheted and rolled back towards Donovan, fading to nothingness along the way.

Donovan sunk in his chair and grumbled. Molly was right: this was unimpressive.

“Bryce! Blaine!” he called

“Sir!” Bryce and Blaine replied.

“Teach me something more impressive.”

The two minions looked at each other nervously. Blaine answered, “It's not that I want to disobey a direct order... but Molly already chewed me out enough for teaching the light ball.”

“We'd prefer avoiding her wrath, if it's all the same,” Bryce added.

Donovan narrowed his eyes. “Would you rather face mine??”

Blaine sighed. “Well, what do you want to know?”

After a minute of reflection, Donovan sat up. “Hmm... how is it you appear out of nowhere all the time?”

Bryce smiled at Blaine. “See, I told you he'd ask one of these days. We've been doing it, what, a year now?”

“The answer?” Donovan said, not tolerating any conversation he wasn't a part of.

“Fundamental teleportation. It allows us to travel short distances instantly. You just have to know the destination really well and nobody can see you arrive.”

“Teach me this spell,” Donovan commanded, “I must learn it to defeat my enemies.”

Blaine gulped. “Um, well... like we were saying about Molly...”

Rather than face Donovan's inevitable protest, Bryce made a new point: “Sir, it's not an easy spell to learn outside the academy. You need absolute concentration, a picture-perfect memory, and improper execution can lead to all sorts of problems. Really, it's not as useful as it sounds.”

“Yeah, it's incredibly hard to teleport into, say, a bank vault or a private home or the girls' showers.”

He got odd glances from Donovan and Blaine for that one.

“Er... or so I've heard,” Bryce replied nervously.

Donovan faced forward again and folded his arms.

“You still haven't taught me that spell,” he said, grimly.


Session Two

School ended at 3:00 every day. Troy made it a point to be out of the building by 3:02. He remained undecided about whether to keep pursuing Renee, but for the time being, another confrontation with Molly was the last thing he needed. So he complied and faced no trouble from the Student Council, save Claude constantly following him.

Troy did manage to attend Kathryn's first softball game Friday afternoon. Luckily for him, the team played its games off of school property at a park downtown. He usually didn't go to her soccer games (since it was, you know, soccer), but after a week of inaction he felt the need to do something resembling a social activity and heck, softball was okay.

Once the home team took the field, however, Troy realized the danger he was in. Renee was also on the team, and his eyes couldn't help but stray over to her on the bench. Just as he started thinking about how cute she looked in that form-hugging white uniform, he heard a loud rattling from under the bleachers.

A pair of hands appeared just underneath Troy. He looked down and saw Claude climbing the scaffolding and trying to squeeze through and join Troy. Troy turned his attention back to the game, making sure not to watch Renee. Claude finally scaled the mountain and sat down next to Troy midway through the first inning.

“Can't you spy on me from down there?” Troy asked, still watching the game.

“I can't see your eyes. I need to make sure you aren't watching Renee,” Claude said, brushing himself off.

“I'm only here to cheer for Kathryn,” Troy replied curtly.

“That's fine. Only watch Kathryn and you're fine.”

Troy was about to let that end the conversation, but after a moment shook his head at Claude. “Well, I'm still watching the game. Kathryn spends most of the time doing nothing in right field or nothing on the bench. There are other players besides her and Renee.”

Claude sighed and relented, “Fine, you may watch the batter and the ball.”

Just to clarify, Troy asked, “What if Renee's batting?”

“Renee is a pitcher and the designated hitter rule is in effect.”

“Fair enough,” Troy said, folding his arms. He and Claude did not speak for the rest of the game.


The game was downright boring. Renee didn't play at all and Kathryn was fairly stagnant until her attempt at a sacrifice fly accidentally sent the ball over the fence for a three-run homer. Of course, since the L. B. Gould Buteos were already up 8-0, it was nothing more than running the score up.

Troy and Kathryn walked home together. With Troy vacating the school premises immediately and Kathryn busy with her various practices, it was the first opportunity they had to talk outside of class.

It was also the first time Kathryn noticed Claude walking behind them.

“Damn, is he still on you?” she said, glancing back at him.

“You get used to it eventually,” Troy replied.

“Thankfully I came prepared.”

