first official order of business as Student Council President
was giving Molly a full pardon for all crimes against humanity.
The uproar was fierce, but she just smiled cutely and said, “I
know she did some bad things, but it's all over now. She can't
hurt us anymore. So don't worry about all that stuff when we can
have a whole Molly-free year ahead of us!” The waves calmed.
so good at this, it's starting to scare me,” Molly said in what
was now Yuki's office. The tide of goodwill led to a rush of
volunteers to come in on Saturday to clean the place up and give
it a new paint job with bright, happy colors befitting a
thirteen-year-old government official. It sickened Molly, but
Yuki was right at home.
stopped spinning around in her new chair. “Hey, I was serious
about not interfering too much. Just enough to keep the peace!”
She reached into her desk drawer. “By the way, here's your
took the papers and looked through her grades for all eight
semesters of classes- seven she didn't actually take and one
that was only a month old. “What's with all the Bs?”
set up so that you'll be third in the class. That way you won't
have to give a graduation speech as valedictorian or
a smile, Molly nodded in approval. “Not that I plan on attending
the ceremony anyway. I may spend the rest of the semester
downstairs. It's kind of pleasant.”
“Actually, uh...” Nervously, Yuki continued, “I'd like you to
attend a couple classes for the rest of the semester.” She
turned her head, ready for the glare.
blank expression on Molly's face, it was clear she wasn't
thrilled with the idea. Still, she didn't lash out like Yuki was
afraid of. She just asked, “Why?”
I'm trying to make it look like your reign is over. Wouldn't it
make sense for you to pretend to act like a normal high school
student? One or two classes and lunch in the cafeteria with
Renee would do the job. I've still got most of my normal
huffed. “I suppose. This isn't quite what I was banking on when
we set up this puppet government.”
smiled brightly. “You didn't tell me it was going to be a puppet
was the idea. So I guess I should ask what classes you'd like me
and history okay? Those should be up your alley. First and
fourth periods starting tomorrow?”
well. If you need anything else, I'll be downstairs trying to
figure how to get you access to the elevator system.”
teleported away and sighed. Even if the power was safe in Yuki's
hands, Molly still didn't have it. It was proving to be harder
for her to acclimate than she had expected.
it was a sign of her own weariness that she let all this
transpire without much of a fight, doing only the bare minimum
to avoid disaster. She wasn't sick of being president, but she
may have gotten bored with indulging in the job and didn't abuse
the position the way she had in past years. Now she was stuck
pretending to be a normal student at the school, in many ways a
pawn to Yuki's transition plan. Although Molly had developed the
idea of putting Yuki in control under the 'small government'
guise and would need help succeeding, it still didn't sit right.
day demonstrated why. She arrived early and killed time in the
office out of habit, but that walk down the hall to her first
class felt like a death march. Everyone still stiffened up and
watched her in silence as she passed by. That wasn't unusual.
The difference was that now they weren't afraid of her.
Surprised at her presence and curious at her mood, perhaps, but
she couldn't feel the same sense of intimidation. She had lost
them. Worst of all, she had to continue to look stone-faced, as
if none of this affected her.
was not the first to reach her literature class, and she
instinctively narrowed an eye at the several who had beaten her.
Their eyes widened and their conversations stopped. So did the
teacher's, in fact.
Pearson! Is something wrong?” she asked.
here for class. I've always been in this class.” Her stark tone
made even the most blatant of lies seem legitimate. “Remind me
what book we are currently studying.”
teacher averted her eyes, quickly pulling a novel from her desk
before Molly could see it. “The Scarlet Letter.”
the other students protested. “Wait, Ms. Cohen! We stopped that
halfway through last week because you wanted to switch to Animal
Ms. Cohen cried, “I did no such thing! I would never teach
raised an eyebrow. Her ban on George Orwell had been both a
private arrangement with the English department and one of her
earliest restrictions. Can't have all the kids learning where
she got her ideas, after all. Judging by the books on the desks,
however, Ms. Cohen's eagerness to teach it in her absence, then
deny it, was troubling.
politely as she could muster, Molly said, “If you have already
begun Animal Farm, I see no reason not to continue. You will
have to contact the new administration regarding that current
facet of your curriculum. I have no say in the matter.” Huffing,
she added, “At least not after last week's Snowball fight.”
looked around. Everybody was staring back, most of them not sure
if they were supposed to laugh and some surprised that Molly
Pearson had made a joke making such a distinct parallel to the
text and the revolution. One kid whispered, “Dude, there was a
snowball fight last week?” Molly rolled her eyes and sat down.
