Twinned Thought, A Building Faith Sequel

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Twinned Thought, A Building Faith Sequel

Postby Sailor Sedai (Ellf) » Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:07 pm

Building Faith, my Dresden Files SI is one that has been posted on both Spacebattles and SufficientVelocity, is getting a sequel series now that the girls are no longer minors.

Twinned Thought tells the continuing story of Faith and Molly Carpenter as they live and breathe within the world of the Dresden Files. Officially, it starts with the story Under Water, but I'm giving you all a preview with "Boom Camp" and "Field Trips" to link the fic to its origins.


Boom Camp


Chapter One

******************************

“No, absolutely not. This is a serious training camp, Dresden, not a carnival.”

“But Captain, it’s a boomtown, where we’re training young Wardens in how to use their evocation effectively,” Harry said. He was talking to Captain Luccio about what to call this Warden training camp in general. He and Warden Ramirez had what Fai and I felt was an awesome idea, but he was getting shot down. “Camp Kaboom would be a perfect way to sum up what we’re doing here.”

“I said no, Dresden,” Captain Luccio said, brushing her blonde hair out of her eyes a bit. From what my sister told me, she was supposed to be this old Italian woman that happened to get hit by someone called Corpsetaker. She got Freaky Friday’d with the body Corpsetaker was in, and then Harry killed the necromancer. With a gun. I still wasn’t sure how to feel about that, and judging from Captain Luccio’s looks toward him, she really wasn’t either. “Dios, you don’t want to set a bad example for your apprentices, do you?”

“Sometimes it helps to know what not to do, ma’am,” Faith said, cheekily looking between her and Harry. She had her blonde hair tied back in a tight braid, and I’d helped her get the red highlights into it so it looked like a single stripe of red wove itself down the tied off hair. She and I had been leaning against the wall nearby while Harry spoke with Luccio. Neither of us was entirely certain about this. The people brought here were training to be Wardens. They were practicing their evocation, something that I completely sucked at other than wind. Faith wasn’t much better. Except her lightning was something.

“Yeah, Harry’s a good influence even when he’s being a bad one.” I smiled at the woman before looking at our boss. The first thing one tends to notice about him is his height. He’s tall enough that he could be a basketball player, but he’s leaner than most would be. Today, his dark hair was actually trimmed short and slicked back. He wore jeans, a simple T-shirt with a logo I didn’t recognize, his black leather duster, and, oh yeah, a piece of gray fabric woven into a cloak. The Warden’s cloak indicated just why we were here. “He’s taught us well.”

“So I’d heard,” Captain Luccio said. “Warden Morgan was complimentary of what he’d seen in you.”

“Wait,” Harry said. “Morgan was complimentary? Of my training practices? Of me?”

“In his way,” Captain Luccio said. “He would be here himself, but he has other duties in Europe right now.”

“We understand,” Faith and I said in unison, bowing our heads slightly. “The war effort is important.”

“Which, of course, is why we’re here,” Harry said. “To get these baby Wardens ready for the front lines.” Harry grimaced. We could feel his frustration with what he had to do. Some of the Wardens in training here were younger than us, and we were barely over eighteen. To throw them up against Red Court vampires was something that just sat wrong with Harry. Wisely, neither my sister nor I brought up the fact that we’d faced down our first Red Court vampires at the tender age of fourteen.

Hey. Maybe we were getting the hang of this wizard thing, after all.

“Yes. Dresden, take your apprentices out to meet with the younger trainees and introduce yourselves,” Captain Luccio said. “I am sure that they will enjoy meeting with you. You’ll be able to get a good handle on who we’re going to be training here.”

“Of course, ma’am,” Harry said.

“And send in Warden Ramirez. I need to go over bits of his part of the curriculum with him,” Captain Luccio said. She then looked sharply at him, a brief hint of suspicion coupled with attraction flaring from her. I didn’t need my sister’s foresight to see where that’d likely lead. “And no, he won’t convince me that this camp should be called Camp Kaboom either.”

“I’ll let him know,” Harry said, stepping toward the door. “I’m sure he’ll be in shortly.”

My sister and I filed out the door after our mentor, and once we were a good half-block away from the saloon, I turned to Faith. “So, this is totally Camp Kaboom, right?”

She nodded with a grin. “We’ll have to let everyone know.” Then she frowned and a wave of uncertainty passed through her.

Harry glanced back at us. “Everything alright, grasshoppers?”

“Something’s bugging me about this,” Faith said.

“Memories?” I asked. See, my sister’s a bit on the special side. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but she was reincarnated. She occasionally had memories of what I’d call another version of our world that acted as almost precognitive visions, like Cassandra’s Tears yet not quite. Sure, they weren’t exactly what went on here, but they were close enough that it counted.

“Maybe,” Faith acknowledged. “Nothing specific, but it feels like there’s something I should be paying attention to.”

Harry looked to the side of Faith for a second and frowned as a small spike of concern passed through him. “Maybe try meditating on it later, Faith. In the meantime, we should probably do what Luccio wanted us to. She is the boss, after all.”

“Your boss, maybe,” Faith muttered with a roll of her eyes. Of course, the fact that she’s easy on the eyes has nothing to do with why he wants to make her happy.

Fai, she’s like two centuries old, I sent back. I loved having a mental bond with my twin sometimes. “And Harry’s our boss, Fai. We’re here to follow his lead.”

“And maybe get some better insights on how to not suck at evocation, I remember,” Fai said with a small smile. She wasn’t really all that annoyed with Harry anyway. She just didn’t like being away from Drew now that we’d reconnected properly with him. They still weren’t quite where they were before the incident that lost him his arm, but I could tell they’d be on the way soon enough.

“Come on, grasshoppers, there’s kiddos to meet and some other Wardens too.” Harry gestured for us to follow as he led us into the heart of the former mining town.

As Harry said, at one point, the town had been a boomtown. It was built up around a vein of copper that went dry about a year after they started mining. It was located pretty high in the mountains, maybe a hundred miles northwest of Albuquerque. We were the only human presence near here for miles. The only evidence of human activity were the remains of the town itself and the abandoned mine further up the mountain proper.

There were maybe forty-something kids in the middle of setting up tents in the middle of what had to be the remains of a church or something. As Faith and I passed the stone walls, there was just a presence that passed into us. The two of us hadn’t been great about going to church recently, but we still believed. It’s kind of hard to stop with our family. Daddy’s a Knight of the Cross, and Mom’s as devout as he is. We were raised in the religion. We had faith, and I had Faith, my twin. Yeah, I know it’s a bad pun.

“So, do we just pick an area and start setting up a tent then,” Faith asked.

“Yeah, you can do that. I’ve got an area for me and the other older Wardens,” Harry said as he looked around. Oh no, he wasn’t… He was, wasn’t he?

It’s Harry, Moll, what did you expect? Faith sent to me with a nudge of my side. Amusement filtered through my link to her, overriding the trepidation she’d been feeling up to this point. She knew Harry Dresden as well as I did, perhaps even better sometimes.

