Marcy knew something was up as soon as training started. Hank and Frankie were both strangely subdued. And when about half way through, Willow showed up looking glum, but trying to smile and ask Marcy if her training was going well, that Marcy decided to call all of them on it.
“So, is someone going to tell me the latest developments, or should I just let my imagination take over and decide what is wrong for myself?”
Hank was the first to talk. “We aren’t really telling the Top Tier Users. It’s being played very close to the chest.”
“Isn’t it also played very close to the chest the true nature of the ixi agency? It’s not common knowledge that you guys are actually thousands of years old? Also, I’m the only Top Tier User who is actually training, actually caring about whatever is going on, right? Can someone please throw me a bone?”
They all shared a look; Frankie, Hank, and Willow. The only one Marcy was really concerned about was the look on Willow’s face. If Frankie or Hank knew her half as well as Marcy did, then they should see just what that expression on her face meant. It mean ‘She’s convinced me, so either we tell her as a group here, or I’m just going to tell her on my own later.’
Apparently, they did know her well enough, because Hank sighed and said, “Fine. You tell her. It’ll be on your head if Laurel gets pissed off, okay?”
“Fair enough.” And Willow explained the threat that they had received and the actions they were already making to counter it. Marcy listened patiently to all of Willow’s explanations, and when Willow was finished talking, she sank down onto the bench along the wall slowly, and just sat there in silence.
The truth of the matter was that Marcy wasn’t thinking anything as she sat there. She started at the point where the mirrors on the wall met with the mats on the floor, and for a good ten minutes or so, she thought of absolutely nothing. When she finally blinked and looked around the room, she found Hank, Frankie, and Willow were all still standing in there same places, watching her with concern on their faces. She offered them a weak smile in an attempt to assure them that she hadn’t completely lost it.
“So, if these Big Bad guys got a hold of me, what do you think they would do to me?” Marcy couldn’t help but ask.
“Do you want the honest answer or the sugar coated answer?” Hank asked.
“Honest,” Marcy replied before she could think about whether or not that was what she actually wanted. Frankie and Hank turned to Willow, knowing she was likely the only one with a strong enough stomach to actually give Marcy a completely honest answer.
“If they got you, well, it’s hard to be one hundred percent certain because we’ve had such little contact with them, and such little communication, but my guess would be that first they would treat you very kindly, and explain their position to you. They would try to convince you that they are in the right and that the Ixi agency is in fact an evil organization.”
“And if I don’t fall for their bullshit?”
“Then they will get less than friendly. Potentially, they’ll torture you, anything that they can do to break your spirit and force you to work for them. The most dangerous thing about them is that they believe that they are doing the right thing. They will probably stop at nothing to achieve what they believe is the right thing for the world. Partly a blessing, and partly a curse is the fact that they will not kill you. You are much too valuable to them alive.
Marcy nodded as if she had expected as much. “Okay.” She said softly. She pushed off on her legs and pulled herself back up to her feet. “Okay,” she repeated with a little bit more strength in her voice. “Let’s get back to work. All this training will do me absolutely no good if I don’t keep working on it.”
“Are you okay?” Hank asked.
It seemed like such a simple questions, one that is usually given a simple answer, but Marcy knew there was so much more to it than that.
Still, she tried to answer Hank as honestly as possible. “No, I’m not really okay. I’m terrified. And I mean that for the first time to the fullest extent of the definition. However, there is really very little I can do about it right now. If this group comes for me, then they come for me. The best thing for me to do right now is to train and try to make sure that if they do come for me, I am ready to kick their sorry asses, or at the very least give it my very best fighting chance.
Marcy crossed back to the middle of the mat and waited for everyone else to react to her little outburst. Hank was the first to figure out what to say.
“All right. Let’s keep working. Willow, are you sticking around to train as well?”
“Great. Frankie, you teach willow what you’ve been working on. Marcy, you try that pin on me again. Getting Frankie is one thing. Getting me will be something entirely different. Let’s go.”
Marcy looked at Hank with an over whelming wave of gratitude, and almost wanted to kiss him. He wasn’t dwelling, or forcing her to deal with her feelings, but just moving on and letting her work it out. Pushing down the urge to kiss him, she let everything wash out of her mind.
Hank was a hundred times right. Pinning Frankie was absolutely nothing. Pinning Hank was going to take all of her strength and all of her concentration.