Magical Security Taskforce




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Chapter 15: Finest Hour

Session One

Even before Kathryn and Troy had fully recovered from Yellow's attack, Molly began barking orders: “Kathryn, take the one in green. Troy, you have the one in red.” She had long since figured out those two, and now that she had seen that Yellow was an air-based Thruster, she could determine the best match-up. Or in this case, stick him with the leftovers. “Renee and Donovan take Yellow.” She narrowed her eyes at Kaz; the fourth match was obvious.

Kathryn charged first. To be honest, it was more of a tentative march forward, but she was the only one making any advancement so she gos the honors. Red attempted to intervene, but Troy shot a long-range water blast to maintain the assigned match-ups. Yellow needed no similar coaxing; he had heard Molly's assignments and assumed that he was obliged to follow them as well. Kaz did nothing to dissuade him, instead lingering in back and contributing more of his spirituous mist.

With Kathryn approaching him, Green threw up a stone wall in defense. A simple tactic, but it separated him from the girl well enough. When she attempted to go around, he lowered the first wall and raised a second. He had seen what Kathryn was capable of in her prior dealings with Red; simply holding her at bay was fine by him.

She wasn't so keen on the idea. After dashing around one wall, she leaped into the air. Another appeared, but this one was now rising underneath her. Kathryn hurtled it and leaped after Green. Green stepped back and cast another spell, clasping his hands as he always had before. She heard a huge roar directly behind her. Instinctively she turned around and saw the wall she had just surmounted, toppled over. Had she been two feet closer, she would have been trapped underneath. Still, a near-miss was a miss and she faced forward to find... another wall. Kathryn groaned as the process repeated itself once more.

Troy could only have been so lucky against Red. Once Troy had come forth as Red's primary challenger, the demon was more than happy to fire round after round at the boy. Troy defended it, and with water as his forte it was fairly easy. But it was repetitive, and forced him to cast spell after spell to defend the onslaught. He was growing weary after his long flight and Red continued to move forward. A couple of times, Troy found an opening to shoot his own stream at Red, but as it was still just water, it did little more than stall him. Red's march continued.

Even Molly had no luck against Kaz. With Red and Yellow advancing on her recruits, she could not afford to leave them alone and charge after him. Thanks to Green's instant masonry, she also had no way of guaranteeing a clean shot. It didn't stop her from trying, but Kaz was able to avoid anything that did get through. Ergo, stalemate number three.

Leave it to the battle's two idiots to shake things up. Donovan summoned his energy ball as Yellow approached. As Donovan charged, Yellow proved to have the quicker trigger finger and fired an air attack in return. Before it connected, Donovan released his energy blast.

Of course, that energy blast of his was still a work in progress. In fact, for all the times Donovan had attempted it, that one instance that had saved Molly from Kendrick was his only documented success. The percentages bore out here as there was again no destructive force in the ball. Even so, it intercepted Yellow's attack, shooting straight up into the air upon impact. Yellow watched it in astonishment; Donovan stood smugly as if that was his intent all along.

Destructive force or not, that was still a sizable concentration of energy up for grabs. With Molly having no luck against Kaz, and with no one else recognizing the ball's potency, she caught it and started to charge it up. Unlike Donovan, she knew how to add some punch to it. Best of all, he had done the hard part: all she had do was give the proper command and fire.

She got the command off just fine. But before she could shoot it at anybody, Kaz saw his opening and hit her in the face with a blast of that same amber-tinted water. Molly fell and the ball was again knocked loose.

Although Renee wasn't quite sure what Molly was doing, she did see that Molly had gone out of her way to catch the ball and did something to it after reception. As Molly was poised to throw the ball somewhere else, Renee doubted that it would be a good thing to have it fall that close. So she ran in, caught the ball before it could hit her sister and hurled it at the first target she saw. The good news was that this was Kaz, who clearly wasn't expecting such a maneuver. The bad news was that he was so far away that he dodged it anyway. The worse news was that the ball bounced against Donovan's circle and, being of the same energy source and polarity, ricocheted straight back. Renee ducked in time and kept Molly close to the ground as the ball flew over their heads.

Right about this time, Yuki had finally revived Bryce. As his injuries were all physical, she had a hell of a time with it. Still, he clutched his crystal and carefully rose to his feet, eager to join the battle. He faced forward just in time to see the wild energy ball strike him in the gut and knock him out with a deafening explosion.

