process too elaborate to describe, Bryce and Blaine got Troy and
Donovan out of the void and back into the motor club's storage
shall finish this later,” Donovan told Troy as he teleported out
of the closet, likely into another one somewhere else.
shrugged it off and went to his locker, not fully comprehending
where he had gone. Nobody else was in the hallway; apparently
Claude had given up and went home. He opened his locker and
found the same white packet from the MST that Kathryn had
received. Just as he picked it up, his cell phone rang.
his mother. “Oh, thank God. Where the hell have you been? I've
been trying to call you all night!”
His watch showed 4:06 in the afternoon. Troy looked around for a
wall clock, but there was no such luxury in the freshman
spend the night at someone's house?”
After searching frantically for some accurate timekeeper, he
finally remembered the cell phone he had up to his ear.
6:06 AM. He shrieked and resumed the conversation with his
understandably worried mother. “Oh, I, uh... must have fallen
don't turn your phone off. I was worried sick!”
listened to her scolding with minimal protest until she
disconnected. “Dammit, Donovan!” he shouted.
phone rang again. This time it was Kathryn: “Where the hell have
you been? You never turn your phone off!”
was out of range,” Troy replied, “No bars whatsoever.” He
assumed this was true; at the very least the void he had been in
certainly constituted roaming.
need to talk to you. Did you get that packet from Molly?”
He held up the unopened envelope.
messed up stuff in there, huh?” Kathryn wasn't dismissing it
now, although she was far from receptive to the whole thing,
“Want to get together at your place tonight and give it a look?”
closed his eyes and exhaled. “Sure,” he replied, making a mental
note to get his story straight with Kathryn before his mother
talk to you later,” he added, “I need to find a coffee place.”
could say that.”
sleep schedule thoroughly obliterated by the sudden outbreak of
time travel, Troy did not have a pleasant day at school. He got
caught sleeping in three different classes and would have had
detention if Claude hadn't forced him out of the building at the
end of the day.
evening, he was still fairly groggy as he leafed through the
MST's information packet. Enclosed were also scattered sheets of
papers- mostly forms, waivers and coupons for the academy's
bookstore, along with a promotional DVD. Troy had tried watching
it, but like all promo DVDs it was so inane, self-serving and
poorly-produced that he decided to save it for later when he
actually wanted to fall asleep.
Kathryn came in after her practices, they played along with
Troy's mother teasing him about falling asleep at her place.
Eventually, Ma Monroe left them alone.
“Fourteen hours...” Troy moaned.
magic thing's great, isn't it?” Kathryn said caustically.
“Caught napping three times, I heard?”
If I hadn't gotten away with it in English, I'd be dead by now.”
chuckled and handed him a bottle. “Picked up an energy drink for
you. The label says there's enough caffeine in there to kill a
“Thanks,” Troy replied. He toasted her and started chugging.
they spent most of their time goofing off (Kathryn particularly
liked her brand of snide commentary during the promo DVD), it
was at least associated with the materials in their packets, so
the night was somewhat productive. Still, Kathryn was hardly
taken in by the mountain of information- unsurprising, since at
best it resembled a college preview mailer in all of its depth
they can regenerate all the trees they killed to make these
things,” Kathryn said, lying on Troy's bed with all the loose
papers spread out around her. “It's like there's ten sheets to
sign your life away and three more to lie to your parents about
put more effort into finding a cover story to explain your
absence,” Troy added, “Not sure if I'm going with the three-week
humanitarian visit to Suriname or the Future Falconers of
long is all this for anyway?”
looked it up: six sessions over three years provided the basic
education needed to achieve general competency and therefore be
of any use to the MST. Students with higher aspirations often
studied for an additional two years towards a more specialized
after that?” Kathryn asked.
through the book, Troy shrugged. “It doesn't really go into what
happens after that. I guess you end up doing whatever you're
best suited for.”
think they'd go over that when they sign us up.”
don't find anything at all strange about that?” Kathryn turned
to Troy, who stared back at her.
lost fourteen hours to an empty void,” he said, finishing the
last of his drink, “Nothing seems strange to me anymore.”
