Prologue (Meeting 2,318)
By Agent Tilly Waterson
[Lots of muffled chattering.]
HE [muffled]: —don’t understand is, why are we here if this is about—
TW: Is it on? Oh! We’re rolling.
TA: Finally. Attendance?
HE: [slow, evil laughter]
TA: Translation: present.
TW: [MB]? Oh… she’s not here.
HE [sadly]: She’s on vacation right now. She’ll be back in… [pause] 4 days, 5 hours, and 23 minutes.
RB: Where is she?
HE: It’s this place called—
TA [coughing]: Let’s get the meeting started. Next week, Kirby and Wheeler will reopen for the start of the autumn term. Each new year brings in a new wave of students, so we need to be ready. It’s a whole different year compared to the Initiative’s year. Not only are there potential villains, but also recruits. I’ll be sending out a message to our agents to inform everyone of the starting procedures. This also means we’ll be able to move back into the F.O.L.D. headquarters.
RB: Finally. Your basement has spiders, [TA].
TA: Please, everyone, the faster that this meeting ends, the sooner y’all can escape from my basement. Right, ah… we should address a key point. We’re lacking assets at Wheeler. Besides [DM], we are coming up short. We need to make some more connections. Let’s not forget that [JD] started his rise to power there. There are some possibilities for recruits, like those two brothers… what were they named again?
TW: [PP] and [PP].
HE: Weren’t they responsible for that one prank with the egg that…
TA: Yes. Yes they were. Let’s keep to the point, okay? We need more allies at Wheeler. This new wave of students gives us that chance.
AG: It also means new bullies. New villains.
TA: One week. Let’s be ready, particularly at Wheeler.
RB: If Wheeler is really important, why isn’t [DM] here?
TA: He was invited. He’s… been, ah, a bit quiet of late.
TW [quietly]: He’s still not over her, I think.
By Dove Macleash
The End of the School Year dance. The Under the Sea dance.
I had spent so much time with the Student Body Government planning this dance. So much time with her.
I knew the blue lights, blue streamers, paper bubbles, and cardboard fish so well. We had thought of each detail. We had planned it all. Finally, it was all there. Everyone from the OrigAvengers was present, even though the party was at Wheeler. It had seemed like a good way to celebrate our victory over Jude.
I must say that the group looked amusing together, almost as if each of them were from a different realm. Clark Largent was standing to the side, nodding his head to the music. Andy Gardner was talking to a girl I had never met before. Jessie and Jessica were dancing intensely, like they were professionals who had rehearsed their routines every day. Ally was leaning up against the corner, looking somewhat terrified of the dancefloor. Even Trent was there. He still had his eyepatch on.
Yet Shelby Solstice, the one person I wanted to see, was nowhere.
We had broken up a few days prior, just before the final OrigAvengers showdown. Clark had told me it might have been her way of letting go, since she was graduating high school. Still… when we were together, she had promised we would dance together at the dance we put so much work into.
I had not had that much exposure to local music since I came to the US. It sounded very different, almost like a heart beating. It made me nervous. I avoided the dance floor, going around the edge of the room. This made me end up right next to Ally, who also was keeping a safe distance from the dance floor.
“What’s up?” she greeted.
“Hi, Ally,” I responded. “Have you seen Shelby?”
“Shelby? Hmm… I don’t think so.”
“Oh. Okay, thanks.”
I started to continue shuffling sideways along the wall. “Is that a new dance?” Ally asked. I looked down and realized she was talking about my foot movements.
I laughed in spite of myself. “Yes, I guess so. It is the… um…”
“Dove Shuffle,” suggested Ally. Our conversation was interrupted before I could respond as Jessie and Jessica came twirling off of the dance floor.
“ROMANCE IS IN THE AIR!” hollered Jessie so loud that I imagined Jude probably heard him from juvenile detention.
“Shut up, Jessie!”
I must say that those two made me happy. They were clearly enjoying their company. I even thought I saw Jessica smile after she said that.
On with the butter. I kept following the wall, until I finally made it past everyone to the stage. Adrian had volunteered to be the DJ for the dance. He greeted me with a nod. His mini-platform was decorated with dollar origami fish, blue streamers, and a bubble machine. I waved briefly (half at Adrian and half at the bubbles that were floating in front of me) before turning toward the dance floor. I remembered uncomfortably that the last time I was on this stage I had been confronting Jude. I scanned the crowd three times. No luck. With a sigh, I collapsed into the nearest open chair. She was nowhere to be seen.
I was here, at the dance she and I had spent so much time on. The dance we were meant to do together.
I missed Foldin. I missed Shelby Solstice.
I got home, went to my room, sat down on my bed, and buried my face in my hands. After what felt like an eon, I picked my head up. I took Thorigami out of my pocket.
“We cannot do this anymore,” I muttered, remembering Shelby’s words. “I cannot do this anymore.” I slowly peeled off Thor’s hammer and tore it to shreds. The pieces of paper drifted to the floor.
I almost tore Thorigami, but I stopped before I did. I stood up, opened my desk drawer, and set Thorigami inside.
“We need a break.”
I shut the drawer.
A New Year, A New Story
I have had a strange return to Wheeler.
For one thing, I would have thought I would have more work. I am one of the few OrigAvengers that goes to Wheeler. I would think that would mean I have all of the work at Wheeler. Yet there have not been any major problems. No new supervillain has risen up in the first few days.
Second, my return to Student Body Government has been delayed as we look for a new president. With Shelby gone, a spot is opened on the council. Since Shelby was largely in charge, not much has been going on in her absence.
I still have not had Thorigami with me since the past school year. Thinking about being Thorigami just reminded me of all of the times I spent with Shelby. That still caused me too much emotional pain at the moment.
Given those points, I am not sure if this case file is going to go anywhere, but I am recording everything anyway. Let me recount what has occured.
I had been spending a lot of time with Adrian over the summer. I did not realize how much time I spent with Shelby, but now Adrian is just one of the few people who goes to Wheeler. Even then, he is a hall monitor and is a student at Kirby. The last time I had seen him at Wheeler was the Under the Sea Dance. I tried to avoid thinking about that. It has been a full summer vacation since the Under the Sea Dance, but I still feel very attached to Shelby. Adrian keeps telling me that I will find the right person. In my mind, I did. Now that she is gone, I am just stuck.
Unfortunately, since I spent so much time with Shelby and Adrian, I hardly know anyone at Wheeler. That makes things a bit strange.
On my first day back, I locked my bike up and walked to the front doors. There was a full sea of people, so I melted into everyone almost immediately. Looking around, I could not help but feel that I still was as distant from everyone as when I had moved to the United States. I recognized some of the Wheeler jocks that Grover had worked with. They glared at me with resent but did not act on the emotion. I let out a breath.
I turned to see Callie Westridge, who had worked with Shelby and I on the Student Body Government last year.
“Hi, Callie,” I greeted.
“We’re meeting after school, right?” she asked. “We have to determine how we’re going to select the next president.”
“Oh, right. I will see you then.” Callie looked a little concerned by my lack of excitement, but she nodded and went on her way.
Before I knew it, half of the day had passed by. I felt empty. I walked into the lunch cafeteria and suddenly realized I did not know anyone there. I had always sat next to Shelby.
I looked around, holding my tray up like it was proof that I was worthy. I did notice that Peter and Paul were sitting together with a couple of other kids. In my first year at Wheeler, I had saved them from one calamity involving a jock. Still, their table was rather full, so I kept searching the cafeteria.
Suddenly, a voice yelled at me, “Oi! Thorigami!”
I looked to my right to see this kid beckoning to me. He was sitting across from another taller boy. The taller boy was buried in a book. He had a pencil out and was sketching something on it. He looked vaguely familiar. He pointed at a seat next to him, and I noticed that there was a piece of paper on his hand. I realized he was that kid who had been following me around last school year. I must admit that it had been a little annoying.
Yet, looking around, there was no other table open in the cafeteria. I decided to not to press my luck. I walked over, sliding into the seat across from him. This put me next to the kid who was buried in his book. He seemed a lot less interested than his counterpart, who was looking at me with an intense gaze.
“Hi,” I said.
“Oh my gosh,” the kid gasped. “You’re here. Thorigami… I am Kurt Blum. And this… is… Paper Ray Bill.”
“Ah, very nice,” I said, looking at the puppet. “Were you not the one who was following me around last school year?”
He looked slightly abashed. “Uh…”
Paper Ray Bill’s Reports from Last School Year
By Kurt Blum
Date: January 23, 2018
Report: I have started tailing Dove MacLeash. So far, he has not acknowledged that I am following. I plan to wave at him tomorrow.
A positive response will get us closer to acting as a team: Thorigami and Paper Ray Bill.
I will not settle for a negative response. I am worthy.
Date: January 24, 2018
Report: Dove did not respond to wave, so we must shift our methods.
Tomorrow, I will yell, “WORTHY!” when I see him.
Date: February 16, 2018
Report: Dove has given me a slight glance. This is the best reaction yet.
Date: March 29, 2018
Report: I said hi to Dove, and he responded with, “Hello.”
I promptly dropped Paper Ray Bill in shock.
Date: May 2, 2018
Report: So… the year has ended. I will try again next year.
“Last year really isn’t too important,” Kurt said. “You’re here now.” He leaned in. “It’s time for us to plan our missions. Dover MacLeash—”
“Dove?” asked the kid who was sketching next to me. He finally looked up from his book, and I recognized him. I used to see him hang out with Ally in my first term at Wheeler.
“Hello,” I greeted.
“Oh, hey. I’m Mars. Nice to meet you.”
“And you as well,” I nodded. I looked at his sketchbook and saw that it was a drawing of Captain America. I appreciated the effort he had put into it. I wondered how Andrew Gardner was doing…
“Is that an AC/DC hoodie?” Mars asked me.
“Yeah, they have been my favorite band for a few years now.”
“Me too! Hey, if you like AC/DC, you should check out—”
Kurt cleared his throat loudly. I turned. He took a dramatic breath. “Um, as I was saying before… Dover MacLeash—”
I looked over Kurt’s shoulder and… I believe yelped would be the proper American expression. Kurt looked affronted.
“Shh!” I whispered. I kept my eyes on what I had seen behind Kurt’s shoulder. Even as she walked away, her face was stuck in my mind. I was shocked. It could not be her.
Mars looked at me. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” I muttered, watching her disappear into the lunch crowd. I wondered if I was having visions. The person I had seen looked just like Shelby Solstice… but that was impossible. She had graduated the previous year.
Kurt took a deep, dramatic breath. “DOVER MACLEASH—”
The bell rang.
Student Body Meeting
“So, we’re back,” commented the Secretary of Defense, Chris Burwell. He cracked his knuckles and sat back.
