Magical Security Taskforce

 FULL ARCHIVE

VOLUME: 2

CHAPTER: 4

1 2 3 4 5 6

Chapter 13: Take It Outside


Session One

The Zukoni had developed a simple, yet effective, plan- follow Kathryn until she was in location to be confronted, agitate her until she struck the first blow, then pound her and her friends into submission. They hadn't planned on Kamila having the shorter fuse.

“Uh, guys... they're coming,” Yellow said, watching Kamila advance, with the rest of the group in tow. “And they brought friends.”

Red and Green didn't bother to put down their cigarettes. They had selected a vantage point far from any lurking eyes, but again they weren't ready for Kamila. As she neared, the two demons smirked at her.

“Well, if it isn't one of the other ball chicks,” Red said. “Couldn't stay away from us, huh?”

Before Kamila could lunge after him, Kathryn and Kurt caught up and clutched her shoulders. “Who the hell are you three?” Kamila spat.

“I'm John,” said Yellow.

Red's smirk grew. “Jim.”

“Jack,” added Green, nodding his head.

Yes, these are their real names. But let's just stick with the color thing anyway. Not only is it more fun, there's no way we'd be able to differentiate such generic monikers.

“That doesn't answer the question,” Kurt replied. “What are you doing here?”

“Having a good time,” Red answered.

“You call harassing Kathryn a good time?”

“Is there anything better to do in this town?”

Kurt and Kathryn looked at each other. He had a point.

In the meantime, Troy, Marie and Renee arrived, staying well behind the first three. Marie squeezed Troy's arm. From her slow, heaving breaths, Troy could tell she had blown past the confounding nature of the troublemakers and was now fully afraid of them. Troy patted her on the shoulder with his unhindered arm.

“Huh... so you even have your own posse?” Red observed.

“That's right, so don't mess with us!” Kamila blurted loudly.

Loud enough for Kathryn to step in front of her. “Okay, quit it,” Kathryn said to both Kamila and the trio. Trying to keep her own temper in check, she took another step towards Red. “If you asses are just causing trouble for the hell of it, why are you picking on me?”

Green stepped forward, getting right into Kathryn's face. “Because we don't think you're as hot as everybody says you are.”

Kathryn fumed. Hesitantly, Kurt put a hand on Kathryn's shoulder. She shrugged it off. In a low voice, she replied, “Go on.”

“Well, we heard you're the big heroine. Saved the orphans from the bad guy and all that. Larger than life.” Green eyed her large build, particularly the chest area. “Didn't realize that was literal.”

Again shaking off Kurt's attempt to restrain her, Kathryn shot back, “Is that all? Look, that whole mess got exaggerated. It wasn't as dramatic as that. Is that what you want to hear? Will you leave us alone now?”

“So what really happened?” Green said, raising an eyebrow.

Rather than attempt to hold her back once more, a service that for now seemed necessary, Kurt stepped aside. The whole scenario was too fishy for him not to be concerned and Green's last statement triggered a warning light. Kurt pinched his right ear.

Kathryn sneered until she could come up with an appropriate response without sounding forced or evasive. “Just forget about that. It's old news.”

“Guess so. Your leg healed up awfully fast. Makes me wonder if it was ever really hurt in the first place.”

“What are you getting at?” Kamila shouted. She attempted to charge forward; with Kathryn and Kurt out of position, Marie jumped up and restrained her.

“Stop it!” Marie shouted. “They're just trying to pick a fight.”

“Darn right,” Green replied.

“The hell are you doing?” Red's sudden cry caught everyone's attention, mostly because Green had been leading the conversation. The question was for Kurt, still clutching that earlobe.

“Uh... got an itch,” Kurt replied. Troy, knowing better, joined him. In a lower voice, Kurt muttered, “And a busy signal.”

Just as he had said that, a friendly MST operator answered. Kurt set a hand on Troy's back to keep him close. This way, the uninitiated folk nearby could think Kurt was talking to Troy instead.

Before too much attention could be drawn to them, Kathryn said, “Well, forget it because you three aren't worth my time. We've got plans tonight.”

“We'll follow you,” Green said, sending slime and perversion and cigarette smoke through his mouth and directly into Kathryn's face. “We want to see how good you really are and if you're willing to stand up to guys like us. After all, honey, we're the big jerks that disrupted your stupid little game.” He paused as Kamila attempted another charge; it took all of Marie's strength to rein it in. “C'mon... be the hero again. This time, you've even got a posse to back you up.”