Through the night, Troy
and Kathryn reviewed the booklet as much as they could tolerate.
The whole publication had little about the MST itself beyond a
general 'smite evil' mission statement. It was more geared
towards preparing future students for the trip and pushing the
typical 'learning magic is fun' propaganda that would be
expected. The booklet's cover photo was an awe-inspiring shot of
a 17th century school standing boldly near a storm-battered
ocean shoreline, with several modern facilities dotting the
background. Of course, the very small text inside the cover
read, “Cover picture: Croatoan Academy in North Carolina, 1998.
Student's actual academy determined by geography and income
One useful section that
Troy had jumped on was the discussion of mage classes,
essentially the different departments in the academy. As the
only section that classified what they'd actually learn and what
it could lead to, it was easily the most interesting part of the
According to the book,
there were three classes. The first one, dubbed Weavers,
represented about 35% of the student body. They focused on more
complex and deliberate spellcasting, and were named for their
artisan-like approach. While they often took longer to cast
spells than magi with more of a 'quantity over quality'
approach, their spells had more power and flexibility. Due to
the complex mentality necessary, successful Weavers were more
likely to climb the ranks in the MST (especially since most of
the decision makers were Weavers themselves and had a noticeable
bias, although the book naturally omitted that).
“It says that their
trigger gesture usually involves very precise finger motions. I
guess this is Molly's type. She kind of waggled her finger when
she cast that spell to shut you up,” Troy said.
“Never bring that up
again,” Kathryn replied bitterly, “Anyway, I don't like anything
too complicated. What's next?”
Instead of pointing out
the part that said class was usually determined by the mage's
trigger, Troy went on to the Crafters. Only a fifth of all
students were Crafters, which took a 'hand's on' approach to
magic and often branched out into alchemy. Since they had
less-apparent gestures to tap their abilities, Crafters were
more inclined to fuse magic into items, including consumables
(almost all Crafters were trained to brew an assortment of
ever-popular potions). Crafters were always in high demand and
some entered the field of medicine generating pills and vaccines
for both the MST and the general public.
“That sounds kind of
neat,” Troy said.
Kathryn stared at the
book. “Uh... is it me, or is the guy in this picture crafting
the One Ring?”
Troy looked closely; the
pictured man did have a rather maniacal smile as he held a
glowing ring up with a pair of tongs. “Whatever he made, he sure
seems happy about it...”
The final class was both
the most common and the most boring: Thrusters. Quite simply,
these were the classic fireball/iceball/gyroball/whatever-the-hell-you-can-think-of-ball
hurlers. Thrusters were not awarded style points; they were the
muscle responsible for casting spells quickly and efficiently,
and theoretically on-target. To do that, they drew powers from
the surrounding elements, rather than rely solely on their own
energy like Weavers. Thrusters were named for their trigger: a
clear outward motion at either the sky, the ground, or whatever
it was they wanted to die.
“Now this one kinda
sounds fun,” Kathryn said, smiling, “Wonder what kind of career
paths they have for this.”
Troy read the page carefully and paraphrased to the best of his
ability: “...their job is to go out and kill the bad guys.”
“Oh,” Kathryn said,
closing the booklet, “I'll pass. I'm not big on grunt work.”
They heard a knock on
the door. “Troy?” his mother called, “You've got a friend here
to see you.”
Kathryn and Troy looked
at each other. Troy shrugged and replied, “Kathryn's already in
“I know. I mean another
Confused, Troy got up
and headed to the door.
“You have other
friends?” Kathryn teased.
Troy opened the door. It
“At last, I shall have
my revenge. Prepare for battle.”
Kathryn neither got up
nor looked up. She just answered, “Hey, Donovan, what's up?”
Troy's mother smiled.
“Try not to be too late. I'm not making breakfast for all three
Donovan turned to her
and nodded humbly. “Thank you, Ellen.”