But don't worry- Yuki shielded herself in time.


Until tonight, Kurt had always viewed L. B. Gould as a small, harmless city that made up for its lack of redeeming qualities with a hearty population that at least meant well. After chauffeuring Marie and Kamila across town and stopping for gas at what turned out to be the only station in Ohio that didn't offer pay-at-the-pump, Kurt saw the town as a soulless metropolis that offered nothing but block after block of identical houses and strip malls. He followed the MST's directions out of town and also realized that outside the city limits lied a barren wasteland of empty fields and tree-littered hills.

“And once you get on Sanderson, there is a curve to the right, then there should be a dirt road to turn on.” Kurt could only hope the telepathic directions were accurate. Having been around for centuries, the MST was slow to incorporate new technology. Uriel's office may or may not have been familiar with Google Maps.

Still, he found the dirt road and sensed some action ahead. Two pickup trucks- one rusted and dented, the other showroom-pristine, had beaten him there. Guessing that at least one of those belonged to the bad guys (Kurt couldn't guess which; he didn't know how well the MST paid), he parked well behind them. Sneaking ahead, he frowned. Not only was Molly's entire unit engaged with the three hellraisers and a fourth man who looked and acted like their leader, six more men watched the battle, armed with bottles of beer. The six stood between Kurt and his friends.

Kurt considered trying to teleport across, but with so many idle figures, one of them was bound to have an anti-teleportation spell up. He was going to have to get around the old-fashioned way.

“Damn,” he muttered, knocking on the side of the newer pickup in frustration. The pickup honked several times in alarm and all six spectators turned around and stared at him. A few of them smiled. Kurt used a more severe profanity for this development.


Session Two

With a half-dozen angry men bearing down on him, Kurt's first move was to get the hell away from the truck. After that, he had some choices. He could retreat to his car, take them on himself, or run into the field and hope to get around to Molly. Taking as much time as he could afford to make this decision, he settled for options two and three. First he elevated the ground underneath the demons, creating a small platform that raised up half of the demons, took one leg out from under two more and obstructed the sixth completely. Completing that distraction, Kurt ran for it.

The six pursued, of course, but Kurt now had his opening to at least reach Troy, who was still barely holding off Red. As Kurt neared, he realized that something was standing between him and Troy that appeared to be and, one painful thud later, felt like a two-way barrier circle.

This derailed any thought of assisting Molly's unit and, unfortunately, his escape from the six enforcers. Kurt tried a stone wall; one of the six punched the wall and shattered it. He needed another spell to shield himself from the pieces. As the enemy advanced, he paused, considered his options and came to the calm conclusion that he was completely screwed.

Imagine his shock when all six of them levitated ten feet into the air. Heck, for that matter, imagine theirs. Behind them, Richard Herman stood with two other men, one with his hand extended and his index and pinky pointed at the demons.

“Trouble with the natives?” Richard joked, stamping out his cigarette.

Kurt sighed in relief and forced a chuckle. “I'm starting to see your point about L. B. Gould.”

With a nod from Richard, the air mage flung the six demons away. Richard walked up to the barrier and rapped on it. It rippled with energy, but still prevented access.

“Yep, two-way circle barrier,” Kurt said.

Unhappily, Richard muttered, “That's odd: Zukoni specialize in thrusting. Leave it to Uriel to not send a Weaver in case something needs breaking.”

“Mr. Herman, looks like we're not done yet,” said the air mage. The six demons, after copious swearing, had gotten up and were approaching the agents.

“Swell,” Richard replied, cracking his knuckles.

Kurt took a deep breath and readied his trigger. “Hope you get overtime for this, Rich.”

“Nah, this is the fun part.” Richard smiled, happy that not only was he about to kick some ass, but that he also managed to keep from criticizing Uriel's benefits package. Lord knows he didn't want to get anywhere near L. B. Gould once this was over.


As Molly fought off the pain from her blow and Troy and Kathryn remained at odds with Red and Green, Kaz saw the MST arrivals and their ensuing whipping of his backup. He also saw Yellow continuing to pursue Donovan.

“Hey John, leave that kid alone,” he instructed. If Donovan went down, the circle went down and Kaz had no intention of tangling with trained professionals.

