Suddenly, it had been one full week since Kurt's death. For all
of the long hours spent reflecting, questioning and consoling,
it still seemed to zip by. Weeks tend to be unpredictable like
that- agonizingly slow one moment and over the next. Rarely had
a Saturday ever been so dreadful, but even the day itself seemed
haunting to everyone who was there. Thankfully, Saturday allowed
them to stay far away from the scene of the crime and get
together to consider resuming their lives.
involved finding something else to build on. Unfortunately, not
much else was going on. This sort of thing tended to implode
one's itinerary. Troy, Kathryn, Yuki and Marie all agreed to get
together for lunch at Rosa's and attempt to restart normality.
Still, it required someone to provide a new topic. All Troy
could come up with was Yuki's hair.
“Seriously, what's going on with that?”
looked up, as if she could actually see her own hair. “Just
something different. I was growing out of the last style.”
actually starting to look like a high school student,” said
“Thanks,” replied Yuki, smiling back. “I'm going for something a
little older. Maybe I'll stop acting like a kid now.”
and Troy didn't reply beyond an appreciative nod. They
understood and didn't need to say more. Neither could honestly
say they harbored absolutely no resentment toward Yuki for what
happened. But they knew how much she resented it herself. They
were not about to add to her misery. If anything, they admired
her strong response. Troy and Kathryn knew how hard it would be
to emerge from all this as a stronger person. Lord knows they
were having enough trouble with it.
be hard for a girl your age to go through all this,” Marie said.
Everybody looked down. Yuki replied, “Well, hard for all of us.”
was too young. Not Yuki,” Troy said. Everyone nodded.
right about that.” Marie shook her head. “It's so hard to think
about. I still can't believe this really happened. I feel so
thing he wants is for us to mope about it,” Kathryn said. “Just
gotta figure out where to go from here.”
stared at Kathryn. “And where would that be?”
stared back and frowned. “I have no idea.”
to more silence. All four heads were down, with Marie still
shaking her head. Clearly, they weren't making much progress.
Yuki stepped in again. “Has anybody talked to Molly?”
three others went from sad to sad and uncomfortable. Troy kept
his head down. Marie lifted hers, eyes darting from side to
side. Kathryn stared back, paying attention but not answering.
on!” Yuki's raised voice startled Troy and Marie. “Don't tell me
you don't feel a little sorry for her too. Kurt was the only
real friend she had.”
whose fault is that?” Troy asked. “Maybe if she tried being
civil to the rest of us, she'd have a few more.”
“Well...” Kathryn said, uneasy. “Hate to say it, but Yuki's
still right. She's probably taking it the hardest out of
anybody. At least I've got all you guys to talk to.”
invited Renee here too,” Yuki confessed. “She didn't want to go
as it sounds, I would have been all right with that.”
looked down. “Molly didn't want to go.”
sighed. “That's all right. Not sure if I can deal with Renee
right now. We've got enough on our hands.”
you that's taken care of,” Troy said defiantly. Setting his head
on his hand, he muttered, “And it's not like Kamila's here.”
and Yuki shuddered at her name. They even made Marie feel
uncomfortable by association. Before they could stew for too
long, Kathryn asked Marie, “Don't suppose you've heard from
leaned back. Just the bitter way Kathryn asked it made her
nervous. “What? What do you mean?”
Kamila told you where she ran off to? She's been gone all week.”
yeah, she told me she had to leave for a family emergency.”
Marie tried to calm down. She knew this wasn't an interrogation,
but Kathryn was on edge and even the most innocent questions
sounded nasty. “Didn't she contact you?” Marie added.
Kathryn replied. “So what's the emergency?”
looked away. “She wouldn't say. You know how she can get
she's good at keeping things to herself. That's for sure.”
just have to grill her when she gets back.”
seemed to nod half-heartedly, but everybody continued eating in
silence. Except Marie, who looked at the other three, lost in
their own thoughts. “I hope she's doing all right.” No response.
“She did say she's sorry to hear about Kurt.”
said that?” Troy asked suddenly.
was taken aback. “Well, yeah. Of course.”
shook his head and went back to his food.
deep sigh, Marie looked down as well. “We're not getting very
far, are we?”
