Magical Security Taskforce




1 2 3 4 5 6

Chapter 18: Clique

Session One

The first thing awaiting Kathryn upon her return from Central Academy was a punch in the stomach.

“Three weeks?!” Kamila shouted. “Three freaking weeks?!”

Kathryn had felt like the basketball games she had missed while at the academy was one extra blow beyond all the magic crap she had to face. She could appreciate a teammate giving her something more tangible. But damn did it hurt.

She opened her mouth to frame a response, but it was going to be a while. Kamila did not hold back. Kathryn wondered if she should have been let loose on the Zukoni after all.

Thankfully, nobody else in the lunchroom stopped what they were doing to care. Had Kathryn retaliated and started an honest, violent, sexy fight, they'd be the center of attention. But she let it slide, although she had suddenly lost her appetite.

Kamila sat across from her. “We lost two games while you were gone. The hell were you anyway?”

“It was a basketball developmental camp,” Kathryn wheezed, using her MST-provided alibi. “Hopefully they don't do it in the middle of the season next year.”

Before Kamila could respond, she heard a boy's faint voice say “Hey... uh...” from behind. She turned around. It was Troy with his lunch tray, trying to claim his usual seat across from Kathryn.

“What?” Kamila said, raising her voice.

Troy took a step back, shocked that not only had he attempted to confront Kamila, but that she was apparently going to be a recurring character. “Jeez, it's you! What are you doing here?”

“New lunch schedule this semester. We'll get to be good pals.” Kamila smiled. Troy couldn't tell if that was sincerity or a veiled threat. Either way, he swung around the table and opted to sit next to Kathryn instead.

He didn't see his girlfriend sitting next to Kamila, and now across from him. “Hello to you too, Troy,” said Marie.

“You've got lunch with us too?” Troy said, forming a smile.

Marie nodded. “Seems like all the freshmen got switched around this semester.”

“And I hear you were gone too,” Kamila said, pointing a breadstick at Troy before biting off the tip. “Where'd you run off to without your girl?”

“Something about selling RVs,” Marie answered for Troy. “Really, I don't mind being left out.” She turned to him. “So how was it?”

Troy fished for an answer. “Uh... met some cool people, had a nasty cold for most of it. Not much to write home about.”

“You... um... are over that cold... right?” Troy flinched as he heard Yuki behind her. He shuddered rather than answered, and Yuki took a seat to Kathryn's left.

“You too, Yuki?!” Kathryn said, quite pleased.

“Student council's smiling down on ya, Kat,” Kamila joked.

“Doubt that; Molly hates me.”

Kamila shook her head and turned to Yuki. “And I noticed that you were also gone the last couple weeks.” The two were in Physics together; for three glorious weeks, Yuki's lab partners were unburdened and shot to the head of the class.

“Oh... yeah... um...” While Troy and Kathryn already had experience lying about the MST academy, this was new for Yuki. After spending her entire life in the presence of magi, the world of the ignorant still threw a few surprises her way. That, or she had forgotten to read her supplied alibi.

Kathryn came to the rescue. “You were back home visiting relatives, right?”

“That's right!” Yuki smiled at Kathryn, not concealing her gratitude.

“So how's Japan?” Marie asked.

“Oh...” Yuki stumbled for an answer, before defaulting to, “It's as Japan-y as ever!”

One more joined the party- Kurt. “You'll have to get us souvenirs next time,” he said with a grin, sitting next to Kamila.

“Okay, now this is getting ridiculous,” Marie said, not that she wasn't glad to see him. “You had your lunch period switched too?”

His grin grew. “Nah, I'm a senior. I come and go as I please.”

Kamila eyed him suspiciously. “Don't tell me you took off the last couple weeks like these three slackers.”

“Sure! Didn't you two?” Kurt got nothing but blank stares from Kamila and Marie, so he elaborated. “Molly went on vacation the last three weeks. If she's not around to keep everything in order, that makes it the best time for ditching school. So everybody who's in the know plans their vacations around Molly's.”

“I see... I'll have to keep that in mind next year,” said Marie.