“Oh God...” moaned Troy.

Fortunately, today's plan required no effort on the part of either Kathryn or Troy. Instead, on a random corner, a stocky young man tapped Claude on the shoulder.

“What are you doing, following Kathryn around?” the boy said as Claude turned around.

“I'm not following her, I'm-”

“What, you following the guy?” he asked, raising a suspicious eyebrow.


Kathryn smiled and whispered to Troy, “That's Craig. Met him on the wrestling team last winter. We're in the same weight class, so we were always sparring with each other. We'd let each other win sometimes. He'll take care of the rest.”

Troy nodded and they walked away.

“Hey!” Claude shouted and began chasing after them.

Craig spun him around. “Oh no! I'm not letting you bother Kathryn like that!”

“I told you, I'm not!”

“Then where are you headed?”

Claude gritted his teeth, watched as his targets gained more distance, then turned back as Craig started cracking his knuckles.

“If you know what's best for you, you'd leave my Kat alone.”

Craig had muscles; Claude did not. Recognizing that immediately, and not wanting to divulge his true mission, Claude had no choice but to slink away in the opposite direction.

Once Claude was well out of range, Craig caught up to Kathryn and Troy, smiling boastfully.

“Yeah, took care of him for you!”

“Thanks, you're my hero!” Kathryn replied with a big smile. Troy rolled his eyes.

“So, you doing anything tonight? We haven't hung out in a long time.”

Kathryn frowned for a moment. One glance at Troy and her face lit up again.

She threw an arm around Troy's shoulder and said, “Sorry, Troy and I have a date tonight. That kid's been bugging us all week and we need to cash in now that he's gone.”

Craig frowned. “Wait... Troy?”



Kathryn started to lead Troy away. “Some other time, maybe! We haven't sparred in a while!”

Craig smiled again. “Yeah! Next week?”

Kathryn waved him off. “Yeah, yeah, I'll give you a call!”

“Great, see ya!”

As he ran off, Kathryn muttered, “Jeez, he's as persistent as Claude.”

Troy shook his head. “You really shouldn't tease guys like that.”

“Who's teasing? I make good on my offers. I'll call him.”

“Right...” Troy said disapprovingly before changing the subject. “So where are we going on our 'date?'”

“Rosa's,” Kathryn replied as if that was the plan all along.

“I thought we were doing something cheap.”

“That's okay- you're buying.”

“What?!” Troy exclaimed.

“Well, yeah. It's a date...” Kathryn smiled and ran her fingers through her hair. “I'm kind of a traditional girl when it comes to this sort of thing, you know?”

Instead of gagging, Troy shook his head and went with it. And to think everyone in school asked him why he never tried dating her for real.


Session Three

Rosa's was considered by some to be the best casual diner in L. B. Gould. Not because the food was any better, but because it was the only casual diner in L. B. Gould that didn't have either a drive-thru window or a focus on Mexican or Chinese food. It served Italian, which was about as exotic as the cuisine got in that part of Ohio. Rosa herself actually grew up in Spain, but the food seemed authentic so nobody noticed.

Eager to discuss recent events, Troy was determined to find an isolated booth away from any curious eavesdroppers. This proved to be a daunting task since it was Friday evening- when every family in town felt the sudden urge to “do something different” and went out to eat. Troy gave up and chose a booth next to the senior citizens he deemed most likely to have gone deaf.

“Picky about the view?” Kathryn teased as she sat opposite Troy.

Troy glanced around. “No, I was hoping we could talk about... you know...”

Kathryn looked around as well, but she didn't know what she was looking for. “Know what?”

Troy leaned in and lowered his voice. “The MST?”

Kathryn leaned back and raised hers. “Oh yeah! Yeah...” She started flipping through her menu. “What are you ordering?”

Troy fetched a second menu. “We can't talk about it at school. So I kinda want to know what you think.”

“Well, if I can't pronounce it, I can't order it. That eliminates a couple choices.”

Trying not to raise his voice, Troy was more firm. “I'm serious, Kathryn! Whether it happens now or not, this magic thing sounds awfully life-changing.”

Looking up from her menu, Kathryn gave him that look. That borderline glare combined with a cheeky half-grin look. The one that told Troy that he had just said something completely stupid. Only Troy didn't know what it was.