“Afternoon, everyone!” Harry could really raise his voice. Plus, with his height, he really could stand out when he wanted. Given that no energy was being gathered, I was pretty sure he wasn’t using any magic, but his voice carried throughout the hollowed-out church. The would-be Wardens stopped what they were doing and turned toward Harry, and the Wardens that helped set up their tents were paying attention too. A sense of awe passed over the crowd. This was Harry Dresden, the man who was worth admiration. Who, per Faith and his own admission later on, rode a freaking zombie dinosaur. That was something that I knew my sister still regretted missing. Seeing Harry and Butters the Polka Man on the back of a zombie T-Rex would have made me love the man even more. Harry, not Butters, I mean. He was worth paying attention to.

“You all know who I am already, I’m sure, but in case you don’t, I’m Harry Dresden. I’m the Regional Commander for Eastern North America, and though I’ll confess to not wanting the job in the first place, it’s mine, and I intend on doing it well. Part of that job includes coming here to this lovely camp in a former boomtown and training you. You all know why you need it.”

Harry managed to look a little sheepish, and a wave of guilt passed through our mentor. “There’s a war on. It’s been going on a while, and the Council’s taken heavy casualties. From all over. You all are the new recruits, the ones who need to take up the slack. You’re here because you have a talent for evocation. We’ll hone it. Make it better, and we’ll make it so that you don’t just end up a statistic. I look forward to working with all of you.”

A cacophony of emotion washed over the run-down church. Respect stood out as the common emotion between all of the would-be Wardens, but I could feel a bit of fear, anger, and mourning. These kids knew what was going on, what they were going to face, or at least they had some sort of idea. They’d been chosen for this training because of their skill. Fai and I had been chosen because we were training under Harry and had been since we were fourteen. Some of these kids looked to be barely out of grade school. Still, they understood. They’d be trained, and they’d be sent to fight Red Court vampires.

“And some of them will die,” Faith whispered, indicating she’d been thinking along the same lines as me. “It’s a war. People die.”

“We’ll be training them so it’s less likely, grasshopper,” Harry said. “You two too. We’ll see if we can’t get your evocation up to snuff before the camp’s done.”

“What, so we’ll make things explode good here at Camp Kaboom?” I asked as a small group of trainees approached us. Two of them, a boy and a girl, appeared related. The boy was shorter than the girl by a couple inches, and his red hair was cut short where she wore hers long and pulled back into a ponytail. They were dressed much like we were, in jeans and long-sleeved shirts appropriate for the weather. Of course, their tops were forest green, but Faith and I wore a nice sky blue. Around each of their necks was a pentacle necklace. On the girl’s right hand, she had a pair of inscribed rings, and on her brother’s left was a charm bracelet, likely a shield.

Accompanying the siblings were a Hispanic girl and an Asian guy. The girl was shorter than the male sibling, maybe a couple inches above five feet in height, and she had high cheekbones. I might not be as attracted to women as my sister, but I could admit she was attractive. Her curves helped too. Of course, I think it was probably a rule that we all wear jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. Hers was a maroon that looked just shy of black. Hooked at her waist was a wand carved from some sort of tree branch. It clearly was designed more for evocation than for illusion work like my antler-based ones. The Asian guy compared to the others, was rather plain. I don’t want to sound racist, but I have a hard time identifying where East Asians are from at a glance. He could have been Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or any of the other nations around there, and I wouldn’t know without asking. He had a buzz cut that definitely didn’t help. He wore a red plaid flannel shirt over his jeans, and unlike the others, he had a full-on wizard’s staff. It was a gnarled piece of wood that looked like it came from some sort of hardwood. Oak maybe.

“Camp Kaboom?” asked the redheaded girl, humor dipping into her voice. “That’s better than anything we’ve come up with. Terry was going with something a little less oomph. Camp War Den just sounds like a bad pun more than anything.”

“Believe me, we’re no stranger to bad puns,” Faith said, giving a significant glance toward Harry.

“Hey! I resemble that remark,” Harry said as he waved. He turned toward the newcomers. “Well, you know who I am, so, who are you?”

“Well, as my sister said, I’m Terry Trailman, and she’s my twin sister, Tina,” said the redhead boy. He gestured to the two others near him. “This is Carla Martinez and Ducky Nguyen.”

“Ducky?” I asked. It was an odd name for someone to have.

“Nickname. My given name’s Duc, but it’s easier for Americans to remember as Ducky,” said the guy I could now ID as Vietnamese. His accent was faint. “Warden Dresden, it’s an honor to be learning from you. My teacher says many good things about you. He also said many worrying things, but overall, he was complimentary.”

“Always nice to have someone on my side,” Harry said, his eyes flicking up and down the newcomers, taking them in. We all avoided locking gazes as none of us wanted to trigger a soulgaze, but Harry’d mastered the art of taking in someone’s eyes without looking too long. I needed to figure out how to do that. It irked me that Fai could pull it off on occasion. “These are my apprentices, Molly and Faith Carpenter.”

I glanced to my sister for a second, and then we turned toward the newcomers, smiling. “Hello.”

“Oh, nice, another set of twins,” said Tina. “We’re not the only ones, Terry.”

“And they’re easy on the eyes,” Terry said. “So, which of you is which?”

“Faith has the red streak in her braid,” I said.

“And Molly’s got the pink and blue tips,” Faith continued with a shake of her head. She still thought the dye was ridiculous, and she was still completely wrong about it. Plus, it irked Mom a bit more than our tattoos. As much as we loved our mother, tweaking her every so often did wonders for my self-esteem. Faith’s too, even if she wouldn’t admit it. “So, how old are you?”

“Well, my younger sister is the tender young age of sixteen,” Terry said with a grin. Ah, he knew the burden of the older twin sibling as well as I did. Rubbing the time differential in their faces mattered a lot.

“He’s only ten minutes older; don’t let him fool you,” Tina said. “Plus he’s two inches shorter, so that matters a lot. And the saying goes ‘age before beauty,’ after all.”

“Seventeen here,” Carla said, a smile settling on her face. She had a kind of resigned annoyance when looking at the Trailman twins. “And much less interested in a twin pissing match, so please, if you decide you want to blow something up, please do it outside the church area.”

“And aiming down-wind,” Ducky said. “I don’t want a stray spark to light my hair on fire. Again.”

“Dude, you don’t have much hair left,” Terry said with a grin.

“I know,” Ducky replied.

“It looks good on you though,” Faith said, giving the guy a once-over. She definitely appreciated how he looked. I knew my sister’s type for guys, and Ducky definitely fell in there. “Makes you more approachable.”

“If you say so,” said Ducky, returning my sister’s once-over with one of his own. He was more than appreciative. These young Wardens-to-be really needed to shield their emotions better. “I’m almost eighteen myself, so I keep track of these three when we’re together. For the most part, anyway.”

“Well, maybe you can help my grasshoppers with their tent,” Harry said. “They’ll be spending time with you and the rest of the trainees.”

“What about you?” I asked.

“I’ll be just down the way. Carlos and Bill spotted a good point for us to pitch tent,” Harry said.

“He means that they’ve found a place to drink together,” Faith said with a grin. “Saloon of some sort, right?”

“Yeah, something like that,” Harry said, and Faith’s stomach dropped. I could feel it. Sinking realization set in for her, but she kept her face clear of it.

“Setting up a tent isn’t a big deal,” Terry said. “Come on, we’ll stake you out a spot near us.”

“Yeah, that’d be a good plan,” Faith said, glancing from Harry to the other set of twins. “We’re all here to learn, right?”

