Magical Security Taskforce




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Chapter 4: Trigger

Session One

After a process too elaborate to describe, Bryce and Blaine got Troy and Donovan out of the void and back into the motor club's storage closet.

“We shall finish this later,” Donovan told Troy as he teleported out of the closet, likely into another one somewhere else.

Troy shrugged it off and went to his locker, not fully comprehending where he had gone. Nobody else was in the hallway; apparently Claude had given up and went home. He opened his locker and found the same white packet from the MST that Kathryn had received. Just as he picked it up, his cell phone rang.


It was his mother. “Oh, thank God. Where the hell have you been? I've been trying to call you all night!”

“Huh?” His watch showed 4:06 in the afternoon. Troy looked around for a wall clock, but there was no such luxury in the freshman hallway.

“Did you spend the night at someone's house?”

“Um...” After searching frantically for some accurate timekeeper, he finally remembered the cell phone he had up to his ear.

It read 6:06 AM. He shrieked and resumed the conversation with his understandably worried mother. “Oh, I, uh... must have fallen asleep.”

“Are you at Kathryn's?”

“Uh- sure.”

“Well, don't turn your phone off. I was worried sick!”

He listened to her scolding with minimal protest until she disconnected. “Dammit, Donovan!” he shouted.

His phone rang again. This time it was Kathryn: “Where the hell have you been? You never turn your phone off!”

“Uh... I was out of range,” Troy replied, “No bars whatsoever.” He assumed this was true; at the very least the void he had been in certainly constituted roaming.

“Well, I need to talk to you. Did you get that packet from Molly?”

“Yeah.” He held up the unopened envelope.

“Some messed up stuff in there, huh?” Kathryn wasn't dismissing it now, although she was far from receptive to the whole thing, “Want to get together at your place tonight and give it a look?”

Troy closed his eyes and exhaled. “Sure,” he replied, making a mental note to get his story straight with Kathryn before his mother interrogated them.

“I'll talk to you later,” he added, “I need to find a coffee place.”

“Rough night?”

“You could say that.”


With his sleep schedule thoroughly obliterated by the sudden outbreak of time travel, Troy did not have a pleasant day at school. He got caught sleeping in three different classes and would have had detention if Claude hadn't forced him out of the building at the end of the day.

That evening, he was still fairly groggy as he leafed through the MST's information packet. Enclosed were also scattered sheets of papers- mostly forms, waivers and coupons for the academy's bookstore, along with a promotional DVD. Troy had tried watching it, but like all promo DVDs it was so inane, self-serving and poorly-produced that he decided to save it for later when he actually wanted to fall asleep.

When Kathryn came in after her practices, they played along with Troy's mother teasing him about falling asleep at her place. Eventually, Ma Monroe left them alone.

“Fourteen hours...” Troy moaned.

“This magic thing's great, isn't it?” Kathryn said caustically. “Caught napping three times, I heard?”

“Yeah. If I hadn't gotten away with it in English, I'd be dead by now.”

Kathryn chuckled and handed him a bottle. “Picked up an energy drink for you. The label says there's enough caffeine in there to kill a horse.”

“Thanks,” Troy replied. He toasted her and started chugging.

While they spent most of their time goofing off (Kathryn particularly liked her brand of snide commentary during the promo DVD), it was at least associated with the materials in their packets, so the night was somewhat productive. Still, Kathryn was hardly taken in by the mountain of information- unsurprising, since at best it resembled a college preview mailer in all of its depth and honesty.

“I hope they can regenerate all the trees they killed to make these things,” Kathryn said, lying on Troy's bed with all the loose papers spread out around her. “It's like there's ten sheets to sign your life away and three more to lie to your parents about it.”

“They put more effort into finding a cover story to explain your absence,” Troy added, “Not sure if I'm going with the three-week humanitarian visit to Suriname or the Future Falconers of America summit.”

“How long is all this for anyway?”

Troy looked it up: six sessions over three years provided the basic education needed to achieve general competency and therefore be of any use to the MST. Students with higher aspirations often studied for an additional two years towards a more specialized position.