“Look, Troy, just because we found out what Molly has up her ass doesn't make it any prettier,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

She shook her head. “She's probably been controlling your life to make you her magic minion like Bryce. Guess it's an upgrade over Claude.”

“But still... real magic...”

Kathryn eyed the wine list for no reason. “I don't see what's so special about it.”

Surprised he had to make this argument, Troy replied, “Well... it's magic. Not too many people get a chance to do this.”

“How many people want to? Jeez, that's the last thing I need in my life.”

Troy leaned in, setting his elbows on the table. “Look, if this is about spending the summer learning-”

“I'm in a baseball league!” she interrupted, “You think I'm going to ditch that to learn some hocus pocus... and then save the planet from whatever evil thingies-”

“Welcome to Rosa's, can I take your order?” Kathryn's face flushed as a waitress interrupted them. She recovered and gave the waitress her order, disregarding any prior statement about saving the planet from evil thingies. Troy ordered and the waitress left without asking any questions.

Once the waitress was out of earshot, Kathryn lowered her voice and continued. “Troy, what bothers me is that they're asking us to do this on top of our normal lives. Mine's hectic enough as it is.”

Troy eyed the table. “You don't want the chance to be something special?”

“I already am,” Kathryn replied firmly, “In case you haven't noticed, with all the sports I'm in I'm kind of a star around school. A lot of girls look up to me, older ones even. I've got a lot of friends, present company included... and with your help I think I can make honor roll this year.”

She smiled and added, “For me, that would be something special.”

Troy frowned. “Well... I'm not like you. This isn't where I want to be.”

As much as Kathryn wanted to carry on, Troy's comment was very sobering. She couldn't say she blamed him for feeling the way he did, but it didn't stop her from finding the whole thing ridiculous.

“And magic is going to fix everything?” she asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

Troy shrugged. “Couldn't hurt.”

“Maybe not, but think this through. Half of your problems are because of Molly. At this academy thing, she's our supervisor. So you won't shake her. If anything, she'll be on your case even more. And you better not be in it to impress Renee.”

Troy's eyes widened- guilty. “Why not?” he asked.

Kathryn let out a chuckle. “Are you serious? She's the smartest kid in the class. Not only that, but she comes across as the kind of girl who eats all this Harry Potter stuff up like candy. Face it, Troy- she'll kick our asses!”

That pretty much drained any remaining enthusiasm out of Troy. He slumped forward, his head banging against the placemat. Kathryn sighed. Her goal was to get his head out of the clouds, not submerge it in water.

She stroked his hair, trying to reassure him. “I'm not trying to get you down. If you want to give it a try, you know I'll be behind you all the way. I just want you to understand that you're not escaping anything. You're still going to have problems.”

He lifted his head off the table and looked at her.

“You just have to do whatever you think will get you closer to fixing them,” she said.

Troy nodded. “But if I end up going through with this, will you?”

He stared at her, begging for an answer. Eventually, Kathryn turned her head towards the window, at all the normal people living in a world she didn't feel like leaving.

“We'll see,” was all she could say.


Session Four

Donovan saw nothing when he appeared. It was an expanse of black, yet he wasn't in his dark room. It was an unfamiliar darkness, one which he dared not travel without guidance.

“Illumitorium,” he chanted.

The light ball revealed a plain, brown door directly before him. He furrowed his eyebrows. Wherever the spell had taken him, the portal before him would surely provide some answers. Donovan, however, recognized that in this unfamiliar territory, caution must be exercised.

“Bryce,” he called.

If Donovan would have bothered to look behind him, he would have noticed a shelf of text books, a bucket of rolled-up maps, as well as a trove of markers, thumbtacks and paper. Bryce noticed all of this as most of the items crashed on his head as soon as he appeared behind Donovan.

He crawled out of the wreckage and weakly moaned, “Sir?”

“Where am I?”

“My guess would be a closet somewhere in the school,” Bryce said, pulling a thumbtack out of his eyebrow.

Donovan grumbled. He was targeting an adjacent classroom, but this was not an acceptable result.

Bryce reassured him. “Hey, first-timers are lucky if they end up in the same dimension. There's a learning curve with it. Newbies tend to get a lot of closets for some reason.”