“So is this a one-time visit or are you always going to be eating with us?” Kathryn asked, trying to divert the subject away from deceiving friends. Nor was she thrilled with the notion that she set her clock according to Molly.

Kurt shrugged. “It's my last semester here. Might as well spend it with you guys.”

“I keep forgetting that you're going to be leaving,” Troy said. Still, he smiled. “Guess you have to make the most of it.”

Kamila scoffed. “Yeah right, you're just trying to get into Kathryn's pants, aren't you?”

“No!” Kurt was defiant, but took it in good humor. “I'm friends with Kathryn, and Troy and Yuki and Marie. This isn't about that. Of course, if I do happen to find my way into Kathryn's-”

He was interrupted. Not by Kathryn or Kamila, but the voice of Molly Pearson over the loudspeaker: “Kurt Sempman, please report to the Student Council office.”

Kurt's jaw dropped as everybody in the room looked at him. He considered himself friends with Molly too, and the announcement scared him just as it would any other poor student. Plus the timing on it was just plain eerie.

The only one who didn't quite realize the gravity of such a summoning was Yuki, who sang out, “Molly's jealous!”

Kathryn buried her face in her hand. “Don't even joke.”

“Hmm... should I go now or finish eating?” Kurt asked aloud.

“Now!” the loudspeaker answered.

Without another word, Kurt stood and walked out of the room, trying to carry as much poise as possible and set a good example for everybody watching him. And everybody continued to watch him until he was out the door. Then the speculation began.

Except at Kathryn's table. Kamila took a burger off Kurt's tray and claimed it for herself. “Kamila!” Marie scolded.

Kamila took a bite and replied, “What? He ain't coming back.”


Session Two

Kurt had to confess to being a little nervous entering Molly's office. Either she didn't approve of him 'coming and going as he pleased,' especially around Troy and Kathryn's new circle of friends, or there was something going on involving the MST. That, or Yuki was right and Molly really did want to undermine his efforts to bed Kathryn. He couldn't help but snicker at that thought, which wasn't such a good gesture when entering Molly's chamber.

“What's so funny?” Molly asked.

“Oh, uh...” Kurt sat down, debated whether or not to answer, and finally did: “Just the timing of your announcement. Made Yuki and Kathryn think you have a thing for me.”

Smile still cracked, he waited for her reaction. Her face didn't budge, but her hand reached for the intercom. “Claude, send Yuki and Kathryn The Letter,” she said.

“Yes, Madam,” replied Claude.

“Should I take that as a no?” Kurt asked, his smile growing.

Instead of responding, Molly asked, “What time is it?”

Kurt turned around to check the wall clock directly opposite Molly. “12:30.”

Molly grumbled. “Late, naturally.”

Late for what, Molly wouldn't say. So Kurt just sat there while Molly did paperwork. After two minutes of dead silence, he couldn't take any more and said, “So how are you doing?”

She paused, put down her pen, and looked up at him. Generic as it was, it wasn't a question she was asked often. Molly really didn't have an answer for it. He continued to look her in the eyes, prodding for at least a generic response.

“All right, I suppose.”

Before either of them could interpret the moment, Claude burst in and said, “I'm out of copies. Do you have the original?”

Annoyed, Molly pulled the threatening Letter out of her desk drawer and handed it to Claude. “Keep it. I'm expecting company and I am not to be disturbed.”

When Claude reached the door, he saw the 'company' on the other side. “Yes, yes, he's right there. Should I let him in?”

“Yes, you should,” answered Uriel, shoving Claude aside and occupying the chair alongside Kurt. “Hello, Kurt. Thanks for dropping by.”

“What brought you over here?” Kurt said, surprised but trying to show reverence to a higher officer. “We haven't been attacked in five weeks.” He quickly turned to the door, fearing that Claude might not have left yet. But the assistant had, so no harm done.

Uriel didn't seem to care. “Hope we can shoot for a record, but if not- I have good news.”

“Go on,” Molly said, trying not to sound eager.

“The MST has approved a full-time field agent for L. B. Gould, Ohio.” Uriel smiled and imagined fanfare.