“And after that?” Kathryn asked.

Flipping through the book, Troy shrugged. “It doesn't really go into what happens after that. I guess you end up doing whatever you're best suited for.”

“You'd think they'd go over that when they sign us up.”

“I know.”

“You don't find anything at all strange about that?” Kathryn turned to Troy, who stared back at her.

“I just lost fourteen hours to an empty void,” he said, finishing the last of his drink, “Nothing seems strange to me anymore.”


Session Two

Through the night, Troy and Kathryn reviewed the booklet as much as they could tolerate. The whole publication had little about the MST itself beyond a general 'smite evil' mission statement. It was more geared towards preparing future students for the trip and pushing the typical 'learning magic is fun' propaganda that would be expected. The booklet's cover photo was an awe-inspiring shot of a 17th century school standing boldly near a storm-battered ocean shoreline, with several modern facilities dotting the background. Of course, the very small text inside the cover read, “Cover picture: Croatoan Academy in North Carolina, 1998. Student's actual academy determined by geography and income level.”

One useful section that Troy had jumped on was the discussion of mage classes, essentially the different departments in the academy. As the only section that classified what they'd actually learn and what it could lead to, it was easily the most interesting part of the booklet.

According to the book, there were three classes. The first one, dubbed Weavers, represented about 35% of the student body. They focused on more complex and deliberate spellcasting, and were named for their artisan-like approach. While they often took longer to cast spells than magi with more of a 'quantity over quality' approach, their spells had more power and flexibility. Due to the complex mentality necessary, successful Weavers were more likely to climb the ranks in the MST (especially since most of the decision makers were Weavers themselves and had a noticeable bias, although the book naturally omitted that).

“It says that their trigger gesture usually involves very precise finger motions. I guess this is Molly's type. She kind of waggled her finger when she cast that spell to shut you up,” Troy said.

“Never bring that up again,” Kathryn replied bitterly, “Anyway, I don't like anything too complicated. What's next?”

Instead of pointing out the part that said class was usually determined by the mage's trigger, Troy went on to the Crafters. Only a fifth of all students were Crafters, which took a 'hand's on' approach to magic and often branched out into alchemy. Since they had less-apparent gestures to tap their abilities, Crafters were more inclined to fuse magic into items, including consumables (almost all Crafters were trained to brew an assortment of ever-popular potions). Crafters were always in high demand and some entered the field of medicine generating pills and vaccines for both the MST and the general public.

“That sounds kind of neat,” Troy said.

Kathryn stared at the book. “Uh... is it me, or is the guy in this picture crafting the One Ring?”

Troy looked closely; the pictured man did have a rather maniacal smile as he held a glowing ring up with a pair of tongs. “Whatever he made, he sure seems happy about it...”

The final class was both the most common and the most boring: Thrusters. Quite simply, these were the classic fireball/iceball/gyroball/whatever-the-hell-you-can-think-of-ball hurlers. Thrusters were not awarded style points; they were the muscle responsible for casting spells quickly and efficiently, and theoretically on-target. To do that, they drew powers from the surrounding elements, rather than rely solely on their own energy like Weavers. Thrusters were named for their trigger: a clear outward motion at either the sky, the ground, or whatever it was they wanted to die.

“Now this one kinda sounds fun,” Kathryn said, smiling, “Wonder what kind of career paths they have for this.”

“Generally speaking...” Troy read the page carefully and paraphrased to the best of his ability: “...their job is to go out and kill the bad guys.”

“Oh,” Kathryn said, closing the booklet, “I'll pass. I'm not big on grunt work.”

They heard a knock on the door. “Troy?” his mother called, “You've got a friend here to see you.”

Kathryn and Troy looked at each other. Troy shrugged and replied, “Kathryn's already in here.”

“I know. I mean another friend.”

Confused, Troy got up and headed to the door.

“You have other friends?” Kathryn teased.

“Shut up.”

Troy opened the door. It was Donovan.

“At last, I shall have my revenge. Prepare for battle.”

