[Footsteps. Some music. Knocking on a door.]
DEAN: Come in, Leonard. You seem agitated. Is everything alright?
LEONARD: I don’t know if everything is alright, but we certainly have a situation on our hands and I don’t think you’re going to like it.
DEAN: Calm down, Leonard. Have a seat and tell me about it.
LEONARD: Jenna Donovan. The new transfer student. Did you hear that we have a new transfer student?
DEAN: Nothing happens here that I don’t hear about. You know that, Leonard. But she’s a late bloomer. Probably not more than a three or a four, certainly not worth the level of concern that-
LEONARD: She’s a twelve point seven.
LEONARD: At least. She’s a twelve point seven at least. Possibly more, the machine overheated.
DEAN: A twelve point seven.
[slightly ominous music begins]
DEAN: Well, then. *Wheels turning*. Have you told her?
LEONARD: I thought it best to come to you first.
DEAN: That was the right call. This is unfortunate in some ways - her being so old already, and they’ll want to accelerate her training, get her into service as quickly as possible… a twelve point seven… and a lightning mage at that- I mean, it’s a wonderful opportunity, but you’re right - not without its dangers. A Twelve point seven. At least. Give me a moment.
LEONARD: Of course sir.
DEAN: I think we need to be honest with her. Mostly honest anyway. Give her the full twelve stripes. Maybe don’t tell her about the “at least.”
LEONARD: I’m worried about the effect on morale. The existing social structures among the students as you know are very much predicated on…
DEAN: These things work themselves out. But if it makes you feel better you can tell her she’s an eleven. That won’t raise quite so many eyebrows- we have a handful of them at the school at least-
LEONARD: Mostly teachers.
DEAN: Mostly, but a handful of students. Susan, Galen, Terrence, and Lee? No, Terrence graduated last year. *disdainfully* Brynn Tessek, though she’s a six/five, not quite the same. Still, none of them shook things up too much. I mean, Ms. Tessek, but not because of her stripes.
LEONARD: No, because one or two elevens come through every year or so. We haven’t had a twelve since -
DEAN: I know. And you’re right. Her being so new - yes it would be dangerous. Alright, tell her she’s an eleven. That will put her in the right training class and we’ll tell her the truth once she’s acclimated.
LEONARD: I think that’s wise sir.
[Electromancy theme plays]
NARRATOR: Electromancy, created by Nathan Comstock. Episode 2 - Fundamentals of Political Theory.
[groovy music starts]
LAUREN: Did you hear about the Lightning mage girl?
MEL: They said she’s an eleven, but my boyfriend’s roommate said he heard she might actually be a twelve?
DYLAN: Yeah, so I was in math class on the ninth floor, and it’s right below that room with the magic testing machine, right? And we all heard it. The machine freaked. out.
LAUREN: I heard she’s from the Ardovan mountains? So like, she’d probably never even seen a mage before yesterday.
EZER: Don’t they, like worship mages there?
LAUREN: They used to, I think? But that was a long time ago. Anyway, what’s important is, she doesn’t know anything, and now she’s gonna be the freaking queen bee of the Electromancers.
DYLAN: And like, I was there when they tested Susan - you know Susan Lin, the eleven point four floramancer? And I’m telling you the machine did not freak out like that for her. She’s a twelve. Girl’s a twelve, I’m telling you. They’re just not telling us cause they don’t want us to freak out.
EZER: What do you bet they get her on their Pazik team? Figures. You know we’re playing them in the second game of the season this year.
MEL: I wouldn’t worry too much, she’s brand new- no training.
EZER: She won’t need much training to electrocute the whole field.
MEL: I’m pretty sure that’s a fowl.
LAUREN: Oh my gods, is that her? That’s her isn’t it?
DYLAN: She’s kinda cute actually.
MEL: She’s an eleven, Dylan. She’s way out of your league.
[Groovy music stops. Cafeteria background noise starts.]
LUCAS: ELLIE! Yo, wait up.
ELLIE: reverently Lucas? I… didn’t even know you knew my name.
LUCAS: Course I know your name I know everybody, ‘specially all the lightning mages. You gotta tell me about this new girl, this Jenna. You gave her the tour and everything right?
ELLIE:*obviously flustered*. Uh, yeah, obviously, we're roommates and everything - I walked her back to the dorm. We didn’t talk that much. Um.. what did you want to know?
LUCAS: Ellie, you’re young, but you’ve been here awhile, you know how it is when a new ten or eleven shows up. But this girl - she’s brand new, she doesn’t know anything about how we do things here. Some people might try to take advantage of that.
ELLIE: But not you of course.
LUCAS: Of course not me, but you know I need to make the right impression. Make sure the lightning mages are properly welcoming of her. I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s great that we have an eleven now. But you see how it would present a problem for me.
