The Camp Prospero Files: Rudolph von Hasselberry and Regulus Crowley

REPORT #053567234: PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION, CAMP PROSPERO PERSONNEL

The following report and its contents are classified TOP SECRET under Federal Code 7906-A. The information contained within is the exclusive property of the United States Department of Defense, The Bureau of Magical Affairs, and its branch offices. Any unauthorized release will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Interviews conducted by professional staff for the purpose of determining the mental status and fitness of key training camp personnel.

 

Subject: Rudolph von Hasselberry, Regulus Crowley

Designation: Class 3, Class 2

Rank: Co-Scoutmasters

 

RUDOLPH VON HASSELBERRY: Excuse me, Crowley, but just what in Merlin’s name do you think you’re doing?

REGULUS CROWLEY: Umm–just sitting, as far as I can tell. What do you mean?

RVH: That’s precisely right. You’re sitting. In my seat.

RC: But I was the first one here, and there’s only one chair.

INTERVIEWER: Gentlemen, if I could have your attention for a–

RVH: Well, I suppose you’re to be commended, Crowley. People should follow their strengths, and yours is very much sitting on your backside doing nothing useful in particular. Now get up.

RC: I beg your pardon?

I: Sirs, if I may–

RVH: [glares] Get out of that chair. That’s an order.

RC: [smirks] You can’t give me orders anymore. In case you forgot, Scout Marshal Rhodes promoted me. We’re the same rank now.

RVH: Fortunately for everyone, Crowley, I’ll never be as rank as you. [shakes his fist] Now get up before I give you a lump no amount of makeup will cover, you prancing pansy.

I: Gentlemen–

RC: That was one time! And I’ll have you know, Rudolph, that was only after you threw your nameplate and hit me in the face. You’re lucky I didn’t sue you.

RVH: [clenches jaw] What did you just call me?

RC: Oh, pardon me. All this first-name basis talk is very new to me. I suppose you’d prefer Rudy. After all, Rudolph is an awful name.

RVH: Why you slimy, self-important son of a–

I: Gentlemen! [bangs on table] Control yourselves. This is a psychiatric evaluation, and you are high-ranking BMA officers. A little decorum, please! [clears throat] Scoutmaster Hasselberry, there are extra chairs against the wall.

RVH: [raises eyebrow] Folding chairs.

I: Problem?

RVH: I wouldn’t be caught dead using a folding chair like some AA bum. [snorts] Not to mention that I have a bad back. It’s from an old injury during my service to this country in Vietnam.

RC: I seem to recall you got that from running away from the enemy too quickly.

RVH: Shut up, Crowley, or I’ll put actual stones in your kidneys by pushing them into your body as slowly as possible.

I: [growls] Do I need to call security? I’ll remind you two that this evaluation was ordered by Director Masterson and Scout Marshal Rhodes–both of whom you answer to. I would advise you to cooperate if you want to keep your jobs. No more petty bickering. Are we clear?

[silence]

RVH: Very well. I suppose I’m capable of being the bigger man. [gets a folding chair and sits down] Then again, it’s not difficult to be bigger than a worm like this one.

RC: Stuff it, you old windbag. A worm couldn’t possibly be a worse commanding officer than you.

I: [sighs] Can I have the children back now, please? At least they were semi-intelligent.

RVH: What was that?

I: Nothing. [folds hands] Anyway–I gather you two have known each other for a while.

RVH and RC: [glance at each other] Too long.

I: Uh-huh. May I inquire as to how?

RC: Well, for the better part of the last 10 years, I’ve worked as assistant scoutmaster at Camp Prospero, serving under Scoutmaster Hasselberry. [mutters] And his barely distinguishable command–

RVH: [glowers] I heard that. Sir, how would you feel if you were hampered every day in your duties by being followed around by a drooling incompetent who wouldn’t know a spell from a sunburn? That’s been my life for the last 10 years.

RC: [smirks] I wouldn’t say that. You didn’t drool that much.

RVH: One more word out of you, Crowley, and I’ll–

I: Not to interrupt, Scoutmaster–

RVH and RC: Yes?

I: Ugh. Sorry, I meant Scoutmaster Hasselberry: I think you mean nine of the last 10 years, correct? The record shows you were unemployed at this time last year.