Kathryn neither got up nor looked up. She just answered, “Hey, Donovan, what's up?”

Troy's mother smiled. “Try not to be too late. I'm not making breakfast for all three of you.”

Donovan turned to her and nodded humbly. “Thank you, Ellen.”

“Have fun!” she replied, walking away as Donovan barged into the room.

Troy backpedaled. “How did you know where I live? Or my Mom's name for that matter?”

Smirking, Donovan replied, “My minions are terribly efficient with the phone book.”

“We're not the only Monroe family in town.”

“As the saying goes... third time is the charm! Your Uncle Daniel sends his condolences.”

“Condolences for what?”

“Your imminent destruction!” Donovan exclaimed, pointing a finger at Troy.

Ignoring the whole destruction bit, Kathryn said, “Hey, Donovan, what do you make of all this magic stuff?”

She received no response. Donovan had pinned Troy against the far wall and teleported him away once more. By the time she bothered to look up, they were both gone.

“Huh... Troy's never gonna sleep again, is he?” she mumbled, returning to the loose papers from the packet. Amongst all the paperwork necessary to legally subject students to their training, the MST had buried a small canary slip with the barely distinguishable header, “If you object to your initiation into the Magical Security Taskforce...” What followed was not so much a form as it was a set of detailed instructions. Step one involved consulting her Guardian.


Session Three

At least this time Donovan managed to keep them on Earth. He and Troy ended up at a field next to the school. Nobody else was in sight, and the only available light was from the security lamps along the school's exterior wall and whatever bled over from the nearby parking lot. They could see, but not tremendously well. In short, it was a surprisingly good improvised battleground for the two.

Troy wasn't impressed, however. Rain from the last couple days had moistened the ground, soaking his socks. Furthermore, it was a typically chilly April night and Troy's long-sleeve t-shirt was ill-equipped for the elements. He immediately shivered at the sudden drop in temperature.

“Jeez, you could have at least let me grab some shoes and a jacket!” Troy said. He walked away from Donovan, not willing to be involved with any more teleportation attempts.

Donovan heard none of that. “We may be restricted to the mortal plane, but at last we shall have our magic duel!”

Troy sighed and turned around. “Problem- I can't use magic yet. I don't know what my trigger is.”

“Then it shall be short and one-sided.”

Donovan held his palms out to cast a spell, concentrated for a moment, then dropped his arms to his sides as he realized that he didn't know any attack spells.

“Blaine!” he summoned.

“Sir!” Blaine replied.

“Teach me an attack spell.”

Troy folded his arms impatiently, rubbing them to keep warm.

Blaine looked down nervously and said, “Uh, I really can't teach you attacks. I use elemental attack spells... you usually need academy training to learn how to do it right.”

With a sneer, Donovan replied, “In that case... you shall attack Troy for me!”

“That I can do,” Blaine said, stepping in front of Donovan. He looked at Troy, who stared back with wide eyes. Donovan couldn't do much actual harm; his minions were a different story. “Nothing personal, Troy,” Blaine added apologetically.

He set his palms face-down in front of him and swiftly flipped them around and pushed forward. Drawing in the surrounding winds, he balled them up and fired them all at Troy. The resulting wind gust knocked Troy off his feet, sending him flying backwards six feet before landing on his ass and sliding another yard or so along the slick grass.

Truthfully, it didn't do much damage, but Donovan sure got a kick out of it. Hands on his hips, he started laughing uproariously at Troy's misery, even if it was just a sore bottom and some stained clothes.

“Now, Troy, you shall learn to respect my powers,” Donovan gloated.

Troy sat up and tried to brush some of the grass off his shirt. Rather annoyed, he replied, “Fine, fine, your minions don't suck. Can I get home before Kathryn starts rooting through my stuff?”

“That was just the opening act. Now, Blaine, finish him!”

Blaine looked back and said, meekly, “I'm not really equipped to-”

“Do it!”

He never got the chance. Just as Blaine turned around, a loud blast struck him in the side, knocking him clear off his feet and directly into the wall of the school.

