Uriel's office pieced
together the full MST report of the incident after gathering the
testimony of everybody involved. Everyone except Kendrick, of
course, but he came off looking surprisingly good. This was due
to Donovan's take on the attack. In his world, he was so
repulsed by Kendrick's offer to turn that he attacked the demon
at full power to strike the first blow.
The problem with this
scenario, of course, was that Kendrick's attack on Donovan was
technically self-defense. Further supporting this was the fact
that Blaine, Molly, Kurt, Kathryn, Troy and even Renee had all
attacked him first. Therefore, while Kendrick was still wanted
for being there to begin with, there would be no manhunt to
scour the county and find him dead or alive.
Molly gave Donovan an
earful for that one. Had she not been in recovery and unwilling
to flagrantly use magic, she also would have kicked his ass.
The MST's response was
just what Uriel had promised- a temporarily-reassigned field
agent. He was qualified for the job, but Molly found it hard to
feel safe when her main defense from Kendrick wouldn't quit
complaining about having to leave his wife in Columbus for a
three-month exile in L. B. Gould. The lesson in this is never to
end a routine, uneventful report with “not that Uriel has time
to get off the golf course and read these damn things anyway.”
So while his three-month
penance began Monday, his enthusiasm for the mission was
noticeably lacking. He figured introducing himself to Molly
would be important, but he found it more crucial to find and
neutralize the funny smell in the efficiency apartment he was
cooped up in. Molly would have to wait.
With neither him nor
Kendrick interfering, real life resumed for the rest of the
group. Monday was no different for Troy- same classes, same
paranoia, same Claude. Kathryn, however, was coping with two new
wrinkles that she found very disagreeable. The first was her leg
injury, now bandaged up by someone more professional than Yuki.
The prognosis was that she would be out for a few more weeks. So
she wasn't in a good mood come Monday.
The second development
turned out to be just as disturbing. Kathryn thought she could
at least sulk to herself while limping across the hallway. By
the time lunch hour hit, she discovered Molly had deprived her
of that too.
Kathryn! A true hero!” said some anonymous boy, patting her on
the shoulder. Kathryn was forced to fake a smile and thank him.
And the girl that said basically the same thing. And the teacher
who was so proud of Kathryn's bravery. Who else would be willing
to throw herself into danger to protect those poor orphans from
the knife-wielding maniac?
“Hey, I just did what I
had to, right?” Kathryn replied as she damned her limited
mobility for keeping her trapped in a throng of admirers. Molly
did not tell Kathryn how the injury would be explained. Not that
it mattered: the wonderful thing about rumors is the truth ends
up so distorted that everyone has a different take on what
happened. Despite being the hero, Kathryn's explanation was no
more valid than anyone else's.
She finally got her
lunch and reached her usual seat across from Troy. “God damn, I
hate Molly. She's even evil when she's on our side.”
“This morning, Claude
asked me if you got shot stopping a bank robbery,” Troy replied.
“This is crazy. At least all the stories have you as the good
guy. I'm surprised Molly didn't say it was a gang fight or
“She knows what she's
doing. She wants to make it okay that I'm missing football so I
don't quit on her.”
Troy widened his eyes,
looked around and leaned in. “Why, were you thinking about it?”
Kathryn shook her head.
“That guy tried to kill Molly and we were the only reason he
didn't. That's hard to wrap your head around, you know?”
Staring off into the
distance, Troy said, “It's scary. Hopefully he won't come back
now that we've got somebody watching us.”
Rather than respond,
Kathryn started to stab at her lunch, penetrating a chicken leg
with her fork. She heaved a sigh.
“You'd think someone
would be able to use magic to heal it,” Troy said, lowering his
voice as he used the m-word.
“Nope, Yuki can only
handle magic damage and even if Molly could cast anything right
now, she's not much of a healer,” replied Kathryn, resigned.
