The first thing awaiting
Kathryn upon her return from Central Academy was a punch in the
“Three weeks?!” Kamila
shouted. “Three freaking weeks?!”
Kathryn had felt like
the basketball games she had missed while at the academy was one
extra blow beyond all the magic crap she had to face. She could
appreciate a teammate giving her something more tangible. But
damn did it hurt.
She opened her mouth to
frame a response, but it was going to be a while. Kamila did not
hold back. Kathryn wondered if she should have been let loose on
the Zukoni after all.
Thankfully, nobody else
in the lunchroom stopped what they were doing to care. Had
Kathryn retaliated and started an honest, violent, sexy fight,
they'd be the center of attention. But she let it slide,
although she had suddenly lost her appetite.
Kamila sat across from
her. “We lost two games while you were gone. The hell were you
“It was a basketball
developmental camp,” Kathryn wheezed, using her MST-provided
alibi. “Hopefully they don't do it in the middle of the season
Before Kamila could
respond, she heard a boy's faint voice say “Hey... uh...” from
behind. She turned around. It was Troy with his lunch tray,
trying to claim his usual seat across from Kathryn.
“What?” Kamila said,
raising her voice.
Troy took a step back,
shocked that not only had he attempted to confront Kamila, but
that she was apparently going to be a recurring character.
“Jeez, it's you! What are you doing here?”
“New lunch schedule this
semester. We'll get to be good pals.” Kamila smiled. Troy
couldn't tell if that was sincerity or a veiled threat. Either
way, he swung around the table and opted to sit next to Kathryn
He didn't see his
girlfriend sitting next to Kamila, and now across from him.
“Hello to you too, Troy,” said Marie.
“You've got lunch with
us too?” Troy said, forming a smile.
Marie nodded. “Seems
like all the freshmen got switched around this semester.”
“And I hear you were
gone too,” Kamila said, pointing a breadstick at Troy before
biting off the tip. “Where'd you run off to without your girl?”
“Something about selling
RVs,” Marie answered for Troy. “Really, I don't mind being left
out.” She turned to him. “So how was it?”
Troy fished for an
answer. “Uh... met some cool people, had a nasty cold for most
of it. Not much to write home about.”
“You... um... are over
that cold... right?” Troy flinched as he heard Yuki behind her.
He shuddered rather than answered, and Yuki took a seat to
“You too, Yuki?!”
Kathryn said, quite pleased.
smiling down on ya, Kat,” Kamila joked.
“Doubt that; Molly hates
Kamila shook her head
and turned to Yuki. “And I noticed that you were also gone the
last couple weeks.” The two were in Physics together; for three
glorious weeks, Yuki's lab partners were unburdened and shot to
the head of the class.
“Oh... yeah... um...”
While Troy and Kathryn already had experience lying about the
MST academy, this was new for Yuki. After spending her entire
life in the presence of magi, the world of the ignorant still
threw a few surprises her way. That, or she had forgotten to
read her supplied alibi.
Kathryn came to the
rescue. “You were back home visiting relatives, right?”
“That's right!” Yuki
smiled at Kathryn, not concealing her gratitude.
“So how's Japan?” Marie
“Oh...” Yuki stumbled
for an answer, before defaulting to, “It's as Japan-y as ever!”
One more joined the
party- Kurt. “You'll have to get us souvenirs next time,” he
said with a grin, sitting next to Kamila.
“Okay, now this is
getting ridiculous,” Marie said, not that she wasn't glad to see
him. “You had your lunch period switched too?”
His grin grew. “Nah, I'm
a senior. I come and go as I please.”
Kamila eyed him
suspiciously. “Don't tell me you took off the last couple weeks
like these three slackers.”
“Sure! Didn't you two?”
Kurt got nothing but blank stares from Kamila and Marie, so he
elaborated. “Molly went on vacation the last three weeks. If
she's not around to keep everything in order, that makes it the
best time for ditching school. So everybody who's in the know
plans their vacations around Molly's.”
“I see... I'll have to
keep that in mind next year,” said Marie.