This was going to be even harder than she had thought. She had
to deal with the idiots now.
hadn't read Animal Farm in years, but her fondness for the book
(Napoleon in particular) let her not only keep up with the
discussion, but lead it. This bothered her: she hadn't been to a
class all semester, yet jumped to the head of it in forty
minutes. It shouldn't have been that easy. Worse yet, this was
one of the classes randomly designated as one of Molly's B
second class was more of the same. During a discussion of the
Punic Wars, Molly revealed who won, which was taken as an
unwanted spoiler by her classmates. They were still on the part
with the elephants. Again, she learned nothing and resented it.
Renee was sympathetic at lunch. “You'll get used to it. It
happens to me all the time.”
just that I haven't read this material in years and I remember
more of it than kids who read it last week,” Molly replied,
bitter. “It's hard to stay quiet amid all that stupidity.”
girls walked by and noticed Renee. One of them smiled at her.
“Hey, Renee! It's been a while since we've talked! Mind if we
Renee replied, as if she knew who they were.
they saw Molly. “Um... actually, we'll catch you some other
time.” And they were gone.
sighed and returned to her lunch. Renee frowned. She knew Molly
would never say anything, but that had to at least hurt a
little. Although her plan to retain power, at least
subversively, went off without a hitch, she was still demoted
and defeated. While she didn't look terribly affected by it,
Renee knew it was killing her.
worry about them. It just takes some time to-”
even know who they were. I don't even have the pictures of them
getting drunk at a college party last year. I have no need for
shook her head. “The other kids need to get used to this too.
The only way you can help is to try to act normal.”
aren't normal. Yet you seem to have the social interaction
know what I mean. Just play along for a couple hours a day.” She
smiled. “It's high school. Everyone else feels awkward. Now it's
your turn. Just try to enjoy it and make some friends or
little late to start making friends now.”
over Molly's shoulder, Renee saw options. “We could sit with
Troy and Kathryn.”
eyes narrowed. “Forget it.”
shrugged. “Well, if you don't plan on being social and you can't
stand your classes, then why did you agree to do this?”
well into our plans.” Molly looked down at her tray. “If they
see me like this and think I'm powerless, they'll think
everything I achieved is gone. Then they forget about it. It
makes it easier for Yuki and I to rebuild it. Once I graduate,
Yuki will have no trouble walking on her hind legs.” Molly
caught herself and made a mental note to have Yuki reinstate the
ban on Orwell.
back, Renee was awed. “Is that really what Yuki was thinking
when she suggested it?”
“Absolutely. Before the year's out, she'll be more powerful than
I was. I'll see to that.”
found that hard to believe, and she certainly didn't want to
discuss it further. Her aim was to cheer up her sister, not hear
how calculated the whole situation had been.
Conceding that cheering Molly up was probably impossible, she
instead changed the subject to something else entirely.
Something Molly was used to being angry about: “Any word from
the MST about our field assignment?”
shook her head. “I doubt we'll hear back from them for a while.
It's usually a summer thing, and there's no guarantee it'll be
this summer. Probably waiting for something nobody else wants.”
conversation didn't last long. Renee slumped her shoulders.
There had to be something she could talk about to keep Molly
she was thinking, Molly volunteered. “What I'm waiting for now
is the official report of the kidnapping and rescue. That should
be up in another week or so.”
chuckled. If nothing else, her sister was a reader. “But isn't
that just going to have everything we already knew? What else
could it tell us?”
MST's perspective of the whole thing in cold detail. Shows what
they actually think of all this. It also fills in a few of the
how the hell Troy got to you. Or what happened between Kathryn
and Kamila. Have they told you anything?”
don't think Kathryn likes talking about it.”
understandable, but I still need to know what happened.” Molly
replied. “And we have no idea why Kendrick intervened.”
a moment, Renee's eyes lit up. “Oh, jeez! I completely forgot
about that. What happened again?”
idea. We only heard it from Claude, remember? It's exactly what
I was talking about. That's the biggest mystery to all of this,
and if not for these reports, it would fall through the cracks.”
