closed the whole goddamned school Monday. She didn't specify a
reason either, nor did anyone ask for one. Even the media
charged with relaying the message failed to get an answer and
knew Molly well enough to not try investigating. Anyone who
didn't catch the news found the doors locked that morning. This
included several teachers, the principal and a congressman there
for a photo op.
was a certain logic behind the lockout: no school meant the
rumor mill couldn't churn the news of Kurt's death as quickly.
This bought the MST time to work its magic and come up with a
cover story. In all honesty, of course, Molly called a snow day
because she was just really pissed off about the whole thing.
wasn't much better. By then, the 'truth' had gotten out: Kurt
had been killed in a work-related accident. The details about
what he was doing and how he died became a macabre game of Mad
Libs for the MST. The headline still shook the school. Even
students who weren't prominent characters had been friends with
him and took the news hard. There was even talk of raising money
for a tribute plaque, which died down once everyone assumed
Molly was too heartless to orchestrate such a thing.
herself did not appear at school Tuesday. Neither did Renee,
presumably to keep Molly company. The ol' lunch table was
uncomfortably empty that day. Kathryn and Yuki were both gone.
So was Kamila, of course. Among the witnesses, only Troy and
Donovan came to school, and Lord knows what Donovan did all day.
assumed that school would be the best place to try to move
forward. Surrounded by friends, they could grieve together,
share memories of Kurt and be distracted by inconsequential
lessons about the Civil War. It didn't work out that way. No
matter what he did, there was no escaping the incident. A quiet,
unassuming Saturday at home had turned exciting one moment and
deadly the next.
the 'exciting' part that bugged him most. When he had gotten
word that Sho was attacking, he was eager to help. Troy was more
than willing to charge in and save the day with his friends.
That's what the MST was all about, right? Working as a team to
fend off the demons. The implied risk was there, of course, but
that made it all the more adventurous. Troy himself had his
share of noble acts and deeds. He had jumped into harm's way
several times to save Renee, Kathryn... hell, even Molly.
Without fully realizing it, he had done so again against Sho. At
no point did he reconsider; it was his duty to face the danger.
Kurt taught him that more than anybody. Troy simply had never
fathomed that the odds would catch up to them.
grasp why it happened pretty easily. Yuki was in trouble and
Kurt acted to save her, and then Molly. Kurt probably saved
several lives that day. There was no lack of respect around
school, even among friends who had no idea what had really
happened. Kurt was praised as a friendly, caring buddy. Even a
mentor, in some cases. So the 'why' wasn't hard; dying for his
friends was totally in line for Kurt. It was just the fact that
it really did happen that remained vexing.
was still contemplating everything Tuesday. The constant
reminders made it worse, most of them friends from the old motor
club leaning in asking, “Hey, d'ya hear about Kurt?” It pained
him to simply nod without elaborating on what had actually
happened. Particularly when one of the follow-up questions was
“Have you talked to him lately?”
made him feel lonelier. Without Kathryn and Yuki, he didn't have
anybody else forced into silence. To his surprise, he didn't get
much comfort from Marie. Normally, they were both very level,
each capable of calming the other down when one got riled up
over something. Troy was stuck pondering the tragic complexity
of it all, lost in a pensive malaise . He had expected her to
hold him quietly as they stared into their own naivety. Instead,
his first meaningful conversation of the day started with the
last phrase he had expected to utter.
never seen Marie this bothered before. Her hands shook, her
breaths were labored and her eyes gazed downward. “I just...
just... I just can't believe this is happening,” she stammered
in a low voice. He patted her back.
know,” was all he could say.
it's so sudden and... I mean I was away with Kathryn the whole
“Marie...” Troy trailed off. Yes, that was unfortunate. Of all
people, Kathryn needed to be there. Her absence was the most
tragic part. It was also probably a deliberate move on Kamila's
the thought that we were off having such a good time while he
was...” She paused, not wanting to fill in the blank. “It's
awful.” Troy nodded, even though he was to blame: he couldn't
bear to break the news over the phone.