“Have fun!” she replied,
walking away as Donovan barged into the room.
Troy backpedaled. “How
did you know where I live? Or my Mom's name for that matter?”
replied, “My minions are terribly efficient with the phone
“We're not the only
Monroe family in town.”
“As the saying goes...
third time is the charm! Your Uncle Daniel sends his
“Condolences for what?”
destruction!” Donovan exclaimed, pointing a finger at Troy.
Ignoring the whole
destruction bit, Kathryn said, “Hey, Donovan, what do you make
of all this magic stuff?”
She received no
response. Donovan had pinned Troy against the far wall and
teleported him away once more. By the time she bothered to look
up, they were both gone.
“Huh... Troy's never
gonna sleep again, is he?” she mumbled, returning to the loose
papers from the packet. Amongst all the paperwork necessary to
legally subject students to their training, the MST had buried a
small canary slip with the barely distinguishable header, “If
you object to your initiation into the Magical Security
Taskforce...” What followed was not so much a form as it was a
set of detailed instructions. Step one involved consulting her
this time Donovan managed to keep them on Earth. He and Troy
ended up at a field next to the school. Nobody else was in
sight, and the only available light was from the security lamps
along the school's exterior wall and whatever bled over from the
nearby parking lot. They could see, but not tremendously well.
In short, it was a surprisingly good improvised battleground for
wasn't impressed, however. Rain from the last couple days had
moistened the ground, soaking his socks. Furthermore, it was a
typically chilly April night and Troy's long-sleeve t-shirt was
ill-equipped for the elements. He immediately shivered at the
sudden drop in temperature.
you could have at least let me grab some shoes and a jacket!”
Troy said. He walked away from Donovan, not willing to be
involved with any more teleportation attempts.
heard none of that. “We may be restricted to the mortal plane,
but at last we shall have our magic duel!”
sighed and turned around. “Problem- I can't use magic yet. I
don't know what my trigger is.”
shall be short and one-sided.”
held his palms out to cast a spell, concentrated for a moment,
then dropped his arms to his sides as he realized that he didn't
know any attack spells.
“Blaine!” he summoned.
me an attack spell.”
folded his arms impatiently, rubbing them to keep warm.
looked down nervously and said, “Uh, I really can't teach you
attacks. I use elemental attack spells... you usually need
academy training to learn how to do it right.”
sneer, Donovan replied, “In that case... you shall attack Troy
can do,” Blaine said, stepping in front of Donovan. He looked at
Troy, who stared back with wide eyes. Donovan couldn't do much
actual harm; his minions were a different story. “Nothing
personal, Troy,” Blaine added apologetically.
his palms face-down in front of him and swiftly flipped them
around and pushed forward. Drawing in the surrounding winds, he
balled them up and fired them all at Troy. The resulting wind
gust knocked Troy off his feet, sending him flying backwards six
feet before landing on his ass and sliding another yard or so
along the slick grass.
Truthfully, it didn't do much damage, but Donovan sure got a
kick out of it. Hands on his hips, he started laughing
uproariously at Troy's misery, even if it was just a sore bottom
and some stained clothes.
Troy, you shall learn to respect my powers,” Donovan gloated.
up and tried to brush some of the grass off his shirt. Rather
annoyed, he replied, “Fine, fine, your minions don't suck. Can I
get home before Kathryn starts rooting through my stuff?”
was just the opening act. Now, Blaine, finish him!”
looked back and said, meekly, “I'm not really equipped to-”
got the chance. Just as Blaine turned around, a loud blast
struck him in the side, knocking him clear off his feet and
directly into the wall of the school.
Blaine fell to the ground, Donovan and Troy looked on in shock,
then turned to the origin of the spell: Kendrick slowly walked
up to Donovan.
Donovan,” he said with a smile.
Donovan spat angrily.