“Yeah,” the other set of twins agreed, and they turned to lead us. Carla and Ducky followed along, a little ahead as I hung back with my twin and Harry for a second.

“You figured something out,” I said.

“Sort of,” Faith admitted, glancing to Harry and then back to the twins walking off. “I think we should stay close with them and keep our implements ready and with us every day we’re here.”

“Why, Faith?” Harry asked. I knew he’d have to talk with Luccio about this if we mentioned it, but this sort of thing was something we needed to be ready for.

Faith glanced to the Trailman twins again and said, “Because if we don’t, they might die. Or others might.”

Oh. That was bad.
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Re: Twinned Thought, A Building Faith Sequel

Postby Sunshine Temple » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:28 am

Poor, poor.... Molly?

I do like the change-up from being Faith's POV to being Molly's.

It's really cool how one can tell the difference in the two characters from their POVs
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Re: Twinned Thought, A Building Faith Sequel

Postby Sailor Sedai (Ellf) » Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:50 pm

Chapter Two

*********************

Faith definitely didn’t sleep well that night, and her unrest was affecting my own dreams. She couldn’t remember the specifics about what would happen, and I knew that it ate at her. It wasn’t her fault, and it ate at her. She tries to act like she’s more mature than she is at times. Just because she had the memories of someone older sitting there in the back of her mind didn’t mean anything. She’s Faith Samantha Jessica Carpenter now, not whoever she was before, and she’s my twin sister. It wasn’t right for her to feel guilt over things she couldn’t prevent; it wasn’t her fault.

Of course, I say that as we intentionally grouped up with the Trailman twins and their friends for breakfast. Well, Faith and I did, as we’d set up our tent near them. Harry didn’t. He had spent the night with the other adult Wardens minus Luccio, and they must have gotten something into him because I know I heard the sound of guitar strumming a bit before I went to bed. Faith had reminded him to grab it; the Polka Man did say that Harry needed his practice. It helped his hand regain dexterity, after all. I looked forward to one day finding out all that he could do with it.

Faith nudged me with her elbow and offered a small grin as a feeling of teasing triumph passed through her. She found the whole thing between Harry and I amusing half the time. The other half, she joined with her own fantasies in the mix. I mean, it wasn’t like I was unwilling to share if Harry would go for that.

Faith nudged me again and she pressed a small shot-sized cup into my hand. The pungent aroma coming off it nearly woke me on its own, but when I brought it to my lips and took a small sip, I couldn’t help but let out a sigh of joy. Coffee. Better yet, it was Cuban coffee and oh so strong. “Where did you get this?”

“Carla’s family owns a shop down in Miami. She learned how to brew it,” Faith said. “She made you a glass when I mentioned you liked coffee.” Her own hands held a mug of tea instead. One of the few major differences between us was our preference for coffee or tea. She and our father shared that preference while I took more after Mom in that way.

“On a first name basis already, eh?” I asked, glancing to my sister before offering the Hispanic Warden-in-training a smile. “It’s really good. If you’ll pardon my twin’s bad taste, she never really developed the taste for coffee. It’s a character flaw.”

Faith gave me a mock-glare, locking eyes with me for a second. What passed between us then was more than words, but feelings that accompanied them. My sister subtly drew my attention to an apparently empty space around the campfire. The Trailman twins had set up to one side of it while Carla and Ducky set up on the other. I doubted that either of them knew exactly why they’d chosen to sit that way while Faith and I sat directly across from the spot.

Yeah, I think so too, I sent to my sister. Something or someone sat in that empty spot. Veiled, of course, and it was even a pretty good one at that. Sure, it wasn’t as good as mine or even as good as Fai’s, but it was good enough that none of the four trainees we sat with detected it. If the person veiling themselves knew to hide from emotion too or could blank it, they’d probably be able to hide from us too. Then again, my sister and I knew how to look without using the Sight. We’d had plenty of practice.

“So, Molly,” Terry said, looking to me. “How did you and your sister end up here?”

Faith started to answer, but I shook my head slightly. If our hair had been the same color, absolutely. It always was fun for the two of us.

“Our mentor’s Harry Dresden,” I said. “He’s been a friend of the family for a while, and when we developed magic, he was more or less our first choice.”

“Only real choice worth making,” Faith added. “There’s a good bunch of minor practitioners in Chicago, but Harry’s the only Council wizard that lives there. For now, anyway.”

“I’m surprised there aren’t more,” Ducky said. “Chicago’s a big city.”

“Harry operates out in the open,” I said. “His name’s in the phonebook. I think most Council wizards try to avoid that sort of thing. Besides, with the war on, it’s not like there are a lot of wizards that are just willing to go to a city where someone like him is.”

“Apprentices are a different story,” Faith said. “Still, Chicago’s got maybe a quarter the population of New York, and given the magical population is a fraction of that fraction… There’s probably a few practitioners who might be Council level, but they never were introduced. And if they do any form of law-breaking, well, you guys get to step in.”

Terry made a small noise of disgust and said, “Let’s not talk about executions, please. Lawbreakers or no, I don’t want to think about that at a training camp.”

“You’ll have to do it eventually, Terry,” Tina said. “As distasteful as it is, there’s not really a good alternative if someone’s gotten heavily involved with black magic.”

“That kind of thinking, Little Missy, will probably take you far,” said the blond man sitting at the stump across from Fai and me. He’d discarded his veil, and immediately, Carla, Ducky, and the Trailman twins reached for nearby implements. I just sipped my coffee some more while my sister ate a banana. “Easy there, folks. No need for that. At least, not against me.”

The man wore a leather vest over a red flannel shirt and jean combo. He was handsome enough, but he really wasn’t my type, and Fai didn’t seem to like his looks much either. The scruffy beard on his face didn’t help, but if I were to be honest, a part of it for me was his hair color. I liked men with darker hair. Of course, over top of his clothing, he wore a gray cloak, the gray cloak that all Wardens wore, and to top it all off, on his head, he sported a cowboy hat.

“So, who are you?” I asked, and I placed a hand on Faith’s shoulder, suggesting that she not just blurt out his name. I didn’t know if she actually knew it or not, but that spark of recognition within her was enough to hint. It just got weird sometimes when she pulled that stunt. For other people, mostly. I’m more or less used to her by now.

“Bill Meyers. In case the accent and cloak didn’t give me away, I’m a Warden from Texas,” said the man. “I’m going to be working with you six today. We’re dividing y’all into groups to work with you on your evocation.”

“And you drew the short straw to get us?” Faith asked, her eyes twinkling.

“Wouldn’t say that,” Warden Meyers said, tipping his hat slightly. “I’m thinking we can head over yonder to one of the old buildings, and y’all can show me how well you can take it down.”

“All together, or one at a time?” Tina asked.

“I’ll let that be your decision. Just don’t aim at each other,” Warden Meyers said with a small smile. “So, gather up what you need and meet at the edge of the camp in ten minutes. Oh, and Carpenters?”

“Hmm?” Faith and I turned our heads toward him.

“Good job spotting me, but you lose points for not pointing me out to your compatriots.”

“That’s… okay,” we said and shook our heads. We saw his point pretty easily, and it made a bit of sense. If we were to notice someone or something veiled like that in an uncontrolled environment, we probably would let someone know. We just didn’t know these four all that well yet, but they were supposed to be our comrades, assuming all four of them survived this… whatever was coming. “Guess we’ll get the rest of our stuff.”