“Thanks for the contribution, Secretary,” yawned Callie Westridge, our Vice President. She was always tired at our meetings. Shelby had told me that it was because she was taking so many Advanced courses.
“No problem, V.P.,” Chris replied. “What’s up on the docket today?”
“Well, first off… we need a new president. Shelby Solstice graduated, so I’ll be taking over for now.” Callie glanced at me. I had a feeling she knew I was uncomfortable talking about Shelby. Thinking about our breakup still caused me emotional pain sometimes. She cleared her throat. “We’ll be handing out applications for the student body to send in. Dove, you decided on how we’ll be judging, right?”
I blinked. “Yes. Ah, this year, we’ll be doing essays. Last year got a bit… out of hand.” Chris snorted. Jude rising to power in the Student Body Government had been too easy for him. We needed a different system.
Callie glared at Chris before looking back at me. “How’s that going to work?”
“Everyone sends in an essay anonymously,” I explained. “The three of us decide who responded to the prompt the best. The top three picks can debate and then we’ll vote as a council. I feel that this is an honorable and fair method.”
“What’s the essay prompt?” inquired Callie.
“Ah… I am not sure.”
“‘Why does the Student Body Government exist?’” requested Chris.
Callie looked thoughtful. “How about, ‘What makes Wheeler great?’” Chris snorted again, and I heard Callie aim a kick at him under the table. Shelby had always been able to keep the peace between these two. I had to step into that role now.
“That sounds good to me,” I agreed.
“Great,” sighed Callie. “Meeting adjourned.”
I picked up my backpack. I wondered if Student Body Government would be as interesting without Shelby.
Adrian met me outside.
“Hey, dude, how’d it go?” he asked.
“Could have been better,” I admitted. “Shelby was the only one who got things done. We need a new president.”
“I’d vote for ya. You’ve got that whole ‘worthy’ thing going for you. That’s why you’re Thorigami, dude.”
I decided not to reply to this. Adrian took notice and brought it up in a less-than-casual manner.
“Actually, come to think of it, I haven’t seen Thorigami in a bit. Can I see him? I’ve still got Heimdollar.” He held up the puppet, folded out of a dollar.
“I, ah, do not have him.”
“Mmm-hmm. Dove, what’s up?” he asked.
I felt frustration rise up. “Adrian—”
“Dude, it’s obvious you haven’t had him with you. I’m just trying to help. What’s going on?”
“I have been taking a break from my duty as Thorigami.”
Adrian was silent for a moment, then he said, “Alright, I get it. He reminds you of her. But Dove… Thorigami is about you. You are bigger than this, okay? If you weren’t, I wouldn’t be palling around with ya.”
I took a deep breath and let my emotions settle. “You are right,” I said. “I just need some time.”
“Sure. So, can you answer the question?”
“Why won’t you run for president?”
“I prefer being the Treasurer,” I asserted. “Besides, since I joined the OrigAvengers…” The OrigAvengers had been built around Kirby students, and some Wheeler students had still not forgiven me for joining them.
“Oh. Well, hey, look on the bright side. Maybe the new president—”
“How would you like to be president?” I asked. The words slipped out of my mouth very fast. I was worried Adrian would laugh.
Instead, he looked a bit surprised. “Me? I’m a hall monitor, MacLeash. I still go to Kirby.”
“Oh, right.” I sighed. Essays would have to do.
“How are you going to determine who’s president?”
“Essays. We will be posting them around the school. The top three people will have a debate. Then we pick a winner.”
“Listen, be careful,” Adrian said. I looked at him in the eyes. They looked concerned. He leaned in. “This means you’ll be choosing the next president. Make sure you choose a good one.”
I nodded. This time, we were taking matters into our own hands. We needed to choose wisely.
By Callie Westridge, Collected By Tilly
Would YOU like to be the next president of Wheeler?
Respond to the essay below and let us know what Wheeler means to you. All entries due by the end of the month. Include contact information in the form attached. Please do not fold submissions into origami.
What makes Wheeler great? Please respond in 500 words or less.
After the First Day
By Martin Sera (AKA Mars)
Uh, so, I’m still not sure what all of this case file business is. Dove asked me to write about anything that might be “important” to his Thorigami thing.
I invited Ally over for our traditional meeting after the first day of the autumn term. My first day at Wheeler had been about as normal as usual. I found it interesting that I was sitting with Dove, though.
I had avoided talking to Ally about the OrigAvengers showdown with Jude. After all, our initial encounter had forced Ally to transfer from Wheeler to Kirby. Since then, I steered clear of talking about Jude. Nonetheless, I wondered how her first day had gone. Kirby may be the only school that is as crazy as Wheeler.
So, I waited for Ally in the garage. My garage was filled with various projects, as usual. I was working on one when I heard her bike coming up the driveway. I promptly moved the project under a book.
“How’s it going?” I asked.
“Surprisingly, not bad,” she said. “I got called out for a question I didn’t know in French class and I’ve heard that Clark is grumpy about something, but the OrigAvengers are in pretty good shape. I think it’s gonna be a good year. How’s Wheeler?”
I told her about my first day. When I got to Dove sitting with me in the cafeteria, Ally looked concerned.
“Can you keep an eye out for him?” she asked. “Ever since he and Shelby broke up, he’s been kinda quiet. He could use some help.”
I nodded. I had felt pretty lonely when Ally transferred to Kirby. “Sure thing,” I promised. “He’s in good hands. Maybe I’ll invite him over sometime.”
“Alright.” Ally looked relieved. She looked over to my desk. “So, whatcha working on?” I could tell she saw the paper sticking out from under the book. I couldn’t hide it now.
“Oh… yeah.” I jogged over. “It’s… um, an essay.” I pulled it out.
“An essay? You still have homework?” she laughed. She looked at it, and her expression changed. “Oh.”
I took a deep breath. I was afraid of this. “I thought I’d try. It sounds fun; I’d get to work with Dove more often.”
“No, yeah, that’s cool,” Ally said. “It’s—”
“I’m not Jude. Not gonna try to take over the school.”
She sighed. “I’m sorry. I know you’re not.”
“It’s fine. I know I come across as an evil genius occasionally,” I said seriously.
Ally laughed and looked at the essay again. “‘What makes Wheeler great?’ What sort of prompt is that?”
The responses to the essays came in yesterday. We conducted a Student Body Government meeting to sift through the essays. Admittedly, not all of the essays responded to the topic, which helped narrow our search.
“This one is about the history of socks,” Callie said amusedly, throwing the essay into the NO pile.
Despite those essays, we had already managed to find two strong candidates. They made up the YES pile, if one could call it that.
I continued to sift through essays. Doing so felt like I was traveling through each of the school’s realms. One argued that Wheeler was great because of its Theater Club. They were very excited about the Alice in Wonderland play that was coming up. Another said that Wheeler had the best Yearbook program. Someone from the Woodshop Class said that origami made Wheeler great. I was tempted to agree.
“This is time I could be using to complete my advanced work or working on the play,” sighed Callie.
“The Alice in Wonderland one?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m working on setting it all up. It’s extremely tiring.”
I felt bad for Callie. She already had plenty of work as it was, and her role as Vice President was only adding to the pressure. It was clear to me that she had not been getting much sleep. I hoped getting a president would help lessen the pressure she was under.
Unfortunately, we were running out of essays. I was worried we might only have two candidates.
Then I picked up this essay and read the introduction.
I am a freshman this year at Wheeler High School. So far, it has been an interesting ride. I have quickly grown to appreciate the school and its students. It is this appreciation that motivates me to run for president of the Student Body. It is a path that I believe I am capable of taking. As Student Body President, I am looking for ways to improve the student interactions, events, and provide a fresh perspective to the school.
I read the introduction a few times before moving on to the rest of the essay. A fresh perspective appealed to me at the moment.
“This one sounds very good,” I noted.
Callie looked up. “Toss it over.” She started reading with interest. “This one’s a yes for me. Aside from the fact that they’re inexperienced as a freshman, they seem to have put together a good essay. I think we should invite them to the debate.”
“I agree,” I nodded. “Chris?”
I looked over. He was asleep.
“The vote passes,” Callie decided after a moment of silence. I looked at our three chosen essays. It was time to contact whomever we had chosen.
I got this email today.
To: Mars Sera
Your essay has been chosen and you are one of three candidates for Student Body President. You will meet with the council and other candidates this Friday at 4:30 in Mr. Branagh’s classroom.
Callie Westridge, Wheeler Student Body Vice President
When I told Ally, she seemed pretty excited, which was a relief.
“That’s great!” she cheered. “What happens now?”
“We meet them, then I think we have a debate and the council votes.”
I was a bit more nervous about telling Dove. Since everyone sent in essays anonymously, he wouldn’t have known it was me unless he had seen my contact form. Since I got the email from Callie and Dove hadn’t said anything, I assumed he had never seen my contact information.
I figured it would be best to tell him in person before I went to the council meeting, so I decided to tell him after school.
“Hey, Dove,” I said as I ran up next to him.
“Hello,” Dove said. He was really quiet these days. Also, I haven’t seen him wield Thorigami yet this year. I would’ve thought there was something for him to do even if Jude wasn’t here, plotting his next idea.
“Hey, um, are you alright?” I asked.
He nodded halfheartedly. “I am good.”
“Okay… I wanted to talk to you about something,” I said, trying to keep up.
“Ah, okay. Uh…”
I turned to see Kurt pushing through everyone. He was making his way over urgently. Recently, he had been talking nonstop about his role in the school’s upcoming play Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t have much time. I turned back to Dove.
I looked up irritatedly. “Kurt, would you please—”
“Our first mission! C’mon!” he waved at us urgently. Dove seemed very concerned, which didn’t seem to happen very much these days. He stopped walking.
“Dove—” I said.
“I will talk to you later, Mars,” he said. “What is it, Kurt?”
“Someone did something in the gym. C’mon!”
The Gym Message
As soon as I heard his voice, I had known it would be bad. I was not expecting it to be as bad as it was.
We ran through the hall, slipping past a few teachers. Suddenly, I ran into a figure so quickly that I fell to a knee. When I looked up, I saw it was her. The girl who looked like Shelby. She did not even look at me. This time, she had a crowd of about half a dozen people following her. They looked at me menacingly.
“Watch it, bud,” said one.
“Seyla’s the best, stay out of her way.”
Seyla. Now I had a name.
Mars helped me up. “You okay?” he asked, glancing over at the crowd.
“C’mon!” Kurt yelled. He was ahead of us and at the gym door. We ran over.
Kurt pushed open the door to the gym. There was a crowd of people at the center of the basketball court, circled around something. We shoved our way to the front.