just so wrong and...” Again, she struggled to finish her
thoughts. Troy silenced them by leaning in and holding her. She
we even come in today, Troy?” Marie shook her head, glancing at
the empty chairs. “Kathryn and Yuki are gone. I should have
stayed home too.”
wanted to respond. He knew exactly why he chose to come to
school. And despite everything, he found it better than
wallowing in grief back home. But he was surprised at how
attached Marie had been to Kurt. Kathryn and Yuki had deep,
personal reasons to wallow in grief back home. Did Marie really
see herself in the same category as them?
just... I just don't know if I can handle this.”
moment, Troy went from being overwhelmed by Marie's emotions to
uncomfortable. He didn't know what she was implying, and he was
too frozen to ask. This hidden anguish was a side of her he
hadn't seen before. Sad as the times were, it was justified. But
it still scared him.
to respond, he stroked her hair. She calmed a little, comforted
by his arms though his words were absent. Troy figured they'd
probably be okay. There was grief counseling available; in time
he and Marie would recover and continue their lives. Still,
something about her reaction bothered him. Had it been Kathryn
or anyone else, he would have understood. But Marie had always
been so calm and rational. Had this side of her always been
around without him noticing? In all the time they'd been
together, was this really the first time he'd seen her at her
worst? And if so, why was he so disturbed by it?
took the news as harshly as Marie. Nobody was surprised. She
didn't leave her house since finding out; it was up to Troy to
make regular stops to verify her sanity. He, her parents and the
school were patient, giving her time for what was certainly a
hell of a grieving process. She was numb for days, barely able
to eat or sleep and instead lying prone on her bed, trying to
piece together everything that was blowing apart in her face and
to regain peace with the reality she so adored.
Kurt was just the beginning. So much challenged everything she
knew about life and her friends, yet affirmed her worst hunches
about the MST. It was a devastating beginning though. When she
had returned from Mansfield, Troy and Yuki struggled to relay
the news, which Kathryn should have known was bad. Everybody had
been so complacent with their adventures in magic that 'we
battled a demon' could have been said with a shrug. Perhaps she
too had fallen into that trap because despite their squeamish
struggling to get to the headline, she had never expected that
someone would lose their life in all this.
the frustrations he gave her- his closeness with Molly, his
stubborn loyalty to the MST, his insistence that there was
something better beyond her humble, satisfying life... in his
absence she realized just how perfect he was for her. When it
came to guys, she'd be the first to admit that she was less than
picky. Not to an absurd degree of course: she wasn't sleeping
with any asshole with a good pickup line. But if he had the
looks, the charm and a kindness that she perceived as real
enough, why not? Kathryn was careful enough avoid obvious
trouble and responsible enough to limit the risks. She wanted to
be excited and thrilled too, reputation be damned. Honestly,
that's the only reason she had hooked up with Kurt in the first
that's right. Her relationship with Kurt was never a climax to
her fairy tale. He was not the Prince Charming destined to lift
her away from her minor affairs to live happily ever after. At
no point had she ever believed that he was anything other than
the next one in line. In time, Kathryn figured they'd part ways
and she'd find someone else to date. Now that he was gone, and
not by choice, she could see just how well they fit. He had the
same free spirit as her, cared for friends the way she did, and
knew when he was supposed to be serious. In a way, the headaches
were a plus too. They kept her on her toes and made sure she
wouldn't become complacent. Plus they were trivial: in
hindsight, she'd rather have him flirting with Molly than with
somebody who might actually pose a threat. Whether or not it
could have worked long-term, it would have been great to try.
Agonizing as it was to process all that, other factors were even
more overwhelming. In particular, she had not only been enjoying
herself after his death, she was even flirting with other boys.
Oh, Troy made the obvious reassuring argument: she didn't know.