He got no such response from his audience. Molly and Kurt nodded, but that was about it. “Good. Who is it and when can we meet him?” she asked.

“Oh, we haven't actually hired one yet. I just wanted to tell you we opened up the position and make sure everything else was in order here.”

Molly furrowed her eyebrows. “You drove here from Cincinnati for that?”

“Well, I wanted to scope out the apartment scene and find a few more palatable jobs. Richard says there's room for improvement in those areas. But I can forward the applications we've received.”

“Please do.”

Uriel pinched his earlobe. “Charlie, could you send over the applicants for the L. B. Gould position?” After a pause, he frowned and added, “I guess so. Molly's desk drawer will suffice.”

After he confirmed the transmission, Molly took the hint and opened her drawer. There was one sheet inside. She read the name and address and frowned immediately. “Penn N. Teller?”

“Let's see...” Uriel took the page and chuckled. “Apparently a joke submission. Didn't even include a resume. But I'm sure we'll get some soon. It's listed online and in the appropriate classifieds. I can put it in the Centrist if you'd like to be thorough.”

“No need,” Molly said. “So what are you doing until then?”

“For now, Richard will make weekly visits and conduct any pertinent investigations. I can't ask him to move here again. He may be an ass, but he does good work and I can only torment him so much.”

“So that's it then?”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” Uriel replied, unapologetic despite his words.

He began to stand up, but Kurt held a hand up. “Hey, while you're here, do you know what they're doing for me? I'm supposed to be heading some new recruits next July, but they haven't told me who they are or where they live.”

Uriel frowned. “I'm afraid that's not really my department. You would need to talk to-”

“Mr. Marlowe at the academy, I know. I think he's been avoiding me. He says they're still trying to place me somewhere. You think they would have done that by now.”

“Yes... unless your initial group didn't pan out. Frankly, I've seen what passes for prospects these days. It's not pretty. You've been spoiled with Molly's group.”

They looked at Molly; she was back to her paperwork and said nothing.

Undeterred, Uriel continued, but not specifically at either Kurt or Molly. “Seriously, for every four kids in today's units, I'd say only one really has a future in the MST. But here there's two, maybe even three that have potential.”

Molly slammed down her pen and looked up at Uriel. “Are you finished?”

“I suppose I am,” Uriel said, standing. Still, he turned to Kurt. “Kurt, you'll just have to keep prodding Marlowe. If it doesn't work, I'm sure there's a couple professors in the Crafting school that will slip him a potion or something to loosen his tongue. A little truth serum goes a long way, I always say.”

As soon as he walked out and was out of earshot, Kurt shook his head and turned to Molly. “Gonna release the hounds after him?” he joked.

She fingered the button under her desk. “It's tempting...”


Session Three

After school, Claude embarked on a new mission. Surprised as he was to receive it from his higher power, he had no choice but to accept, brush off the dangers and ignore the cataclysmic ramifications of his new post. He didn't fully comprehend the purpose of his task or the motive for his reassignment, but Claude had no grounds to protest. His new life would begin the moment he entered the dark room.

He grasped the doorknob, but paused to collect his thoughts and frame them around his job: monitor Donovan Dunmar.

After following Troy for nine months, Claude had gotten sick of the monotony. Troy lived a pretty unassuming life and showed extra caution about overstepping his boundaries when he knew Claude was on him. So Claude had either been treated to a dull routine when Troy behaved or Kathryn's outrageous diversion tactics when he didn't. Plus Claude began to suspect that Troy was not constantly plotting to steal away with Renee, what with him finding a new girlfriend and all.

And still, Claude regretted his secret wish for a more exciting target. According to rumors, the dark room hosted all sorts of evil ceremonies and rituals that could have seriously disrupted the school. Yet, the official student council position had been 'I don't want to know.' That apparently changed once Molly received word that Renee had been linked to Donovan's antics.

With a deep breath, Claude turned the knob and entered the room, lit only by two candles and the luminary white markings from the prior year's vandalism. Donovan was not inside. Instead, his minions were flicking a paper football back and forth.

