The Preliminary Report of Marshal Bennett
(For better or for worse, the Blue River Massacre is the defining event of the Gruntverse. This is a different perspective of that night.)
* In 2005, a Nimuen musician disappeared in Savannah, Georgia. Among his personal effects was a CD inscribed with a glyph alphabet of unknown origin. 11 of the 12 tracks on the CD were commercially available music, but the third track was an audio recording of unknown origin transcribed below. *
"Well, in my professional opinion, that was the biggest clusterfuck under council jurisdiction since World War Two.
"Oh, right. If this is my career death warrant, I should sign it properly. Amos Bennett, Marshal, Southeast Region Commander, SiS. Preliminary report on the Blue River Incident. I'm not even going to bother with date and time. We're going to remember this one for centuries.
"I'll start with the casualties. Ten Sextus graduates dead. Three teenage bystanders dead. Nine Sextus graduates wounded, three seriously, one in a coma. A hundred odd terrified bystanders, most of them minors, only a handful wounded enough to require hospitalization. Two different agencies reached the site before SiS arrival.
"We did manage to notify the families, living and dead. They're holding up, for the most part. You don't have a kid in the study hall system without having a good idea of worst case scenarios. It's the sheer scale that has us all in shock, I think. One family was already up. Their oldest was killed in the fight. Their youngest just had her Epiphany. And from the looks of things, she's a natural medium. How's that for a kick in the ass from the powers that be?
"The Monitor Sextus of the Southeast region is in SiS custody. Formal charges are pending, but we can probably start with mass murder, human sacrifice, malicious necromancy, abuse of office, and statutory rape. Look up her details yourself, I'm not letting the bitch's name cross my lips if I can avoid it.
"In the days to come, a lot of questions are going to be asked as to how this could have happened under the noses of both the Council and the Agency. And they should be asked, because bottom line, we failed those kids. Our policy since the study hall system was enacted has ensured that Monitors held complete power alongside full responsibility when it came to their charges. We put too much faith and too much autonomy in our Monitors. And along came someone willing to play the long game, and they took full advantage of it.
"Because we were warned. At least a month ago, I had MacDougall on my ass about that Monitor screwing her students, and suspecting more. Not that the Council or the high Monitor gives a shit there. Comes too close to some uncomfortably popular traditions in circles that shall remain nameless. You fucking cowards know who you are.
"On the plus side, either someone used their freelance days to teach small unit tactics or at least one of those kids turned out to be a damned tactical prodigy. I managed to get an AAR out of some of the survivors, and it's amazing what they planned for and pulled off. They had solid objectives, comm, backups, and some damned creative spellwork. That stunt two of em pulled off with shotguns was the magical equivalent of building a tank out of a tractor and duct tape.
"With the kind of power that bitch was throwing around, we should be looking at over a hundred dead bystanders. Instead we had nineteen young mages that graduated last fucking week, armed with shotguns, pipe bombs, a sword or two, and high school magic. They saved all but three of their classmates. And it cost half of them their lives.
"Shit, I need to drop a line to a friend at Annapolis, see if any of these kids applied. I'll recommend any one of them in a heartbeat.
"Ten Sextus graduates dead. That's still hitting me in the face. One in eight newly adult American mages were dead in a suburban Georgia park by the time I arrived. Try and wrap your head around the enormity of that, ladies and gents. I think I'm too sober to even fucking try.
"The current official line of bullshit we're feeding to everyone on and off the record is a mass shooting. Probably meth gang related, using attack dogs. Innocent kids got caught in the crossfire. Hell, it was dark and chaotic enough in there even most of the bystander kids will sell that story easy enough. The shiny badges will smell bullshit, but without someone to take the fall, it'll turn into just another legend in time.
"I have four deputies on station, and I'll be keeping them here until after the funerals. Florida will still be a mess when we get back.
"This trial is going to set some very important precedent. If we're not careful, it's gonna be the zombie wars all over again. Here's hoping nobody screws it up."
* Representatives of SiS and the Stone Council have refused to comment on the content, of this recording.
Marshal Bennett did once serve as Regional Commander for the SiS Marshal's service. He was demoted to Deputy Marshal and transferred to the Northeast Region for insubordination and dereliction of duty following the Blue River massacre.
Deputy Marshal Bennett was killed in the line of duty in 2003. *
Copyright © 2020 By Jay Peterson. All rights reserved.