Right on the center of the court, someone had spray painted some choice words about Wheeler. I am still new to the American language, but I understood a few of them. They were not good.
Behind me, Mars gasped. “How did someone from Kirby get into the school to do this?”
“Isn’t it awful?” Kurt said gleefully.
To top it all off, an origami puppet was set in the middle. I stepped carefully toward it, avoiding the fresh spray paint. I picked it up and walked back to Kurt and Mars, who were eager to look at it.
“Who is it?” Mars asked.
I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see Adrian. “Malekith,” he said.
“Uh, who?” Mars asked.
“C’mon, Dove, get out Thorigami. This is our first mission! Where is he?” Kurt asked, holding up Paper Ray Bill. Mars and Kurt looked at me, and I looked at the floor. Finally, Kurt appeared to have his excitement subside. “Where… where is he?” he asked, hushed.
Adrian looked graver than usual. “We need to talk,” he said to me. He pulled me from the crowd and took me over to the bleachers. Mars and Kurt watched me go but stayed in the circle. Once we were safely away from the commotion, Adrian turned back to me.
“You okay, dude?” he asked. “You’ve been avoiding me.”
I had been dreading this. “I—”
“You can’t shut down, dude.” I felt my anger rise.
“Why is everyone so concerned about me? Why can you not leave me alone?” I yelled, which was unlike me. I rarely raised my voice. I saw Mars and Kurt glance over at us, as well as several other people in the circle.
“Because we care,” Adrian said calmly. “We care about ya, Dove.”
Suddenly, all of the anger I had been feeling for the past months went away. I was surprised how quickly it faded. I must say that it was replaced by sadness, but that was still better than the state I had been in.
“I apologize,” I said. The rest of what I had to say just came spilling out. “I apologize for everything. I lost Shelby. When we defeated Jude, I lost my villain. I lost my purpose. I… I do not want to lose you, too.”
Adrian kept listening intently. I wiped away a tear from my eye.
“I have been a bad friend.”
“No you haven’t. Friends are there for each other in the worst times,” Adrian said. “When I was a hall monitor last year, people at Kirby said I was a traitor for being at Wheeler. You were one of the few people who didn’t care which school I was from. You are a great friend. I’m here for you.” He gave me a hug, which may have looked strange to everyone in the circle. Honestly, I did not care what they thought.
“I am moving on,” I announced.
“You’d better,” Adrian chuckled. “The school needs you now. Can I take a look?” I realized he was talking about the origami Malekith. I handed it to him, and he looked at it with interest. “An enemy of Thor in the The Dark World. We need you back, Dove. The school has a new threat. I think… it’s time for Thorigami to return.”
“I could not agree more.”
Meeting the Candidates
Callie, Chris, and I met in Mr. Branagh’s class to meet the candidates today. It was intriguing, to say the least. My mind is still a bit in shock.
Callie had scheduled each candidate to come in at different times. Here are my assessments.
Candidate #1: Mars Sera
The door opened.
“Mars?” I asked.
“Surprise,” he said, which was an accurate summary of how I was feeling.
“Why did you not—”
Callie and Chris had both been watching us like a tennis match. Finally Callie shook Mars’s hand and Chris yawned in greeting.
Candidate #2: John Miller
“Howdy,” John said.
“Hi,” Callie said.
“Hello,” I said.
“How many more are left?” asked Chris.
“So… John,” said Callie, looking at her paper, “Why are you running for Student Body President?”
“What do you mean?” John asked, sitting back.
Callie glanced over at me. “As in, why are you interested in this position?” I asked. “You worded it nicely in your essay.”
“Well… uh, in the words of the great… uh, I’ll answer that in the debate.”
Candidate #3: Seyla Solstice
As soon as she walked in, I immediately gasped. It was her. Seyla.
The girl I had seen that looked just like Shelby. I looked over to Callie and Chris to make sure that I was not having visions.
Their expressions looked as they had with the previous candidates, so I looked back to Non-Shelby.
“Seyla Solstice,” read Callie from her paper. Solstice. Everything began to make sense. Solstice. She was the sister of Shelby. Shelby had never told me that she had a sister.
As she entered the room, two other jocks came in behind her. They just stood at her side, like bodyguards. Seyla sat down.
“Hi,” she said. “Nice to meet you.”
“Hi,” Callie replied.
Chris nodded in greeting, looking a bit wary of the two jocks.
The words that came out of my mouth were jumbled, but Seyla did not seem to take notice.
“So, why are you interested in this position?” Callie asked.
“Well, I’m a new student here, but I think that there are lots of little things that could help make the school a better place,” Seyla said professionally. Her voice was steady and calculated. “I want to take matters into my own hands and make my high school experience a successful one. I feel that running for president is a good way to do that while also improving the education of others.”
Callie looked impressed as she continued on. My thoughts are mixed after that, but I remember that she shook everyone’s hand as she stood up to leave, including Chris.
I looked at the jocks. “Um, what are they here for?” I asked as she shook my hand. For a second, I thought I saw an irritated look in her eyes. Then it was over.
She smiled sweetly. “Support,” she said.
As she closed the door, Callie said, “Great candidate. I like her.” Chris grunted in agreement.
I was not so sure. The look in her eyes had been brief, but I was unnerved.
Our candidate interviews done, we started to exit the room. I grabbed my backpack and opened it to put my folder back inside.
I found a paper puppet resting inside of it. An origami Malekith. I looked up to ensure nobody else was in the room. I turned it over to find one word written on the back.
Series of Texts #2
MARTIN: hey dove you wanna come over
DOVE: Sure. When and where?
MARTIN: rn at [REDACTED]
DOVE: Sounds good. Mind if I bring Adrian? I have to talk to you guys about something.
MARTIN: sure. is he that guy who looked as grave as a potato in gym
DOVE: He was just concerned for my well-being. Talk to you soon.
At The House
It was nice that Mars asked me to come over, because I had been wanting to come over myself. I was determined to discuss with everyone my suspicions of Seyla Solstice. When I pulled up to his house, his garage door was open and he was playing ping pong with someone inside. Then he saw me. He waved and started down the driveway.
“Hey,” he said. “How’s it going?”
“Good,” I said. “You have ping pong?”
“You bet. I’ve thought of making it into a pool table, but I like it as is for now.”
“A pool? How would that work?” I asked with confusion.
“Oh, um, that’s a—”
“Hey Dove!” yelled the person in the garage. “What’s up?” I had heard one person use that phrase more than any other person I had met in the past year. Indeed, it was Ally.
“Hello!” I greeted. I had not seen Ally since the dance. It was good to see her. She had apparently dyed her hair recently, as it now had a tint of green. It looked very nice.
“Oh, you know what, I’ll grab you a bottle of water. One sec,” Mars said. I thanked him as he jogged past Ally and went inside.
“How’s your year been going?” Ally asked me.
I pondered the question while we walked back toward the garage. “A lot of things have happened. What has been going on at Kirby?”
“Not too much. Clark has been… well… I don’t know. It’s weird. But things have mostly been normal. I stopped these kids from mimicking this one girl today. How about you? Anything at Wheeler you’ve been dealing with?”
“Someone… well, I will tell you later tonight.”
“Don’t you keep me in the dark, MacLeash.” Despite my inexperience with phrases like this, I gathered her meaning.
“It is a dark world right now. All will be revealed in time,” I promised, laughing. We entered the garage and pulled up chairs around the table. Mars came back out.
“Hey man, here’s the water,” he said, handing it over. He sat down.
“You are very kind, thank you.” I took another chair that was laying against the wall and set it up for Adrian. Soon enough, his headlights lit up the driveway.
“Is this the place of the party?” Adrian greeted, striding toward us.
“This is Ally,” I introduced. “And you have met Mars.”
“You don’t look like a grave potato this time,” Mars noted, studying Adrian.
“Alrighty then. Hey, Ally.”
After an awkward pause, we all turned to the sound of a bike. My last invite rolled up the driveway.
“Kurt?” Mars asked in surprise.
“I’m here,” he said, breathing deeply. He had evidently been biking very hard.
“How far away do you live, dude?” Mars asked him. “We could have picked you up.”
“Five miles,” he gasped. “Thorigami invited me for our first mission.”
“‘First mission?’” Adrian asked, turning to me.
“Indeed,” I said. “We need to make a plan. Malekith is going to strike again.”
The First Meeting
By Dove, Adrian, Ally, Mars, and Kurt (as transcribed by Mars)
Mars: Can’t see through my phone anymore. Too many cracks… Wait. It’s on. We’re recording. Alright Dove, what’s this all about?
Ally: Yeah, who’s this Malekith person? What’d they do?
Adrian: Spray paint. Bad words. Gym.
Ally: Got it.
Dove: I have an idea about who is behind the Malekith incident. Before that, however… [Dove holds up a hammerless Thorigami.] I ripped Thorigami’s hammer, Mjolnir, in a moment of weakness.
Dove: It is time he has a new weapon. I folded this. [Holds up plain white paper folded into Stormbreaker.]
Ally: Why is it blank?
Dove: It needs some color. My artistic abilities are not the greatest. Mars, please fire up the forge. It is clear you have skill in the arts.
Mars [accepting Stormbreaker seriously]: I will do it with honor. Do I get an Eitri puppet?
Dove: If you wish. [Sound of Mars getting up and walking across the room to his desk.] Now, let me tell you why I invited everyone here.
Mars [distant]: To my house, by the way.
Dove: Malekith left me a note today. [Tosses origami Malekith on table.] It says “Wonderland” on the back.
Kurt: I’m in that play! We were working on it all summer to open this school year. I’m playing the Mad Hatter.
Mars [still distant]: You’re almost as crazy as him.
Adrian: Can we focus on the point? Dove, dude, does this mean Malekith is gonna strike again during the Alice in Wonderland play?
Dove: I believe they will.
Ally: Ugh… ever since H, I haven’t been a fan of notes. But why would Malekith tell you what he’s up to?
Kurt: Well… that shouldn’t matter, right? We can’t have something happen to my play! We worked so hard on it. Seriously, we have to do something.
Dove: I work with Callie in the Student Body Government, who is largely orchestrating the play. I know it is important to you, Kurt. And… perhaps you are right. It could be a trap… but we might also be able to catch Malekith in the act. And I think I know who they are.
Dove: Seyla Solstice.
Kurt: The popular girl?
Dove: She is a sister of… um…
Dove [sighs]: Yes. She had been in the room before I found Malekith. I saw her outside of the gym as well.
Adrian: Dove… be careful. I know that she reminds you a lot of Shelby, so ya might just be noticing her more than others. Loads of people were near the gym.
Dove: It is more than that, Mr. Collins. She is quickly gaining popularity among the students. I have observed a crowd gathering around her wherever she goes.
