the fact that the hound had now dug its teeth into his arm,
Donovan admired its aggressiveness. It had very sharp teeth; the
bite was very painful. Donovan was impressed by anything that
could inflict pain so easily. We can just be impressed that the
hound somehow managed to avoid puncturing an artery, as killing
off a major character this early is rarely good for a story.
will make an excellent companion. But first I must tame you,”
Donovan told the hound, pulling his arm away from its jaws. This
action tore off a substantial portion of flesh off of his arm,
adding to the severity of the injury.
either didn't notice or didn't care about the flesh wound.
Instead, he placed his palms down and brought them around in a
my magic!” he shouted.
few false starts, he was able to generate his glowing sphere of
“Illumitorium,” he chanted as it glimmered into the hound's
its eyes adjusted, the hound looked at the ball curiously. It
sniffed the ball, poking it with its nose a couple times.
understand that my powers are too great to be trifled with,”
hound's jaw snapped open as it promptly ate the magic ball of
light. Its mouth glowed brightly as it chewed and swallowed.
grinned. “Yes... taste my raw power.”
finished its appetizer, the hound leaped forward and tackled
Donovan to the ground.
you're making it sound like this is some sort of storybook
romance that is supposed to defy all boundaries,” Renee said. As
promised, Troy was following her like a stray dog and pleading
his case from a distance. It wasn't working. “Don't get too
carried away here.”
I'm taking this seriously,” he replied, now a good seven yards
behind her. “But why is that a problem? You want to end this
just because Molly says no?”
stopped and spun around. “That's a perfectly good reason to end
this. Keep in mind that I have to live with her.”
forced to stop as well, lest he get too close and be perceived
as walking with her. “But do you always have to listen to her?
If there's anybody who could stand up to Molly, I always
imagined that it would be you.”
pass. She is my sister and despite what you would believe we
have a pretty good relationship.”
shook his head as she walked away. “But it's like she's the only
reason to stop this. We were having a good time. I just want you
to explain why Molly should have anything to do with this.”
stopped again, but didn't turn around. If she had, Troy would
have seen the sad look in her eyes. “You don't know Molly at
all. She has reasons for everything she does. Whether or not I
agree with them doesn't matter. I had a good time, but it's best
if we just move on.”
long time, Troy stood there and took it. As much as he had
longed for Renee's opinion, he wasn't happy with what he got.
Being an average kid without any ridiculously abnormal problems,
letdowns of this magnitude were rare. He didn't know how to
react here: he had grown far too accustomed to accepting the
routine ups and downs of life that this splashdown at the bottom
was leaving him rather sunk.
time he realized that he had to make a decision, Renee was half
a block away. He ran after her, hoping he'd think of something
to say on the way.
just as he reached his five-yard threshold: “But if you always
listen to Molly, you're under her control just like everybody
else in the school.”
stopped suddenly; Troy again had to put on the brakes to keep
his distance. This time, Renee stood still, with no evidence
that she was planning to reply any time soon.
regretted saying it immediately. He turned around, bit his lip,
and added, “I'm sorry. But that's the impression I'm getting.”
had meant to strike a chord, it certainly did. As admired as she
was at school, Renee had never given much thought into why this
was. If she ever did, she would never hear something as damaging
as being considered a slave to her sister. She had never
considered the possibility. She had always assumed that her
popularity was simply due to her possessing the usual M.O. that
defined the “chosen ones” of high school- accessible
personality, good looks, special talents, etc. But under Molly's
control? Renee struggled to control herself half the time.
continued to face away, not wanting to know if Renee would storm
off in anger or merely yell at him. He was surprised when she
suddenly clutched him tightly under his arms. Had she come
around? Did she actually see things his way and come running
back to him?
Apparently not, as she shouted, “Oh my God, what is that
turned toward the street and saw a giant black dog feasting on
top of Donovan. It had been snacking on Donovan's arm, but
Renee's shout apparently drew its attention to her and Troy. It
growled once, then approached them.