Donovan... wasn't the mourning type. He didn't miss school over
the incident, even going so far as to teleport into the dark
room after being locked out on Molly's impromptu off day. In a
way, he appeared to be a rock, continuing his daily business
while others dragged their feet through the mire of grief. It
seemed like an apt comparison- rocks don't think, after all.
even as he appeared unaffected, he wasn't in the mood for being
his usual faux-frightening self. He still prowled the hallways
at school, keeping his menacing appearance. It was the little
extras that were lost- the glares, the posturing, the
nonsensical rhetoric. Donovan didn't even do much in the way of
occult club activities, electing to sulk for a few hours
instead. Truthfully, his normal demeanor was so dour, the
current events didn't change it much, working instead through
his lack of activity.
worked well for the other students. Despite their revulsion of
school 'characters' like him and Molly, losing that flavor made
life less rhythmic. Even when Molly returned to school, she was
fairly inert and the collective melancholy kept things quiet. No
one dared irritate Molly in her current state. But students
loved having Donovan roaming around- seemingly normal but even
more harmless than usual. Seemed like normal and harmless was
all anyone could hope for.
full week of this, the mood of the school gradually improved.
Benign things like the approaching Valentine's Day or a big win
in basketball tend to conquer the important and depressing.
Donovan picked up on the returned spirit and went back to being
disgusted at the populace. After school, he returned to the dark
room, ready to immerse the place in evil all over again.
didn't get far: “Hello Donovan,” Kendrick said, less cheerful
stared back, annoyed at the intruder but silent.
understand if you're not particularly chatty right now. I heard
about Kurt. You all have my condolences.”
panicked when the door swung open, but it was merely Bryce.
“Sir, I have another...” Whatever was in the jar he was holding,
it was soon splattered against the floor once he saw Kendrick.
say that wasn't more goat blood,” Kendrick muttered.
imitation. Supposed to work just as well,” Bryce said. This was
true- both were equally useless. “But what the hell are you
Kendrick replied pleasantly, “Checking up on everything. Seeing
how everybody is coping. You can see why I loathe the Hageshoni
sneered. “Why do you care? You tried to kill Kurt once. And
Donovan... heck, all of us.”
held up a finger. “Not the little Asian girl. And bear in mind
that my efforts to kill you have been strictly under orders, and
following the necessary protocol. Only in self-defense.”
fused a demon to Donovan and told him to kill Molly,” Bryce
so willingly. And the whole Black Tag matter was circumstantial.
I had no say in whom Donovan tried to kill, which was the other
Pearson if you recall.” Kendrick shrugged. “Besides, your
doctors resolved the issue. No harm done.”
you here?” Donovan muttered.
leaned back. Somehow, hearing a simple question from Donovan
seemed more significant than Bryce's very legitimate gripes. In
fact, Kendrick found it difficult to answer the question unless
he could be minion-free.
will you step outside for a moment?”
Narrowing his eyebrows, Bryce replied, “No way. I'm not leaving
him alone with you.”
Bryce's surprise, Donovan supported him. Sort of. “The minion is
inconsequential. Speak or perish.”
Grumbling, Kendrick said, “Very well.” Summoning a deep breath,
Kendrick answered the question: “If it helps to understand our
predicament, yes, my mission was to orchestrate the death of
Molly Pearson. Preferably at your hands.”
leaned forward, folding his arms. Bryce gasped. “You... you...”
He calmed down and said, “Guess that shouldn't come as a shock,
but it's pretty bold to come out with it now.”
rolled his eyes and gestured at Bryce, facing Donovan. “See why
I wanted it to be just us? Can you at least switch to the other
one? He's less chatty.”
“Agreed,” Donovan said. “Blaine!”
Blaine appeared as Bryce vanished. Then Blaine saw Kendrick.
you,” Kendrick said. “Anyway, I'm here because the Hageshoni
likely have the same goal, and they take a far less nuanced
approach than I do.”
continued to glare back. “What are you suggesting?”
already had the gall to attack the young Crafter unprovoked. Now
that they've earned the wrath of the MST, they no longer have
any reason to hold back. They will return, and likely stronger.”
shall defeat them!” Donovan boasted.
“Donovan...” Blaine looked down, nervously tapping his foot.
“He's got a point. Hiding doesn't do them any good and they're
bound to come back. We need to be ready.”
nodded, solemn. “That's why I'm here. Although you are not
officially one of my faction, we did give you that vrockrompir
and I'd be remiss if I didn't offer you our protection.”
chuckled derisively. Kendrick grew louder. “I mean it. Those
brutes are already capable of murder. You are all in grave peril
and I fear that if the Hageshoni are so inclined, anybody
construed to be protecting Molly Pearson may meet the same fate
as your friend.”