With a scowl, Donovan geared up to try again. He would continue to do so all weekend.


Every morning, immediately after school started, Claude would meet with Molly to establish which of her biddings he would be responsible for that day. Monday's meeting was no exception, especially with the important issue of the upcoming student council elections to deal with. Important for Molly and Claude, naturally, since the 'democratically-elected' position had essentially taken the shape of school emperor. It isn't at all relevant to this story, but you'll have to put up with it until they get to the stuff we care about.

Anyway, the deadline to file for candidacy was up and thankfully only one anonymous junior was foolish enough to run against Molly. Molly looked at the information Claude had provided her and smirked.

“He really got enough signatures?”

“How shall I deal with the students that endorsed him?” Claude asked.

Molly replied, “Just send them The Letter and be done with it.”

The Letter, and it was always capitalized when discussed (and it was only discussed in private diaries and untraceable IM chats; no one ever spoke of The Letter), was Molly's not-so-friendly way of warning a student that he or she had stepped out of line somehow. Its true wording has never been disclosed, but along with its method of delivery (fastened to the outside of the student's locker with dark red masking tape in the shape of an X), it has scared all recipients into full obedience, except those that didn't know what they were guilty of. Pity those fools.

Claude smiled menacingly. “And the candidate?”

“Destroy him.”

“Yes, Madam President.”

“Any update on Monroe?”

“He attended the softball game Friday, but I made sure that he kept his eyes off your sister.”

With a nod, Molly said, “And after that?”

Claude gulped and looked down. “He eluded me after that. One of Kathryn's friends bullied me into leaving. Whether or not he understood what I was doing, it was reprehensible.”

Molly narrowed her eyes. “Again, Claude?”

Starting to shake, Claude replied, “It's all because of-”

“No excuses, Claude. I plan on taking care of it immediately.”

With a sigh, Claude faced her again. “Yes, Madam.”

“That is all.” With a curt nod, she added, “Go to work.”

Claude nodded back and left the office.

As he did, Molly's ear wiggled. She pinched it the moment Claude closed the door behind him.

“It's about damn time,” she blurted.

A male voice replied, telepathically, “We have reviewed your report on the incident.”

Molly rolled her eyes. “Go on.” Not only was she annoyed by the voice's insistence on stating the obvious, it wasn't the voice she was expecting. As rare as the attack was, Molly was surprised that the disembodied voice briefing her wasn't the division commander, but some faceless assistant at his office.

“The creature was summoned by a dark agent, with likely ties to the Hokoni faction. It is probable that the demon responsible is the same one we discovered earlier in the day.”

“Lovely.” Molly sighed; one of the oddities about the Magical Security Taskforce was that despite wielding the supernatural abilities needed to monitor the entire world, thanks to the demon factions' equally-strong cloaking spells, MST surveillance on Earth pretty much sucked.

“Any chance of it returning?” Molly asked.

“Of course, but we do not know its true intentions,” replied the voice.

Molly shook her head; it was a standard non-answer. Then the voice added, “However, the fact that it only attacked your recruits may not be coincidence.”

“Yes, but why on Earth would they go after an idiot like Donovan?”

“Perhaps he rejected an offer to sign with them.”

Molly's eyes widened. She hadn't considered that. Despite the name, almost all of the demons appearing in this world were humans- drawn to the forces of evil by all sorts of wicked temptations. She had always worried that Donovan would be an attractive candidate, but didn't expect them to invite him so soon... or that he would decline the offer, for that matter.

“Therefore,” the disembodied voice continued, “We are requesting that your students enroll in the academy starting with the session next July.”

Molly winced. “You did note my comments regarding that?”

“Your personal feelings on the matter are noted, but this is a unique situation and we must take precautions.”

“They aren't ready!” she protested.

“Then it is your job to make sure they are,” the voice concluded, “We will send them the materials as soon as they are prepared.”

The voice hung up, or whatever disembodied voices do to end communication. Molly's shoulders slumped, she put a hand to her forehead, and she mumbled, “This is the last thing I need.”

The four students in Molly's unit were at best immature kids who had no grasp of what reality actually had in store for them. In short- high-schoolers. There was a reason MST training normally didn't begin until college, and it seemed like Molly's group would be a textbook example of it.