But she could have been with him. She could have felt something
wrong or gotten word that something bad was brewing. Even if
Kathryn wasn't there in person, she could have at least worried
about it and followed up immediately. Heck, why had she invited
Marie again? Her petty issue with Kurt and Molly? A need to show
Marie a good time in light of her own problems? Had she been
more selfish, she would have invited Kurt. They would have
really enjoyed the outing, and everybody would be alive.
Yuki. All that peace and quiet, with the Donovan incident the
only involvement with demons, and another faction shows up out
of the blue and tries to kill Yuki. The logic was nothing more
than vengeance over some ruined plans. Yuki didn't even stumble
upon Sho and Kamila intentionally; in fact she bought into their
lie. Still she gets targeted. If everyone had been so baffled by
Kendrick pushing the envelope on attacking students, what about
this? Everything Kurt and his superiors did suggested a higher
knowledge of magic and demons. They had a protocol utilizing
everything they knew to efficiently keep people safe. Magical
Security was two-thirds of their name, with the final third
suggesting an initiative to work on this. If not for Kurt, they
lose Yuki. In the process, they lose Kurt. Not only that, but
the enemies escaped unpunished. How can such a failing happen to
such a seemingly crucial operation?
the enemies escaped Kathryn's mind. Kamila Hurley: teammate,
friend, demon. Kathryn still couldn't believe it. It raised so
many questions that nobody seemed capable of answering. Did
Kamila choose this path? Did she know her friends were in the
MST? Did she intend to befriend them to begin with? Could demons
really blend in that easily with society? For that matter...
what was a demon anyway? Were they human or not? Did Kamila
really want to go through with all that? Was she reluctant or
eager to turn on her friends? Above all... why wasn't Kathryn
angry enough to hunt down Kamila and beat the answers out of
questioned everything. Her past, her future, her friends, her
causes and her philosophies. Everyone canonized the late Kurt
Sempman, ignoring his flaws and amplifying the great person he
was and the things he stood for. He had always looked beyond his
lot in life to some higher purpose. He had always believed there
was more than this. Kathryn had always laughed it off. 'This'
had been fine. 'This' was a good present and a good future and
if she ever needed more, she'd claim it. Now his views seemed to
resonate more. Perhaps she was supposed to seek out a higher
calling, whether with the MST or some grand, benevolent cause.
Was his path really the way to go or a ghostly illusion?
knew now was that her 'this' had never felt so empty before.
several days, Yuki's textbook lied open on her desk at home,
displaying the recipe for second-stage healing as if it were
part of an altar. Yuki had only looked at it once, and just long
enough to realize her mistake. The book then sat untouched,
silently reminding her how routine it all should have been. She
was supposed to do exactly what her training dictated, and her
failure cost someone his life.
crucial omission to her process had been a settling stage. It
gave the contents time to properly mix with each other right
before her trigger infused their magical properties. Without the
correct blending, the result would not nearly be strong enough,
and could be potentially volatile. In fact, it was supposed to
be part of her elementary potions as well. Her habit of rushing
that stage had been part of the reason for all of the explosions
early on. Reggie had emphasized that proper settling was key and
that impatience was risky. While it wasn't as necessary with the
basic potion, stronger versions absolutely demanded it.
the end, it was something she should have been practicing, but
wasn't accustomed to doing. Yuki had plenty of time to learn it
and make it part of her normal routine, but she failed to grasp
the concept fully. After any failure, she'd shrug it off, assure
herself that she'd figure it out later and go back to doing it
her own way.
biggest problem with 'her own way' was that it was just barely
good enough. No matter how many potions exploded, teammates she
annoyed or Troys she froze, there were no consequences. Until
now, whenever she needed to come through with a healing, she
had. Her work at Central was tolerable often enough. When it
wasn't, all parties simply attributed it to her age. A girl this
young with that bloodline was bound to be good eventually.
given in to that mentality as well. Her magic lineage made her a
surefire Crafting savant. Her age made her a laughingstock.