Suddenly, Troy's lunchroom ensemble had gotten much smaller. At
its peak it was a group of six. Then Kurt graduated, Kamila
attacked, Marie betrayed and Yuki got promoted. Now, it was just
him and Kathryn. It was just like freshman year, yet it felt
first few days, it wasn't so bad. They were able to talk about
the election, whether Yuki or Molly was really in charge,
whether it mattered, and how nice it was that they hadn't been
attacked in three whole weeks. Kathryn had also gotten back into
basketball, providing enough sufficient distraction for them.
But hearing stories from practice and games had gotten dull
without Kamila to banter and rib back. In time, Troy lost
interest and the conversations subsided.
left things awfully quiet over the next several days. After
everything they'd been through, Troy and Kathryn were closer
than they had ever been. Yet it didn't leave them with any
conversation topics. They didn't want to talk about their
mission or their punishment, and Kathryn hated talking about the
MST in general. Since school was only starting to return to a
normal routine, there wasn't much on that end either. It was
only a matter of time before one of them snapped.
“Seriously, are you okay?” Troy asked.
looked up from her food, interrupted in her quest to figure out
what it was. “What? What do you mean? I didn't say anything.”
“Exactly. You haven't been saying anything lately.”
she replied. “That's because whenever I talk about the team, you
all you can talk about? What about everything else?”
looked down. “Seems like that's all there is now.”
paused, the nodded in concession. “Suppose after everything
we've been through, it's all pretty dull.”
sneered back. “That's not what I mean. I like the dull parts. I
want them back.”
it,” Troy said. “Hang out with people. Go to parties.” Somewhat
bitter, he added, “Get laid.”
I know, I should but...” Her head fell. “I don't feel like just
hanging out and goofing off just to kill time anymore. I want
friends. Like... real ones.”
nodded. “Like Kurt was?”
Marie. You know I loved her too. I could really talk to her.”
Kathryn shook her head. “Nothing's come out of this except our
friends end up either dead or... well, wherever Marie is. Doubt
we'll ever see her again.”
away, all Troy could say was, “Yeah?”
it, Troy. You miss her too. Renee's been making eyes at you
since we got back and you haven't jumped at her. Marie's gotta
have something to do with that.”
you didn't see her actually getting in our way. If it weren't
for her, we all would have gotten out.”
but don't tell me you don't miss her. Hell, I kinda miss Kamila,
and you know what she did. And what I did!” She chuckled at it
all. “Jeez, that's messed up.”
leaned back, unsure how to respond. He wished she hadn't brought
up Kamila or Marie. As far as he was concerned, the matter was
over. He and Kathryn had done what they had to and reminiscing
about the good times with their victims didn't help.
Carefully, he said, “I guess after what the last one put us
through, I'm not sure if I want another girlfriend right now.”
not really fair to Marie, but...” Kathryn looked to her right,
catching Renee staring back at them. Busted, Renee turned away.
“...I guess I can understand that.”
Shrugging, Kathryn added, “At least Claude's gone. You can go
get her whenever you want.”
nodded. That was good to know at least. “Speaking of Claude
being gone, have you noticed that they've been serving different
stuff for lunch since everything went down?”
looked down at her tray. Several of the sections were still full
of food, namely the odd red balls of bread that was allegedly
the main course. “Yeah. I heard that with nobody supervising,
the cooks threw in a bunch of home recipes and stuff they wanted
to try out. I thought the food got better, so I wasn't
complaining.” She poked at one of the balls with her fork and
had trouble removing it. “But I thought it said we were having
plain old tacos today.” She picked it up and stared at it. “The
hell is this?”
kinda tastes like fish, but doesn't feel like fish. Just a
stood up and checked a menu on the wall. He returned and
'yucky' I'll buy, but it still isn't a taco.”
was spelled with a 'k.'” Troy took another bite. “It might be
narrowed her eyes. “Like Japanese maybe?”
Frowning, Kathryn peered over at Molly. Less than a week in and
the new president was already throwing her weight around. “You
know, maybe we need to have a word with our new administration.”
disposed of her lunch, Kathryn headed for the student council
office. She didn't oppose the idea of having Yuki in charge. It
was certainly better than any alternative. But not if she was
going to pull the same abuses as Molly. This early in the term,
Kathryn knew she had the chance to keep Yuki under control.
today, however, as the office was closed and locked. This was a
little jarring: it had always seemed like either Molly or Claude
were inside when they were in charge. Not that the doors were
always open, but at least the lights were on.
