Magical Security Taskforce




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Chapter 46: Going Rogue

Session One

The MST took two days to gather reports, proceed through a tribunal and reach a conclusion. The next step to getting the unit home involved confirming the security of L. B. Gould. This was harder because the Hageshoni were gone, Claude was gone, and there was no indication whether either would return. Immediately after the tribunal, Uriel returned to Ohio to help his office figure all this out. Meanwhile, Molly and company were stuck in the dorm for the next couple days.

Now that their obligations had passed, they didn't mind the break so much. Regular visits to Reggie's room lifted Troy and Kathryn's spirits in time, and a midweek snowstorm gave them all recreational ammo, especially once Troy discovered that his command of water magic applied to snow as well. Their twenty-foot snowman was a crowning achievement, despite Donovan's attempt to animate it and the two shotgun rounds Mr. Smittle unloaded into it when he first saw it.

Uriel's all-clear signal was more of a shrug than a statement. There was no sign of the Hageshoni in the area, but that didn't mean they weren't able to drop in suddenly. The only reassurance he could give was that anybody embedded in L. B. Gould certainly would have been utilized in the attack. He doubted the Urayoni would be so sly as to have even more demons like Claude and Marie in hiding. The additional security would continue, not that it did a whole lot of good last time.

None of this was all that reassuring, as the MST couldn't do much more than they did after Kurt's death. Nobody capable was jumping at the vacant field agent position- no surprise considering how it was vacated. The only real positive was that five of the factions had already thrown all that they'd care to at Molly. The only other two with any presence on Earth weren't all that aggressive.

The MST didn't even bust out the telecopter to get the kids home. They offered train tickets. Even worse, the nearest Amtrak station was still a fifteen mile ride from the academy. The arrival location was forty miles from L. B. Gould and Ellen had to use a sick day and borrow a friend's van to pick them up. The whole trip was so tiresome and inconvenient that nobody had the energy to make a single Hogwarts Express joke.

Still, once they pulled into town, they all seemed to relax. Everybody could return to their families, homes and the regular lives that had been on hold all week. Molly was generous enough to dismiss their homework obligations, sparing Kathryn and Troy the need for another 'Catch Up With Real School' convention.

There were mixed feelings about going back to school the next day. Yes, resettling into a daily routine was a good sign that things were returning to normal. School had also been a reliable source of mundane trifles to distract everybody from their real problems. Kathryn was much happier talking up her basketball game that night. On the other hand, it was hard to view school the same way after demons had chased them through its halls.

Molly usually arrived a little early every day to monitor everybody's arrivals and assure the populace that Big Sister was watching. On this first day back, she showed up even earlier. She knew she'd have a week's worth of paperwork to catch up on and no lackey to handle it for her.

Thankfully, Renee volunteered to help out. Hesitant as Molly usually was to delegate government affairs to non-council members, she appreciated it.

“Hey, that's what sisters are for!” Renee said as they reached the entrance.

Molly snickered. “You know, we have an open secretary position.”

“That's actually tempting if I don't go out for golf in the spring.”

“You've never golfed before.”

“Well, I missed the winter season so...” Renee trailed off when she saw two volleyballs mounted on javelins just outside the main entrance. Someone had painted angry faces on them. The sisters shrugged at each other and stepped inside, suddenly hushed.

The interior had gotten additional decorations as well, although not as vicious as the volleyball heads. The walls were covered from floor to ceiling with posters for various clubs. They all seemed incredibly stylized and more imperative than Renee could recall. She didn't remember the Spanish Club using Che Guevara in its campaigns before. Still, most of them were for normal clubs, save for one billing itself as the 'People's Council.'

Renee shook her head. “I always thought your poster policy was a little draconian, but now I see why.”

Molly sighed and continued down the hallway. Perhaps she'd have more trouble catching up from the lost week than she thought.