Yellow paused and saw Renee flying at him from the side. He licked his finger and caught her defenseless. “Hey boss, can I kill her?” he asked.

Kaz scoffed. “Knock yourself out,” he replied, immediately fearing that Yellow would take that literally.

He didn't, instead lifting Renee overhead and into the barrier. She slid to the ground and didn't move, her head leaning on the barrier in a position that would probably be uncomfortable were she conscious.

“Renee!” Molly shouted and rose to her feet, but felt a wave of nausea as she did, dropping her back to her knees. The mist was bad enough to inhale; the direct impact of a stronger concentration of it was much more noxious. She fought off the urge to vomit, helpless to tend to her sister.

Troy didn't even see it; Red was giving him all that he could handle. If this was destined to be a battle of attrition, Troy had a plan and saw Red's weakness: his cigarette was almost expired. Reserving his strongest water blast for Red's inevitable recharge, Troy parried and waited.

“Boss! Light me up,” Red shouted. Troy didn't panic; Kaz still needed to head all the way over to them and that was still enough time. Red flicked his cigarette towards Troy, who calmly took a step back to avoid it. Behind Red, Troy saw one of Kaz's water spells heading his way. It was low, however, closer to where Troy had been standing before; in a way, he had already dodged it.

The spell instead connected with the cigarette and, sure enough, lit it up. The combination of a spark and Kaz's dubious water created a huge chemical burst right in front of Troy. Troy fell over and didn't remember the rest.

Kathryn, meanwhile, needed to stop and breathe after trying to traverse Green's maze of walls. Green took advantage and finally tried some offense. He summoned three small boulders and sent them all hurling towards Kathryn. She had only one defense, her staff, and she made good use of it, striking the first boulder to the ground. After repeating with the second, she fell to her knees to dodge the third in case she couldn't get her staff up in time. But she did, and drove her staff down to knock the boulder away.

The staff, being a magical item and determined to serve as such, channeled Kathryn's energy and batted the boulder straight back at Green, striking him in the chest and toppling him.

Though winded, Kathryn rose to her feet and let out an exasperated laugh. However she had done it, it had been done. Green was still conscious- just in a lot of pain. Kathryn approached him, raising her staff to rectify this.

Before she could, a huge rush of air propelled her skyward. Kathryn threw her staff up to shield herself from the collision with the barrier. She looked back at the source of the propulsion- Yellow, of course. He released his spell and left her to enjoy her fifteen foot fall. She had no answer for this other than a frightful scream.

Kathryn closed her eyes and waited for an impact that never came. Again, she was never that good at physics, but fifteen feet shouldn't have taken this long. Opening her eyes, she saw her staff hovering in mid-air. Then she saw Molly on the ground, panting as she kept a finger pointed at the staff. She dropped the spell once Kathryn was at a safe falling distance.

Now secure on the ground, Kathryn saw Red lighting up a new cigarette and sneaking up behind Molly. Kathryn swung the staff at him, striking him in the chest and at least keeping him from Molly. He was winded for a moment, but not long enough. And unless Molly could get it together again, Kathryn had no choice but to face him head on.


Session Three

Although MST field agents stationed in humdrum districts like Uriel's didn't see much action, they were all just as capable as any other magi. When they did get a chance to unleash some violence, they brought it in bunches. This was no war weary group facing the Zukoni alongside Kurt. They were all young men eager to let loose and kill some demons. Forgive us for glancing over their battle, as the tension and drama was lacking in such a one-sided conflict. Also forgive them for any instances of overkill; male one-upmanship being what it was, the battle soon devolved to a game of who can pull off the neatest attacks. The air mage won by simulating one of those 'juggling combos' from video game fighters.

Richard provided the icing, creating a four-foot ditch and leading the six into it. As the demons had long been out of commission, the agents decided not to fill the ditch with water.

“We need to do this more often,” Richard said, sticking another cigarette into his smiling mouth.

Kurt helped out, but abstained from the party. He was more concerned with the welfare of his friends inside the circle. Peering in, he saw Troy and Renee, unconscious and leaning against the barrier.

“Hey, Kurt,” Richard interrupted. Kurt looked back; now that the six support demons were out, the agents were standing around doing nothing. “The guys want to go bowling. Is there an alley in town? Wouldn't surprise me if there wasn't.”

