being dominated for several minutes with no clear opening
visible, Molly stood as confident as ever against Claude. All
his attacks had kept her scrambling, but ultimately he failed to
defeat her. In the long run, she knew she had the advantage.
There was just one thing to nail down.
done a masterful job discovering the barrier between her and the
elevator back up. It stood there nobly, certainly up until
Claude went down. With the guards securing the other exits, that
was the only way out. Standing on the opposite side of the room
as Claude, Molly did absolutely nothing.
paced around his corner of the room, waiting for her. Her
dormant state seemed to frustrate him. He held out a hand to
cast something, but Molly didn't budge. Dropping his hand as the
ruse proved useless, his shoulders slumped and he folded his
arms. That's when Molly jumped off the area rug that Claude
suddenly lifted into the air. It rolled up and took a swing at
her, but she threw up a spell to repel it. She turned back to
Claude, still inert... except for a slight twitch in his leg.
Molly shielded the incoming energy bolt.
began to understand his patterns. Claude always seemed to be a
little uptight. Molly had gotten accustomed to that. In fact, it
meant he could concentrate on a spell without anyone thinking he
was focusing on magic, or even capable of it. With an
easily-dismissed leg motion, he could cast a spell. No wonder
her reaction time had been so slow: with such a tense poise, he
could use magic inconspicuously.
she had observed him long enough, she trained herself to read
him better. Claude flinched again ever so slightly; Molly
readied herself. Only this time, the attack came from below. The
entire floor seemed to vibrate, but Claude didn't appear
rattled. He simply held his position, one leg maintaining slight
contact with the other. Molly clenched her teeth. She wasn't
ready for a new trick.
attack was on the ground, Molly figured the best defense would
be in the air. She cast a flight spell and felt it kick in, but
something was pulling her down. No matter how much energy she
put into her levitation, she couldn't get either foot off the
ground. The force was staggering and seemed to get worse the
more she tried. Helpless, she released the spell, but still felt
herself weighed down. The floor seemed to have its own concept
of gravity, and Molly struggled to move.
did, however. Just not with her feet. She pulled out her marker
and squatted. Lower to the ground, the pressure from Claude's
spell worsened. Molly fought to keep her knees off the floor,
for fear she wouldn't be able to lift them again. Very slowly,
she managed to create a circle around herself. By the time it
was done, her arm was limp, like she had been drawing with an
anvil. She shook it off and focused on her spell. Thankfully her
muscle memory let her execute her trigger, because she didn't
feel her hand moving.
moment her spell went off, it was all better. Her little circle
was immune from the gravity spell and she could afford a moment
to recover. Claude nodded respectfully. “Nicely done, Madam. But
you seemed to have limited your range.”
didn't answer. She rubbed her arm and her wrist to get some
feeling back into it. Her indifference to Claude made him
fidget. He raised a hand slightly at her and said, “Excuse me,
Madam? We're still dueling. You can't hole up in your barrier
her arm back and forth, Molly looked back at him and nodded.
Then her arm came forward and she launched one hell of an energy
blast through her circle and right at Claude. He had to leap
into the air and break off his spell.
Persistent attacks from Molly allowed her to step out of the
circle, giving her more range to roam around taking potshots at
Claude. He dodged all of them, sometimes barely, but now she had
clearly taken control. With a calm and efficient stroke, she
wanted nothing more than to bring him down.
Claude's credit, he was agile in the air as he avoided Molly's
attacks. This let him at least control the direction of his
frantic flailing so he could land a little farther away. Once on
the ground, he dodged another shot, threw his hand up and fired
back at Molly. She jumped into her still-fresh circle, which
absorbed the shot. Then she fired several rounds back, forcing
Claude to scramble again.
moment Molly paused for a second to catch her breath, Claude
stepped forward, not bothering to shoot her in her protective
circle. When she resumed, he had a shield of his own up. One
that was portable and let him advance. Effective as the barrier
circle was in deflecting spells, Molly was helpless when he
rushed in himself. Keeping his shield up, he blocked an attack,
grabbed her shoulders and forced her out of the circle. In the
process, Molly saw Claude's shield drop, but now her circle
protected him. She grumbled a bit and cast a spell to remove it
she did, a flying book blindsided her and knocked her to the
ground. After casting a shield, she rubbed her left shoulder. It
ached after Claude's grappling and the book made the pain even
more aggravating. She found the book and ran to a corner,
keeping both her shield and her eyes on her enemy.