As Blaine fell to the ground, Donovan and Troy looked on in shock, then turned to the origin of the spell: Kendrick slowly walked up to Donovan.

“Hello, Donovan,” he said with a smile.

“You!” Donovan spat angrily.

Kendrick's smile grew. “Yes...”

“Who are you?” Apparently, Donovan didn't recognize the intruder in the dark room from the prior week.

After momentarily losing his composure, Kendrick recovered his overbearing smile and bowed. “Perhaps I did not introduce myself properly last time. I am Kendrick, loyal member of the Hokoni demon faction.”

“W... were you the one who sent that thing after us?” Troy asked, still on the ground.

Kendrick frowned at Troy. “Yes, I sent that hound. I'm glad you recall my handiwork.” He narrowed his eyes. “I'll deal with you next... Monroe.”

Returning back to Donovan. “Now, you had just said something about wanting to learn an attack spell?”

Donovan simply glared back.

“What your poor minion said indicates a lack of willingness rather than a lack of ability. In truth, I can teach whatever you'd like. Now that the MST has let you in on their little secret, you can see how unsuitable they are for you.” Kendrick smiled again. “You are hungry for bigger prey, and my faction can help you attain that.”

He glanced briefly at Troy, scaring the boy enough to keep him from moving. Back to Donovan, Kendrick added, “We can start right now. Would you like me to show you how to dispose of Monroe over there?”

Donovan stepped forward and looked Kendrick in the eyes. “Nobody attacks my minions but me,” he glowered.

“What?” Kendrick stepped back once.


Blaine didn't respond; he was still knocked out against the side of the school. “Taking a nap,” Kendrick observed.


Kendrick placed a hand on his chest, then brought his arm down to his side, holding his hand face down. As Bryce arrived, Kendrick generated a ball of energy.

“Sir!” Bryce said, moments before the energy ball knocked him over and out.

Donovan looked at the second unconscious minion before turning back to Kendrick. “Stop that,” he muttered.

Smirking, Kendrick repeated the process. This time, he held his hand down longer. Bolts of dark energy swirled through his hands into the ball as it grew larger every second.

“Now... let me show you what my faction has to offer, or this next one is yours.”


Session Four

For most of the exchange, Troy had been ignored. Given what had happened to Blaine and Bryce, that probably wasn't such a bad thing. He was still sitting on the ground yards away from the action, watching as Kendrick threatened Donovan. The energy concentrated under Kendrick's hand was growing even larger.

Troy looked at Blaine and Bryce. Neither were moving and Bryce's body was smoking a little, but Troy had neither the focus nor the sympathy to care. His biggest concern was Kendrick reserving an even more powerful attack for Donovan; Troy had to assume it was a lethal dosage.

Donovan did not seem to care. His eyes narrowed, but his glare remained affixed on Kendrick. The only sign of fear was the heavy breathing through his nose. If nothing else, Donovan was stubborn about everything from the most trivial of subjects to the most dire. Troy could only wonder if Donovan's refusal to submit would cost him his life.

More importantly, what about Troy's own life? If Donovan caved, Troy was apparently the next victim, perhaps at the hands of Donovan himself. If he didn't, and Kendrick did attack Donovan, would Troy be given the same ultimatum? Would he meet the same fate as Donovan automatically? Or would he just be knocked out of the picture like Blaine and Bryce? Either way, Troy ruled out the 'Kendrick lets him go unharmed, just because he's a nice guy' scenario.

“Well?” Kendrick muttered through his teeth. Donovan was holding firm, either considering the possibilities, waiting for Kendrick to make the next move or just glaring silently because it was the easiest thing to do. His hands remained at his sides; Kendrick would likely notice any attempt to cast a spell.

Whatever the case, only one thing was clear to Troy: he wasn't safe as long as Kendrick and that big, black ball o' death were near. His only option was to separate the two. Or even better- strike the energy ball into Kendrick instead. With any luck, the time needed for Kendrick to recover and/or recharge would give Troy enough time to run away screaming. To accomplish that, Troy's idea was primitive yet efficient- throw something at him.