“Enough!” Donovan shouted, standing up. “Your pitiful plans to
enlist me have failed. Your promise of safety is likely as empty
as your promise of a powerful demon to fuse with!”
Donovan started to walk out, Kendrick stood and threw a hand up.
“Donovan!” he yelled, a little more urgent. “I'll admit that
enlisting you as a Hokoni may have had an ulterior motive. But I
am not exaggerating the danger you are all in. If you walk out
on me, you are choosing to defend Molly Pearson. I don't think
you realize just how uncharacteristically noble such an act is.”
snapped back around. “Leave my dark room. I will not hide from
my chance to claim revenge. Even if it means standing beside
“Donovan, I-” The door slammed shut and Kendrick was alone. This
time, there was no light in the room.
had a remarkably high level of patience for Donovan's behavior.
Once, he had even assured himself that there was an inherent
logic to all that insanity. Donovan must have had reasons for
what he was doing. A part of Kendrick figured that the offer
would be rejected. The reasoning was awe-inspiring and stupid,
of course, but consistent. It was a hard sell anyway-
encouraging Donovan to shy away from conflict instead of
pursuing it the way he usually did. Still, the task was
frustrating to say the least.
was so quixotic that the demon resorted to honesty. It was
certainly folly to let an MST mage know of the mission, but
Kendrick bared the essentials truthfully. The Urayoni faction
was the first to discover Molly Pearson. When efforts to enlist
her failed, the Hokoni had assumed she was inconvertible. Such
great power in such young a body was dangerous, and the faction
immediately set out to destroy her.
Unfortunately for the Hokoni, they were operating in a position
of weakness. They had a limited budget, spread thin over several
broad campaigns to stir up trouble on Earth. Thus, Molly
demanded more of a grass-roots effort. This was where Kendrick
came in. Since the full might of the MST would be devastating
for the Hokoni, he not only had to kill Molly on the cheap, but
avoid taking the blame for it.
seemed like a perfect mark. Obsessed with darkness, already
holding a disdain for Molly and blessed with some degree of
magic skill. Plus, given Molly's status as the school tyrant,
her death would be viewed as a political assassination, not the
cold murder of a high school girl. It would have been a
brilliant plan, if not for Donovan.
bothered Kendrick the most about Donovan was that he clearly
operated under his own agenda. He wasn't simply rebuffing the
temptation of evil. Donovan hated Molly and the forces of good
as much as anybody. He just didn't see anything better on the
other side. When Donovan had agreed to accept the vrockrompir,
Kendrick was dumbfounded because there was no salesmanship
involved. A year of offers and promises and, yes, threats had
nothing on Donovan's personal needs.
end, not even his very own demon could show Donovan the benefits
of life with the Hokoni. Shame too, because this most recent
offer had nothing to do with Molly. Kendrick was also honest in
his assessment of the Hageshoni. Bad times were ahead, and
whatever little progress Kendrick had made with Donovan, he was
determined to keep it. Far too often, the Hageshoni destroyed
everything the Hokoni had invested so much time into. Kendrick
could tolerate a direct attack on Molly, but not at the expense
of his work.
the Hageshoni were up to, Kendrick knew it would be a bad idea
to be anywhere near them while they were active. The MST was
determined to hunt down Sho and Kamila. Kendrick thought it best
to watch the two sides fight from the sidelines. He had made his
effort to shield Donovan; the rest would be watched from his
headquarters far away.
you've returned, Kendrick.” Kendrick didn't recognize the voice,
but shuddered anyway. Such an authoritarian tone suggested a
superior; something unfamiliar suggested a top superior.
turned around and bowed reflexively upon seeing the
intimidating, regal figure of Grandon Crostell. Kendrick wasn't
sure exactly where Crostell fell in the complex Hokoni
hierarchy, but certainly he was among the top five in the
organization. “Yes, my liege,” Kendrick said.
see nobody alongside you,” Crostell said disapprovingly.
