Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter Twenty-Eight

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.

I just want to, you know—

Save the world?

“Um.”  Lina cleared her throat.  “Something like that, yeah, I guess.  I mean, the city?”  She shrugged.  Someone grabbed her shoulder; she pressed them away with a shield and turned to glance.  “Mrs. Thomson?”  She was staring at her English Lit teacher from junior year.  “I didn’t know you were part of the Organization.”

“Catalina, you need to go to the training session.  You’re such a good student; why are you doing this?”  

Not her.  This was straight out of one of her weirder nightmares.  Lina was going to scream.  She was going to start throwing things. 

She didn’t have the time or luxury to do that. 

She took a few deep breaths and tried logic instead. 

“Mrs. Thompson, someone is doing something to your mind.”

“Catalina!  I don’t have time for joking, and neither do you.  You need to go to the training session now.  You’re going to be late.”

“Someone has told you that, yeah,” Lina plowed on.  Damnit, she liked Mrs. Thompson.  “They’re whispering little worms of rumors into you, like that story we read, and you need to get them out of your head.”  She didn’t stop walking.  She didn’t dare stop walking.  Her teacher was walking alongside her, reaching out and bouncing against the shield over and over again.   “I’m just heading down to the power plant, because it’s going to explode again, or at least that’s what they say down there.  I need help stopping the explosion.  I need all the power behind me I can get.  I need to stand firm, you know? I need to stare down into the face of death here and tell it not today.”

She was pulling up every bit she remembered from last year’s English class and, finally, Mrs. Thompson made a face.

“It’s not not today, Catalina.  Lina.  You’re getting your works conflated again.”

Lina smiled.  “Then maybe we’re going to rage against the dying of the light, ma’am?”

She let herself breathe as Mrs. Thompson smiled back at her.  It looked more like her real expression “That sounds lovely, yes.  Although the training — no.”  She shook her head roughly.  “You need help, you say?”

“Jackson? Can you…?”

“Hi, Mrs. Thompson, I’m Jackson, Jade Doherty’s son, and I’m Lina’s expert on the prophecies.”  Jackson chuckled self-deprecatingly at himself.  “Or at least I’m what she’s got.  When she stopped the first wave of, ah, we’re not sure.  Explosion of some sort from the power plant, and before that when she broke up the mob at the grotto, what Lina did was pull on the power of those who had acknowledged their debt to her, and a few, like me, who did a lighter bond.”  He tapped his forehead.  “The deeper bond, the one from the life-debt, is in the Felicitas. Not everyone can do what Lina does – but it’s a matter of pulling some of the magical energy from people she’s bonded to.”

Mrs. Thompson pursed her lips.  “You stopped the first wave of – emission – from the power plant, Catalina?”

“I did.  With their help, yeah, I did.  My force fields.”

“Then you saved all of our lives already, didn’t you? By a certain way of looking at things. Hrm.  But the lighter bond, Jackson…?”

“I can walk you through that one as we walk, ma’am.  It’s not a bond, per se, but you need to have a connection of some sort to the person that you’re signing up with.  Ah.”  He cleared his throat.  “Obviously not much of a connection, as I met Lina here just a couple days ago-“

“Dude,”  Dylan shook his head.  “Dude, you have obviously never heard the phrase summer romance.  You met her at camp, you fought the villains together – that’s us,” he added, clearing his throat “-then you had a bigger battle and then the boss fight.  This is something between a team-up, a summer romance, and a video game, and either way, time doesn’t matter.”

Ethan sniggered.  “Man has a point.”  They were moving more or less unimpeded at the moment, ignoring the people who kept shouting out kids! and you can’t leave the campground and other, less savory things. 

“Not in front of my teacher, guys,” Lina complained.  “Anyway, I’d say one of my favorite teachers counts as a bond. ”  She looked around  – people seemed to be wary of her shield and those that hadn’t decided to go off and meditate were giving them a few yards of space, at least.  “Mrs. Thompson, are you sure you’re feeling all right?  It’s just, not that many minutes ago, you were telling me the same thing these zombies were, and now you’re trying to sign on to be, uh-“

“Your Obi-Wan, without the gruesome death,” Ethan offered. 

“Nah, nah, she’s totally Yoda.”

“Yoda is green, short, and ugly, this lady is-” Ethan fell quiet.  “Ahem.”

“Something like that,” Lina sighed.  “So… So, Mrs. Thompson, you’re offering to — to do something I don’t quite understand yet, and — less importantly but more, um, more relevantly? You’re not telling me to go back to the training group.”

“The thing about mind control,” Mrs. Thompson explained, far too casually – she sounded like she was describing the narrative tactics in The Great Gatsby – “is that unless one is going to be one of the really creepy ones, the ones who get put down pretty quickly, to be honest, any reminder that one is acting completely out of character can shake the control.  It helps if the person reminding you knows you well enough to point you in that direction, of course.”

“Of course.”  Lina thanked whoever might be listening that she’d paid attention in English.

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2 thoughts on “Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter Twenty-Eight

  1. Another possibly-helpful adult? You’re breaking “teenagers stuck saving the world” conventions willy-nilly! 🙂 Maybe this one will stick around long enough to provide some magic theory basics …

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