He felt around the surrounding ground but nothing turned up. Frustrated, he swore to himself and balled his right hand into a fist. At some point while clenching his fist, his index finger flew out like a spring. The movement was almost impulsive, as if the finger decided on its own that it didn't want to cower in fear like its brothers and chose to face Kendrick alone.

At first the movement seemed completely natural to Troy, but he soon felt his entire arm swell up. It wasn't anything physical- no rush of blood or sudden pain afflicting his limb. At that moment, Troy sensed it- this was magic, and it was flowing through his arm to the tip of his index finger.

Cautiously, he pulled his arm straight backwards, his finger still pointed at Kendrick. Troy closed his eyes for a moment, picturing a blast as powerful as Kendrick's emerging from his finger and destroying both the energy ball and the demon that wielded it. He opened his eyes again. Wordlessly, he shot his arm forward, projecting his energy at the dark mass.

What emerged was a puny stream of water, no stronger than that of a cheap squirt gun. But it was a spell nonetheless, and it headed straight towards Kendrick.

Not at the energy ball, unfortunately. Troy, who was still on the ground, had overcompensated for the height difference. As a result, the water blast (using the term 'blast' very loosely) struck Kendrick in the shoulder instead. Regardless, it did its job as it forced Kendrick to drop his energy ball, which fell to the ground and harmlessly dissolved into the grass: it carried no destructive power.

Kendrick cried out in shock more than pain. He shook his arm and glanced at his shoulder. Besides a little blue mark at the point of impact and a wet sleeve, Kendrick was completely unharmed. And now his attention was focused solely on Troy.

“Well... somebody wants to be the hero!” Kendrick exclaimed angrily, stepping slowly towards Troy. He brought his hand towards his chest and again placed it at his side, summoning another attack. Troy's eyes widened but he was frozen in place; he knew this one wasn't going to be a fake.

Without looking away, Kendrick said, “Apologies, Donovan, but I must deal with Monroe myself.”

Donovan folded his arms and watched with interest. He had no intention of either interfering, leaving or helping his minions.

Troy, still on his rear, used it to slide backwards along the grass. In all the excitement of using magic for the first time, he had forgotten to run away screaming. Now all the thrill of casting his first spell had quickly ceded to a mortal fear that he had just cast his last.

Although Kendrick had spent only a few seconds charging his attack, it was longer than he had taken for the spell that knocked out Bryce, and that one certainly had been effectively painful. Without actually coming into contact with the energy mass, Kendrick wound his arm back and fired directly at Troy. Troy cowered, closed his eyes, and prepared for the worst.

The massive explosion that followed made Troy hyperventilate. It took him a few seconds to realize that it did not, however, make him dead. After trying with moderate success to get his breathing under control, Troy opened his eyes. He did not see Kendrick in front of him.

Instead, he saw a crude wall of rocks jutting up from the ground. The rocks started to crumble, toppling over and revealing an astonished Kendrick behind them. Kendrick looked at Donovan, but he had not moved.

“Hey!” someone shouted from the side. Kendrick jolted his head at the new voice.

Troy saw Kurt walking towards them. He held his right arm straight up in the air, with his palm facing the sky. His other palm casually draped the pocket of his blue jeans. Kurt smiled at Kendrick.

“What's the matter?” he said smugly, “Afraid to go after anyone who knows what they're doing?”


Session Five

He was the very essence of the confident upperclassman. Never mind that Kendrick had just taken out two competent minions with single blows and had launched an even stronger attack at Troy. Kurt coolly smiled back at Kendrick, as if saving Troy's life had expended no effort. Not only that, but Kurt looked at Kendrick with amusement, with no regard whatsoever to the demon's power.

Naturally, Kendrick seethed at the sight. “Who the devil are you?”

Kurt lowered his hand. “I was just out for a walk. Saw you picking on these kids and figured I'd help them out.”

He stepped in front of Troy and raised an eyebrow. “You seem like a decent enough demon. What are you doing attacking random students?”