Kendrick's held his head low. “Yes, Donovan refused our
protection. He has proven himself to be quite foolish.”
foolish as the one pursuing him all this time.” Kendrick did not
dare look up, but he couldn't help but shudder at the insult. He
had met Grandon Crostell once, briefly, at a members meeting
years ago. How could Crostell have any knowledge of the current
situation? “The results have been less than acceptable.”
could not bite his tongue here. “My liege, we have finally
gotten him to accept a demon. We must continue working if we are
to have any hope of stopping Molly Pearson.”
turned up his nose. “Since when has the Hokoni been bothered by
one measly girl? In any event, it seems the Hageshoni have taken
the territory and it does us no good to interfere.”
“Kendrick, consider your mission a failure and prepare for
assessment and reassignment next week.”
Kendrick's eyes bulged and he looked up. “But sir, Donovan-”
is inconsequential to our goals. We do not have the resources to
fish for such small prey. I do not have the patience to allow
such a fruitless task to steal attention from our larger
conquests. Is that understood?”
Frowning, Kendrick looked down again. “Yes, my liege.”
Consider yourself furloughed until next week. Your new mission
will surely be something more productive.”
Crostell walked away, Kendrick lacked the energy to even sneer
back at him. In so few words, two years of work had been flushed
away. Molly would live on and Donovan would spend the rest of
his career unhappy in the MST. Kendrick hated to think about
letting either happen without a fight.
made it even more disgusting was that Crostell probably signed
off on the whole thing in the first place. But a few things
break differently and suddenly he pretends that he never liked
the idea to begin with. It was typical Hokoni behavior: the past
could be ignored when inconvenient.
that wasn't the worst side of the Hokoni. It was the endless
dancing around the MST, trying to accomplish the worst without
stepping on toes. They were a terribly limited faction, slow to
adapt and unwilling to take risks. Kendrick knew his next
mission would require neither the stealth capability nor subtle
tact he possessed. It would likely be some routine front line
combat operation or a musty desk job.
wasn't suited for either. He was meant to accomplish more.
Despite the ruling from a very high officer, Kendrick also felt
that his work in L. B. Gould wasn't finished. There was so much
more to be done, but Kendrick knew he was running out of time.
makes anyone feel better, Kamila and Sho weren't much happier.
not for a tipoff, they would have been captured in Columbus.
Instead, they had just enough time to sneak out the back before
the agents came calling. They jumped from the second floor fire
escape and landed on their feet in an alley. From above, ice
bolts and flaming rocks rained down like meteors. Sho threw up a
barrier to defend them while Kamila held an anti-teleportation
spell up. Last thing they needed was their pursuers appearing
right in front of them.
Kamila kept running until they happened upon a bus. They didn't
need to know where it was going. Kamila kept her spell up. Yes,
it looked strange to have her arm held out constantly, but there
were sure to be stranger sights on a public bus. They made two
more transfers before she set her arm down.
they told us to run, but it would be even better if they told us
where to go,” Kamila muttered. “I'm sick of this!”
stared at an advertisement above the bus driver, seemingly vexed
by it. Then he stood up and pulled the cord to request a stop.
God,” Kamila said as they disembarked.
walked for several blocks, Sho leading the way through
not-quite-downtown streets. These were second-class high rises-
not quite skyscrapers, not quite tenements. Kamila followed Sho
into a plain, gray building. She was surprised that it was held
offices. An apartment would have been more appropriate,
especially in this part of town. On the tenth floor, she saw the
reassuring logo for the Emerald Gate lobbying firm.
a secretary was wrapping up a phone call, but already leery of
them. “Five thousand dollars a plate, right? Absolutely, put us
down for two. Our next appointment just walked in so I need to
go. Give our best to the governor.”
up, her tone grew darker immediately. “So they finally gave up
and threw you two at us, huh?”
her hips, Kamila snapped back, “Look, lady, don't get on us. All
we were told was to come here.”
I was told was to hide you away. Follow me.”
did. One of the offices behind her had two cots. “Lovely,”
being generous sticking our necks out to give you this. Frankly,
I'm surprised you've survived this long considering how tactless
orders,” Kamila huffed. “And I'm not thrilled with them either.”
we,” the secretary replied, smiling. “That's why we're taking
over the operation.”
sneered back, but didn't reply. She didn't mind the Urayoni at
all, and her disdain for the current state of the operation made
her welcome another faction taking charge. Just not with that
kind of attitude, especially from a fellow underling.
like you'll be in action again soon, so no need to get too
think that'll be a problem,” Kamila replied. The cots looked
hard, the blankets were thin and there was nothing in the way of
spare clothing or toiletries. “So what do your people have in
mind for us?”
secretary chuckled. “Sounds like we're doing this your way. Just
with the strategy and support to back it up. Our operatives are
even getting involved.”