“So is this a one-time
visit or are you always going to be eating with us?” Kathryn
asked, trying to divert the subject away from deceiving friends.
Nor was she thrilled with the notion that she set her clock
according to Molly.
Kurt shrugged. “It's my
last semester here. Might as well spend it with you guys.”
“I keep forgetting that
you're going to be leaving,” Troy said. Still, he smiled. “Guess
you have to make the most of it.”
Kamila scoffed. “Yeah
right, you're just trying to get into Kathryn's pants, aren't
“No!” Kurt was defiant,
but took it in good humor. “I'm friends with Kathryn, and Troy
and Yuki and Marie. This isn't about that. Of course, if I do
happen to find my way into Kathryn's-”
He was interrupted. Not
by Kathryn or Kamila, but the voice of Molly Pearson over the
loudspeaker: “Kurt Sempman, please report to the Student Council
Kurt's jaw dropped as
everybody in the room looked at him. He considered himself
friends with Molly too, and the announcement scared him just as
it would any other poor student. Plus the timing on it was just
The only one who didn't
quite realize the gravity of such a summoning was Yuki, who sang
out, “Molly's jealous!”
Kathryn buried her face
in her hand. “Don't even joke.”
“Hmm... should I go now
or finish eating?” Kurt asked aloud.
“Now!” the loudspeaker
Without another word,
Kurt stood and walked out of the room, trying to carry as much
poise as possible and set a good example for everybody watching
him. And everybody continued to watch him until he was out the
door. Then the speculation began.
Except at Kathryn's
table. Kamila took a burger off Kurt's tray and claimed it for
herself. “Kamila!” Marie scolded.
Kamila took a bite and
replied, “What? He ain't coming back.”
Kurt had to confess to
being a little nervous entering Molly's office. Either she
didn't approve of him 'coming and going as he pleased,'
especially around Troy and Kathryn's new circle of friends, or
there was something going on involving the MST. That, or Yuki
was right and Molly really did want to undermine his efforts to
bed Kathryn. He couldn't help but snicker at that thought, which
wasn't such a good gesture when entering Molly's chamber.
“What's so funny?” Molly
“Oh, uh...” Kurt sat
down, debated whether or not to answer, and finally did: “Just
the timing of your announcement. Made Yuki and Kathryn think you
have a thing for me.”
Smile still cracked, he
waited for her reaction. Her face didn't budge, but her hand
reached for the intercom. “Claude, send Yuki and Kathryn The
Letter,” she said.
“Yes, Madam,” replied
“Should I take that as a
no?” Kurt asked, his smile growing.
Instead of responding,
Molly asked, “What time is it?”
Kurt turned around to
check the wall clock directly opposite Molly. “12:30.”
Molly grumbled. “Late,
Late for what, Molly
wouldn't say. So Kurt just sat there while Molly did paperwork.
After two minutes of dead silence, he couldn't take any more and
said, “So how are you doing?”
She paused, put down her
pen, and looked up at him. Generic as it was, it wasn't a
question she was asked often. Molly really didn't have an answer
for it. He continued to look her in the eyes, prodding for at
least a generic response.
“All right, I suppose.”
Before either of them
could interpret the moment, Claude burst in and said, “I'm out
of copies. Do you have the original?”
Annoyed, Molly pulled
the threatening Letter out of her desk drawer and handed it to
Claude. “Keep it. I'm expecting company and I am not to be
When Claude reached the
door, he saw the 'company' on the other side. “Yes, yes, he's
right there. Should I let him in?”
“Yes, you should,”
answered Uriel, shoving Claude aside and occupying the chair
alongside Kurt. “Hello, Kurt. Thanks for dropping by.”
“What brought you over
here?” Kurt said, surprised but trying to show reverence to a
higher officer. “We haven't been attacked in five weeks.” He
quickly turned to the door, fearing that Claude might not have
left yet. But the assistant had, so no harm done.
Uriel didn't seem to
care. “Hope we can shoot for a record, but if not- I have good
“Go on,” Molly said,
trying not to sound eager.