“Uh...” Kurt pointed over his shoulder at the carnage inside.

“Oh yeah.” Richard exhaled smoke. “Yep, definitely got to bring Weavers next time.”

Worse yet, Yuki noticed them loitering around and approached. She knocked on the barrier and yelled. They couldn't hear her, but had a good guess at what she was saying. Richard shrugged at her.

Kurt pounded on the barrier himself, shouting, “Dammit, let us in!”


“Dammit, let us out!” Yuki cried, almost in unison. Or what would have been in unison if she and Kurt could hear each other.

The situation was bad- so bad that she felt incapable of anything that could improve it. Troy, Renee and Bryce were out, and Molly was on her knees and barely defending herself from Kaz's ranged attacks. His three associates had her eyes on Molly as well, although Green was still out of sorts from Kathryn's line drive.

Kathryn was doing everything she could to keep Red from reaching Molly, but was punished for it. Just as he did against Troy, Red launched flame after flame at Kathryn, who had to rely solely on reflexes and good staff placement to block. She was good, but not perfect. Every spark that did connect singed and slowed her down.

Yellow had his own problem- Donovan. Donovan was convinced that Yellow was his responsibility, and did everything in his limited power to prevent Yellow from attacking Molly.

“She is not your opponent,” he said, summoning another worthless energy ball and standing directly in front of Yellow.

“Actually, she, uh... is supposed to be... move, please!”

Donovan did not budge. Unable to attack him, Yellow tried to go around, but Donovan prevented any attempts at running, juking or flying towards Molly. For all of his disadvantages, Donovan was faster and that seemed to be all that mattered.

Not that it was any comfort to Yuki. Her one skill was with potions, but she couldn't decide which one to make or who to use it on. Neither of the three downed allies had been all that useful thus far. Even if she had a plan, her hands trembled and were in no condition to mix chemicals. Furthermore, the mist was slowly taking effect and she felt her mind detaching from the situation and her reflexes slowing.

A nearby glint of light, flickering on and off like a stuttering beacon, showed her the way. She crawled up to it and found its source: Bryce's crystal reflected the moonlight. Yuki had no clue what it was capable of or how to use it. Even if she did, it probably wouldn't do much for her powers. Molly, on the other hand...

Yuki palmed the crystal and crawled forward, ducking under errant shots from Kaz along the way. “Molly!” she shouted as she reached her guardian.

“Busy,” Molly replied. Yuki instead forced the crystal into Molly's left hand.

“What the-” Now Molly saw it. Her eyes widened.

Yuki's did too, but what she saw was Green rising to his feet. “Molly!” she cried again, this time in warning. Using the crystal, Molly fired off an quick blast at Green, knocking him backwards and into Kaz. “Good shot!” Yuki exclaimed, but Molly ignored her. That was just a preview.

With her knees on the ground, and with a sneer on her face, Molly shook the crystal up and down in front of her, using quick wrist movements as if wagging her trigger finger. Only she didn't stop. She continued charging and charging; even Yuki felt the energy build.

“Um... Molly?” Yuki knew how this was reckless. And how difficult such a high concentration of energy was to control. Holding her trigger for this long was terribly dangerous, closer to something Donovan would try impulsively. Add an amplification crystal and Molly's high magic levels to the mix and Yuki was smart to back away and get close to the ground.

Yet Molly proceeded. Her wrist shook wildly and she clutched it with her other hand to attempt to maintain control. The energy was overwhelming, consuming her head, chest and arm until they too began to shake. She clenched her teeth and rode the wave as long as she could. Molly could no longer consciously fathom when she had reached her breaking point. It overrode her senses, building and building until the moment when intuition kicked in and told Molly 'NOW.' She opened her eyes, chose her target and fired.

The target was not Green or Kaz in front of her. They were ready to defend it. Instead, Molly slashed the crystal at Red, who had devoted all of his energy into destroying Kathryn. He was on his way to succeeding when he was blindsided by a beam of brilliant white. He screamed as it tore into him. The point of impact glowed- narrow at first, but spreading wider and wider until his entire upper body shined. Kathryn had to avert her eyes, but Molly just continued pouring it in. Just as suddenly, his body dimmed and the light broke through the other side of his torso.