Kendrick's smile grew. “Yes...”
you?” Apparently, Donovan didn't recognize the intruder in the
dark room from the prior week.
momentarily losing his composure, Kendrick recovered his
overbearing smile and bowed. “Perhaps I did not introduce myself
properly last time. I am Kendrick, loyal member of the Hokoni
were you the one who sent that thing after us?” Troy asked,
still on the ground.
frowned at Troy. “Yes, I sent that hound. I'm glad you recall my
handiwork.” He narrowed his eyes. “I'll deal with you next...
Returning back to Donovan. “Now, you had just said something
about wanting to learn an attack spell?”
simply glared back.
your poor minion said indicates a lack of willingness rather
than a lack of ability. In truth, I can teach whatever you'd
like. Now that the MST has let you in on their little secret,
you can see how unsuitable they are for you.” Kendrick smiled
again. “You are hungry for bigger prey, and my faction can help
you attain that.”
glanced briefly at Troy, scaring the boy enough to keep him from
moving. Back to Donovan, Kendrick added, “We can start right
now. Would you like me to show you how to dispose of Monroe over
stepped forward and looked Kendrick in the eyes. “Nobody attacks
my minions but me,” he glowered.
Kendrick stepped back once.
didn't respond; he was still knocked out against the side of the
school. “Taking a nap,” Kendrick observed.
placed a hand on his chest, then brought his arm down to his
side, holding his hand face down. As Bryce arrived, Kendrick
generated a ball of energy.
Bryce said, moments before the energy ball knocked him over and
looked at the second unconscious minion before turning back to
Kendrick. “Stop that,” he muttered.
Smirking, Kendrick repeated the process. This time, he held his
hand down longer. Bolts of dark energy swirled through his hands
into the ball as it grew larger every second.
let me show you what my faction has to offer, or this next one
For most of the
exchange, Troy had been ignored. Given what had happened to
Blaine and Bryce, that probably wasn't such a bad thing. He was
still sitting on the ground yards away from the action, watching
as Kendrick threatened Donovan. The energy concentrated under
Kendrick's hand was growing even larger.
Troy looked at Blaine
and Bryce. Neither were moving and Bryce's body was smoking a
little, but Troy had neither the focus nor the sympathy to care.
His biggest concern was Kendrick reserving an even more powerful
attack for Donovan; Troy had to assume it was a lethal dosage.
Donovan did not seem to
care. His eyes narrowed, but his glare remained affixed on
Kendrick. The only sign of fear was the heavy breathing through
his nose. If nothing else, Donovan was stubborn about everything
from the most trivial of subjects to the most dire. Troy could
only wonder if Donovan's refusal to submit would cost him his
More importantly, what
about Troy's own life? If Donovan caved, Troy was apparently the
next victim, perhaps at the hands of Donovan himself. If he
didn't, and Kendrick did attack Donovan, would Troy be given the
same ultimatum? Would he meet the same fate as Donovan
automatically? Or would he just be knocked out of the picture
like Blaine and Bryce? Either way, Troy ruled out the 'Kendrick
lets him go unharmed, just because he's a nice guy' scenario.
muttered through his teeth. Donovan was holding firm, either
considering the possibilities, waiting for Kendrick to make the
next move or just glaring silently because it was the easiest
thing to do. His hands remained at his sides; Kendrick would
likely notice any attempt to cast a spell.
Whatever the case, only
one thing was clear to Troy: he wasn't safe as long as Kendrick
and that big, black ball o' death were near. His only option was
to separate the two. Or even better- strike the energy ball into
Kendrick instead. With any luck, the time needed for Kendrick to
recover and/or recharge would give Troy enough time to run away
screaming. To accomplish that, Troy's idea was primitive yet
efficient- throw something at him.
He felt around the
surrounding ground but nothing turned up. Frustrated, he swore
to himself and balled his right hand into a fist. At some point
while clenching his fist, his index finger flew out like a
spring. The movement was almost impulsive, as if the finger
decided on its own that it didn't want to cower in fear like its
brothers and chose to face Kendrick alone.