Kendrick's eyes widened and darted between Kurt, Troy, and any other lurkers hiding in the shadows behind the school. “I... well you see... Monroe attacked me first.”

“Oh yeah... I saw it,” Kurt said, trying not to laugh, “I've seen squirt guns do worse. Or are you allergic to water and Troy's fighting dirty?”

“Effective or not, he interrupted my talk with Donovan here and provoked me.”

Kurt glanced briefly at Donovan, who was still motionless and watching them with casual interest. “I saw your talk with Donovan. Threatening to kill him unless he joined you?”

“I was bluffing,” Kendrick said, turning his head, “I have no reason to kill him.”

“Okay- an empty threat then.”

“I say that because I do not kill students unless it's warranted!”

Kurt shook his head. The smile did not waver. “Yeah, I bet you were just looking for an excuse to go after these two. Then what? You go back to your buddies at the pub and brag about how you killed two harmless students? Big man!”

If Troy's first experience with magic hadn't involved Bryce, he would have sworn here that magical ability was directly correlated to one's coolness. Kendrick had shown nothing but savvy around Donovan, yet Kurt's chiding had destroyed Kendrick's composure to the point where Kendrick couldn't say anything to rebuke Kurt's remarks.

“Look, just go. It's best for everybody if you just walked away and we forget that this happened. You seem harmless enough, so I'd hate to get the MST involved.” Kurt raised his eyebrows. Suddenly very patronizing, he added, “You say it's just a misunderstanding, right?”

Kendrick took a deep breath and nodded. “Yes, of course. We mustn't let this get too out of hand.” He turned to Donovan and said, “Donovan, perhaps once you see how little the academy teaches you, you'll reconsider my offer. Until then, I bid you farewell.”

“You don't need a monologue. Just get out of here.”

Briefly bowing his head at Kurt, Kendrick forced a smile. “Of course.” He shot a nasty look at Troy, but before Troy could register it, the demon had teleported away.

Immediately, Troy got to his feet and ran up to Kurt. “Oh my God, Kurt, that was... incredible!”

Kurt turned to Troy, slumped his shoulders, and heaved a huge sigh of relief. “Really? I was scared to death. The hell did you two get yourselves into?”

“Ask Donovan. But that was something to talk him out of a fight.”

“Not a lot of options. He could have killed all of us easily, and he knew it.”

Troy stepped back in surprise. “So... all that talk about him being weak was-?”

“He's a Hokoni. They're pretty self-conscious. He knows better than to screw up and make his faction look bad. He also knows that nothing pisses off the MST like needlessly attacking their students.”

“Why didn't you tell me you were in on this MST stuff?”

Too tired to shoot Troy an incredulous look, Kurt gave a straight answer: “Well, when you're in a secret organization dealing with supernatural powers, you tend to keep your mouth shut.”

Troy glanced at Donovan, who was nice enough to check Bryce's pulse. Committing himself to ignoring them, Troy turned back to Kurt. “So are you a guardian too?”

“Uh... you might say I'm working on that. I'm a guardian in training, and I've been given the job of helping Molly keep an eye on you guys.”

Troy nodded blankly, still trying to fathom all of this. “Oh... like an assignment?”

Kurt scratched the back of his head. “Uh, not exactly. More like work-study. It was my dad's idea.”

“Your dad?”

“Yeah, he asked me to make sure nothing happened to you before you could get to the academy.”

“Um...” Troy hesitated. He had known Kurt for months, so it was a little unsettling to hear that one of his few friends was staying close due to a secret mission. But Kurt had stepped up and saved Troy's life nonetheless, so it would have been awfully rude to complain. “Thanks, I guess. So you've been watching us since we started high school? Does the MST do that for everybody they're interested in?”

Grimacing, Kurt looked at Donovan. “Uh... no.” Choosing his words carefully, he explained, “This is a... unique situation. For one thing, they were afraid one of the demon factions might make a play for Donovan.”

Upon hearing his name, Donovan shot an angry glare at Kurt. Kurt waved back.

“Makes sense,” Troy said with a nod.