Down the hall, they heard a girl cry, “Oh my-” before her books crashed to the floor. After a closer look, it was Jordan. Two hands on her mouth covered her horrified face.

Renee smiled and approached her, with Molly right behind. “Hi, Jordan! Don't worry, I know you come in early to study. It's okay; I'm an A student too. I won't tell Madison.”

That wasn't why Jordan was freaking out. She was staring at Molly, mortified. “Y... you're alive?”

Molly's eyebrows flared in astonishment. “How... Why wouldn't I be?”

“Well, we all heard what happened last week and-”

“How do you know what happened?!” Renee cried.

Jordan gave Renee a weird look and held up her trusty gossip notebook. “Only thing I don't know is who did it. Three different clubs claimed responsibility.”

She flipped open the notebook and turned to Molly. Molly stared back, confused. “Clubs?”

“Well yeah. I mean organizing a coup to depose the student council? Whoever's responsible would own the school.” Jordan smirked. “No surprise everybody wants to say they were the ones that pulled it off.”

Molly grunted. She had lived by the dictatorship, so theoretically she could die by the dictatorship. Just not if she had anything to say about it. “Well, let's just say I refuse to acknowledge my captors. Regardless, I have returned, so that should silence this discussion.”

Jordan scratched the back of her neck and looked up. “See... that's the thing... you're gone, Claude's gone... nobody's here to run the place. We're sort of in a state of anarchy right now while the clubs battle for supremacy.”

“Well, she's still Student Council President,” Renee said.

“That's the thing.” Jordan grimaced. “As of last Friday... there is no Student Council.”


Session Two

The signs of the revolution were now apparent everywhere Molly and Renee walked. The posters were not for club recruitment: they were party propaganda. The network of cameras had been disconnected, smashed or pierced. One had been splattered with paintballs. They discovered the worst when they reached the student council office.

The glass window had been shattered and the door knocked over. The lunchroom table used as a battering ram was discarded nearby, now serving as the base of a barricade in the corridor. Molly and Renee stepped over the glass and entered. Most of the lights still worked, revealing a room in complete shambles. All of Claude's drawers had been opened and emptied, several upside-down behind his desk. Molly's office was even worse, as it hosted the bonfire used to burn her documents. The revolutionaries had painted giant red Xs on all four of her walls and the door.

“You didn't keep anything from the MST in here, did you?” Renee asked, worried.

Molly sullenly opened her magic window safe and pulled out her secure box. “Good thing I hid them from the Hageshoni.” She sat down on her desk, still holding it. Her chair was gone. She seemed poised to say something, but all she could do was stare at the red X, a clear reference to her own sign of oppression in The Letter.

“So what do you do now?” asked Renee.

“Regardless of their vandalism, I am still in charge of this school. If they drop the act now, perhaps I won't expel them,” Molly replied.

Renee sighed. “You know, that's the kind of thinking that led them to all this.”

“It holds true. I have crushed enemies before. I will just have to crush them again. They can do whatever they want to the office, but I am still in power.”

That's when a large boy burst into the room. He wore a black vest and held a extended teacher's pointer. Upon seeing Molly, he pointed at her menacingly.

“You've returned!”

“Please leave my office,” Molly replied, unamused and clutching the box

“This office now belongs to the People's Council! You are now under our command! Drop to the floor and put your arms over your head!”

Renee's eyes bulged. “Excuse me?”

He turned to Renee and barked, “You too!”

When his eyes returned to Molly, she was charging at him, the glare at the ready. He backpedaled and she shoved him aside. Renee followed her out of the room.

By this time, the hallway was swarming with similarly-dressed boys, all with the same black vests and pointers. They started swarming into the room, accompanied by shouts of “catch her!” and “down with tyranny!” Molly and Renee wisely detoured into the supply closet. Instead of bothering with the secret code, Molly teleported them into the basement.

Thankfully, the 'People's Council' had not found the secret lounge. In fact, the room was just as the demons had left it, down to the books and furniture on the floor from Molly's battle with Claude.