Sheltered away, Molly drew a new circle left-handed. This time,
it was on the book itself. Claude quit being subtle and pounded
away at the shield. She needed to wait for him to pause to take
down her shield in order to enchant the circle. An additional
spell raised the book off the ground and sent it hurtling
saw it and backpedaled. With each step back, he sent a
projectile at Molly, but she sidestepped his clumsy attacks and
kept her focus on moving the book. Just as Claude seemed to gain
ground on it, she let it fall and fired a shot that caught him
off guard and knocked him flat. He jumped up, taking flight as
Molly resumed tormenting him with the marked book.
back reached the wall and the book continued to approach, Claude
began to descend. Molly was so focused on the book, she didn't
realize that he was charging up an attack until it was halfway
at her. She dropped the book and threw a shield up quickly. The
moment it absorbed his blast, she got her spell off quickly,
resuming control of he book and flinging it quickly under Claude
as he landed. His foot made contact and he started screaming as
the circle kicked in.
It was a
voltage circle, and it coursed through his leg and numbed the
right side of his body. To make sure it stuck, Molly flew in
while Claude was disoriented and cast a spell to bind his foot
to the circle. Writhing on the floor, Claude screamed bloody
murder as the room's guards watched silently. Molly resisted the
urge to grin.
right! You win! I give! I give!” Claude cried.
Molly couldn't help but smile. “If you want me to let go of that
little bear trap, the first thing you will do is-”
she could detail orders to ensure her freedom, she felt two
blows to the head. The guards had advanced and restrained both
her arms. One cast a spell to forcibly separate Claude from the
circle. Claude fell to his knees but forced himself to his feet,
if only to tower over Molly as she slipped out of consciousness.
if you thought beating me would have changed anything,” Claude
said. “That was just for fun. I bow to my superior, Madam, but
we still have plans for you.”
other side of the dark room wall, Kendrick stopped in a boiler
room. He refused to release Donovan's hand. “What are we doing
in here?” Donovan asked.
sighed in relief, a leftover reaction from their narrow escape.
“Stressing to you that letting go while we are walking through
the walls would be exceedingly bad. I don't suppose you know
which way gets us out the fastest without being spotted?”
remained silent. Kendrick rolled his eyes. “Thought so.”
Staying here does us no good!”
sighed again, this time in exasperation. “Agreed.”
continued in a straight line, passing through walls, pipes and a
packed classroom. Everybody stared back, interrupting the
teacher mid-lecture. Donovan smirked at them all and boasted,
“Now do you question my power?!” Kendrick led him through the
wall on the far end.
Everybody looked at the spot on the wall where they had
vanished. The kids turned to each other quizzically. One of them
asked, “Why was he holding hands with that guy?”
Thankfully, they didn't have to barge through any more
classrooms to get outside. That was the good news. Of course,
there was a substantial cadre of Hageshoni demons patrolling
outside. That was the bad news. They were, however, facing the
doorways and that was all the news Kendrick needed to digest. He
released Donovan's hand and brought a finger to his lips.
put his hand on his chest and slashed it in accordance with his
trigger. As he started to charge up a spell, he slowly
approached a small group of demons guarding a nearby exit. None
of them could have expected the sneak attack Kendrick had
planned. The Hokoni leaned forward to strike.
Donovan laughed, “Fools! Prepare to die!” They all turned around
and saw Kendrick. The quickest among them were able to deflect
the ring of electricity that coursed along the cement. It took
out half of the group there, leaving three to fire back with
enormous fireballs. Donovan stepped in and shielded them with
Donovan handling defense, Kendrick fired an energy blast at the
closest enemy. It knocked him back, but not down. In fact, even
the three hit with the first attack were getting to their feet.
