T.C. Calhoun, teen hero, shopper extraordinaire, sometimes blonde, stood by the bedside of Rory Hartlan. She frowned, and removed the Pendragon Mask. She muttered an incantation, looked to the mask, sighed, then enunciated the incantation. The mask shrunk and she attached it to the lapel of her leather jacket.
“What did he say?” A deep grumbling voice spoke behind her. TC knew not to jump when her mentor had done this. He had a habit of moving very silently.
“To call his therapist.”
“How did he set the bomb off?”
“Dice. Like he was playing craps. Sensei, he took the bomb inside of himself.”
“Clever. To take the form of another, like water. It changes when you put it into another form.”
TC grinned, “With Rory, more like whiskey.”
TC waved a hand across her face, the small spell placed a glamour, replacing her elfin features to the red and blue face mask of the Pendragon.
“Detective Goodstone.” Sensei spoke in acknowledgement. Small hands stroked the wiry beard. “You come with bad news.”
“Mayor says we will have to move him out of the city. Some of the environmental groups say he should be sent out to the Wild Zone or the Dump. Effectively he is no longer a registered power. Legally, Hartlan is a bomb.”
“Not unless he explodes.” TC spoke quietly. “What is a bomb if it doesn’t explode? That’s what he said when one of the other Magii challenged him.”
Goodstone blinked, “Just parts.”
“And that is what is stopping you from finding them in time. You are looking for a bomb. That does not exist.” Sensei spoke, then grunted as he sat down in the bedside chair. “You must think larger Detective.”
“Parts. That makes sense.” Goodstone nodded, then walked over to the bed. “Slinger, you are up to finding the next one.”
“What? Totally me? I’m not a terrorist hunter.” She exclaimed in perfect teenage tone. “Gimme a giant monster or zombie kung-fu clan any day. I can’t do this!”
Goodstone looked at her deadpan, “I can talk to people, see how this will take off more than half of the ‘community service’ hours that you owe from destruction of property. The other registered Magii are spooked on this, they aren’t saying anything on this.”
“The Hartlan has scared them again. He appears to be a drunk. He appears to be a scoundrel. A base Magii with nothing more than a bag full of tricks. But all along. They only know that his influence and clerverness, not his power, is greater than anyone can realize.” Sensei looked to the bed. “When the Magii withdraw, they know that greater trials lay ahead, some that cannot handle that burden.”
“Okay, like totally Fate did not have to do with it. I didn’t get my wonky sense. I can help, like when you need someone to punch the bitch in the face.” TC said, nodding emphatically. Her pixie cut hair flopping around.
Sensei and Goodstone looked at her, “Bitch?”
“Yeah, as in female dog. You think a guy would be blowing up a fertility clinic? A-Kay-A as a sperm bank? That’s the closest and largest department to where the bomb was. Odds are in favor it’s a woman.”
Goodstone brought up his communicator, “Vegas, the bomber is female. What are we looking at?”
“That improves the odds for us. But expands out the territory.” Goodstone’s communicator replied back.
“Slinger, you shall travel to the sanctum of the Goddess. Three labours you will perform, there you will converse and gain insight.” Sensei nodded in agreement to his own words. “After you finish cleaning the shop, make soup and finish your lessons.”
“You will.” Sensei barked. “There is much more to your potential than punching and kicking. You have yet to master that which will control you.”
“And the KCPD would appreciate the help on this too.” Goodstone put the hat back onto his head. “Sir, Slinger. We’ll have him transferred out within the hour. Any information, pass it back.”
The Detective left the room, and TC let the glamour slip from her face.
“Really Sensei? You are volunteering me to do this?”
“Those who run from challenges are not warriors. The city has brought us this peril. And you were the closest to Hartlan when he fell. So tell me Student, shall you take the cowardly way out? Forsake your bloodline and the weapons you have won by not only combat, but birthright?” Sensei stood up. “I want a juice box.”
“We’ll stop by the eatery before we head back to the shop.” TC steadied the old man, he took her elbow to settle himself. “You can buy me a muffin.”
“Tell me Student, what was it like near the bomb?”
TC placed the Pendragon mask onto her face. “It was, in flux. Parts of different worlds were there. I tasted something, it was meaty and bloody. With ketchup. I liked it, even though it wasn’t my mouth. It was so familiar, yet-”
“Yes, yes, you do not eat meat.”
“Not for like a dozen years now. I think it was a hamburger.” TC turned to look to Sensei. “And just for a moment, I was a small boy.”
Sensei stopped the pair of them, looked to Slinger, then back to the hallway. “You experienced something that was not you. But as you did have it, it became you. So who was it that time and experince originally belong?”
“Your grammar is falling apart.”
“You are one to talk Student. Let us get the monorail, I must feel the city from above.”
“Sh-yeah, you are just hoping some of the gangs’ll be there. So you can put them in their place. Which is a phrase I’ve never understood, isn’t their place where they are currently standing?”
“Shh! Less talking, more walking. Juice box is essential for my chi.”
TC stood on the beachline, drawing in the sand with the end of her pike. She clutched and fumbled at the toga, then sighing, tied it tighter. She was grateful that it was a calm evening patrol and the Captain would not be as judgemental at the state of her dress. She being supplicant to the labours of the Goddess, had it’s few advantages.
Time being the most important. Actual time passing back in King City, about 20 minutes.
On the island? One week. It gave her time to go through the labours, time to think things over.
She kept drawing out the structure and shape of the city, the locations that she memorized. Seeing if there was a common pattern, a picture, a route or direction from the explosions.
But there wasn’t.
“Okay TC, you really need to get it together here. Outside view, what would Rory do?” She muttered to herself. “Get drunk, say something witty and insightful, save the day, drink whiskey, dance with fairies, and repeat.”
“Supplicant.” Another patrol approached and TC sighed, she obviously took too long and was behind in her area coverage. Looking back down the beach at the drawings in the sand, some where already being erased from the incoming tide.
“Captains.” TC nodded then looked guiltily to the drawing.
“There are things on your mind. Which distract you from your duties. The green one that fell. This man, of the Heartland protectors-”
The idea snapped in TC’s mind. Protectors. Containing the blast.
“Fairies.” She planted the pike into the sand. “I’m not a little boy.”
The Captains looked to each other, concerned. They knew that some of the Outer Worlds had peculiar ways.
“That was Rory. As a child. Right before he arrived, I was … him. As a boy, playing on the coastline. That smell of sea…” TC looked to them. “Permission to complete the challenge at a later date, I must return to the City. I figured out what the parts of the bomb are. And I can save the Heartland protector.”
The Captains nodded. TC ran off sprinting. Then stopped, ran back to the Captains, saluted, grabbed the pike and then headed to the columned house atop the cliff.