Kamila was nervous. This was escalating. The secretary heard the
phone ring and left the two Hageshoni alone.
on one of the cots, Kamila heaved a sigh. She was plummeting
into the deep end far faster than she was ready for. She would
admit that getting a little more action seemed like fun at the
time. However, the intense finale of the battle, the fugitive
status and this progression into a larger conflict was more than
she could handle. After all, despite her aggressive nature, her
original purpose was to plant her mark in the dark room and keep
close tabs on Molly Pearson's brood. When her friend started
dating one of them, it was a perfect opening and she had
operated brilliantly until the orders changed.
found it disturbingly easy to shrug off her friendship with
Kathryn, Troy and Yuki. Betraying them, however, was never part
of the original plan. After a couple years, she was simply going
to move away and never talk to them again. She wasn't thrilled
with the prospect of having to kill any of them, but she wasn't
about to let cheap sentiment stand between her and her mission.
Besides, Yuki forcing a connection between her and Sho really
pissed Kamila off.
didn't hate Sho. Rather, she thought of him like an unusual,
fascinating cousin. When he was around, interesting things were
destined to happen. Not necessarily good, but sure to liven
things up. His demeanor was pure ice and he listened to nobody
that wasn't a fellow Hageshoni. Two years of bowing to Molly
Pearson made Kamila admire that. The only catch, of course, was
that he also never spoke to anybody that wasn't of the faction.
That wasn't due to any rebellious tendencies or general disdain
cannot take orders from some other puny faction,” Sho growled.
Not murmured in a deep voice like some hack pop rock singer-
growled. His voice was all throat and glottal noise, a product
of growing up in some demonic territory abroad. The language
there was all throat noise, and so was Sho's approximation of
up. They can't get us into any more of a fix than we're already
in,” Kamila replied, falling back onto the cot. It was even less
comfortable than it looked.
expect us to team up with their operatives? Pathetic.”
sighed. Working with the faction was one thing, but dealing with
their operatives bothered her. She dreaded what that entailed.
I'm trying to rest up. Whatever they got going for us, I want to
be ready for it.”
better involve destroying those children,” Sho said.
her eyes, Kamila then shut them. “It had better not,” she
replied. Not because she didn't want to have to attack her
former friends again. If necessary, she'd swallow any semblance
of pride and obey her orders. Instead, Kamila feared the looks
on their faces if they ever saw her again. They were more
capable than she had realized, and now they were bound to be
first part of the week, the school looked like it was returning
to normal. Those that had known Kurt started to accept his
death, and those who didn't were getting really sick of the dour
atmosphere all the time. At some point, kids realized that it
was still a long, boring stretch until spring break and school
itself was depressing enough without worrying about what
happened beyond it. So they resolved to move forward, eagerly
attacking their responsibilities. Partially because they
realized that their time on Earth was too precious to waste;
mostly because there was no way they were surviving this
hellhole if they didn't.
however, derailed all that, at least temporarily. L. B. Gould
had been seeing an incredible spurt of beautiful weather. A
wonderful February in the Midwest was an improbable sight
indeed. The tragic death made it hard to appreciate, but once
the student body moved along, they saw the sun and the warmth
and it made them feel great. So naturally, Friday brought dingy
gray skies, heavy winds and low-hanging clouds threatening to
dump sleet upon the slightest provocation.
group, it just added to the misery. Troy didn't have a window
seat during homeroom, but he could see how cruddy it looked. For
the first four days of the week, he was merely miserable. Friday
seemed both miserable and a little off. Something about the air,
the lighting and even the ambient noise around him suggested
that he wasn't supposed to be here today.
students took heed, and apparently got the message well before
Troy did. The room was unusually sparse. Ultimately, it was only
three or four kids in the room out sick, but empty seats were
empty seats. They were clumped together in a block in front of
Troy and changed the usual view. He could see all the way to the
front of the room instead of the back of some guy's head.
Apparently, his classmates had taken notice. A text message
alert drew the scornful eye of the homeroom teacher, but brought
news that a flu outbreak left several classrooms just a little
emptier than usual.
also saw Marie, who did have a window seat. She was taking full
advantage of it, staring out pensively and ignoring the murmurs
around her. Almost two weeks and she remained distant. The need
for support after Kurt's death had drawn him closer to Kathryn.