Ally [shudders]: Sounds like Jude.
Dove: Precisely. And during the interview… there was this moment…
Mars: Stormbreaker is done! Here you go, dude. [Sound of Stormbreaker being handed over to Dove.]
Dove: It looks very good. Thank you very much, Mars. You carry yourself with great honor. Your actions are—
Mars: Yep, got it.
Dove: Now just to put Stormbreaker and Thorigami together with the magic of dwarves…
Mars: There’s glue in that cabinet above the desk.
Ally: Hey, I’ll give you a hand.
[Sounds of Ally and Dove getting up and shuffling away to the cabinet.]
Kurt [yelling]: So what do we do? This can’t happen, Thorigami. We worked too hard on this play. I had to memorize a bajillion lines.
Dove [distant]: Well, whoever Malekith is, they are going to strike at the play. We need to be ready.
Adrian: I can get you backstage, dude. I can get you in.
Adrian: Oh, I’m a hall monitor.
Kurt: Isn’t that… against the, um, hall monitor code?
Adrian: Ah, the code. Right. Let me check… Nope.
Mars: I still don’t get why this Malekith figure would tell Dove that they’re going to strike at the play. It’s probably a trap. You guys realize that, right?
Kurt: If we don’t do anything, it’s still going to happen! At least we’d have a chance if we try.
Adrian: Kurt’s right, bud. I’ll keep an eye on things. I don’t ignore all of the hall monitor rules.
Mars: Alright. I guess I can watch from the audience.
I walked over with Ally to get the glue stick.
“So what do we do? This can’t happen, Thorigami. We worked too hard on this play. I had to memorize a bajillion lines!” Kurt yelled after me.
I frowned. Kurt had an annoying manner, but I did not wish to see his play ruined. “Well, whoever Malekith is, they are going to strike at the play,” I yelled back. “We need to be ready.”
“Does he call you Thorigami more than Dove?” Ally asked me with curiosity. “And, if so… why?”
“I am honestly not sure.”
Ally chuckled. “Hey, can I ask you something?”
“Yes. Or as you Americans would say… ‘yeah’.”
Ally looked at me for a second and smiled confusedly.
“Sorry, I do not really do jokes,” I apologized.
“Don’t worry about it,” she laughed. “That was pretty good, actually.”
I pulled open the cabinet door. Sure enough, the glue was inside. I took it down and set it on the desk. “Anyway… what did you want to ask me about?”
Her smile faded. “Are you doing okay? I mean… with Shelby, and all…”
For a while, I had forgotten the breakup. It came back to me now, but it did not hurt as much as it once did. “Better,” I said truthfully. “I have moved on. For a while… I shut down to everyone. Yet I feel better now. Shelby was amazing and a good person, but it is done.”
“I’m glad. If you ever need to talk to someone about it, I’m here.”
“Thank you,” I said.
Ally nodded. “Now… let’s glue this together.” I set Thorigami down and picked up the glue. Ally held Thorigami still. I unscrewed the glue slightly, squeezed it together, and immediately spilled glue all over my hands, Ally’s hand, and Mars’s desk.
“For the love of Òlafur!” I yelled, pulling my hand back in surprise.
“I’ll take that,” Ally said, taking the glue from me and looking like she was trying not to laugh. “There’s paper towels around here somewhere… there. Here you go.” I wiped the glue off my hands but had a feeling some was going to dry on.
Ally took another paper towel and wiped the glue off of her own hand. “Sorry,” I apologized.
“It’s fine,” Ally laughed. “Here. You’ve got to be gentler.”
Soon enough, Thorigami and Stormbreaker were glued together and looked ready for Malekith, Loki, or even the goddess of death, Hela.
“No problem,” Ally said. I started to walk back to the table, but Ally caught my shoulder. “Hey, um, Dove… we lose things all the time. Struggles. Hope. People. Um… before I went to Wheeler last year, I lost my dad.”
I was stunned. Ally had never told me about her family. “Ally—”
“It’s okay,” Ally said. “My point is… don’t be afraid to lose.”
I took this in silence before speaking up. “Thank you, Ally.” She nodded.
“Hey Dove?” Mars called, interrupting our conversation. “You good?”
“Much better,” I announced. I held up Thorigami with pride. “It is time for us to crash a play.”
“Um, how about, ‘It is time for us to stop a play from being sabotaged’?” requested Kurt. “I’m in this play. Can we watch the wording? I’m nervous as it is.”
“You’ll be fine,” Mars said.
“Break a leg,” Adrian added.
“Why would he want to do that?” I asked with confusion.
“It’s—nevermind. You’ll do great, Kurt.”
Kurt’s Pre-Play Notes
Our play is on in 20 minutes. I’ve got Paper Ray Bill in my pocket in case something goes wrong. I dunno, with Malekith around and all, it’s best to be prepared.
I’ve got my lines memorized, but I’m still incredibly nervous.
Okay, sorry, I know this is supposed to be professional. I’m just terrified. Between you guys and me, I never expected to land the Mad Hatter role. My costume is also very uncomfortable, by the way. Whenever I sit back in this chair, my hat starts to fall off.
But hey, why would I go anywhere? The stage is my home. When the play starts, I guess I’ll just have to try my best to act crazy.
To distract myself, let me describe my surroundings. I’m sitting backstage in Wheeler’s theatre. If you’ve never been to Wheeler’s theatre, there’s the main stage and a bajillion curtains. Right now, one curtain is drawn, blocking everyone sitting out there from seeing us backstage.
But there’s another curtain behind us, separating us from the rest of the backstage. Some of the technical crew is apparently on that side. That way, when the front curtain opens, the audience will see us but not the crew behind the back curtain.
The crew includes Callie Westridge, that person Dove told me about. She’s been nice and wished me good luck and is helping set everything up.
Mars is out in the audience, so he’ll keep an eye on what the audience sees. Hopefully, he sees a great play starring an incredible performance from the Mad Hatter, and not a person cackling evilly while holding up an origami Malekith puppet.
Adrian’s been guarding the door to the stage and making sure that nobody crashes our play, which makes me feel a bit better. I wouldn’t bet against Heimdollar, even if we are against Malekith.
On the night of the play, I sat in the audience with Mars. I wanted to watch for anything suspicious. Adrian had suggested to let me backstage once everyone had entered so as to avoid being noticed or being in the way. He texted me to come during the final act to have a look around. He said that he would keep an eye on things in the meantime.
“Nothing suspicious so far,” noted Mars halfway through the play. “That’s good.”
I nodded, still uneasy. “I am looking forward to going backstage. Sitting here, we have the same perspective as all of the other audience members. If something is going on, we are not supposed to see it yet. I am still worried.”
The play went well through the first acts. Kurt seemed to do well at acting like he was crazy, which only partially surprised me. Once we were about midway through the final act, I stood up and exited.
I met Adrian in the hallway outside of the theatre. He was standing in front of the door titled, “Stage”.
“Any issues yet?” I queried.
“Not yet, man. People have been going in through that door,” he said, gesturing to the door that led to the seating. “This door, on the other hand, is guarded by Heimdollar. Nobody has entered backstage except the crew and acting team. How’s Kurt doing?”
“Good,” I said. “He seemed terrified at first, but it actually somehow worked with the scene.”
“Kid’s alright,” admitted Adrian. We stood in silence for a moment.
“I am intrigued that Malekith has not struck yet,” I commented.
“I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. Do you think they backed off?” asked Adrian, somewhat hopefully.
“I do not know,” I said. “Something does not seem right to me, and the play has not finished yet. You said nobody has entered the stage?”
“Nobody except for the crew and acting team.”
I was still uncertain. “Can you let me go backstage now? I want to see it for myself.”
“That’ll be ten dollars,” Adrian said, holding out his hand.
“You have to be kidding me,” I complained.
Adrian laughed and stepped aside. “Just don’t tell anyone I let ya in.”
Moving past him, I entered the side entrance to the stage.
“Thorigami! Hey!” someone whispered. I looked ahead to see Kurt waving at me. He was offstage, sitting on the floor in full Mad Hatter costume. Other actors not currently onstage were there too, but thankfully they paid no attention to the fact that I was not a crew member.
“Hello, Kurt!” I greeted, sitting down. Despite my fear that Malekith had yet to strike, I was proud of how the boy had done so far. “Great job. You played the insane tea-man very well. But I must ask… have you noticed anything suspicious?”
“I haven’t seen anything,” Kurt said. “Believe me, if I had, Paper Ray Bill and I would have been in there to catch ‘em in the act.”
“Okay.” I looked around, still unsettled, but held up Thorigami. “Thou shall keep watcheth, yes?”
He took out Paper Ray Bill and deepened his voice. “Of course, Thorigami, king of Asgard, son of Odin, brother of Loki…”
As he continued on, I noticed a curtain drawn behind the front stage, almost acting as a backdrop for the actors. “Why is that curtain closed? Why not just have the wall act as the backdrop?” I asked.
“Someone told me some of the crew is back there.”
I turned my gaze from high up, where the curtain started, to where it fell on the ground. I beheld a few drops of white paint, scattered over the wooden floor.
Suddenly, I had a sinking feeling. “I am going to have a look. Something is—”
“Oh, gosh!” Kurt interrupted. “This is my final scene. I gotta go.” He ran over to the stage.
My suspicions growing, I walked over to the side of the backstage curtain. Taking out Thorigami, I quietly slipped behind it into the corridor it created, with a wall on one side and the curtain on the other.
With horror, I saw that there was no crew behind the stage at all.
A hooded figure shook a can of spray paint. Looking to the wall, I saw that they had once again painted some choice words about Wheeler on the wall. My stomach turning, I realized that the hooded figure I was beholding was Malekith.
“Stop!” I yelled. The hooded figure turned and, upon seeing me, ran down the corridor to the far side of the stage. I gave chase, but halted at the center of the stage when they stopped next to the ropes that controlled the curtains.
I realized what they were doing about two seconds before it happened. “Hálfviti!” I yelled in Icelandic as the figure began to pull on the ropes.
I could only turn helplessly as the curtain opened to the audience, revealing myself standing in front of the crude words in spray paint.
The cast evidently had just finished their play, as everyone was taking bows. Slowly, the applause transitioned into gasps and muttered whispers as they saw me stand in front of the spray paint.
This was not good.
I attempted to look for the hooded figure, but they had vanished from sight. I ran off of the stage with heavy boos from the audience. Ducking past the actors and crew, I ran into Adrian.
“Um, what just happened?” he asked.
“I was just framed by Malekith. How did it look?”
How Things Looked
I’m just going to confirm that, from the audience, things looked very bad.
As the audience erupted around me, I heard a lot of things, but here are a few paraphrased quotes that best describe the audience’s reaction:
- “What’s it say?”