This had been explained to her many times over the weekend. It
was still hard to swallow. “So unless Molly feels like killing a
weekend to take me all the way to Central, and she doesn't, I'm
Troy frowned and
pondered the dilemma. Were there no other magi available that
had healing capabilities? It dawned on him that the answer was
yes. Or rather, no, there were other magi available. He looked
up at her and said, helpfully, “What about Bryce?”
Kathryn scoffed. “Yeah,
like Donovan would let Bryce do something good.”
Cracking a smile, Troy
cleared his throat and lowered his voice. Doing a terrible
impression of Donovan he called, “Bryce,” and waited.
Kathryn raised an eyebrow. Troy shrugged. “Worth a shot,” he
She chuckled, although
she made a note to at least attempt to acquire Bryce's services.
At least Troy's lame effort to help out cheered her up.
Determined to get her mind off the subject, she said, “So what's
up with you?” She hid a smile by drinking from a can of juice.
As if Troy would have any interesting news she did not already
“Well, I've got a
girlfriend,” he replied, way too casually.
This scenario had all
the ingredients for a good spit take. Actual drinking mechanics,
however, did not have such a sense of humor. The news forced
Kathryn to mess up said mechanics all right, but the juice did
not spew safely out of her mouth but rather down her windpipe,
triggering a fit of coughing. Then she spit out the
juice, which was now more gross than funny. Her coughing fit
lasted for seconds, and drew the attention of everyone in the
room. She turned down a boy's offer to perform the Heimlich and
reached for one of Troy's napkins to wipe the water from her
“You okay?” Troy was
both horrified and amused by the scene, but as it was caused by
the shock of him having some luck with a girl, he didn't find it
all that funny.
Finally, she calmed
down, took some deep breaths and another drink of juice. Once it
had safely flowed down the right pipe, she said, “When did this
happen? It's not Renee, is it?”
“No, remember that
freshmen girl you told me to ask out last week?”
“Yeah, I wanted you to
learn how to deal with rejection.”
Troy narrowed an eye
disapprovingly. “She said yes. We went out Saturday. Didn't I
tell you all this?”
“No!” She was surprised
he hadn't, but between Yuki's transfer to L. B. Gould, the
upcoming football game, and everything with Kendrick, she had
been a tad distracted and the subject never came up. “So I take
it things went well?”
Troy shrugged. “I guess.
She seems nice, kinda funny, cute... I just showed her around
town and took her to lunch. No big deal, but there's a movie we
both want to see next week so... yeah.”
“Yeah.” Troy nodded.
Fact is, there were few
necessary details. Troy had a pretty generic date with Marie, it
went well, and they planned another generic date for the
following week. Kathryn was shocked not just by Troy's success,
but that this slow and plodding method of courtship still
existed in the modern age. On her efforts to score, she tended
to swing for the fences. Troy may have been bunting for a single
instead, but at least he wasn't striking out. Odd as it seemed,
all Kathryn could do was congratulate him and wish him luck. And
quietly be upset by the fact that he was having a much better
week than her.
an agent around, even an uncooperative one, helped to deter
future attacks, but Molly didn't want to rely on him completely.
She encouraged (or rather, demanded) that the new recruits work
on improving their skills immediately. To emphasize this, she
ordered them textbooks for the next term's classes, forwarding
the bill to Mr. Marlowe back at the academy. It was crucial that
in the event of another incident, anyone coming to the rescue
would at least be semi-capable of doing something useful.
was more than willing to comply with this edict. In fact, he had
been training on his own more than any of the others. Not that
he had any results to show for it. Even that one destructive
ball he had fired under duress to save Molly proved to be a
days post-Kendrick, he found a Weaving textbook in the dark
room. He sat down, cast a light spell, and began reading. And he
kept reading, constantly re-generating the light ball. Not that
he needed to- amid the vandalism in his dark room (which he had
declared aesthetically appropriate enough to keep), a large
arcane symbol had been embedded into the wall. It was such a
reflective white that a single light ball would help it
illuminate the room for an hour. Donovan often kept a curtain
draped over it so the room would remain pitch black.