“I didn't expect to be back down here so soon,” Renee said. Molly set the box of MST documents aside and sat down on a chair, sneering at the sofa in front of her. “Molly, don't worry about it. You'll figure this out.”

“They don't take long to seize on my absence, do they?” Molly muttered. “I never knew Claude was so effective at keeping things in order while I was gone.”

Renee sat down across from her. “Hey, those guys look threatening, but they can't possibly take you down.”

Molly shook her head. “They already have. Your friend was right. The school has descended into anarchy. Not only that, but they destroyed all my files. Without that intelligence, I have no way to get everybody back in line.” She huffed. “Not after such a visible resistance. They probably have the support of all those fools.”

“Well, whatever. You graduate in a few months. So you have to be a normal student until then. So what?”

“I've never actually taken a class here. I doubt I will have enough credits to graduate should someone go back and actually look at my undoctored transcript. That's if I'm not publicly executed first. That would seem to be a desirable move for anyone vying to replace me.”

Renee moaned. Molly's insistence on full autonomy did make her fully dependent on her power. She imagined some other dream school far away where all the politics and power grabs were reserved for the adults on the school board and local PTA.

“Even if I was somehow able to survive until graduation, there's another problem... the main reason I put myself in this position was so school wouldn't interfere with MST activities. Someone else would be less inclined to tolerate you all taking three weeks off to attend the academy.”

Now Renee gulped. Torturous as it was for others, Renee had always considered Molly's presidential power an amusing frivolity. She should have guessed that it had a significant function. Molly never engaged in frivolity.

“So what's your move?” Renee asked.

“I have none,” Molly replied. “I need to remain invisible until I get a better idea of what's going on.”

“But how can you find out what's going on if you can't leave here?”

Molly looked back at Renee and raised an eyebrow. That was apparently the answer.

“Oh,” was all Renee said in reply. “I suppose I can ask around. You want me to try to get the others to help?”

“I doubt Troy is all that interested in helping me retain my position,” Molly said. But after giving it some thought, she added, “But do fetch Kathryn and Yuki next time you see them.”

“Why do you think Kathryn would help if Troy won't?”

Molly hid a grin. “Because she won't realize she's helping.”


Session Three

For those who had not been in the inner party like Kathryn and Troy, the revolution was kind of amusing. The banners and flags made the place more colorful, the more enterprising of classmates felt like they had the opportunity to improve their lot, while marches and chants interrupted classes so often that nobody was at risk of learning anything. Apparently the superintendent and principal were the first to attempt to claim power in Molly's absence, but the subsequent student rebellion drove them out of the picture almost immediately.

Best of all, this People's Council that seemed to be the only group with any sort of broad influence, viciously enforced a no-violence policy. The group mentality that had emerged prevented any individual harassment. So other than a synchronized cherry bomb attack in every school restroom, derided as a terrorist attack by the masses, the whole thing was bloodless.

Still, the People's Council lacked the ability to do anything other than break up fights. Nobody had any real power, and this war of words between the various groups vying to succeed Molly had dominated the school so much that nothing was getting done. Most students didn't mind the diversion, figuring that someone would eventually emerge to rally everybody together, forge a new government and lead the school into glory. One week in and they were nowhere near this. A few disorganized clubs were forced into silence and others merged into stronger forces, but there were still half a dozen groups determined to take charge.

As much as Kathryn loved the interruption to the curriculum, this risk of a prolonged stalemate was worrisome. Unless somebody took control, the chaos would prevent anything from getting done. It even posed the risk of an outside force stepping in- be it the Ohio Board of Education, the National Guard or the United Nations. All of them had threatened to intervene to stop Molly's reign, but none were bold enough to actually do so. With Molly deposed, who knew?

None of this stopped her from taking full advantage of the madness. She ditched her fourth period math class to chill in the hallway outside the locker room. Kathryn had been told that several of her basketball teammates had taken up roost there during school, but there were only a couple soccer players when she arrived.