Suddenly having it both ways didn't make sense any more. Her
grandfather had used his vast influence to enroll Yuki at
Central because her family felt she could keep up. It wasn't
about potential power or letting her stumble at a young age: she
was supposed to be smart and skilled enough to hold her own now.
That meant potions were executed according to the MST's designs-
she had never completed that potion in the field before, it had
been a key part of her most recent term at Central. Yuki knew
she had pulled it off once, but she hadn't committed it to
memory the way she had with other spells. Usually, she would
practice a new potion repeatedly until she could do it without
fail. Instead, she grew complacent: months since the most recent
attack and months until the next term, she thought she had
plenty of time to get it down. Meanwhile, there were friends to
hang out with and school functions and normal teenage life that
she started to feel qualified for.
that included Kamila. Looking back on the events now, Yuki felt
stupid falling into every trap so easily. When she had stumbled
on the two in the dark room, she was instantly suspicious of Sho.
In fact, for a moment, she had no doubt that he was a demon.
Kamila had talked her way out of it. And Kamila was one of the
least tactful girls Yuki knew. She was irritable, brash and a
little obnoxious. Even undercover, she was a perfect Hageshoni
specimen. Yuki fell for it anyway. Even while Sho was trying to
kill Yuki, she refused to believe Kamila was involved until
Kamila personally admitted it.
could she have left herself so open? With Kathryn out of town,
Yuki was easy prey for Kamila. She was suspicious even, enough
to bring a bodyguard. Why not something more substantial, like
insisting that Kurt or even Troy come along with them? Her blind
trust in Kamila trumped her own intuition. Her minimal
preparation had saved her life, but cost Kurt his.
still didn't know what to make of that. Kurt died making sure
she didn't. That was what really kept her at home. How could she
possibly comprehend how close she had come to death? Especially
now that the ramifications of death shattered everything she
knew. If not for him, she'd be the one everyone was mourning.
Death wasn't something kids her age dwelled on often. Yuki had
no experience with it: her family had access to some wonderful
longevity spells and the eldest of her clan were pushing 150.
All she knew about it was that it was inevitable, painful and
pretty damn permanent. Actual reactions and consequences may
death left Troy and Kathryn with nothing but questions. Yuki had
nothing but cold answers. She never questioned why Kurt died,
because she had no one to blame but herself. It was her
gullibility and incompetence that had put him in such a bad
spot. In the end, all the problems that had led to this were due
to her. Quite simply, she blew it.
Yuki knew it wasn't the end. All this hindsight would haunt her
forever; there was no avoiding it. That was her punishment for
failure, and she had no choice but to accept it. The only way
she would be able to live with herself was if she took its
lesson to heart. Life would go on, the MST would continue
fighting demons and she would one day be needed again. She
couldn't fathom losing another the way she lost Kurt.
picked up her Crafting text. She wasn't just going to learn
about this new potion; she was going to perfect it. She was
going to perfect everything necessary to become an efficient
third-year Crafter. Her age was no longer an acceptable excuse
and she needed to demonstrate her lineage through something
tangible. Sad that it took such a devastating tragedy to show
her the truth, but she saw it clearly. For all her failings, the
worst possible outcome would be not reacting.
satchel in hand, she marched out the door. There was a nice
quiet place nearby where she could practice her craft in peace.
She was going to devote more time than she ever had before. When
she returned, the unacceptably childish Yuki Shizuka would be
wake was surprisingly mundane. For all the talk of him dying as
a hero and providing such great service to the MST, when
Thursday came there was no sign of anything befitting such a
noble death. No draped flag, no twenty-one fireball salute, no
riderless horse down Main Street. It was a normal service at a
normal funeral home in L. B. Gould. The logic was to allow all
the unaware locals to participate and mingle with the magi.
