(Gen, Sasha & Maddie, 957 words, set post-Turning Point, pre-Commander Anne, and completed on April 14, 2022)
Leading a resistance is not easy. Sasha didn’t think it would be easy, but everyone is looking to her for quick, sound decisions, and she’s not leading a small squadron of cheerleaders or a tiny tactical group of toads anymore. She’s leading a town of frogs in pushing back against a powerful tyrant and conqueror, and she’s never been busier in her life.
As much as she wishes Marcy and Anne were here, they’re not. She’s managed without them before—she’ll be fine. They’ll be fine. They have to be fine.
She pores over a large map in the war room, frowning at the pieces of intel her spies have brought back.
“Hey,” says a gravelly voice, and Sasha shrieks, drawing her swords on instinct.
Maddie puts her hands up.
Breathing heavily and slowly sheathing her swords again, Sasha says, “Oh. It’s you again. Maddie, right?” She remembers hearing the name chanted in unison by three tiny tadpoles.
“That’s me. Sorry for startling you. I’m told I have a quiet footfall.”
Sasha lets out a nervous laugh to steady her nerves. “Haha, no worries. Anything I can do for you?” She gestures to one of the chairs and pulls one up to the table as Maddie does the same and sits on it, very still.
“I think you could use me,” Maddie says bluntly. “I’m a level two curse wielder, and I have experience resurrecting entities.”
“Whoah,” Sasha blurts, her eyes widening. “Uh. Okay. Wasn’t expecting you to say that last part, but sure, I’m listening. What’s a level two curse wielder?”
Maddie pulls out one of her little pouches. Sasha knows she does magic—she wouldn’t really have believed it was possible if she hadn’t seen Maddie teleport with her own eyes. “It means I’m an advanced user. Marcy helped me achieve the rank when she was in Wartwood. It was cool to have another person interested in curse magic.”
The mention of Marcy does something complicated to Sasha’s insides. A kind of need to hear more, and an awful feeling like she doesn’t deserve to hear about when Marcy was happy, because if she hadn’t orchestrated the siege, maybe Marcy would still be happy. Maybe she’d still be here. But instead, she’s back in that castle, a prisoner, and all Sasha can do is beg for scraps of other people’s memories of her that she never got to see.
She wants to ask more about Marcy so badly. Instead, she says, “That’s cool. So what kind of magic is it? I know you can teleport—that would really come in handy—but is there anything else that you think would help the rebellion?”
“Oh, I’ve got plenty up my sleeves,” Maddie says gleefully.
She demonstrates certain curses and then describes others, mainly because they’re offensive spells, meant to be used with pieces of the target like hair or skin. It’s useful—she’s useful, and having magic on their side with whatever the hell Andrias is doing with that box is definitely going to help them win the war.
But something pulls at Sasha. “Hey,” she says. “It’s awesome that you want to help out with the war and everything, and this is really useful, but I want you to remember that this is a team effort. You’re definitely needed here, that’s for sure, but I don’t want people overly relying on you, got it?”
Maddie looks up at her with that inscrutable look.
Sasha points at different places on the map. “I can think of at least ten use cases for your curse magic, but there’s only one of you.” She pauses and sighs, closing her eyes. “Back on Earth, Marcy would always try to take on way too much. She could handle it, don’t get me wrong, but she was always so busy. I won’t pile expectations on you. You get me?”
“Yeah, I get you,” Maddie says. She kicks her feet a little. “Thanks, Sasha.”
“Hey, no problem.” Sasha smiles at her. “You’re definitely going to kick some major butt out there, don’t get me wrong, but I want you to have some downtime. It’s really important that we have that work-life balance.”
Maddie frowns. “What?”
Shoot. That turn of phrase is definitely something she accidentally stole from her mom. “I just mean, like—have fun?”
A slow grin slides onto Maddie’s face. “Oh, I will.”
“Aside from the magic, Maddie.” Sasha points at her.
She sighs heavily. “Okay, fine.” For a second, she just sits there—Sasha thinks maybe the conversation’s over and that she’ll head out soon, but then Maddie says, “I know you don’t wanna talk about it, but Marcy was really cool.”
Sasha turns to her, stricken. “What makes you think I don’t want to talk about it?” she asks, treading with caution.
“Just that I brought her up before and you totally dodged the topic. Also that anytime someone brings her up you suddenly have to go. Also that you sometimes go to sit by Joe Sparrow.”
“Okay, okay,” Sasha groans. “She’s—she’s not dead, you don’t have to use past tense.”
“Even if she was,” Maddie says, not missing a beat, “I could easily resurrect her. She’d be fine. She’d have cool glowing eyes!”
Sasha stares at her and then sighs. “Man. She’d probably love that. But you’re right, she is really cool.” She steels herself, taking a deep breath, and then asks, “Would you tell me more? About when she was here?”
“Where do I start?” Maddie exclaims, and rolls right into a series of anecdotes.
When she leaves, Sasha goes to her chalkboard and thinks over her mission squads. Maddie is very powerful. She’s like a last resort, a trump card.
Sasha places her near the center under the header “Special tactical squad.”