At first she didn't budge. Kathryn clenched her fist; she was certainly pissed off. And she would not have minded something or someone to receive her frustrations. But not Green. He was an agitator, but not one she could consider attacking. He was begging for it, and she did not give in to beggars. If he and his equally sick friends considered this fun, she wouldn't let them have it. In fact, it dawned on her that she was angry for a completely different reason.

“Go to hell.” She was finished with them. Kathryn turned around, walking past Kamila and ignoring Kurt and Troy.

“Kathryn...” She did not, however, get past Renee. Renee had been watching from afar, not daring to approach anybody.

Kathryn, therefore, had no business with her. “This is all your damn sister's fault,” she huffed.

Tempted as she was to keep walking and ignore whatever happened next, she froze when she heard Kamila yell, “Come on! Let's go! It's six on three, we can take them.”

The trio were now approaching Kamila, who would have easily laid one of them out save for Marie clutching her arms around her.

“How about you? You look like you want to piece of us,” Yellow said.

While Marie desperately clung to Kamila, she pleaded, “Troy! Help!” He did, a bit hesitant as he was almost as afraid of Kamila as he was of the harassers. Renee cautiously lent a hand as well and they managed to keep Kamila from throwing a punch.

Thankfully, they didn't have to wait long. Claude, irritated as ever, arrived on the scene. Unfortunately, he had no special ops team with him. Only Yuki, and she hid behind Kathryn the first moment she could. Given the situation, Claude certainly attempted to get permission to use the ops. But even Molly could only tolerate Claude for so long; she stopped answering his calls after nine o'clock. He was on his own.

 

Session Two

Any trace of intimidation Claude brought to the table came directly from his connection to Molly. He was sufficiently tall, so height wasn't his problem dimension. It was width and depth: with a wiry frame and no bulk to speak of, Claude had the whole beanpole thing going on. His voice was high, squeaked at tense moments and was all-in-all irritating any other time. So as he stood down the three hecklers once more, he could only hope that his prior use of Molly-approved force would be enough reason to fear him.

“What business do you have here?” he squeaked, ending any hope of scaring the Zukoni into compliance. Kathryn shook her head in disappointment.

“Now you stay out of this. You had your chance to show off,” Red said.

But Claude insisted on documenting their offenses and demanding again that they leave.

“Or what? You'll call the police?” Green said, folding his arms. It rattled Claude more than it should have. To right-minded thinkers like Troy or Marie, yes, calling the cops would have been a very good idea at this stage. Claude, of course, recognized that the student council was far more menacing than the L.B.G.P.D. If he couldn't handle this and Molly didn't feel like handling this, this was unlikely to be handled.

Green scoffed. “John,” he said, apparently to Yellow. “Get him out of here.”

Rather than see what that entailed, Troy, Renee and Marie did the right smart thing and dragged Kamila away from Claude. Claude folded his arms as Yellow approached, a defiant declaration that he had no intention of backing down.

With a devious smile, Yellow moistened the tip of his finger with his tongue. He calmly extended it towards Claude, who raised his chin, ready for whatever Yellow could do. Even as the finger drew closer, Claude merely readied his arms for whatever counter-measure he would need.

He wouldn't get the chance. The finger touched Claude's chin and lifted Molly's assistant into the air. Yellow spun around and effortlessly flung Claude over his shoulder and into a row of hedges at least twenty yards away.

Troy and Renee gasped. Kurt gritted his teeth as his worst fear was confirmed: that was undeniably magic. Worse yet, thanks to Troy and Marie's reaction, Kamila was suddenly unrestrained.

“You bastard!” she yelled, running after him.

Yes, this was trouble and Kurt knew it immediately. Nobody was in position to stop Kamila from attacking, and the demons seemed more than willing to send her after Claude. Fortunately, she also drew everybody's attention. With no one watching him, Kurt raised his arm and cast a spell on the earth in front of Kamila. It rumbled enough to send her sprawling forward onto the ground. She banged her forehead on the way, disorienting her and giving Kurt a chance to swoop in and drag her back to safety.

“Marie! Help me out!” he shouted, not waiting for Kamila to get back on her feet. Marie flew forward and helped Kurt get Kamila far from the action- past Troy and nearing Kathryn and Renee and Yuki.

“Keep them here until Molly shows up,” he instructed Kathryn. “Don't engage them!”

“What?!” Kathryn replied.

“I'm taking these two home!”