RVH: [grumbles] Retired, actually.

I: Which I believe was less by choice and more forced.

RC: That’s correct. After the incident with Camp Prospero’s graduation two years ago, Scoutmaster Hasselberry was let go, and I was promoted to commanding officer.

RVH: Oh, please. You were a commanding officer for two whole days. And look what happened! My entire camp was destroyed by that rampaging mad woman they sent in to replace you, and they had to bribe me into coming back to pick up the pieces. You were so staggeringly inept that you let an illegal blood witch take control right under your nose.

RC: [flushes] What choice did I have? The Bureau ordered Barstowe to take command. I had no recourse. And of course I didn’t know about the blood magic at first. If I had–

RVH: You would have done what, exactly? Hidden under my desk?

RC: I’m sure the record shows that I was instrumental in the liberation of Camp Prospero.

I: [pages through notes] Yes, it does. That is, after you allegedly collaborated with her for the better part of two months in the unlawful oppression of scouts.

RVH: Ha! Explain that one, Crowley.

RC: [stammers] Well of course I did! I had to! Who wouldn’t? At first I was frightened, and rightfully so–Barstowe was an incredibly powerful witch with control over a piece of the Spear of Destiny itself. I’d like to know what you would have done in my place.

RVH: [snorts] Well, not rolled over and let a woman walk all over me, for starters.

I: Actually, Scoutmaster Hasselberry, your own slate is far from clean. Aside from your–shall we say, mishandling–of the Scout Jamboree two years ago, my files indicate the BMA fired you for gross misuse of camp funds, embezzlement, insurance fraud, and numerous other offenses. The money was apparently used to fund a lavish lifestyle in which, among other things, many women were paid to literally walk all over you. And do other things.

RVH: [splutters] Well, I hardly see how that’s relevant here. Anyway, the Bureau cleared me of all charges when they reinstated my rank. Which they did for services rendered, I might add.

I: Indeed–services rendered only because Jack Ferguson and his fellow scouts had the presence of mind, or perhaps the desperation, to come to you for help.

RVH: [folds arms] They certainly did. And thanks to my quick and decisive moves to take charge of the situation, everything turned out all right.

I: [purses lips] If you call the destruction of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of government property, near-exposure of a secret military installation and the magical world in general, dozens of private lawsuits against this department, and the barest aversion of a potential global extinction event “all right.” Let me be perfectly clear, gentlemen: neither of you are in the BMA’s good book at the moment. The only reason we haven’t replaced the both of you is because we’d have to pay any slightly intelligent new commander a greater salary than what you two make combined.

RC: [gulps] Understood.

RVH: [narrows eyes] This sounds suspiciously not like an interview.

I: That’s because it’s not, Scoutmaster. This is to let you know that you’re both on notice. The BMA promoted you to co-scoutmasters to preserve accountability in the decision-making process at Camp Prospero. But you’d best be paying attention. One more slip-up, from either of you, and you’ll both feel the might of the Bureau come down on you like a ton of bricks. Understand?

RC: Of course. Whatever you say.

RVH: Wait a moment. I thought you made Crowley and I co-scoutmasters so I could keep an eye on him.

RC: [glares] Who says they don’t want me to keep an eye on you?

RVH: Well for one thing, you mental defective, I certainly wouldn’t–

I: Quiet! In Merlin’s name, shut up! You want the honest truth? Well? The truth is that we’re not relying on you to keep each other in line–that’s what the scouts are for. The very troops you command: Ferguson, Stone, Cho, Falco, Scott, Masterson, and all the rest. You’re both such sorry excuses for leaders that we’re asking them to police you. And based on our profiles, we know they’d be the least inclined to give favorable marks to either of you sorry examples of human beings. So watch your step. Do I make myself perfectly clear?

[silence]

I: Good. You’re dismissed.

RC: [gets up to leave] I think he yelled at you more than me.

RVH: Shut up, Crowley.

The Camp Prospero Files: Maya Scott

REPORT #053567234: PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION, CAMP PROSPERO PERSONNEL

The following report and its contents are classified TOP SECRET under Federal Code 7906-A. The information contained within is the exclusive property of the United States Department of Defense, The Bureau of Magical Affairs, and its branch offices. Any unauthorized release will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Interviews conducted by professional staff for the purpose of determining the mental status and fitness of key training camp personnel.