“Yeah, meet you there,” Carla said, eying us. Her gaze swapped over to Terry and Tina for a second and then back to us. She shook her head and stood up. We ignored the simultaneous amusement and disturbed feelings emanating from her and headed for our own tent.

Once there, Faith and I separated again. She definitely still worried about the Trailmans, but we had other things to do. I snagged my extra wand and my bracelets. I didn’t intend on discharging my bracelets today, especially over just a building, but it wouldn’t hurt to let them charge up a bit more before they were needed

Faith’s primary implement was a set of fingerless gloves that she had sewn a circle and runes on the back of. These were an upgrade to her last set as she finally managed to get that highly conductive yarn that she’d been eying, and it seemed to help her channel her electrical evocations better. She also had a single wand of her own.

We met the others at the edge of camp. The Trailman twins had intricately carved yet identical rods, likely used for some sort of blasting spell. Carla carried in her hand a set of etched chain links, and Ducky had a staff and two rings that I noted. Magic worked different for everyone, of course. So, it made sense that we’d have different implements.

“Good, y’all are here and loaded to bear.” Warden Meyers walked over to us from down the road of the boomtown. “The other kids are with other Wardens, including y’all’s normal mentors, so, we’re going to try something new to you. Well, maybe not the Carpenters. I’ve worked with Dresden.”

Faith snickered. “So, which one?”

“That one,” Warden Meyers said, stopping us in front of what must have been some sort of jailhouse at one point in time. The iron bars on the windows definitely gave that sort of indication. “We’ve got about four that we can use today, and I reckon you’ll get through at least three. So, who wants to start?”

“We’ve got it,” said Tina and Terry, their voices overlapping ever so slightly off-step. An untrained observer might not have noticed, but I knew what true unison sounded like. The Trailman twins gripped their rods in their right hands, and together, in a better unison this time, cast their spell. “Palonri!

They swiped their rods through the air, and a wave of white fire spread from them, melting through the stone walls on impact. Waves of heat rose from the melted stone, and it flowed off the wall like lava, which I suppose it was. The wall above the melted area slid forward, dropping onto the inside of the building and falling forward into a support beam.

“Tsk, naah, that’s nothing,” Carla said with a wicked grin as she raised her chains and spun one end. “Vulkanos!”

Her chain glowed a vibrant red, and a bolt of light shot into the ground at the center of the building. The ground rumbled, and then in streaks of red light, heated stone erupted upward. Liquid and heated stone slammed into a support column, bringing what was left of that rafter beam down to the ground and cracking apart the far wall.

Do you get the feeling that we’re just a bit outmatched? Faith asked and I gave a slight nod. The evocation displays that they had completely outstripped what my sister and I were capable of in raw power. The control over the element of earth, the necessary manipulation of fire? Faith and I struggled to pull anything of the sort off.

“Guess I’m next,” Ducky said, and he raised his staff, leveling it at the remaining wall on the building. Runes etched into the wood lit up a brilliant blue. “Buini!

A beam of fire thick as Ducky’s staff emanated from its tip like a flamethrower. The beam extended a good nine feet from him, giving a constant pressure of flames without falling, much like an arc-welder. The Vietnamese-American just kept on pushing forward, moving his staff up and down the wall, cutting into and through it. The wall fell backward from the angle he cut. His spell cut off once the wall fell.

There really wasn’t much left of the building after those four had finished, just some interior walls and some rubble. I really wasn’t sure how we’d manage to do after seeing the four of them. Sure, we had some skill with evocation, but we lacked the power that these four had. Plus, I wasn’t quite as good with the evoking as Fai.

My twin and I locked eyes for a second. We might not have been quite as powerful as the four of them, nor were we anywhere close to how strong Harry Dresden was, but we had something better. We had each other. Together, we were far better than separate, and it was together that we’d pull our demonstration. After all, both Trailman twins worked together, but we doubted they’d be able to pull anything off like this.

Stepping up so we faced the building together, side-by-side, we grinned at the wizards surrounding us.

“You may want to take a step back,” we said. One of the first things Harry taught us. Fake it till you make it. We didn’t need the raw power. Individually we didn’t have it, and together we wouldn’t need it. We raised our right hands, glove-covered and wand holding. “Fire isn’t exactly our specialty.”

“Dresden mentioned something like that,” said Warden Meyers. “But fire isn’t the only way to knock down a building.”

We grinned as we gathered our power, and we leveled our hands and wand at the lot. “The building’s already mostly knocked down. We can and will use that. Sessakufuu.”

An intense cutting wind slammed through the sole remaining interior wall and tore it to shreds. The winds curved around the lot as we gestured with our hands and wand, shredding anything in their path. Wind is either the number one or number two source of erosion in the world, and wind of this speed could erode far quicker than anything was prepared for. The building’s remains crumbled to larger pieces of dusty rock, and when the winds passed them again, we stopped our spell.

“Well, I think I’ve got some work cut out for me,” said Warden Meyers. “Though, luckily, not quite as bad as I feared. Y’all ready?”

We were. Warden Meyers trained us the rest of the day, and he even offered tips to Faith and I on how we could better focus our power or improve our output. Magical capability usually increases over time, after all. All in all, this was starting to turn out to be a fun little trip.

The problem was in the waiting on the other shoe to drop. Faith rarely was wrong when it came to predicting this sort of thing. Did I hope that this time she would be? Absolutely. She just wasn’t usually wrong.

So, I believed her when she said that the Trailman twins were in trouble, even if by the amount of damage, they were capable of, they were. Somehow. So, we’d stick with them, and by extension, we’d stick with Ducky and Carla too. Lunch and dinner were served at appropriate times, and we ended up sitting right there with them through it all.

Still, if something could take the Trailman Twins out, after what I now knew they were capable of, what chance did Fai and I have?

I guess we’d find out.
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Re: Twinned Thought, A Building Faith Sequel

Postby Sailor Sedai (Ellf) » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:10 pm

Chapter Three

**************************

Sometimes my sister and I share dreams. We’ve done so since we were little. I’m not sure entirely how it’s possible, without magic, but maybe it’s a type of magic that we’ve had with us since then. This night was no different. Faith had started off dreaming something steamy between her and… well, that’s her business. I won’t mention what I was doing in that dream either. Regardless, while the dream started off fun enough, it shifted. We were in a cavern. Terry and Tina’s bodies laid strewn about, organs spilling out of their slashed and partially eaten bodies, and that wasn’t even the scariest thing.

Harry stood there, staring at the dead, and the look of rage on his face scared me. It scared us as his staff lit up a brilliant red. He leveled it at us and snarled his spell, “Pyrof

Faith and I shot up simultaneously, taking defensive positions. My heart pounded like a conga drum as I looked around the tent. Fai did much the same. Our eyes never crossed paths as we looked, and when we were satisfied, we let out a sigh.

“Dream,” we said. “Just a dream.”

I shook my head. “Harry wouldn’t hurt us, you know.”

“But if that happened, he’d get angry enough at the culprits,” Faith said. “Which is why—”

“—we can’t let it happen, I agree.” I stretched and glanced to the tent’s entrance. Neither of us had let out any sort of cry, so nobody approached. The vestiges of morning sunlight dripped in through the cracks in the tent’s flaps. “Morning now.”