Kendrick grimaced; he was afraid of this.
yet, Donovan wasn't actually handling defense. After the first
wave of counter-attacks from the Hageshoni, he dropped his
shield and charged up an attack of his own. A fireball grazed
his arm and disrupted his spell. He tried again and was again
disarmed. Furrowing his eyebrows in anger, he tried it one more
time, but again he was hit while charging up. Frustrated, and
slightly singed, he fired a quick round that connected, but did
little more than annoy the demon.
Kendrick cast a shield of his own. “Now try it,” he said,
blocking two attacks at once. Donovan did, giving it a full
charge. At just the right moment, Kendrick stepped away as
Donovan released a demon-infused blast of pain that knocked one
of the demons flat. It did not, however, knock him out.
“Donovan, I do believe we're outgunned here,” Kendrick mumbled
as he continued to shield attacks. Donovan heard footsteps
behind him, turned around and found another Hageshoni unit. They
readied, they aimed and Donovan wisely cast his own shield as
both shields deflected everything nicely, a dozen demons
attacking from two different directions made victory seem
impossible. At least using Donovan's parameters.
“Donovan, remember that the goal is simply for you to escape,
not to take them all out,” Kendrick reminded.
what makes you believe we are anywhere near our goal, regardless
of what it may be?”
suggesting that we need to think this through logically.”
demons advanced; soon they'd be able to walk though the shield
spells. Donovan found only one logic worth considering.
“Nonsense. What we need is more firepower! Blaine! Bryce!”
and Bryce appeared, seemingly mocking the demons'
anti-teleportation spell, and came up shooting whatever they had
in their arsenal. It disrupted maybe one or two of the
Hageshoni, but little else.
enough,” Kendrick said. He grabbed Donovan's sleeve and pulled
him in one direction, leaving the minions to offer cover fire.
Kendrick dropped his shield, cast an attack and literally plowed
through one demon on their way out. Only one Hageshoni chased
them; the rest stayed to maul Blaine and Bryce.
turned around and, running backwards, fired a spell to take out
the pursuing demon. Then he backed right into Kendrick and they
tumbled over. When Donovan faced forward, he saw why Kendrick
had stopped. Around the corner, Sho slowly approached them.
Before either could stand up, a giant spike erupted from the
ground and split them up.
unharmed, Donovan got up quickly. Using the spike for cover, he
looked at Sho and glowered. Sho advanced quietly, arms on his
shoulders and ready to attack again. Donovan moved to fight
back, but Kendrick held up a hand.
“Remember, Donovan. Escape is the only goal,” Kendrick said
calmly, standing up. The spike had slashed the back of his coat,
and part of his shirt. Still, he slowly approached Sho.
ignored him and fired his stone attack at Donovan, but Kendrick
blocked it with a shield. Kendrick raised his eyebrows and said,
“I do not appreciate being ignored like this.” Donovan stepped
away from the spike and saw more Hageshoni troops approaching.
He also saw the path leading him away from the school grounds
and towards certain freedom. Sho attacked Donovan again; again
Kendrick blocked it.
serious,” Kendrick said. “This has been my territory for almost
two years. What right do you have marching in with a whole
legion? Barreling in and laying waste, mocking proper
space-time... disrupting a normal day at school?” He clicked his
tongue and shook his head. “You all ought to be ashamed of
fired towards Donovan again; this time Kendrick couldn't get a
shield up and had to step in between it himself. He fell against
the side of the building, not anticipating that much pain from a
simple earth attack. He fought it off and stood straight, a hand
propped up against the wall. “And another thing- Donovan is not
the one fighting you. I am.” Kendrick fired at Sho, but the
Hageshoni seemed to absorb it. Sho did, however, look at
Kendrick for the first time.
ahead, take the rest if you must, but Donovan is mine,” Kendrick
said, defiant despite his injury. “No matter what you do to the
others and no matter what you do to me, Donovan will not fall to
you. The boy, his powers, his demon and his grimoire are-”
slashed his arms forward and the bricks on the wall absorbed
Kendrick. The Hageshoni continued to hold his arms out as the
bricks tightened. Kendrick tried to scream but couldn't. The
cage continued to crush him, covering his face and legs
completely. By the time Sho was finished, the wall had swallowed
Kendrick completely and returned to normal.
turned to Donovan, who stared back with revulsion... from a safe
distance. Sho tried to attack, but the boy executed his trigger
day, Donovan did not fall to the Hageshoni.
up the stairs quickly, but stopped before he opened the door to
the roof. He heard nothing behind him. His ice wall must have
held. Renee's last effort had ensured his safety, even as it
ended any hope for him to rescue her. Now all that was left was
for him to jump off the roof and fly home.
really what he was supposed to do though? Was everybody else
doing the same thing? All he knew was that Renee was captured.