“Why us?” Kamila shouted, apparently having regained whatever bearings she had. “We can take them!”

Kurt nervously looked at Kamila and Marie. Even Marie, who certainly didn't object to leaving, seemed to want an explanation. “Yeah, do you think Troy will be all right?” she said.

“Uh... sure!” he said with exaggerated confidence. “They're sophomores. They take care of this stuff all the time.”

“What about Yuki?” Marie said. To this, all Kurt could muster was a blank stare. He looked back at the other participants. All seven, even the demons, seemed to be waiting for his answer.

“Yeah, she's like what? Ten?” Kamila reiterated. “How come she gets to fight?”

“They're not going to...” Kurt started, but he gave up. If anything, he wasn't sure he wanted Yuki around those demons either. He left Kamila to Marie and took Yuki by the hand.

“Come on, I'll take you home too.”

“Okay, but first...” Yuki paused to retrieve a single vial from her satchel. She gave it to Kathryn. “Just in case!”

As Kurt led the three freshmen away, Kathryn eyed the gift. She knew what it was, but remained disgusted at the possibility that she would be forced to use it.

Kamila continued to plead as Kurt reached his car. He and Marie were still leading her by the wrists. “I'm telling you, it's a bad idea! I can help them if it gets ugly!”

“I'm more concerned about you making it ugly,” Kurt replied, forcing her into the back seat. Marie entered from the other side to pull Kamila in.

She still resisted. “Let me out! You can't do this to me! It's not right!”

Kurt ignored her, pushing her inside with Marie's help. He only hesitated a fellow male voice said, “Uh... Kurt?”

He turned around, suddenly jumpy. Two of his friends were standing right next to his car. They seemed a bit concerned about the way he was forcing a girl into the back seat. Nervously glancing between them and Kamila, Kurt replied, “Oh, uh... hey Ron! What's up?”

“What are you doing to her?” Ron asked, trying not to draw conclusions.

“Um...” Kurt had no answer.

“Isn't she... a freshman?”

To make matters worse, Kamila continued to struggle. Restraining her with a seat belt, Marie pleaded, “Sit down, Kamila! You don't know what they'll do to you.” Ron and his companion raised an eyebrow.

“Uh... I was always under the impression that if I had three of them, it was okay,” Kurt answered, trying to form a serviceable sly smile.

After some thought, Ron nodded. “Cool, man.”

“Rock on,” added the other boy.

So Kurt did, jumping into the driver's seat and pulling away from the school. Watching him leave, the two guys saw little Yuki waving back at them. They looked at each other and silently swore that they did not actually see that.

 

Session Three

“So... anyone else feel like avenging his death?” Green asked the three that remained. He did not know if Claude was actually dead or not, but that was beside the point. In fact, we aren't sure either and it might be a few chapters before it comes up again.

Kathryn clutched the vial Yuki had given her and pondered the instructions Kurt had given her. She had already done well to avoid being drawn into a fight. Now that magic was involved, it was absolutely essential.

Troy and Renee kept their distance and readied themselves for any move the demons might make. Both positioned their right hands appropriately in case they needed to bust out a spell of their own. They did not, however, take any initiative against the Zukoni. Taking a deep breath, Kathryn walked up to them, faced the three demons and answered, “Not really.”

Green scoffed. “Not really? We just attacked your classmate and you're not going to do anything about it?”

“Nope.”

“Even if we used magic?”

Kathryn raised her eyebrows. “Especially if you used magic. We're not messing with that.

“But you're on the force. Aren't you supposed to stop guys like us from harming innocent people?”

Troy and Renee took a step back. Suddenly they realized that these weren't three demons causing mayhem: they were specifically targeting the MST members.

Either Kathryn already knew this or she didn't care. Given Kurt's instructions, she definitely didn't feel obligated to do anything regarding the attack on Claude.

“Maybe... but Claude?” she said. “Do whatever you want with him. We don't care.”

The demons looked at her curiously. Renee was absolutely shocked. “Kathryn!”

“What?! He's a dick!” Kathryn replied. “Taking him out does us a favor. Right, Troy?”

Troy flashed Kathryn a 'don't get me involved in this!' look, to which Kathryn stared back until he had no other choice. He turned to the demons and shrugged. “Y-yeah,” he said, trying to sound sincerely unsympathetic. “Heck, that's a good way to win us over!”

“We know what you're doing,” Renee said. “You're trying to make it look like we started this so the MST doesn't accuse you of attacking their students.”