It was still going. Molly pulled the crystal up, like an angler hauling in the big one. She fell over on her side and needed to prop herself back up with her left hand, but still she guided the beam over Kathryn's head and straight at Yellow, who received the same fate. It struck him in the shoulder, tortured him, and went out the other end. Even after bouncing off the ground and the barrier, the projectile continued.

Molly gave up any thought of remaining on her knees. Controlling it through the crystal was impossible enough. Now lying with her stomach on the ground, she drove the beam into Green's heart. The process repeated- light engulfed his entire chest as he cried out in agony. It bore through him until bursting through and straight at the final target- Kaz. He braced himself as the beam drove into his outstretched hand and through his left arm before finally dissipating with a boom. Kaz fell backwards into the barrier.

Nobody moved at first. Red, Yellow and Green stood paralyzed, gasping for air. Yuki and Kathryn picked themselves off the ground and, after making sure the beam was no longer airborne, stood. Molly, still shaking and now panting, forced herself to her knees, then her feet.

Kaz looked at the afflicted arm. That was all he could do because it wasn't moving. After a second of numbness, it fell limp to his side and his entire body started aching. He groaned, then seethed. But after that, he stared back at Molly and laughed.

“That was good... damn good... but not enough to beat us. You're not so tough.”

On cue, Red, Yellow and Green collapsed.

Unfortunately, so did Molly.


Session Four

They were down to three, and Yuki was completely overwhelmed and Donovan was Donovan. Yuki caught Molly as she fell to the ground, but no foul-tasting energy drink was waking her up after such a display. Despite being the granddaughter of a high councilmen and living among the magically-elite her whole life, Yuki had never seen anything quite like that. Neither had Donovan, although he was more interested in examining that crystal. He picked it up where Molly had dropped it and stared at it, ignoring Kaz who was reeling but still alert.

This left us with Kathryn. She did the only thing she could do- charged after Kaz. But after what he had just been through, this was nothing; Kaz threw up his right hand and blew Kathryn back with a rush of water. Kathryn fell to the ground, grunted it off and jumped back to her feet to try again. Kaz was ready for it and resisted again, although he labored through his movements. His water spells appeared to be toned down as well. Although they stopped Kathryn, they did not appear to harm her as they did when he had connected against Molly.

The process repeated, with Kathryn relentless and Kaz interested in nothing more than fending her off. With them occupied and Donovan stopping to smell Bryce's crystal, Yuki realized that she had something to contribute. Amid such a dire battle against four demons, it was easy for her to feel helpless. But now that she was on the sidelines of a one-on-one between two weakened combatants, Yuki's objective was clear. She opened her satchel, retrieved her vials and went straight to work. Her sudden resolve made the job easy.

Black smoke and a loud explosion trumpeted the arrival of her magic potion. Her long hours of practice had culminated in this one glorious solution. Yuki raised it high for all to see.

“That for me?” Kathryn asked. She extended a hand towards Yuki but kept her eyes on Kaz. “Thanks.”

“Sorry, Kathryn, but it's for Donovan,” Yuki replied. Now Kathryn, surprised and a bit offended, turned to face the girl. Kaz hammered her with another water blast.

Donovan leered at Yuki, who averted her eyes. Poser or not, he was still intimidating to such a small thing. He clutched the vial with the potion and scanned it.

He grinned. “Excellent... now I shall rule the crystal,” he said. Donovan swallowed its contents, dropped the vial to the ground and laughed until he burped.

Undeterred, he pointed at Kaz and declared, “What Pearson did was merely child's play compared to the horror-”

That's about how far he got before the sleeping potion kicked in and he fell to the ground.

Yuki wiped her hands, proud of her work. “Good night, dumbass.”

With Donovan down, the barrier faded away, leaving just a dull circle of salt. Any outside agents who were paying attention noticed and charged in. At first, this was just Kurt, but Richard and the other two got the hint.

“Okay, Kaz, you're in some... aw jeez...” Richard's demand for Kaz's surrender ran into a slight snag: as soon as the barrier fell, Kaz had shrouded himself in mist and was out of sight.

“I'm on it,” the air mage said. Of course he was; he was an air mage. He blew the mist away. Kaz was gone.

“Son of a...! Who was in charge of anti-teleportation?”

“Uh... you were,” replied the air mage.

Richard's negligence was moot, however, as Kaz's escape was less than mystical: one of the pickups started up and drove away.

“Okay... who was in charge of anti-truck?”

