Weapons training and winter formals… a deadly combination
All Mia ever wanted was to fit in at Whispering Woods High. But being a portal-finder who dates a guy from another dimension sort of makes it hard. Mia’s brother disappeared over a year ago, and now agents from the IIA are policing people’s movements through dimensions. She’d trusted Dr. Bleeker from the local university when he’d told her the IIA were the bad guys. But even a girl with an extraordinary ability to sense things can make mistakes.
Now two people are dead, and as a portal gatekeeper for the IIA, Mia needs to find Dr. Bleeker before he hurts anyone else. And her boyfriend Regulus, an Agent for the IIA, carries secrets of his own. Between learning about weaponry, finding the perfect dress for the winter formal, and catching bad guys, who has time to fit in?
“Portal finder. I can do that. I didn’t sign up for this other part.” I shivered in the cold morning. Deep in the woods, a fine mist hung in the damp, sticky air. We had walked at a brisk pace to match Regulus’s for a couple of miles, and now my hair clung to my neck and cheeks. Irritated, I shoved the strands off my face.
“These skills are necessary for all agents of the IIA, portal finder or not.” Regulus nodded at Arizona. “Arizona is adept in judo, jujitsu, and several other martial arts. He is small but quick.”
I looked at Arizona, a head taller than myself.
“I am skilled in everything from hand-to-hand combat to weaponry. You do not have time to become skilled in anything,” Regulus said.
“Gee, thanks,” I answered.
“You will rely on your ability in marksmanship, which you recently demonstrated irresponsibly.” Regulus referred to an incident over a month ago at Dr. Bleeker’s involving a gun and a precise shot into the thigh of a bad guy holding Regulus. Video gaming had paid off for once.
Arizona smirked. “I think she did pretty well. Saved your backside,” he said.
Regulus shot him a look that would wilt most people, but Arizona grinned even wider. Then he took off his backpack and removed two weapons, setting them in a precise line on the ground: a black-handled, five-inch-long knife, and the silver box from Regulus’s world that I called a stunner.
Examining the knife, I imagined slitting someone with it. Nah. The knife wasn’t my style. I picked up the stunner.
“Be careful,” Regulus said as if I were a child. “You could hurt yourself.”
“Do I finally get one of these?” I asked the question and then stuck out my tongue at him. The wind blew and twirled leaves around my head in a kaleidoscope of red and orange. I pushed hair out of my eyes.
“This is how you hold it.” Regulus took the rectangular box from me with deliberate care. He held it much like a cell phone and said, “Make certain that the opaque end faces out.” He then pointed somewhere in the distance. “See that tree with the knot in the center?”
I shook my head.
“I will take the limb off. The one that is a foot above our heads.” Regulus pointed the stunner and squeezed both sides. A high-pitched whistle sounded, and the tree limb fell to the ground. “Now, you shall hold it. No pressure should be exerted in this hold.” He handed me the box. “Hold it lightly.”
I studied the object in my palm that I’d held in the past without a clue as to its inner workings. The sides were malleable with a gel-like quality. Anxious, I tried not to squeeze. A mockingbird chattered and startled me into a jittery bundle of nerves.
“What makes it go off?” I asked.
“You do,” Regulus said. “Now you will exert pressure with your thumb and forefinger and tell it to discharge.”
“Tell it?” I shifted uncomfortably at the thought of talking to the stunner. Regulus hadn’t done that. I raised my eyebrows, unsure that I had heard him correctly.
“You can do it with your voice, but it isn’t necessary. Direct the command with your mind.” Regulus nodded his head toward the tree. “This is going to take all morning if you must question everything that I tell you to do.”
Arizona had carried a sword into the woods and began executing slicing motions parallel to his body. Ever since we had taken the sword from Ms. Amazon, he had been obsessed with it. He ignored us.
“I don’t get it. Where is the trigger? My voice?”
“Stop talking.” Regulus stood behind my shoulder and brought his arm forward, covering my hand with his. “Hold it like a gun. Steady.”
“Nothing is happening.” I pressed with my thumb and finger.
“Close your eyes,” he whispered. “Think about the discharge and mentally tell the weapon to obey. Be certain that your fingers make firm contact.”
For once, I didn’t argue. I concentrated on the weight of the weapon in my hand and pressed while I wished for it to fire. I heard the faint whistling sound and opened my eyes to see what I had done. Nothing looked different. If a branch had fallen, I couldn’t tell.
One hundred yards away to the left, an ancient oak tree bent in half and popped in protest. Several jolting shrugs later, the top five feet bent at a forty-five degree angle and creaked as it drooped toward the ground. A displaced flock of birds chattered while settling in another treetop.
Arizona chuckled to himself without making a comment.
Regulus rubbed his hand over the back of his neck. “I think you have it. Now let’s try with the eyes open. But this time, think less forcefully. It may be important to keep the landscape intact, and there is a rather small mountain over there quivering in fear.” A slight smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.