9.5 A Valid Question

by Matt P.

“Why the hell does this keep happening?” Walter asked. The question had stewed in him for a long time, and he had been debating how to phrase it best. All the way back to the school with Morgan riding behind, which would have been pleasant otherwise, they stewed within him. Now, standing in what was a make-shift meeting room that was a not make-shift classroom otherwise, it bubbled out from within him.

“Are those your seven words?” Morgan asked curiously. Walter shook his head, although he did raise a surreptitious eyebrow to Gabriel Shepherd as the man came up. Shepherd gave a small shake of his head, and Walter shook his in turn again.

“Apparently not.” He confirmed. “Question stands though—why does this keep happening?” Walter looked at the group that was once again gathered around. Marshal Alexander, Andre, Leah, Morgan, Tania—and as was happening with a distressing frequency, Siobhan and Antigone. Ryan had skated home, and the only newcomer was Shepherd himself. “We keep doing this exact same thing. They do something crazy, we try to make it out with our skins intact, and then we get coffee or drink heavily and try to figure it out. But there has to be a reason.”

“You’re right.” William Alexander agreed, with a significant look to Gabriel Shepherd after a moment. “Uh…while we’re figuring out what has been happening all along, who is our new friend? Are you recruiting for the department?” He asked, humor warring with weariness in his voice. “Althugh if you can only answer one, I’d like the first…I’m getting real tired of this too.”

“Gabriel Shepherd, who is most assuredly not a psychic and similarly most assuredly does see the future from time to time.” Walter explained, almost disinterestedly. “He also told me that I will have a very bad evening because of seven words, although I don’t know what those words are exactly and it is driving me crazy.”

“Some of us have been thinking that for quite some time.” Tania pointed out, kicking her foot. She was sitting on the roof of a police cruiser as they all stood in the cool night, several of them still sweating off the evening’s exertions. Walter noticed that Antigone and Siobhan were not standing particularly close to Tania, and Antigone actually adjusted the distance a couple of times by pulling her dress closer about her. “We can’t come up with what the agenda is, partly because the people they’ve been killing and things they’ve been doing are so random.”

“And partly,” Morgan added, “because we don’t know exactly who it is that we think is in charge of the whole thing.”

“Then how did you know that they didn’t want kill us, but they want to rule us?” Siobhan pointed out. “Or were we quoting movie trailers? If so, uh…” She paused for a moment, fiddling with her fingers as she worked to pick the right one. “In space, no one can hear you scream?”

“Bleh.” Antigone added helpfully to her sister’s pick. “There has to be a better one.”

Morgan considered the two young women for a moment, before she looked back to her sister with a raised eyebrow. Finally, Tania waved her hand in assent to something, and Morgan began speaking again. “We know that because if they wanted to attempt to kill us all they probably could have done it. The Three Stripes killings were targeted, even if we don’t know exactly why because of the committee problem. These escalations have all been with a purpose, that seems to have grown after the random attacks that involved the girls.” Morgan said, motioning to Siobhan and Antigone off-handedly. “It could be that they have been targeting them because they’re Faerie blooded, if you know how to look, but unknown. Or it could be that they know something about their mother.” Morgan stopped there for a moment, biting her lip as if physically keeping herself from cutting off another comment.

Walter filled it in. “Or if they’re specifically targeting the girls it could be because their mom is with them?” He asked in a tone that made it clear it was not a question. Morgan gave him a little smile, a sad one, and he shook his head in return. “No. I don’t believe that one, and I don’t think it’s true.” At various looks, he rolled his head around a little bit and sighed. “I knew her, after all of you did, and no matter what else has happened I don’t believe my wife is helping madmen and lunatics hunt her daughters. Move on, it isn’t that one.” He looked down for a moment, tapping his foot on the ground as if considering something.

“Ok.” Morgan said, sharing a brief look with the Marshal. She was about to say something, before Walter looked up.

“They’re trying to accomplish something. When they stole from your creepy death armory, they had a reason for doing so. And Professor Gloom seemed pretty damn convinced he knew exatly what he was doing. So if they aren’t trying to take territory or steal cool stuff, because they already did that, then they’re baiting us.” Walter said, with a sudden conviction. “Everything they’re doing is to get us to do something. To make a mistake, so that they can hit us and cripple us for good. If we figure out what that is, then we can…well, avoid it.” Walter finished with a little laugh at the end.

The others considered it, before a wave of nods went across the crowd. “I like it.” Alexander said. “If you can’t kill your enemy for some reason, make them move to a place where you can.” Andre nodded eagerly.

“That…does seem to be his style.” Morgan said after a long moment of consideration. She was quiet and still, a frozen lake in the winter night as she processed what he had said. “We thought he must be trying to strike at something, but he’s baiting us.”

“What do you mean, his style?” Alexander asked. “Who is he?”

“And don’t dodge it this time!” Siobhan said pointedly, ever the pointer of points.

“I…” Morgan sighed. “We don’t know for sure, and we won’t know until we see his face. Or he hires a sky-writer or a SuperBowl ad. But we suspect that the leader of the people waging war against our courts is our father.”

“Your father?” Walter parroted, but with compassion in his voice. “Who is he?”

“The last Ard Righ, High King of all Faerie. The Elf King, Prince of all the Green plains.” Morgan finished, looking down at her feet and looking very much like an embarassed or frightened young woman. “Oberon.”