Half the fun of being a
demonic animal is inflicting pain. This particular hound had
done a very good job of causing Donovan physical harm, but was
left unsatisfied. Instead of howling in agony and trying
desperately to shake himself away like most other victims,
Donovan just lied there and stared at the animal. The look in
most victims' eyes say 'somebody help me for the love of God!'
Donovan's eyes said 'aren't you finished yet?'
That look, oddly enough,
was directly responsible for making the dog stop. Not because it
was intimidating; the hound just got bored. Fortunately, it
spotted Troy and Renee, looking positively mortified at its
presence. Certainly these two would play the role of helpless
victim more convincingly.
Having no appreciation
for a demonic animal's thinking process, Troy and Renee could
only wonder where the dog had come from and what it wanted with
Donovan was just glad
the damn thing was off of him. He didn't bother noticing Troy or
Renee. He did notice that he had just been mauled by a dog, and
that his arm certainly needed immediate first aid.
“Sir,” replied Bryce.
Donovan lifted his
wounded arm slowly to show his minion. Then he passed out.
“Sir?” Bryce repeated, a
little more concerned. He looked up and saw the hell hound, and
the blood dripping from its mouth. Bryce correctly presumed it
“Uh oh,” said Bryce, now
more than a little concerned. He saw the creature's next target-
Troy and Renee, clutching each other and frozen in panic.
“Not good!” Bryce
squeaked. At this point, little had no business being in the
same sentence as his concern.
As any good minion
would, Bryce charged after the hound. On the way, he reached
into his pocket and pulled out a small ivory crystal tied to a
Most average minions did
not have magical crystals tied to strings. Bryce was not an
average minion. Clutching the string in his right hand he raised
the crystal and swung it around in a circle, still approaching
the demon. He dropped his arm and used the crystal to strike the
asphalt directly behind the hound. Bursts of light shot out in
two directions, circling around the animal before colliding with
each other in front of it.
As soon as the circle
was completed, the asphalt inside it started to bubble. Before
the hound could leave the circle, its paws were trapped in a
pool of tar.
While the hound wailed
in a futile effort to free itself, Bryce sighed in relief. The
threat was effectively neutralized and Bryce could now take his
time to determine the best way to eliminate it. 'Very nice,
Bryce. Clutch performance,' he thought as he circled around the
circle and met the trapped animal face-to-face.
Bryce held the crystal
up again. With a circle already in place, an eradication spell
would be a breeze. As he swung the crystal around a second time,
it began to emit a low hum while the air around it started to
He heard a whimper from
behind and quickly put his hand down. Bryce spun around and
pathetically hid the crystal behind his back. Troy and Renee
were still clutching each other in fear. Now they were staring
Bryce darted his eyes
back and forth between the hound and the pair of onlookers.
Discharging magic in public was considered anywhere between a
minor faux pas and an act of treason punishable by crucifixion,
depending on the district. The binding spell was manageable;
Bryce knew that the phenomenon of an isolated section of asphalt
suddenly turning to tar could be explained (there were streets
in L. B. Gould, Ohio in worse shape). BS'ing the physics behind
smiting a demon creature via magic crystal? That was iffy.
Therefore, Bryce took
the proper precautions. “Uh... could you two turn around
please?” he asked Troy and Renee.
Troy and Renee nervously
obliged. They still clutched each other in fear, only now they
were staring in the opposite direction.
With that problem
resolved, Bryce let loose with the crystal. By holding it
overhead and swinging it around, he could gather all the magic
energy he could muster and use it all to drive a focused attack
into the circle.
Which he did. Troy and
Renee didn't see it, but did hear the crackling and humming grow
louder, before the attack itself whooshed through the circle.
This was followed by the sounds of a muted explosion, a puppy
yelping in surprise and the shattering of several glass windows-
in no particular order.
“All clear,” Bryce said,
trying to resist the urge to blow imaginary smoke from the
crystal. He pocketed it as Troy and Renee turned around.
They were no longer
clutching each other in fear. Now they were staring at Bryce
with a certain “WTF?” look on their faces.