“You also just demonstrated the other thing. Did you know that only about four percent of MST students learn their trigger before attending the academy?”

Troy's eyes widened at the statistic. He looked down to his right hand, slowly extending his index finger.

“Your unit now has three. That proves what a lot of the brass are saying- you guys are a special group.”

Sighing, Troy replied, “Does what I did really count? I mean, you were right; it was a pretty sad excuse for an attack.”

Kurt smiled brightly and shook his head. “Troy, you're not going to qualify for Daytona the second you get your learner's permit. I was just getting into that guy's head. Honestly, you not only figured out your trigger, but also successfully cast and landed an attack- an elemental attack at that! Trust me, kid, you're going to be one hell of a Thruster.”

Troy's face lit up. In spite of Kathryn's doubts, Donovan's interruptions and Kendrick's attacks, Troy had tried to convince himself that the MST wasn't something to pass up. Kurt's words of encouragement sold it. Not just for casting that fluke of a spell- Kurt was proof that Troy was not chosen randomly, that he and his classmates had been carefully picked at least a year ago. It no longer felt like a decision; Troy now felt obligated to at least try to live up to whatever expectations were upon him.

He quickly fell down from his cloud, however, when he remembered that Thrusters were expected to 'go out and kill the bad guys.' Troy wasn't as thrilled about that particular line in the job description. Especially since he had the strong feeling that Kendrick was not giving up on them that easily.

As Troy and Kurt continued to talk and Donovan quietly teleported away after verifying Bryce and Blaine's vitality, Molly watched them from a distance. Like Kurt, she had gotten the call: “demon targeting students, save them, kthxbye.” She had also seen Kendrick threaten Donovan, and subsequently Troy. Unlike Kurt, however, she did not rise to the occasion and save the day.

Molly had frozen at the sight of Troy Monroe casting a spell. And if not for Kurt, it would have cost Troy his life. She was still facing that fact. The title of Guardian was a tad archaic- the role was more of a unit leader and overseer of each student's personal training. At the same time, letting them die was highly discouraged. It was a double blow to her ego. Not only had she failed to do her job, but her belief that Troy was a useless prospect chosen under questionable circumstances was all but shattered. She could no longer deny his potential, as much as she tried to force herself to.

With a quick motion of her finger, she teleported away, leaving Kurt to mop up the situation himself. All she knew was that letting Troy catch her in a moment of weakness would only make it all worse.


Session Six

Molly had always carried a neutral attitude about Kurt. While she loathed the idea of giving Troy an older sympathizer to listen to his griping, Kurt wisely avoided sides in the whole Renee affair and did an admirable job of helping Troy keep everything in perspective. Only now, she discovered that he was equally willing to help her out of a jam.

“So you didn't intervene because you knew I was on it. Gotcha.” They both had the responsibility of filing reports with the MST over the recent debacle with Kendrick. If Molly had told the truth about freezing in the moment, she would certainly be in trouble. Thankfully, with Kurt backing up her story, lying to the Magical Security Taskforce was painless and fun.

Of course, it didn't actually change the events of that night. Besides the whole thing about the demon targeting her students, there was also the reason for Molly's lapse: Troy had discovered his trigger. Normally, a Guardian would be thrilled when one of her brood proved to be ahead of the curve. If it were Renee or Kathryn, Molly would certainly encourage them to get some practice in before July. Hell, she even acknowledged Donovan's feat as a promising sign. Troy, however, was a different matter and it left her wondering what, if anything, she should be doing to maintain control of the situation.

Enter Kathryn. A few weeks later, on some random May morning during the waning days of the school year, she requested an audience with Molly. Kathryn entered carrying the MST's preview packet. Taking a seat, she started rifling through the envelope.

“Look, I've been giving this a lot of thought, and I'm not sure if this is really up my alley,” Kathryn said solemnly. She glanced up at an expressionless Molly. Kathryn continued, “I mean, if someone's going to show up trying to kill us, count me out. Besides, I don't know where you got the idea that I'm cut out for this.”

Molly raised her eyebrows. Avoiding any meaningful inflection, she replied, “Where did you get the idea that you weren't?”