Red folded his arms and grunted. “We don't care about them,” he lied. “We just want to see if you guys are really that tough.”

“That's good. 'Cause we may not care about Claude, but the MST probably won't like you using magic to attack random kids,” Troy said.

“You'd be surprised,” Yellow replied. “Trust me, they won't send in the cavalry over that guy.”

Kathryn smirked. “Yeah, but Molly may feel differently.”

Red and Yellow took a step back upon hearing Molly's name. Green did even more: he ducked behind his cohorts, clasping his hands together and holding them in front of his nose and mouth.

Renee narrowed an eye, curious at their reaction. The demons were all too eager to start a fight with her, Kathryn and Troy- especially with everyone else out of the picture. But mentioning Molly jolted them. She wasn't sure if Yellow's spell had been enough to sound the alarms, especially since they weren't in displacement, so Renee pulled out her cell phone and called her sister. Molly might not answer for Claude, but she'd definitely answer for Renee.

“Oh, no!” Yellow said, admonishing rather than panicking. He kissed the tip of his finger and, in the same gesture that sent Claude flying, knocked Renee's phone away from her ear. Ignoring her cry, he commanded a wind gust to hoist it higher. Grinning madly, he shouted, “Yours, Jimmy!”

Matching Yellow's grin, Red brought two fingers to his lips, as if to remove his cigarette. Instead, he looked skyward, aimed, and blew. A spark launched from the cigarette and shot up in the air. Red had it aimed perfectly; it connected with the phone and the device burst into flames. The charred remains crashed at Renee's feet.

Renee stood frozen as she stared at the black mess, so consumed with the sight that she momentarily forgot to breathe. Her lungs snapped out of it before she did, and air escaped her open mouth along with a light, involuntary moan. She looked up at the perpetrators. They smiled back, not only happy with the carnage they had brought forth, but also eager to see if Renee's reaction would include a vicious assault to shield them from any charge of attacking the MST.

“That was my cell phone,” she began, slowly stepping towards them. “Do you have any idea what you have just done?”

“Calm down, Renee,” Kathryn pleaded, but half-heartedly. As a fellow outgoing high-school girl, she empathized. Kathryn couldn't begin to guess what evils she would unleash upon anyone who did the same to her.

Troy stepped back, likely as afraid of Renee as he was of Yellow and Red. Unlike Kathryn, Troy couldn't possibly comprehend the crime that had occurred. “Renee, don't do anything crazy. We'll fix it.”

Through clenched teeth, Renee replied, “I had three hundred twenty-six contacts on that phone. How do we fix that?”

His mouth fell in astonishment. Three hundred twenty-six? Troy had ten. “Uhh... I don't know... magic?” Willing to try anything to calm her down, he suggested, “Maybe they can rebuild it with alchemy or something.”

“You can use alchemy to fix the phone, but you can't restore its memory!” Renee suddenly became livid. “You can't bring back its soul! You can't fight equivalent exchange, Troy!”

Troy scratched his head. He didn't remember seeing that in any of his textbooks.

Red huffed on his cigarette as Renee stared him down. Not a spell this time- just enjoying the smooth taste of cancer. He looked forward to whatever she was planning to do.

“Renee...” Kathryn warned.

“What are you going to do?” Red asked Renee.

Seething, Renee lifted her right hand hesitantly. She wanted to retaliate, somehow summoning the ability to unload all sorts of righteous sorcery on him. She also wanted to go back three months and study that textbook so she might have been capable of it. Instead, she found herself facing a demon with nothing more than the elementary trifles she had learned at the academy.

While she paused to try to conjure up anything to vent her anger, she didn't notice Yellow prepare another spell. Troy did, and saw Yellow remove his finger from his mouth and extend it at the distracted Renee. Without a moment of hesitation or a moment of thought, Troy reared his arm back. Before Yellow could do anything to Renee, a torrent of water sent him flying off his feet.

Both Red and Renee took their eyes off each other as it unfolded. Renee stood amazed at the effectiveness of Troy's spell. Red snickered. Not only was Kendrick right about the kids having some surprising skill, he also now had the liberty to do whatever he wanted to Renee. He reached for his cigarette again and prepared to serve up something nice and fatal.

Before he could, Kathryn rammed her shoulder into his gut. The force knocked him back and the cigarette fell to the ground. While he picked it up, Kathryn and Renee backed away.

It dawned on Renee that in the span of about ten seconds, both Yellow and Red had made separate attempts to kill her. She quickly forgot about her cell phone. “Thank you,” she mumbled to Kathryn, still shocked at the close calls.