At first the movement
seemed completely natural to Troy, but he soon felt his entire
arm swell up. It wasn't anything physical- no rush of blood or
sudden pain afflicting his limb. At that moment, Troy sensed it-
this was magic, and it was flowing through his arm to the tip of
his index finger.
Cautiously, he pulled
his arm straight backwards, his finger still pointed at
Kendrick. Troy closed his eyes for a moment, picturing a blast
as powerful as Kendrick's emerging from his finger and
destroying both the energy ball and the demon that wielded it.
He opened his eyes again. Wordlessly, he shot his arm forward,
projecting his energy at the dark mass.
What emerged was a puny
stream of water, no stronger than that of a cheap squirt gun.
But it was a spell nonetheless, and it headed straight towards
Not at the energy ball,
unfortunately. Troy, who was still on the ground, had
overcompensated for the height difference. As a result, the
water blast (using the term 'blast' very loosely) struck
Kendrick in the shoulder instead. Regardless, it did its job as
it forced Kendrick to drop his energy ball, which fell to the
ground and harmlessly dissolved into the grass: it carried no
Kendrick cried out in
shock more than pain. He shook his arm and glanced at his
shoulder. Besides a little blue mark at the point of impact and
a wet sleeve, Kendrick was completely unharmed. And now his
attention was focused solely on Troy.
“Well... somebody wants
to be the hero!” Kendrick exclaimed angrily, stepping slowly
towards Troy. He brought his hand towards his chest and again
placed it at his side, summoning another attack. Troy's eyes
widened but he was frozen in place; he knew this one wasn't
going to be a fake.
Without looking away,
Kendrick said, “Apologies, Donovan, but I must deal with Monroe
Donovan folded his arms
and watched with interest. He had no intention of either
interfering, leaving or helping his minions.
Troy, still on his rear,
used it to slide backwards along the grass. In all the
excitement of using magic for the first time, he had forgotten
to run away screaming. Now all the thrill of casting his first
spell had quickly ceded to a mortal fear that he had just cast
Although Kendrick had
spent only a few seconds charging his attack, it was longer than
he had taken for the spell that knocked out Bryce, and that one
certainly had been effectively painful. Without actually coming
into contact with the energy mass, Kendrick wound his arm back
and fired directly at Troy. Troy cowered, closed his eyes, and
prepared for the worst.
The massive explosion
that followed made Troy hyperventilate. It took him a few
seconds to realize that it did not, however, make him dead.
After trying with moderate success to get his breathing under
control, Troy opened his eyes. He did not see Kendrick in front
Instead, he saw a crude
wall of rocks jutting up from the ground. The rocks started to
crumble, toppling over and revealing an astonished Kendrick
behind them. Kendrick looked at Donovan, but he had not moved.
“Hey!” someone shouted
from the side. Kendrick jolted his head at the new voice.
Troy saw Kurt walking
towards them. He held his right arm straight up in the air, with
his palm facing the sky. His other palm casually draped the
pocket of his blue jeans. Kurt smiled at Kendrick.
“What's the matter?” he
said smugly, “Afraid to go after anyone who knows what they're
He was the very essence
of the confident upperclassman. Never mind that Kendrick had
just taken out two competent minions with single blows and had
launched an even stronger attack at Troy. Kurt coolly smiled
back at Kendrick, as if saving Troy's life had expended no
effort. Not only that, but Kurt looked at Kendrick with
amusement, with no regard whatsoever to the demon's power.
seethed at the sight. “Who the devil are you?”
Kurt lowered his hand.
“I was just out for a walk. Saw you picking on these kids and
figured I'd help them out.”
He stepped in front of
Troy and raised an eyebrow. “You seem like a decent enough
demon. What are you doing attacking random students?”
Kendrick's eyes widened
and darted between Kurt, Troy, and any other lurkers hiding in
the shadows behind the school. “I... well you see... Monroe
attacked me first.”
“Oh yeah... I saw it,”
Kurt said, trying not to laugh, “I've seen squirt guns do worse.
