The Zukoni had developed
a simple, yet effective, plan- follow Kathryn until she was in
location to be confronted, agitate her until she struck the
first blow, then pound her and her friends into submission. They
hadn't planned on Kamila having the shorter fuse.
“Uh, guys... they're
coming,” Yellow said, watching Kamila advance, with the rest of
the group in tow. “And they brought friends.”
Red and Green didn't
bother to put down their cigarettes. They had selected a vantage
point far from any lurking eyes, but again they weren't ready
for Kamila. As she neared, the two demons smirked at her.
“Well, if it isn't one
of the other ball chicks,” Red said. “Couldn't stay away from
Before Kamila could
lunge after him, Kathryn and Kurt caught up and clutched her
shoulders. “Who the hell are you three?” Kamila spat.
“I'm John,” said Yellow.
Red's smirk grew. “Jim.”
“Jack,” added Green,
nodding his head.
Yes, these are their
real names. But let's just stick with the color thing anyway.
Not only is it more fun, there's no way we'd be able to
differentiate such generic monikers.
“That doesn't answer the
question,” Kurt replied. “What are you doing here?”
“Having a good time,”
“You call harassing
Kathryn a good time?”
“Is there anything
better to do in this town?”
Kurt and Kathryn looked
at each other. He had a point.
In the meantime, Troy,
Marie and Renee arrived, staying well behind the first three.
Marie squeezed Troy's arm. From her slow, heaving breaths, Troy
could tell she had blown past the confounding nature of the
troublemakers and was now fully afraid of them. Troy patted her
on the shoulder with his unhindered arm.
“Huh... so you even have
your own posse?” Red observed.
“That's right, so don't
mess with us!” Kamila blurted loudly.
Loud enough for Kathryn
to step in front of her. “Okay, quit it,” Kathryn said to both
Kamila and the trio. Trying to keep her own temper in check, she
took another step towards Red. “If you asses are just causing
trouble for the hell of it, why are you picking on me?”
Green stepped forward,
getting right into Kathryn's face. “Because we don't think
you're as hot as everybody says you are.”
Hesitantly, Kurt put a hand on Kathryn's shoulder. She shrugged
it off. In a low voice, she replied, “Go on.”
“Well, we heard you're
the big heroine. Saved the orphans from the bad guy and all
that. Larger than life.” Green eyed her large build,
particularly the chest area. “Didn't realize that was literal.”
Again shaking off Kurt's
attempt to restrain her, Kathryn shot back, “Is that all? Look,
that whole mess got exaggerated. It wasn't as dramatic as that.
Is that what you want to hear? Will you leave us alone now?”
“So what really
happened?” Green said, raising an eyebrow.
Rather than attempt to
hold her back once more, a service that for now seemed
necessary, Kurt stepped aside. The whole scenario was too fishy
for him not to be concerned and Green's last statement triggered
a warning light. Kurt pinched his right ear.
Kathryn sneered until
she could come up with an appropriate response without sounding
forced or evasive. “Just forget about that. It's old news.”
“Guess so. Your leg
healed up awfully fast. Makes me wonder if it was ever really
hurt in the first place.”
“What are you getting
at?” Kamila shouted. She attempted to charge forward; with
Kathryn and Kurt out of position, Marie jumped up and restrained
“Stop it!” Marie
shouted. “They're just trying to pick a fight.”
“Darn right,” Green
“The hell are you
doing?” Red's sudden cry caught everyone's attention, mostly
because Green had been leading the conversation. The question
was for Kurt, still clutching that earlobe.
“Uh... got an itch,”
Kurt replied. Troy, knowing better, joined him. In a lower
voice, Kurt muttered, “And a busy signal.”
Just as he had said
that, a friendly MST operator answered. Kurt set a hand on
Troy's back to keep him close. This way, the uninitiated folk
nearby could think Kurt was talking to Troy instead.
Before too much
attention could be drawn to them, Kathryn said, “Well, forget it
because you three aren't worth my time. We've got plans
“We'll follow you,”
Green said, sending slime and perversion and cigarette smoke
through his mouth and directly into Kathryn's face. “We want to
see how good you really are and if you're willing to stand up to
guys like us. After all, honey, we're the big jerks that
disrupted your stupid little game.” He paused as Kamila
attempted another charge; it took all of Marie's strength to
rein it in. “C'mon... be the hero again. This time, you've even
got a posse to back you up.”