What about Kathryn and Yuki? Renee clearly failed to rescue her
sister. Did that mean Molly was already lost or already safe?
The legion of Hageshoni were powerful and hard to evade. As much
as he feared capture, he was even more afraid of being the only
one to escape.
to escape. Even if his friends were captured, he wouldn't know
where to find them. Troy probably didn't have the ability to
rescue them without help, which was supposed to be arriving in
forty minutes or so. It was a long time for him to lay low if he
was still on the premises. The demons would shatter the ice wall
eventually. Troy hated himself for doing it, but he couldn't see
any other path. He pounded the door to the roof before opening
it and running out.
didn't stop to enjoy the view. He leaped over exposed pipes
towards the nearest edge. By the time anyone spotted him, he'd
be in the air and untouchable. The only thing that stopped him
was the sight of a girl standing nearby. Troy looked at her,
then tripped over a beam. After picking himself up, the only
thing that ached was his head.
Marie up there?
stood frozen in one place, holding her legs and feet together
tightly and staring straight forward, arms at her sides. If she
did notice Troy, and given his ruckus she certainly should have,
she didn't react. Troy forgot what he was doing up there and
approached her slowly. Several possibilities ran through his
head and he didn't like any of them.
he said, cautious. Other than a brief flinch, she didn't
respond. In turn, it made Troy more nervous. Given how unstable
Marie had been since Kurt's death, this behavior was either a
whole new level of crazy or part of the reason behind it.
stepped in front of her and called her name again. Her eyes
strayed to meet his for a moment, before she caught herself
looked forward at the horizon again. “Marie!” he shouted,
blocking her view. Her breathing became labored.
what are you doing?” Marie asked. A trace of annoyance masked
the fear in her voice.
mind,” he replied. Troy wasn't changing the subject. Once the
displacement ended, she wouldn't remember him flying away
anyway. At least he hoped she wouldn't. Right now, he wasn't so
sure. “What's going on with you? Why are you up here?”
don't want to know,” she said. “Don't worry about it. Please.”
Marie...” He set a hand on her shoulder, which she pulled away
quickly. That was the clincher. Louder, he said, “Marie, how can
I not worry about you?! You've been freaking out for the last
two weeks and now you're standing up here like a statue! What's
hands started shaking, but she pulled away when he tried to take
one. Her feet didn't budge. “Don't do this to me right now,
Troy. It's really not a good time. Just get yourself out of here
and we'll pretend we didn't see each other.”
do that! I care too much about you to-”
when he caught it. How did she know he was trying to leave?
Especially since they were on the roof with only one way out. A
way that wasn't accessible via ordinary means. His look of
surprise must have scared her further, because she looked away,
wringing her hands. At that moment, getting himself out of there
and pretending he hadn't seen her was a sublime option that he
would have loved to take. That was impossible now.
know what's going on downstairs, don't you?” he said quietly.
nodded sadly. In a hushed voice, she replied, “You really
thought I believed all those lame reasons for you and Kathryn to
leave town for three weeks, huh?”
looked her up and down. Even if she was up here, she wasn't
hiding. Furthermore, her posture was very deliberate. “What are
you casting?” he asked. Troy hoped it was some protective spell,
as if Marie was acting as some secret guardian angel. Still, he
knew there was only one real possibility.
they're going to follow you up here. You'd better hurry,” Marie
Troy turned to the door, concentrated and placed another ice
wall in front of it. He turned back. “We've got time. Now what
are you doing?”
you won't hurt me,” she said quickly. Whatever she was casting,
she tried hard to focus on it given Troy's presence.
closed his eyes. He couldn't picture himself harming Marie. But
all of a sudden, her hurting his friends was a vivid reality.