Still, it seemed a little shallow to everybody who knew how he
supposed to be a memorial bothered Troy immensely. How was
anyone supposed to fully commemorate Kurt's life without
divulging the most important part of it? Furthermore, something
told him that it wasn't just the local mortician who had
prepared Kurt's body. It was utterly pristine. The vicious wound
through his chest was gone. Either the process was far more
skillful than Troy gave credit for or there was magic involved.
way, one sight of Kurt had Marie sobbing on Troy's shoulder. He
rubbed her back, silently contemplating the body. Sometimes the
dead seem to be at peace, comfortable with their passing on and
ready to call it a day. Kurt looked rather detached. No matter
how the MST spun it about him dying in battle to save his
friends, Kurt neither planned for it, expected it nor desired
it. Had it been up to him, he either never would have gotten hit
in the first place or Yuki would have pulled that potion off.
Marie sniffed, “I need to get some water.” She turned around and
blue was as close to black as Yuki had in her wardrobe. Even so,
the dress seemed unusually dark for the girl. So did her
expression. She was not going to chirp back at Marie nor dive
into her arms crying. Yuki's face was steeled and cold. Even so,
her eyes were moist. She wasn't leaping forward to hug Marie,
but Marie crouched and embraced her.
okay, Yuki?” Marie asked, trying unsuccessfully to contain her
be,” Yuki replied, staring at Troy. He looked back, in awe of
her surprising show of strength. It went beyond her dress, face
and words. There was something else to her that Troy couldn't
found it. As she pulled back and looked into Yuki's eyes, she
said, “You cut your hair.”
eyebrows raised as he noticed it too: her trademark braids were
gone. The rest of her hair was trimmed to a simple, neat cut
that didn't reach the nape of her neck.
was all Yuki said.
nodded. “Looks good. I'll be right back.”
left to fix herself up, Yuki approached the casket. Troy
really okay?” he asked as she peered at Kurt. For all her
attempts at looking stoic, they didn't stop the stream of tears
from rolling down her face.
shook her head. “Never again,” she declared. “I'm not going to
pretend that I'm not partially responsible for this. He was
relying on me the way I relied on him. I failed. Now I have to
live with this. It's awful. So I'm never letting it happen
again. To any of us.”
patted her back. Somehow this was reassuring to him. The words
were one thing, but Yuki's tone of voice had changed. This
wasn't one of her sing-song chirps or blubbering squeaks. She
sounded different and looked different. If Yuki really was
different, Troy could only nod in respect.
He heard a man's voice call him. When Troy turned around, he
gasped at the sight. He recognized the man only through a memory
ball at Central Academy. Kurt's father stood before him.
Sempman...” Troy mumbled, in awe.
heard a lot about you, Troy,” Trent replied.
spun around as well. Trying to keep her hard-fought composure,
she stammered, “Mr... Mr... oh, I'm so sorry... I hope you don't
interrupted her with a faint smile. “And this must be Yuki
Shizuka.” He bowed.
don't do that. I don't deserve it,” Yuki said, her voice now
all right. If you don't mind, I'd like to steal Troy for a
nodded silently. When they turned around, they found Marie.
“Troy,” she said, looking up at Trent. “Who's this?”
Nervously, Troy said, “This is Kurt's father, Trent.” Marie's
eyes widened as Troy went on, “Mr. Sempman, this is my
nodded at her. “Troy and I need to talk for a bit.”
stepped in and took Marie's hand. “They need to talk about some
things. They'll be back soon.”
little confused, Marie let them go, taking a deep breath as Troy
and Trent moved on.
it with Monroes and civilian girls?” Trent said. “Like father,
blew it off and got to his big question. “How did you get here?”
responded with a look of confusion. “What do you mean? When we
found out, the force gave my wife and I some time off. Only
natural to want to be here.”
wife?” Troy looked around.
she's off talking with Alicia.”
weren't you in another world? Seems like some trip.”