“Hey, just you two?” she asked.

“Yeah, everyone else went to lunch,” the boy replied. “In fact, I wanted to get some chow too.” Gesturing to the second kid, he added, “Fred could use a break too.”

The second boy stood up and saluted Kathryn. “Yes, please stand guard for a few moments. Do not let anyone by without proper clearance. We must not let the enemy infiltrate our headquarters.”

Both boys walked off. The first headed for the cafeteria normally. Fred marched hastily to the bathroom. Kathryn rolled her eyes; the sports teams were being awfully protective of the locker rooms they had annexed earlier in the week. It was all very stupid, but she didn't have anything better to do.

Apparently neither did Renee, who was walking through the halls, stopping to say hi.

Kathryn nodded back at her. “What's up?”

Then Fred returned, more hostile to the Pearson sister. “Kathryn, who is this?” he barked.

Renee looked at him oddly. “Fred, it's me. Renee. We're lab partners in chemistry.”

Fred didn't seem to care. “I can't let you pass unless you are on a team.”

“Uh... well, I might do golf this spring!”

“The golf team has betrayed us!” Fred turned to Kathryn. “They secretly signed a non-aggression pact with the mathletes... an unforgivable treason.”

Kathryn eyed Renee and the two struggled to avoid bursting into laughter. “The bastards!” she replied, trying not to sound too sarcastic.

Renee took Kathryn's arm. “Anyway, I need to borrow Kathryn for a second. You can have her back later.”

He narrowed his eyes suspiciously, but said, “Very well. At-ease.”

Kathryn followed Renee until they were out of Fred's earshot. Then she asked, “Care to tell me where you're dragging me?” Renee didn't answer until they were in the bathroom. Once inside, still clutching Kathryn's arm, Renee teleported to the basement.

Kathryn screamed at the sudden locale change. “Christ, tell me before you do that!”

“Found Kathryn for you!” Renee exclaimed to Molly, contentedly reading in the center of the room.

Molly set her book on the table and stood up. Calming down some, Kathryn said, “So this is what the once-powerful do in exile. I'm surprised you're even in the building.”

“I prefer to keep my ears open,” Molly replied. She noticed Kathryn's tank top, a crudely-painted jersey with the letters 'C.U.S.P.' “What are you wearing?”

“Means Confederation of United Sports Programs,” Kathryn said. “I dunno, I think it's clever for a bunch of jocks.”

“Regardless, I need your help.”

Kathryn scoffed. “Yeah, right. Even if I wanted to help you, there's no way you'd be able to get back in control. We've taken over.”

Molly nodded and sat down. “That seems to be the problem. I've conceded that the odds of regaining power is nearly impossible now. I'm in survival mode. I'd like to ensure my graduation and make sure that none of us get into trouble for our three-week absences.” That got Kathryn's attention. Molly raised an eyebrow at her. “We don't want that now, do we?”

Sufficiently stunned, Kathryn replied, “Well, I suppose the school can't survive much longer like this. But don't think I'm helping you get back into power. I just don't want this place to fall apart.”

“So what are we supposed to do?” Renee asked. “I found six factions trying to get power here and the only thing any of them can agree on is that they don't like you.”

Molly grinned. “That's a good common ground to start out with.”

“What do you mean?” Kathryn cocked her head. “What do you get out of that?”

“It's a long shot, but it's our best option at this point. It seems like a strange concept, but it's possibly the only way everyone's objectives can be met while preserving my standing at this school.”

Kathryn gulped. “What are you trying to pull?”

Steepling her fingers, Molly narrowed her eyes. In full sinister mode, she said, “A fair, democratic election.”