“So you're why we can't teleport,” he muttered.
her lip. Eyes welling and head shaking, she said, “This wasn't
supposed to happen. We were just scouts. Just supposed to watch
what President Pearson was doing. I never thought we'd ever be
doing something like this.”
Troy looked at the door again. Any moment, armed demons were
going to arrive, burn the door down and try to kidnap him. And
his (until today) girlfriend was an accomplice. “But you are,”
he said, turning back angrily. “You're the reason we can't
escape! They already got Renee and maybe Kathryn and Yuki too.
Like it or not, you're putting your friends in danger!”
go,” Marie said softly. She stared into his eyes. Both of them
were equally lost. “I couldn't stop you even if I wanted to. I'm
actually not very good at magic. This barrier is all I can do,
take it down? Maybe the others can-”
shook her head, taken aback by the suggestion. “I can't just
stop doing my job. That would be wrong of me. I mean, letting
you go is one thing since I'm no match for you anyway. But
telling me to stop doing this would be like me telling you to
give up and surrender, right?”
thought about it for a moment. His nose wrinkled. “No!”
not? What's the difference between me doing my job and you doing
Exasperated, he shouted, “Because you're teamed up with the bad
narrowed her eyes. Suddenly stern, she said, “Maybe to you. I'll
admit we're being a little aggressive right now, but-”
they killed Kurt!”
didn't change. “And you know how torn up I've been over that.
That's Kamila's side anyway. We nothing to do with it.”
took a step back. Finding this out was awful enough. But could
she really not acknowledge that invading a school and capturing
children was ethically dubious? Marie was sorry he had
discovered her, sorry they had to be on opposite sides and sorry
that Kurt had to die. At no point, however, did she seem sorry
for being a demon and enabling their atrocities.
force you, you know,” he said, staring down. “You're a sitting
duck right now. There's all sorts of ways to make you drop your
wouldn't,” she cried, worried that he would. “You're right, I'm
defenseless. I can't believe that you'd even think about it.”
letting Kathryn and Yuki get attacked.”
And I'm sorry! I just want this to be over with. Please Troy,
looked up suddenly as his arm dropped into his trigger position.
Still facing Marie, it reared back. She stared at it, shaking
even more and mouthing the word ' no' constantly. His arm shot
forward and she bent over, throwing her arms in front of her
face and screaming.
opened her eyes, Troy was airborne. He stared at her for a few
moments. Marie dried a tear. Through a sad smile, she whispered,
“Thank you.” As he flew away to safety, she stood up and resumed
several minutes after arriving, Troy sat on his bed. He was
eager to know who else had survived the ordeal, particularly
Kathryn, but he couldn't stand up. Not after learning about
Marie. He was a little angry, a little upset and extremely
shaken by it all. More than anything, however, he was just
first exposure to an actual demon had been Kendrick. He was a
fitting image of evil- smoothly appealing to Donovan's lust for
power. Between him, Kaz's goons and the Golden Sun reps, Troy
thought he had the whole demon thing figured out. They were evil
monsters that would go to any means necessary to corrupt the
world. It took a while to grasp, but he had even wedged Kamila
into that image. After Kurt's death it wasn't hard.
on the other hand, was the least corrupt person he knew. All of
his friends held ideals that Troy found unsavory: Kathryn was
too open sexually, Yuki was blind to the underhanded dealings
that brought her here, while Renee refused to criticize her
sister's ethics. He never dwelled on these perceived flaws, but
they helped shape the way he saw them. That's why he was
attracted to Marie. Marie seemed innocent in every way, without
the naivety that usually went with it. Troy found no way to
reconcile her being an agent of evil because there wasn't a drop
of poison in her soul.
there she was, doing her best to trap Troy and his friends for
the Hageshoni. Troy wanted to believe Marie was somehow being
tricked into it, but that was plainly false. Again, Marie wasn't
naive, and she seemed to recognize that her actions had put
Kathryn and Yuki in peril. Her logic for continuing was simply
that it was her duty, without speculating on the ethics of it.
