June 4th, 2008
4:42 am, EAST (UTC -6)
Matt and Ian had been drawn for the mid-morning shift. It was dark, and chill. Of the major planets, only Jupiter could be seen, and as there were no city lights, or lights of any kind at all, the stars were enormous and plentiful.
“It was a good idea you had to remove the School’s records from here to Ta’u,” said Ian. “I can’t imagine what LeDuc would have done with all that data!”
“Yeah,” Matt sighed. There was silence for a few minutes. “I hope this works out.” He gazed into the deep night sky. “I’ve never seen the Southern Cross before. I mean I have been in South America but --you know-- in the cities. This...” he gestured upward. “It’s a bit overwhelming!”
“I know just what you mean,” said Ian sipping lemonade. He made a noise of disgust and lifted his bottle, “This stuff is vile, you know.”
“Oh,” said Matt as he looked toward the chubbier mage. “Could you hand me a bottle of that evil juice of lemon?”
As he was about to hand one over, he said: “Would you rather have a root beer?”
“Yeah!” said Matt. “I like root beer a lot. I’ll have one.”
A few minutes later, a portal opened from the school. Matt was still burping up the carbonation of his drink when Davic and Marta came through.
Davic still looked wobbly on his feet. He sat on the stone bench by the enormous Moai. “So, are we ready to do this?” he asked.
The boys put their bottles of drink down and stood up. “Yeah,” said Matt. “If we don’t use the mana, it’ll be used against us.”
He took Davic’s arm and helped him to the patch of sand in the middle of the larger peak. Marta followed and took his other arm with one hand and held on to Ian’s wrist. She didn’t look at him, directly, just from the corners of her eyes.
“Don’t let your feelings get in the way this time,” said Davic.
“I won’t, Davic.” Her voice was a bit sharp.
“Nor will I,” said Ian, breathing slowly. “Marta, I’m glad you came.”
She looked at him this time, or at least that’s what it looked like to Matt. “Play nice, kids,” he said sardonically. “Or I’ll turn this car around and we’ll go home.”
Both laughed, and relaxed a bit. Mana from the island itself flowed in currents around the four. One curled up over them and another flowed from the lips of the moai around Ian’s end of the line. Another rippled between their legs like a house cat with its tail in the air.
Marta closed her eyes and the mana straightened out like lines of filings around a magnet. Ian became a focal point, then Davic and lastly Matt. All the mana currents organized themselves to this pattern Marta was creating.
“Sing, Davic!” she cried.
He leaned his head back and in a sweet baritone voice he sang: “Haere mai te marama ki a tatou. Whakaaturia matou tou mata. Noho i konei i te po nei!”
Nothing happened. Matt turned his head back to the others from the sky above. “Maybe we should all sing.”
It was a cold crisp winter night, enough to make your breath steam, but not enough to overwork the settings on the robes. Matt’s voice was loud even over the sound of the ocean waves many feet below the cliffs.
“What are the words?” asked Ian.
“In-Concert makes us all one,” said Marta. “Just sing it, Davic. We’ll join you.”
As Davic began, Matt sang a close harmony just a few notes lower and Ian sang above. But, it was Marta’s clear soprano singing a descant an octave and a half higher that turned the Rapanuian chant into a haunting, scintillating bit of magic.
The Mana flowed from the stone, of the twin peaks forming the island, and wove a tapestry around them. The curtain of glowing power rose into the sky and filled it, blotting out the piercing stars. The sky became a billowing mass of golden light. Their chorus became an anthem. Davic took lead, then the four parts circled and interwove with unexpected harmonies.
Suddenly the ripples of mana coalesced into a beam that shot over the eastern horizon and fetched forth the moon. At first, it was only a bit larger than a fingernail crescent but it waxed larger and larger as the mana wafted it over their heads. Soon it was a full moon and many times larger than natural.
It looked bigger than Matt had ever seen it. Rather than look the size of his thumbnail at the end of his extended arm. As it grew, it looked like the size of his fist. Then a cantaloupe held at arms length. Now it seemed to fill a quarter of the sky.
“Will it fall on us?” cried Marta.
“No!” laughed Davic. But before he could explain why, the portal opened up and out stepped Leduc, his daughter and three of his men.
“Why have you moved the moon?” Eric LeDuc shouted. His voice was so high it was in the androgynous zone. His voice sounded like a harpy shrieking, not a man commanding legions.
Just as suddenly, many more mages left the peak of the smaller part of the island and headed across the natural ledge connecting the two halves of the Motu. Dan Grant was leading the charge, followed by Fridleif Skjoldsson and Sean McBane.
The curtain of Mana began to thin. Large holes seemed to rip it into smaller and smaller upwardly ascending shreds. Soon the moon faded and evaporated entirely. They let go of hands and stumbled apart from each other.
But the light show wasn’t over. Lightning bolts of red, green and amber (as well as the normal bluish-white) filled the space above the islet and began to pound the rocks and sand as mages attacked each other. Matt didn’t hear any screams or much of anything at all. His ears were ringing with the concussive sound of the thunder.
He levitated a boulder half the size of a Cooper Mini and hurled it at LeDuc. It would have crushed the old man, too, if he hadn’t jumped far more nimbly than anyone in his eighties had any right to do so. Lightning bolts came back and fourth. Matt had to create a Dome of Iron over his head to deflect them and the rocks bound on meteoric destruction.
He looked around the dome in time to see LeDuc’s underlings join in an In-Concert. The mana was not as strong as it had been earlier in the evening. It was patchy and irregular. Most of it had been used to make the illusion of the moving moon. Little was left over for gratuitous violence.
There they were. Not watching him. But as close to him as one could want. Matt pulled a few ball bearings from his duster pocket and rolled them in his hand.
Another portal opened and out stepped a young red-headed woman. She strode toward Davic with evil in her eyes.
“Davic!” she cried over the noise of the lightning and the thuds of the flying rocks. “Why did you leave? Why did you move the moon? We could have had everything!”
She raised her hand, palm up, and sang the Samoan Song of Lightning. Davic put his hands up over his head and braced himself for impact. But, Retta turned at the last moment and the lightning headed for Jolene.
Jolene screamed and let go of her father’s and her colleague’s arms. Their In-Concert override shattered. The screams stopped abruptly as the bolt of incandescent, charged plasma burned it’s way through her face and skull to boil her brains beyond hope of recovery. Her lifeless form fell forward, splashing a vomitous gore on those around her.
Matt shot off the ball bearings. Two spun together like a circular saw blade and hit under LeDuc’s chin, decapitating him. His head dropped off and bounced on the ground like a soccer ball. Another took off the top of Solomon’s head. The fourth missed. Matt was miffed about that.
The lightning stopped. The last of LeDuc’s men escaped and soon the bigger rock of the islet was covered in Mages sympathetic to Matt’s friends.
“Good job, Matty!” said Grant, surveying the scene. “You’ve done really well here. I am glad I brought you on. “Are you ready to finish your mission?′
“Yes,” he said. “Yes. I am.” He then paused and looked at his friends. “But, I’d like a few days off to recover, if you don’t mind.”