Stunned by the intrusion, Bryce pushed his 'field goal' attempt wide right. The paper football passed over one of the candles, catching fire as it descended into Claude's palm. Claude yelped, dropped the burning triangle and stamped it out with his foot. Already, he knew this assignment would be far worse than watching Troy.

“Do I get any points for that?” asked Bryce.

“That was an automatic win,” Blaine replied, before turning around and finally addressing Claude. “You okay?”

Claude rubbed his hand in his shirt. “I'll live,” he muttered, sitting down across from the duo.

“Wait, are you joining us?”

“Apparently so. I have orders from the student council to monitor Donovan's activities. If that entails that I join the Occult Club, I have no choice.”

Bryce smiled. “Hey, are you Claude?”

Claude narrowed his eyes. He had never met these two before. In fact, he wasn't even sure they attended this school. “I am. Why?”

“Always happy to meet another minion. And for Molly... that's impressive.”

“I am not a minion,” Claude said, defiantly.

Bryce smiled and shook his head. “Fine, fine... toadie, lackey, flunky... we're all family here.”

Before Claude could persist in his futile denial, Donovan stormed into the room and, with grandiose posturing, sat at the head of the table. Then he noticed Claude.

“Who is this intruder?”

Claude cleared his throat and stood, attempting professionalism. “I am here as a representative of the student council to investigate this club.”

Donovan snickered. “Yes... the foul deeds of this club are worthy of your suspicion. Even your student council will tremble at our power. But until we strike, we are in full compliance. Your paperwork has been vanquished. Right, Blaine?”

“Uh... actually...” Blaine retrieved a legal-sized form and a pen and slid it along the table to Donovan. “Got one more for you to sign.”

With a sinister laugh, Donovan did so and slid it back to Blaine. “Now nothing can stop us.”

Blaine wordlessly accepted the form, then shrugged and gave it to Claude. “Since you're here...”

“Thanks.” Claude set it aside. “But the council is mainly concerned about your recent activities with Renee Pearson.”

“Ah yes... Renee Pearson,” Donovan said, nostalgically. “A worthy ally. When our plan comes to fruition, she will be spared.”

This did not appease Claude. “And how do you know her?”

Donovan stood suddenly and started pacing. “We were traversing the Forest of Unspeakable Peril, conquering any beast that crossed our path.”

The minions' eyes bulged. Quickly, Bryce explained, “Uh... we went hiking in the woods... you know, that state park a few miles from here.”

To cover the 'conquering any beast' part, Blaine added, “Yeah, uh... a nature hike. Took lots of pictures. Renee saw a woodpelter, er, pecker.”

Undeterred, Donovan continued, “Then we encountered a fearsome wyvern.”

“A snake!” Bryce blurted.

“Yeah, big snake,” Blaine added.

“A timber rattler!”

“After it defeated my minions, it attacked the girl, but I bravely used my dark energy to distract it. I was stung, but survived its venom.” Donovan smirked, proud that the poison was no match for him... or, to be accurate, Kiki's remedies.

Bryce sighed. “He poked it with a stick. It bit him. He lived.”

Claude, who had tuned out Donovan and focused on Bryce's translations, shook his head. “But that doesn't explain why Renee was with you to begin with.”

“You'd have to ask her, 'cause we're still not entirely sure,” Blaine said.

“But she seemed pretty cool. She's welcome to join us, right Donovan?” Bryce sat back and folded his arms.

Donovan returned to his seat and steepled his fingers. “Indeed... either as a fellow minion or as a virgin sacrifice.”

“Uh... no, you can't sacrifice Renee,” Claude said.

“Hmm... may we sacrifice Troy Monroe?”

Claude nodded. “Monroe we can negotiate.”


Just then, the door flew opened, startling all four of them. Claude almost fell over when Renee entered the room, smiled innocently and said, “Hey guys, had some free time so I thought I'd see what you were up to!”

Claude narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing here?” he asked, despite Renee having just explained it.

Renee immediately felt uneasy. “Oh... Claude... hey...” She turned to Donovan, who, of course, did not react.