Together, they realized that eventually they would get past this
and figure out life. She still had misgivings about the MST and
he was less eager to rush out to save the day, but they knew
they would at least be able to face these challenges.
Marie was closer to complete collapse. Troy wasn't sure how
everybody else processed the false story, making it that much
harder to figure out her mindset. Kathryn showed regret, Yuki
showed remorse, he showed shock... Marie seemed to show fear.
The one person in the group who didn't know the circumstances
behind it was also the most frightened of it. There must have
been a sense of control involved: did knowing Kurt had fought
for his life make it easier to swallow over some freak accident?
It seemed like the only explanation because now Marie was
looking over her shoulder, seemingly waiting for the next
“Anything outside?” Troy asked, trying to be casual. Anything to
get her to look away from the window and at him.
did, but startled. “No. I'm just, uh... no.”
sighed. Of course there wasn't; he was joking. “What's wrong? I
mean, I know it's been hard on all of us, but it's over. It's
not like it happens all the time.”
it does?” she asked, with a slightly manic tone.
leaned back, looking away. “Don't say that. You can't think
about stuff like that. It was a really bad accident, and we just
have to hope we'll be all right now.”
slumped down on her desk. “I guess so. I just...” Before she
could finish, her tears took over. Troy scrambled to scoot his
chair next to her desk and rubbed her back, all the while
looking over his shoulder at the classmates who were present,
all staring back sadly.
this isn't like you. What's going on?”
her tears, she said, “Why does everything have to change, Troy?
I just want all this to stay the way it is.”
Comforting her any way he could, but scrambling for words, he
said, “They will. From now on. I promise.”
shook her head. “I didn't want to move here in the first place.
I start to get comfortable and everything changes again.”
nothing to say. Things were clearer now; a fear of change he
could understand. It didn't mean he could help her overcome it.
thing was, she knew that. “Troy... I know I've been a wreck
lately. And I know you're trying. But I can't get past this
right now. I don't want to get in your way anymore. Maybe we
should just back off for a while.”
off? What do you mean?”
tried to face him, but couldn't. “I'm in no condition to care
about our relationship right now. I just want to set it aside
until I figure this out. No sense having you worry about me
Honestly, the suggestion made him worry more. Whenever something
bad happened, Troy had always gravitated closer to his friends
and loved ones. He knew Marie was drifting apart. Was she really
resisting the effort to reverse that? He wasn't going to stand
for it. After he had rebuked Renee, he wasn't losing Marie
without a fight.
he could protest, however, Molly's projected voice interrupted:
“Would the following students please report to the Student
Council Office immediately: Renee Pearson, Kathryn Santos, Yuki
Shizuka, Donovan Dunmar and Troy Monroe. And I mean now.”
glared at the loudspeaker. This day was bad enough already. Now
everybody in the room was staring at him, one with a stopwatch
measuring how loosely Troy defined 'now.'
was also annoyed at the interruption. “Go on,” she mumbled, head
up, Troy said, “We're not done, Marie. I want to talk as soon as
I get back. This isn't over.”
for now,” she said.
Frustrated as he was, he walked out of the room. He didn't want
to leave it there. He didn't want to lose her. He really didn't
want to know what Molly wanted. Once out in the hallway, he
broke into a run.
knew it was bad news. Molly wouldn't have been this overt and
spontaneous over something he might actually want to hear. He
cursed her for interrupting him and Marie, but raced there just
the same. Maybe it would get his mind off the subject, even if
he wasn't bound to like what he'd hear.
he was going, he didn't see Renee until the moment before he
crashed into her. They tumbled to the floor, with Troy
practically somersaulting over her and landing on his back. He
lied there, wincing at the fleeting pain. “Sorry... you okay?”
was on her knees, rubbing her side. “Yeah. Guess I need to quit
stalling and go in there, huh?”
up first, extending a hand to help him up. “Huh?” he asked as he
exactly in a hurry to get there. That's why I was walking so
looked down at their hands, still clutched together. Troy caught
it too and pulled them apart, stepping back. “I'm scared about
what's going on.”