“Breakfast’ll be soon,” Faith said, patting my hand. “We should—”

“—get ready. Full set?” I asked, and my sister nodded. The two of us changed into the outfits we planned on wearing for the day: a pair of hip-hugging jeans that were relatively easy to move in, a sports bra and a loose-fitting T-Shirt with our favored mana color logo on the front. Fai’s was Red. Mine? Blue. Slipping on leather coats overtop, we each loaded up on our implements. I slid both my wands into my coat’s pockets, made sure my force bracelets were secure, and on the other arm, I made sure my shielding bracelet was there. I also put three ring foci on my left hand, one on my pinky, one on my index finger, and one on my thumb. Faith made sure to have both her gloves, her own bracelets, a wand in her jacket, and I saw a couple crystals.

I frowned. “Wait, you brought those? Isn’t that going a little overboard?”

Faith pulled one of the crystals out. “Not for this. Can’t think of a better field test than this.”

“You know they work already, but if you’ve got it wrong…”

“I don’t,” Faith said, light gleaming off the crystal as she held it up. “They’ll do what they’re meant to.”

Shaking my head, I extended my senses toward the crystal. The mixture of energy that Faith had stored in there would really mess someone’s day up when it was expended. That didn’t even factor in the shrapnel. This wasn’t the first time Faith would have come up with a spell usage inspired by something she saw on TV, nor, I suspect, would it be the last.

See magic’s funny like that. Harry would say something about how magic is basically life itself, the energy of life. At the same time, it’s able to be studied, quantified, but it operates differently depending on the practitioner. Magic operates off of belief. It works a certain way because a practitioner believes it works that way. For example, Harry uses green Play-Doh in certain kinds of tracking spells that he does. This may have started with utilitarian reasons for doing so, but it evolved into a necessary thing because his use reinforced the belief in his mind. Spells don’t actually require any sort of incantation or focus at all. They’re just useful because they help with remembering mnemonics for shaping the energies used to cast them.

So, Faith is able to pull off certain spells because she believes she can, and the same applies to me. When she comes up with new ideas, only in a few cases has she been told “No, that won’t work.” The problem with the crystals wasn’t that they didn’t work at all. The problem was sometimes that they worked too well. At least on dead trees, anyway.

“So, breakfast?” Faith asked, slipping the crystal into her pocket.

“Sure. Think Carla’ll have more of that Cuban coffee?”

“You’ll have to ask her,” Faith said, and a small grin came to her face. “Nicely, of course. Maybe bat your eyes a bit.”

I bumped into my sister as we stepped out the tent. Completely by accident, I swear. “It’s only been a few months since Nelson, Fai.”

“Yeah, I know,” Faith said. “Let’s just get some breakfast.”

The breakfast area was set up just down the street from what had been an old blacksmith’s shop at one point. Folding tables and chairs were set up for us to eat at and one table was reserved for the continental breakfast that someone had managed to furnish this morning with fresh pastries. Idly, I wondered if this meant that someone had driven to town in their car specifically for it, but ultimately that didn’t matter. For, at the end of the breakfast table stood a Latina holding the nectar of the gods.

“Thought you could use this,” she said, handing me a mug. I took a sip, and like the previous day, I was in Heaven for a few seconds. Carla truly made delicious coffee.

“Thank you,” I said, and then I took in her clothing. She wore more or less the same clothes she had yesterday, but the blouse was different, a sage green V-neck. She still had her coat on, but I also didn’t see that she had any implements with her. “Leave the chain in the tent?”

“Didn’t think I’d need it for breakfast, but I see you and your sister came loaded for bear,” Carla said.

“As a wise old man once said, Constant Vigilance,” I said. “A slightly less old but no less wise man said that just because it might be paranoia doesn’t mean there isn’t a monster out there that wants to eat your face.”

“What she means is, there’s a war on,” Faith said as she walked up to us, a cup of tea in her gloved hands. “Can’t hurt to be prepared.”

Carla laughed. “Suppose not. I’ll get my stuff from my tent so we can get ready for the day.”

“You don’t have to go yet,” I said.

“Nah, the quicker I get it done, the quicker I’ll get back. Besides, we’ve got another couple pendejos that need to get up.” Carla waved. “I’ll be back, don’t worry.”

Carla made her way off toward her tent, and I took a bite of my pastry and a sip of my coffee. The morning, luckily, had started off in a decent manner. If my sister was right, however, that wouldn’t last. The peace that had swept over Camp Kaboom would swiftly be broken. Of course, if my sister was wrong, the peace that had swept over Camp Kaboom would swiftly be broken by the sounds of practice. Evocation is loud and messy, unlike thaumaturgy, which can be quiet and clean.

I glanced over to my sister, whose anxiousness I could feel without even needing to reach out. She worried about whether she remembered things right, and just because something didn’t necessarily happen today didn’t mean it wouldn’t happen at all. Standing near her was Ducky, and he seemed to sense her mood as well. There was something else though. Something lingering above the camp. I just couldn’t quite place it.

“Things will work out, you know,” Ducky said to her. “However they’re meant to.”

Faith glanced at the Asian wizard before looking back at the tents. “Optimism? You do know there’s a war on, right?”

“Yeah, well, when I’m surrounded by beautiful women who can blow things up with their mind, I get a bit happy,” Ducky said, and I couldn’t help but smile at Faith’s snort. “Ah, so there is some humor under there.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Faith said with a small smile. “You were impressive yesterday.”

“I try.” Ducky grinned in return. “Which part was most impressive? Personally, I felt it was the work we did in the afternoon. Warden Meyers had some good advice.”

“Your staff’s eruption, and oh, my God, I really just said that,” Faith placed her head in her hands, and I snickered. It made sense in my head!

I know where your head’s been, I sent her in return as I stepped closer to the two. “Believe me, Ducky. She’s very impressed by your staff. It’s all she could talk about. How long it was. Hard. The details.”

“Molly!”

Butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth with the grin I gave my sister. Still, something felt a bit off. Not with her, of course, but with the area.

“Well, there any particular reason that you weren’t training with us before now?” Ducky asked. “You certainly would have made things a lot more interesting at previous Warden training camps.”

“Just had time with Harry,” Faith said. “Among a few other things. Hey, where’s Terry and Tina?”

“Last I saw, they were trying to get a spot for today’s lesson. Heading upslope so they could show off a bit more,” Ducky said. “Warden Ramirez went after them.”

“… Oh.” Faith looked to me. You feel it too, right?

I gave the slightest of nods. The lingering hunger that was just… inhuman. It held undertones of violence and rotting things. Them?

“Ducky, tell me you have something on you,” I said as my eyes flicked to the smithy. Three. There were three in there.

“Just a shield bracelet and my pentacle. I don’t bring my staff with me wherever I go.”

“Word of advice,” Faith said as she splayed out her fingers and the embossed circle on her gloves started to glow. “Start.”

“Wait, what’s going on?” Ducky asked.

“Get your shield ready. You’ll need it,” I said as I drew my wand and leveled it at the smithy. Time to ruin someone’s plan. I raised my voice as loud as I could. “Ghouls in the smithy! We’re under attack!”

Before I’d even finished speaking, Faith slammed her right hand forward and cried out her spell. “Fulmina!

Lightning arced from her hand through the window of the building, striking what we knew stood on the other side. Zapping electrical noises buzzed on the impact, and then pained howling came along with a burst of aggression.