The minions were more helpful. “We, uh, just got done explaining the incident with the... snake,” Blaine said, because accenting 'snake' just so made the word mean 'wyvern' in many dialects.

“Ah...” She looked at Claude. Claude frowned at her. “I suppose you're here because you don't want me to be?”

Claude nodded. “That's only the half of it... but it's an important half, so... yes.”

Hesitantly, she said, “'kay... guess I'll be going now.” She turned around and retreated, closing the door behind her. Claude glared at Donovan, whose eyes remained fixed on the door. Neither Claude, Blaine nor Bryce could conclusively tell if he had moved at all during the entire exchange.


Session Four

Using her bronze staff as a pole, Kathryn vaulted over the wall of fire Kurt had created. Once she landed she leaped again, this time ready to strike. But Kurt ran forward to intercept her, raising a hand to summon a wind gust to knock her upward and disrupt her timing. Kathryn could not land on her feet, but swept her staff underneath Kurt to take out his legs. He jumped out of the way.

When Kathryn planted the staff on the ground to get back up, Kurt fired off another spell, this one sent a stream of water shooting up from below the staff like a fountain. Kathryn lost control of it and Kurt guided the staff into his hands. He smiled and approached her, returning the focus item.

“You really should work some actual spells in there,” he said.

“Yeah, yeah,” she muttered, accepting his help up.

Kurt smiled and turned to the two spectators. “Troy, you're up.”

Troy smiled and stepped into the makeshift battlefield.

“Go get him Troy!” Renee shouted as Kathryn took Troy's spot on the sidelines.

Now that it was May and spring looked like it was finally here to stay (after a few false starts in March and April), everybody wanted to get outside and enjoy the weather. The rest of the winter had been very quiet- good because no demons had attacked, but bad because Molly still had not gotten any applicants for the new agent position. Kurt offered to do some sparring with some of her recruits sans distractions (namely Donovan and Yuki). By denying himself access to his emphasis element of earth, he had already provided a competitive match for Renee and Kathryn.

Troy led off with an ice bolt. He had gone through enough trouble to learn it at the academy, so he figured he may as well put it to use. Kurt threw up a flight spell to dodge it... and Troy's second and third attempts as well. With nothing getting accomplished and knowing that Kurt couldn't cast anything in midair, Troy relented.

At least until Kurt attempted to land, that is. Just before he touched down, a blast of water came his way. Kurt elected to summon a gust of air from below to both cushion his landing and spray the water out of harm's way.

As the wind currents surrounded Kurt, Troy took a deep breath and cast a new spell- fire. Granted, his ability to play with fire wasn't nearly as refined as his skill with water, but the puny spark that he sent Kurt's way caught the wind just right and fanned into a respectable flame. It may not have been enough to threaten Kurt, but its sudden appearance scared the hell out of him.

Kurt cut off the blaze's air supply and threw up a water spell to douse it permanently. Water shot up from the ground and surrounded him.

Troy smiled. Now water he could deal with. He threw his trigger finger forward and ordered the water to swirl around. The more force Troy put into it, the more it resembled a cyclone. While it did nothing to harm Kurt, the twirling pillar of water was certainly disorienting.

Although Kurt regained control eventually, he needed a second to get his bearings back. That was all Troy needed to charge in and grab Kurt's casting arm. With his free hand, Troy poked Kurt in the stomach with his trigger finger.

Kurt broke into laughter and motioned for a high-five with his unrestrained hand. “Nice!” he shouted. Troy released, beaming. “Someone's been practicing,” Kurt added.

“Wanted to try some fire. It's hard to practice around the house,” Troy replied.

Casting an air spell to dry off the water, Kurt said, “Keep at it. You're looking good.”

Victorious, Troy marched back to his cell phone and wallet, receiving a cheer from Renee. Despite Kurt's handicap, the win felt good- a nice confidence booster that assured him that he was indeed ahead of the curve when it came to magic. No matter what Kathryn thought of magic or what Molly thought of him, he was getting the impression that he had a future in the field after all.

Kathryn was happy for a different reason. “Deal's a deal, Kurt. One of us beat you, so you're buying us all dinner.”