later, he had finished the first chapter. Unfortunately, by the
time term two comes around, classes don't shy away from true
nature of Weaving- one that is long, wordy, and difficult to
comprehend on paper. Donovan had gained nothing out of it, and
had skipped parts of two regular classes in the time being.
handed Bryce the text. “Translate this into something I can use
to immediately further my abilities.”
master raised his arm, silencing the minion. “Make sure the
pictures are copied into your manuscript,” Donovan added. He had
always been a visual learner.
hefted the book. “Well, I might be able to explain the basics to
you. When do you need this by?”
have it by sunset.”
through the pages, and there were a lot of pages, Bryce frowned.
“I don't think a teacher could digest all this by sunset.
There's at least three terms worth of material here.”
cannot comprehend the tome, then what can you teach me?”
“Well...” Bryce scanned the pages again, this time with aim. He
stopped and smiled. “There's an introductory chapter on circles.
I can do that.”
turned to Bryce, narrowing one eyebrow. “By sunset?”
really wanted to know why Donovan needed this by sunset, but he
knew asking would be out of line, and doubted that there was a
legitimate answer. “Yeah, I can whip up a lesson by tonight.”
tonight, sunset, at the haunted clearing.”
where the ghosts of our defeat still remain.”
clasped his hands. “Shall I gather helpless victims for
Bryce hesitated for a moment, then smiled. “We can always use
Donovan steepled his fingers and grinned wickedly. “Excellent.”
well, I'll see you then,” Bryce said. Before he left, he checked
the rack of assorted phony potions and occult-ish ingredients,
along with the goat blood he and Blaine had manually drawn way
back in April. He found a canister of purification salt (with
the little umbrella girl on the label) and took it before he
after Bryce left, there was a knock at the door. Donovan
summoned a foreboding voice and said, “Enter.”
hobbled in, shuddered at the white symbol on the wall, and faced
the door,” Donovan said. She did so with her crutch (something
she had gotten very good at). He called forth a fresh light ball
and stared her down.
to talk to Bryce. Any idea where he is?” Kathryn said.
gone to do my bidding. He shall not return until sundown.”
blinked, not sure if he was serious and, if not, what he really
you mean? Can't you just call his name and have him show up?”
exactly the case, yet Donovan said, “You cannot possibly fathom
how complicated such a summoning is. Circumstances must be
perfect for his arrival.”
clutched her head. “Look, he's the only one in town who can fix
my leg. Can you hook us up or not?”
gave it some thought. Or at least pretended to. Really, he was
thinking that while Blaine would be a fine helpless victim, a
girl with a bad leg would work even better.
can arrange this. You will find us at the haunted clearing
tonight at sundown,” he said. Then he explained again what he
meant by haunted clearing. Then Kathryn left and Donovan was
free to imagine some sort of hostage situation to draw Troy to
his doom. Then, seeing as how he had already skipped two
classes, he decided not to bother appearing at his upcoming
study hall and took a nap instead.
was still in recovery mode, Molly deprived herself of using
magic. Like most magi at her level, she was used to using it to
assist her with as many mundane chores as possible, from
changing cat litter to hunting down the remote. Stuff that
required little astral energy yet saved a lot of time and
hassle. So, being a tad dependent on magic, Molly was in a foul
mood all week.
scheduled meeting with the transplanted field agent did little
to alleviate this. Among many reasons for this was that she was
visible outside the school. Molly relied on being seen as above
the commoners and therefore did not venture out on social
outings befitting a normal high school student. Yet, on this
late afternoon, here she was walking down Main Street toward
Rosa's. To make matters worse, she was doing so with a peer. A
Molly's uneasiness, but misinterpreted it completely. “Don't be
so nervous. It's not like we have to impress the guy. Remember,
he's here for us.”
not the problem,” Molly said.
try to relax anyway. We're getting a free meal out of it.” Molly
huffed in response. When they reached the entrance. Kurt held
the door open and smiled. “After you, dear.”
sneered at him, but led the way inside. A waitress greeted the
pair. “Welcome to Rosa's. Table for two?”