“The MST has approved a
full-time field agent for L. B. Gould, Ohio.” Uriel smiled and
He got no such response
from his audience. Molly and Kurt nodded, but that was about it.
“Good. Who is it and when can we meet him?” she asked.
“Oh, we haven't actually
hired one yet. I just wanted to tell you we opened up the
position and make sure everything else was in order here.”
Molly furrowed her
eyebrows. “You drove here from Cincinnati for that?”
“Well, I wanted to scope
out the apartment scene and find a few more palatable jobs.
Richard says there's room for improvement in those areas. But I
can forward the applications we've received.”
Uriel pinched his
earlobe. “Charlie, could you send over the applicants for the L.
B. Gould position?” After a pause, he frowned and added, “I
guess so. Molly's desk drawer will suffice.”
After he confirmed the
transmission, Molly took the hint and opened her drawer. There
was one sheet inside. She read the name and address and frowned
immediately. “Penn N. Teller?”
“Let's see...” Uriel
took the page and chuckled. “Apparently a joke submission.
Didn't even include a resume. But I'm sure we'll get some soon.
It's listed online and in the appropriate classifieds. I can put
it in the Centrist if you'd like to be thorough.”
“No need,” Molly said.
“So what are you doing until then?”
“For now, Richard will
make weekly visits and conduct any pertinent investigations. I
can't ask him to move here again. He may be an ass, but he does
good work and I can only torment him so much.”
“So that's it then?”
“Sorry to disappoint
you,” Uriel replied, unapologetic despite his words.
He began to stand up,
but Kurt held a hand up. “Hey, while you're here, do you know
what they're doing for me? I'm supposed to be heading some new
recruits next July, but they haven't told me who they are or
where they live.”
Uriel frowned. “I'm
afraid that's not really my department. You would need to talk
“Mr. Marlowe at the
academy, I know. I think he's been avoiding me. He says they're
still trying to place me somewhere. You think they would have
done that by now.”
“Yes... unless your
initial group didn't pan out. Frankly, I've seen what passes for
prospects these days. It's not pretty. You've been spoiled with
They looked at Molly;
she was back to her paperwork and said nothing.
continued, but not specifically at either Kurt or Molly.
“Seriously, for every four kids in today's units, I'd say only
one really has a future in the MST. But here there's two, maybe
even three that have potential.”
Molly slammed down her
pen and looked up at Uriel. “Are you finished?”
“I suppose I am,” Uriel
said, standing. Still, he turned to Kurt. “Kurt, you'll just
have to keep prodding Marlowe. If it doesn't work, I'm sure
there's a couple professors in the Crafting school that will
slip him a potion or something to loosen his tongue. A little
truth serum goes a long way, I always say.”
As soon as he walked out
and was out of earshot, Kurt shook his head and turned to Molly.
“Gonna release the hounds after him?” he joked.
She fingered the button
under her desk. “It's tempting...”
school, Claude embarked on a new mission. Surprised as he was to
receive it from his higher power, he had no choice but to
accept, brush off the dangers and ignore the cataclysmic
ramifications of his new post. He didn't fully comprehend the
purpose of his task or the motive for his reassignment, but
Claude had no grounds to protest. His new life would begin the
moment he entered the dark room.
grasped the doorknob, but paused to collect his thoughts and
frame them around his job: monitor Donovan Dunmar.
following Troy for nine months, Claude had gotten sick of the
monotony. Troy lived a pretty unassuming life and showed extra
caution about overstepping his boundaries when he knew Claude
was on him. So Claude had either been treated to a dull routine
when Troy behaved or Kathryn's outrageous diversion tactics when
he didn't. Plus Claude began to suspect that Troy was not
constantly plotting to steal away with Renee, what with him
finding a new girlfriend and all.
still, Claude regretted his secret wish for a more exciting
target. According to rumors, the dark room hosted all sorts of
evil ceremonies and rituals that could have seriously disrupted
the school. Yet, the official student council position had been
'I don't want to know.' That apparently changed once Molly
received word that Renee had been linked to Donovan's antics.
deep breath, Claude turned the knob and entered the room, lit
only by two candles and the luminary white markings from the
prior year's vandalism. Donovan was not inside. Instead, his
minions were flicking a paper football back and forth.
by the intrusion, Bryce pushed his 'field goal' attempt wide
right. The paper football passed over one of the candles,
catching fire as it descended into Claude's palm. Claude yelped,
dropped the burning triangle and stamped it out with his foot.