Session Four

By lunchtime, Renee had found six groups vying for the throne. The People's Council were only the most visible with their large barricade outside Molly's former office and frequent policing in the hallways. Fortunately, most of the students dismissed them as conceited preppies with all the revolutionary fervor of a hall monitor. C.U.S.P. had the support of all the school's athletic stars, but didn't have any platform other than being pro-sports. Half the high schools in the country were run that way, and their lack of ingenuity reflected poorly on them.

The school's honor society formed strong allegiances with many of the academic clubs. Between the chess club and math club providing logistics and the drama club and forensics adding some personality to their speeches, they appeared quite formidable. C.U.S.P. mitigated that by deriding the whole lot as elitist and intellectual. They had been subdued by little more than a shout of 'nerds.'

The business students had grand plans for an oligarchy, but nobody trusted them after an accounting scandal revealed kickbacks to their founder. And the A/V Club made a surprisingly stalwart bid for control, beaming propaganda nonstop through the loudspeaker and closed-circuit TV. But as they used official school channels, nobody paid attention.

Then there was the Spanish Club. They had vibrant imagery, a zeal for revolution and a slew of Central American countries to draw ideas from. Their posters and rallies made them a visible presence, but other then the cries for revolución, nobody knew exactly what they stood for. Molly considered this an advantage, as specific policy tended to lose people. The masses were generally looking for an impossible utopia and didn't have time to consider the fine print.

Spanish Club had the added advantage of being able to meet publicly, as their plotting was all in a foreign language. The only kids who were fluent enough were already in the group. Their inner party sat in the middle of the lunch room, freely discussing their plans for school domination. Nobody paid them much attention, save for one ignorant C.U.S.P. kid getting on their case for not speaking American. Someone on the Spanish Club turned around, called him an asshole in English, and returned to her group.

They didn't know that Molly had deployed her secret espionage troop on them. “Get out of the way. I hate background noise,” Yuki said to the asshole.

“Picking anything up?” Renee sat across from her. They were on the other side of the room from Spanish Club, but Yuki was listening intently.

“Yeah! The hearing potion turned out great! I love the new mixing set Marlowe got me.”

“So what are they talking about?”

Yuki concentrated on the club, putting her Lucidrol to good use. “Do the kids know what happened to Molly?”

“Jordan says everyone thinks a coup removed her from power. All these clubs are claiming they did it, so nobody knows. Why?”

“That's what they're talking about. They're trying to find her so they can kidnap her for real and make her turn power over to them.”

Renee's eyes bulged. “Well... I guess it's good to know their plans. But if everyone's blaming last week on a coup, how do they know Molly's even free?”

“I don't know. Did anyone see Molly this morning?”

“Just some of the People's Council kids, but they don't seem the type to share information.” As an afterthought, she added, “Oh, Jordan saw her too.”

Yuki turned to Renee and raised her eyebrows. “You mean 'biggest gossip in school' Jordan?”

“Oh crap.” It was now a safe assumption that everybody in school knew that Molly was no longer captive. Since the rebellion hadn't ceased, it was also clear that Molly wouldn't be able to go anywhere until order was restored: the next club to get their hands on her really would capture, depose and exile/execute her. Suddenly, this was a dicey situation.

“Is it me, or does it actually seem nicer here without a ruling class?” Troy asked rhetorically, sitting down next to Renee. He looked over his shoulders and shrugged. Smiling, he stood up and shouted, “Hey, I'm sitting next to Renee!”

Renee wasn't amused. When he sat down, she said, “That's great, Troy, but this could get ugly very soon.”

Yuki nodded. “Sounds like these groups know Molly's back. Spanish Club's talking about kidnapping her and forcing her to give them control.”

Troy sighed, more annoyed than concerned. “This whole thing about all these groups trying to take over is stupid. I guess they've spent all week trying to win over everybody in school, but look around: nobody cares.”

Indeed, all the clubs combined still only amounted to a fraction of the student body. Everybody else was minding their own business and going about their day, enjoying the extra freedom the anarchy provided them but not jumping into the political fray.

