15.0 Cover Stories

by Matt P.


“What. The hell. Are we going to tell people?” The Mayor of Border was a man of middling height who Walter did not think was terribly charismatic. Apparently he could turn it on when he had to, but he was not trying to turn it on right now. He looked annoyed, and terrified. He also, apparently, had known at least enough of the supernatural goings on in the city to not be surprised—Andre had commented he was surprised the man had possessed the time to learn about it, around all the infidelity.

“The good news, Mr. Mayor, is that people seem to have no memory of what exactly happened. Some of them remember Antigone screaming in the hallway, but whatever…psychic bologna that was pulled of left them without real memories of what happened.” William Alexander looked ragged, and like most of them he still hadn’t had time to really clean up from the battle. They were debating what to call it, with some favoring the Battle of Border and some the Battle of Eisenhower (after the school). Walter was in the second camp—primarily because he was of the sinking suspicion that there would probably be more clashes later that could usurp the first title.

“Oh, excellent.” The Mayor’s face lit up at the revelation that there was something people remembered. Willard Adler had a vulpine fact and a surprising trim build for his breadth of shoulder; his height combined with his with made people think he was heavy-set, but it was an illusion that his quick movements and energy dispelled. “We can tell everyone—”

“No.” Walter’s voice was firm. The group of people were talking inside one of the computer rooms in the High School, and Walter was leaning against the wall with a cup of coffee. Adler had taken the desk at the front of the room and perched on it. He turned to look at Walter with an expression halfway between bemused and affronted. “No, I’ve seen how this goes enough.”

“Mr. Richards, while I—” the Mayor began again, until Walter cut him off.

“No,” he said again, no less firm. “You’re about to suggest that we blame Antigone for doing something. Scapegoat her. So people think she’s the crazy woman who got the school evacuated because she was high or something.” He didn’t phrase it as a question, just a statement of fact. The mayor, for his part, was honest enough not to deny it. “And I’m telling you, no. I will not let you alienate my daughter from her classmates for something that wasn’t her fault. Find another option.”

Now Adler was all bristle, no amusement. “You are in no position to negotiate, Mr. Richards. What makes you think you have the right to dictate to me what we do?”

Walter made an expansive gesture to the courtyard, where they were cleaning up both blood and some kind of bio-luminescent moss that had grown up where the power had leaked out around him. “Within the last hour, Adler, I killed a god.”

Adler narrowed his eyes. “Are you threatening me, Mr. Richards?” He ran a hand through his thin copper colored hair. “That doesn’t seem very wise, given the state of your employment could very well be reviewed here tonight.”

“No threats, Mr. Mayor,” Walter said calmly, taking a long sip of mediocre coffee. “I am merely stating that in the grand scheme of things wrecking the life of one adulterous mayor is unlikely to cause much problems for the man who just killed the High King of Faerie.”

“And,” William Alexander pointed out, “Police staffing decisions can only be overruled by the city council, as you are more than aware.”

The room was full, with both Faerie Queens, the Mayor and his secretary, Walter and all three of his children, William and Andre Alexander, and Leah Silverman all sitting in it. Walter shared a glance with Morgan, and knew that he was being somewhat unfair—not to Adler, but to his own prowess for deicide. In the confusion and terror of his death and, embarrassing as it was to complete, resurrection, they had lost track of Oberon’s body. They could not be sure he was dead until Morgan returned to Faerie and saw if the compulsion keeping him out was still in place, but powerless and wounded she was convinced he had little ability to harm them. His followers were not the kind of people who would follow a powerless former King.

The mayor scowled darkly, both at Alexander and Walter. Walter did not ask why, in the odd city structure that Border apparently enjoyed, the Mayor couldn’t fire even the police chief—but that was a feeding hand he had no intention of biting,. “And what would you suggest we claim, then, as long as we have people’s memories willing to play along?”

Walter considered Antigone and Siobhan, who were playing silent for the moment—Antigone characteristically in front of an argument, Siobhan quite uncharacteristically. “Antigone,” Walter declared, “Was a hero. She knew something was wrong and she was warning people when things went terribly wrong, and then when something happened everyone started running.”

Antigone blinked, blushing a little bit, while Siobhan nodded eagerly. “Antigone did feel it, it made her sick and she totally would have been warning people if she hadn’t been almost throwing up at the time. Besides, she always wants to be popular, and what’s more popular than a hero.” Antigone blushed even more deeply at the commentary on her almost throwing up, and her desire to be popular.

“Thanks, Bonnie…” Antigone murmured sarcastically.

“We’re not in the habit of deciding who is cool at school in the mayor’s office…” Adler said, before he sighed and waved his hands as if casting the whole situation away from him. “But I honestly don’t give a crap right now. Fine, Antigone is a hero, and it was a gas leak or gang activity or whatever. I’ll have them draw it up.”

Walter shook his head, sighing and smirking a little bit. “You know, Border might rank lower in gang activities nationally if we didn’t blame everything on gangs. Do we actually even have gangs?”

Andre joined him in a matching smirk. “Several, actually—it is a problem.”

“When you have served in this city for more than five minutes, Mr. Richards, feel free to tell me how we can improve on what we do,” the mayor said, collecting his things and giving Walter a thin smile. “Until then, we have a plausible story that people will buy, and the uncharacteristically friendly memory wipe that Oberon gave everyone in the school.”

Morgan hadn’t spoken to the group since the meeting began, when she had explained the circumstances leading up to the fight at the High School; she had been whispering with Tania about their plans. Adler’s words apparently drew her out of that enough that she responded. “He didn’t want everyone dead, he just wanted to…rearrange the real estate in his favor. He was ambitious as hell and more than little bit crazy, but he didn’t want to mass murder an entire High School.” She considered the table for a moment, before she shrugged—apparently having nothing else to say to the Mayor.

“Ok,” Adler said, with a confused look on his face as he headed toward the door. He paused there, looking back. “Should I ask too deeply why my coroner has such intimate knowledge of an insane being from another dimension who wanted to wreck the town? I remind you that unlike the Sheriff, the coroner does answer directly to the mayor.”

Morgan, who had gone back to leaning over and conspiring with Tania, slowly raised herself upright at the tone in the mayor’s last sentence. Her eyes didn’t cool so much as they flash froze, and the temperature in the room seemed to drop. Even Adler, unperturbed and shrouded in annoyance, swallowed at the sudden intensity of Morgan’s expression. “If we discuss the terms of my employment, Mr. Mayor—and I will remind you I am on a contract—we do so at a far more congenial time than this, yes?” Although the sentence was phrased as a question, her tone made it anything but.

Adler mumbled something that sounded like a yes, and quickly found his way out the door with his assistant. The moment he was gone Morgan rolled her eyes and sighed. “What a prick.”

“Don’t blame me,” Tania said helpfully, “I voted for the gangster, not the adulterer.”