“We'll get him.” The air mage and the anonymous third field agent cast flight spells and chased after it.

Kathryn clutched her head and groaned. Aside from worsening the headache she already had, Kaz's last attack did little. She saw Richard surveying the damage.

“Everybody all right?” Richard asked her.

“Uh...” Kathryn looked around. Troy was down. Renee was down. Donovan was down. Molly was down. Her initial thought of a smart-ass reply faded when she saw Molly. Kurt was on his knees, desperately trying to revive her.

“Molly? Molly?” he prodded. She stirred, opening her eyes long enough to see who it was, then closing them again as her head fell into his lap.

“It's okay, Molly, it's over,” he said soothingly.

Still on her knees, Kathryn crawled up to Kurt. His sudden show of affection for the school despot didn't sit right with her. “You know, you might want to check on Troy. He took a lot worse than she did.”

He didn't respond. Even Yuki was focused on Molly, ignoring her duty to nurse Troy or Renee.

“Hey!” Now Kathryn was agitated. The battle had pushed her to her physical and emotional limit with no legitimate explanation. She may have understood that she and her friends were on Molly's side in this context, but this was a bit much.

Yet Kurt continued to hold Molly, oblivious to Kathryn's grievance. Molly did not appear to be knocked out, more like asleep, though her heavy breathing and uncomfortable twitches did create an air of helplessness.

In a lowered voice aimed at Yuki, Kurt said, “You ever seen anything like that?”

Yuki shook her head. She was sure her grandfather was capable of such a feat, but dramatic energy attacks that changed course and targeted multiple enemies weren't typical parlor tricks at Shizuka family gatherings. “What do you think?” she asked, humbled.

What could Kurt think? As a guardian in training, he knew average power levels based on age and experience. It was surprise enough that the Zukoni bothered to attack them. But the real shock was that they were defeated by five freshman and one incredible attack from one incredible girl.

Kathryn gave up and slinked over to Troy. She nudged his shoulder and he moaned in response. Like everyone else, his body ached. Unlike everyone else, he had a line of salt in his hair.

“Is it over?” he mumbled. Kathryn sighed deeply and gently embraced him.

“Yeah... Renee got knocked out too.”

“Where's Kurt?”

“With his new girlfriend,” she replied, a little too spiteful and not sarcastic enough.

“So we won?” He looked up at her.

Kathryn looked into his eyes, then at the carnage one more time. Kurt and Yuki were having a quiet and solemn talk, both still fawning over Molly.

“Not really,” she whispered.


Session Five

“Son of a bitch!”

From the passenger side of the truck, Kaz was in so much pain and so much trouble that all he could do was laugh. This was as humiliating a failure as they came, and yet he was still smiling. Granted, it was a stunned, disbelieving smile that kept him from feeling the pain Molly had inflicted.

His driver seemed more dismayed than Kaz. “You must have a penchant for failure to take it so lightly,” Kendrick said.

“Oh, go to hell. That was... that was... that sucked!” Kaz replied, laughing through it all. He sounded ready to switch to tears any moment. “Let's just get back to the bar before they catch us.”

Kendrick silently obeyed, speeding down the country road.

Kaz continued ranting. “Damn, those kids are... well, most of them aren't that tough. But that Pearson girl- hoo!”

“Yes... and you can see how Donovan can be useful.”

“How the hell did you beat those two and lose to those other runts?”

Kendrick didn't answer. Even in defeat, Kaz was finding ways to insult him.

Instead, he changed the subject. “Well, there's always tomorrow. There are plenty more stooges.”

“Oh, to hell with that! You think I'm gonna send more guys after them after all that? Hate to admit it, but it's safe to say you won the bet.”

Only Kendrick didn't want to win the bet. He wanted vengeance. He forced a smile and replied, “Conceding that quickly?”

Kaz shrugged, annoyed that it was even being discussed. “Three months and a bunch of my guys are going to jail... or whatever the force'll do to them. How's that quick? We're in enough trouble as it is. You proved your point. Happy?”

Kendrick was not. In fact, he was furious. But he handled it with grace, as his Hokoni ties dictated. “Now, according to the terms of the agreement, we are completely square. I owe you nothing for the hospitality you provided.”

“Yeah,” Kaz said, impatient. “Look, we can talk about this back at the bar. The force is probably after us, so 'scuse me for having other things in my mind.”