Still, if it was up to her to get them ready, she was going to do her duty. She reached for her intercom and issued an announcement over the loudspeaker: “Renee Pearson, please report to the Student Council office.”

Step one: make sure all four of them understood who was in charge.


Session Five

As with any student at L. B. Gould High, Renee was less than thrilled about being called into Molly's office. She didn't fear for her life like most students, but even Molly's sister knew better than to expect good news.

She popped her head through the door and frowned at Molly. “You wanted to see me?”

Molly didn't look up from her papers. “Have a seat, Renee.”

“You know we live in the same house, right?” Renee said, taking her seat.

“This concerns your position as captain of the softball team,” Molly stated, her eyes finally acknowledging Renee.

“I'm not the captain.”

Molly raised an eyebrow. “Do you want to be?”

Renee held up a hand. “No. I'm more of a benchwarmer actually. In fact, I'm not really that good at softball; I might join the track team next week.”

“Regardless, I need somebody to expel Kathryn Santos from the team.”

“Kathryn?!” Renee exclaimed, “Why?”

Clearing her throat, Molly answered, “She knows what she did. I don't take kindly to being assaulted with a soccer ball, and she must also understand that constantly preventing Claude from doing his job is not good for one's health.”

Renee sat there in shock. She did not know Kathryn all that well, but carried nothing but respect for her. Whatever Renee's opinion of Troy, she was determined not to concern herself with whatever Claude was up to, including Kathryn's ability to foil his efforts. She didn't want to care about that, and she didn't care about the how the team would suffer without Kathryn. This concerned her for two other reasons.

She started with what she felt was most important: “Why me?”

“I don't know anyone else on the team, nor your coach,” Molly replied. Kathryn excluded, nobody associated with the softball team had pissed her off, therefore she didn't know them.

Unable to argue with that logic, Renee went with concern number two: “But if we're going to be studying magic with her, don't you think we should try to establish a good rapport with Kathryn beforehand?”

Molly flashed an evil grin. “What, did you expect me to change my managerial approach just because we're studying magic? If I am to train Kathryn, and I am obligated to train Troy and Donovan, they will fear me as MST guardian as much as they do as student council president.”

“You think that's the best way to go about this? I mean, dealing with four students is a lot different than dealing with a thousand.”

“Perhaps in the subtleties. Regardless, I'm dealing with the thousand right now.” Molly leaned forward, stared at Renee and said the magic words: “Go to work.”


Having Kathryn shatter his strange notion that traveling to a secret academy that trains kids the arts of magic would somehow help him escape his real-life problems (where he got that idea, we will never know), Troy was left looking for some sort of solace. He found it in the school's garage- the motor club that he had been a member of prior to Molly's edict forcing him off the premises. True he was violating the rule, but he doubted he would be noticed hiding underneath a car.

Claude entered the garage and looked around suspiciously. “Troy?” he called.

“Claude! Just who I was looking for!” Before Claude could investigate thoroughly, Kurt approached him with a stack of papers.

“Have you seen Troy in here?” Claude asked.

While Kathryn had used some unconventional techniques, Kurt had an even more inventive method- give Claude work befitting a normal student council.

“I've got some requisitions that need your approval,” Kurt said, pointing to one of the cars. “The parts for this thing cost more than I thought.”

“Um...” Claude replied, looking through the perfectly-legitimate paperwork.

“If you could get these cleared today so I can get the parts tonight it would be great.”

“Yes, but have you seen Troy?”

“Nope, he quit the club last week. Don't know why. So you'll take care of this?”

Claude nodded reluctantly. “Fine, fine,” he said, leaving with yet another failure to add to his record.

With him out of the way, it was Kurt's turn to look for Troy. It didn't take him long to find the right pair of shoes under the right car.

“Hey Troy, this may be a temple for deep meditation and all, but I don't think Molly will buy that as a reason for me to give you sanctuary.”

Troy wheeled himself out. “Thanks for getting rid of him, Kurt. I just need some time to think.”

Kurt nodded, although he did actually need those requisitions approved. “No problem. Anything you want to talk about?”