Kathryn found Molly eating with Renee. “Hey, where's the prez?”
class,” Molly replied. “New concept she's bringing to the
student council president being a student? That made sense,
except for one thing: “She doesn't have class now. She always
ate with us.”
smirked. “Yuki changed her schedule so that she has class
throughout everybody's lunch periods. The office hours she
promised are when everybody's in class. Thus, she doesn't have
to listen to nearly as many kids.” She turned to Kathryn. “Her
idea. Wish I'd thought of it.”
never listened to anyone anyway,” Renee pointed out.
her sister, Molly asked, “Did you need her for something?”
frowned. “Yeah, what's up with the menu? Isn't it a bit early
for her to start pulling crap like this?”
love takoyaki!” Renee replied.
didn't seem concerned. “Yuki wanted to introduce a little ethnic
cuisine into the menu. It's not like she's blacklisting
you use to do that?” Kathryn asked.
“Perhaps,” Molly said unabashedly. “I don't remember.”
anyway, it sucks that she changed her schedule like that” After
looking around, Kathryn ducked into the empty chair next to
Renee. “I miss hanging out.”
your table,” Renee said, nodding. “Looks pretty empty now.”
held back a grin. “It's what happens when you hang out with a
pair of demons.”
wasn't amused. “We didn't know they were demons. They sure
didn't act like it.” Backtracking, she said, “Well, Kamila,
maybe, but how were we to know?”
“Nobody's blaming you for it. Besides, unless you or Monroe told
them anything about the MST... and that would be bad even if
they were civilians...” Molly shrugged. “...I doubt they learned
much through socializing anyway.”
furrowed her eyebrows. “Wait, you don't think being our friends
“Personality traits, perhaps. Your physical and mental states,
maybe. And perhaps they may have thought that befriending you
would make it harder to fight them. Other than that, any
information could be gathered without you being aware of their
leaned forward. “So you're saying Marie actually liked Troy?
That she wasn't faking it or anything?”
nodded. “She was only lying to Monroe to the extent that he was
lying to her. And the consequences of being caught were far more
knew he was in the MST. Had he accidentally told her, he would
have received a scolding, but we would have taken her in for
recalibration, almost certainly exposing her. Had she told him
she was a demon... we wouldn't have been so lenient. I doubt
they asked too many questions about you two disappearing for
your academy trips.”
other than sizing us up and hoping we might not kill them in a
fight, they really liked us and wanted to hang out with us?”
Molly gestured to Kathryn. “Especially since the 'not killing
them in a fight' part didn't work out for one of them.”
shuddered. That seemed like a low blow.
“Although Troy let Marie go when they ran into each other,”
suppose,” Molly said, flippant. She noticed that Kathryn had
gotten very quiet. “Something wrong?”
shook her head. “You know, it's weird. With Kamila, I keep
trying to convince myself that she was pure evil. That she only
got close to us so she could turn on us later. It helps me live
with the fact that I killed her.” She looked up, straight into
Molly's eyes. “But for some reason, it's different with Marie. I
don't want to think of her as a demon. I want to think that
everything she had with me and Troy was for real. I can't stand
thinking that it was all a setup.”
faint smile, Renee answered, “It wasn't.” Kathryn looked over.
Renee put a hand on her shoulder. “It's true about both of them.
I didn't like Kamila much even before she turned on us. And
Marie... she didn't want any of this. She really did care about
you guys. In the end, I think she even started to care about
me.” Chuckling, she added, “Which is something when you think
Kathryn started to nod. “I guess I can live with that. You
should tell that to Troy.”
not,” Molly mumbled.
already did.” Renee turned to his table, but he wasn't there.
She frowned. “I don't know. For some reason, he didn't seem to
better not be the new administration,” said Troy, startling
looked up and chuckled. “Sorry, got caught up talking about
other crap. I'll have to chat with Yuki after school or
something. Hope she's not too busy for us then.”
meantime, maybe you two should sit with us!” Renee suggested.
her eyebrows, Kathryn said, “Actually, that's not a bad-”
said both Troy and Molly, equally firm.
ended that conversation. Troy, Kathryn and Renee headed back to
class. Rather than kill time at the student council bunker,
Molly went straight home. She had plenty of socializing for one
weeks ago, Donovan had joined a band of rebels in order to
invade an enemy territory against orders from their superiors.