Bryce glanced down and
rubbed a bit of circle residue off the now-restored pavement.
“So uh... how's it going guys?”
“Who are you?” Renee
Bryce looked back up and
forced a cheesy grin. “I'm Bryce, one of Donovan's minions. Troy
and Renee, right? Donovan's told me all about you two.” Donovan
actually despised both of them, but Bryce decided that that was
best left unsaid.
Troy raised an eyebrow.
“Donovan never told me his minions knew magic.”
“Oh, Donovan doesn't
know about our magical abilities,” replied Bryce, his grin
growing even larger. He leaned in and winked. “It's a secret. We
can't tell anybody.”
Troy backed away
nervously. Renee raised a finger and smiled. “Which is why you
made us turn around!”
“Exactly!” Bryce pointed
at Renee, nodding in affirmation.
With that crisis
well-in-hand, Bryce turned around and headed off to give Donovan
the medical attention that he had needed five minutes ago.
Bryce managed exactly
three steps before he realized his error. He stopped and slumped
“Oh shoot...” Now his
level of concern was off the charts.
“Oh no,” Renee said,
almost in unison, “Do you have to erase our memories now?”
“Does he what?!” Troy
Renee turned to Troy and
explained, “Don't you understand, Troy? Bryce is probably part
of some secret group that uses magic to protect us ignorant
masses from evil monsters.” She turned towards Bryce. “Right?”
Dumbfounded, Bryce was
about to say 'pretty much,' but a thought struck him and he said
something even more stupid: “Did Molly already tell you about
“MOLLY?!” Troy and Renee
“You mean she's
involved?” added Troy.
Bryce cringed and
squeaked out an “uh huh.”
“So what, there really
is a secret group and stuff?” Renee asked.
This time, Bryce did
answer, “Pretty much.” His curiosity got the better of him and
he added, “How did you know?”
“I didn't!” Renee looked
away and rubbed her neck, suddenly bashful. “I just read a lot
of fantasy novels.”
“Well, whatever's going
on, if Molly's involved, I don't want to be,” Troy declared,
then walked two paces north.
Molly Pearson herself
was marching towards them.
Victimized by the
'errant' soccer ball, Molly already had a splitting headache
when she stormed in on Troy and Renee. Furthermore, Troy's
boundary between 'walking with' and 'following' was rendered
useless as Renee was standing right next to him.
If there were any signs
of a battle between magic minion and demon dog, Molly ignored
them as she approached Troy. Bryce quickly darted off to treat
Donovan's flesh wound.
“What the hell is-”
“I can explain!” Dashing
to Troy's rescue, Kathryn jogged in behind Molly and pleaded,
“Don't blame Troy for-”
Molly gave Kathryn
“It was all Troy's idea;
he's blackmailing me,” Kathryn said.
neutralized, Molly turned her attention right back to Troy.
“What on Earth is going on here?”
Before Molly could force
Troy to confess to sins he did and/or didn't commit, Renee
interposed herself. “We should be asking you the same thing!
First a giant dog attacks us, then one of Donovan's minions
defeats it with some sort of magic spell, and then-”
“Magic spell?!” Molly
was still visibly angry, but judging by the look she shot Bryce,
her rage had found a new target.
Molly turned back to
Renee and pointed at Bryce. “He cast a magic spell in front of
“Yeah! Well...” Renee
stopped and looked at Troy before clarifying, “He did ask us to
turn around first.”
“So you didn't see it
“We definitely heard him
“Sounded pretty cool,”
Renee nodded and smiled,
“Yeah, sounded awesome!”
Molly narrowed her eyes.
“Excuse me,” she muttered as she walked towards Bryce.
Bryce was attempting to
bandage Donovan's wound. Donovan had already come to, marveling
at how much blood he was losing. Molly dragged Bryce away by the
“I need to borrow him,”
Donovan watched Molly
take his minion away, then calmly said, “Blaine.”
“Sir!” Blaine replied,
resuming the first aid.