“Actually, we're meeting someone. I don't know if he's here
yet,” Molly replied tersely.
well. Smoking or non?”
Molly could answer 'non,' Kurt saw the agent in the far corner
of the seating area. All the agent needed was a headdress and a
blanket and he would have been sending Kurt and Molly perfect
he is.” Kurt added a sigh and said, “Smoking.”
yet, the cigarette he was puffing didn't appear to be his first.
Two used butts already lined the ashtray.
frowned as she and Kurt approached him. “You know him?”
“Shadowed him a bit last year in training. Not one of the
highlights of my life,” Kurt replied. Forcing a smile, he called
out, “So you got the job, huh?”
agent stood. The cigarette still hung from his mouth. “Why the
hell did you agree to come out here? Or is Milwaukee even
laughed uneasily. “Nothing better to do. The rest of the
family's abroad right now.” He gestured to Molly. “But this is
agent nodded at her. “Richard Herman. Sit down.”
did so. “First thing- lose the cigarette.”
puffed on it once just to annoy her. “Listen, girl, Uriel just
dragged me away from-”
that's a glare. Never call Molly 'girl.' Acting on
impulse, Richard's hand took the cigarette from his mouth and
snuffed it in the ashtray.
they got down to business, three men entered the diner. Two were
husky, one not so much, but all three had shed their gaudy suits
for inconspicuous casual attire. This did wreak havoc on our
little color scheme, however.
they're going to be in here for a while, we might as well grab
dinner while we tail 'em,” explained Red, now the only one still
wearing his associated color.
dunno... can we trust the food in this town?” replied Yellow,
who wore a flannel shirt.
waitress asked them which section. Green smiled at her and
lifted his already-lit cigar. Green complicated things further
by wearing a yellow polo shirt. The waitress frowned, but led
them to a seat next to Richard, Molly and Kurt. The Zukoni trio
wasted no time ordering a round of beers.
lowered his voice. “Perfect. They're right next to us.” He
turned around, not that it mattered as a curtain separated the
groups. “Maybe they'll say something useful.”
a eavesdropping spell,” Yellow said, smirking.
like they won't notice the guy a booth over using magic. We
gotta lay low until we find an opening.”
not drunk enough to fight yet,” Red added, already well on his
way to rectifying that.
guys, meanwhile, hadn't noticed the Zukoni. Molly was too busy
being annoyed with Richard. “You are here to help us,” she
insisted. “It does you no good being across town. I can arrange
a job for you at school. There will be a new custodial position
open soon if Mr. Burmander keeps rearranging the papers on my
scoffed. “A janitor? To hell with that. Bad enough that Uriel
calls me away from my day job, but there's no way I'm spending
three months cleaning up after kids.”
Uriel, I doubt your expense account is enough to actually live
on. You need work,” Molly said.
me up with a part-time overnight shift at Walgreens. I plan on
spending the rest of my time paring down my Netflix queue.
Because there ain't much else to do here.”
somebody does attack?” Kurt asked.
hope it doesn't come during my shift or while I'm watching a
movie.” Noting the angry look on the kids' faces, Richard
retracted his words. “Look, my teleport spell's spot on. If you
can hold him off for a couple minutes, I'll take care of it.”
heard someone in the booth next door swear faintly, but ignored
it just as she did the cigar smoke overhead.
“Besides, what are the odds of that punk attacking again?”
“Probably as low as the odds of him attacking in the first
place,” Kurt replied, “That's why we can't take chances.”
gotcha. Doesn't mean I have to like it though.”