At first she didn't
budge. Kathryn clenched her fist; she was certainly pissed off.
And she would not have minded something or someone to receive
her frustrations. But not Green. He was an agitator, but not one
she could consider attacking. He was begging for it, and she did
not give in to beggars. If he and his equally sick friends
considered this fun, she wouldn't let them have it. In fact, it
dawned on her that she was angry for a completely different
“Go to hell.” She was
finished with them. Kathryn turned around, walking past Kamila
and ignoring Kurt and Troy.
“Kathryn...” She did
not, however, get past Renee. Renee had been watching from afar,
not daring to approach anybody.
Kathryn, therefore, had
no business with her. “This is all your damn sister's fault,”
Tempted as she was to
keep walking and ignore whatever happened next, she froze when
she heard Kamila yell, “Come on! Let's go! It's six on three, we
can take them.”
The trio were now
approaching Kamila, who would have easily laid one of them out
save for Marie clutching her arms around her.
“How about you? You look
like you want to piece of us,” Yellow said.
While Marie desperately
clung to Kamila, she pleaded, “Troy! Help!” He did, a bit
hesitant as he was almost as afraid of Kamila as he was of the
harassers. Renee cautiously lent a hand as well and they managed
to keep Kamila from throwing a punch.
Thankfully, they didn't
have to wait long. Claude, irritated as ever, arrived on the
scene. Unfortunately, he had no special ops team with him. Only
Yuki, and she hid behind Kathryn the first moment she could.
Given the situation, Claude certainly attempted to get
permission to use the ops. But even Molly could only tolerate
Claude for so long; she stopped answering his calls after nine
o'clock. He was on his own.
trace of intimidation Claude brought to the table came directly
from his connection to Molly. He was sufficiently tall, so
height wasn't his problem dimension. It was width and depth:
with a wiry frame and no bulk to speak of, Claude had the whole
beanpole thing going on. His voice was high, squeaked at tense
moments and was all-in-all irritating any other time. So as he
stood down the three hecklers once more, he could only hope that
his prior use of Molly-approved force would be enough reason to
business do you have here?” he squeaked, ending any hope of
scaring the Zukoni into compliance. Kathryn shook her head in
stay out of this. You had your chance to show off,” Red said.
Claude insisted on documenting their offenses and demanding
again that they leave.
what? You'll call the police?” Green said, folding his arms. It
rattled Claude more than it should have. To right-minded
thinkers like Troy or Marie, yes, calling the cops would have
been a very good idea at this stage. Claude, of course,
recognized that the student council was far more menacing than
the L.B.G.P.D. If he couldn't handle this and Molly didn't feel
like handling this, this was unlikely to be handled.
scoffed. “John,” he said, apparently to Yellow. “Get him out of
than see what that entailed, Troy, Renee and Marie did the right
smart thing and dragged Kamila away from Claude. Claude folded
his arms as Yellow approached, a defiant declaration that he had
no intention of backing down.
devious smile, Yellow moistened the tip of his finger with his
tongue. He calmly extended it towards Claude, who raised his
chin, ready for whatever Yellow could do. Even as the finger
drew closer, Claude merely readied his arms for whatever
counter-measure he would need.
wouldn't get the chance. The finger touched Claude's chin and
lifted Molly's assistant into the air. Yellow spun around and
effortlessly flung Claude over his shoulder and into a row of
hedges at least twenty yards away.
Renee gasped. Kurt gritted his teeth as his worst fear was
confirmed: that was undeniably magic. Worse yet, thanks to Troy
and Marie's reaction, Kamila was suddenly unrestrained.
bastard!” she yelled, running after him.
this was trouble and Kurt knew it immediately. Nobody was in
position to stop Kamila from attacking, and the demons seemed
more than willing to send her after Claude. Fortunately, she
also drew everybody's attention. With no one watching him, Kurt
raised his arm and cast a spell on the earth in front of Kamila.
It rumbled enough to send her sprawling forward onto the ground.
She banged her forehead on the way, disorienting her and giving
Kurt a chance to swoop in and drag her back to safety.
Help me out!” he shouted, not waiting for Kamila to get back on
her feet. Marie flew forward and helped Kurt get Kamila far from
the action- past Troy and nearing Kathryn and Renee and Yuki.
them here until Molly shows up,” he instructed Kathryn. “Don't
taking these two home!”
us?” Kamila shouted, apparently having regained whatever
bearings she had. “We can take them!”
nervously looked at Kamila and Marie. Even Marie, who certainly
didn't object to leaving, seemed to want an explanation. “Yeah,
do you think Troy will be all right?” she said.
sure!” he said with exaggerated confidence. “They're sophomores.