“I know Kathryn's with all the jocks, but most of the people I've talked to think it's all silly. They like not having Molly around, but they're sick of all the disruptions and grandstanding these clubs are pulling.”

“You think so?” Renee asked.

“Totally. They don't care who's in charge, as long as it's not Molly.”

Renee turned back to the Spanish Club. “I wonder if they've figured that out. They know they can't get everyone's support, so the only way they can get power is by cornering Molly.”

“So what do we do?” Yuki asked.

“All we can do is warn her, really.”

“Yeah, it's not like they'll be able to catch her,” Troy said. “She can teleport pretty much wherever she wants and has that basement to hide in. She'll be fine.”

Renee nodded, trying to accept that. “So the real issue is how to get the school under control again.”

Troy shrugged and stood up. “Seriously, nobody cares whether or not it's under control. You're sitting here worrying about which club is the biggest threat. I'm telling you- the most important group is all the kids who just don't give a damn.”

As Troy took his lunch tray and left, Renee and Yuki looked at each other, considering that bit of wisdom. Finally, Renee smiled. She knew her sister's methods well enough. “All the kids who don't give a damn? Yeah, I think Molly can work with that.”


Session Five

Donovan's Occult Club was one of the many that officially didn't give a damn. To be more accurate, the Occult Club wasn't officially recognized by the school since Donovan had been the only member for more than a year. Either way, he didn't want to be associated with any of the major players and the feeling was apparently mutual.

For most of the day, Donovan didn't even bother sustaining the illusion that class was in session. Instead, he sat in what was left of the dark room and pondered his next move.

The room was still gutted by the fire from the Hageshoni battle. With all the excitement over deposing Molly, nobody seemed to notice it. Everything was still pretty much as it was. While Blaine and Bryce attempted to tidy up inside, Donovan sat there and mulled his next move.

At first, conquering the school himself was the most attractive option, but it wasn't as attractive once he saw how ambitious the other, more equipped, groups were. So despite the lack of council interference, he was again stuck.

Donovan didn't realize it was the end of the day when someone slipped an envelope under the door. Bryce picked it up and scanned the cover. He and Donovan heard a jingle inside.

“Sir, there's a letter here,” Bryce said. “Should I open it?” He shook it: clearly, there was more than a letter inside.

“Yes... open it outside. This room has taken enough damage without the explosive inside.”

“It's not a bomb.” Bryce shook it again. There were two pieces of metal inside. “At least I don't think so. One moment.”

Bryce stepped outside. The building did not explode. He stepped back in.

“It's a couple of car keys and a letter from Molly... 'I sincerely appreciate your work in rescuing us from the demons. Given the current circumstances, I am unable to thank you in person, but I would like to show my gratitude privately. There is a token of my esteem in the back seat of my car in the parking lot. Enclosed is a set of keys. Surely, you will find the favor to be something most desired. Sincerely, Molly.'”

Donovan grinned. “At last, she has recognized my superiority.”

“Don't you think this sounds a little...” Bryce winced at the text. “Mushy for her?”

He stood up suddenly. “Nonsense! What woman can resist my heroics? Go to the destination and retrieve my reward!”

“What could it be?”

“What else but the Tome!? Why else would she keep it under lock and key?”

Bryce shrugged. He didn't know what to make of it, and by now it was pure curiosity. He teleported to the parking lot.

Molly's car was in its preferred spot closest to the main entrance. Someone had keyed it a few times, but the damage was masked by several People's Council posters attached with duct tape. Bryce removed enough of the posters to reach the keyhole.

He inserted the key and was promptly tackled by two kids.

“You aren't Molly!” one of them shouted.

“I'm not Molly!” Bryce replied. “Who are you?”

The second kid said something in Spanish to the first and they ran off.

While Bryce checked the inside of Molly's car and found nothing, Molly and Renee watched him, Molly wearing sunglasses and a thick winter coat.

“You were right,” Renee said. “They were waiting for you.”