Already, he knew this assignment would be far worse than
get any points for that?” asked Bryce.
was an automatic win,” Blaine replied, before turning around and
finally addressing Claude. “You okay?”
rubbed his hand in his shirt. “I'll live,” he muttered, sitting
down across from the duo.
are you joining us?”
“Apparently so. I have orders from the student council to
monitor Donovan's activities. If that entails that I join the
Occult Club, I have no choice.”
smiled. “Hey, are you Claude?”
narrowed his eyes. He had never met these two before. In fact,
he wasn't even sure they attended this school. “I am. Why?”
happy to meet another minion. And for Molly... that's
not a minion,” Claude said, defiantly.
smiled and shook his head. “Fine, fine... toadie, lackey,
flunky... we're all family here.”
Claude could persist in his futile denial, Donovan stormed into
the room and, with grandiose posturing, sat at the head of the
table. Then he noticed Claude.
cleared his throat and stood, attempting professionalism. “I am
here as a representative of the student council to investigate
snickered. “Yes... the foul deeds of this club are worthy of
your suspicion. Even your student council will tremble at our
power. But until we strike, we are in full compliance. Your
paperwork has been vanquished. Right, Blaine?”
actually...” Blaine retrieved a legal-sized form and a pen and
slid it along the table to Donovan. “Got one more for you to
sinister laugh, Donovan did so and slid it back to Blaine. “Now
nothing can stop us.”
wordlessly accepted the form, then shrugged and gave it to
Claude. “Since you're here...”
“Thanks.” Claude set it aside. “But the council is mainly
concerned about your recent activities with Renee Pearson.”
yes... Renee Pearson,” Donovan said, nostalgically. “A worthy
ally. When our plan comes to fruition, she will be spared.”
not appease Claude. “And how do you know her?”
stood suddenly and started pacing. “We were traversing the
Forest of Unspeakable Peril, conquering any beast that crossed
minions' eyes bulged. Quickly, Bryce explained, “Uh... we went
hiking in the woods... you know, that state park a few miles
the 'conquering any beast' part, Blaine added, “Yeah, uh... a
nature hike. Took lots of pictures. Renee saw a woodpelter, er,
Undeterred, Donovan continued, “Then we encountered a fearsome
snake!” Bryce blurted.
big snake,” Blaine added.
it defeated my minions, it attacked the girl, but I bravely used
my dark energy to distract it. I was stung, but survived its
venom.” Donovan smirked, proud that the poison was no match for
him... or, to be accurate, Kiki's remedies.
sighed. “He poked it with a stick. It bit him. He lived.”
who had tuned out Donovan and focused on Bryce's translations,
shook his head. “But that doesn't explain why Renee was with you
to begin with.”
have to ask her, 'cause we're still not entirely sure,” Blaine
seemed pretty cool. She's welcome to join us, right Donovan?”
Bryce sat back and folded his arms.
returned to his seat and steepled his fingers. “Indeed... either
as a fellow minion or as a virgin sacrifice.”
no, you can't sacrifice Renee,” Claude said.
may we sacrifice Troy Monroe?”
nodded. “Monroe we can negotiate.”
then, the door flew opened, startling all four of them. Claude
almost fell over when Renee entered the room, smiled innocently
and said, “Hey guys, had some free time so I thought I'd see
what you were up to!”
narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing here?” he asked, despite
Renee having just explained it.
immediately felt uneasy. “Oh... Claude... hey...” She turned to
Donovan, who, of course, did not react.
minions were more helpful. “We, uh, just got done explaining the
incident with the... snake,” Blaine said, because accenting
'snake' just so made the word mean 'wyvern' in many dialects.
