Ethan glared at Lina and Jackson. “I mean it. Stop beating yourself up. We slept, yeah, and now – this time.” He took a deep breath. “This time, we know what we’re going into, and we can call a taxi, rent a limo if we have to, and we won’t need as much sleep, because we won’t have just stopped that riot and then the end of the world. Just the end of the world,” he added, trailing off on that happy note. Continue reading
They walked away from Mr. Lee, from the remaining people that seemed more confused than anything else. She didn’t know if it was a victory, but it was – well, it was a clear path at the moment.
“So.” Jackson cleared his throat. “So, something of an adviser role puts us in a position where we aren’t immediately submissive to Lina – sorry, guys-”
“She saved our lives.” Dylan shrugged jerkily. “It’s a price to pay, that’s all.”
She noticed he didn’t say small price but then again, it wasn’t. Continue reading
Mrs. Thompson cleared her throat. “Now, mind control aside, I’m beginning to wonder a number of things about the leaders of our organization – not offense, young men, considering who your families are -” She nodded at Dylan and Ethan.
“None taken,” Dylan muttered. “You’re probably right.”
“Besides,” Ethan put in cheerfully, “Lina here saved our asses. Lives. Sorry. Twice, maybe three times already. So loyalty…” He shrugged eloquently.
“Loyalty is, uh, with the person – people – who value us,” Dylan filled in very softly. “I think I hear my dad ahead, though, so maybe we talk about loyalty some time when it won’t get me disowned?” Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Had Jackson planned for this much interruption? She didn’t want to wait to find out.
Lina had lost physical contact with her team while she dealt with — with whatever that was. She grabbed for the nearest hands – Dylan and Jackson – turned, pulled a shield over them, and hurried down the path towards the exit.
She counted to a hundred in her head, all of them walking the fastest they could manage, before she asked Ethan “Why?” She hoped he could follow the rest of the question, because she wasn’t sure she could vocalize it, especially since he hadn’t vocalized much of what she was asking about.
“Because I thought – I had suspicions about my aunts – but I always told myself people were just really into the Organization. But if they can – that’s not what Dylan’s dad does. I mean, it’s close – Sorry, Dylan-“ Continue reading
“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.
Lina hoped her perky little put-off would work on the terrifying old women. She needed it to work, Jackson’s scheduled-in interruptions or not. It had to work.
Of course, it didn’t. Ethan’s aunts were not going to let her get away with being friendly, chipper, and innocent. Which was a pity, because she more or less was all three of those things.
“Don’t even bother.” The left-hand aunt really wanted to frown, but her face wasn’t moving in that direction at the moment. “You can save that shit for the credulous masses.”
“I will then, thank you.” She turned her back on them. “Come on, Ethan. We’ve got a deadline.” Continue reading
“Lina. Lina, if you want a shower before you save the world, you should get up now. Did you know your mother’s power includes a back room to a tent with a full bath?”
Lina blinked up at Jackson and stifled a yawn. “Shower,” she agreed. “Clothes?”
“Your mom brought some, here.” He handed her a pile of clothes. She stared at them blearily for a moment before blinking a couple times. “They’re… These are clothes I like.”
“I negotiated a couple times. The rest of us’ve been up for almost an hour,” he added. “You’ve still got time to shower and eat a good breakfast and stuff, but you have to get up now.”
“Getting up, getting up,” she muttered, and followed action to words and got up. “So I’m going to save the world dressed like a high school student. Instead of…” She had been confused when her mother had insisted on her bringing a couple of her “job interview and internship” outfits camping, but she could bet —
“Skirt suit with power pumps. Kept the necklace, though; and it’s high school professional student, you have to admit. Not ripped jeans and a band t-shirt.”
“The only band t-shirt I own I won in a bet from another kid who stole it from a concert. I mean, do you—?”
“A couple,” he admitted. “So it’s all high school professional?” Continue reading
Silence reigned in the campsite. Lina looked at her mother. She looked at Jackson. She looked back at Mr. Lee.
Finally, Mr. Lee huffed.
“I do,” he muttered. He turned to look at Lina straight on. “You are certain you stopped the first wave? And you are sure there will be more and you can stop them?”
“The power plant-” Jackson began. Lina caught his hand and squeezed it and he stopped.
“I am certain I stopped the first wave. I’m as sure as I can be that I can stop the subsequent waves with enough back-up. My shields will hold. I just need enough power to channel into them.”
“You were supposed to be a greybearded man,” Mr. Lee muttered. “Someone with decades of practice behind them.”
“Sorry to inconvenience you?” She raised her eyebrows at him. “This is me.” Continue reading
Lina laughed in the face of the Organization’s leader, making him take a step backwards.
“That’s really impressive.” She grinned at him, because magic was real. “I mean it. How many people know?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Araceli, how did you raise such a rude child?”
“I don’t think she’s rude at all, Manfield. I do believe that she has a valid question. How many people do know?”
“Do you have any idea what she’s talking about, because I certainly do not.” He huffed a little bit, but Lina could feel the way his power was pushing at her, trying to get her to shut up and to submit, to agree to everything he wanted. Continue reading