Once everyone was seated Charles handled some introductions that he probably should have gotten to earlier, “This is Agent Jeff Sandborn of the Department of Homeland Security, who we are here to meet. The two other gentlemen are, as you know, bounty hunters. Amadeus Black and Richard White. I know you’ve had a bad experience with Richard and Amadeus in the past; that’s part of why I brought them in. I’ve worked closely with these men, as have a number of my associates, and it would be a shame if you felt you couldn’t trust them because they were misled by another party we once all trusted.”
“I’m going to need a bit more than that,” Kyle said, sounding angry.
“You’ll get it. Later.”
There was a longish moment of silence, then Amadeus reached over the table extending a hand to Kyle, “Call me Andy, and when I say that I mean it. My parents were classicists…”
Andy had something that almost approached an accent, but very weak. Like, perhaps, it had been his parents accent, or maybe his parents had just really cared about diction. Then he became a bounty hunter. She wondered if there was a rebellious back story there. She also wondered if there was a good explanation for Andy shooting a cop.
Kyle took the offered hand and shook, but his face stayed tight. Richard extended a hand to Kyle as well saying, “Rick,” as he did so. Kyle shook that to and glowered more.
Both men also shook Jessie’s hand. She used her supernatural strength to make them regret that. Which was petty, but whatever they deserved that much at least. If they’d wanted to avoid getting their hands slightly crushed they should have kissed her wrist or something. Oddly, both of them gave her slightly more respectful looks afterwards, so maybe they understood where she was coming from.
With that out-of-the-way, and the room’s tension slightly decreased, everyone settled back around the conference table and Agent Sandborn fired up a Powerpoint presentation, of all things. Jessie’s stomach growled as Sandborn flipped through several slides worth of introductory material that, apparently, didn’t apply. It was too far from breakfast and the combat magic had burnt through all of her blood sugar. She wondered if it would be impolite to get up and get coffee, or just maybe the sugar container and a spoon.
“Alright, here we are,” Sandborn announced. “The Children of Atlantis started out as a college organization at Indiana University, agitated a bit among the student body, protested outside of the magic building a couple of times, and booed a guest speaker once. They also had a slim online presence. It was, and still is, dedicated to the idea that the Archmagi hide all manner of important information, exercise undemocratic authority, and get up to some economic dirty dealings.” Agent Sandborn paused and looked up at Charles. His expression was blank, but again his shoulders were tight like he wanted to do some sort of violence.
Charles made a small shrugging gesture as if to say, ‘nothing new.’
Sandborn continued, “During this period, they allied themselves with other similar groups. There were a couple of socialist and anarchist organizations on campus that were willing to make common cause over the wealth of the Archmagi. They staged a few events with a radical green organization, Pure Earth, over magical pollution. Again, nothing atypical. Heck, it was probably healthy civil discourse.”
He flipped forward to another slide. This one contained a timeline of incidents stretching back several years. “Alright, here about two years ago something changes. The group first steps up its activities dramatically and then they start to get violent: vandalism at the magical engineering building a couple of times, a public protest that resulted in arrests, vandalization of a couple of local businesses involved in magic or owned by an Archmage, and finally the planned assault of a speaker scheduled by the university. This last event failed when it was reported by an ex member of the group, and a warrant was served against the group apparently scaring them into submission. I suppose I should be saying ‘alleged’ here. No conclusive evidence was discovered and no charges were filed.”
The next slide of the presentation displayed pictures of a number of people. “During this period, the membership of the Children is falling for fairly obvious reasons. They’re losing their previous core of politically active, but basically ordinary, students and picking up more extreme individuals from those affiliated groups I mentioned earlier. I’ll get you copies of our files on these guys later on so you can review them on your own, but I assure you it’s an interesting grab bag. We’ve got some criminal records, some psychological problems, and a lot of isolation and antisocial behavior.”
He clicked on one of the pictures, the image of a stunningly good-looking blond woman expanded to fill the screen. She had a bright and sunny smile, dimples, and twinkling green eyes. Although Jessie felt such genetic good fortune was somewhat unjust, nothing in her appearance suggested ‘magical terrorist’. Toothpaste commercial, maybe, but not terrorist. “That being said, memorize this face. This is Allison Savant. She was the student head of the group and every interview we’ve done says she’s a significant force.”