 

Subject: Maya Scott

Designation: Class 3

Rank: Junior Scout

 

INTERVIEWER: [massages forehead] What’s that? We’ve got HOW many more of these to do? Ugh, fine. Let’s just get it over with. I swear, all these children are giving me a massive pain in my–

MAYA SCOTT: Hi there! [waves] I guess was supposed to come talk to you? Everything okay?

I: Oh, umm–Miss Scott. Yes, please take a seat. My apologies. I didn’t hear you come in. I’m fine, thank you. I was just–well–conferring with some of my colleagues.

MS: Sure, no problem! What did you want to talk about? Ask away. I’m basically like an open book. Everybody says so. My brother thinks it’s kind of annoying, but it’s okay. I love him anyway.

I: Right–hmm. I must say, your attitude is a refreshing change of pace, Miss Scott. Many of your fellow scouts have been–how shall I put this–uncooperative.

MS: Really? Gee, I’m sorry about that. But it’s okay. I’ll talk about whatever.

I: That’s a very healthy attitude. So– [reviews notes] Maya Scott. Junior scout, second year at Camp Prospero. Your brother is Leo Scott, graduate of Camp Prospero, correct?

MS: Yep, that’s him! He’s, like, my favorite person in the whole world. I want to be just like him someday. He’s the best brother a girl could ask for.

I: Uh-huh. Would that include all the charges of conduct unbecoming a scout, misuse of magic, disrupting the peace, and underage consumption of alcohol?

MS: Well, Leo says that was all from Scoutmaster Hasselberry. [leans forward] I mean, I don’t mind him, but between you and me, I don’t think he likes any of us that much.

I: I’m sure I can’t understand why, Miss Scott. Now, my records show you were also, for a short time, a wielder of one of the pieces of the Spear of Destiny: the Druid Staff. It was allegedly passed down from generation to generation of your family, with one child being chosen to carry the burden. How did you feel about being chosen to carry that burden?

MS: Oh, it wasn’t hard or anything. I kinda liked it!

I: You–uhh–what?

MS: Yeah, it was pretty cool being able to do all those awesome things with it. Like, I could make a tree grow right up out of the ground like that! [snaps fingers] But I can still do those same kinds of things now, just a lot slower. It’s no big deal. I mean, I don’t think Leo would’ve even liked it anyway. He never wants to be in charge of anything. And my parents say I’m the responsible one. I don’t know if they–

I: Miss Scott, let’s revisit what you were saying about the Druid Staff. You mean when you gave it up to Jack Ferguson, you didn’t feel any kind of resentment or attachment? For many people, giving up that kind of power would be quite difficult.

MS: [shrugs] Maybe, but it’s fine. Jack’s a good guy. He knows what he’s doing. And besides, he needs it way more than I do. I’m fine without it. I just like to make the flowers grow. [smiles]

I: And you’re sure you don’t feel any kind of after-effects? Our scientists have been studying the available material we have on the power of the Spear and their conclusions have led us to believe even the individual pieces could possibly have a tremendous psychological effect on their holder. This could include symptoms of–

MS: Nah, I’m fine. Really! Jack has the pieces. You can trust him. And I don’t think he even carries them around anymore. I mean, without his magic, there’s not really a point. [sighs] That whole thing sucks, though. I feel really bad for him. How come you guys are so worried about the Spear anyway?

I: [frowns] How can all of you keep asking that? It must be obvious even to you that we can’t allow a weapon as powerful as the Spear of Destiny to remain in the hands of–of a– [groans] You know what? Fine, I’ll say it: a group of irresponsible, maladjusted minors whose backgrounds are suspect and motives are highly questionable. It’s imperative that I get to the bottom of conditions at Camp Prospero, and none of your friends have made things any easier.

MS: I’m sorry about that. I mean, they can kind of be a tough group to get focused. I know my boyfriend says their brains all together would make a shoebox look big, but he’s just joking around. It’s Drake. Masterson? You probably talked to him already, right?

I: [chokes] I–what? Drake Masterson? You and he are–involved?

MS: Yeah. [sighs] He’s dreamy. I mean, I know he can be a little tough to get to know, but once you do, he’s actually a really good person. He just doesn’t let people in that easily.