He was, at least in his opinion, the big hero. After all, in the
process of their attack, he avenged two lost comrades in
brilliant fashion, eliminating his opponent just as his defenses
framed that way, it sounded remarkably awesome. The best part
was that it was indisputable truth. There had been witnesses to
his heroics: Giles and Meg seemed to respect him immensely and
wondered why none of his teammates did.
later, he survived another trial with his memory intact. What
fools would dare punish his after all his brave deeds? Once
again, while the rest of room 202 mourned the light scolding
they received, the other units were there to celebrate. Donovan
joined in eagerly. He did not celebrate often, but with
generations soon to learn of his bravery through the epic poem
that would inevitably be written about the deed, it was worthy
of a cheer.
sank in soon afterward. Back in L. B. Gould, the only ones who
knew what he had done didn't care. His legend hadn't spread the
way he had hoped. There was no epic poem in the works. Nobody
wrote epic poems anymore and Bryce's first draft lacked a
usual persona was ignored. The chaos from the council wars
overshadowed the chaos Donovan tried to instill on a daily
basis. By the time the dust had settled and the school had put
an underage foreigner in charge, Donovan just didn't seem so
weird anymore. He was part of the establishment, and not even a
respected one. In the beginning, he was the weird kid everyone
tried to stay away from. Now he was just another kid everyone
the return of a normal class schedule, Donovan continued to
ignore it. He felt no desire to resume normality. Sometimes he
would attend class, sometimes he would skip. Other times, he'd
go to the wrong class or leave one halfway through. Anything to
be unpredictable. He needed to be unpredictable.
in science class, he enjoyed dissecting an earthworm. The
problem was that it was a chemistry class and he was supposed to
be finding the boiling points of various liquids. Donovan
glowered, boiled the earthworm, and walked out of the lab.
headed back to the dark room, although even it was no longer
able to occupy him the way it had before. His triumphs had been
so grand that it was no longer an adequate escape from the
loathsome realities he was left to deal with. Still, he opened
the door, hoping something inside would be able to turn things
bulged as he heard a distinct voice calling his name. Yet the
room was empty. Donovan shut the door, summoned a light ball and
looked around the room. The voice was a high, crackly tenor. It
didn't seem human. Therefore Donovan investigated the floor
carefully. Perhaps one of his old failed chimera experiments had
gained sentience, netting him a nice evil familiar.
voice said, “You are alone.”
yourself!” Donovan shouted. Nothing replied. He couldn't sense
anything else in the room- human, animal or demon. That was the
problem: the place felt lifeless.
Donovan gave up and sat down. It was likely all in his head, a
product of his need for something different. Perhaps he wouldn't
have been so startled if it hadn't been for the timing.
as he had loathed Kendrick, Donovan couldn't help but dwell on
his departure, especially in moments like these. The opportunity
Kendrick had always presented was never a strong one. The Hokoni
faction was stuffy, conservative and too elitist for Donovan to
feel comfortable. In fact, none of the five factions Donovan had
been exposed to met his lofty standards for evil. That and hope
of recovering the grimoire were the only reasons Donovan
remained loyal to the MST.
same time, Kendrick's presence alone had implied a sense of
rebellion. He kept the MST on their toes and made it clear that
Donovan was not an automaton, always assessing his options and
choosing the one most beneficial to him. Whether it had any
impact on the MST's decision-making, at least Donovan could
enjoy messing with them and instilling doubts about his loyalty.
gone now, and Donovan was stuck with less happy thoughts such as
everyone's complete ignorance of Kendrick's sacrifice. He never
told Troy or Kathryn about it, as that would have implied that
he needed help to escape. They could never have the satisfaction
of knowing that. But during their layover in Indiana, they
frequently discussed their former companions with a sense of
shock that their seemingly decent friends could be demons.
came back to their first impression of a demon, and how Kendrick
was the model of pure evil. Any demon that proved to be
otherwise was startling. Was Kendrick's alignment in doubt as
well? Perhaps not, as Donovan knew Kendrick's actions were
purely for some selfish purpose. Still, it complicated things,
and made Donovan wonder how evil any of the factions really
were. It disappointed him: if you were going to choose a path of
evil, why not go all in?
reminders of the Hageshoni attack were still all around him.
Blaine and Bryce had cleaned up most of the damage, but Donovan
lost most of what made the dark room the dark room. It was
sparse and unfamiliar now. And the big mark that had powered Sho
and Kamila still left a shadow on the wall. That was gone too,
and without them or Kendrick around, he knew it could be a long
time before he encountered a demon again.
wait for hell?” he heard the strange voice again. “Make it
looked around again, but saw nothing. Again, he dismissed it as
another voice in his head and hoped it would go away. He wanted
to stew in peace.