Troy sighed. “I wish I could. It's sort of a private, though.”

“Can you be intentionally vague?”

“Oh. Well...” Troy considered his words before beginning. “It's about... my friend.”

Kurt rolled his eyes. “Uh huh...”

Troy got up and wiped his hands off as he explained his dilemma with as few details as possible. “Yeah, my friend has the opportunity to do something that very few people get the chance to do. But at the same time, it might be one of those life-changing events, and my friend doesn't know if they want their life to change. Do you think somebody can be so content that they don't need anything more, no matter how rare and exciting it might be?”

Dumbfounded, Kurt put a hand on Troy's shoulder. “No offense, Troy, but if you are content with your life right now, then you positively suck.”

“What?! I said I was talking about my friend!”

“Oh! I didn't think you meant it.” Kurt raised an eyebrow. “Hope you don't mind me asking, but who's the friend?”


“Oh yeah... she's hot,” Kurt replied, scratching his chin.


Kurt threw his hands up. “I'm just saying! Too bad she's a freshman and off limits to upperclassmen.” He snapped his fingers. “Hey, maybe you should forget Renee and-”

“No.” Loudly and firmly, Troy ended that discussion.

Before they could continue dragging the conversation away from the actual topic, they heard a loud clanging from the tool closet. Kurt and Troy approached it, hearing several more tools fall to the ground as they neared.

Kurt opened the door. Donovan was inside, angrily glaring at the inanimate tools on the floor. Kurt scratched his head, trying not to ask the obvious questions. He knew Donovan well enough to not expect an obvious answer.

“Uh... looking for something, Donovan?”

Donovan looked up at the two boys, but quickly focused on Troy. He narrowed his eyes, enough to make Troy take a step back in fear.

“Troy...” he glowered.

Nonchalantly placing a hand on Troy's shoulder, Kurt dryly replied, “I'm using it right now; you'll have to wait until I'm done.”

Lunging forward, Donovan grabbed the back of Troy's neck and dragged him into the closet. “This is your doing,” he declared as he shut the door.

Kurt narrowed his eyes. Certainly odd, but he expected as much from Donovan. The only thing that surprised him was the lack of any subsequent noise from inside. He looked around, sighed, and opened the door.

The two were gone.

“Okay...” he mumbled, shutting the door again and walking away. After only a year at L. B. Gould High School, nothing fazed him anymore.


Session Six

Donovan disliked just about everybody. He hated just about everybody else. Naturally, as if he didn't have anything else to worry about, Troy was an affirmed member of the second list. The history of their feud originates long before either of the two had known anything about magic or high school or Molly Pearson.

Last summer, in the midsts of one those infamous Ohio heat waves, even Donovan couldn't resist a beach outing. After charging Blaine with the task of keeping him cool (achieved through a steady, yet discreet, air spell), Donovan spied the local children building sand castles and determined that he could do better. So he set out to create the largest and most impregnable fortress to ever strike fear into the hearts of mortals.

Naturally, he made Bryce actually build it.

To his credit, Donovan did most of the interior and exterior design work to the colossal structure Bryce had created. Mammoth as it was, the public had their camera cell-phones armed and ready as Donovan molded several unique gargoyles. Just as he was finishing up the gallows, a volleyball flew overhead. Troy ran after it, but slammed on the brakes as he saw the castle. He stopped, turned around and leaped into the air to catch the ball.

Troy had never been particularly good at catching, and he was utterly useless in midair. He managed to keep himself from landing on the castle, but the errant volleyball bounced off Donovan's head. Donovan lost his concentration and his arm shot out into one of the corner walls of the castle's courtyard. Apparently, this was the sand equivalent of a support wall and the slight disruption toppled the entire thing. Just as Troy was not that great at catching, Bryce wasn't so hot on architectural engineering.

Was it a bad reason to carry an eternal grudge against Troy? Has Donovan had a good reason for anything he's done yet? Whatever the cause, when he saw Troy on the other side of that closet door, something snapped and Donovan arbitrarily decided to get his revenge then and there.

Unfortunately, he forgot to work out the when and where when casting his teleport spell, which requires double the concentration with a passenger.