She exuded innocence, even when caught red-handed.
stood up from the bed, trying to shake it off. It made no sense
for him to think about it now. If Marie hadn't ended the
relationship before the attack, it was certainly over now. In
fact, it was entirely possible, and probably for the best, that
he would never see her again. Troy wasn't sure if he could live
without any sort of closure, but clearly there were more
important things to worry about. Namely if anybody was
downstairs waiting for him and what the next step was.
his eyes, Troy descended down the staircase, listening for any
commotion below. He heard nothing but faint white noise from a
radio. Eyes open, he reached the bottom, turned around and
stepped into the living room. In the distance, he saw Donovan in
the kitchen, staring at the radio even as nothing emerged. Then
Troy's eyes quickly focused on the couch, where his mother sat
clutching Kathryn tightly. Kathryn wasn't responding, staring
blankly at the floor. Under an afghan, she wore one of Troy's
t-shirts; her own pants were torn in several places.
stood up and hugged Troy deeply. On the verge of tears, she
said, “Oh my God, you're okay... it sounds awful over there.”
still trying to process how bad Kathryn looked. “Yeah,” was all
he could say in response.
pulled away and looked him over, visibly relieved that he was
unharmed. “Are you okay? Can I get you anything?”
fine,” he said. “Something to drink, maybe?”
'bout hot chocolate?”
“Thanks.” He didn't really care. He was more worried about
Kathryn. As soon as his mother went into the kitchen, he sat
down on the couch, slowly setting a shoulder on Kathryn's back.
Kathryn turned suddenly, dove into his arms and started crying.
fell back a little, stunned by her outburst. “W-what happened?”
sniffed, then stuttered, “It was... just... just...”
Yuki?” He stroked her back, already knowing the answer.
shook her head. “They pulled us apart. Just couldn't hang on to
her. And then Kamila...”
“Kamila?” Troy's eyes widened. He clutched her tighter, out of
his own disdain. Had he come across her, he wasn't sure what
I...” Kathryn stammered. She struggled to come out with it, and
finally pushed it through with Troy's reassurances. “...I killed
stopped and pulled himself away so he could look her in the
eyes. Never had he seen her so scared. “You did?”
nodded, the tears still flowing. “She fought me and I fought
back and I just got madder and madder and then suddenly... I got
her. She just fell over and...” Her crying covered the rest.
pulled her in again and let her. He couldn't think of anything
to say to console her. At least nothing that would work. For all
the obvious points like self-defense and retribution, they
seemed shallow given the matter. From the way it had touched
Kathryn, the act and her emotional state while committing it
went far deeper than any of that.
prolonged consoling, Kathryn whispered, “What happened to
shook his head and clutched her tighter. “She went off to try to
save Molly. By the time she got back to me... they took her. I
thought about going after her but she wouldn't have it. Then I
got to the roof and...” Pausing to look at her, Troy didn't have
the heart to tell Kathryn about Marie. “I flew away.”
rubbed his back gently, looking up at him without a word. They
held each other longer, silently trying to convince each other
that this was somehow going to turn out all right. The moment
was broken up when Donovan walked past them and out the door. He
carried a canister of salt.
stared at the door for a while. Troy had completely forgotten
about him. “How'd he get out?”
idea,” Kathryn replied. “Showed up a little after I did.”
said something about putting up a barrier for protection,” Ellen
said, finally returning from the kitchen with two steaming mugs.
Troy and Kathryn each took one. “I guess he can do that sort of
that I'm aware of,” Troy said, blowing on his hot chocolate. His
first sip turned into a long refreshing drink as the cocoa
wasn't as scalding as he'd expected.
we do now?” Kathryn asked, looking down at her drink.
shook her head and sighed. “Nothing, I hope. I can't imagine him
putting you through anything else today.”
looked up. “But what about Renee? What about Yuki?”
like Molly's still there too. Just a second, I'll call him.”