They take care of this stuff all the time.”
about Yuki?” Marie said. To this, all Kurt could muster was a
blank stare. He looked back at the other participants. All
seven, even the demons, seemed to be waiting for his answer.
she's like what? Ten?” Kamila reiterated. “How come she gets to
not going to...” Kurt started, but he gave up. If anything, he
wasn't sure he wanted Yuki around those demons either. He left
Kamila to Marie and took Yuki by the hand.
on, I'll take you home too.”
but first...” Yuki paused to retrieve a single vial from her
satchel. She gave it to Kathryn. “Just in case!”
led the three freshmen away, Kathryn eyed the gift. She knew
what it was, but remained disgusted at the possibility that she
would be forced to use it.
continued to plead as Kurt reached his car. He and Marie were
still leading her by the wrists. “I'm telling you, it's a bad
idea! I can help them if it gets ugly!”
more concerned about you making it ugly,” Kurt replied, forcing
her into the back seat. Marie entered from the other side to
pull Kamila in.
still resisted. “Let me out! You can't do this to me! It's not
ignored her, pushing her inside with Marie's help. He only
hesitated a fellow male voice said, “Uh... Kurt?”
turned around, suddenly jumpy. Two of his friends were standing
right next to his car. They seemed a bit concerned about the way
he was forcing a girl into the back seat. Nervously glancing
between them and Kamila, Kurt replied, “Oh, uh... hey Ron!
are you doing to her?” Ron asked, trying not to draw
Kurt had no answer.
she... a freshman?”
matters worse, Kamila continued to struggle. Restraining her
with a seat belt, Marie pleaded, “Sit down, Kamila! You don't
know what they'll do to you.” Ron and his companion raised an
was always under the impression that if I had three of them, it
was okay,” Kurt answered, trying to form a serviceable sly
some thought, Ron nodded. “Cool, man.”
on,” added the other boy.
did, jumping into the driver's seat and pulling away from the
school. Watching him leave, the two guys saw little Yuki waving
back at them. They looked at each other and silently swore that
they did not actually see that.
anyone else feel like avenging his death?” Green asked the three
that remained. He did not know if Claude was actually dead or
not, but that was beside the point. In fact, we aren't sure
either and it might be a few chapters before it comes up again.
clutched the vial Yuki had given her and pondered the
instructions Kurt had given her. She had already done well to
avoid being drawn into a fight. Now that magic was involved, it
was absolutely essential.
Renee kept their distance and readied themselves for any move
the demons might make. Both positioned their right hands
appropriately in case they needed to bust out a spell of their
own. They did not, however, take any initiative against the
Zukoni. Taking a deep breath, Kathryn walked up to them, faced
the three demons and answered, “Not really.”
scoffed. “Not really? We just attacked your classmate and you're
not going to do anything about it?”
we used magic?”
raised her eyebrows. “Especially if you used magic. We're not
messing with that.
you're on the force. Aren't you supposed to stop guys like us
from harming innocent people?”
Renee took a step back. Suddenly they realized that these
weren't three demons causing mayhem: they were specifically
targeting the MST members.
Kathryn already knew this or she didn't care. Given Kurt's
instructions, she definitely didn't feel obligated to do
anything regarding the attack on Claude.
“Maybe... but Claude?” she said. “Do whatever you want with him.
We don't care.”
demons looked at her curiously. Renee was absolutely shocked.
He's a dick!” Kathryn replied. “Taking him out does us a favor.
flashed Kathryn a 'don't get me involved in this!' look, to
which Kathryn stared back until he had no other choice. He
turned to the demons and shrugged. “Y-yeah,” he said, trying to
sound sincerely unsympathetic. “Heck, that's a good way to win
what you're doing,” Renee said. “You're trying to make it look
like we started this so the MST doesn't accuse you of attacking
folded his arms and grunted. “We don't care about them,” he
lied. “We just want to see if you guys are really that tough.”
good. 'Cause we may not care about Claude, but the MST probably
won't like you using magic to attack random kids,” Troy said.
be surprised,” Yellow replied. “Trust me, they won't send in the
cavalry over that guy.”
smirked. “Yeah, but Molly may feel differently.”