I kicked the table forward and raised my shield as the first bullets ate through the walls. The table didn’t do much to stop them, but the bullets slowed enough that the combination of my shield, Ducky’s, and my sister’s shields held them. A single shot rang out from behind us, and I could only watch Ducky tackle my sister to the ground.

Blood spattered, and the screaming began. The other Warden trainees moved like lemmings as more bullets came.

“Fukukaze!” I whipped my wand at the smithy, and my wind tore at the walls, revealing three men wearing torn fatigues. Each of them carried weapons, automatic guns of some sort. I couldn’t quite make out the specifics at a glance. One of them snarled, his jaw lengthening into a muzzle with sharp teeth as he leveled the gun my way.

Ghouls: infestations of rotten meat and carnage. It had to be them.

“Girls, out of the way!” Warden Ramirez’s voice came from behind us. Faith rolled Ducky off her, still breathing, if grazed, and together, we spread away from the smithy. Warden Ramirez let out a foul-sounding word, and a ripple of green energy slammed through the wall and into one of the ghouls. It burst on impact, knocking the two not hit down to the ground. The first, along with the wall, just vanished. Erased.

“I’ll make sure they stay down!” Faith cried as she slammed her hands together. Lightning arced up her arms and down again as she pulled them apart. A ball of lightning hovered between her hands. “Fulminara!

The ball shot out and slammed between the two ghouls, causing their bodies to twitch.

“No, Faith!” Warden Ramirez called, and a shot rang out from up the mountain.

I didn’t even blink. I just raised my hand and unleashed some of the force from my bracelet at my sister. Faith staggered left, and I watched as a line of blood formed on the edge of her shoulder. I felt the reflected pain of the graze.

“Get to cover!” Warden Ramirez snarled. “Trainees, Wardens, to cover!”

I came to offer Faith a hand up, and together, we dragged Ducky into the smithy with the two ghouls. I unleashed the rest of my force bracelets on them. They bounced against the ground a few feet away, and Warden Ramirez joined us in the ruins seconds later.

“Faith, Molly, you okay?”

“Just a graze,” Faith said. “I’ll live. Ducky’s got worse.”

Warden Ramirez grimaced. Dark brown fluid dripped down the side of his face. “Well, he’ll have to hold on.”

Another couple Wardens made it to the interior of the smithy, really the only wall between us and the upslope, but that wasn’t the good news. Faith and I couldn’t help but smile as we felt who was approaching.

“Not for much longer. Backup’s on its way,” I said. “Harry and Captain Luccio.”

“Good,” said Warden Ramirez, and a round of shots struck the wall. Instinctively I winced, and Faith did too. Warden Ramirez, on the other hand, peeked his head out the hole. “Captain, get down!”

More bullets hissed downhill, striking the ground nearby before the telltale bang reached us a second later. I felt some sort of magic being done, but I didn’t dare to look.

“Where?” Captain Luccio shouted.

“I’ve got two wounded ghouls here!” Warden Ramirez replied. “At least two more upslope, maybe a hundred and twenty meters!”

They took Tina and Terry, Faith sent, her wince as more gunfire came causing my own shoulder to echo her pain. The ghouls are going to eat them.

Not if we can stop it. Where did they take them? I slipped my wand into its holster and grabbed my sister’s hand. Two more shots rang out on the other side of the wall, and another trainee gasped. Think, Fai.

Something must have happened then because the ghoul had started shooting at random. With each shot, I could feel the rising tension of the other trainees.

“Trainees, stay down!” Captain Luccio cried. “Stay still. Be quiet. Do not give your position away by sound or movement.”

Let Harry finish off this thing first. Faith sent as she frowned. I hope he grabbed his blasting rod and staff this morning.

I nodded and carefully, I peeked out the broken window. Captain Luccio stood holding a haze of some sort between us and the ghoul. I only caught a glimpse of Harry’s back as he stepped into the haze, staff-tip level with the ground. He brought the staff, at least.

Faith reached out and grabbed my hand. Simultaneously worry and hope washed through her. The mine. That’s what I remember.

Our dream, I sent.

Exactly. Faith glanced to Warden Ramirez and then the unconscious injured ghouls nearby. After a few seconds, when we felt the build-up of power release upslope, she released a breath she’d been holding. I released my own a second later. “He got him. Warden Ramirez, Harry got him.”

“But the Trailmans aren’t up there,” I said.

“No, the ghouls took them,” Warden Ramirez said. “Don’t worry. If it’s possible, we’ll get them back.”

Faith and I pursed our lips, and then we shook our heads. This wasn’t something that Warden Ramirez would be able to do. Heck, even Harry would be too late if things went on as they were. We had alternate means of getting there. “We’ll get them back ourselves.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Warden Ramirez. “You don’t even know where they are.”

“The mine,” we said. “Harry can verify it with the prisoners. The longer we wait, the worse it will be.”

“Wait, how do you know?” Warden Ramirez asked. “And Faith, you should be getting medical attention for that shoulder.”

“No time,” we said. It was cute how he worried after us, but we really were the best chance the Trailmans had of getting back down this mountain. We gathered some power, working together to pull off our spell. “Get Ducky the help and remember the mine. We’ll be there.”

“Tell Dresden yourselves.”

We just offered a smile before we uttered the word, “Soukotte.”

The haste spell took effect, and we sped off. We had friends to rescue. People to keep alive. A future to change. We needed to prove that it was possible to make things better.

Faith needed to prove something for herself, and I was going to stand by her, stand with her, no matter what.
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Re: Twinned Thought, A Building Faith Sequel

Postby Sailor Sedai (Ellf) » Wed May 02, 2018 12:04 am

Boom Camp 4

*****************************

We’ve never clocked ourselves when using the speed spell. There never seemed to be a point. With the way the world slowed down to effectively a standstill and us running our top speed, it had to be pretty fast. Unfortunately, the spell heavily burned energy, but we hadn’t far to go. The mine was less than a mile uphill, only a bit further than where Warden Ramirez had come from.

The mine’s somewhat low entrance was choked with brush as we went in. One of the support beams a bit further in had collapsed some time before we’d arrived, leaving a small area that we had to squeeze through to even get into the mine. Once inside, the mine opened up into the dark; the only light illuminating the area came from the hole in the entrance. We gave it little mind as we continued forward.

The air shifted colder further in. So cold, in fact, that the mist our breath made paused mid-air thanks to the spell. The acrid, ravenous hunger of a ghoul tickled the edge of our senses, and a mixture of fear and sheer defiant anger joined it. Terry and Tina still lived, but given a ghoul’s predilections, it wouldn’t stay that way for long. We pushed forward into the dark, relying on our senses and the spell to make it through the dark. A tunnel opened to the left of us, and the hunger and fear dragged us onward into it. We stepped over an ore cart track built into the floor, careful not to let it trip us up as we ran.

The hunger and fear only clarified as we approached, and our eyes adjusted to the dark. A large shadowed form held two smaller ones with its clawed hands. Drool dripped off its mouth, paused mid-air by the spell, and the distasteful smell of the ghoul’s breath was only amplified by the stale air around us. The coppery smell of fresh blood wafted lazily toward us, and we narrowed our eyes. We couldn’t have been too late, but given how hungry the ghoul felt, we didn’t have long.