Out of Donovan's
earshot, Molly folded her arms as Bryce attempted to defend
himself: “After it was done with Donovan, it went after your
sister and Troy. What else could I do?”
“There are ways to
engage a demon without anyone noticing,” Molly replied bitterly.
“But that would
“Better than...” Molly
stopped as she noticed something over Bryce's shoulder. A little
ball of light sitting atop Donovan's palms. Her eyebrows
elevated as Donovan stared at the ball, before finally putting
it into his mouth. As he sucked on it, he summoned another one.
“This would be much
easier if you held still,” Blaine said, attempting to bandage
one of Donovan's arms.
Bryce had noticed too,
and his eyebrows matched Molly's, at least until Molly lifted
him up by the collar, her face scrunched up in fury.
“You taught him a light
“I didn't! I swear!”
Bryce pleaded, before turning to Blaine. “Blaine??”
As Blaine turned around,
he felt the deadly eyes of Molly Pearson upon him and threw his
hands up. “It was an accident! How was I to know his trigger
gesture is so close to mine?!”
Molly threw Bryce to the
ground and moved instead to hoist Blaine up. Frantic, Blaine
turned to Bryce. “I'm serious! Bryce, help me!”
After picking himself up
off the ground, Bryce shook his head. “Hey, you're on your own,
man. I'm just trying to cover my own ass.” With that, he
As Blaine quivered in
fear in the hands of Molly, he attempted to say something
resembling a coherent sentence, but it failed to sway her. He
looked down at Donovan, who was too busy taste-testing magical
spheres of light to help. With no other hope of escape, Blaine
sought the last refuge of the truly desperate- a distraction.
Thankfully for him,
Molly spotted Troy and Kathryn tip-toeing away from the scene,
hands behind their backs and Kathryn whistling nonchalantly.
Molly turned and shouted, “I'm not done with you two!”
They froze immediately.
Unfortunately unbalanced on one foot, Troy fell over.
Molly looked up at Blaine, before dropping him to the sidewalk.
She continued to glare at him as she muttered, “We need to
In the closing years of
the 20th century, when the internet was going through puberty, a
brilliant young computer programmer from Cincinnati created a
website. It was a magnificently brilliant website designed to
encourage social interaction throughout the world (or at least
the select parts of the world that had the internet at the
time). Boasting high-powered chat rooms, the ability to upload
and download home movies, and emoticons as far as the : can see,
the programmer's site finally united technology's
early-adapters, extroverted fun-seekers and reclusive perverts.
It wasn't long before a giant conglomerate noticed, and gave the
programmer a ridiculous sum of money for control of this
Once under corporate
control, it soon became obvious that the site was far ahead of
its time- the chat rooms were populated by inane AOL users, the
lack of high-speed connections prevented anyone from actually
accessing the video content, and mankind at that point in
history had only invented five emoticons- none of which were all
that clever. Due to these factors, and a couple unflattering
Dateline specials, the site closed down six weeks later. But by
that time, the check had cleared and a now-wealthy programmer
had already moved his wife and two daughters into relative
obscurity in L. B. Gould, Ohio.
For those who either
lack the attention span to read the above paragraphs or lack the
logistical brainpower to make the obvious connection: the
Pearsons were loaded.
Kathryn and Donovan soon
discovered this as Molly led them, Troy, and Renee to the family
residence- a large estate occupying most of a small hill. Though
only a two-story, the ashlar stonework exterior and expanded
four-car garage impressed Kathryn. As for the others, Troy had
seen it before, Donovan didn't care much for architecture, and
the garage only served to remind Molly that she had left her car
back at school. Molly grumbled it off and led the whole group
into her abode.
Inside, Kathryn was even
more impressed with the expansive foyer and living room. The
space was mostly due to neither parent being a collector of
kitschy crap, but it didn't stop Kathryn from nudging Troy,
saying, “You didn't tell me Renee was rich; nice pick!”