Or are you allergic to water and Troy's fighting dirty?”
“Effective or not, he
interrupted my talk with Donovan here and provoked me.”
Kurt glanced briefly at
Donovan, who was still motionless and watching them with casual
interest. “I saw your talk with Donovan. Threatening to kill him
unless he joined you?”
“I was bluffing,”
Kendrick said, turning his head, “I have no reason to kill him.”
“Okay- an empty threat
“I say that because I do
not kill students unless it's warranted!”
Kurt shook his head. The
smile did not waver. “Yeah, I bet you were just looking for an
excuse to go after these two. Then what? You go back to your
buddies at the pub and brag about how you killed two harmless
students? Big man!”
If Troy's first
experience with magic hadn't involved Bryce, he would have sworn
here that magical ability was directly correlated to one's
coolness. Kendrick had shown nothing but savvy around Donovan,
yet Kurt's chiding had destroyed Kendrick's composure to the
point where Kendrick couldn't say anything to rebuke Kurt's
“Look, just go. It's
best for everybody if you just walked away and we forget that
this happened. You seem harmless enough, so I'd hate to get the
MST involved.” Kurt raised his eyebrows. Suddenly very
patronizing, he added, “You say it's just a misunderstanding,
Kendrick took a deep
breath and nodded. “Yes, of course. We mustn't let this get too
out of hand.” He turned to Donovan and said, “Donovan, perhaps
once you see how little the academy teaches you, you'll
reconsider my offer. Until then, I bid you farewell.”
“You don't need a
monologue. Just get out of here.”
Briefly bowing his head
at Kurt, Kendrick forced a smile. “Of course.” He shot a nasty
look at Troy, but before Troy could register it, the demon had
Immediately, Troy got to
his feet and ran up to Kurt. “Oh my God, Kurt, that was...
Kurt turned to Troy,
slumped his shoulders, and heaved a huge sigh of relief.
“Really? I was scared to death. The hell did you two get
“Ask Donovan. But that
was something to talk him out of a fight.”
“Not a lot of options.
He could have killed all of us easily, and he knew it.”
Troy stepped back in
surprise. “So... all that talk about him being weak was-?”
“He's a Hokoni. They're
pretty self-conscious. He knows better than to screw up and make
his faction look bad. He also knows that nothing pisses off the
MST like needlessly attacking their students.”
“Why didn't you tell me
you were in on this MST stuff?”
Too tired to shoot Troy
an incredulous look, Kurt gave a straight answer: “Well, when
you're in a secret organization dealing with supernatural
powers, you tend to keep your mouth shut.”
Troy glanced at Donovan,
who was nice enough to check Bryce's pulse. Committing himself
to ignoring them, Troy turned back to Kurt. “So are you a
“Uh... you might say I'm
working on that. I'm a guardian in training, and I've been given
the job of helping Molly keep an eye on you guys.”
Troy nodded blankly,
still trying to fathom all of this. “Oh... like an assignment?”
Kurt scratched the back
of his head. “Uh, not exactly. More like work-study. It was my
“Yeah, he asked me to
make sure nothing happened to you before you could get to the
“Um...” Troy hesitated.
He had known Kurt for months, so it was a little unsettling to
hear that one of his few friends was staying close due to a
secret mission. But Kurt had stepped up and saved Troy's life
nonetheless, so it would have been awfully rude to complain.
“Thanks, I guess. So you've been watching us since we started
high school? Does the MST do that for everybody they're
Grimacing, Kurt looked
at Donovan. “Uh... no.” Choosing his words carefully, he
explained, “This is a... unique situation. For one thing, they
were afraid one of the demon factions might make a play for
Upon hearing his name,
Donovan shot an angry glare at Kurt. Kurt waved back.
“Makes sense,” Troy said
with a nod.
“You also just
demonstrated the other thing. Did you know that only about four
percent of MST students learn their trigger before attending the
Troy's eyes widened at
the statistic. He looked down to his right hand, slowly
extending his index finger.