Yellow took a step back upon hearing Molly's name. Green did
even more: he ducked behind his cohorts, clasping his hands
together and holding them in front of his nose and mouth.
narrowed an eye, curious at their reaction. The demons were all
too eager to start a fight with her, Kathryn and Troy-
especially with everyone else out of the picture. But mentioning
Molly jolted them. She wasn't sure if Yellow's spell had been
enough to sound the alarms, especially since they weren't in
displacement, so Renee pulled out her cell phone and called her
sister. Molly might not answer for Claude, but she'd definitely
answer for Renee.
no!” Yellow said, admonishing rather than panicking. He kissed
the tip of his finger and, in the same gesture that sent Claude
flying, knocked Renee's phone away from her ear. Ignoring her
cry, he commanded a wind gust to hoist it higher. Grinning
madly, he shouted, “Yours, Jimmy!”
Yellow's grin, Red brought two fingers to his lips, as if to
remove his cigarette. Instead, he looked skyward, aimed, and
blew. A spark launched from the cigarette and shot up in the
air. Red had it aimed perfectly; it connected with the phone and
the device burst into flames. The charred remains crashed at
stood frozen as she stared at the black mess, so consumed with
the sight that she momentarily forgot to breathe. Her lungs
snapped out of it before she did, and air escaped her open mouth
along with a light, involuntary moan. She looked up at the
perpetrators. They smiled back, not only happy with the carnage
they had brought forth, but also eager to see if Renee's
reaction would include a vicious assault to shield them from any
charge of attacking the MST.
was my cell phone,” she began, slowly stepping towards them. “Do
you have any idea what you have just done?”
down, Renee,” Kathryn pleaded, but half-heartedly. As a fellow
outgoing high-school girl, she empathized. Kathryn couldn't
begin to guess what evils she would unleash upon anyone who did
the same to her.
stepped back, likely as afraid of Renee as he was of Yellow and
Red. Unlike Kathryn, Troy couldn't possibly comprehend the crime
that had occurred. “Renee, don't do anything crazy. We'll fix
clenched teeth, Renee replied, “I had three hundred twenty-six
contacts on that phone. How do we fix that?”
mouth fell in astonishment. Three hundred twenty-six? Troy had
ten. “Uhh... I don't know... magic?” Willing to try anything to
calm her down, he suggested, “Maybe they can rebuild it with
alchemy or something.”
use alchemy to fix the phone, but you can't restore its memory!”
Renee suddenly became livid. “You can't bring back its soul! You
can't fight equivalent exchange, Troy!”
scratched his head. He didn't remember seeing that in any of his
huffed on his cigarette as Renee stared him down. Not a spell
this time- just enjoying the smooth taste of cancer. He looked
forward to whatever she was planning to do.
“Renee...” Kathryn warned.
are you going to do?” Red asked Renee.
Seething, Renee lifted her right hand hesitantly. She wanted to
retaliate, somehow summoning the ability to unload all sorts of
righteous sorcery on him. She also wanted to go back three
months and study that textbook so she might have been capable of
it. Instead, she found herself facing a demon with nothing more
than the elementary trifles she had learned at the academy.
she paused to try to conjure up anything to vent her anger, she
didn't notice Yellow prepare another spell. Troy did, and saw
Yellow remove his finger from his mouth and extend it at the
distracted Renee. Without a moment of hesitation or a moment of
thought, Troy reared his arm back. Before Yellow could do
anything to Renee, a torrent of water sent him flying off his
and Renee took their eyes off each other as it unfolded. Renee
stood amazed at the effectiveness of Troy's spell. Red
snickered. Not only was Kendrick right about the kids having
some surprising skill, he also now had the liberty to do
whatever he wanted to Renee. He reached for his cigarette again
and prepared to serve up something nice and fatal.
he could, Kathryn rammed her shoulder into his gut. The force
knocked him back and the cigarette fell to the ground. While he
picked it up, Kathryn and Renee backed away.
dawned on Renee that in the span of about ten seconds, both
Yellow and Red had made separate attempts to kill her. She
quickly forgot about her cell phone. “Thank you,” she mumbled to
Kathryn, still shocked at the close calls.
ignored her and popped the cork on the vial. A bright glow
emanated from the tube and extended six inches. It faded into a
bronze color. Kathryn clutched it and pulled. In seconds, she
had produced her staff and dropped the empty vial to the ground.