- “Go to Kirby, idiot!”
- “You ruined the play!”
So yeah, it basically looked like Dove had just spray painted all of that and was revealing it for all to see.
I’m not sure why this explanation is necessary, but Dove wanted me to write about what I saw. So, yep, it looked bad.
By Adrian Collins
“They knew, bud,” I said, patting Dove on the shoulder. “They knew you’d be there. That’s why they waited. They wanted to frame you.” It was about an hour after the play, and Mars and I had finally been able talk to Dove. He had been yelled at by the audience and pulled aside by several teachers. Most everyone else had left, including Kurt, whose expression immediately said to me that he was upset. A few students and teachers were still talking near the base of the stage. The custodian had come out and was tending to the wall. Meanwhile, we were sitting in the bleachers, discussing our defeat.
“The teachers seem to understand that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but they still are upset with me for being backstage,” Dove said sadly. “And as for the students of Wheeler… they seem to now believe that I support Kirby, as Malekith wrote all of those hateful remarks toward Wheeler on the wall. They are quite angry with me; they distrust me. My reputation and credibility is ruined.” Dove sighed and collapsed into his hands, one of which was holding the origami Malekith he had found on the floor under the spray paint. “We played right into Malekith’s plan.”
“At least the play went well,” Mars said. “Kurt stole the show.”
I sighed. “Mars, with all due respect, now is not the time for positivity.”
“You really are a grave potato.”
“But what shall we do?” Dove asked. “How can we recover from this blow?”
“Well, she’s trying to tear down your reputation, right?” I reasoned. “That means that you—” Suddenly, Dove stood up, staring straight ahead. I followed his gaze to find him looking toward Seyla Solstice, who had been talking with the teachers by the stage. She now appeared to be heading to the exit, closely followed by the paparazzi. Dove slid out of the aisle and started walking her way.
“Dove, no,” I warned, but he was determined.
“Ms. Solstice!” he called out frustratedly.
Mars stood up, but I caught his shoulder. “I’ve got this,” I told him. I made my way down toward them and tried to catch up to Dove.
“Hmm? Oh, hi, Dover,” Seyla said sweetly, but I noticed a glimmer of mischievousness in her eyes. For the first time, I understood why Dove was suspicious of her. “That spray paint?” she continued. “Disappointing, Dove. I hope you will be more patriotic of Wheeler when it comes time to choose the next Student Body President.”
“I know you did this,” Dove said angrily. Seyla’s paparazzi jeered at this, but Dove ignored them. Dove did not get into this state too often. It had been a while since he had been like this. The last person to make him this upset was Jude.
“Look at him, trying shift the blame,” commented one of Seyla’s fans.
“Pathetic,” agreed another.
I held Dove back. “You have no evidence, Dove. Don’t play into her game.”
Dove seemed to relax and took a step back, but the fire in his eyes didn’t fade. “I will catch you, Seyla Solstice.”
Seyla laughed softly. “My sister told me that she admired you. Shame that didn’t work out; I’d like having you as a stepbrother. You’ve got spirit. Good night, Dover.” With that, she swung open the door and stepped out.
I was not looking forward to the next day of school simply due to what happened at the play, but the day quickly got worse as I entered the school.
“For the love of Òlafur,” I muttered. The school hallways were covered in posters that said, “VOTE 4 SEYLA!” and “END THE MALEKITH MADNESS”. I walked through the hallway with alarm, ignoring the comments from other students upset at me for the play.
“She’s using the Malekith incidents to bolster her campaign,” commented Mars, running up alongside me.
“This is completely misleading,” I said with disgust. “There is no vote. The council is deciding the next president. We agreed to do that because of what happened with Jude. There is no honor in this.”
“What do we do?” Mars asked. “My campaign has practically no momentum. I’m not sure I stand a chance against her now. I mean, just look.” He pointed ahead to where I assumed Seyla was standing. All I could see was the crowd of students that surrounded her.
“Seyla!” said one.
“I want your autograph!” yelled another.
“Will you have chocolate chip pancakes with me?” chimed in a third.
I sighed and turned back to Mars. “There is the debate this Friday. You will have a chance to make your stand then. On the Friday after that, the council will decide. Even if Seyla makes it seem like there is a vote, we have to stand by our plan.”
“The crowds will destroy you,” Mars said with concern.
“Normally, I would support a vote, but… this has to be Seyla,” I said with finality. “Seyla is behind this and I cannot let her become the Student Body Pres—” I trailed off as I saw Kurt, standing further down the hallway and looking at me with fury.
“Oh, no,” Mars sighed.
“I will talk to him,” I promised.
“At lunch,” I decided, and then saw Kurt stomping towards me. “Or now,” I corrected.
“I’m outta here,” said Mars wisely, disappearing quickly into the crowd. I took a deep breath.
“THORIGAMI!” Kurt yelled. “You ruined my play!” He appeared to have lost all reason. His face was filled with rage, but I remained calm.
“Kurt, you are not the only one who was hurt by the play.”
“Stop making excuses! You promised to protect our play, and you still let Malekith ruin it.”
At least he understands that I was framed, I thought. “Kurt,” I said calmly, “I apologize. However, I must say that I did my best to stop Seyla.”
“If that’s your best, Thorigami, then we’ll never catch Malekith. And would you stop saying Seyla? Your only evidence that she is Malekith is a hunch. Not everyone who wants to be Student Body President is evil, you know.”
“It must be her,” I said wearily. “She was present in the room when I found the origami Malekith telling us that she would strike at the play. She has bodyguards trailing her. It has to be—”
“If you’re going to decide things on hunches, that’s… that’s…”
“Unwise?” I suggested.
“Yes! And if you do that, I will not work with you.” Kurt stepped back dramatically. “Dover MacLeash, it has become apparent that I, Paper Ray Bill, must solve this case on my own. I will—”
At this point, he was interrupted by the sound of the bell.
Since my encounter with Kurt in the hallway, he has appeared to be avoiding me. I have seen him several times, but he has avoided eye contact and… what would be the American phrase? Steered clear of me. Strange how the tables have turned from last year. Last year, I had considered Kurt slightly annoying and been avoiding him. Now, I considered him a friend, but he was avoiding me.
At lunch, Kurt joined a different table with two sisters I had not met before. This has left Mars and I alone at our table for this week. I must say that I enjoyed spending more time with Mars, but I felt sad that I had caused emotional harm to Kurt.
“I just wish that I could redo what happened,” I said.
“Give him some time,” Mars said. “He just needs to cool off.”
“I suppose,” I replied. Yet I was not sure that Kurt would come around. If there was one thing I had learned from the time I had spent with Kurt, it was that he was filled with a fervent commitment to his cause.
“Anyway,” Mars spoke up, interrupting me from my thoughts, “we need to focus on the debate. If you want to convince the other council members that I’m a better candidate than Seyla, we have to be prepared.”
“I agree. What are you thinking?” I asked.
“Well, if Seyla can say that she will stop Malekith as president, I can say the same thing. I know she’s popular, but if I put together a strong argument I could at least convince the council, which is what matters. I mean, if there’s not gonna be a vote, I just need to focus on convincing the council that I’m the better candidate. I already have your vote, right?”
“You likely will,” I laughed.
“Good. So I just have to convince either of the two other council members, right? Shouldn’t be too bad.”
We set up the debate in the gymnasium, allowing plenty of seats for the audience. At the first meeting, Callie had suggested that the students should be able to meet the candidates and watch the debate. Unfortunately, I now came to the realization that with the growing popularity of Seyla, the audience would largely be in her favor.
I did, however, see Ally come into the room. She had ventured out from Kirby High School to watch Mars make his debate. They were clearly good friends.
The stage had three seats next to a podium. Callie would be asking the questions from the podium. Since I was unpopular due to the recent Malekith incident and Chris did not seem to care about the debate, we had decided that Callie would be our best bet. Each candidate then had a microphone and could answer the question.
Before the debate, Chris and I sat in the front row with Callie.
“Okay, are we ready to go?” Callie asked, scribbling on her notepad. “I checked with all of the candidates to make sure they are on time. That John Miller kid is running a bit late but should be here for the opening.”
“I am glad to hear,” I responded. “What sort of questions will you be asking?”
“Fair ones. You’ll see.” Callie looked at her notepad again and crossed out a word.
I looked around at the gymnasium, which was starting to fill up. I must say my heart sank as more and more apparent fans of Seyla entered. Callie might be without bias, but the crowd would not. Seyla was somehow in control of the situation once more.
Suddenly, someone slid into the seat next to me.
“Trent?” I asked, with no small hint of surprise. Indeed, Trent Adams had joined our audience, his eye patch pulled over his face impressively.
“Hello, Dove MacLeash,” Trent said. “I’m here for Wheeler’s debate. How are you doing?”
“I am okay,” I said. “I did not expect to see you here at Wheeler.”
“As a leader from Kirby, I figured it would be good to see who the next potential candidate is for Wheeler. Based on the crowds, I am guessing it will be… what’s her name?”
“Seyla,” I said, frowning. “I have a bad feeling about her, Director. And the crowds are not voting. The election will be decided by the council.”
“Ah. Who are you leaning toward, then?”
“Martin Sera? That kid who got Ally in trouble?”
Directors Adams sat back. “Ally deferred to Kirby because of an incident that occurred when Jude was rising to power at Wheeler. Mars was partially responsible for her getting kicked from the school.” Seeing my expression, he added, “Mars didn’t mean it, of course. He’s Ally’s friend and several our agents confirmed that he looked terrible after it happened.”
“What did he do?”
“That’s between Ally, Mars, and the other two kids involved. I won’t be getting into this. Wheeler matters are, no doubt, important, but I tend to handle the Kirby side of things. I’ll let you get back to getting set up, Tilly’s got a spot saved for me a few rows back. Good luck, Dove.” With that, he stood up and started heading back.
Before I knew it, the candidates had made their arrivals and were stepping up to the stage. Callie introduced each one to the crowd. As I feared, Seyla was the recipient of a loud cheer when she was introduced.
However, despite Seyla having her fans there, the debate started off well. Callie asked simple, plain questions about what the candidates would do with general events, student-teacher relations, and day-to-day schedules. Seyla, for the most part, kept her answers short and simple. John Miller was struggling to respond to all of the questions. I must say that I thought Mars was doing well; he did not get cheers as loud as Seyla, but in the end the only votes that mattered were from Callie and Chris. Chris did not seem to care about who won, which made me hopeful that I could convince him to vote for Mars.
I felt a sad emotion for being so biased toward a certain candidate. I always wanted to keep a clear mind, but Seyla worried me. John Miller hardly seemed to have been a good pick. Mars was the best choice out of the candidates, and I could feel some of the crowd recognizing that, too. The applause for his responses increased over time.