Kathryn ignored her and popped the cork on the vial. A bright glow emanated from the tube and extended six inches. It faded into a bronze color. Kathryn clutched it and pulled. In seconds, she had produced her staff and dropped the empty vial to the ground. She made a mental note to thank Yuki for coming up with, and executing, such a convenient storage space.

“Nice!” Renee exclaimed, almost forgetting about the attempts to kill her as well.

 

Session Four

Kurt, who had fifty-three names on his cell phone, called Molly as soon as he pulled out of the school with Yuki, Marie and Kamila in tow. Sadly, this does mean that Renee's phone had died in vain.

“What the hell's going on?” Molly answered.

“Having a little run-in with some troublemakers. They already took Claude out.”

“The MST reported them using magic. Is this the same group from the game?”

“Yep,” Kurt replied.

“Do not engage them directly,” Molly ordered. “I'll be there in a moment.”

“Not a problem. I'm not there. I'm taking Marie and Kamila home. Yuki's with me too.”

“So who's over there?”

“Uh, right now it's Kathryn, Troy and Renee.” Kurt cringed. He hadn't realized how much he had thinned the numbers.

“Perfect,” Molly grumbled.

“Shouldn't be a problem, right? I mean they won't do anything unprovoked, will they?”

“Are they Hokoni?”

“Uh...” Kurt had forgotten to check. But those men seemed to have no shame, so there was good reason to believe they were not aligned with Kendrick. “Man, I don't think so.”

“Then what faction are they?” Molly asked. “If they attacked Claude, then they might go after one of those three.”

While thinking about the characteristics, Kurt checked his rear-view mirror. Marie and Kamila were listening to every word.

“I, uh... can't really answer that. Not with these girls in the car.”

“Who are they?”

“Marie and Kamila?” he asked. “Troy's girlfriend and Kathryn's teammate. They were there too. I had to get them out.”

“I can help beat them up if you want!” Kamila yelled into the phone.

Kurt heard Molly sigh. “Well, hurry up and get back there. We can't leave those three alone for too long. God help us if they're Hageshoni.”

She hung up. Kurt took a deep breath, punctured by Marie asking, “You have Molly's cell number?”

“Yeah, long story,” he replied.

Yuki jumped in to make up said long story: “Yeah, Molly and the student council helped enroll me here, so we stay in touch.”

Marie nodded uncertainly.

Kurt changed the subject. “So where do you live, Kamila?”

“Who cares? I'm going to the party,” she replied, still steaming. “Or are you going to keep me away from that too?”

He shook his head. “No, I can take you there. Where is it?”

“1500 East Iroquois.”

“Good, Marie's on Iroquois too. 2200, right?”

“Yes, but I'm on West Iroquois,” Marie replied.

“So...” Kurt figured it out, then slumped his shoulders. “You two need to be on opposite ends of town?”

Marie scoffed. “Sorry, didn't know we were supposed to coordinate this.”

“You're not going to the party?”

“Without Troy? What's the point?” Marie answered.

Before he could bemoan this fate, his phone rang again. He clumsily retrieved and answered it- a difficult feat while driving.

“There's a problem,” Molly said. “One of them is casting a barrier spell. I can't get anywhere near there with magic.”

“Jeez... this is getting ugly.”

Just as he said that, he, Molly and Yuki both felt the twinge of displacement. Kurt and Yuki shared concerned looks. They faced forward again, with Kurt returning to the cell conversation and Yuki gasping.

“Red light!” she shouted.

“Jesus!” Kurt stopped in time to avoid being plowed by a Hummer.

“How much longer do you have?” Molly said.

“They're on opposite ends of town. Could take another twenty minutes.”

Molly thought for a moment, then said, “Drop Yuki off first.”

“But I don't know where she-”

“I didn't say drop her off at her house. Where are you now?”

Still at that red light, Kurt checked the nearest building. A faded number 599 hung above the door of a decrepit apartment building that he hoped didn't have any current tenants. “599 West Third,” he replied.

“I'll be there in five minutes to pick her up. We might need her for this,” Molly said, then disconnected.

Shrugging, Kurt stopped the car and turned to Yuki. “Well, here you are... home sweet home.”

“But this isn't-” Yuki began.

“Yes it is.” Kurt forced a smile and tried to shoo her out without any conspicuous movements that Marie or Kamila would find suspicious.