She made a mental note to thank Yuki for coming up with, and
executing, such a convenient storage space.
Renee exclaimed, almost forgetting about the attempts to kill
her as well.
Kurt, who had
fifty-three names on his cell phone, called Molly as soon as he
pulled out of the school with Yuki, Marie and Kamila in tow.
Sadly, this does mean that Renee's phone had died in vain.
“What the hell's going
on?” Molly answered.
“Having a little run-in
with some troublemakers. They already took Claude out.”
“The MST reported them
using magic. Is this the same group from the game?”
“Yep,” Kurt replied.
“Do not engage them
directly,” Molly ordered. “I'll be there in a moment.”
“Not a problem. I'm not
there. I'm taking Marie and Kamila home. Yuki's with me too.”
“So who's over there?”
“Uh, right now it's
Kathryn, Troy and Renee.” Kurt cringed. He hadn't realized how
much he had thinned the numbers.
“Shouldn't be a problem,
right? I mean they won't do anything unprovoked, will they?”
“Are they Hokoni?”
“Uh...” Kurt had
forgotten to check. But those men seemed to have no shame, so
there was good reason to believe they were not aligned with
Kendrick. “Man, I don't think so.”
“Then what faction are
they?” Molly asked. “If they attacked Claude, then they might go
after one of those three.”
While thinking about the
characteristics, Kurt checked his rear-view mirror. Marie and
Kamila were listening to every word.
“I, uh... can't really
answer that. Not with these girls in the car.”
“Who are they?”
“Marie and Kamila?” he
asked. “Troy's girlfriend and Kathryn's teammate. They were
there too. I had to get them out.”
“I can help beat them up
if you want!” Kamila yelled into the phone.
Kurt heard Molly sigh.
“Well, hurry up and get back there. We can't leave those three
alone for too long. God help us if they're Hageshoni.”
She hung up. Kurt took a
deep breath, punctured by Marie asking, “You have Molly's cell
“Yeah, long story,” he
Yuki jumped in to make
up said long story: “Yeah, Molly and the student council helped
enroll me here, so we stay in touch.”
Kurt changed the
subject. “So where do you live, Kamila?”
“Who cares? I'm going to
the party,” she replied, still steaming. “Or are you going to
keep me away from that too?”
He shook his head. “No,
I can take you there. Where is it?”
“1500 East Iroquois.”
“Good, Marie's on
Iroquois too. 2200, right?”
“Yes, but I'm on West
Iroquois,” Marie replied.
“So...” Kurt figured it
out, then slumped his shoulders. “You two need to be on opposite
ends of town?”
Marie scoffed. “Sorry,
didn't know we were supposed to coordinate this.”
“You're not going to the
“Without Troy? What's
the point?” Marie answered.
Before he could bemoan
this fate, his phone rang again. He clumsily retrieved and
answered it- a difficult feat while driving.
“There's a problem,”
Molly said. “One of them is casting a barrier spell. I can't get
anywhere near there with magic.”
“Jeez... this is getting
Just as he said that,
he, Molly and Yuki both felt the twinge of displacement. Kurt
and Yuki shared concerned looks. They faced forward again, with
Kurt returning to the cell conversation and Yuki gasping.
“Red light!” she
“Jesus!” Kurt stopped in
time to avoid being plowed by a Hummer.
“How much longer do you
have?” Molly said.
“They're on opposite
ends of town. Could take another twenty minutes.”
Molly thought for a
moment, then said, “Drop Yuki off first.”
“But I don't know where
“I didn't say drop her
off at her house. Where are you now?”
Still at that red light,
Kurt checked the nearest building. A faded number 599 hung above
the door of a decrepit apartment building that he hoped didn't
have any current tenants. “599 West Third,” he replied.
“I'll be there in five
minutes to pick her up. We might need her for this,” Molly said,
Shrugging, Kurt stopped
the car and turned to Yuki. “Well, here you are... home sweet
“But this isn't-” Yuki
“Yes it is.” Kurt forced
a smile and tried to shoo her out without any conspicuous
movements that Marie or Kamila would find suspicious.
One look and Yuki
already didn't like the neighborhood. Hesitantly, she said,
“Okay... uh... bye.” She nervously stepped out of the car as a
nearby police siren wailed.