“As long as you acknowledge that I owe you nothing right now.”

“Yes!” shouted Kaz, clutching his head.

“Very well then.” Kendrick turned to Kaz and smiled. “As everything is in order between us, I shall bid you farewell.”

Kaz frowned at Kendrick, totally lost. “Huh?” he muttered. His reaction was far more pronounced when Kendrick executed his trigger and teleported away, leaving nobody in the driver's seat. Kendrick had also apparently nudged the wheel just a bit as the truck veered towards the ditch.

In a panic, Kaz reached for the wheel, but only jerked it farther to the right and completely off the road. The truck rolled down the hill and flipped onto its side. The tall grass scraped the paint on its now-dented frame, slowing the truck down. A tall cedar tree brought it to a complete, and violent, stop.

Minutes later, the two MST agents reached the scene. They didn't see what had happened, but they didn't really care. The air mage pried open the driver's side door and looked down into the truck's cab. One of the most powerful demons in the area stared back, his face bloody and his eyes barely open.

“Kaz? The Magical Security Taskforce would like a word with you.”


Unlike Kendrick's attacks, this incident got the MST's full attention. Investigations were launched, multiple agents were assigned to protection (yes, including Richard again), and any Zukoni that could be interrogated was. Zukoni officers higher than Kaz denied any knowledge of the plot and swore it never would have been gotten the go-ahead if they had. With no evidence to shoot higher than Kaz, the MST shrugged and left it to Uriel to be handled as a local situation.

Naturally, Kaz reported Kendrick's involvement. It may not have helped his own defense, and the part about doing it as a bet may have actually hurt it, but he wanted the Hokoni to meet the same ill fate. Anyone not familiar with what had transpired learned that Kaz Pormoglio did not survive the car crash. Anyone who did have the inside scoop would say the same thing... with an uncomfortable round of questioning and a high-profile trial to substitute for Kaz's purgatory. The end result was the same.

Green, Yellow and Red were spared the indignity of a circus trial and were silenced immediately. The other colorless ruffians survived. Since the MST could not completely strip them of what little magic power they did have, a convenient memory recalibration made them all forget what their triggers were.

Uriel's subordinates hunted for Kendrick once again. But by the time he had been implicated, he had already skipped town to another safe location in Pennsylvania, outside Uriel's jurisdiction. There, he conceded that future plans would not be concocted on the spot with local barfolk. He was still determined to get Donovan, only now he resolved to put some actual thought into it.

As a result of the extreme exhaustion set on by her last spell, Molly missed the next week of school. It would take twice as long before she could comfortably use magic again. Whether she was physically hampered enough to miss school was a matter of debate: she could have attended as long as she took it easy and didn't get too riled up over anything. But she decided to play it safe and use her paid sick time (a new amendment enacted that school year: student council officers were paid with benefits). She didn't want the student body seeing her in this state, and it's not like the faculty were going to question her absence.

This, of course, left Claude in charge of the school. He had broken several bones in the fall and landed next to a very displeased badger who gave him a few bonus injuries. Upon his release from the hospital Sunday, Molly still insisted that he return to school Monday.

Thanks to Kamila, everybody found out what had happened to Claude. Nobody discovered Molly's involvement and assumed she was simply getting a head start on the three-week leave she took every January. But as Claude's bandages made it clear who won that fight, it still begged the question of how everything was resolved.

Marie made sure to ask Troy first thing Monday.

“Um... the student council took care of it,” Troy said, hoping she wouldn't demand elaboration.

“How?” Marie asked, demanding elaboration.

“I don't know. I'm told I missed the exciting part.” He sighed. It wasn't that he wanted to see the 'exciting part,' or wanted to be a part of anything at all exciting involving demons. But Kathryn had relayed the rest of the events, naturally from her perspective- one which saw Kurt and Yuki decide that whatever Molly had done, it instantly made her more important than their friends in pain. While Kathryn had long since forgiven them and instead added line #22 to her list of reasons to dislike Molly, Troy first wanted to know what Molly had done that was so special.

Kurt told Troy the same thing he had tried explaining to Kathryn: “You've been in this for six months, [Troy/Kat]. There's no way you could fathom what she pulled off. Makes me wonder if I was sent here to keep an eye on [you/Troy] or her.”





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