I: I’ve–gathered that, yes. But just to make sure I haven’t misunderstood, you would classify the two of you as–romantically involved?

MS: Well, it’s not a “traditional” relationship, you know? Not like any other one I’ve had, anyway. But it works, and we’re happy.

I: “Happy” isn’t a word I would associate with Mr. Masterson in almost any sense.

MS: You just have to get to know him better, that’s all. Then he might even sing for you! Did you know he’s a really great musician?

I: Music? Singing? I–my God, what is that even–no, I don’t have time to process this right now. Miss Scott, going back to the subject of–ugh. I think my migraine might be coming back again. [rubs head]

MS: Ooh, yeah. I’m sorry. I used to get those too, all the time. That was before I started meditating and using my crystals and stuff. Now I never have to worry about it! Tough day?

I: You have no idea. Getting verbally abused by a series of unbalanced magically-capable teenagers is certainly not my idea of a good time. I can’t believe my time at the Bureau has only amounted to this. I thought I would be much further in my career at this point, you know.

MS: Really? That must be tough. Why do you think that is?

I: [shrugs] I’m sure I have no idea. I thought I was doing everything right to move up. I iron my shirts every day. Butter my bread on the same side. Suck up to the right bosses. But still, it never fails: I get handed the assignments no one else wants. Do you think Dietrich was in danger of pulling this detail? Or Simmons? No, because they’re the office favorites. It’s not easy to compete with money. Curse my loathsome upper-middle-class upbringing.

MS: Was it your family? Were they hard on you? Because I totally get that. My brother and I don’t always get along, either, but at least we still know we love each other.

I: Oh, that’s not it at all. I was a perfect child. I always kept my school uniform tidy, I raised my hand just enough in classes to show I was paying attention but not enough to be labeled a show-off, did my homework the day before it was due instead of the morning of–but none of it made them pay attention to me. I suppose they were just too busy with their jobs. Father was in charge of the BMA Records Division, and mother was a personal secretary to one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Growing up in Washington certainly has benefits–I never lacked for connections, and my education was excellent.

MS: But what about your connection with your parents? Didn’t you miss that? I know my parents and I are super close. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have them to talk to all the time.

I: [scoffs] They never had time for me. It was always “I’m doing this” or “I need to pay attention to that” or “Randall, turn that damn TV down so I can hear the vice president on the phone.” I swear, sometimes I wanted to take that stupid phone and shove it right down their– [watch alarm beeps] I–oh. It seems we’re at the end of our session, Miss Scott. I apologize. I think I may have gone on a bit of a tangent there.

MS: It’s okay. Everybody tells me I’m easy to talk to. Feel any better?

I: [sighs] You know, I rather think I do. Will that be all, Miss Scott?

MS: [smiles] Yeah, I think we’ve about covered it. Hope you have a great day!

The Camp Prospero Files: Lucas Cho

REPORT #053567234: PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION, CAMP PROSPERO PERSONNEL

The following report and its contents are classified TOP SECRET under Federal Code 7906-A. The information contained within is the exclusive property of the United States Department of Defense, The Bureau of Magical Affairs, and its branch offices. Any unauthorized release will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Interviews conducted by professional staff for the purpose of determining the mental status and fitness of key training camp personnel.

 

Subject: Lucas Cho

Designation: Class 1 (unaugmented)/Class 3 (augmented)

Rank: Senior Scout

 

INTERVIEWER: Mr. Cho, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. My name is–

LUCAS CHO: Hmm. [taps on gauntlet] High cholesterol. Weak heart. Decreasing bone density. Iron deficiency. Life expectancy 12 years, six months, 18 days from now.

I: Umm–well, that seems rather severe. I may not be that kind of doctor, but you seem in perfect health to me.

LC: Oh, no, sir. That’s your life expectancy. Just a cursory scan. I’m surprised your physician hasn’t told you any of this. I’d be happy to file a report with–

I: No. That’s fine, Mr. Cho. Erm–right. [shuffles notes] You do certainly get to the–uhh–heart of the clinical picture.

LC: Yes, sir. Knowledge is power, and I try to gather all the knowledge I can get. [sits] Now, was there something you wished to discuss with me?