She looked at Claude. Claude frowned at her. “I suppose you're
here because you don't want me to be?”
nodded. “That's only the half of it... but it's an important
half, so... yes.”
Hesitantly, she said, “'kay... guess I'll be going now.” She
turned around and retreated, closing the door behind her. Claude
glared at Donovan, whose eyes remained fixed on the door.
Neither Claude, Blaine nor Bryce could conclusively tell if he
had moved at all during the entire exchange.
her bronze staff as a pole, Kathryn vaulted over the wall of
fire Kurt had created. Once she landed she leaped again, this
time ready to strike. But Kurt ran forward to intercept her,
raising a hand to summon a wind gust to knock her upward and
disrupt her timing. Kathryn could not land on her feet, but
swept her staff underneath Kurt to take out his legs. He jumped
out of the way.
Kathryn planted the staff on the ground to get back up, Kurt
fired off another spell, this one sent a stream of water
shooting up from below the staff like a fountain. Kathryn lost
control of it and Kurt guided the staff into his hands. He
smiled and approached her, returning the focus item.
really should work some actual spells in there,” he said.
yeah,” she muttered, accepting his help up.
smiled and turned to the two spectators. “Troy, you're up.”
smiled and stepped into the makeshift battlefield.
him Troy!” Renee shouted as Kathryn took Troy's spot on the
it was May and spring looked like it was finally here to stay
(after a few false starts in March and April), everybody wanted
to get outside and enjoy the weather. The rest of the winter had
been very quiet- good because no demons had attacked, but bad
because Molly still had not gotten any applicants for the new
agent position. Kurt offered to do some sparring with some of
her recruits sans distractions (namely Donovan and Yuki). By
denying himself access to his emphasis element of earth, he had
already provided a competitive match for Renee and Kathryn.
off with an ice bolt. He had gone through enough trouble to
learn it at the academy, so he figured he may as well put it to
use. Kurt threw up a flight spell to dodge it... and Troy's
second and third attempts as well. With nothing getting
accomplished and knowing that Kurt couldn't cast anything in
midair, Troy relented.
until Kurt attempted to land, that is. Just before he touched
down, a blast of water came his way. Kurt elected to summon a
gust of air from below to both cushion his landing and spray the
water out of harm's way.
wind currents surrounded Kurt, Troy took a deep breath and cast
a new spell- fire. Granted, his ability to play with fire wasn't
nearly as refined as his skill with water, but the puny spark
that he sent Kurt's way caught the wind just right and fanned
into a respectable flame. It may not have been enough to
threaten Kurt, but its sudden appearance scared the hell out of
off the blaze's air supply and threw up a water spell to douse
it permanently. Water shot up from the ground and surrounded
smiled. Now water he could deal with. He threw his trigger
finger forward and ordered the water to swirl around. The more
force Troy put into it, the more it resembled a cyclone. While
it did nothing to harm Kurt, the twirling pillar of water was
Kurt regained control eventually, he needed a second to get his
bearings back. That was all Troy needed to charge in and grab
Kurt's casting arm. With his free hand, Troy poked Kurt in the
stomach with his trigger finger.
broke into laughter and motioned for a high-five with his
unrestrained hand. “Nice!” he shouted. Troy released, beaming.
“Someone's been practicing,” Kurt added.
to try some fire. It's hard to practice around the house,” Troy
an air spell to dry off the water, Kurt said, “Keep at it.
You're looking good.”
Victorious, Troy marched back to his cell phone and wallet,
receiving a cheer from Renee. Despite Kurt's handicap, the win
felt good- a nice confidence booster that assured him that he
was indeed ahead of the curve when it came to magic. No matter
what Kathryn thought of magic or what Molly thought of him, he
was getting the impression that he had a future in the field
was happy for a different reason. “Deal's a deal, Kurt. One of
us beat you, so you're buying us all dinner.”
