“Thank you all for coming here today,” Andrew smiled as he surveyed his guests. He was genuinely pleased to see them but would have preferred that it had been under other circumstances. “I know that a number of you found it quite inconvenient to be here,” had protested vehemently in fact, “and please pay no mind these armed gentlemen dotted around the room. Some people get nervous when I have this many guests.” ‘These armed gentlemen’ appeared to comprise most of a SWAT team but without the labelling. “I’ve called you all here to talk about Tobia.”
The assembled adult and near-adult members of his extended family exchanged looks and short approving comments.
“Stop trying to make her apologise for what she did.” His audience fell silent in surprise. “She did what she is being trained to do in just that circumstance – she was inveigled into giving up information she shouldn’t have and took the necessary steps to prevent her organisation being compromised by that information. Most of you,” he glanced at his wife, “seem to think that the school that we all attended is a benevolent institution and that it has four Houses producing four different types of agent for the Agency. It doesn’t, it has five, with the fifth being Wolf Pack.”
The murmurs this time were of denial.
“It is not where the dregs that no House would have go, it’s where the students selected to become a particular type of agent are sent.” He looked around the room. “I will warrant that no student in Wolf Pack believes that the school is a benign or benevolent institution – or that it is nurturing and caring. They live in a derelict building with no adult supervision. If they cannot protect themselves, then they are prey to whatever two legged monsters are inhabiting the school at that moment.” He looked around the room again. “It’s where the Miles Luttrells and the Akkerleys find their victims because if a member of Wolf Pack disappears the police don’t get called, matron just comes and packs up their things.” He glared at the room and then turned his attention to Tobia’s parents. “Charles and Antonia, what were you thinking, letting them put her into Wolf Pack?”
“Father,” his daughter suddenly looked strained, “it’s not like we had a choice.”
“There’s always a choice,” he corrected her. “They wanted to put Justin in Wolf Pack but I put my foot down.”
“Thank you,” the speaker was a nearly stout man, wearing tweed.
“We were given a sort-of choice,” Antonia ploughed on, “Tobia could go into Wolf Pack or Xavier and Christian would be in Borrich general population on their eleventh birthdays.”
“So you threw a fourteen year old girl to the monsters to protect her younger brothers from attending a well-run rehabilitation centre where they at least attempt to divert and redirect the monsters instead of showing them how to game the system.” Andrew sighed. “That was an interesting choice. Now, why were both of you mentoring Bluejohn and neither of you helping Wolf Pack?”
“We got blindsided,” Charles admitted sheepishly. “We were both asked to do it at about the same time and said yes, not realising that other had done the same thing. By the time we realised, it was too late for either of us to withdraw.”
“And questioning Tobia about Wolf Pack’s plans and actions in the House Cup?” His tone and gaze were steely.
Antonia fidgeted first. “We really did only mean to ask her how she was…”
Charles looked…uncomfortable. “It was reflex. We were on opposing sides.” He looked around the room. “I never asked her to apologize and I never asked anyone else to push her to apologize to us. Some people,” he looked around the room again, “have gotten far too carried away.”
“We first heard about it from Steven,” said Clare, Justin’s wife, said slowly, “but he’s in Princeps, so you wouldn’t think he’d care that Bluejohn was nobbled. Though he and Jack used to be almost joined at the hip when they were younger.”
“I have a contact,” remarked Stephen, Greta’s brother-in-law, from his back corner, “who tells me that a fourteen year old Wolf Pack girl took the Savernake House Master out of the Cup in the break just before fourth period on the second day of the competition.” He smiled. “I would have paid good money to see the expression on Arrodius Monk’s face. I heard too that Wolf Pack got their hands on the competition staff lists and took out everyone’s mentors.”
“Including their own?” That came from someone in the centre of the room who thought they were being anonymous.
“Wolf Pack had no mentors,” replied Stephen. “None at all. Trust me, Borrich is much more civilized.”
Andrew asked, “And would this fourteen year old Wolf Pack girl have been our fourteen year old Wolf Pack girl?”
“So I hear.”
Kith and Kin 4 is here.