“Your unit now has
three. That proves what a lot of the brass are saying- you guys
are a special group.”
Sighing, Troy replied,
“Does what I did really count? I mean, you were right; it was a
pretty sad excuse for an attack.”
Kurt smiled brightly and
shook his head. “Troy, you're not going to qualify for Daytona
the second you get your learner's permit. I was just getting
into that guy's head. Honestly, you not only figured out your
trigger, but also successfully cast and landed an attack- an
elemental attack at that! Trust me, kid, you're going to be one
hell of a Thruster.”
Troy's face lit up. In
spite of Kathryn's doubts, Donovan's interruptions and
Kendrick's attacks, Troy had tried to convince himself that the
MST wasn't something to pass up. Kurt's words of encouragement
sold it. Not just for casting that fluke of a spell- Kurt was
proof that Troy was not chosen randomly, that he and his
classmates had been carefully picked at least a year ago. It no
longer felt like a decision; Troy now felt obligated to at least
try to live up to whatever expectations were upon him.
He quickly fell down
from his cloud, however, when he remembered that Thrusters were
expected to 'go out and kill the bad guys.' Troy wasn't as
thrilled about that particular line in the job description.
Especially since he had the strong feeling that Kendrick was not
giving up on them that easily.
As Troy and Kurt
continued to talk and Donovan quietly teleported away after
verifying Bryce and Blaine's vitality, Molly watched them from a
distance. Like Kurt, she had gotten the call: “demon targeting
students, save them, kthxbye.” She had also seen Kendrick
threaten Donovan, and subsequently Troy. Unlike Kurt, however,
she did not rise to the occasion and save the day.
Molly had frozen at the
sight of Troy Monroe casting a spell. And if not for Kurt, it
would have cost Troy his life. She was still facing that fact.
The title of Guardian was a tad archaic- the role was more of a
unit leader and overseer of each student's personal training. At
the same time, letting them die was highly discouraged. It was a
double blow to her ego. Not only had she failed to do her job,
but her belief that Troy was a useless prospect chosen under
questionable circumstances was all but shattered. She could no
longer deny his potential, as much as she tried to force herself
With a quick motion of
her finger, she teleported away, leaving Kurt to mop up the
situation himself. All she knew was that letting Troy catch her
in a moment of weakness would only make it all worse.
had always carried a neutral attitude about Kurt. While she
loathed the idea of giving Troy an older sympathizer to listen
to his griping, Kurt wisely avoided sides in the whole Renee
affair and did an admirable job of helping Troy keep everything
in perspective. Only now, she discovered that he was equally
willing to help her out of a jam.
didn't intervene because you knew I was on it. Gotcha.” They
both had the responsibility of filing reports with the MST over
the recent debacle with Kendrick. If Molly had told the truth
about freezing in the moment, she would certainly be in trouble.
Thankfully, with Kurt backing up her story, lying to the Magical
Security Taskforce was painless and fun.
course, it didn't actually change the events of that night.
Besides the whole thing about the demon targeting her students,
there was also the reason for Molly's lapse: Troy had discovered
his trigger. Normally, a Guardian would be thrilled when one of
her brood proved to be ahead of the curve. If it were Renee or
Kathryn, Molly would certainly encourage them to get some
practice in before July. Hell, she even acknowledged Donovan's
feat as a promising sign. Troy, however, was a different matter
and it left her wondering what, if anything, she should be doing
to maintain control of the situation.
Kathryn. A few weeks later, on some random May morning during
the waning days of the school year, she requested an audience
with Molly. Kathryn entered carrying the MST's preview packet.
Taking a seat, she started rifling through the envelope.
I've been giving this a lot of thought, and I'm not sure if this
is really up my alley,” Kathryn said solemnly. She glanced up at
an expressionless Molly. Kathryn continued, “I mean, if
someone's going to show up trying to kill us, count me out.