Kurt's smile didn't fade. His MST expense card was paying for it
anyway. “Where should we go?”
phone in hand, Troy turned around and faced them. “Oh, uh, I
can't go. Marie just texted, wants me to come over.”
nodded. “Say no more. Get going.”
from Troy to Kathryn and Kurt, Renee said, “Oh, you know what? I
have to get home too. Tonight's Simpsons episode looks really
good. Don't want to miss it.”
Kurt wanted to say more, but shrugged. “Saves me some money
big, playful smile, Renee replied, “You two have a good time!”
joined Troy as he walked away. Once Kurt and Kathryn were out of
earshot, she winked at him. “It would be fun to get those two
together. I think they like each other.”
stopped, frowned, and turned to her. “Huh?”
that the plan? To get those two alone?”
than answer, Troy lifted his phone to his ear and said, “Yeah, I
got your message. I'll be over in half an hour. Talk to you
Renee said as he pocketed the phone.
walked together a little longer, though neither said a word.
Renee knew nothing about Marie or the status of her relationship
with Troy. She saw no way to ask without awkwardness on either
part. Problem was, for some reason she was dying to know.
Troy changed the subject... or perhaps put it back on course.
“I'm not sure if I like the idea of Kurt and Kathryn.”
stared back, interested but unsure how to respond. She knew it
would be wrong to pry, but she wanted to anyway.
that impression and explained. “Kurt's leaving in a month. We
don't know where he's going. He doesn't even know where he's
going. Might not even be in this world. If they hooked up now,
what does that tell you?”
Renee looked back, even though the subjects were far out of
sight. She barely knew Kurt, so his inevitable departure hadn't
really crossed her mind much. But it did put a wrinkle in
things, and it certainly loomed over Troy's head.
he shrugged it off. “Well, see ya,” Troy said as his path
diverged. He to his girlfriend, Renee to her television.
Both of them were
getting sick of Rosa's, but with few other dine-in options in
town, Kurt and Kathryn settled for pizza. The place had a nice
seating area and decent service, but the presence of a
drive-thru window didn't do much for its reputation. It was a
fitting spot for dinner given the pair's relationship status.
Of course, the main
topic, at least at first, was Troy's performance. “He's getting
some really good stuff,” Kurt gushed. “The fact that he's
working some fire spells in there... I was really impressed.
Kathryn poked at her
pizza slice with a fork. “So you think he might have a future
“Absolutely. Sounds like
the MST's been really impressed with your unit so far. Troy's
gotta be close to top of the pack. Good power, good
decision-making, good execution. He listens, he learns...”
“He obeys, he stays in
line,” Kathryn blurted.
Kurt scoffed. “It's not
that bad!” He smiled, well aware of Kathryn's uncertainty about
the MST. “I know they're not the most people-friendly
organization out there, but they do good work. I mean, you don't
want guys like Kendrick and Kaz running around free, do you?”
“Last we heard, Kendrick
was,” Kathryn replied, raising an eyebrow.
“Oh. But that's just the
start. There's other worlds out there that are worse. Get into a
realm where the Hageshoni are in charge and magic's not a
secret... rough place.”
Skeptical as she was, the MST and their mission to smite evil
seemed necessary enough, and demons and Kendrick and Kaz had fit
Didn't mean she was
happy with the operation. “And I'm sure they're working hard to
find you a job, right?”
Kurt frowned. “Well...”
“It's May. You're
graduating in a few weeks. What does it say that they still
haven't told you what you'll be doing?”
“Marlowe says there's
nobody out there worth taking a shot at. They're happy with what
they have this year,” Kurt explained, clearly unhappy with the
“I thought you said you
knew all the right people. Family ties and stuff,” Kathryn said.
Kurt shook his head. “So
does every guardian. They've all got family in there.”
Kathryn looked away. She
didn't want to bring all that up again. “So what are you going
somewhere. Do some grunt work on the front lines.”
“What? Like fighting and
stuff?” she asked, sipping her soda.
His eyebrows raised.