ELLIE: Like I said, I didn’t talk to her that much. But I don’t think you need to worry too much, I mean - you’re still a nine, that’s like really good-
LUCAS: Hey, I’m not worried about anything. I just want to make a good first impression. I feel like if the two strongest lightning mages obviously and openly don’t get along that’s… just gonna suck for everyone.
ELLIE: I- she seems really nice, and- well, it’s your lucky day. Look.
LUCAS: Oh man, they got her stripes sewn on and everything. If the whole school didn’t know before, they will now. Bring her to my table once you’ve got your food, okay?
ELLIE: Uh, oh! Your table! Okay. Jenna, hey! How was the medical wing?
JENNA: Fine, they said it was just... overexertion. I slept for an hour or two. When I woke up there was this new uniform jacket waiting for me. And that professor was there, he talked to me for a few minutes. Anyway, I was starving. I asked the healer about food and he walked me here. Everyone has been staring the whole time.
ELLIE: Well, yeah. Didn't they tell you…?
JENNA: That I’m the most powerful lightning mage this place has seen in years? Yeah, professor Sumner maybe mentioned it.
ELLIE: Well, that’s why they’re staring. Lucas wants to meet you, by the way.
JENNA: Lucas is?
ELLIE: Lightning mage class nine. Basically runs the lightning mages. Well, for now he does. Obviously he’s worried.
JENNA: Oh for gods’ sake. deep sigh. He thinks I’m gonna, what? Dethrone him? We’re kids, Ellie. I just got here. A week ago I was a normal girl - three days ago I didn’t think I’d ever have to worry about magic. All I want to do is fade into the background and get this over with.
ELLIE: Get what over with?
JENNA: My schooling, and then my service. Then I can have a normal life. Right?
ELLIE: You don’t.. wanna be a mage?
JENNA: You do?
ELLIE: No. No. Obviously, uh, not uh, uh No. *sobs, then deep breaths*
JENNA: Ellie, wait. I’m sorry I don’t know what I said wrong…
ELLIE: No, I’m sorry. It’s fine. It’s.. don’t worry about it. Please don't - it's fine. This way. C’mon. footsteps. Lucas, this is the famous Jenna.
LUCAS: Lucas Burns, lightning mage class nine. Welcome to the institute. Why don’t you have a seat?
JENNA: Hi. Nice to meet you.
LUCAS: Sorry I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself earlier. I hope you’re settling in okay.
JENNA: To be honest, I haven’t really had much of a chance to settle in. I literally got here this morning.
LUCAS: It is a lot, isn’t it?
JENNA: That’s putting it mildly.
LUCAS: Well, don’t worry about anything. Cause you’ve got the best group of mages in the institute looking out for you. Isn’t that right Ellie?
ELLIE: ...yes? *pause* Yes!
LUCAS: So. Do you play Pazik?
[We hear some more chatter as the scene transitions to another conversation in the cafeteria.. ]
BRYNN: Look at Lucas. Already cozying up to her. What a joke.
DEVON: It’s not a joke, Brynn, it’s smart. It’s politics.
BRYNN: That’s the joke, Devon. I’m not saying what he’s doing isn’t smart given the circumstances. I’m saying the circumstances are messed up.
DEVON: *deep sigh* This again.
BRYNN: She got here this morning Devon. What’s she done to deserve any sort of status? Nothing! But it’s not about what you do here, it’s about what you are.
DEVON: Brynn, can we save the lecture for someone who hasn’t heard it a hundred times. (telepathically) [Not counting the times you just think about it.]
BRYNN: I am not responsible for what you find snooping around in my head, Devon.
DEVON (telepathically) Can you not out loud? You don’t know who could be listening!
BRYNN: Devon, it’s magic school, you don’t know who could be listening telepathically either.
DEVON: (telepathically) This isn’t a joke Brynn. You know what would happen if someone found out I had a second aspect that I hadn’t reported-
BRYNN: (telepathically) Fine. But for the record, you worry too much.
DEVON: (telepathically) You don’t worry nearly enough. You’re not as invincible as you think you are.
BRYNN: (telepathically) Alone maybe not. But with you always around, jamming anyone who tries to read my mind...
BRYNN: (out loud) Anyway, we’ve gotta take this new girl down a notch.
DEVON: No, really we don’t.
BRYNN: All eyes are on her. Gives us a great opportunity to spread our message, highlight the absurdity of this whole situation. If we play our cards right we can grow our little movement.
DEVON: I don’t love where this is going.
BRYNN: Don’t worry! I’ve got a plan. It plays to my strengths, it plays to your strengths… We’ll need Pem too.
DEVON: Good luck with that one.