“Yep.” Kurt's smile didn't fade. His MST expense card was paying for it anyway. “Where should we go?”

Cell phone in hand, Troy turned around and faced them. “Oh, uh, I can't go. Marie just texted, wants me to come over.”

Kurt nodded. “Say no more. Get going.”

Turning from Troy to Kathryn and Kurt, Renee said, “Oh, you know what? I have to get home too. Tonight's Simpsons episode looks really good. Don't want to miss it.”

To this, Kurt wanted to say more, but shrugged. “Saves me some money then.”

With a big, playful smile, Renee replied, “You two have a good time!”

She joined Troy as he walked away. Once Kurt and Kathryn were out of earshot, she winked at him. “It would be fun to get those two together. I think they like each other.”

Troy stopped, frowned, and turned to her. “Huh?”

“Wasn't that the plan? To get those two alone?”

Rather than answer, Troy lifted his phone to his ear and said, “Yeah, I got your message. I'll be over in half an hour. Talk to you then.”

“Oh,” Renee said as he pocketed the phone.

“Yeah,” Troy replied.

They walked together a little longer, though neither said a word. Renee knew nothing about Marie or the status of her relationship with Troy. She saw no way to ask without awkwardness on either part. Problem was, for some reason she was dying to know.

Instead, Troy changed the subject... or perhaps put it back on course. “I'm not sure if I like the idea of Kurt and Kathryn.”

Renee stared back, interested but unsure how to respond. She knew it would be wrong to pry, but she wanted to anyway.

Troy got that impression and explained. “Kurt's leaving in a month. We don't know where he's going. He doesn't even know where he's going. Might not even be in this world. If they hooked up now, what does that tell you?”

“Oh...” Renee looked back, even though the subjects were far out of sight. She barely knew Kurt, so his inevitable departure hadn't really crossed her mind much. But it did put a wrinkle in things, and it certainly loomed over Troy's head.

Still, he shrugged it off. “Well, see ya,” Troy said as his path diverged. He to his girlfriend, Renee to her television.


Session Five

Both of them were getting sick of Rosa's, but with few other dine-in options in town, Kurt and Kathryn settled for pizza. The place had a nice seating area and decent service, but the presence of a drive-thru window didn't do much for its reputation. It was a fitting spot for dinner given the pair's relationship status.

Of course, the main topic, at least at first, was Troy's performance. “He's getting some really good stuff,” Kurt gushed. “The fact that he's working some fire spells in there... I was really impressed.

Kathryn poked at her pizza slice with a fork. “So you think he might have a future with them?”

“Absolutely. Sounds like the MST's been really impressed with your unit so far. Troy's gotta be close to top of the pack. Good power, good decision-making, good execution. He listens, he learns...”

“He obeys, he stays in line,” Kathryn blurted.

Kurt scoffed. “It's not that bad!” He smiled, well aware of Kathryn's uncertainty about the MST. “I know they're not the most people-friendly organization out there, but they do good work. I mean, you don't want guys like Kendrick and Kaz running around free, do you?”

“Last we heard, Kendrick was,” Kathryn replied, raising an eyebrow.

“Oh. But that's just the start. There's other worlds out there that are worse. Get into a realm where the Hageshoni are in charge and magic's not a secret... rough place.”

Kathryn nodded. Skeptical as she was, the MST and their mission to smite evil seemed necessary enough, and demons and Kendrick and Kaz had fit the bill.

Didn't mean she was happy with the operation. “And I'm sure they're working hard to find you a job, right?”

Kurt frowned. “Well...”

“It's May. You're graduating in a few weeks. What does it say that they still haven't told you what you'll be doing?”

“Marlowe says there's nobody out there worth taking a shot at. They're happy with what they have this year,” Kurt explained, clearly unhappy with the development.

“I thought you said you knew all the right people. Family ties and stuff,” Kathryn said.

Kurt shook his head. “So does every guardian. They've all got family in there.”

“Molly doesn't.”

“Molly's special.”

Kathryn looked away. She didn't want to bring all that up again. “So what are you going to do?”