Zukoni didn't like it at all. Yellow stared at Red. Red stared
at Green. Green chugged his beer, slammed it down and announced,
was confused. “Let's go? Why?”
we're not here to tangle with an agent. At least not without
telling Kaz first,” Green explained.
be fun though,” Red lamented, standing up as the waitress passed
by with a tray of meal. “Hey, cancel our orders, will ya?”
stood, forcing her aside. “Something came up.”
and Green joined him. Green smiled at her and stuck a ten-dollar
bill down her shirt. “That should cover the beers.” He laughed
at his own crudeness and exited with his two portly companions.
waitress shrugged it off and began serving Molly, Kurt and
noticed the bill in her cleavage and smiled. “Is that where
we're leaving the tips now?”
stomped on his foot. She may not have had the energy to use
magic, but she could still inflict pain all the same.
As the sun lowered its
landing gear and signaled its descent with a more reddish light,
Donovan and Bryce returned to the 'haunted clearing.' By now,
MST operatives had swept through and erased all evidence of the
battle. Even the tree Kendrick had destroyed to begin the whole
mess had been reassembled and reattached to its stump. Tempted
as Donovan was to give it another whack with an energy ball, he
held back, certain that whatever Bryce had in store was far more
Or not. Holding open a
page of the massive text, Bryce said, “The easiest place to
start is with a simple binding circle. Nothing gets in, nothing
gets out.” He uncapped the salt and peered at the page. “Now...
I just need to remember how to do this the normal way.”
“If you have an easier
method, then go straight to that,” Donovan said.
“No, I'm just not used
to doing this without my crystal.” Bryce poured the salt
steadily, careful to be as precise as possible as he formed a
circle of about five yards in diameter.
“What is that crystal...
and what powers does it contain?”
“Oh, it just helps me
focus my magic. Sort of like Kathryn with her staff.” Bryce
finished and capped the salt. As a defensive afterthought, he
added, “Not that I really need it.”
Bryce held his right
index finger in the air and concentrated his energy. He eyed the
book again to make sure of what he was doing. Then Donovan
coughed and Bryce remembered that he was supposed to be
explaining the procedure. Which he did- the circle established
the boundaries of the spell which Bryce generated through his
trigger. Bryce spun his finger and tapped the salt. The circle
glowed, then vanished.
“It's set. So now as
soon as something enters, the spell takes effect and whatever's
in there is stuck until I cancel the spell.”
Donovan grinned. “Then
let's try it out. Blaine!”
“Sir!” Blaine replied.
“Go to Bryce.”
“What for, sir?”
“Do not question my
wisdom. You are but a pawn in this game I play.”
As Blaine didn't know
whom Donovan was playing against nor what the rules were, he
figured Donovan must have been right. He walked up to Bryce, who
tried to contain his laughter a few yards away. Blaine entered
the enchanted area, the circle glowed once more, and Blaine was
knocked to the ground within its boundaries.
“Hey!” he shouted in
protest. Of course, as the barrier also blocked sound, Donovan
and Bryce heard nothing.
As Blaine flailed his
arms, Donovan walked up to Bryce, impressed. “How high does the
barrier extend?” he inquired.
“Well, I constructed
this circle pretty well,” Bryce answered. “The more perfect the
circle and the more energy put into it, the higher it goes.”
To prove his point, a
crow flying overhead smashed into the barrier and fell between
the minion and the master. Donovan gave a satisfied nod. Bryce
smiled and said, “And there's your sacrifice.”
As Bryce took down the
barrier and liberated Blaine, Donovan took both the salt and the
dead bird and went off to try it out. Having practiced many
times in the privacy of his home and the dark room, Donovan was
an expert at creating circles of salt. It was the actual
effectiveness of his spells that had always tripped him up. But
by repeating Bryce's instruction, he successfully replicated the
barrier circle and entombed the bird.
He turned to Bryce.
“Now, we must lay our trap for larger prey.”
“Uh... larger prey?”
Bryce replied. He hadn't heard this part.