[We transition back to the other conversation]
LUCAS: So I think it would look bad if I swapped out a starter for you for Saturday’s game, but that’s fine, we’re up against the healers, they’re kind of a joke anyway. But the next match against the pyromancers is gonna be clutch, and I bet we can get you up to speed by then.
JENNA: Look, I’m flattered, but I don’t think you understand how little magic I actually know.
LUCAS: No, I understand, but, I mean lets be real. You’re gonna be a natural.
ELLIE: (Under her breath) But like, no pressure, right?
LUCAS: I’m sorry?
LUCAS: You clearly had something to say.
ELLIE: (Very shy) I just think that’s a lot of pressure to put on her when she just got here. Sorry.
LUCAS: You’re right. I’m getting ahead of myself. Come find me if you need any pointers or any advice at all. About anything.
[More room noise.]
DEVON: You remember when you got your powers. Remember how little control you had?
BRYNN: That’s the point, Devon. That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make! With no control, she’ll lose.
DEVON: With no control she’ll kill you!
BRYNN: If she can hit me.
DEVON: You are impossible.
BRYNN: Mmmmm Let’s do this.
[Chair scooting away from a table. Determined footsteps below the next line.]
DEVON (telepathically) Brynn, please don’t do this. It’s not going to end well. Brynn. Brynn. No, Stop. Brynn, no!
BRYNN: (out loud) Hey!
JENNA: Umm.. hi.
BRYNN: Hi. You Jenna Donovan?
JENNA: And you are?
BRYNN: Brynn Tessek, Photomancer class six, Umbramancer class five. I’m here to challenge you to a duel.
LUCAS and ELLIE: What?
JENNA: What? I don’t know you.
[inspiring music under this monologue.]
BRYNN: No you don’t. But I know people like you, and I’m sick of ‘em. I’m challenging you to a duel on behalf of all the two, the threes, the fours who are never going to be able to earn what you’ve just been handed. I’m challenging you as a proxy for this whole system that rewards magical power over hard work and merit.
LUCAS: Okay, now, calm down a sec. First off, I see eleven stripes on your jacket, even if they are two different colors so it's a little rich you acting like you’re doing this for the little guys, even if your boyfriend’s only a four. Second thing, a duel of honor is for a personal insult, you can’t challenge someone as a proxy, that’s not a thing.
DEVON: Um, definitely not her boyfriend.
BRYNN: Yeah, he’s not. And also, did I say anything to you, Sparky?
JENNA: Seriously, what’s going on?
ELLIE: It’s a lot to explain. Brynn, she’s brand new here, she doesn’t know the rules, and she doesn’t know any magic.
BRYNN: Exactly. That’s why everybody’s going to see that she’s not special. Just because some machine said she was doesn’t mean she’s somebody.
LUCAS: You don’t have to accept this challenge Jenna. It’s absurd. No one will think any less of you.
JENNA: I accept.
JENNA: I accept your challenge. How does this work? I assume we don’t do it right now?
BRYNN: No. We gotta give it some time to build the hype. We want a nice, big audience. So let’s say Saturday? At two? Provided no one’s booked the Arena.
JENNA: Sounds good. I’ll see you there.
BRYNN: Alright. Nice to meet you.
[same groovy music plays over end credits, but with a more complex drum part and a melody added on top.]
NARRATOR: Electromancy is written, produced and directed by Nathan Comstock. This episode was sound designed by Tal Minear with music by Thomas Dwyer. It starred Azul Nova as Jenna, Austin Hendricks as Ellie, Aubrey Poppleton as Lucas, Leslie Gideon as Brynn, Tuesday Orion Ibert as Devon, Zachary Robb as Dr. Leonard Sumner, Karim Kronfli as Dean Ventrassi, Tal Minear as Mel, Alex Lameroux as Ezer, Chris Magilton as Dylan and Emma Laslett as Lauren. You can find out more about us at www.electromancypod.com. If you're enjoying the show, please leave a review on APlle podcasts, or tell your friends about it on social media. Or in person! It's the easiest way for us to find new listeners. We’ll be back with another episode in 2 weeks.
LEONARD: Ms. Tessek?
BRYNN: Hi Mr. Sumner.
LEONARD: Interesting way of welcoming our newest pupil.
BRYNN: Hey you know the rules about duels. Faculty can’t interfere.
LEONARD: An outdated and stupid concept, frankly. But yes I know the rules. I just don’t understand your impulse to antagonize anyone with any influence or power.
BRYNN: Says the guy who’s constantly undermining the state-sponsored curriculum in his history classes.
LEONARD: That’s different! The Dean would have me imparting unqualified propaganda-
BRYNN: Yeah, we’re not that different Mr. S. You should come to the duel Saturday. It’s gonna be a real show.