Kathryn chuckled and went back to her papers. “I don't know the difference between a magic wand and a magic marker. I read through this whole thing and didn't see anything that sounded suitable for me.” She pulled out the small objection slip and handed it to Molly. “So this slip says I need to talk to you.”

Instead of taking the slip, Molly rooted through her desk drawer. “Naturally, we can't force you to do anything. You may opt out of the MST, but you will need to consent to a memory recalibration,” she said, surprisingly indifferent.

“A memory what?”

“Recalibration,” Molly replied, pulling a form out of her drawer, “We would need to wipe out any magic-related memories of the last few weeks. It's a bit of an ordeal, but you won't remember the procedure either.”

Molly set a consent form, almost entirely comprised of a very long waiver in very small print, on the desk in front of Kathryn. “Just sign there and I'll take care of the rest.”

Not sure whether to be relieved or frightened, Kathryn said, “You're just letting me go? You're not going to try to talk me out of this?”

Looking out the window, Molly replied, “Well, I'm supposed to talk you into staying, but I can see you have your doubts about this.” She sighed and turned back to Kathryn, “I respect that enough to not even try.”

Kathryn eyed the consent form, occasionally shuddering at the text. She hadn't realized there were so many different types of amnesia, but all were listed among the many potential side effects. “So much for me being carefully selected...”

“Oh, you were certainly selected for a reason. I think you have tremendous potential.” Molly glanced aside and cracked a very slight smile. “I certainly can't say that about Troy.”

Kathryn looked up from the waiver and stared at Molly. After deliberating for a moment, she shook her head and said, “You know, you aren't giving Troy enough credit. That packet said kids don't usually figure out how to cast spells before they hit the academy. Doesn't it count for anything that Troy did?”

“No,” Molly answered, dismissive, “Donovan did it too.”

“Well, maybe both of them are better than you think. Kurt seems impressed.”

“Troy does not have a future in the MST.” Molly leaned forward, narrowing her eyes at Kathryn. “I'll make sure of it.”

Kathryn leaned back in her chair, speechless as Molly continued, “I'm responsible for the personal training of each of my recruits. He'll be on a short leash. A short... choking... leash.”

“You... you can't do that,” Kathryn stammered. Molly's words were devastating. In spite of her own disinterest, Kathryn knew Troy was counting on magic. Even with Molly supervising him, Troy still hoped that the MST, in all its magnitude, could be the one thing to carry him into relevance. For Molly to continue suppressing him even there was too much.

Staring into Molly's cold, unwavering eyes, however, suppressed Kathryn all the same. Even after turning away, all she could manage was a sad plea: “You... you don't get how much this means to him. Because of you, this is all he has left. You took away his hobbies, his privacy, his social life... we thought that maybe you were keeping him away from all that so he could focus on magic. But you want to take that from him too?” She looked at those eyes again. “It would destroy him. I can't let you do that.”

Molly did not flinch. “Once you sign that form, you won't realize what's going on. So what difference does it make?”

“I... can't let you do that to him,” Kathryn repeated, clenching her teeth.

“And how are you going to stop me?”

Sneering, Kathryn leaned forward and stared down Molly. “Listen Pearson, you know what he's capable of, don't you? He got picked for this just like I did, and there's gotta be a reason for it you're not telling us. So if you plan to keep him from succeeding, I'm just going to have to plan to keep him moving forward.

“Really?” Molly replied, instantly dismissive. “So you've changed your mind?”

Kathryn shook her head, still sneering at Molly. “I didn't think there was any reason to join in on this. But there is no way in hell I'm going to miss watching Troy prove you wrong. He will- I'll make sure of it.”

Molly's eyes did not move. She inhaled and exhaled deeply and said, “Well then... we'll see you in July.”

Then she leaned back and returned her attention to the work on her desk. Kathryn marched out of the office, crumpling the waiver form and throwing it to the floor. Molly glanced up once as she walked out. Shaking her head, Molly let a smile escape; this was why she found Kathryn so promising.





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