“Sort of. It can actually be pretty cool. My dad's a field
commander in another realm. Large scale magic combat's actually
kinda fun.” Then those eyebrows fell. “Of course at my age, I'd
probably be the one peeling potatoes.”
Kathryn slammed her
glass on the table. “See that's not right. You should be
training kids. Look what you've done with Troy. You've done more
for him than Molly has. You're a good leader, someone people can
look up to, fun to be around-”
Kurt couldn't help but
let a smile form. “Go on,” he said, slyly.
She caught herself,
turning her head in case a blush appeared.
“I like hearing that
from you,” he said.
shook her head and faced him again. “Just let it go. Honestly,
what would Troy think?”
“To be honest, I don't
really care what-”
“I do,” she said
quickly. “It matters a lot to me. And what would happen? We'd
hook up, you leave in a month and I got nothing.” Kathryn looked
down, and for a long time couldn't speak. Bad as the fantastic
inconvenience of magic was, serious discussion of her own love
life was even worse. But Kurt was a friend and she felt he
deserved to know. “I've been there before. It's starting to
bother me. Troy says I should cut it out and I think he's
Kurt remained silent.
Unlike the fantastic inconvenience of magic, he didn't have any
words of wisdom for her. All he knew was that he wasn't the only
one who had taken an interest in Kathryn. She couldn't have said
no to all of them.
“I'm kinda jealous of
what Troy has with Marie. Made it through the whole school
year,” she concluded.
He nodded. “She's been
good for him.”
Kathryn sighed. “She's
been very good for him. Especially since it seems like Molly
called off her dogs.”
Kurt was confused for a
moment, but the connection popped in his head soon enough. “Oh
She looked up, an
eyebrow narrowed. “Well yeah. Why else would Molly go after
This put Kurt on the
defensive, whether Kathryn had intended it or not. “Oh... um...
yeah, there might be other reasons why she doesn't care for
“Such as?” This was news
to Kathryn and she wanted details.
He shook his head. “Just
a guess. If she hasn't told him, I don't think she wants him to
know. So I don't want to speculate.”
She stared at him, then
blinked. “I don't trust Molly.” Kurt nodded in understanding,
but she wasn't done. “Or Renee for that matter.”
“Renee? What's wrong
“She and Troy were
together last year. And I mean together. As in an item... before
Molly broke it up. That means one of two things.” Kathryn looked
around the diner to check for prying ears, as if this was far
more secretive and scandalous than all the magic-related
discussion they had just had.
“Either she was leading
Troy into a trap... or she actually liked him.” Kathryn sighed
and faced Kurt once more. “I don't know which one would be
Now that we're caught up
with the main cast, it's clear that things have quieted down in
L. B. Gould, Ohio. Yes, they all have their own issues and angst
over various aspects of life, but the point is that they're not
being pestered by demons.
To answer that, we need
to catch up with Kendrick.
When we last left our
fair villain, Kendrick had fled outside Uriel's district into
Pennsylvania. This proved to be a bad decision, since
Pennsylvania fell in the same district as New York and New
Jersey. As those two are rife with demon activity, Uriel's
counterpart there was well-funded and left Kendrick playing
hide-and-seek with various agents in the area. After a few weeks
of this, he found a much more savory alternative.
Legends told of a
mountainous, lawless borderland between Ohio and Pennsylvania
that fell outside the jurisdiction of either district. Most
traveling between the two often missed it, but those in the know
could gain passage and find a safe harbor. Upon hearing this,
Kendrick found this place often dismissed by cartographers as a
thick, black line. Turned out it was only a part of West
Virginia that had accidentally gotten wedged between the two
Still, West Virginia had
very little MST coverage and proved lawless enough for Kendrick.
He holed up, let things die down, and pondered his next move.
Not only did he consider Donovan still in play, but more
tempting than ever with so much untapped potential magic power
and so little actual brainpower. But one aftermath of the whole
agent debacle was that Kendrick didn't want to make a move until
it was settled and Kendrick could better analyze what he was up
against. Uriel's bureaucracy kept him impatiently waiting as
much as Molly.