Besides, I don't know where you got the idea that I'm cut out
raised her eyebrows. Avoiding any meaningful inflection, she
replied, “Where did you get the idea that you weren't?”
chuckled and went back to her papers. “I don't know the
difference between a magic wand and a magic marker. I read
through this whole thing and didn't see anything that sounded
suitable for me.” She pulled out the small objection slip and
handed it to Molly. “So this slip says I need to talk to you.”
of taking the slip, Molly rooted through her desk drawer.
“Naturally, we can't force you to do anything. You may opt out
of the MST, but you will need to consent to a memory
recalibration,” she said, surprisingly indifferent.
“Recalibration,” Molly replied, pulling a form out of her
drawer, “We would need to wipe out any magic-related memories of
the last few weeks. It's a bit of an ordeal, but you won't
remember the procedure either.”
set a consent form, almost entirely comprised of a very long
waiver in very small print, on the desk in front of Kathryn.
“Just sign there and I'll take care of the rest.”
whether to be relieved or frightened, Kathryn said, “You're just
letting me go? You're not going to try to talk me out of this?”
out the window, Molly replied, “Well, I'm supposed to talk you
into staying, but I can see you have your doubts about this.”
She sighed and turned back to Kathryn, “I respect that enough to
not even try.”
eyed the consent form, occasionally shuddering at the text. She
hadn't realized there were so many different types of amnesia,
but all were listed among the many potential side effects. “So
much for me being carefully selected...”
were certainly selected for a reason. I think you have
tremendous potential.” Molly glanced aside and cracked a very
slight smile. “I certainly can't say that about Troy.”
looked up from the waiver and stared at Molly. After
deliberating for a moment, she shook her head and said, “You
know, you aren't giving Troy enough credit. That packet said
kids don't usually figure out how to cast spells before they hit
the academy. Doesn't it count for anything that Troy did?”
Molly answered, dismissive, “Donovan did it too.”
maybe both of them are better than you think. Kurt seems
does not have a future in the MST.” Molly leaned forward,
narrowing her eyes at Kathryn. “I'll make sure of it.”
leaned back in her chair, speechless as Molly continued, “I'm
responsible for the personal training of each of my recruits.
He'll be on a short leash. A short... choking... leash.”
you can't do that,” Kathryn stammered. Molly's words were
devastating. In spite of her own disinterest, Kathryn knew Troy
was counting on magic. Even with Molly supervising him, Troy
still hoped that the MST, in all its magnitude, could be the one
thing to carry him into relevance. For Molly to continue
suppressing him even there was too much.
into Molly's cold, unwavering eyes, however, suppressed Kathryn
all the same. Even after turning away, all she could manage was
a sad plea: “You... you don't get how much this means to him.
Because of you, this is all he has left. You took away his
hobbies, his privacy, his social life... we thought that maybe
you were keeping him away from all that so he could focus on
magic. But you want to take that from him too?” She looked at
those eyes again. “It would destroy him. I can't let you do
did not flinch. “Once you sign that form, you won't realize
what's going on. So what difference does it make?”
can't let you do that to him,” Kathryn repeated, clenching her
are you going to stop me?”
Sneering, Kathryn leaned forward and stared down Molly. “Listen
Pearson, you know what he's capable of, don't you? He got picked
for this just like I did, and there's gotta be a reason for it
you're not telling us. So if you plan to keep him from
succeeding, I'm just going to have to plan to keep him moving
“Really?” Molly replied, instantly dismissive. “So you've
changed your mind?”
shook her head, still sneering at Molly. “I didn't think there
was any reason to join in on this. But there is no way in hell
I'm going to miss watching Troy prove you wrong. He will- I'll
make sure of it.”
eyes did not move. She inhaled and exhaled deeply and said,
“Well then... we'll see you in July.”
leaned back and returned her attention to the work on her desk.
Kathryn marched out of the office, crumpling the waiver form and
throwing it to the floor. Molly glanced up once as she walked
out. Shaking her head, Molly let a smile escape; this was why
she found Kathryn so promising.