Trent looked confused. “It's just a matter of beaming back to
Central. We pop back a couple times a year. Not a huge deal.”
stared back, unsure what to think. He had always assumed that
being in another world was more or less permanent. If it was
possible to jump back and forth at will (or at least at the
MST's will), it again raised questions about his own father.
this time it could be on better terms.” Trent added.
heavily, Troy said, “Kurt really helped us all. Felt like he did
more to train us than Molly... er, our guardian.”
nodded. “You never expect things like this to happen. In all my
years in battle, I've only lost a dozen or so men. Any loss is
tragic. All we can take out of this is that he died doing his
duty, and in a very noble gesture. At least he'll be honored and
celebrated for his deeds. Can't say that always happens with
everybody who deserves it.”
words left Troy stunned. Trent said a quick farewell and started
to walk off. Quickly, Troy blurted, “Hey, have you heard from my
back around and narrowing his eyebrows, Trent replied, “Oh,
Frank? No, not lately. Why? Is something wrong?”
not to mutter, Troy said, “No, not really.” As Trent walked off,
Troy found several things wrong. Considering his son had just
died, Mr. Sempman seemed far too level. Trent even acknowledged
that casualties in the MST were rare. Where was the parental
outrage? He must have been aware of the circumstances that had
put Kurt in such a precarious position. Molly and Kathryn had
been concerned about it the whole time. Trent wasn't, even after
the worst scenario came to pass?
squeezed Troy's hand. “Is everything all right?” she asked. “How
is he doing?”
doing fine,” Troy muttered, clasping Marie's hand.
you? You look a little...”
know,” Troy answered. “It just bugs me a little bit. I don't
refused to elaborate for Marie. He wasn't sure if he felt like
elaborating for himself.
had been closest to Kurt when the fatal blow landed. That image
replayed in her mind for days. She had seen allies take hits
before. She had even seen Renee fall unconscious in battle.
Every time, she felt a little sick to her stomach. But the
moment it happened, she knew this time was worse. From her
perspective, she knew it had been an injury Yuki would struggle
to heal. That was the moment Molly Pearson lost control of
someone who could control an entire population, suddenly she
couldn't even control herself. She had no capacity to help Kurt
while he laid bleeding, yet it took an intense effort from Renee
to get her to budge. It almost killed Troy in the process. As a
guardian, Molly knew Yuki did not handle pressure well. As a
human, she gave Kurt's only possible savior an abundance of it.
Even afterwards, Molly was so distraught that she failed to
report anything to the MST. Of all people, Blaine was the only
one capable enough to return their calls.
it about Kurt that prompted such an unbecoming response? As long
as he had been in his unique position of mentor, assistant and
later field agent, she tried not to think about him in any other
context. They had a professional relationship because situations
were always forcing them to. Such a partnership dictated a
measured level of concern when he was hit, not absolute panic.
She had a professional relationship with Claude too, but she
barely flinched whenever something happened to him.
had to finally acknowledge that they were more than just allies.
She never let her guard down for mere allies. But around Kurt,
involuntarily, often unknowingly, she could relax. Even if he
didn't fully grasp her situation or agree with her methods, he
came closest to understanding who she was. In far too many ways,
she needed Kurt.
just started to appreciate having someone like him around.
Clearly, 'professional relationship' understated things
severely. He had been a true confidante, co-conspirator,
sounding board and, yes, a friend. Her only real one, in fact.
Few could stand on equal terms with Molly and even fewer wanted
to associate with her when they did. Kurt had, even going so far
to offer personal suggestions, coaxing her out of her shell and
such. He even had the gumption to tease her now and then.
Annoying as it was at the time, she was really going to miss
that. In hindsight, Molly saw Kurt as her best friend, only now
realizing how badly she needed one.
was she supposed to do now? Surely, even if the MST was kind
enough to supply them with a permanent field agent that was
actually qualified, that connection was gone. A replacement
would probably be a Richard Herman type, and Molly loathed
Richard Herman. The feeling was likely mutual. She could never
hold anything resembling a friendship with her subordinates
either. She disliked Troy, Kathryn disliked her right back,
while Yuki was naive, flighty and firmly grounded in a system
Molly didn't trust.
was just as tricky. The sisters got along quite well for two
girls with totally opposite personalities, but Renee didn't have
the perspective necessary to understand Molly's problems. She
also maintained a stubborn belief that all this magic stuff was
'cool.' Kurt dying may have opened Renee's eyes. One thing was
for sure, Renee had been firmly at Molly's side since the
included an informal 'meeting of the minds' after Kurt's wake.
