This is Issue #141 of DeathWatch, an ongoing Serial. Click that link to go find ‘DeathWatch’ then go to ‘#0 – A Beginning’ and read from there, or go find the issue # you remember, and catch up from there!
* * *
“What is the meaning of this, Garrett?”
Olivier burst into the room as though the people inside were waiting on his cue to come to life. It made Garrett want to pick up his pointer and ram it so far up the Headmaster’s ass he got chalkdust on his tonsils.
“I’m sure I don’t know,” Garrett said, even though he could plainly see that the Headmaster was holding the same newspaper he’d been reading earlier. He turned to the student he’d been tutoring, and said, “We’ll need to pick this up later. Come and see me an hour before evening vespers.”
The student nodded, picked up books and papers, and scuttled out.
The door clicked shut, and Olivier turned to face Garrett. The expression on his face was so close to murderous, Garrett actually stopped what he was doing, folded his hands, sat on the corner of his desk and waited.
“You left this in the student lounge,” Olivier snarled, flinging the paper down on Garrett’s desk.
“Actually, I gave it to a student,” Garrett sighed, picking it up and rearranging it, shuffling the papers on his desk and looking unconcerned. “They likely left it in the lounge. I don’t normally go to any of the lounges, Headmaster.”
“Damnit, Garrett, you’re walking a fine line, and the instant y–”
“For fuck’s sake, Holden, you’re being an absolute ass,” Garrett said, slapping his desk. “You want to fire me? Fire me! But I’m not going to cower from you any more! Whatever power you’d had from the Redwell family is long gone! If you want allies here, you’re going to have to earn them without acting like an irrational bastard!”
“You’d better hold your tongue!” Olivier snarled. “Your behavior is not acceptable! The students–”
“You don’t have a heaven-sent clue about the students!” Garrett snapped, his face growing red. Slowly, he clenched his fists and ground his teeth together, struggling not to lose his self control. “Do you have any idea how this news affects them? After the Academy, ninety percent of them were to march out into basic training, Holden! So they could follow in the footsteps of men and women fighting for their nation. So they could be the brave, the bold, the saviours and conquerors. And they just got word that their heroes — not to mention classmates of theirs, alumnae of this institution — are dead. Hundreds, if not thousands of them, Brody and Harrington among them. They knew without me leaving the paper anywhere. They get papers of their own. They have family. People talk, Holden. And word outside the Academy is that we’ve suffered grievous losses — that those Blackland monsters have simply killed wave after wave of our soldiers.”
“Brody and Harrington are not in the list of the confirmed dead,” Olivier said, looking confused.
“Kieron left, to join the scouts, and Jet followed him not long after. I still have contacts in the military,” Garrett murmured. “There are only three scout ships still in the air, and neither Kieron nor Jet is on any of them.” The words are half choked out; Garrett stops, bowing his head, briefly, putting a hand to his brow. “Leave me,” Garrett said, his eyes closed. His expression was neither triumphant nor smug — he had information, but it was a wealth of awful information.
“I hardly think–” Olivier began.
“Get out, Headmaster, or I shall most assuredly behave in a way we will both regret,” Garrett growled, looking up from under his lashes, his teeth beginning to be bared. You, more than me, he thought.
Olivier left, shutting the door behind him quickly.
* * *
It was a full day later, when he barged in again, and yet again, Garrett dismissed a student, promising to finish the lesson later. “Go back over the calculus,” he sighed. “You’re having trouble with the limit as the delta becomes infinitely small.”
“Yes, sir,” the boy replied, gathering up his papers. He stole looks at Olivier, and hurried, nearly dropping his things more than once.
Once they were alone, Olivier simply sat himself down in the chair behind Garrett’s desk, wearing a smug, ridiculous smile.
“What?” Garrett finally asked, exasperated.
A slow smile spread over the Headmaster’s face; he crossed his arms over his chest, saying, “Pack up your personal belongings. You’re hereby relieved of your post, Mr. Garrett.”
Garrett narrowed his eyes, cocking his head to the side.
“Hoyt Redwell is returning to the Academy to finish out a final year and graduate with honors,” Olivier said.
“But the Brody’s–” Garrett sputtered. Ellison may have broken down and begun to rebuild himself, but neither he nor his beautiful wife Delia would have ever conceded to such a thing. Kieron had been too abused by the bullying of the other student.
“Are no longer contesting the boy’s right to have his education. Their son is dead, as you well informed me. I let them know you’d been aware of their son’s whereabouts. Harrington’s as well,” Olivier said, looking proud. “They’ve asked for your dismissal, in the face of your unbecoming conduct, or they threatened to withdraw all ties to the school. Instead the Redwells will be endowing a scholarship, and their son simply needs to finish up some classwork by the end of the term, so that he can graduate,” Olivier said, smirking. “I do believe the Brodys and Harringtons are interested in bringing charges against you, for aiding minors in enlisting.”
How very like an angry owl he looks, Garrett thought, and smiled in spite of himself. In truth, his blood was chilled; he had never managed to face down Ellison Brody when he full well believed the man to be in the wrong, and now… now he was not so certain of his position. He held the smile, wanting to keep himself as measured and calm as possible.
“What do you have to look so smug about?” Olivier hissed. “You’ve just lost your post; you’ll be leaving in disgrace; you’ll soon be served a summons for violating the law, and your pet students are de–”
He didn’t have a chance to finish the sentence; Garrett had the man out of the chair by his throat. It was one thing to be a petty man, and Garrett was certain that Holden Olivier was petty. It was one thing to use his power to turn Garrett away from the teaching job he so loved. It was another thing entirely to break the hearts of two families to prove a point, and to throw it in his face that the boys had likely been killed. “You’re a wretched little pissant of a man,” Garrett snarled, sharp teeth revealed as his lip curled. “And it would give me the greatest of joys to break every bone in your weak, grubbing little body. Do you know what they taught me, outside the Academy, Headmaster? Do you know what I learned after Squadron 414? Or did I fail to place Invasive Tactics Training on my curriculum vitae?”
* * *