Unfortunately, everything began to unravel with about ten minutes left on the debate.
“Thank you, John, for that detailed analysis on Skittles,” Callie was saying. “Our next question is to all candidates, but we will start with Mars. The question is, as Student Body President, how will you handle the Malekith incidents that have been occurring? As a follow up for you in particular, Mars, how will you address the fact that you often spend time with Dove, a suspect in the Malekith incidents?” There was a wave of unsettled whispers throughout the audience. Now that I was framed for being Malekith, I was harming the personal image of Mars by being his friend.
I was upset, but not necessarily at Callie. I remembered what she had said before the debate. Fair questions. It was a fair question.
Mars was slow to answer. “Hey, I’m not a fan of the Malekith incidents either, but as Dove’s friend I can say for sure that he did not write the words. I talked to him just moments before he went backstage, so he wouldn’t have had time. However, I do think that we need to stop the Malekith incidents and I will work to stop them.”
Callie nodded and looked to John Miller. “John?” she prompted.
“Um, no, yeah, that was bad,” he said quickly. He looked quite nervous, and there were some snickers in the crowd behind me.
“Great,” Callie sighed. “Seyla?”
“Callie, thank you so much for asking this question,” she said sweetly. “When we consider Malekith, we are looking at someone who obviously is against what Wheeler stands for, right? I mean, I don’t think anyone out there in the crowd would agree with what Malekith said, right?” she said, looking out into the crowd. There were a few nods and shouts of agreement. “If I am elected, we will catch Malekith in the act. I’m not saying that Dove MacLeash is responsible for the what happened at the play, but we need to improve this council, because they are clearly not catching Malekith with the way things are. Let’s end this craziness. Let’s catch Malekith in the act. Vote for Seyla Solstice!” After she finished, there was an outbreak of cheering. I looked around and realized Seyla had the crowd completely in her control. I realized, with great disdain, that it reminded me of Jude. Worse yet, she had finished with “Vote for Seyla Solstice!”
Callie looked over to me with a look of worry in her eyes. I stood up and went to the podium as the crowd continued to cheer.
“Pardon me, everyone,” I spoke into the microphone, and the cheers slowly died down. I took a deep breath, trying to steel my nerves as I talked to the crowd. “I would like to remind everyone that there is no public vote on this matter. The Student Body Council will decide which candidate is best.”
I heard Seyla gasp dramatically, and I looked over with worry. She turned to the crowd, and then back to me. “There is no vote? You aren’t going to let the students of Wheeler decide this matter?”
I scanned the audience and found Ally. She gave me an encouraging nod, and my nerves settled. “Seyla, I see your true intentions to turn the students against the system. I agree that normally, there should be a vote. Unfortunately, it is in place due to prevent another situation as that of Judah Decassius, which occurred before this year. Do you remember, Wheeler?” I said bluntly. There was an uncomfortable shift in the crowd. “Jude attempted to use his popularity to gain power in Wheeler, and very nearly succeeded. We cannot allow that to happen again.”
For a second, I thought I had Seyla. She had an expression of resignation. Then she laughed. “It clearly worked to your favor. Look at you. Dover MacLeash. The Treasurer. A member of the council. That Jude thing was before my year, Dover. Time’s have changed, and the students still deserve to decide the election, even if they make mistakes. Your system is corrupt!” With that, she had gained back the crowd, who now booed with the power of an infinity stone.
Callie put tapped me on the shoulder. “You should sit down!” she yelled over the crowd. I nodded and returned to my seat. With that, Callie spent a few minutes calming down the crowd. Once she did, the debate wrapped up fairly quickly and the audience spilled out of the gym doors.
I stayed behind with the candidates.
“Good job, Mars. You had a good debate,” I congratulated.
“Thanks,” Mars said with uncertainty. “You alright? Seyla tore you apart.”
I sighed. “Yes. One could say that I am getting used to it.”
I looked up to see Trent coming over, giving me a nod in greeting as he did so. Tilly Waterson trailed behind him. “Hello, Dover and Mars. Good show, MacLeash, but the crowd is on her side,” Trent said, adjusting his eye patch. “If you ask me, she has a point.”
“Of course she does,” I said wearily. “But we need to stick to our—”
“Hi Trent!” I turned quickly to see Seyla making her way over. “Thank you for coming from Kirby to see the debate.”
“Of course,” Trent said modestly. “Well done. I agree with your point that Wheeler could use an ice—”
“Hey, Dove!” said Tilly, catching up with us. Mars and I gratefully took the chance to step away from Seyla, who stayed talking to Trent.
“Tilly, I am quite glad to see you,” I said with relief.
“It’s good to see you too,” Tilly said kindly. “And you must be Mars.”
“Nice to meet ya,” Mars said. “How are things at Kirby?”
“Everything is fine at the moment,” said Tilly. “We had someone dress up as Trent recently, giving Clark Largent some trouble, but nothing… well, nothing like what you have going on here. An origami Malekith?”
“Is there anything F.O.L.D. can do?” I asked. “You have agents in both schools. That would be useful in catching Malekith.”
“I’ll talk to Trent about it,” Tilly said. She seemed happy, which gave me hope. At least one of the two schools seemed to be at peace.
“Mars!” Ally shouted, making her way toward us. “You did great!”
“Hey! Thanks, Al,” Mars replied with a laugh and hug. Seeing them together reminded me of what Trent had said.
“That Seyla person is clearly evil, by the way,” Ally said, breaking free and glancing over at me. “Did you see her expression when Dove got on the stage?”
“I am glad I am not the only one that has noticed,” I said. “It feels like everyone loves her. It is not going to be an easy decision next Friday.”
“Well, you just need Callie’s or Chris’s vote for a majority, right?” reasoned Tilly. “Callie seems fair. I think you have a good shot with her.”
“She can’t be much worse than Jude,” Ally said hopefully. “And you took him down with flying colors.”
“I appreciate the sentiment, but she has proven very difficult thus far,” I responded, glancing over at Seyla and Trent. “I have not been able to trace any of her actions back to her.”
“Can’t you catch her in the act?” asked Tilly.
“He’s tried,” Mars answered for me, seeing my expression. “Last time he tried…”
“Oh, right. I heard about that play. Sorry to hear your reputation was destroyed,” Tilly said solemnly.
“It should be redeemed when we do catch her in the act,” I said, pulling out Thorigami and finishing grandly, “Then, we shall be worthy once more.”
The Second Meeting
By Dove, Adrian, Ally, and Mars (as transcribed by Mars)
Mars: And… we’re on.
Dove: Good. Welcome, everyone, to the second meeting of the… ah…
Ally: Stopping Seyla Squad.
Adrian: Seems to be an accurate deeming of our club.
Dove: It is also likely to be our last meeting, as the vote to nominate the Student Body President is this Friday. By then, we either will have stopped or failed to have stopped Seyla from taking over the Wheeler presidency.
Mars: Is there anything I can do before the vote to help my campaign?
Dove: I am not sure. You had a solid debate, Mars. It may be best to let that speak for itself. If you get involved in this, you could have your reputation harmed, too.
Ally: He’s right, Mars. You have to stay unbiased.
Dove: So that leaves Adrian and I to act.
Adrian: And Kurt.
Dove: Kurt is currently upset with me for the Wonderland incident. I very much doubt he wants to help. I told you about this.
Adrian: Fine. You just seem to need all the help you can get.
Dove: One more week. We can do this.
Ally: I know I’ll be at Kirby, but I trust you guys.
Mars [sighing]: Right on. At least Adrian can help.
Adrian: I’ll keep an eye on the hallways. Malekith seems to be doing these things in large rooms. She clearly wants attention.
The Hooded Figure
On Monday, I was back into the work of school. I must say that it had become very difficult of late, so it came as a relief when the bell rang for lunch.
As usual, I sat down with Mars. He was sketching in his notebook once again, which reminded me of when I had first met him earlier this year. This time, however, he looked up immediately as I sunk into my seat.
“Rough day?” he asked.
“How did you know?” I sighed.
“I’m pretty good at noticing when someone’s been under the stress of our modern education system.”
“I may be newer to the English language, but that sounded unnecessarily fancy,” I commented.
Mars conceded the point with a shrug. “It’s purposeful. I’m just being humorous.”
I looked up past Mars to where Kurt was sitting nowadays. However, this time, I found the table to only have two occupants: the two sisters that Kurt would sit with. Kurt was nowhere to be seen.
Curious, I stood up and made my way over to the table. The two sisters did not seem to notice me for a moment, but they looked up.
“Excuse me, I am looking for a boy named Kurt,” I said. “I believe he has been sitting with you.”
“Hmm, annoying boy? Scrawny?” one of them asked me.
“Nope, no idea.”
I took this as my cue to back away from the table. As I did so, I backed right into an immovable force. I lost my footing briefly, and turning, I saw that I had run into Adrian. The expression on his face was urgent, and he was sweating. He looked as though he had been running very hard.
“Oh, hi, Adrian,” I greeted. “What are you—”
“Dove. You need to see something,” he whispered.
“What?” I asked, taken aback. “What happened?”
“I found Malekith.”
I felt my eyes widen in shock. “Where is she?” I asked, hushed. “Why did you not stop her?”
“It’s your reputation that needs saving man, not mine. It’s the gym again. She’s spray painting on the wall this time. Go!” I must confess that at this point I immediately dropped any further questions I had and ran out the cafeteria doors. Adrian did not follow, as he was completely exhausted.
By the time I made it to the gym doors, I too was completely out of breath. I hunched over, trying to regain my energy. As I did so, I noticed the window in the gym door.
With great effort, I lifted up my head and peered through it.
A hooded figure stood in the gym, shaking a bottle of spray paint. As usual, Malekith had taken it upon herself to write more unflattering words against the school of Wheeler. I felt quite bad for the custodian who had to respond to all of these incidents.
After everything we had been through, I had finally found Malekith. It seemed almost too simple.
As I continued to examine the scene, I noticed a problem.
There were two doors that led into the gym. One was the one I was standing by, and the other was in the opposite corner. If I entered the gym, Malekith could simply exit out the other door.
Yet I had to try. I was already tired from running there, but this was my chance to catch Malekith in the act at last.
The bell rang. The students would be here for gym any minute. I needed to act without delay.
I took a deep breath and pushed open the doors and strode into the gym.
The hooded figure turned at the sound.
“Stop!” I called.
The hooded figure took several steps back slowly, then dashed for the far door. I gave chase, but I was weakened by my previous run.
Just as it looked as though Malekith was going to escape, the door we were running toward was flung open. Stepping into the gym, Paper Ray Bill on his finger, was none other than…
“Kurt!” I cried triumphantly.