Yuki turned back in time
to see Kurt grasp the passenger side door. “See you later!” he
said, slamming the door and driving off.
Alone on the streets
next to a run-down apartment on the outskirts of a run-down
downtown area, Yuki tried not to freak out. She failed, yelping
loudly the moment she heard a dog bark. A man with a disheveled
beard stumbled out of the apartment complex and approached her.
He mumbled something completely incoherent. But thanks to Yuki's
Lucidrol, she heard it, clear as crystal, as “what's a girlie
like you doing at a time like this around these parts and why
did I walk out of my apartment to talk to you when I got my own
problems like wondering whether or not I actually live here.”
Mercifully, he passed out ten feet from the door.
Minutes later, a car
pulled up alongside the curb. Yuki ran up to it, hoping it was
somebody coming to her rescue. Instead, the window rolled down
and a young man looked at her, a bit nervous. Hesitant, he
asked, “Uh... how old are you?”
“Twelve,” she answered,
just as uncertain. He sped down the street without another word.
Yuki shivered. Somehow,
it seemed colder here than it did outside the high school.
Thankfully, the next car that pulled up was Molly. Yuki pulled
open the door, dove in and hugged her MST guardian.
“Don't hug me,” Molly
spat. Yuki laughed nervously and sat upright as the Saturn did
an illegal U-turn and headed back to the high school.
“Thankfully the MST's
taking it seriously this time. Some agents are on their way in
case it gets ugly,” Molly explained.
“I guess I should start
working on some potions then?” Yuki asked
“Not in this car. But
get ready to start mixing once we get out.”
The two stayed silent
for a few moments, each quietly praying that things hadn't
escalated too much and that Renee and Kathryn were unharmed.
They weren't so concerned with Troy. Recalling who was present,
however, made Yuki realize something.
“Hey... what about
Molly narrowed an eye at
Yuki, then called someone on her cell phone. Yuki couldn't help
but laugh. “You forget about him again, didn't you?”
It was true; Molly had
completely ignored Donovan in all of her plans. But she didn't
have to admit that. “I'm not calling Donovan. I don't even think
he has a cell phone.”
“Then who are you
“Blaine and Bryce.
Donovan might be an idiot, but his minions may be of some use.”
Kathryn did her neat little trick with the staff, Red used the
distraction to find his cigarette. He brushed the dirt off it
and returned it to his mouth. Few Zukoni were all that concerned
with hygiene, not that Red could afford to as Kathryn aimed her
staff at his head.
Can't fight without your nicotine?” she said.
he said, holding his fingers up to the cigarette so he could
cast a spell. He attempted to shoot another spark at Kathryn and
Renee, but what emerged was slow and dull. Kathryn batted it
it,” Renee said. “You use a cigarette as a focus item! And if
it's put out, your fire spells-”
effort at exposition fell on deaf ears as Kathryn charged
forward with her staff. Renee was right... for the most part.
Thing is, there was an easy remedy to weakened focus items and
Red knew it. He backpedaled, concentrated a little more than
usual and sent a healthier flame at Kathryn. She blocked it with
her staff, but it burst upon contact, knocking her backward.
Summoning more of his energy, Red sent a steady stream of fire
at Kathryn. This flame was not as strong as the last spell, but
it was persistent and it took all of Kathryn's strength to keep
her staff in front of it. As Red stepped forward, Kathryn was
forced back and onto the ground.
she shouted. “Little help?”
again, Renee had no real move. Desperate, she tried the simple
warding spell that had helped finish off Kendrick. She didn't
shout the name she had made up for it this time; that's probably
why it caught Red off guard and made him turn his head, sparing
seized the opportunity and charged again while he was reeling.
He wasn't reeling for long though. As she attacked, he grabbed
the staff and tried to wrestle it away from her. Her grip was
too strong for that tactic; she realized how much trouble she
was in if she lost it. Instead, he sidestepped and threw both
the staff and Kathryn to the ground behind him.
he had her right where he wanted, a wave of exhaustion came over
him. His last fire spell had used a lot of his own energy, which
he was not used to spending. The dying cigarette had diminished
much of his abilities after all. Still, he still had his large
body and could take care of Kathryn that way.
he could have if she hadn't jabbed her staff into his groin
first. Renee's warding spell was nothing compared to this. He
stepped back and bent down in pain, careful to keep an eye on
Kathryn. Fortunately for him, she was content with using the
opportunity to catch her breath. Unfortunately, Renee flew in
from his blind spot and elbowed him in the face. Red spun around
and fell to the ground, the cigarette falling from his mouth.
landed (yes, that wasn't a figure of speech: she had actually
cast a spell to deliver a literal flying elbow) on the
cigarette, extinguishing it for good.
down, Kathryn checked on the other two. Green hadn't moved; he
was still standing silently with his hands in front of his face.