“Probably enlist somewhere. Do some grunt work on the front lines.”

“What? Like fighting and stuff?” she asked, sipping her soda.

His eyebrows raised. “Sort of. It can actually be pretty cool. My dad's a field commander in another realm. Large scale magic combat's actually kinda fun.” Then those eyebrows fell. “Of course at my age, I'd probably be the one peeling potatoes.”

Kathryn slammed her glass on the table. “See that's not right. You should be training kids. Look what you've done with Troy. You've done more for him than Molly has. You're a good leader, someone people can look up to, fun to be around-”

Kurt couldn't help but let a smile form. “Go on,” he said, slyly.

She caught herself, turning her head in case a blush appeared.

“I like hearing that from you,” he said.

“Please...” Kathryn shook her head and faced him again. “Just let it go. Honestly, what would Troy think?”

“To be honest, I don't really care what-”

“I do,” she said quickly. “It matters a lot to me. And what would happen? We'd hook up, you leave in a month and I got nothing.” Kathryn looked down, and for a long time couldn't speak. Bad as the fantastic inconvenience of magic was, serious discussion of her own love life was even worse. But Kurt was a friend and she felt he deserved to know. “I've been there before. It's starting to bother me. Troy says I should cut it out and I think he's right.”

Kurt remained silent. Unlike the fantastic inconvenience of magic, he didn't have any words of wisdom for her. All he knew was that he wasn't the only one who had taken an interest in Kathryn. She couldn't have said no to all of them.

“I'm kinda jealous of what Troy has with Marie. Made it through the whole school year,” she concluded.

He nodded. “She's been good for him.”

Kathryn sighed. “She's been very good for him. Especially since it seems like Molly called off her dogs.”

Kurt was confused for a moment, but the connection popped in his head soon enough. “Oh yeah, Renee...”

She looked up, an eyebrow narrowed. “Well yeah. Why else would Molly go after him?”

This put Kurt on the defensive, whether Kathryn had intended it or not. “Oh... um... yeah, there might be other reasons why she doesn't care for Troy.”

“Such as?” This was news to Kathryn and she wanted details.

He shook his head. “Just a guess. If she hasn't told him, I don't think she wants him to know. So I don't want to speculate.”

She stared at him, then blinked. “I don't trust Molly.” Kurt nodded in understanding, but she wasn't done. “Or Renee for that matter.”

“Renee? What's wrong with Renee?”

“She and Troy were together last year. And I mean together. As in an item... before Molly broke it up. That means one of two things.” Kathryn looked around the diner to check for prying ears, as if this was far more secretive and scandalous than all the magic-related discussion they had just had.

“Either she was leading Troy into a trap... or she actually liked him.” Kathryn sighed and faced Kurt once more. “I don't know which one would be worse.”


Session Six

Now that we're caught up with the main cast, it's clear that things have quieted down in L. B. Gould, Ohio. Yes, they all have their own issues and angst over various aspects of life, but the point is that they're not being pestered by demons.

Why not?

To answer that, we need to catch up with Kendrick.

When we last left our fair villain, Kendrick had fled outside Uriel's district into Pennsylvania. This proved to be a bad decision, since Pennsylvania fell in the same district as New York and New Jersey. As those two are rife with demon activity, Uriel's counterpart there was well-funded and left Kendrick playing hide-and-seek with various agents in the area. After a few weeks of this, he found a much more savory alternative.

Legends told of a mountainous, lawless borderland between Ohio and Pennsylvania that fell outside the jurisdiction of either district. Most traveling between the two often missed it, but those in the know could gain passage and find a safe harbor. Upon hearing this, Kendrick found this place often dismissed by cartographers as a thick, black line. Turned out it was only a part of West Virginia that had accidentally gotten wedged between the two states.

Still, West Virginia had very little MST coverage and proved lawless enough for Kendrick. He holed up, let things die down, and pondered his next move. Not only did he consider Donovan still in play, but more tempting than ever with so much untapped potential magic power and so little actual brainpower. But one aftermath of the whole agent debacle was that Kendrick didn't want to make a move until it was settled and Kendrick could better analyze what he was up against. Uriel's bureaucracy kept him impatiently waiting as much as Molly.

