“Come on Grandma, we’re going to be late!” Alexandra Underwood called up the stairs to Jean.
“Oh quit your fussing, there’s still an hour before the concert starts,” Jean’s disembodied voice floated down.
“Yeah an hour for you! I have to get there and get set up. This bad boy doesn’t tune itself.” She tapped on the cello case.
“Perhaps you should consider meditating to prepare?”
The phone chose this inopportune time to begin ringing.
“Language!” Jean interrupted the curse as she appeared at the top of the stairs.
“Don’t answer it!” Alex grabbed the phone from the little decorative table whose only purpose seemed to be to hold Jean’s two phones and keys.
“It’s the work phone, I have to.” Jean held out her hand patiently. “They won’t stop calling.”
“Seriously?” Alex’s voice raised an octave higher.
“You know that being a Guardian for a Clan isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle.”
“Whatever.” Jean caught the phone Alexandra tossed with remarkable ease. The conversation lasted less than a minute, but it was clear that Jean was going to take the job.
“I can’t miss the concert; I’m the lead cellist.”
“You won’t miss the concert, dear. It’s a fairly routine repossession. Shouldn’t take longer than ten minutes. Besides it will be good for you to see exactly what will be expected of you if you accept Wolf Clan’s job offer.”
“Do I have a choice?”
“You always have a choice.”
“Not a good one.”
“You can always take a taxi to school, but I think this would be good for you.”
“What’s the job?” Alex couldn’t completely deny that she was curious what would really be expected of her if she should accept the offer from the strange Architect she had met last Halloween.
“A standard fifteen percent of the contract’s worth. We are responsible for making sure that only that much is removed by the Architects of Lore, and that neither party gets out of hand.” Jean explained as the got into the car.
“Okay. So why don’t their Enforcers take care of this?”
“A Guardian must always be present as a sort of neutral third party.”
“Okay… Weird but whatever. So how much are we repossessing?”
“Well the contract was for one million dollars.”
“Well they’ve already emptied his accounts so now we just have to make up the last seventy grand.”
“How the hell is this going to be taken care of in ten minutes?”
“Wolf Clan is sending five strong Enforcers to do the heavy lifting, and Architects tend to acquire antiques. Whether it’s through laziness or design. I seriously think you need to just relax and close your eyes-”
“Okay stop! I’m not meditating.” Alex cut Jean off before she could slip further into her yogi voice.
“Suit yourself. We’re here anyway.”
“So are we supposed to bring a weapon or anything?”
“We are our weapon.” Jean wiggled her noise in a very Bewitched kind of way.
Alexandra covered her eyes and shook her head. “Seriously, Grandma?”
“If I had a quarter for every time you said ‘seriously’ or ‘whatever’ I’d be filthy rich.”
Five men stood on the sidewalk dressed in the grey, black, and brown representing Wolf Clan’s colours. A modest house with a well-manicured yard was their background.
“I don’t know if this dude has seventy thousand to give.”
“He better,” grumbled one of the burlier Enforcers.
“What he meant to say was, ‘Hi, Jean. You’re looking lovely today. Thank you so much for coming on such short notice.’” A man of average height, weight, and looks spoke up.
“Anything for you, Steve, since you always ask so nicely. Anything we need to prepare for going in?”
“He’s a telepath, but that shouldn’t be an issue.”
“Ok good, shall we get this done before my granddaughter explodes from anxiety? We have a concert in…” Jean glanced at her watch. “Fifty minutes.”
“Already longer than the ten minutes you promised.”
They climbed three concrete stairs that led up the gently sloping lawn, while four of the guys dragged dollies noisily behind them.
Steve handed Jean a clipboard with a list on it. “Itemised inventory of his house and approximate value.”
“Good, he’s cooperating. This should be even faster,” Jean commented.
“As long as he’s not lying,” commented the grumbly man.
Steve rang the doorbell and they waited; Alexandra not so patiently.
The contract breaker opened the door, and spared them a dirty look before permitting them to enter.
“Okay the items of highest value listed are the vase and the table. Make sure they are authentic and then take them.” Steve told his crew while Jean looked through the list for their values and checked them off.
After five minutes of calling out items and authentication checks they were down to only another five thousand dollars.
“Okay, Jonathan. We’re nearly done. Thanks for your cooperation,” Steve spoke to the homeowner.
“This looks like it’s worth about five thousand.” Grumbles held up a violin case. Alexandra winced at the thought of her cello being taken from her.
“Not that,” Jonathan finally spoke his first words and Alexandra caught a whiff of energy around him.
The feeling of static crawled across her skin and made her teeth ache. “Grandma.”
“I know.” She carefully laid the clipboard down and widened her stance a little.
The Enforcers nearest to Jonathan turned their attention to the man.
“Now, Jonathan. You know we can take whatever we want.”
Jonathan’s eyes narrowed and the static feeling prickled more loudly against Alexandra’s skin.
Alexandra slowly began to pull her energy from her cells at her very extremities into her center. She couldn’t keep it there long, but she had a feeling she wouldn’t have to.
“What the hell?” Grumbles questioned suddenly and pointed a gun at one of his fellow Enforcers. Alexandra stared at him in confusion, but Jean didn’t pause as she flung a telekinetic wave at the gun.
It discharged before falling to the floor, but managed to wing the other Enforcer.
“He has telekinesis too!” Grumbles yelled adding to the cluttered questions, curses, and exclamations filling the air.
Another Enforcer drew his gun and pointed it at Steve.
“He’s in their minds!” Jean yelled.
The shout stirred Alexandra out of her stupor, but the energy she had spooled had disappeared at the shock of the situation. Jean deflected another three friendly fires in the time it took Alexandra to draw in the energy again.
“Get Jonathan! I can’t stop them from hurting each other and attack him!” Jean commanded as her jewelry tinkled madly from her wildly flinging arms.
Shit! Alexandra cursed silently as she searched the chaos of the room for the source. She used her empathy to follow the angry emanation to its source and expelled her wave of energy. As it left her body she felt the heat of fire and realised she hadn’t just sent out a wave of telekinesis.
“Shit!” The smell of burning hair and meatier things reach her nose, but the din from the chaos drastically decreased.
The contents of her stomach added to the smell as she realised the burning flesh smelled far too similar to a nice side of pork. Oh god, I think I killed him.
Alex stumbled out of the house to the front steps and stared blankly at the lovely green grass and tried not to think about what just happened. Jean eventually found her and pulled her gently to her feet just as an ambulance screeched up to the house.
“It’s touch and go, but he should live. He’ll likely be exiled for attacking Enforcers, so he might rather be dead though. How are you doing, dear?”
“Uh… Ask me tomorrow.”
“You did good work in there.”
“I didn’t mean to hit him with fire.”
“I know, dear. Separating powers will come with practice, and adrenaline makes everything harder. We still have twenty minutes to get to your concert, but we have to leave now.”
“Oh, yeah… my concert,” Alexandra mumbled.
“You’re lead cellist.”
“I can’t play like this.”
“You can and you will. You just need to-”
“Grandma! I’m not meditating.”
Jean smiled indulgently at her. “Try it. You might be surprised.”