One look and Yuki already didn't like the neighborhood. Hesitantly, she said, “Okay... uh... bye.” She nervously stepped out of the car as a nearby police siren wailed.

Yuki turned back in time to see Kurt grasp the passenger side door. “See you later!” he said, slamming the door and driving off.

Alone on the streets next to a run-down apartment on the outskirts of a run-down downtown area, Yuki tried not to freak out. She failed, yelping loudly the moment she heard a dog bark. A man with a disheveled beard stumbled out of the apartment complex and approached her. He mumbled something completely incoherent. But thanks to Yuki's Lucidrol, she heard it, clear as crystal, as “what's a girlie like you doing at a time like this around these parts and why did I walk out of my apartment to talk to you when I got my own problems like wondering whether or not I actually live here.” Mercifully, he passed out ten feet from the door.

Minutes later, a car pulled up alongside the curb. Yuki ran up to it, hoping it was somebody coming to her rescue. Instead, the window rolled down and a young man looked at her, a bit nervous. Hesitant, he asked, “Uh... how old are you?”

“Twelve,” she answered, just as uncertain. He sped down the street without another word.

Yuki shivered. Somehow, it seemed colder here than it did outside the high school. Thankfully, the next car that pulled up was Molly. Yuki pulled open the door, dove in and hugged her MST guardian.

“Don't hug me,” Molly spat. Yuki laughed nervously and sat upright as the Saturn did an illegal U-turn and headed back to the high school.

“Thankfully the MST's taking it seriously this time. Some agents are on their way in case it gets ugly,” Molly explained.

“I guess I should start working on some potions then?” Yuki asked

“Not in this car. But get ready to start mixing once we get out.”

The two stayed silent for a few moments, each quietly praying that things hadn't escalated too much and that Renee and Kathryn were unharmed. They weren't so concerned with Troy. Recalling who was present, however, made Yuki realize something.

“Hey... what about Donovan?”

Molly narrowed an eye at Yuki, then called someone on her cell phone. Yuki couldn't help but laugh. “You forget about him again, didn't you?”

It was true; Molly had completely ignored Donovan in all of her plans. But she didn't have to admit that. “I'm not calling Donovan. I don't even think he has a cell phone.”

“Then who are you calling?”

“Blaine and Bryce. Donovan might be an idiot, but his minions may be of some use.”

 

Session Five

While Kathryn did her neat little trick with the staff, Red used the distraction to find his cigarette. He brushed the dirt off it and returned it to his mouth. Few Zukoni were all that concerned with hygiene, not that Red could afford to as Kathryn aimed her staff at his head.

“What? Can't fight without your nicotine?” she said.

“Bingo,” he said, holding his fingers up to the cigarette so he could cast a spell. He attempted to shoot another spark at Kathryn and Renee, but what emerged was slow and dull. Kathryn batted it away easily.

“I get it,” Renee said. “You use a cigarette as a focus item! And if it's put out, your fire spells-”

Her effort at exposition fell on deaf ears as Kathryn charged forward with her staff. Renee was right... for the most part. Thing is, there was an easy remedy to weakened focus items and Red knew it. He backpedaled, concentrated a little more than usual and sent a healthier flame at Kathryn. She blocked it with her staff, but it burst upon contact, knocking her backward.

Summoning more of his energy, Red sent a steady stream of fire at Kathryn. This flame was not as strong as the last spell, but it was persistent and it took all of Kathryn's strength to keep her staff in front of it. As Red stepped forward, Kathryn was forced back and onto the ground.

“Renee!” she shouted. “Little help?”

But again, Renee had no real move. Desperate, she tried the simple warding spell that had helped finish off Kendrick. She didn't shout the name she had made up for it this time; that's probably why it caught Red off guard and made him turn his head, sparing Kathryn.

Kathryn seized the opportunity and charged again while he was reeling. He wasn't reeling for long though. As she attacked, he grabbed the staff and tried to wrestle it away from her. Her grip was too strong for that tactic; she realized how much trouble she was in if she lost it. Instead, he sidestepped and threw both the staff and Kathryn to the ground behind him.

Though he had her right where he wanted, a wave of exhaustion came over him. His last fire spell had used a lot of his own energy, which he was not used to spending. The dying cigarette had diminished much of his abilities after all. Still, he still had his large body and could take care of Kathryn that way.