“That’s how we catch Malekith, Thorigami!” Kurt said, beaming.
“How did you know she was here?” I yelled back.
“I saw her hood as she snuck into the gym when nobody was looking,” he said proudly. “I told Adrian as soon as I could and waited for you. I guess the benefit of having no friends is that you notice more things around you.”
There was a moment of tension between us. “I am sorry for everything, Kurt,” I said. “I am sorry about the play.”
Kurt shrugged. “I got over it, King Thorigami. Let’s end this.”
Together, we had pinned Malekith, with each of us guarding the doors.
Malekith had frozen, standing still at the center of the gym. Their grey hood turned back and forth, realizing that we had cut off their options.
Behind me, students entered the gym, having intended to arrive for class. Instead, they found a hooded figure, trapped at the center of the gym.
I waited, expecting the hooded figure to make a dash for one of the exits anyway. Instead, they sunk down to their knees, apparently in defeat. Kurt and I jogged to the middle.
A teacher or two had arrived amongst the students. I could hear them gasping and saw some pointing at what Malekith had written. For a moment, they did not intervene, which was all I needed. Kurt understood and nodded in support, so I began my speech.
“Students of Wheeler,” I yelled. “We have just caught Malekith. As you can see, I never intended any ill toward Wheeler. Unfortunately, there is someone who has been plotting to do so this entire time. She has twisted your minds into electing her to be your next president. Everyone, the person under this hood is Malekith. That person is Seyla Solstice.”
I walked over to pull back the hood, but the figure stood up and slowly raised their arms. In dramatic fashion, the figure pulled back the hood on their own.
“It was never Seyla,” they said. “It was me.”
It was Callie Westridge.
“Callie… how—” I had lost the words I had been so fluent with just moments ago.
“That’s ENOUGH!” Ms. Alonso, our gym teacher, marched over. “Miss Westridge, I am extremely disappointed. Please follow me to the principal’s office.”
This left Kurt and I at the center of the gym, completely confused.
“But Seyla…” I said, looking at Kurt. “Seyla was behind all of this. I was certain. This… this makes no sense.”
“It makes sense enough, Thorigami,” Kurt said grimly. “Callie was behind the scenes at my play. As Student Body Vice President, she would have been able to be in the gym without suspicion, right? It was her all along.”
“But why?” I asked desperately. “Why would she do this?”
Kurt looked at me sadly. “No idea, Asgardian.” He helped up Paper Ray Bill. “We did our job. Malekith has been caught. As Bill would say, ‘Harm a friend and comrade of mine, and suffer the consequences!’” Kurt finished grandly, holding up Beta Ray Bill.
At this point, Mrs. Fine, the other teacher from the crowd, suggested that Kurt and I return to our correct classes. I had expected her to be somewhat upset to that we had apprehended Malekith on our own, but she seemed more concerned than any other emotion.
As we exited, some of the students applauded, but several were still upset.
“That’s what you get for saying it was Seyla!”
“Your system is still corrupt!”
“Now Malekith is part of the council that decides the Student Body President? Good grief. Seyla better win.”
Two days later, the situation had calmed down for the most part. Callie was still part of the Student Body Council, which surprised me, but I heard that she was in detention quite a lot.
Finally, after school on Wednesday, I was able to talk to her as we were exiting. I found her just before she made it to the front doors.
“Callie!” I called, pushing my way past a few other students on their way out. “Callie, can we talk?”
“Leave me alone!”
She had reached the exit and gone outside. I tried to keep up. “Callie, I just want to know what happened,” I pleaded. “I was sure that Seyla was Malekith, and now my world has been turned upside down. I am under constant pressure and scrutiny. Please.”
Finally, Callie stopped. She turned to me. Her eyes looked puffy from crying. “I wasn’t supposed to be caught,” she sighed. She looked at me for a long moment. “Fine. Come on.”
I followed her away from the crowd. Once we were out of earshot, Callie turned back to me. “What do you want to know?”
“How did you do this?” I asked. “But also… why? Why would you do this? You joined the Student Body Government because you loved the school. Why would you write all of those things about Wheeler?”
“I have a deal,” Callie said, not meeting my eyes. “It ends this week.”
“Why—” I realized what she was talking about. “Friday. The vote. Does that mean that Seyla is involved in this?”
“Of course,” Callie said, looking at me as though I was stupid. I must admit I felt a bit stupid myself. Callie took a deep breath. “Seyla employed me to be Malekith. I pledged her my vote for her this Friday and wrote the things on the walls. I followed her directions. Seyla invented Malekith to make her campaign successful. By giving herself an enemy, she was able to rise in her already growing popularity. In return, she offered me help with my advanced work and a bright vision for the future. She has a lot of good ideas for the Student Body Government.”
“You realize that she is out of her mind, correct? This cannot be good for Wheeler.”
“Is she out of her mind? Or just smart?” Callie asked me. “Dove, Seyla wants power, but that doesn’t make her ideas bad.”
“You cannot seriously think she is the best candidate.”
Callie looked down, and said quietly, “Look, the deal ends this Friday, okay? I can fight her decisions once she is Student Body President. But the help she is giving me is more important right now.”
“Can I give you that help?” I offered. “I am a good student, I can help you study.”
“It’s more than that, Dove,” Callie said sadly. “Seyla has connections. Something tells me that I don’t want to be on their bad side.”
“So, you were Malekith and gave Seyla an enemy to fight, helping her increase her popularity. This resulted in you getting caught and losing almost everything. And now you are going to vote for her.”
“I’m sorry, Dove,” Callie responded. “You’re a good person. It hurts for me to see you lose.”
With that, she walked away from me, leaving me alone, attempting to comprehend what had just happened.
Group Chat Reaction
By Mars, Dove, Kurt, Adrian, and Ally
KURT: we pulled back the hood and it was CALLIE
MARTIN: wait what kurt
ALLY: ik this is naive but wasn’t callie the nice one?
The day had arrived. Alas, it was Friday. It was time for the vote.
We reserved Mr. Branagh’s classroom once more and invited the three candidates in for the closed meeting.
The Student Body Council arrived about 15 minutes before the candidates to set up. Chris arrived surprisingly early, and was already there to meet me when I entered the room. He gave me a nod in greeting.
Then, the door opened behind me.
When Callie entered the room, we did not speak to each other. I suppose that everything that we had needed to say to each other had already been said. I pitied Callie because she had not even acted without reason. Seyla had simply offered Callie help, and she took it, even if it meant what I was now dreading. Dreading what was just minutes away.
We put three chairs next to the desk, one for each of ourselves, the members of the council. On the other side, we set three more chairs, one for each candidate.
Finally, it was 4:30, our scheduled time for the vote. I took a seat at all the way to the right, with Callie and Chris sitting to my left.
Mars entered the room first, quickly followed by John Miller, and then finally, Seyla. She sat right across from me with a look of pleasant expectancy. My frustration was high. After catching Callie in the act, I finally knew for sure that Seyla was behind the Malekith incidents.
Yet I could not prove it. Here we were, with Callie, Chris, and I about to decide the president of Wheeler, and Seyla simply sat across from me with a slight smile. She knew that I could not prove anything.
Even worse, I could hear her paparazzi right outside the closed classroom door. Her fans seemed to follow her everywhere, and they were waiting patiently outside for the result of the vote. It was an uncomfortable reminder that Seyla had the crowd on her side. If Mars became the president, I had a feeling that everyone would be upset.
“So, it is time to vote,” Callie said, kicking off the meeting. I snapped to attention along with everyone else. “The Student Body Council will now vote on who the next Student Body President of Wheeler High School will be. The results are final and you can only vote once. Dove MacLeash, Treasurer, you are up first.”
I felt everyone turn their gaze to me, and I cast my vote. “Martin Sera.” I made eye contact with him and tried to give my friend a confident nod. He looked very nervous.
Everyone turned back to Callie. “One vote for Mars,” she recorded. “My vote is up next. I vote for Seyla Solstice.”
This news was unsurprising but it hurt nonetheless. Finally, we turned our attention to the last member on the council.
“Chris Burwell,” Callie pronounced.
There was a moment of silence. Chris looked around, perhaps more awake than I had ever seen him. It seemed to sink in for him that it all came down to his vote. He glanced at the door, where the sounds of the loud fanbase could be heard. He gulped.
I had to make an attempt to reason with him. “Chris, please. Callie was acting under Seyla. Seyla was Malekith. Please—”
“Don’t pressure him,” Seyla said suddenly. Her voice was harsh and cold, which I had not heard before.
I turned to her with frustration. “Then what is that?” I said, pointing to the door and her fans. “Is that not pressure? Chris…” I put all of the emotion I could into my voice. “Take a stand. If Callie was Malekith, and she voted for Seyla, you know this cannot be good.”
Callie sat silently. Chris glanced at her and looked back at me.
“Is nobody gonna vote for me?” wondered John Miller aloud.
I did not take my gaze from Chris. “Please,” I pleaded with him.
He spoke slowly. “I’m not going to take the backlash, Dove. You can. I can’t. The crowd is on her side, and frankly, they should have a say. I’m not getting in the way of that. I vote for Seyla Solstice.”
“The vote passes 2 to 1,” announced Callie. “Congratulations, Seyla Solstice.”
“Thank you,” she said crisply. Standing up, she strode to the door and disappeared through it, immediately immersed into her fans. I heard a celebratory cheer from them soon afterward.
What I was dreading had happened. I had lost. Seyla Solstice was our Student Body President.
The Third Meeting
“You did all you could,” Adrian said solemnly. It was the weekend after the vote, and we were once again in the garage. Despite the fact that our Stopping Seyla Squad meetings were over, we had to decided to gather once again in the midst of our loss.
I must admit that I was a bit emotional. These Malekith incidents had been my return to Thorigami, and I had failed. Seyla Solstice had played her pieces well, and she was now the leader of Wheeler High School. I sat next to Ally at the edge of the garage, looking up at the starry night sky.
“We lost, Ally. Thorigami was supposed to protect Wheeler. Look at what I have done. My reputation has only been partially restored by catching Callie. I still claimed it was Seyla and the students of Wheeler still have great distrust in me. Their school is now in the hands of Seyla Solstice. She used the system to her advantage and now the school is at the mercy of a tyrant.”
Ally put her hand on my shoulder. “Dove, remember what I told you at the first meeting we had? Don’t be afraid to lose. Seyla may have won the election, but we still stopped Malekith. We still stopped Callie. People tend to reveal who they are with time. People will release who Seyla is sooner or later. We can stop her then.”
Adrian, who had been leaning against the wall, walked over and sat down on my other side. “We’ll keep fighting with you, man. Heimdollar doesn’t stop looking out for the people.”