Molly leered at her vandalized car. “Yes... but I can work with this.”

“Do you need to get your keys back from Bryce?”

“No need. I'll be at home.” With a wag of her finger, Molly teleported away.


It would not be the last kidnapping attempt that weekend, but Molly was prepared. That night, one of her magic circles in the backyard acted as a motion detector, shining a spotlight on a pair of intruders planning to break into her bedroom. The next attack came from the roof while Molly was asleep. At least, she was supposed to be. When the rappeller reached her window, he saw Molly from the attic with a set of pruning shears. He hustled to the ground really fast. The third attack Saturday was in broad daylight by a girl claiming to be one of Renee's friends. She got all the way up to Molly's door before Renee intercepted her and whisked her away to the mall for a shopping spree.

The Pearson household was a fortress, but Molly was not invincible. Ultimately, it was her parents that posed the biggest threat. That and a suspiciously timed coupon for Rosa's that slipped under their door.

“Come on, Molly, you've been up there all weekend,” her father said. “You can't go through your entire life worrying about being kidnapped by a junta!” He turned to Renee, already downstairs, “Why can't she just have boy problems like other teenagers?”

In the end, her mother used the more forceful approach of pounding on Molly's door until it opened. Once it did, Molly went quietly.

“You two have been gone all week and this coupon's only good for tonight.” Mr. Pearson read it carefully. “Strange marketing, that's for sure, but we might as well get some family time out of it.”

At the restaurant, Molly watched everything and everyone carefully. To her, it wasn't a question of if, but a matter of who and how. She analyzed the faces, the layout and the exits and made the decision to act first: she excused herself to use the bathroom.

Renee was shocked. “Are you sure? Do you want me to go with you?”

“Not yet,” Molly replied.

Glancing carefully at everybody, noting who was watching her, she entered the restroom. As the door closed behind her, she saw one stand up. The restroom was empty at first glance, but Molly noticed feet under one of the stalls, directly behind the door. Molly peeked into the remaining stalls, stepped into the one adjacent, shut the door and locked it.

Then she teleported into a different empty one. She heard the girl in the other stall stay, “Ahora.”

Molly heard two goons barge in and camp outside the stall they thought she was in. She teleported again, this time closer to the door. Opening it, she stepped outside, turning around to call out, “I'm over here!”

The two boys chased after her, but found her right outside the doorway. Molly had a camera pulled out and snapped a picture. The sign identifying it as the women's restroom was framed right above them.

While they were still blinded by the camera flash and impending blackmail, Molly walked away. “Hasta mañana,” she said.


Session Six

As far as blackmail went, Molly was pretty lenient this time. Two prominent male Spanish Club members exiting a women's restroom could have been used for worse, but she didn't want to push her luck. The next day, the Spanish Club found a letter with a copy of the picture and a contract. Although Molly had drafted it, they couldn't find the problem, other than the need to agree to an honest school election at the end of the week. Both the administration and Molly would accept the results. In return, they had to cease the disruptions and stop trying to kidnap people. Suspicious as they were of such a clean document, they signed it.

Once word got out that the Spanish Club was on board with this accord, other groups followed suit quickly. C.U.S.P. jumped at the opportunity to bank on their celebrity power to win an election. The honor society included the debate team, so they signed, thinking they had a tactical advantage. The business and tech kids were less enthusiastic, at least until the former paid the latter loads of money for political advertising. As the other key groups fell into line, the People's Council did so begrudgingly. Turned out their philosophy included neither populism nor democracy. But they were stuck with their name and had to pretend to be consistent.

The mad rush to get on the ballot followed. Everybody had one day to gather signatures and submit them to the school office. The school office would then give them to Molly, who secretly ran the entire show from her underground hideout.

