“Leaving in five minutes, if you aren’t in the van you’re walking!” Responding to the yell Jessie finished eating her sixth, and sadly last, piece of pizza with a few huge and unladylike chomps. She’d woken up that morning when the sun started shining in her eyes at a little after 10. That was a little too late, given that the children apparently had to be somewhere at 10:30. Fortunately, none of the rest of the group had done much better. Apparently magical anarchists didn’t feel compelled to keep regular hours.
Jessie arrived at the van second to last. Allison was already sitting in the driver’s seat looking put together and attractive in a casual suit. Kyle, was in the passenger seat. Weren’t they supposed to be a couple? He should have set where he could be next to her.
Oh well, even if they’d been a real couple it was the sort of thing Kyle wouldn’t have had a feel for.
Jessie was pretty sure the scruffy looking man in the second row of seats was named Lynn. He smelled of something burnt. Incense, she thought, with a hint of marijuana under it. He wore a distant expression, but Jessie didn’t think it was the drug. She’d never seen him with an expression that couldn’t be characterized as distant.
The van was a full sized affair with four rows of seats. Jessie settled into the very back row so no one would be sitting behind her. She wasn’t there long before two more women, Jen and Fern, arrived. They almost bumped into each other at the door of the van and Fern sprang back in a reflexively skittish motion. Jen nodded slightly to her and climbed in setting next to Lynn. Fern shot her an annoyed look once her back was turned, and then looked at Lynn. After another moment’s hesitation she climbed into the as yet unoccupied row of seats just in front of Jessie. Had she wanted to sit next to Lynn?
The final two members of the group arrived while Jessie was still trying to get a feel for that little drama. Murrow slid in next to Fern and Alexander took the last spot next to Jessie. Alexander gave Jessie a leering smile and crossed his arms such that his t-shirt sleeves were pushed up. Jessie was pretty sure that was intentional and that he wanted to show off his tattoos. If she was right, he should have saved himself the effort. The work really wasn’t that good, and the designs were utterly uninspired. There were some skulls, some flames, and a few jagged lines that might have been intended to represent lightening, barbed wire, or even tribal markings.
“Is that everyone,” Kyle asked from the front.
“Yeah, Bob’s not with us at the moment,” Alison answered. Then she started the van and tapped at its console for a moment setting up the destination.
Jessie noticed Fern winced very slightly at the mention of Bob. Bob hadn’t been around when Alison had introduced Kyle and Jessie to the group, but Jessie had a sneaking suspicion that he might have tar colored skin and the ability to toss around clouds of deadly black smoke. If that was the case, she didn’t blame Fern for being a bit nervous around him.
The van worked its way across town. The Children’s house was located in a suburb that had gone to seed, but not yet totally to the dogs. The state of the surrounding buildings fell off as they progressed. Yards became more overgrown and weed choked, stores got smaller and more heavily barred. Jessie started to worry about where they were going. It didn’t seem like the direction they’d go for a protest. The quickest way to the local government offices was the highway around the city’s perimeter. Likewise, all of the major local firms, both magical and mundane, were located further out of town where things were less built up and the rent was cheaper.
The combat spell began to push at Jessie in response to her growing worry. She took a few deep breaths pushing it down and keeping the flow of magic directed at making a small container in her pocket much bigger on the inside than the outside. It wasn’t easy. She had to actually calm her body, not just think about being calm, but it could be done. She’d had a lot of practice.
If the Children were going somewhere as a group presumably they were going to do something in support of their common cause. If that something wasn’t going to be a protest was it going to be a crime? If so, what sort of crime? Would it be something that would force Jessie to break cover and stop the Children from hurting someone.
As the city got older and shabbier outside the window of the van that worry retreated. What could they hurt here? As far as she knew the children had no political stand on run down buildings. It might, however be the perfect spot for a weapon or illicit magic purchase.
Still, wouldn’t they send just one or two people? There was no reason for all of the children to be in on the deal unless it was likely to be dangerous. Maybe they were buying weapons from a gang! Jessie felt the magic begin to push at her again as she imagined tense negotiations with a biker gang in an abandoned warehouse or some such.
“So where are we going anyway,” Kyle asked Allison in the front.
“Oh, sorry I forgot you guys didn’t know. It’s our day to serve lunch at the homeless shelter.”