Molly coughed and shooed
everybody down the stairs into the study. Once again there was
no kitschy crap to be found; this was genuine luxury crap- from
the Salvador Dali painting hanging on the wall to the
Meiji-period Japanese swords on display to the giant $32,000
Olmec Indian head in the corner. Donovan chose the seat facing
Troy and Kathryn shared
a hideously-upholstered teal couch lining the side wall. Renee
sat in front of the room's centerpiece- four-and-a-half computer
towers flanking a desk that held a laptop and a pair of
monitors. Her father called it his secret basement laboratory.
Renee wasted no time firing it up to log onto her Hotmail
“Don't get too
comfortable,” Molly told the group. As they already were, she
turned around and went upstairs, muttering, “This is going to be
quick and painful.”
Following such incidents, MST Guardians had exact procedures to
follow in order to mitigate any problems. Renee's assumptions
about erasing memories were true in many circumstances, although
given the propensity for causing long-term brain damage, memory
removal was now only handled by skilled MST doctors. Thankfully
for Troy and company, this was not one of those circumstances.
Instead, Molly was to follow a more drastic course of action,
one that made her want to include killing Blaine and Bryce to
however, she raided the medicine cabinet to battle her
ever-growing headache. After the soccer ball to the face, Molly
didn't think it would get worse. Molly was wrong.
taking her drugs, Molly retreated to her room and placed four
blank sheets of paper on her bed. She then retrieved a small
white briefcase from the bottom drawer of her desk. Inside was a
large booklet, at the center of which was a detachable page
reading “Introductory Statement to Future MST Students- To Be
Read Aloud.” She pulled out that page and placed it next to
the blank sheets. Slowly and deliberately, Molly waved her
finger up and down across the introduction. Once finished, all
it took was four jabbing motions with her finger: exact replicas
of the page instantly appeared on the four blank sheets.
clutched her head; the medicine hadn't kicked in yet and image
duplication was a moderately difficult and mentally strenuous
spell. “We really need a Xerox machine,” she muttered as she
loaded both the pages and booklet into the briefcase and took it
basement, she saw that Bryce had returned. With the cat out of
the bag, he was no longer shy about his abilities: he used his
crystal to magically heal Donovan's arm as Troy and Kathryn
watched him with interest.
that!” Molly shouted, startling Bryce enough to make him drop
the crystal. It bounced harmlessly on the carpet. “You've shown
them enough already,” she added.
opened the briefcase on the table at the end of the room, Bryce
said, “You know, I did save your sister's life. Doesn't that
count for anything?”
narrowed her eyes at him. She considered arguing that saving
Troy's life canceled out saving Renee's, but even Molly wasn't
suppose,” she conceded.
relaxed for a moment, but felt that familiar twinge of fear when
Donovan said, “Are you saying you saved them... without my
up once more, Bryce replied, “Sorry sir! Won't happen again!”
cleared her throat. As conditioned, everybody gave her their
full attention as she said, “Let's get right to the point:
Bryce, Blaine and I know how to use magic.”
“Illumitorium!” Donovan chanted as he summoned a ball of light.
rolled her eyes. “Donovan knows a basic, unimpressive, and until
now nameless light spell.” Glaring at him, she added, “'Illumitorium?'
Where the hell did you get that from?”
Molly, why am I here?” Kathryn asked, “Troy said something about
some dog attack, but I didn't see a thing involving magic. This
is none of my business, so you can do your cover-up without me.”
isn't a cover-up,” Molly replied bitterly, “You, Renee,
Donovan...” she paused and sighed before adding, “and Troy...
will someday be enlisted into the Magical Security Taskforce.”
patience already running on fumes, Molly replied, “I'm getting
stood and began passing out the papers from her briefcase. “This
should cover the essen... Renee are you paying attention?!” Her
sudden shout drew Renee away from the computer.
smiled stupidly. “Sorry, just updating my Myspace page. Suppose
I should leave the hound attack out of my journal, huh?”
angry glare, Molly wordlessly handed her sister one of the
Introductory Statement to Future MST Students- To Be Read
Please emphasize Key Points as rehearsed. Hold all
questions until conclusion.
