At the Edge of All Things

Interlude: Blackjack and Memoranda

“Enter.”

David continues to write at his desk as his office door opens.

“Sit Memoranda, I will be with you in a moment.”

“I thought you said being an an Arrow mage meant no paperwork?”

“I did not say that. I said there is not much paperwork. But this is not Order paperwork, it is departmental paperwork. Do not go into Academia. I do more paperwork here then I did in the Army.”

David looks up and raises an eyebrow at Memoranda’s head to toe black ensemble but doesn’t comment. He sets aside his pen and notepad to their exact place. Hands folding in front to him.

“I assume from the fact that you are here, that you have considered joining the order.”

“No, I just decided to get a history degree.”

“The sarcasm is unbecoming. So lets start with what you think the order does?”

“Enforce the will of the council. Beat up outsiders. Mindlessly obey orders.”

David sighs and stands up, taking a book from his shelf and setting it down on the table. Flipping through the pages, he opens it up to the picture of an open hand. Turning it to Memoranda, he points to it. “We are the warriors of Atlantis. We protect it’s traditions and orders. But we aren’t an army. There aren’t enough of us. Hell, there are less Arrow mages in the Vancouver area then I used to have in my platoon. And I had four more platoons to call on if I got in trouble. So the Adamantine Arrow membership generally operates more independently.” Holding out his hand, he wiggles his fingers. “Like the fingers on hand. And when necessary. We form a fist. But mindlessly obeying orders is out. An Arrow mage often has to act on their own. There will be times when you may have to beat up outsiders. You will have to fight banishers and Seers and monsters. We do not generally make a habit of hunting apostates for sport. Keep an eye on, yes. But mostly just to be aware of potential trouble, or look for recruits. The sentinels we met last night had been doing exactly that. And yes, some of our rank often are put into a position to enforce the Council’s will. And while the Arrow doesn’t encourage political infighting, we also do encourage our members to be aware of it and reduce wasteful excesses. But mostly our task is protection. Protection of our fellow mages, those who follow our traditions and apostates who simply want to be left alone. As well as the sleepers around us.”

“That doesn’t seem so bad. But why would you want me? Loki wants to be a doorkicker.” Memoranda frowns at him. “I don’t really do the whole military thing.”

“No, the Army would not approve of an entire sail boat worth of crinoline. But when I can through the door you acted. You threw up a defensive spell. You attempted retreat when you realized you were outnumbered. That you lost is not a poor reflection on you. Loki’s reaction on the other hand was to stand there. Also he is…undisciplined. Training you how to act properly is much easier then teaching him to act. I am not saying he will never be an Arrow, but he is not ready right now. You are.”

“I’m not a combat mage. I don’t know any kung-fu. I’ve never even fired a gun.” She fidgets in the chair, her tone half-hearted in it’s resistance.

“I do not know Kung Fu either. I am rather hoping to learn some while I am here. As for the rest, the order will teach you. Likely I will be your firearms teacher.”

“So…so what next?”

“We take you to the Magister, You petition to join with my recommendation. Over the next week, you will be tested. From there we will make a decision. And by we, I mean you and the Order. Then a training phase. And then a final testing phase.” He leans back in his chair, fingers going back into a steeple.

“What right now?” Fighting the urge to fidget, Memoranda looks at her feet.

“Now you go home and let me finish my paperwork” David picks up his book.

Three days later, they find themselves outside of the Body Hammer gym. David in a dark suit, Memoranda in a long black dress lacking several of her normal layers of crinoline, ignoring the stares of the passing crowd. “Come on, we’re just about on time.” Holding the door open for her, they are met by a tall black man in sweat pants and a soaked t-shirt. “…Welcome. To…the both of you. Whew! I appreciate your promptness…and apologize for my state. Workout ran a bit over today…” With a rueful smile offers his hand to Memoranda who takes it with a firm handshake of her own. “You’re Blackjack’s new friend? Pleasure to meet you.”

“First Talon Traceur, this is Memoranda.”

“It’s nice to meet you.” She replies nervously.
“Follow me back into the Sanctum.” Traceur grins at the pair as he leads them back past a staff only door into the modern business office. A confrence room is off to the side and further down the hall a small gym for Arrow members. “Help yourself to OJ or some bottled water.” Grabbing a bottle of water, BJ pours a Crystal Light Cherry drink packet into it, offering to the others who decline.

“So…how does this go? Do I have to fight you or something?”
Tracer looks at her levelly, a seriousness settling into the room. “No. Which isn’t to say we don’t practice sparring sometimes, but the first quality we look for in prospective Arrows isn’t combat prowess. Blackjack here, and the Sentinels who conducted the investigation, tell me you thought quickly on your feet and kept your head.”

“I don’t get that. Is not freezing that big a deal?”

“Yes. It is often the difference between the living and the dead.” BJ speaks, grimacing as he looks at the bottle of flavored water with distaste.

“It absolutely is. But more than that…” Traceur chooses his words carefully. “You acted in defense of a cause you thought was right. You and your cabal weren’t acting according to the Lex Magica, and the council will decide what to do about that, but we Arrows all swear oaths to something bigger than ourselves. You were ready to do whatever it took to defend your friends and their project from a group of unknown, powerful strangers. That speaks well of you.” BJ’s head nods in agreement.

Pondering before she speaks, “We were just doing what’s right. That doesn’t seem like a big deal.”