Yellow, on the other hand, was active and engaged with a
surprisingly tough opponent- Troy. Then again, all Troy was
doing was casting his generic water spell. The force and volume
were keeping Yellow at bay. This demon was completely soaked and
apparently rendered helpless against such water pressure.
the water suddenly stopped. As with Red, Troy couldn't maintain
such an intense spell for such a long time. He tried to resume
it again, but his right arm felt numb. As he shook it to get
some feeling back, Yellow slogged forward. Yellow repeated the
gesture that launched Claude and Renee's phone. Troy attempted
to defend himself, but he too found himself airborne.
Kathryn shouted, as if she could stop Troy's ascent. He flew
over Yellow's head and towards the dark fields where either
Claude or Claude's corpse rested. Kathryn ran after Yellow, who
again executed his trigger. This time, he used a cushion of air
to repel her strike and push her backwards. She backed away,
eager to avenge Troy but not interested in joining him.
glance up in the air, however, saw Troy floating in midair,
catching his breath. Unlike Claude, Troy knew a flight spell and
he apparently had recovered enough to use it. As he hovered back
into the picture, Kathryn faced down Yellow, then threw her
staff into the air. “Troy, catch!”
smiled, ready to grab the staff and knock out Yellow from above.
If only Troy and Kathryn would have remembered his little
problem with catching in midair. Troy bobbled the staff and it
fell. Yellow grinned and extended a hand to catch it.
Kathryn shrieked again.
not have been able to catch it, but he could still kick it. And
with such perfect position, Troy couldn't help but kick the
staff right into Yellow's face. As he fell backwards, Kathryn
caught the staff and added another blow to the face for good
measure. Two down.
Actually, make that one down. For as much pain as he was in, Red
was a big boy and unwilling to fall to such primitive attacks.
While Kathryn helped Troy with Yellow, Red forced himself to his
feet. Only Renee was watching him, with one eye on the
stationary Green. As Red made his grand revival, he smiled at
Renee. By now, it was clear that she was the weakest of the
students and, assuming he could dodge any improvised wrestling
moves, Red would have no trouble overpowering her.
could light up another cigarette, that is. Renee strived to make
the task anything but routine. She may have been the weakest,
but she had already proved that she wasn't helpless. Until he
did light up, Red was susceptible to a sneak attack so Renee not
only scrutinized each of his movements for an opening, she made
sure he knew she was doing so.
his eyes on Renee, Red carefully reached into his pants pocket
and retrieved a pack of smokes. As he drew one to his mouth,
Renee's right arm feigned a trigger. It didn't startle Red, but
he reflexively jammed the cigarette into his mouth and froze.
Her breathing became labored as she inched towards him. Even
without the cigarette lit, Red was still an imposing fellow and
Renee forced herself to realize that whatever he could do to her
now was nothing compared to the hell he could unleash with a
well-lit focus item.
lighter appeared from another pocket. Again, he kept his eyes
fixed on Renee, especially as she began her trigger gesture. But
he proceeded, raising the lighter up to his mouth and flicking
the flame alive. She swiped her arm forward; rather than waiting
to see what she had cast, he covered his face with his arm and
took a step back. When he glanced forward again, he saw that
Renee had merely cast a flight spell... and she was flying right
at him. Her outstretched fingers reached for the lighter he was
now holding overhead. Renee slapped it away to be extinguished
on the cold ground behind them. Red turned around to retrieve
it, but she was already there, snatching it off the ground
before he dove after it.
did, however, catch her right ankle before she could fly away.
Red pulled her down, rattling her entire body as it collided
with the hard ground.
this, Kathryn ran to the rescue. Renee shouted after her and
threw her the lighter. Kathryn caught it with one hand and held
her staff out with the other. By now, Red had pinned down
here, girl!” Red shouted.