Renee was not one of those minds. In fact, she seemed a little
awed at the presence of so many higher-ranking magi- a Thrusting
professor, a dean of student affairs, Kurt's parents (themselves
generals) and one frazzled district commander.
everybody there, Renee had to ask, half-jokingly, “So, don't
suppose we can bring him back through alchemy?”
Weatherstone hesitantly replied, “No, um, that would be... bad.”
it's expecting too much to think that he could be revived?”
it's not totally impossible,” said Marlowe, in a low tone.
lifted her head and faced him. “You're saying it's possible to
bring someone back to life? How?”
shrugged and said, “Magic.”
not helping,” mumbled Uriel.
involuntary chuckle, Marlowe said, “What, you've never heard of
it, Marlowe,” said Trent, growing annoyed.
that?” Molly asked, leaning forward.
explained, “It's a very rare plant that can preserve the soul of
whoever eats it. If they're killed while the spores are still in
their system, they wake up unharmed some time later. We call
them 1-up plants.”
narrowed her eyebrows, both curious and a little disturbed.
“1-up? You mean like Super Mario?”
just get a video game reference?” Renee said, ready to fangirl
in sisterly pride, despite the circumstances.
Weatherstone scoffed. “Renee, dear, everybody knows Mario. And I
wouldn't get excited. Green Knightshade was harvested to
near-extinction years ago. Besides, one must be eaten prior to
death to be of any use.”
nodded. “Yes, sadly, when I said it wasn't impossible, that
involved the possibility that he had consumed one prior to last
Saturday. Which I assume is not the case.”
why the hell did you mention it?” Molly said through clenched
teeth, her hand balling into a fist. Renee set her hand atop it,
patting it gently. Marlowe considered it for a moment, but did
is, we're in a bit of a corner right now,” Uriel said, measured.
“With our limited budget and the Hageshoni now involved, nobody
will want to take Kurt's old job. And whatever motive the demons
had, they have no incentive to stop pursuing it.”
have to take the offensive. Send in a squadron to hunt them down
and destroy them,” Trent said.
Weatherstone shook her head. “You're suggesting starting a war
with the Hageshoni... in the middle of Ohio?”
blatantly attacked the granddaughter of a High Councilman.
They're begging for a response like that, which suggests a
trap,” Marlowe replied.
don't have the resources to attempt that anyway,” Uriel said.
“And I'm sure as hell not getting the likes of Richard Herman to
take the lead. Unless you're willing to volunteer, Trent.”
“Unfortunately, we have to return to our posts soon,” Trent
is, everybody here is right. We need to do something, but we can
neither fall into their traps nor pretend we have the ability-”
In the middle of Uriel's speech, Molly stood up and started to
walk away. “Molly? Where are you going?”
didn't reply. Renee followed Molly out of the room. After a
period of silence, she heard Marlowe say, “Until we know what
their motives are...” That was where the door closed behind her.
sounded important,” Renee said.
“Sounded... but isn't,” Molly mumbled, sitting down, away from
the think tank's spinning wheels. “They'll talk forever and not
come up with any good conclusions. In the end, we'll be in as
much danger as we were in last week.”
sat down next to her and clutched her hand. “So what are we
supposed to do?”
“Nothing. What goes on beyond this city is none of my business.”
those two attack again, I will personally destroy them.”
leaned her head against Molly's shoulder. “That's more like it.
Nice and simple.”
is nice and simple, Renee.”
Chuckling, Renee patted her sister's hand. “It is when you're in
charge. I know you could do it too.”
sighed. Renee was probably right. At least pretending Renee was
right made Molly feel better. Until she could figure out what it
was, the honest truth would have to wait.