His superiors were
willing to wait, certain that their plan would succeed with
proper timing and tact. Frankly, Kendrick didn't mind the time
off. Nestled away in a little hamlet in the shadow of I-70, he
lived in peace with the community as a normal citizen unable to
use magic. Not that he had a choice, as any spell would draw the
MST's immediate attention.
Sitting in his usual
place at his favorite local diner, he enjoyed a late lunch on
some random Saturday afternoon in late May. The food was good,
the staff was friendly, and at times like these the last thing
he wanted to think about was L. B. Gould, Ohio.
But out of the corner of
his ear, he heard a gruff voice: “Hey, do you know how to get to
L. B. Gould, Ohio?”
The man's question was
not directed to Kendrick, but rather to a waitress that
obviously had never heard of such a place. Still, Kendrick's
head pivoted to see who had asked.
To say his head was
covered in hair would not begin to describe it. His head was
closer to a ball of black fuzz with a face surgically attached.
There was some major architecture to the hair, sort of a
combination of an afro and a mullet. Unkempt as the top and the
back were, his sideburns and beard, although robust, were both
maintained with the utmost precision. There was also no trace of
Kendrick stared at the coiffure so long, he accidentally made
eye contact with the guy. Naturally, he asked, “How about you?
You know how to get to L. B. Gould, Ohio?”
Kendrick sighed. He
normally didn't do good turns, being an agent of evil and all,
but this hairstyle had been the most interesting thing he had
seen all day. That was worth a harmless favor. “Um... yes, I've
been through there a couple times.”
Without another word,
the man bounded over to Kendrick's booth. Already Kendrick
regretted this. “Got a pen?” Kendrick said.
The man looked around
the booth and on the table until finally taking one of the
crayons the diner provided children for placemat scribbles.
“No, that's a crayon.
Almost,” Kendrick said, helpfully.
“Oh, duh!” The man
hopped back to his booth and grabbed the leather briefcase he
had left on that side. “I'm sure there's one in here!” He jumped
back across the aisle and snapped it open.
Kendrick gasped and his
eyes bulged as he felt an overwhelmingly powerful magic presence
emanating from the briefcase. Although he couldn't see the
case's exact contents, inside was something extraordinary,
something that could start crusades or resolve conflicts,
something that he desperately wanted possession of.
Also inside was a
ballpoint pen and a memo book, which the man plopped in front of
Kendrick. “There we are.”
The briefcase made
concentrating on giving directions difficult: and attempting to
describe a concise route to L. B. Gould was hard enough.
Kendrick's eyes cheated to the case more than once. “Out of
curiosity, what business do you have in L. B. Gould?” he asked,
trying to sound as casual as he could. In truth, he was dying to
“Business. Just some
business,” he said, tapping the side of the case. “You know,
same old, same old. Just a change of scenery. Nice area?”
mumbled, finishing turn seven on the 'concise route' that would
finally lead into town. He handed it to the man, who smiled
Obviously, the presence
of such a powerful artifact meant the man had some connection to
magic. And Kendrick had to assume that whatever business he had,
Molly's unit would be involved eventually. As much as he wanted
to prod, he couldn't tell if the man was a good guy or a bad
guy. Normally demons can sniff out their own kind, but Kendrick
got no such sensation- not necessarily a bad thing as he was
still washing the Zukoni scent out of his clothes. But if the
man was affiliated with the MST, wouldn't he recognize the
wanted criminal sitting next to him? If only there was some
identifier Kendrick could use...
“Thanks a bunch. Name's
Vincent,” the man said, extending a hand. From him, it sounded
uncertainly and shook Vincent's hand. “A pleasure,” he replied.
Vincent snapped the
briefcase shut, threw a ten-dollar bill on his table and headed
out the door. Kendrick calmly finished his meal, paid, smiled at
the waitress, and dashed to the library to do a little research
on this Vincent fellow and whatever glorious item he had in his
possession. Something told Kendrick that he would be back in L.
B. Gould soon enough.