Afterwards, refer to “Frequently Asked Questions” on pp. 28-34.
There exists two types of forces in the world: natural
forces that can be consistently explained through the
sciences of physics, and unpredictable supernatural forces
which introduce elements of chaos that cannot be explained.
Under the right circumstances, these supernatural forces can
be harnessed and controlled for purposes both constructive
(pause) good and evil. This process is known as
Since the dawn of civilization, shamans, clerics and priests
have either used or created the impression of using magic to
better their communities. For just as long, magic has also
been used for foul purposes- personal gain, conquest and any
number of trespasses. Eventually, like-minded individuals
banded together for purposes of global corruption. These
powerful demon factions threaten the well-being of
every human on Earth.
looked up, wondering if she was supposed to take this seriously.
Troy and Donovan were quietly reading their pages, and she
couldn't glean any opinion off their faces. Renee was nodding
along. Molly massaged her temples. Kathryn sighed and continued
As the demons organized and bolstered their numbers, the
effort to combat them did the same. Magi across the globe
united to form the Magical Security Taskforce-
dedicated to preventing the demons from using magic for
their evil purposes. You (insert number) have been
selected because the MST has recognized your potential to
wield strong magical powers.
“Renee!!” Molly shouted, startling everybody except Renee, who
calmly looked back from the computer.
playing some online cribbage,” she replied sweetly.
read any of that?” Molly asked through clenched teeth.
turned back to the screen. “Yeah, I finished it. Sounds like
fun. Hey, take a look at this hand and tell me what cards to
Kathryn looked at each other, shrugged, and finished reading:
have been appointed to the rank of Guardian, meaning
I have the responsibility of supervising your progress. I
have been training for this day for several years, and with
me you will learn the secrets of magic that will help you
serve the MST well in the years to come. This is not an
opportunity many are presented with, so use it well and your
future will be in good hands.
finished at about the same time as Kathryn and Donovan. He
looked at both of them to get their thoughts. Kathryn looked
back and shook her head. Donovan glared at Troy, who
instinctively turned away to Molly. She glared back as well,
then stood up and addressed the room.
questions?” asked Molly, flipping to pages 28-34 in her booklet.
I'm going to pass if it's all the same to you,” Kathryn replied,
“I don't know where you got the impression that I'd be any good
at this kind of thing. I'm kind of an idiot jock, you know?”
not an idiot,” Troy replied reassuringly.
up, Troy,” Kathryn shot back. 'Idiot jock' was one of the few
nasty labels she was prone to in school. True or not, she found
that it had an upside in some situations.
stood and continued, “I mean, I'm not really into this magic
stuff.” She started toward the door. “You'll have to do a lot
better than a little light ball and a story about some demonic
dog because - ------ ---'- -----...” She stopped and gasped.
Suddenly finding herself mute, Kathryn turned around and
clutched her throat. She was pushing air through her windpipe,
her larynx vibrated, but nothing was coming out. Then she
noticed that Molly had a finger pointed at her.
--- ----?! --- --- --- ----- ----?!” Kathryn attempted to shout,
“---- ----! --- ---...” Molly set her arm down. “-uck is nothing
cracked a smug smile as Kathryn took her seat.
likes a showoff,” Kathryn muttered.
is, you see magic all the time,” Molly explained, “It just
doesn't register as such. Besides the obvious light balls and
whatever the hell Bryce did to that hound, there is also more
subtle magic. For example, I just ingested a small red pill ten
minutes ago and suddenly my headache has subsided considerably.