At least he could have if she hadn't jabbed her staff into his groin first. Renee's warding spell was nothing compared to this. He stepped back and bent down in pain, careful to keep an eye on Kathryn. Fortunately for him, she was content with using the opportunity to catch her breath. Unfortunately, Renee flew in from his blind spot and elbowed him in the face. Red spun around and fell to the ground, the cigarette falling from his mouth.

Renee landed (yes, that wasn't a figure of speech: she had actually cast a spell to deliver a literal flying elbow) on the cigarette, extinguishing it for good.

With one down, Kathryn checked on the other two. Green hadn't moved; he was still standing silently with his hands in front of his face. Yellow, on the other hand, was active and engaged with a surprisingly tough opponent- Troy. Then again, all Troy was doing was casting his generic water spell. The force and volume were keeping Yellow at bay. This demon was completely soaked and apparently rendered helpless against such water pressure.

Until the water suddenly stopped. As with Red, Troy couldn't maintain such an intense spell for such a long time. He tried to resume it again, but his right arm felt numb. As he shook it to get some feeling back, Yellow slogged forward. Yellow repeated the gesture that launched Claude and Renee's phone. Troy attempted to defend himself, but he too found himself airborne.

“No!” Kathryn shouted, as if she could stop Troy's ascent. He flew over Yellow's head and towards the dark fields where either Claude or Claude's corpse rested. Kathryn ran after Yellow, who again executed his trigger. This time, he used a cushion of air to repel her strike and push her backwards. She backed away, eager to avenge Troy but not interested in joining him.

A second glance up in the air, however, saw Troy floating in midair, catching his breath. Unlike Claude, Troy knew a flight spell and he apparently had recovered enough to use it. As he hovered back into the picture, Kathryn faced down Yellow, then threw her staff into the air. “Troy, catch!”

He smiled, ready to grab the staff and knock out Yellow from above. If only Troy and Kathryn would have remembered his little problem with catching in midair. Troy bobbled the staff and it fell. Yellow grinned and extended a hand to catch it.

“No!” Kathryn shrieked again.

Troy may not have been able to catch it, but he could still kick it. And with such perfect position, Troy couldn't help but kick the staff right into Yellow's face. As he fell backwards, Kathryn caught the staff and added another blow to the face for good measure. Two down.

 

Session Six

Actually, make that one down. For as much pain as he was in, Red was a big boy and unwilling to fall to such primitive attacks. While Kathryn helped Troy with Yellow, Red forced himself to his feet. Only Renee was watching him, with one eye on the stationary Green. As Red made his grand revival, he smiled at Renee. By now, it was clear that she was the weakest of the students and, assuming he could dodge any improvised wrestling moves, Red would have no trouble overpowering her.

If he could light up another cigarette, that is. Renee strived to make the task anything but routine. She may have been the weakest, but she had already proved that she wasn't helpless. Until he did light up, Red was susceptible to a sneak attack so Renee not only scrutinized each of his movements for an opening, she made sure he knew she was doing so.

Keeping his eyes on Renee, Red carefully reached into his pants pocket and retrieved a pack of smokes. As he drew one to his mouth, Renee's right arm feigned a trigger. It didn't startle Red, but he reflexively jammed the cigarette into his mouth and froze. Her breathing became labored as she inched towards him. Even without the cigarette lit, Red was still an imposing fellow and Renee forced herself to realize that whatever he could do to her now was nothing compared to the hell he could unleash with a well-lit focus item.

Red's lighter appeared from another pocket. Again, he kept his eyes fixed on Renee, especially as she began her trigger gesture. But he proceeded, raising the lighter up to his mouth and flicking the flame alive. She swiped her arm forward; rather than waiting to see what she had cast, he covered his face with his arm and took a step back. When he glanced forward again, he saw that Renee had merely cast a flight spell... and she was flying right at him. Her outstretched fingers reached for the lighter he was now holding overhead. Renee slapped it away to be extinguished on the cold ground behind them. Red turned around to retrieve it, but she was already there, snatching it off the ground before he dove after it.

His dive did, however, catch her right ankle before she could fly away. Red pulled her down, rattling her entire body as it collided with the hard ground.

Seeing this, Kathryn ran to the rescue. Renee shouted after her and threw her the lighter. Kathryn caught it with one hand and held her staff out with the other. By now, Red had pinned down Renee's legs.

“Give it here, girl!” Red shouted.

Kathryn's first thought was to yell back some badass response like 'and what if I don't?' But Red had Renee in a very unfavorable situation. Kathryn could guess what he'd do if she disobeyed and didn't want to hear it directly. Yet she wasn't too keen on returning the lighter either.