“In our world? It really is, child. It really, really is.” There is little warmth to Traceur’s smile. He straightens up, a carved from wood dignity on his face as he becomes formal. “Blackjack, are you willing to speak for this mage? To vouch for her character and her ability?”
“I speak for her. She is sound of character and ability. I recommend her with a glad heart.” Blackjack replies with as much formality.

“Are you prepared to make duty and service your watchwords? To oppose the enemies of Atlantis, and stand between your friends and harm?” Gazing into Memoranda’s eyes as his voice crackles with a bit of magical energy. “I…I am. Forgive me. This is all a little weird.” Memoranda relaxes as she realizes it wasn’t quite as hard as she thought. “As the man said, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” He claps her on the shoulder. “Welcome to the Adamantine Arrow. BJ is your sponsor, so you and he will be working closely on Order business, although one of our Moros members will take up the job of training you in your Arcana in your off time.”
Reaching into the gym bag, BJ pulls out a small carved box, offering to Memoranda. “This for you.” She opens it with excitement until she sees the Glock inside with a pair of spare clips.

“Um…thank you. Is it magic?”

“No. Just a gun. It fires bullets. Sometimes having a non-magical backup is a good idea.” BJ grins as she stares at it like it’s a snake. “A good choice. I’ll talk to one of our contacts in the RCMP to make sure the paperwork for that goes through without a hitch.” Traceur gestures for BJ to go into the conference room as they say their goodbyes to Memoranda.
Traceur turns on the projector. “I appreciate how proactive you’ve been since coming to Vancouver, Blackjack. The Order is stretched thin here with too much work to do and not enough hands to do it, and your work with this girl will not go unrewarded.”

“It was unexpected to find her. I came close to shooting her. I got lucky.”

“So did she, although she has no idea how lucky.” Traceur walks over to a laptop on the conference table and taps a couple of keys. “Fifty minutes after the Sentinels brought her cabal in and cleaned up the area, this happened.” Security camera footage pops up on the screen. The clinic looks pristine as several gangbangers burst through the door. One gestures to another and the camera is spray painted. BJ watches with a raised eyebrow.

“Gangers hitting clinics at night for drugs isn’t completely unheard of,” Traceur says. “But most gangers don’t conduct thorough, professional-level searches, and they sure as hell don’t carry forensic kits and cans of Luminol. Because that’s what we found the next morning. The Asclepus Clinic had been turned over, every inch of it, by people who could give the RCMP lessons.”

“Professionals. Any idea who they belong to? I am assuming they are not local.”

“I don’t have proof…yet…but I think they were Seers. I think your friend and her cabal got onto more people’s radar than just ours, and if you and your group hadn’t busted up their little party, they would have been disappeared without a trace.”
“She dodged two bullets apparently then. Can I let her know? I assume she would like to give her cabal a heads up.”

“You can, although this is going to come up at the Consilium in a few days. I can guarantee you that the Guardians are going to use this as evidence for the prosecution. ‘Their irresponsibility nearly got them killed, and if Consilium members had been there we might have had a shooting war,’ et cetera et cetera. The Order will stand up for Memoranda since she has joined us, but her friends might be left twisting in the wind. You might want to help her understand that.”

With a grimace. “I would like to speak for the rest. While apostates, they were trying to do good. Or have the Guardians given into paranoia?”

“I urge you to be cautious when speaking of them. Our Sanctum is one thing, but out in the city…” Traceur waves around the room. “The Guardians are very…committed. And they have good reason to be, Blackjack. They really do. We’re in hostile territory here, and there may not be room for squeaky wheels…Even well-meaning ones.”

“All the more reason to not potential throw away allies.” Raises his hand. “I know. I will have a quiet word with Memoranda. And not make too much trouble.” Shakes his head. “I know as a West Pointer that I am supposed to love politics but I really do not.”

“Khatsalano tries to keep our Order above the fray. Our enemies should be external, not…ourselves. But it’s often a difficult course to navigate. You’re going to see that yourself, Blackjack. I don’t think I’m revealing state secrets when I tell you that your group is going to be put forward at the meeting as a new mixed Cabal. Yourself, two mystagogues, and a Guardian…you’re going to learn to negotiate these competing interests yourself.” He shrugs. “Or you won’t. But the first way will be easier and better in the long run.”

“Well there are worse tasks in the world then playing bodyguard. It will be just like going to work but without the students.” Grimaces more at that. “Hrm. I wonder if I can get the guardian to speak for them. One of their own speaking up may have more weight.” Shakes his head.

“I hear this Guardian is an out-of-towner, like yourself. He might have more…moderate points of view. It’s worth a shot. And you should try to find a good working equilibrium with him. Take it as understood that he’s going to spy on your cabal for the Guardians, but if you’re on his good side that might buy you some consideration at an important moment.” Rising “That’s all I needed to discuss, for now. Do you have any questions?”

“No, not really. Still getting settled in. Oh…you would not happen to know where there might be a nice hallow going unused? Ideally with low rent?”

It’s Traceur’s turn to wince, “Hallows are a sore subject right now. Simply put, there are too many Mages in Vancouver and not enough Hallows to go around. When the Council meets, I would try to get a word in with Rattenbury, the Hierarch. By local law, he controls the dispensation of unclaimed Hallows. If you and your cabal are useful to him, he might…” with a shrug “But then again, he might not. He’s a hard man to read.”

“Right. So it might be easier to make my own. Eventually. Oh well. Less paperwork.” Stands up and gives a slight bow. “I have papers to grade. If anything pops up, I will be around.”

He bows back. “If nothing else, I’ll see you in Council. We’ll be in touch. And it’s good to have you on board.”

“Good to be here. Night.”

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MrAnthropy

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