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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
week of peace and quiet ensued.
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.
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.
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.
sunk in his chair and grumbled. Molly was right: this was
Blaine!” he called
Bryce and Blaine replied.
me something more impressive.”
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.”
prefer avoiding her wrath, if it's all the same,” Bryce added.
narrowed his eyes. “Would you rather face mine??”
sighed. “Well, what do you want to know?”
minute of reflection, Donovan sat up. “Hmm... how is it you
appear out of nowhere all the time?”
smiled at Blaine. “See, I told you he'd ask one of these days.
We've been doing it, what, a year now?”
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.”
me this spell,” Donovan commanded, “I must learn it to defeat my
gulped. “Um, well... like we were saying about Molly...”
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.”
it's incredibly hard to teleport into, say, a bank vault or a
private home or the girls' showers.”
odd glances from Donovan and Blaine for that one.
or so I've heard,” Bryce replied nervously.
faced forward again and folded his arms.
still haven't taught me that spell,” he said, grimly.
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.
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.
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.
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
you spy on me from down there?” Troy asked, still watching the
see your eyes. I need to make sure you aren't watching Renee,”
Claude said, brushing himself off.
only here to cheer for Kathryn,” Troy replied curtly.
fine. Only watch Kathryn and you're fine.”
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.”
sighed and relented, “Fine, you may watch the batter and the
clarify, Troy asked, “What if Renee's batting?”
is a pitcher and the designated hitter rule is in effect.”
enough,” Troy said, folding his arms. He and Claude did not
speak for the rest of 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.
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
also the first time Kathryn noticed Claude walking behind them.
is he still on you?” she said, glancing back at him.
used to it eventually,” Troy replied.
“Thankfully I came prepared.”
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.
are you doing, following Kathryn around?” the boy said as Claude
following her, I'm-”
you following the guy?” he asked, raising a suspicious eyebrow.
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.”
nodded and they walked away.
Claude shouted and began chasing after them.
spun him around. “Oh no! I'm not letting you bother Kathryn like
you, I'm not!”
where are you headed?”
gritted his teeth, watched as his targets gained more distance,
then turned back as Craig started cracking his knuckles.
know what's best for you, you'd leave my Kat alone.”
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.
Claude was well out of range, Craig caught up to Kathryn and
Troy, smiling boastfully.
took care of him for you!”
you're my hero!” Kathryn replied with a big smile. Troy rolled
doing anything tonight? We haven't hung out in a long time.”
frowned for a moment. One glance at Troy and her face lit up
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.”
frowned. “Wait... Troy?”
started to lead Troy away. “Some other time, maybe! We haven't
sparred in a while!”
smiled again. “Yeah! Next week?”
waved him off. “Yeah, yeah, I'll give you a call!”
ran off, Kathryn muttered, “Jeez, he's as persistent as Claude.”
shook his head. “You really shouldn't tease guys like that.”
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.
thought we were doing something cheap.”
okay- you're buying.”
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?”
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
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
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
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
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
“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
“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
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
“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
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
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.
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.
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.
crawled out of the wreckage and weakly moaned, “Sir?”
guess would be a closet somewhere in the school,” Bryce said,
pulling a thumbtack out of his eyebrow.
grumbled. He was targeting an adjacent classroom, but this was
not an acceptable result.
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.”
scowl, Donovan geared up to try again. He would continue to do
so all weekend.
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.
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
really got enough signatures?”
shall I deal with the students that endorsed him?” Claude asked.
replied, “Just send them The Letter and be done with it.”
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
smiled menacingly. “And the candidate?”
update on Monroe?”
attended the softball game Friday, but I made sure that he kept
his eyes off your sister.”
nod, Molly said, “And after that?”
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.”
narrowed her eyes. “Again, Claude?”
to shake, Claude replied, “It's all because of-”
excuses, Claude. I plan on taking care of it immediately.”
sigh, Claude faced her again. “Yes, Madam.”
all.” With a curt nod, she added, “Go to work.”
nodded back and left the office.
did, Molly's ear wiggled. She pinched it the moment Claude
closed the door behind him.
about damn time,” she blurted.
voice replied, telepathically, “We have reviewed your report on
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.
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.
chance of it returning?” Molly asked.
course, but we do not know its true intentions,” replied the
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.”
but why on Earth would they go after an idiot like Donovan?”
he rejected an offer to sign with them.”
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.”
winced. “You did note my comments regarding that?”
personal feelings on the matter are noted, but this is a unique
situation and we must take precautions.”
aren't ready!” she protested.
is your job to make sure they are,” the voice concluded, “We
will send them the materials as soon as they are prepared.”
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.”
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.
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.”
one: make sure all four of them understood who was in charge.
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.
popped her head through the door and frowned at Molly. “You
wanted to see me?”
didn't look up from her papers. “Have a seat, Renee.”
know we live in the same house, right?” Renee said, taking her
concerns your position as captain of the softball team,” Molly
stated, her eyes finally acknowledging Renee.
raised an eyebrow. “Do you want to be?”
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
“Kathryn?!” Renee exclaimed, “Why?”
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.”
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.
started with what she felt was most important: “Why me?”
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.
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
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
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.”
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.”
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.
entered the garage and looked around suspiciously. “Troy?” he
Just who I was looking for!” Before Claude could investigate
thoroughly, Kurt approached him with a stack of papers.
you seen Troy in here?” Claude asked.
Kathryn had used some unconventional techniques, Kurt had an
even more inventive method- give Claude work befitting a
normal student council.
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.”
Claude replied, looking through the perfectly-legitimate
could get these cleared today so I can get the parts tonight it
would be great.”
but have you seen Troy?”
he quit the club last week. Don't know why. So you'll take care
nodded reluctantly. “Fine, fine,” he said, leaving with yet
another failure to add to his record.
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
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
wheeled himself out. “Thanks for getting rid of him, Kurt. I
just need some time to think.”
nodded, although he did actually need those requisitions
approved. “No problem. Anything you want to talk about?”
sighed. “I wish I could. It's sort of a private, though.”
be intentionally vague?”
Well...” Troy considered his words before beginning. “It's
about... my friend.”
rolled his eyes. “Uh huh...”
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
I said I was talking about my friend!”
didn't think you meant it.” Kurt raised an eyebrow. “Hope you
don't mind me asking, but who's the friend?”
yeah... she's hot,” Kurt replied, scratching his chin.
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-”
Loudly and firmly, Troy ended that discussion.
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.
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.
looking for something, 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
forward, Donovan grabbed the back of Troy's neck and dragged him
into the closet. “This is your doing,” he declared as he shut
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.
“Okay...” he mumbled, shutting the door again and walking away.
After only a year at L. B. Gould High School, nothing fazed him
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
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
“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
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
“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
“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'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
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
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
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.