Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter Eleven

Saving the Cult (If not the World) "It's time." Manfield Lee knew he was good at sounding authoritative even when he didn't know what he was talking about - he'd turned a fortune into a megafortune doing just that, after all, not to mention running the Organization - but right now, he DID know what he was talking about. After all, it was just a date, wasn't it? And if the date turned out to be wrong, well, then he knew exactly what to blame it on, and that blame would fall on the scholars and the psychics, not on him. The other thing Manfield Lee knew how to do was to place the blame in very specific ways that were not him.

“-Might have noticed how you didn’t fall to your doom.”

Ethan was the best at being menacing; Jackson was the best at being logically charming, and somewhere in between the two of them, Dylan smiled at people and they seemed to agree with him. 

There were five of them Jackson had noticed, and they were starting with the three that might need the most convincing, as far as he was convinced – one of those had been almost all the way to Lina when the shield caught him, so he might have thought that he’d have been fine, discounting the huge crowd of people that were also clawing towards him. 

They’d let Dylan have him, Jackson convince the one who seemed to know nearly as much about the Organization as he did, and then aimed Ethan at a creepy woman who declared that she owed nothing to anyone, ever. 

Lina – watched.  Truth be told, she took mental notes, too.  She had some idea how to handle people, from school, from bullies, from watching her parents, but watching the three of them work was a completely different matter. If all three of them weren’t so sure that they didn’t have magical powers, she’d have – given what she knew now – suspected some sort of magical charm going on with all of them.  They just headed in to what they were doing and came out the other end with a smile and the response they wanted. 

This one was being a little bit more difficult, though.  The woman – Lina was pretty sure she was a state-level politician, but she was wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt and her hair was in a ponytail, which took her so far from the polished look on TV that she was almost a different person – was very adamant that she was not going to agree to anything.

“I’ve noticed I’m standing up on my own two feet,” the woman agreed. 

“And you might have noticed the force-shield that kept you from falling down.”  Ethan took a step forward as if to suggest that he could show the woman falling

Dylan took over.  “Which is to say, our friend here caught you when you were halfway off a cliff.”

The woman smiled at them with such sharpness Lina half expected her to have fangs. “It’s a lovely story, but I’m afraid that’s all it is.  Your friend is a very nice girl, I’m sure, but that’s all this is, a few boys trying to impress a nice girl.”

Jackson cleared his throat. “Ma’am, this nice girl here, Catalina Bosch, she’s the one that impressed us.  I can assure you, that’s what we’re doing, telling you exactly how impressive this nice girl is.”

The woman had looked up at her name – her last name, of course.  Lina smiled back at her, not a I-might-have-fangs sort of expression but more like Hello, I’m your friendly Neighborhood ForceField.

She had no idea how well she pulled that off, since it wasn’t an expression she’d ever had call to use before, but the woman was looking at her now. 

“I don’t see any forcefields.”

“Well,” Lina pointed out reasonably, “nobody’s falling off a cliff now, or trying to rip each other to shreds.”  She looked the woman straight in the face as she said it. “So right now there’s no need for my force-shields, Senator.”

The woman blanched.   Lina made an effort not to smile more.  “This is – ah. Ripping people to shreds, you say?”

“People seemed really violent,” Lina explained innocently.  “I was worried they were going to hurt each other. You know, now that I know what magic can do – at least a little bit of it – I wonder if someone was trying to start a riot?”

Dylan made the smallest noise to the side of her.  She wondered exactly what that was about. But the state senator pursed her lips. 

“You think you saved my life.”

“I know I saved your skin.”  Lina didn’t flinch back, even though she wanted to.  “I know I saved you from throwing someone else off the cliff.  And that was probably an accident and it was obvious that you weren’t in your right mind, but I am absolutely certain I saved you from manslaughter.  So yes, Senator. I saved your career.”

“You know-” Dylan began. 

“Later,” Jackson cut him off forcefully. 

The Senator looked between the four of them slowly. “What you’re asking isn’t small, and you’re just a kid.”

“I know.”  Lina kept looking at her.  “The way I hear it, what’s coming isn’t small.  And I’m just a kid,” she echoed back at the woman.  She wouldn’t normally put up with it. She wouldn’t normally agree with it.  But right now — right now it seemed like she needed to lean on everything she had.  “And you – you’re an adult, you’re part of the Organization, you’re strong. I’m sure you’re strong.  Everyone here is. Powerful, influential, rich-“

“Who did you say your parents were again?”

“I didn’t.  I said I was Catalina, and I saved your skin and your career.  Nice to meet you, Senator Feingold.” She sketched a half-bow in a sarcastic gesture she’d picked up from her father. 

Apparently, her father used that gesture more than she knew.  The woman blanched a little. “Ooh. And your father-“

“Isn’t involved in this.  Neither’s my mother.” She should really find out if they were okay, though. 

“Interesting.  If you’d told me that he was -“

“She’d just be throwing her dad’s weight around.  And the whole point of this exercise is her throwing – well, other people’s weight around, but only literally,” Dylan put in.  “She’s saving lives.”

“You know,” Jackson cut in, “the Creed is very clear on this.”  He sounded like he was musing, thinking about something, rather than threatening the woman.  “A life saved is worth a life. It’s even in the oath. I haven’t sworn them yet, but I read them all.  Knowing what you’re getting into and all. Now, I suppose you could argue that since we haven’t sworn the oaths, we don’t count, but that’s – well, it’s rather petty.”  He smiled. It was a sort of expression Lina hoped he never aimed at her. “And I don’t think you’re petty, Senator.”

It was a weird argument, but it was the one that got the woman to kneel.  “If word of this gets out—”

“I think right now, word getting out is the least of anyone’s worries,” Jackson told her. 

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