Ellen went back into the kitchen and, getting the number from
her cell phone, called the office on a land line. After an
initial conversation, Ellen brought the radio into the living
this is what they call speaker-phone,” Uriel said.
took the phone and asked, “Are you really on the radio? What if
AM band. They'll think it's a talk station. Where's Molly?”
shook her head. “She stayed downstairs to help us get out.”
added, “Renee went back to get her, but...” He didn't know the
details. Ending it there explained it well enough.
was silent for a moment. “A few reinforcements are here, but if
we send them in now, they won't have a prayer. We'll have to
wait for the rest of them to arrive. Donovan is putting up a
barrier around the house to keep you safe.”
and Troy looked at each other nervously. Somehow that didn't
make them feel safer. Donovan walked back in and capped the
salt, silently handing it to Ellen before sitting down on the
other side of the room.
up. We just saw it,” Uriel said. Troy looked up at Donovan,
surprised. Donovan glowered back and Troy's eyes returned to the
radio. “I guess you just have to sit back and wait now.”
it?!” Troy cried. “What about our friends? We have to help
any luck, the troops will save them.” Uriel paused. “I'm not
going to make you go back there. Much as you three would help, I
don't recommend it.”
stood up. “We'll do anything to help out. I can't just sit here
“Troy...” Kathryn said, breaking up his speech. He stopped and
looked down at her lowered head. “No. I can't do it. Not now.”
She looked up at him. “I don't want to lose you either.”
stared at each other for several seconds. Deflated, Troy sat
back down. He took another long drink from his hot chocolate and
handed the mug to his mother. “One more, please,” he muttered.
Kathryn patted him on the shoulder.
shockwaves still rippling through his body, Claude clutched his
head and tried to concentrate. According to his intelligence,
MST reinforcements were due to arrive in about fifteen minutes.
He had to wrap up the operation by then. The student council
bunker proved to be a nice place to gather the group together to
tidy everything up. Most of the troops were already down there,
occupying themselves by reading whatever was on bookshelves.
Claude doubted these idiots would be able to process much of
Tolstoy's work in the limited time they had.
Renee and Yuki were propped against the credenza, their wrists
tied behind their backs. As her trigger was through her mouth,
Yuki's mouth was covered with a piece of tape. They had all been
unconscious, although Claude noticed Renee stirring. Claude
nodded with unnecessary reverence. “Good morning, Renee.”
looked around frantically, flailing her arms unsuccessfully.
“What are you...” she gasped.
smiled at her briefly, then turned back to his papers. “Yes, I'm
an Urayoni. It's fine if you want to stay conscious, but try to
keep it down. We're pretty busy.”
refused. “You're a... how could you turn on Molly like that?”
of the business, Renee,” he replied, not looking. “I hope she
didn't really think we would just give up on her and leave.”
was silent. Molly had said the Urayoni had made an effort to woo
her in the past. Everything Claude was saying made perfect
sense. It was still a shock. Renee could only wonder what Molly
didn't have to wait long as her sister grumbled, then winced at
the pain in the back of her head. After reeling for a few
moments, Molly opened her eyes and mumbled, “Damn.”
okay, Molly?” Renee said, her voice hushed.
took a deep breath. “No, not really.” She seemed indifferent.
didn't turn from his work, but did nod again. “Madam.”
being civil now, Claude.”
to differ. We are very humane to our captives. I have nothing
personal against either of you, so why treat you badly?”
eyebrows narrowed. “Forgive me if I doubt your sincerity.”
phone rang, preventing a response. “Yes?” He pulled the phone
away and grimaced, turning to Molly and mouthing 'Sho.' He
rolled his eyes and waited until Sho finished speaking before
returning the phone to his ear. “I see. Nothing we can do about
it now. Get down here and-”
apparently resumed talking because Claude grew more agitated.
Then shocked at what he heard. “Are you sure?” Another pause.
“Just a moment.”
the phone down and asked Molly, “What's the name of that Hokoni
that was always bugging you?”
paused. “Kendrick,” she answered, surprised that he was
helped Dunmar escape,” Claude said, annoyed. He returned to Sho.
“We don't have time to do anything with it. Just leave him in
there. If the Hokoni find out, it's your head.”
up, he faced two stunned Pearson sisters. “If you think fighting
the Hageshoni is bad, try working with them sometime.”
saying Kendrick is-” Claude's phone cut off Renee's question.