It didn’t matter. We couldn’t let it continue what it started. With an effort of will, we pushed more energy into the ongoing spell and raised our shields. We focused them, conforming the half-domes to the shape of our bodies.

Then we slammed into the ghoul at full speed, letting the spell drop as we struck. Skin impacted shield with a thunderous crack, and momentum normally dissipated transferred entirely into the ghoul.

The ghoul slammed into the mine wall with a yelp. It slumped over as we separated, clearly still breathing. Its feelings dulled somewhat, dazed. Hopefully, that meant it’d stay down. Two more thuds echoed as time sped up. Terry and Tina. They were on the ground.

I willed a bit of energy into the crucifix and pentacle pendant I wore around my neck, and I felt my sister do the same. Soft, pale light emanated from around our necks, lighting the area in a cool blue glow. I surveyed the area and saw them.

Tina wasn’t in good shape. She laid on the stone we practically bounced the ghoul off of, blood dripping down her side. The ghoul had shallowly cut into her chest and legs, like it was enjoying it, but judging from the way her right leg looked, the ghoul hadn’t restrained itself. A good chunk of flesh was missing there, but it was possible that she’d survive if we could get her help in time. It was just so much blood.

Terry looked worse than Tina on first blush. His face was covered in blood, dripping from an open head wound, and his neck had a bit missing as well. However, his eyes opened a second later, and he thrashed, swinging his arms at air where the ghoul had been. He’d been the source of the determination.

“Let my… where? What?” He shifted his head, confusion overriding the fight or flight within him. His eyes focused on us, and then there was recognition. “Molly? Faith?”

Things were too serious for me to get any smug satisfaction out of him choosing to go in reverse-alphabetical order for our names.

“We’re here,” I said.

“The ghoul’s down,” Faith said, glancing over at it. Its hunger still overrode all rational sense within it, but it was muted by its lack of consciousness.

Well, it should have been, but… How many ghouls were there?

Faith’s eyes widened, and she shouted, “Down! Moll, Shield!”

I’d already started to raise my hand, pulling Terry closer to his sister with my other. A muttered word brought my shield to life, and Fai’s popped up behind me as we huddled as close to the Trailman twins as possible.

Gunfire echoed out in the mine. The rate of fire was almost automatic, like the ghoul had decided to spray and pray. Except I highly doubt the ghouls pray to anything. We were at the center of a pincer, and as the bullets ricocheted off our shields, we counted and prayed ourselves. Shields sucked, even only kinetic ones, and with the speed those bullets impacted. Thank God the ghouls weren’t fully accurate. If they’d even had fifty percent accuracy, our shields would have dropped. As it was, I could feel my left hand shaking with each impact.

Two of them, one on each side of us. They had high capacity magazines, clips, whatever, and they were shooting quickly. I’ll admit to knowing next to nothing about guns, but I knew they’d have to reload quickly at the rate they shot. Nobody has infinite ammo in real life.

Fai. Bolt the one at seven on his reload. I ordered my sister.

There was only supposed to be one! She sent back, but I felt her gathering her will for the spell. As much as I hated to admit it, Fai was better than me with evocation in general. She had just a bit more oomph behind her spells that I lacked alone. Of course, together, we worked better, but right now, we needed the flexibility of separation.

“Terry…” I kept my voice low and level. The ghouls probably could hear me, but I needed to keep the younger boy aware and not freak him out. “If you can move, put pressure on your sister’s wounds. We’re getting out of here.”

“R-right,” Terry stuttered.

Gunfire stopped from behind us, and with a loud clap, Faith slammed her hands together. As she pulled them apart, the spark between them grew, glowing white-hot. I hooked my foot back, bracing my shield as I felt more than saw her spell. “Fulminaga!”

My sister’s such a dork.

Lightning arced across the mineshaft, slamming into the ghoul standing at my seven o’clock with a thunderclap. For a second, the entire mineshaft lit up bright as day, just in time to see the third ghoul appear next to my shield. Crap.

The ghoul clawed at my shield, raw, intense hunger dripping off it like the drool from its engorged snout. My shield flickered as I lost focus under the assault and had to regain it. Refocusing my will, I shored up my shield, and I found myself wishing that I had some sort of club or something. Instead, I glared at the ghoul for a second before smirking and twirling my wand.

Never let them see you sweat. Neither my sister nor I had much juice left, but the ghoul didn’t know that. I Besides, I had a few more energy-efficient spells up my sleeve, and Fai had at least one trick. I held that shield tightly as I mentally prepared it.

I lost focus again, and my shield flickered again before disappearing altogether. I couldn’t refocus it. This… was not going to be fun. Recognition flashed in the ghoul’s eyes, and it somehow grew hungrier, more ravenous. Harry always said that ghouls supposedly eat three times their body weight in meat every day. They need to in order to survive. In proximity with it, the full brunt of its hunger hit me, and I braced myself for what it preceded.

The ghoul snarled, and I twirled my wand again. It leaped, claws first. Its claws cut deeply into my arms as it pinned me to the ground, and I barely managed to hold in a scream. The smell got to me more. Death. Decay. It reeked, and from where I was, the smell was almost overwhelming. It let out another snarl followed by a chortle and some sort of hiss that could probably be described as language.

I writhed under it, holding in my pain as best I could. The ghoul reared its head back and bit down on my shoulder. This time I did cry out in pain as it tore my muscles. Blood spurted, and some landed near the ghoul, staining the ground behind it.

The ghoul blinked down at me for a second. I squirmed beneath it, trying to get leverage, but I couldn’t. It reared its head back again, opening its maw wide this time. I guess it was going for my neck. I screamed again.

“Hey, ugly,” Faith said, stepping out of my veil. In her right hand, she held a glowing red crystal. She slammed the hand on the front of the ghoul’s maw, shoving the crystal in. The ghoul swallowed. “Ossubaku!

My sister might be a dork, but she’s an inventive one. The charged crystal released all its energy at once. Explosively. Inside the ghoul’s gullet. Blood-coated crystal shrapnel sprayed out the ghoul’s throat, and it collapsed.

I dropped the veil that hid me and the Trailman twins, panting as I fell to a knee. That was exhausting. Maintaining the shield as I set up the illusion, even for a second was painful. Faith made it to my side before buckling over herself, laying her head on my shoulder.

“Just… need to get them some help now,” I said softly. “They’ll be fine.”

My illusory body that the ghoul had tackled disappeared too as I stopped concentrating on that spell.

“Yeah,” Fai said, breathing heavily. “Seems to be over. We did it… We saved them… Without any actual…”

Two gasps, simultaneously male and female caught my attention. Shit. We’d been so focused on the second and third ghouls that we didn’t even notice that the first one had woken from its wall-induced nap. I scrambled to my feet and swung myself around as the original hungry presence made itself known again. The ghoul slammed into my shoulder with its claw and grabbed my sister with its other, snarling as it took us to the ground.

I saw stars as my head impacted the stone floor of the shaft. My shoulder flared up in pain, and I felt wetness from it. It had to really be bleeding this time. We hadn’t double-checked the original ghoul, and now… My skin felt like it was tearing as its claws moved down me.

Fai… We… I screamed out as the ghoul bit me. My sister’s voice joined mine a second later.