Kathryn's first thought was to yell back some badass response
like 'and what if I don't?' But Red had Renee in a very
unfavorable situation. Kathryn could guess what he'd do if she
disobeyed and didn't want to hear it directly. Yet she wasn't
too keen on returning the lighter either.
do it, Kathryn! He'll take out all of us!” Renee pleaded, as if
Kathryn didn't already know the stakes. Red drove his knee into
Renee's back anyway. Subtlety apparently had no place in this
Kathryn pondered a way to get Red off of Renee while still
keeping the lighter, Troy again defied subtlety and shot a blast
of water at Red. “Leave her alone!” he shouted.
spray impacted Red enough for Renee to wriggle her way out. She
took on a bit of water too, but she was too relieved to care.
Renee did care that Troy had now rescued her twice. While she
appreciated the gestures (and couldn't help but read more into
them, despite the circumstances), Renee was mainly angry with
herself for getting into the messes to begin with.
Troy had helped Renee out of those little messes, but they and
Kathryn were still embroiled in the collective macro-mess as the
demons' threat was still there and Molly wasn't. Granted Yellow
was recovering from Troy's aerial bombing and Red was now stuck
on the losing end of a game of keepaway. The game required
multiple players throwing the lighter back and forth, so
Kathryn, Renee and Troy were all occupied. Particularly since
they also had to avoid Red himself. Somehow they doubted Red
would be disinclined to punch the one of their lights out given
the chance (which generally constituted cheating in most
few minutes of three teenagers keeping a grown man from getting
to his cigarette lighter, someone finally put an end to the
madness. All four were surprised that it was Green. He lowered
his hands and walked up to Red.
Almighty!” Green profaned as he handed his own lighter to Red.
Ignoring the stunned look on Troy, Renee and Kathryn's faces,
Green returned to his post and resumed his trance.
the work the students had done keeping Red at a distance, they
were now helpless to watch Red fire up his cigarette. Red took a
few puffs to calm his nerves after so much running around.
Exhaling smoke, he yelled back, “Shut up, Jack, it's not like
you're helping out here.”
his previous position with nothing more than an eye tic, Green
replied, “If you know how to sustain a teleportation barrier,
you're welcome to take my place. Now take care of those three
before Pearson shows up.”
yeah,” Red muttered, holding his fingers in place.
Kathryn could stop him, he threw a spark at her. Now with a
full, healthy light, Red's spell burst in front of her eyes. She
fell to the ground, momentarily blinded. A second spell targeted
her upper body and knocked her flat. Kathryn dropped her staff
as the heat overwhelmed her. Though she couldn't see, she could
feel her shirt catching fire. Troy ran in and doused it before
the fire could do serious damage to either clothing or skin. But
it was the force of Red's spell that prevented her recovery. Red
was a strong man who cast strong spells, and the energy he had
put into them continued to sear.
eyes began to refocus, she saw Troy standing at her side, facing
Red. Troy fired a water spell at him, but another puff from Red
drew a pillar of fire that absorbed it easily. When Red took the
offensive, Troy was able to counter that as well. Clearly, they
wouldn't be getting too far.
meanwhile, may have been the only one who realized that Green
had casually revealed what the hell he was doing. And if he was
using a teleportation barrier to delay Molly and other support,
Renee just might have to try to stop that. With Red focusing on
Troy and Kathryn, she sprinted towards Green and raised her
right arm for a spell.
quite possibly everybody in the area, forgot about Yellow. “Yo,
Jack, head's up,” he shouted, still rubbing his sore head as he
got to his feet.
set his hands down and glanced at Renee. Without flinching, he
re-clasped his hands. A six-foot high stone wall interposed
between him and Renee. Renee collided with it face-first and
fell to the ground. Without even surveying his handiwork, Green
returned to his teleportation barrier-ing.
giving Troy one last fire to put out, Red backed up and hoisted
Renee up by the collar. Her nose bled, her forehead was bruised
and she was too dazed to defend herself.
I want you first,” Red spat, using his cigarette to brand a
black spot into her neck.
Troy shouted, but Red returned the stick to his mouth and shot
another fire spell at him.
sat up, still clutching her chest, and looked up at Troy. Troy
extinguished Red's attack but was otherwise frozen. Nothing
seemed capable of saving Renee.
a loud explosion from a nearby corner of the parking lot.
Thankfully, that wasn't merely smoke billowing. Red and Kathryn
turned to see two approaching figures. One of them held the
source of the smoke- a glowing beaker. The other was marching
alongside her, and Red knew right away that she was far more
or no barrier, Molly Pearson had arrived.