His superiors were willing to wait, certain that their plan would succeed with proper timing and tact. Frankly, Kendrick didn't mind the time off. Nestled away in a little hamlet in the shadow of I-70, he lived in peace with the community as a normal citizen unable to use magic. Not that he had a choice, as any spell would draw the MST's immediate attention.

Sitting in his usual place at his favorite local diner, he enjoyed a late lunch on some random Saturday afternoon in late May. The food was good, the staff was friendly, and at times like these the last thing he wanted to think about was L. B. Gould, Ohio.

But out of the corner of his ear, he heard a gruff voice: “Hey, do you know how to get to L. B. Gould, Ohio?”

The man's question was not directed to Kendrick, but rather to a waitress that obviously had never heard of such a place. Still, Kendrick's head pivoted to see who had asked.

To say his head was covered in hair would not begin to describe it. His head was closer to a ball of black fuzz with a face surgically attached. There was some major architecture to the hair, sort of a combination of an afro and a mullet. Unkempt as the top and the back were, his sideburns and beard, although robust, were both maintained with the utmost precision. There was also no trace of a mustache.

Unfortunately, because Kendrick stared at the coiffure so long, he accidentally made eye contact with the guy. Naturally, he asked, “How about you? You know how to get to L. B. Gould, Ohio?”

Kendrick sighed. He normally didn't do good turns, being an agent of evil and all, but this hairstyle had been the most interesting thing he had seen all day. That was worth a harmless favor. “Um... yes, I've been through there a couple times.”

Without another word, the man bounded over to Kendrick's booth. Already Kendrick regretted this. “Got a pen?” Kendrick said.

The man looked around the booth and on the table until finally taking one of the crayons the diner provided children for placemat scribbles.

“No, that's a crayon. Almost,” Kendrick said, helpfully.

“Oh, duh!” The man hopped back to his booth and grabbed the leather briefcase he had left on that side. “I'm sure there's one in here!” He jumped back across the aisle and snapped it open.

Kendrick gasped and his eyes bulged as he felt an overwhelmingly powerful magic presence emanating from the briefcase. Although he couldn't see the case's exact contents, inside was something extraordinary, something that could start crusades or resolve conflicts, something that he desperately wanted possession of.

Also inside was a ballpoint pen and a memo book, which the man plopped in front of Kendrick. “There we are.”

The briefcase made concentrating on giving directions difficult: and attempting to describe a concise route to L. B. Gould was hard enough. Kendrick's eyes cheated to the case more than once. “Out of curiosity, what business do you have in L. B. Gould?” he asked, trying to sound as casual as he could. In truth, he was dying to know.

“Business. Just some business,” he said, tapping the side of the case. “You know, same old, same old. Just a change of scenery. Nice area?”

“Hardly,” Kendrick mumbled, finishing turn seven on the 'concise route' that would finally lead into town. He handed it to the man, who smiled back.

Obviously, the presence of such a powerful artifact meant the man had some connection to magic. And Kendrick had to assume that whatever business he had, Molly's unit would be involved eventually. As much as he wanted to prod, he couldn't tell if the man was a good guy or a bad guy. Normally demons can sniff out their own kind, but Kendrick got no such sensation- not necessarily a bad thing as he was still washing the Zukoni scent out of his clothes. But if the man was affiliated with the MST, wouldn't he recognize the wanted criminal sitting next to him? If only there was some identifier Kendrick could use...

“Thanks a bunch. Name's Vincent,” the man said, extending a hand. From him, it sounded like 'Wincent.'

Kendrick nodded uncertainly and shook Vincent's hand. “A pleasure,” he replied.

Vincent snapped the briefcase shut, threw a ten-dollar bill on his table and headed out the door. Kendrick calmly finished his meal, paid, smiled at the waitress, and dashed to the library to do a little research on this Vincent fellow and whatever glorious item he had in his possession. Something told Kendrick that he would be back in L. B. Gould soon enough.





Previous Chapter

Next Chapter