“Yes, I have instructed
the one named Kathryn to come here. When she arrives, she will
be consumed in an impenetrable minefield of barriers. We shall
use her as bait to draw Troy to his doom.” Donovan basked in the
brilliant simplicity of his plan.
Bryce shrugged. “Oh.
Okay. But how would Troy find out about this? It's not like she
can call him. These things kill your cell phone reception.”
But Donovan merely
grinned and proceeded with the plan. After ordering Blaine to
keep watch for Kathryn, Donovan and Bryce salted across the
field, weaving a complex web of ten to fifteen circles. He would
have carried on, enveloping every blade of grass had Blaine not
announced that the target was approaching.
With an evil laugh,
Donovan bent down and hastily cast his spell. Upon completing
the trigger, he slammed both hands on the ground, right on the
outer perimeter of salt. The entire field glowed briefly and
vanished, the trap set.
“Bryce!” he shouted,
“Stay here and lure her in. Blaine and I shall summon Troy.”
“Um, sure, but...” Bryce
stopped when he saw that Blaine and Donovan had teleported away.
He was standing in the middle of the array. Donovan had cast his
spell before Bryce had been able to escape. As the barriers had
not gone off, he must have been in one of the few safe zones. Of
course, getting outside without triggering the spell would prove
difficult, especially since the chalk markings had vanished.
After a brief moment of
panic, Bryce calmed himself and realized that he was above this
situation. He was, after all, a circle specialist. Calmly
retrieving the crystal from his pocket, Bryce cast a vision
spell. Now he could see the circles. And what luck! The small
uncircled strip he was standing on continued all the way to the
edge, a section Bryce would have hit had Donovan not prematurely
activated. It was a tight squeeze, but certainly one he could
traverse. Bryce laughed to himself and began to tiptoe.
He had to sidestep to
get through the narrow gaps. Passing through one of the tighter
spots, he could the magic energy tickling his back, pondering
whether or not to go off. Bryce moved along before it could make
up its mind. After an oasis that didn't require him to suck in
what little gut he had, he held his breath again for the final
crevice. He eased along slowly and carefully... he would not be
“Hey, there you are!”
Kathryn shouted, jolting Bryce just enough for him to lose his
balance and fall backward. To Kathryn's astonishment, the whole
field lit up in front of her, with Bryce trapped on the other
“No!” he cried. But
within the circle, nobody could hear Bryce scream.
“Donovan said I could
find you out here.” Kathryn wisely avoided the bright glowing
array of circles, especially with Bryce pounding helplessly at
the other end. She hobbled around the long way and met Bryce on
the other end.
“Hey, help me out of
here!” Bryce said, hoping Kathryn could lip read, or at least
infer the context given his situation.
Stepping back for a
moment, Kathryn contemplated the glowing barriers of doom. An
obvious trap, Kathryn surmised, but elaborate, one that Donovan
must have spent a lot of time on. She smiled, now better able to
appreciate the circumstances.
Kathryn tapped the
barrier with her crutch. To her surprise, the crutch penetrated
the circle. She quickly pulled it out before it got stuck, or
worse- that Bryce would use it to pull himself to safety.
Bryce was amazed, but
also uplifted. He realized that Donovan, either by accident or
by design (and by default Bryce assumed accident), created a
one-way barrier. While such circles were normally used for
protection, reversing the polarities created a sort of roach
motel scheme, where victims can check in but can't leave. With
Kathryn present, this was a very good thing.
She popped her head in.
“Stuck?” she asked.
Bryce replied, “Yes, but I just need to grab on to something and
you can pull me out. That crutch would be perfect!”
“Sure I'll help!” she
said. He moved closer and awaited his rescue.
Instead, a bandaged leg
entered the circle and gingerly set foot within. Leaning on her
crutch, firmly planted on the outside, Kathryn formed an evil
grin that almost rivaled Donovan's.