I am too.” Troy looked at his hand. Even simple contact with her
seemed strange. Especially now. After the madness with Marie, he
couldn't say it didn't feel good though.
but I don't want Molly to think I'm scared,” she said, turning
away. “She doesn't really have anybody to turn to now, so I'm
doing what I can. She needs someone to lean on and if I'm not
there... I'm really worried about her, Troy.”
wouldn't have minded talking to Renee. Even as friends she would
certainly find a way to get his spirits up. But the subject was
wrong. He was struggling enough without hearing about Molly's
turned away, ready to dismiss the topic, Renee shouted, “I'm
serious, Troy!” Meeting him face-to-face, she said, “At least
you and Kathryn and Yuki can be there for each other. Who does
Molly have? Who's going to tell her that it's going to be okay?”
Troy replied angrily. “I get that. You're supporting your
sister. That's great.” He walked by, trying to end the
conversation. It probably sounded meaner than he intended. Renee
helping Molly was not something to be ashamed of. It just wasn't
surprising either. Seemed like the obvious move to him, and he
didn't understand the problem.
can't do it,” she said, freezing him. “I don't know what's going
on with the MST. I don't know what the demons are planning. And
I'm not as strong as Kurt was. I can be Molly's sister, but
she's still my Guardian. That means she's the one protecting me,
not the other way around. Kurt was the only one who was
responsible for protecting her. He was the only one Molly would
let protect her.”
clutched his head, slowly turning around. “Kurt was protecting
all of us. I'm sure she's going through hell right now, but we
all are. Think about Kathryn, okay? Think about me; I can't make
any sense of this either.” He sighed, his voice cracking. “And
don't get me started on Marie. Bet you didn't think about her.
She was friends with him too and she's freaking out over this. I
can't even tell her the truth about what happened to him or why
manic, and now in her face, he continued, “I understand all of
what you're saying. But it's just as bad for all of us. So I'm
sorry if I'm not feeling bad because you have to console Molly.
It's Molly we're talking about. There's no way in hell she's
going to let this destroy her.” After a deep breath, he turned
around and impatiently said, “Now let's get in there and see
what in God's name this is all about.”
started to walk towards the office without Renee. She caught up
quickly. They walked in side-by-side, both steeling their faces.
Kathryn, Donovan and Yuki were already waiting. Kathryn waved
her staff around as the other two claimed the two chairs. Molly
leaned against her desk, her arms folded.
part of 'now' don't you two understand? Donovan beat you here.
You should be ashamed.”
is it?” Yuki asked.
looked down. “They already took out one unit. They're going to
get here before any help arrives.”
wave of her finger, Molly changed the picture in the fake
window. It now revealed a view from the roof. Zooming in
revealed two dozen large, armored men advancing on the school,
marching with military precision. “The Hageshoni.”
jumped out of her chair and leaped toward the picture. “This is
impossible! They can't do this on Earth!”
“Apparently, they are.”
can't fight that!”
Seething, Molly replied, “No, we can't.”
head darted back and forth. “Is anybody coming to help?”
unit patrolling the area was the first to fall. The MST is fully
mobilizing, but they won't be here for an hour or so.”
surprise,” Yuki said, shaking her head. “When was the last time
we mobilized on Earth?”
must stand our ground once again,” Donovan said, practically
boastful. “Bring on this onslaught. We shall prevail.”
narrowed her eyes, but didn't roll them the way everybody else
did. “The enthusiasm is appreciated but I'd rather stay alive.
We're getting out of here. I'm more than happy to hide for an
walked to the middle of the room. “We should be safe at Ellen's
house if we get a barrier circle up soon enough.”
you mean my house?” Troy asked.
place away from this school. Your mother has already been
contacted and was willing to offer shelter. Now huddle up.”
Everybody stood close to her as she executed her trigger.
isn't Troy's house,” Kathryn said nervously.
“Impossible,” Molly muttered, looking through the window again.
“They're not close enough to interfere with teleportation.”
Indeed, the Hageshoni army was still outside the grounds. But
they were advancing.
they felt the displacement and heard the distant explosion.
was that?” Troy cried.
saying hello,” Molly replied. “Whatever their objective is, they
apparently want to achieve it through any means possible.”
the other kids...” Kathryn mumbled.
in displacement so they won't notice, right?” Renee asked.
kept staring at the window. “In theory. But the difference
between what we see and what everyone else sees has to be
reconciled through magic. If the disparity is too great... we
can't take any chances.”
what's our move?” asked Kathryn.
at all of them, Molly took a deep breath. “We hide.”