Tell me that's not magic.”
saying that medicine is magic?” Renee asked, not turning away
from the computer.
and medicine have been together since the days of the local
apothecaries and alchemists. The MST has been firmly in control
of the pharmaceutical industry for centuries.”
are drug costs are so high?” Kathryn asked.
you think this is funded? Money doesn't appear out of nowhere.”
head facing the floor, Troy said, “I guess we don't speak for
Renee and Donovan...” He glanced at Donovan, who still glared at
Troy. Troy's eyes turned back to the floor. “But I think what
Kathryn's getting at is that we don't really seem like the magic
type. I suppose my grades are okay, but I'm not a wizard or
anything. I mean...”
looked nervously at Renee, but she didn't seem to be listening:
she had stepped into the World of Warcraft and could legally be
considered out of the room.
turned to Molly and confessed, “...I watch NASCAR.”
scoffed. “If it makes you feel any better, I don't think you
have any talent either.” As Troy's head sunk, Molly went on,
“Truth is, however, everybody can use magic, whether they
realize it or not. Some are naturally better than others, which
is how the MST decides whom to recruit. But most will never
realize that they can use magic, because they will never
discover their trigger.”
mean... as I have?” Donovan boasted, summoning another light
sighed. “Yes. Everyone has their own gesture which lets them
cast magic. The trigger also dictates how easy spellcasting is
for them, as well as what class of magic they are likely to
excel in. Most learn their triggers at the academy, but
discovering it on one's own is another way to virtually
guarantee recruitment into the... Renee!!”
Everybody looked at Renee, who didn't bother to look away from
the screen. “I'm listening, I'm listening! I'm also slaying a
spider demon,” she said, “It's called multitasking.”
other, less common, method of recruitment is being involved in
an overt attack by a demonic force,” Molly added.
the hound...” Donovan said, darkly, “So the powers of evil are
leading me down this path...”
shook her head. “Whatever the reasons for that attack, three of
you have been exposed. Where most students don't attend the
academy until after graduating high school, there is a
possibility that this incident will result in the MST asking
that all four of you start attending immediately, starting with
the next session in July.”
July?!” Kathryn blurted, “You mean I have to spend summer break
fair, it is a magic school. You will be learning-”
raised a hand. “Stop right there, Pearson. Summer plus school
plus learn equals NO!”
that headache flaring up again, magic medicine or not, Molly
leaned forward on her desk and shouted, “You know you, Renee and
Troy are really annoying me!”
Troy looked around. “What did I say? How am I annoying you?”
glared at him, and replied in her best sinister tone, “Your mere
presence is annoying me.”
fell silent as all but two eyes fell on Troy. He sunk down on
the couch, looking around nervously. Nobody peeped... except for
the occasional digitized sword-clanging from the computer
I hope that academy has online access, because my guild's really
active in July,” Renee thought aloud.
Kathryn said, “Why us? If we're all annoying the crap out of
you, why are you picking us for this?”
Molly looked down and
took a breath to calm herself. “It's not my decision. I don't
choose who goes in. That decision is made elsewhere. Whoever
does it obviously doesn't know you too well.”
Kathryn narrowed her
eyes. “What do they go by? It's not like any of us have used
“Illumi-” Donovan began
Kathryn waved him off.
“Give it a rest!”
For a sincere-sounding
question, Molly gave a sincere-sounding answer. “There's too
many factors that go into the selection process. Genetics are
important, I suppose, but even then it's unpredictable.
Offspring of two established magi are good sources, but none of
us fall in that category. Siblings tend to be reliable, though.
Renee was certainly chosen because of me.”
“Woo hoo!” Renee quietly
exclaimed, not turning from her game.
“And if Donovan can cast
a spell by mimicking Blaine, that has to indicate some talent.”
Everyone ignored him.
“As for you, Kathryn,
you certainly hold many skills. No reason to think magic
shouldn't be one of them.”
“We'll see about that,”
Kathryn answered with a chuckle.
Troy, Molly continued, “The MST also groups recruits in units-
one guardian, four students. Since units train together, the MST
prefers to have them all living in the same vicinity for
logistical purposes. In other words, somebody with a level of
potential equal to, say, Renee could be passed over if there are
no other candidates around. Even with the ability, this is a
She looked around the
room. Renee was off her game and lurking on some forum. Kathryn
stared back, her narrowed eyes still oozing skepticism. Troy was
debating whether or not to mention that Molly had skipped him;
Molly didn't give him the chance. Donovan and Bryce were idle in
the corner until Donovan leaned forward and brought his hands
“Blaine,” he mumbled.