Five of the organizations participated, as the A/V Club was content with collecting the ad money. Out of mistrust, each of them were thorough in doing it properly. They chose one candidate (somehow the honor society organized and held a party primary in one day), generated valid in-club signatures, photocopied everything and submitted it on time. All of them were ready to cry foul over the final ballot and earn sympathy points for a potential write-in campaign. The unaffiliated students saw all this as far too much work and enjoyed a normal school day.

Molly did not, however, omit any submissions. Five groups submitted candidates, and all five were on the ballot. The People's Council was even disappointed to see their man's name on it. In fact, overall the students met the list with apathy. With the system free of scandal, the factions had to argue with each other, meaning more rallies, posters, propaganda and all the irritating election nonsense.

Nobody seemed to notice or care that there was a sixth name on the list.

Part of the nonsense was the attendance-mandatory debate Wednesday. Considering that most opinions of it were based on which class they had/got to miss, it wasn't an enthusiastic crowd. The first opening statements didn't help as each of the five candidates droned through some scripted spiel about their vision of the future, their image of an efficient high school, and the crimes of the Pearson administration. Nobody seemed to care.

Then came number six: “Our sixth candidate for president is running independently...” The moderator had to read the card closely and still wasn't sure how to pronounce it. The pause caught the audience's attention more than the words. Finally and bravely, he said, “Yuki Shizuka.”

The reaction was complete bewilderment, but it was a reaction nonetheless.

Yuki drew a snicker when she placed a box behind the podium to stand on. Her first words generated audio feedback. Finally, she started into her speech, which was clearly unprepared: “Um, hi everybody. My name's Yuki. I, uh, transferred here a couple years ago and I really like it here for the most part. I mean, the school could use a little work all over and Molly's well... well, she's Molly. Do you really want to keep talking about her?” She paused. The place was silent, but looking out she saw that all the eyes were on her and paying attention.

“Because that's the biggest problem, you know? All I keep hearing is 'Molly this' and 'Molly that.' As long as we keep talking about her, she's still in charge.” She gulped. “Everybody else has all these ideas about rebuilding the school after Molly, and establishing control after Molly. I'm just scared about giving them the power to do all this. Look what happened last time the Student Council President got to run things. If you ask me, it sounds like they're not trying to get rid of Molly. They want to be the new Molly.”

The students seemed to lean forward in unison. A few grinned and nodded.

Continuing, Yuki retained her same uncertain voice. “I don't know, I guess the best president is one who doesn't do a whole lot.” Suddenly flustered, she said, “I mean, I don't think they shouldn't do anything, but maybe they should sit back and only take care of the obvious problems. You know, let the school run itself.” Again, she held her hands up and backtracked. “No! I don't mean there's nobody in charge, but maybe the person in charge doesn't have to do something about every little thing that comes up.” Once more, she stumbled, “Not that our problems aren't important!” She sighed. “Blah... I'm not good at speeches.”

Yuki heard laughter in the crowd, but somehow it was encouraging. “I know I'm still not sure how everything's run here. And there's no way I'll be able to figure out how to run all of Molly's old cameras.” A lone cheer came from somewhere in the crowd, startling her. They laughed at her response, settling down only when she resumed speaking. “But I guess my idea of changing things, and I guess this is why I'm running, is so you guys can just go to school and worry about all of the other stuff that goes with that without worrying about what I'm going to do as president.” She smiled brightly and added, “Because I really don't have any idea what I should do.”

To conclude, she said, “So yeah, I think somebody needs to be in charge. I mean, look at how last week turned out. But other than that... hey, I don't really care as long as everybody gets to go to school without being afraid of me. Um, yeah, that's all I have to say. Vote for me!”

The members of the five parties sneered with derision. Everybody else applauded.

That Friday, Yuki won 39 percent of the vote.

The C.U.S.P. representative received 26 percent, followed by the business student at 14 percent, the honor student at 8 percent, the Spanish Club rep at 7 percent, the People's Council member at 6 percent and three write-ins for Donovan Dunmar.

As the agreement did not provide for a runoff, Yuki Shizuka became Student Council President the following Monday.





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