I: Yes, as a matter of fact. Mr. Cho–how should I approach this?

LC: I’d advise head-on, sir. It’s the method of communication I find saves the most time.

I: Of course. And do your fellow scouts appreciate these, shall I say, unvarnished assessments of yours?

LC: [shrugs] I assume they must get the point, sir. After all, I’ve never had anyone ask me for advice twice.

I: Uh-huh. [writes in notes] Mr. Cho, you’re in a rather unique position at Camp Prospero.

LC: That’s true, sir.

I: Simply put, you’re the only non-magical person in camp.

LC: Oh. [blinks] Well, there’s that, too.

I: What did you think I was referring to?

LC: I assumed my intelligence, sir. To my knowledge, no other Camp Prospero scout consistently tests above genius-level intellect.

I: I see. It appears modesty may not be one of your strong suits, however.

LC: That’s not true, sir. I always tell people my IQ is 190.

I: And how does that translate into modesty?

LC: Well, as I’m sure you’re aware, sir, my actual IQ is around 197. My therapist has suggested I round down to make people feel less alienated.

I: Bang-up job, son. Now, I’d like to talk about how you feel being the only mundane in a government camp full of wizards. I’m aware the BMA has given you clearance to stay after that–ahem–mix-up your first year and your contributions since, but it’s always a worry. Liability concerns, you see.

LC: I understand, sir. It’s a perfectly logical assumption, however unfounded.

I: What makes you say that?

LC: Well, as far as I am aware, sir, my augments make me the equal of a standard Class 3 wizard, as per Bureau protocol. [taps gauntlet] That’s well below any legislative limits for extended supervision. And as you accurately pointed out, I need my equipment to match the abilities of my fellow scouts.

I: Interesting. So you feel pressure to keep up with the truly gifted people surrounding you? It must be frustrating to have an intellect like yours and yet be excluded from that special circle.

LC: With respect, I don’t feel I’m excluded, sir. Jack and Danny and my other friends at camp do very well with consulting me when they require expert advice.

I: That’s not answering my question, Mr. Cho. Do you feel like you can’t measure up to real wizards, in spite of your achievements?

LC: [pauses] My personal feelings are irrelevant, sir. The data suggests that–

I: They’re not irrelevant, Mr. Cho. In fact, they’re the whole point of this interview. Let’s use logic, then. Would you agree that your gauntlet device is, in an objective sense, a powerful piece of technology?

LC: It’s certainly unique.

I: And would you agree, objectively, that a 19-year-old boy is not necessarily a steward we as a government should put our trust in to maintain that technology and stop it from falling into the wrong hands?

LC: I fail to see what you’re getting at, sir. After all, this government you represent couldn’t keep a dangerous and clearly unstable individual–the former Scoutmaster Barstowe–from gaining access to an extremely sensitive facility such as Camp Prospero. Your hypothesis stems from the preconceived notion that the government, as a bureaucratic body made up of adults, is naturally more equipped to handle uncertain situations. I believe history–recent and otherwise–has proven the opposite. Therefore, the premise of your argument is a falacy.

I: And that, Mr. Cho, is extremely convenient. Are you saying that, if ordered, you would refuse to part with your technology?

LC: Not at all, sir.

I: Then what are you saying? Mr. Cho, we in the BMA believe studying your gauntlet and its manufacture may be the key to a whole new step in human evolution. Imagine giving mundanes like you and me the same powers as the wizards among us? Creating an even playing field where equality can truly flourish. You would deny us that? What does logic and reason say about that?

LC: I understand your point, sir, but I am forced to disagree. I have it on good authority that my technology falling into any other hands could be disastrous for national security, and for all of humanity.

I: [glares] And what authority is that, Mr. Cho?

LC: Jack Ferguson’s authority.

I: Jack Ferguson is unstable, Mr. Cho. Read my report yourself. [rolls eyes] If you haven’t already, that is.

LC: Sir, last year, Jack experienced a temporal anomaly that allowed him a glimpse of the future, where my inventions had run amok and threatened to–

I: Yes, yes, I know. It’s all in the report. Which doesn’t make it any less of a crock. Explain to me, Mr. Cho, how someone like you, with a mind focused on science and logic, can believe the ravings of a disgraced and disgruntled scout about traveling through time–something the BMA’s best wizards have proven to be impossible.