“Sir!” replied Blaine.
Molly didn't bother asking where he had come from.
“Get me something to
drink,” Donovan commanded.
“There's soda in the
fridge,” Renee offered, eyes still on the screen.
Blaine sighed. “Bryce is
right here; can't he do it?”
“Your turn,” Bryce
replied with a smile.
Before Blaine could give
up and head for the fridge, Troy stood and extended a hand
toward the two minions. “Wait a minute! What's up with those
Blaine and Bryce turned
to Troy, dumbfounded.
“What? Something wrong?”
“Yeah, where do Thing 1
and Thing 2 fit into all this?” Kathryn asked Molly.
“That's...” Molly began,
then pondered it for a while before looking over at the pair.
“That's a really good question.”
“What? You didn't know
these two knew magic?”
“No, of course I knew...
I just never really gave it much thought.”
Troy went directly to
the sources. “So where did you two learn about this?”
“I forbid you from
answering,” interrupted Donovan.
Blaine and Bryce looked
at Donovan, then each other, then Troy, then shrugged.
Troy sighed. “Look, you
don't have to listen to Donovan all the time. In fact, why do
you listen to him at all?”
“I forbid you from
answering,” interrupted Donovan again.
Kathryn rolled her eyes
and stared at the ceiling. “How about this one- boxers or
“I order you to answer,”
Donovan said, leaning back.
Everybody (except Renee)
stared at Donovan. Donovan looked away, then jolted his head at
someone dramatically, hoping to startle someone with his glare.
Unfortunately, he picked Molly, who glared right back, hardly
“And this is why it's
normally reserved for college students,” she said, her mouth
forming a snarl, “Obviously none of you can grasp what's going
on here. With any luck, the magi in charge will be smart enough
to ignore what happened today and come back to you once you're
ready to handle it.”
“Does that mean we can
leave?” Kathryn asked.
Donovan rose from his
seat. He silently sauntered out the door, stopping once. “My
drink?” he reminded Blaine.
Blaine stumbled, then
yelped, “Right! Yes!”
The fridge Renee had
mentioned was tucked into the corner near the exit, next to a
closet/pantry. As Blaine hustled towards it, Molly furrowed her
eyebrows. She waved her finger up and down quickly, then pointed
at the fridge. The magical blockade she created lasted just long
enough for Blaine to slam into it.
He got the message and
ran off to join Donovan and Bryce.
Kathryn shot off a quick
laugh, then said, “Come on, Troy. Time to head back to reality.”
She and Troy stood up
and walked out, passing Renee en route.
“I'll see you tomorrow,”
Troy whispered to her.
“No. You. Won't,” Molly
declared, her words hitting Troy harder than any blockade could.
She walked up to them, glaring at Troy as he retreated up the
“Fools,” she spat,
shaking her head as she heard the front door slam. “NASCAR...”
she said with a scoff.
“I know, I know,” Renee
said pleasantly, “Just one of his things. I don't really watch
it anymore- not after they redid the points system anyway. Too
much math now; keep it simple, guys,” she added quickly.
muttered, falling into the hideously-upholstered couch.
“Yeah...” Renee stopped
typing and swiveled around to meet Molly face-to-face. “But I
think I can handle it.”
Molly managed a faint
smile. “I don't doubt that. You'd do fine. Kathryn too. She may
not realize it, but we need someone like her. It's Troy and
Donovan that are problematic.”
“As always.” Renee
giggled and turned back around. “You have to admit though, he's
pretty brave to even try to go after me. Very few others have.
Even fewer survived.”
“That's the problem,”
Molly mumbled to herself. Her reputation in school had managed
to keep everybody in line. Attempting to initiate a relationship
with either Molly or Renee was akin to suicide. The notion of
dating Renee was one thing, however; Molly would let someone
through had he met her high standards. It was true that she
deemed Troy Monroe unfit for her, but that wasn't his worst
offense. One more thing also provoked Molly's wrath: he was