Mars joined us. “Um, what Adrian said. I may not be the president of Wheeler but hey, I still have an Eitri puppet. I’ll fight on your side with whatever I’ve got. Y’know, that’s what friends are for and stuff.”
Finally, Kurt joined our line. “I pledge myself to fight with you, Thorigami, Great King of Asgard.”
I smiled, content as I enjoyed the company of the friends I had made this year.
“So… it’s been a while.” Andrew Gardner stretched out across from me, lounging in his opposite side of the booth. “When I pictured seeing you again, I thought it would be under different circumstances. And I wasn’t picturing a Wendy’s.”
“It is good to see you, Andy. I know I wanted to update Kirby on what was happening at Wheeler, but I also did want to see you. It has been too long,” I said with a grin. It was a week after Seyla had become Student Body President, but the event was still fresh on my mind. This meeting might be able to provide some answers about how a freshman, virtually unknown, had risen through the system and taken control of Wheeler High School.
“So is this actually gonna happen?” Andy asked curiously. “You asked her to come here… and she said yes? How do you know she’s going to actually show up?”
We had ordered a frosty ahead of time for her, which stood on the table in between Andy and I. I looked at it briefly before responding to Andy.
“I have been battling Seyla all year. I know her style,” I answered. “Those Malekith incidents were the doing of Callie, yes, but Seyla orchestrated them. She left a Malekith puppet every time. She ran for president and made herself an icon. She wants credit for her work. She is proud, perhaps arrogant. I can tell that she wants to tell the world about how her plan worked. This is a chance for her to do so.”
“What if she doesn’t?”
“Well, at least we are giving her a shot. She desires credit, this will at the very least be a chance for her to hint at her plan,” I explained. “What does she have to lose? She knows nobody will believe us if we say anything.”
“Fair point, but… I still can’t believe she actually agreed to this,” Andy said, taking a bite of his frosty. “But as Americut and a F.O.L.D. agent, I’m here to keep Kirby updated.”
“Are you still a F.O.L.D. agent?” I asked confusedly. “I thought that ended when you became Americut.”
“Oh… maybe it did. I’m not sure how the rules work; I should probably check with Trent or Tilly.”
Suddenly, the door opened and Seyla Solstice entered the fast food restaurant. “Here she comes,” I said.
Seeing Seyla without any of her fans following her was almost like seeing a different person. However, I must say that she looked confident as ever as she pulled up a chair to our booth.
“Hello, Dover,” she said. “I’m here, and you have 30 minutes. Let’s get started. Oh, and hi, Andy. I’ve heard about you.”
“So, what’s this all about? I’m not going to tell you about how evil I am, if that’s what you were hoping.”
“That is not why we are here,” I confirmed. “I simply wanted to talk to you, person to person. How did you, a freshman, know exactly how to attract attention and win the post of Student Body President?”
Seyla smiled. “I have friends. They kept me informed on how and where to make my moves. They helped keep Callie on the council when you caught her.” She took a bite of her frosty. “Mmm. Thank you for getting vanilla.”
Andy sat forward. “What sort of friends?”
Seyla looked at him amusedly. “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe friends that want the war between the schools to end. Friends that want one of the schools to close.”
“T.H.A.N.O.S.,” Andy said, his jaw clenched. My stomach dropped.
“And what… you’re S?” I said.
“I cannot confirm or deny that claim, Dover. You see, I have a preference between which school I want to close. If I am in charge of a school, guess what? The other school is, let’s say, more likely to close.”
“So you want Kirby to close,” summed up Andy.
“Please. It’s bigger than me. This presidency is my chance. My moment. A moment, mind you, that was almost given to your girlfriend,” Seyla said, glancing at me with disgust.
“Shelby?” I asked with surprise.
“When my friends realized Shelby, the Student Body President at the time, wouldn’t be interested in one of the schools closing, they knew we had to wait.”
“So they waited a year,” I realized. “They waited until she was out of the presidency so that you could come in.”
“Perhaps,” laughed Seyla. “You’re clever, Dover, but you should really see through some of these things.”
“Why do you want one of the schools to close?” Andy asked. “They can coexist.”
“You wanna bet?” Seyla asked. “They can’t coexist, they’re always at each other’s throats. This is bound to happen. This whole thing is just my opportunity to prove myself, just as Thorigami and Captain Americut are your opportunities.”
“I’ll take that bet,” Andy said.
“Pfft. You just wait, you have no idea what’s been happening this whole time. You guys are going to lose. It started with Malekith, and it’s only going to continue.
“It is okay to lose,” I said, remembering Ally’s words. “I know the truth. I know you were Malekith.”
“Haha,” laughed Seyla. “That is true, I created Malekith.”
“And you used the Malekith incidents to give yourself an enemy to fight during the campaign,” I noted. “You created your own enemy to unite the crowd behind you. You are both Malekith and Malekith’s enemy.”
“Yes and no. I created Malekith, yes, but that was Callie’s puppet. She’s under my command. I have a much better character.” Seyla reached into her pocket and pulled out an origami puppet.
I recognized her immediately. “Hela,” I said. “The Goddess of Death.”
“Bingo. 10 points to the realm of Asgard.” Seyla clapped slowly to emphasize her point.
“So you’re Hela, but you’re also the S in T.H.A.N.O.S.,” summarized Andy. “Great.”
“Miss Solstice,” I said carefully. “Who is T.H.A.N.O.S.?”
“Tut-tut,” Seyla crooned. “Too much information. I’m only here because I want to be.”
“Why would you want to be here?” Andy wondered.
“Great question,” Seyla said, standing up suddenly. “Great chat, but I have homework. You know, the fun that comes with being a Student Body President also comes with some late nights. Good night.” With that, she walked out of the restaurant, tossing out her frosty along the way.
Andy looked at me. “If she’s only here if she wanted to be, it looks like T.H.A.N.O.S. wants to start coming out of the dark. They’re making moves.”
“I will keep watch at Wheeler,” I said. “If that is their preferred school, perhaps that is where they operate.”
“Okay.” Together, Andy and I stood up. He stuck out his hand. “It was good to see you, MacLeash.”
“You too, Andy.”
With that, Andy started walking to the door. He stopped before he reached it and looked back to me. “Hey, Clark’s throwing a Halloween party this upcoming week. You should come.”
“Sounds like an honorable event,” I said, nodding.
“Cool, I’ll text you the details.”
“Are you seriously a mummy?” Andy asked. We were walking together to the entrance to the Halloween party at Kirby.
I shrugged, a bit uncomfortable in the costume I had thrown together. “You told me it was a Halloween party. I did not have much time to buy a suit, so I wrapped myself in this fabric.”
“Fair enough,” Andy said, stepping aside as a witch and ninja turtle strode past. “But nobody is going to recognize you.”
“That is frankly okay. My reputation at Kirby is not much better than it currently is at Wheeler.”
Andy laughed. “It’s a unity party, Dove. There’s students from both Kirby and Wheeler here.”
“Hmm. Perhaps I will remove my mask later in the evening.”
“Suit yourself.” We had reached the doors to the party, and I could hear the sounds of music from the other side. Andy turned back to me. “Ready?”
Pushing open the door, Andy and I entered the party. I must declare that the decorations were fantastic and went very well with the Halloween theme. I believe the correct word for it would be “spooky”. At the center of the room, there was dancing, but it somehow seemed less intimidating than it had at the Under the Sea Dance. It looked… fun.
“I’m gonna head to the snack bar,” Andy said, giving me a pat on the shoulder. “Have fun, alright?”
I nodded and Andy headed off. It was at this point that I noticed a commotion at the center of the room. I recognized Clark Largent and the agent named Robby confronting a few masked figures. I stepped forward to intervene, but someone held me back.
“Dove, right?” said Emily Madison. “I saw you come in with Andy. Don’t worry, that whole thing isn’t nearly as bad as it looks.”
“Hi Emily,” I said, slightly confused. “What is going on? Clark looks like he is in trouble.”
“It’s fine,” she responded calmly. “I set this whole thing up; Clark has been going through a rough patch so Robby and I created the Watchdogs to distract him.”
I heard someone yell, “Don’t start without me!” I turned to see a small boy dressed in a red and blue Spider-man suit roll into one of the masked figures. I decided the situation was well under control, thanked Emily, and found a seat on the edge of the room.
After a few minutes, a man with a very rude monkey puppet went up onto the stage and performed a few skits about sanitation. I found it strange but enjoyed it nonetheless.
I sat back. I had lost sight of Andrew Gardner, and my mask was still on. I doubted anyone would recognize me. Emily had only recognized me because I had come in with Andy, after all. For a moment, I felt lonely, but then:
“What’s up, Dove?”
I looked up to see the face of Ally Weber smiling down at me. She had dressed up in a robe and was carrying a short stick. I recognized her to be Hermione Granger, the bright witch from Harry Potter.
“Hi, Ally!” I said, pleasantly surprised. “How did you know who I was?”
“Please, Dove, I’d know you anywhere,” Ally laughed. “Wanna dance?”
I looked out to the center of the room. “I really would, Miss Weber.”
Recorded by Unknown Person, Acquired by Unknown Circumstances
S: It is done, O. Wheeler is under our control.
O: Excellent. We can now move toward ending this war. I take it that you explained this to MacLeash and Gardner?
A: I still feel as though we should not have told them. Doesn’t that simply give them more information about our movements?
H: The time to strike is near. If we direct their attention to aspects of our plan, they will be less likely to notice the others.
T: I agree.
S: I took great risk in doing this. I trust that it will be remembered.
O: Watch it, S. You have proved yourself and you have the control you desired. Be content.
T: If I may, O, sir… I agree with S on this. That took bravery.
O: Enough. We will resume this subject another time. Meeting adjourned.
What Makes Wheeler Great?
By Jude Decassius
Wheeler isn’t great. It could have been. I offered them a great future, but no. They had to turn it down. And now I’m in juvenile detention, only hearing occasionally about what has become of my school. And now they’re having the council vote on the next president? Good luck with that. There’s not a single person at Wheeler who’s capable of being a leader. They could have had me. They could have had Jude and Lokrease, leading Wheeler High School into an era of glory. But noooo.
Thank you to CJ for helping set up such a fantastic character in Dove MacLeash. I really enjoyed continuing his story. Additionally, many thanks to Noah and Peyton for letting me pitch plot points and ideas.
Thank you to the amazing Superfolders who are reading this story. You are awesome and make the MOU an amazing community. I didn’t expect it to take this many words to tell Thorigami II, but that was what it took. I had a great time telling it along the way, and I hope you enjoyed reading it!
Finally, thanks again to CJ for another incredible cover design.