“Get off them!” Terry, no. Terry we’d come to save you. I couldn’t see what he was doing. How could he even have gotten up? The ghoul was too close, and its bloody maw dripped down on me. “Fuerz!

Something slammed into the ghoul, throwing it off us. Blood dripped into my eyes, but I could move my left hand up to wipe my face. When I did, I saw the most amazing thing. I saw an angel in a black leather duster, staff’s runes glowing red with an acrid smell of sulfur.

He slammed that staff into the ghoul’s stomach and snarled out, “Fuego.

The bottom half of the ghoul’s body melted in the engulfing Hellfire-enhanced flame. Harry’s face twisted into anger as he looked at us, and Faith and I flinched back from the enhanced anger within him.

“Grasshoppers, you shouldn’t go on your own,” Harry bit out.

“They’re alive, Harry,” Faith said. “We’re…”

“We need….” I wobbled. “help, Harry. Hurts…”

Oh God. I wasn’t going to make it, was I? The ghoul had cut into me deeper than I thought, and it was… I was… It hurt so bad. I couldn’t focus on what was going on, not at all.

Harry’s eyes narrowed.

Well, except for focusing on Harry. He was my… he let me deal with the pain just by being… who was I kidding? This hurt worse than anything I’d had before. Tears streamed down my face, but they were probably hidden by blood. I gurgled a bit.

“Harry, help her!” Faith said, panic rising in her voice. “Help all of them. The ghouls are dead, Harry. You can help them. Us. Whatever.”

“How?” Harry asked. “Healing magic’s complicated, Grasshopper.”

“So, you’re just going to let my sister die?” Faith’s arms wrapped around me, tenderly touching my shoulder. I blinked blood out of my eyes, hissing at the touch. “Like Hell.”

I heard tearing sounds as Faith started working on her shirt. God, what was she doing? Fai, I love you…

You’re not dying on me, Moll!


“Grasshopper,” Harry said. “I can…”

“Ask.” Faith focused on me. I didn’t know what to do. I hurt so badly that I couldn’t focus. “Do it. Save them. Ask. Please, Harry. Please, Sheila.

Harry’s frustration mounted, and I barely heard it as he muttered some sort of conversation with his mental passenger. He knelt down next to Tina first, and energy gathered around him. It flowed into Tina Trailman, whatever it was.

I heard Tina let out a gasp of air. So, it did something.

Then, Harry walked to me. He placed his hand lightly onto my shoulder, moving the bloodied blouse some. I yelped, and he winced. “It’ll be okay, Grasshopper.”

Harry muttered something under his breath, and then energy flowed into me. My arm started tingling, and the pain subsided to that pins and needles feeling around the entry points. It just felt weird, but whatever it was, it seemed to be working. I closed my eyes to try to deal with the sensations, only for a second.

********************

When I opened my eyes, I was on a cot of some sort in a makeshift medical area. I must have fallen unconscious in the mine while Harry was working on me. God knows what he did, but I felt alive. I took a look around the medical area, and I couldn’t help but smile. My sister had never left my side, and she’d somehow managed to get her cot rightly next to my own. Right now, she laid her head on my stomach with her arm hooked around my waist.

She stirred as I did, guilt flaring up within her as she quietly said, “I’m sorry, Moll.”

“For what?” I murmured.

“You got hurt,” Fai said, rubbing an arm up to my shoulder. I had bandages wrapping up it from just above my elbow up to my collar bone. She rubbed on top of them. Oddly, it didn’t hurt much. “This is going to scar. And we should… I should have known there’d be more.”

“Your knowledge isn’t perfect, Fai,” I said. Her knowledge didn’t factor in herself, for one. It had been just over eighteen years since she’d lived that past life, and whatever future knowledge she held because of it had to adjust to new circumstances like herself. “It isn’t your fault.”

It really wasn’t her fault I’d been hurt. I’d taken the same risks she had, but this time, the monster had gone for me rather than her. It still hurt, even with whatever Harry had done, but it’d heal, and eventually there wouldn’t even be a scar.

“We weren’t even supposed to be here,” Faith murmured. “We’re not even Wardens.”

“Yet,” said the slightly-accented voice of Captain Luccio as she stepped into the medical tent. “You aren’t Wardens yet, Miss Carpenter. You are apprentices of Warden Dresden, and you are learning under Warden Morgan when he has the chance to teach you. Additionally, I am told that you made the difference between life and death for the Trailman twins, and your warning in the dining area likely saved lives.”

“They’re alive?” I asked, propping myself up, watching my bandages. I had a bit of a head rush as I did so.

“And in better condition than you ended up, Miss Carpenter,” Captain Luccio said, a bit of contemplation passing through her with a blush of pride. I really wasn’t sure how to interpret that at the moment. “You should regain full use of your arm before the summer ends, but there will be a mark and probably some pain.”

Captain Luccio walked over to us, pausing only to drag a stool closer to our cots. She sat down and looked at each of us, avoiding our eyes for the moment, and likewise, Faith and I did the same.

“Shouldn’t Harry be telling us this?” Faith asked, and then after a second, she blushed. “I mean, Captain Luccio, you have better things to be doing than talking to us, right?”

Captain Luccio’s smile shifted slightly, turning into a frown. “Given who your master is, and given what happened, we need to evaluate what happened. The two of you were able to give warning this morning, and you knew exactly where the Trailmans had been taken. I need to know how, and I need you to tell the truth.”

Faith looked over to me. I’m… we shouldn’t tell her everything.

She was the Warden-Captain. If anyone should have been trustworthy it was her, but Faith’s gut was rarely wrong with these things. Fine. What do we tell her?

Truth. But not everything.

Yeah, okay.
I glanced to Captain Luccio and smiled. “Faith knew. Well, sort of. She suspected, but she wasn’t sure.”

“Explain, please,” Captain Luccio said. Her emotions remained level.

“Glimpses,” Faith said. “I see it in dreams, in memories. Glimpses of a future that may never be. Harry told me it was similar to Cassandra’s Tears, but I don’t know. It’s not always accurate.”

Captain Luccio’s face softened, and despite her physical age, it was easy to see the elderly woman behind the gaze. Well, older woman anyway. She felt pity for Faith for what she went through and a smidgen of guilt for what we could have been accused of. “I am sorry. That cannot be easy to go through.”

“I help her through it,” I said softly. “Supporting her, even when she’s being a moron. The Trailmans are okay, Fai. I’m going to be fine.”

Faith grabbed my hand and laid her head against me. I leaned back in my cot.

Captain Luccio nodded. “That is all I need from you for now. If I do not speak to you before Warden Dresden and you return to Chicago, I will look forward to seeing you in better health.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” we said in unison, offering a slight bow of our heads from the positions we were in.

She smiled again, dimples showing, and then she spun around on her heel and walked out of the medical area.

We breathed a sigh of relief. That could have been worse than it was. If she’d pressed, revealing the full extent of Faith’s memories might have ended poorly. Still, one thing that made us happy: the Trailman twins lived.

That was the proof. We knew that the memories weren’t always accurate, but thus far attempts to induce change usually ended in disaster. This one, however, ended in a far better manner. We could get a better result than the memories. With Terry and Tina alive, with us alive, and with whatever Faith had gotten Harry to do…

Together, we could take on anything. My twin sister and I would take on anything.

Always together.

Forever as one.

(Boom Camp End)
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