“Are we?” Ethan had stalled again, no matter how many times that Lina tried to get them moving. “Are we part of the Organization?”
He was, Lina realized, asking her. “I’m the one that just found out about this thing a couple days ago,” she reminded them. “I’m not sure you should be talking to me about it.”
“You’re the one in charge,” Dylan countered. “There’s nobody else we can ask. Are you part of the Organization?”
“The question is more, do you want to run the Organization?” At least Jackson pitched his voice quietly.
“Kids!” A new voice called out, somewhere behind them.
They didn’t have time for this. Did they? Lina looked at Jackson; he mouthed “Interruption two.”
“I’m sorry,” she called, without turning around to see who it was. Not her mom or dad, she knew that much. Not Dylan’s dad and not Ethan’s aunts. “We’ve got to be somewhere urgently.”
“No, you don’t.” That was a second voice, and she still didn’t turn around. “You’re children, and you need to be in the children’s lessons up in the grotto. I don’t know where you think you’re going, but you’re definitely going the wrong way.”
Lina stifled a groan. Slowly, she turned around. She was being faced by a man and a woman who looked way too wholesome to be part of the Organization. Khaki. Polo shirts. Help. “We might be kids,” she allowed, “but we are not children. And school isn’t in session right now; it’s summer. There’s no place we need to be for lessons and the only place we’re heading right now is to the power plant.”
“The power plant!’ The woman put her hand over her mouth. “You can’t go there! It’s dangerous! Children shouldn’t be anywhere near there. And you, young lady, with your smart mouth and your bad attitude, you need to be in lessons more than most. Mr. Lee has declared that all legal minors are going to be in children’s lessons starting this morning.”
Ethan narrowed his eyes. “Did Mr. Lee say that, or did the Mizzes Wallace?”
“They speak for Mr. Lee, what does it matter who said it?”
Lina looked them over and glanced at her — her friends. It sounded better than minions, even if it was a bit of a questionable appellation. “I’m sorry,” she told the two adults very politely, “but we don’t have time for this, and I’m sorry again, but I do not have a bad attitude. What I have is an urgent, pressing need to hear a specific prophecy again while we walk down to the power plant. Because someone has been called upon to stop this thing, yes?”
They both faltered. The man caught himself first. “Yes, of course. The prophecies. But that has nothing to do with you, miss.”
“I’m sure you can believe that if you’d like to.” She turned her back on them. “Jackson. Could you remind them…?”
“Which one?” He started walking with her as she began to move in a casual but determined way towards the exit.
“You can’t just walk away like that, young lady! Young men! That’s not allowed by the rules of the Organization, and your parents will hear about this!”
They were coming after them. Lina rolled her eyes as Jackson began reciting in what she thought was Greek. She didn’t follow it, but she could pick up a scansion pattern and repetition well enough. She picked up on the second set of repetitions and turned around to quote it at the people still yelling at them.
As the man grabbed for her shoulder, she threw up her shield. It was getting easier and easier to do that, just fling up her magic at a moment’s notice.
Which was good, considering she was planning on trying to save the city with that power in a very short amount of time.
The man swore as he hit the shield. “What-?”
Now Jackson turned around, his expression incredulous. “You seriously hadn’t heard?”
“Well, rumors, but there’ve been ridiculous rumors all over the place. Everyone’s trapped here and people are getting restless.”
“Rioting counts as restless, yeah.” Dylan turned around too. “People nearly died. I’d say that counts as restless.“
The woman reached out for Ethan’s shoulder and was rebuffed. She glared at the shield. “You can’t-“
“That wasn’t a riot,” scoffed the man, right over her. “We were there for the speech, and people got a little worked up, but we talked to Mr. Lee – I mean, sure, we don’t want to be stuck here, but it’s for a good cause.”
Lina stared at them for a heartbeat. “You were there. People were screaming and stomping on other people-” she gestured at the bruises Dylan and Ethan still sported. “People nearly died.”
“Well, that’s convenient for you to say, isn’t it?” The woman frowned. “Wait.” She shook her head. “You kids, you have to come to the mandatory education.”
“Someone’s scrambled her brains.” Ethan frowned. “I don’t think Dylan’s dad… shit. We need to go.”
Lina took him at his word. She looked straight at the man until she was sure he was paying attention to her. “I suggest you go meditate somewhere quiet and alone. It’s good for reaching for peace. I’d say the far campground, there’s a nice place there where nobody’s camped.” She looked at the man. “Take her there now. Meditate in silence for at least two hours, but do it on the other side of the hill. It’s a really good idea, I promise you.”
Something in her voice got to him; he nodded and took the woman’s arm. Both of them were still frowning, but they headed down the side path. Interruption two dealt with.Want more?