By this time, the
hospitality that Kendrick had coerced out of Kaz had been put to
full use. The bar had an unused bedroom upstairs and all
attempts to rent it out had failed as it was conveniently
located next to nothing. So Kendrick had taken it over,
complaining about its lack of comfort until any protests had
“Well, if you don't like
it, you can stay someplace else,” Kaz had told him, secretly
hoping that Kendrick would.
“Fine, I suppose I can
try to live here,” Kendrick had replied, secretly having no
issues with anything about the room save the unavoidable Zukoni
smell of stale beer.
“Pansy. Of course, once
my boys win, we're billing you for the rent.”
'Once your boys win,
I'll pay you for services rendered,' Kendrick thought.
repeated itself daily, with Kendrick insisting that he would
stick it out and Kaz enjoying the chance to give someone of a
rival faction a constant headache. Then the trio returned from
their surveillance mission.
“Find anything out? Or
did you just finish them off while you were there,” Kaz asked.
Two of the three didn't
answer. They were placing food orders with the waitress. Having
passed up the meal at Rosa's, Red and Yellow were very hungry.
Green, on the other
hand, did his job and told Kaz all he needed to: “They got an
Kaz swore. Kendrick
nodded and said, “Naturally. The MST is prone to overreact to
incidents such as these.”
“What do you mean
overreact?” Yellow asked. “You tried to kill their kids.”
“Well, yes, but do they really expect another attack so soon?”
“Like what we're doing?”
“So what's the plan now?
We can't wait three months for that guy to skip town,” Yellow
“Why not?” Kendrick
asked, lifting his eyebrows.
The four Zukoni looked
at him strangely. He smiled and explained, “If we're going to
make this a fair wager, we should be operating under the same
parameters. Not only does the presence of the agent muck up
things, the students probably haven't recovered from their last
battle.” Kendrick sure hadn't. Not that the Zukoni were as
concerned about fairness, mind you. His argument was irrelevant,
a minor point of order to generate the obvious rebuttal.
“To hell with it then,”
Kaz huffed. “I'm not sending my men out when there's an agent
“So you acknowledge your
Kaz slammed a fist on
the counter. “No! We ain't afraid of those damn kids! But like
hell are we going to piss off one of the pros.”
Kendrick sighed. “You do
realize that the terms of our wager will still be upheld. By
conceding that you are unable to eliminate the kids, I am still
permitted to roam free on your dime until I have recovered.”
This was why he had gotten the terms in writing and bearing the
signatures of himself, Kaz and the notary public that had popped
in and needed directions.
“But three months?!”
“I'm willing to wait.
I'd rather like to see how this plays out.”
“Are you just saying
that to mooch off us the whole time?” Kaz asked.
gave him a patronizing smile. “Rest assured I will be out of
your sty as soon as I can manage it. But I still would like to
see how your faction stacks up. And don't tell me your boys
aren't curious as well.”
Kaz looked over at the
three. Green nodded. “I must admit I'd like to see if they're as
good as the force must think.”
“The gentlemen in yellow
makes a good point,” Kendrick said, referring to Green. “Even
after the field agent leaves, there are two minions, the Sempman
boy and the transplanted Crafter to deal with.”
“Sounds about right,”
Red said. He cracked his knuckles as he finished off a burger.
“Could be fun once the agent scoots out. And it sounds like he's
leaving first chance he gets.”
Growing his smile wider,
Kendrick said, “It's settled then. Best of all, it gives you
time to formulate a plan and analyze their abilities. I wish you
all the best of luck.”
He turned around and
headed for the stairs, but Kaz stopped him. “Hey, you seem
awfully excited about losing your bet. Especially for a Hokoni.
Kendrick's smile faded,
but he turned around and gave an enthusiastic response anyway.
“The thrill of competition, Mr. Pormoglio. It's a glorious time
when a battle for supremacy between two factions can be settled
over who is able to kill some children.”
All three Zukoni
henchmen hoisted their beer mugs and drank to that.