This conversation was much shorter. Claude ended it after ten
seconds, walked over to the elevator and called it down.
opened and Marie stepped out. “I just want to get out of here,”
she muttered sadly, finding a vacant chair.
jaw fell and even Molly's eyes widened. “You?! But... but...
you...” It was so inconceivable, Renee didn't know where to
tried not to make eye contact with them at first. After Renee's
attempt to spit out words, Marie looked up at her and said, with
no lack of sympathy, “Troy got out okay.” Renee was even less
capable of response.
him them?” Claude asked.
the floor, Marie replied, “Yes.”
try to stop him?”
head shot back up at him. He had clearly touched a nerve. “Of
course not! Even if I had the power to, I wouldn't dream of it.”
sighed, but nodded. “You held your position. That's fine.”
“Unbelievable,” Renee mumbled. “First Kamila and now you. How
did we not see it?”
our secret as well as you all kept yours. We're really no
different,” Marie said. She faced Renee and Molly and narrowed
her eyebrows. “Wait, Claude, is this all we got?”
Claude stated, back to his paperwork.
lowered and she moaned, “You mean all this trouble and we only
got three of them? I don't believe it. What about Donovan?”
didn't look up. “That pesky Hokoni interfered to help Dunmar
escape. Sho took care of him.”
did look up, stunned. “He did?” Claude nodded. “If the Hokoni
respond, I don't want anything to do with it.”
I. The Hageshoni are on their own with that.”
opened his mouth, but he didn't have an answer. He stood up and
dialed a number on his phone. “Last I heard, she was in Kamila's
hands.” Claude waited for a signal, and stared at Marie
pensively when he didn't get one. “No answer,” he said, trying a
time he got a response and asked the demon on the other end for
an update. Then Claude relayed Kamila's last-known location.
Marie rose to her feet and slowly approached him as he grew more
heard the news, he turned away from Marie. “Are you sure?” he
asked. He gulped when the demon was. “Get some help and... you
know,” he directed before ending the call.
his eyes returned to Marie's. They were already set to explode.
“Kamila's dead,” he stated.
she squeaked, hands covering her mouth.
bit his lip. “Kathryn killed her. Must have gotten out too.”
fell back into a couch and cried. With a straight face, Claude
returned to his work.
and Molly looked on, stunned. Kathryn killing Kamila? It was
hard for them to picture. Marie's reaction stifled them as well.
Demon or not, it must have been agonizing.
they were silent to start with. As everything processed through
their minds, it became harder to stay quiet. Finally, Molly
shook her head and mumbled, “Kathryn killed Kamila... nice.”
her palms off the couch and pushing off them to stand up, Marie
marched over to Molly. Her tears still flowed, but she gritted
her teeth and stared down the elder Pearson. Angry and seething,
she said, “You are a wicked person, Molly. I don't care what
side you're on or what you think you're gaining from all of
this, but I can't stand it.”
leaned back in surprise. The normal glare that she'd normally
flash instinctively was absent. She was just amazed that someone
who had been so quiet and compliant was trying to deliver an
being out of her element, Marie was holding her own: “You think
that because you're so gifted you have the right to walk over
everybody else. The students, the unit... Troy. Jeez, you ruin
his life for being a little interested in your sister?” She
leaned in closer and shouted, “And she likes him too, I should
add!” Renee's eyebrows flared at that, but Marie wasn't
finished. “But then after that you throw him and his friends
into all this, without telling them how the MST really operates!
And then you have the nerve to be happy that Kamila's dead!”
Scoffing, Molly said, “Don't tell me you didn't celebrate when
Kurt died. This would have turned out far different if he was
for days when I found out about Kurt,” Marie said, exasperated.
“Go ahead. Call yourselves one of the good guys, but you're
just... terrible.” She stormed off, to a far corner of the room
where she could attempt to calm down in peace. Molly turned to
Renee, as if trying to verify that yes, Marie really went off
Marie in the corner, Claude approached Molly, folding his hands
nervously. “My apologies, Madam,” he said, seemingly sincere.
“It's been a long day for all of us.”