“Donovan...” Troy said as he floated aimlessly in an empty void, with no visible surroundings other than Donovan, a few errant math symbols and some of those weird falling characters from those Matrix screensavers. Despite the vast expanse of darkness, they saw each other fine, so Troy looked at Donovan and sighed. “...where are we?”

“Hmm...” Donovan replied.

“Don't just say 'hmm!'” Troy shouted, “What did you just do?!”

Donovan spoke up, pointing a finger at Troy. “Do not take that tone of voice with me! In time you will learn to fear my newfound powers of teleportation.”

Troy looked up at the shower of backwards katakana falling on him. “Donovan, I'm already getting more than enough trouble from Molly. I don't have time to deal with you.” He brushed some of the Japanese lettering out of his hair and said, “This isn't about that sand castle, is it?”

“It was an impenetrable sand fortress!!” Donovan roared back.

Troy blinked. “Well, apparently it wasn't if it fell over like that.” While he wasn't looking, a speeding Pythagorean Theorem flew under his legs. Troy began to tip over; as there seemed to be no gravity wherever they were, Troy spun until he was upside-down (or perhaps now he was rightside-up, or perhaps both were still sideways).

“Wonderful... could you fetch your minions and get us out of here already?”

“I will deal with this myself!” Donovan paused and motioned through his trigger gesture. Whatever he attempted, it didn't work. Finally, he gave in and fetched his minions.

“Sir!” Bryce and Blaine answered, both perpendicular to Donovan. They too paused to take in the surroundings. The vastness around them wasn't quite black, but wasn't near being considered a color- more of an 'off-black.'

“Where were you trying to go?” Blaine asked, in awe.

“The Plane of Eternal Bloodshed where Troy and I may battle to the death,” Donovan replied, totally serious.

“Remember what we said about visualizing the place?” Bryce said, “Unless you've been to the Plane of Eternal Bloodshed, you wouldn't be able to teleport there. Besides, I don't even know if such a place exists.”

Blaine corrected him. “It does. My dad sent me a postcard once.”

“Hey!” Troy shouted. “Can you get us out of here or not?”

“Just a moment...” Bryce and Blaine muttered unhappily. They stretched their limbs and began some breathing exercises. Apparently, voids beyond the realm of space-time were hard to get out of.


Back in the mortal realm, Renee managed to catch a moment alone with Kathryn before practice. Renee delivered Molly's edict and tried to convince Kathryn to quietly resign instead of face a public expulsion. Neither option seemed very pleasant.

Renee explained, “It's just that I don't want to create the impression that I have a say in who goes or stays on the team. I'm just another freshman, you know.”

“You're Molly's sister,” Kathryn muttered, “That's all that matters here, right?”

“Look, Molly wants you off the team, and I'm trying to make it as painless as possible. The last thing I want is for you and Troy to get into more trouble.”

Kathryn groaned, not taking her eyes off the ground. “I guess there's no use fighting this, huh?” She stood up and headed for the door, adding, “So I quit and if we lose every game, they'll all blame me, right?”

Renee sighed as Kathryn marched out, slamming the door behind her. Unwilling to leave it at that, Renee chased after her.

“Kathryn, I don't want there to be any hard feelings between us. I just want you to realize what's going on here.”

Kathryn threw her hands up, not looking back. “I know, it's not you. You're just being a good little dog and obeying your commands.”

“I don't want to upset you. I think it's really important that we stay on good terms, you know?” Renee looked around to check for any spying ears nearby. Then she added, “Especially if we're studying magic together.”

Kathryn stopped walking. She glanced at the ceiling and swore under her breath before turning around and faking a smile. “Hey, don't sweat it. I'm sure we'll be great pals! I'll get you a birthday present and everything!”

Renee smiled; it wasn't fake. “Okay, good. I'll see you around then.”

Kathryn watched as Renee skipped away. Under her breath, Kathryn said, “Yep, for your birthday, I'll get you a spine.” She trudged back to to her locker, muttering, “What on Earth does Troy see in her?”

As she opened her locker, her day managed to turn even worse. On top of her normal books rested a large, white envelope. The wax seal bore some fancy, unfamiliar insignia, but the reverse side held a distinctive MST logo. Kathryn felt her stomach churn; the package may as well have been sealed with dark red masking tape in the shape of an X.





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