“Don't do it, Kathryn! He'll take out all of us!” Renee pleaded, as if Kathryn didn't already know the stakes. Red drove his knee into Renee's back anyway. Subtlety apparently had no place in this battle.

As Kathryn pondered a way to get Red off of Renee while still keeping the lighter, Troy again defied subtlety and shot a blast of water at Red. “Leave her alone!” he shouted.

The spray impacted Red enough for Renee to wriggle her way out. She took on a bit of water too, but she was too relieved to care. Renee did care that Troy had now rescued her twice. While she appreciated the gestures (and couldn't help but read more into them, despite the circumstances), Renee was mainly angry with herself for getting into the messes to begin with.

Yes, Troy had helped Renee out of those little messes, but they and Kathryn were still embroiled in the collective macro-mess as the demons' threat was still there and Molly wasn't. Granted Yellow was recovering from Troy's aerial bombing and Red was now stuck on the losing end of a game of keepaway. The game required multiple players throwing the lighter back and forth, so Kathryn, Renee and Troy were all occupied. Particularly since they also had to avoid Red himself. Somehow they doubted Red would be disinclined to punch the one of their lights out given the chance (which generally constituted cheating in most keepaway circles).

After a few minutes of three teenagers keeping a grown man from getting to his cigarette lighter, someone finally put an end to the madness. All four were surprised that it was Green. He lowered his hands and walked up to Red.

“Christ Almighty!” Green profaned as he handed his own lighter to Red. Ignoring the stunned look on Troy, Renee and Kathryn's faces, Green returned to his post and resumed his trance.

For all the work the students had done keeping Red at a distance, they were now helpless to watch Red fire up his cigarette. Red took a few puffs to calm his nerves after so much running around. Exhaling smoke, he yelled back, “Shut up, Jack, it's not like you're helping out here.”

Resuming his previous position with nothing more than an eye tic, Green replied, “If you know how to sustain a teleportation barrier, you're welcome to take my place. Now take care of those three before Pearson shows up.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Red muttered, holding his fingers in place.

Before Kathryn could stop him, he threw a spark at her. Now with a full, healthy light, Red's spell burst in front of her eyes. She fell to the ground, momentarily blinded. A second spell targeted her upper body and knocked her flat. Kathryn dropped her staff as the heat overwhelmed her. Though she couldn't see, she could feel her shirt catching fire. Troy ran in and doused it before the fire could do serious damage to either clothing or skin. But it was the force of Red's spell that prevented her recovery. Red was a strong man who cast strong spells, and the energy he had put into them continued to sear.

As her eyes began to refocus, she saw Troy standing at her side, facing Red. Troy fired a water spell at him, but another puff from Red drew a pillar of fire that absorbed it easily. When Red took the offensive, Troy was able to counter that as well. Clearly, they wouldn't be getting too far.

Renee, meanwhile, may have been the only one who realized that Green had casually revealed what the hell he was doing. And if he was using a teleportation barrier to delay Molly and other support, Renee just might have to try to stop that. With Red focusing on Troy and Kathryn, she sprinted towards Green and raised her right arm for a spell.

She, and quite possibly everybody in the area, forgot about Yellow. “Yo, Jack, head's up,” he shouted, still rubbing his sore head as he got to his feet.

Green set his hands down and glanced at Renee. Without flinching, he re-clasped his hands. A six-foot high stone wall interposed between him and Renee. Renee collided with it face-first and fell to the ground. Without even surveying his handiwork, Green returned to his teleportation barrier-ing.

After giving Troy one last fire to put out, Red backed up and hoisted Renee up by the collar. Her nose bled, her forehead was bruised and she was too dazed to defend herself.

“I think I want you first,” Red spat, using his cigarette to brand a black spot into her neck.

“Renee!” Troy shouted, but Red returned the stick to his mouth and shot another fire spell at him.

Kathryn sat up, still clutching her chest, and looked up at Troy. Troy extinguished Red's attack but was otherwise frozen. Nothing seemed capable of saving Renee.

Not even a loud explosion from a nearby corner of the parking lot.

Thankfully, that wasn't merely smoke billowing. Red and Kathryn turned to see two approaching figures. One of them held the source of the smoke- a glowing beaker. The other was marching alongside her, and Red knew right away that she was far more dangerous.

Barrier or no barrier, Molly Pearson had arrived.


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VOLUME: 2

CHAPTER: 3

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