[pause]

LC: Well, sir–they’re my friends.

I: That’s not good enough. Will you give us access to your technology, or not? And don’t forget, there are penalties for obstructing and jeopardizing national security. Severe ones.

LC: Of course I will, sir.

I: Good. I’m glad you’ve decided to see reason.

LC: However, I should warn you that I build every one of my machines with extensive security and self-destruct protocols to prevent tampering, or use by anyone other than myself. Additionally, should anything happen to my friends or family, I’ve built a simple AI that monitors government communications and social media that will activate a dead-man’s protocol and wipe all the Bureau’s servers. That’s a lot of valuable data, but when making leaps of knowledge, it’s sensible to take precautions. I’m sure you understand.

I: [pause] I think you’re bluffing.

LC: [shrugs] That’s your prerogative, sir. I could be lying, but I could also be telling the truth. It’s a simple problem: 50 percent chance. Given how strongly you want what I have, those are acceptable odds. I would certainly understand if you risked it.

I: [sighs] You have an answer for everything, don’t you, Mr. Cho?

LC: I do try to, sir.

I: [writes in notes] Very well. You’re dismissed–for now.

The Camp Prospero Files: Danny Falco

REPORT #053567234: PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION, CAMP PROSPERO PERSONNEL

The following report and its contents are classified TOP SECRET under Federal Code 7906-A. The information contained within is the exclusive property of the United States Department of Defense, The Bureau of Magical Affairs, and its branch offices. Any unauthorized release will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Interviews conducted by professional staff for the purpose of determining the mental status and fitness of key training camp personnel.

 

Subject: Danny Falco

Designation: Class 2

Rank: Senior Scout

 

INTERVIEWER: Thank you for coming, Mr. Falco. Have a seat.

DANNY FALCO: Oh. Umm–sure. [sits and shifts around] Is this okay?

I: Is what okay?

DF: How I’m sitting.

I: [chuckles] You’re sitting fine. You don’t have to be nervous, Mr. Falco. We just want to talk.

DF: Right. Sorry. I mean–okay. That’s all. Okay. I’m trying not to say sorry about everything anymore. My brother told me that. Don’t apologize for things that aren’t your fault.

I: That’s a healthy perspective. That would be Sam Falco, your elder brother, correct?

DF: Yeah.

I: Do you talk often?

DF: Well, we used to, but now–I don’t know. [shifts and looks away] I haven’t heard from him in a while. Do you know what’s going on with him? What he’s been doing? I mean, you work for the BMA, right?

I: Not my department, Mr. Falco. My apologies. Even if I knew, I likely wouldn’t be able to say. Classified, you know.

DF: Uh-huh. Sorry. Damn, I did it again. [touches eyepatch] Man, I’ve got a headache.

I: Does that happen often since your–

DF: No! Well, not often. Just sometimes. It’s kind of weird looking in the mirror, you know? Definitely never thought I’d be, like, a pirate or something. [laughs weakly]

I: If your injury makes you uncomfortable, Mr. Falco, I’m certain the Bureau could pay for some cosmetic surgery. Limited, of course. But we recognize our role in the unfortunate events that transpired at Camp Prospero, and we’d like to make things right if we can.

[pause]

DF: [gulps] They told me you’d try to do this.

I: Who told you? What?

DF: Tessa and them. That you’d try to buy me off. It’s okay, I’m good.

I: Mr. Falco, this is nothing of the kind. We simply want to–

DF: I said I’m good. [pause] Besides, Jack says girls will think it’s hot.

I: Err–I see. I’m sure I wouldn’t know. But let’s move on. Do you have any reservations returning to Camp Prospero? After all, it was the scene of your–injury.

DF: Huh? No, no way. I mean, I don’t mind it there. It’s not so bad. Well, other than all the threats of expulsion and prison and death and stuff. [pause] Yeah, that didn’t come out right. But the people there are kind of my family. We’ve been through a lot together.

I: Would you include your brother as part of that family?

DF: [frowns] Yeah. Sure. Of course. Why?

I: And you’re certain you have no idea of his whereabouts currently?

DF: No. He doesn’t answer texts or calls anymore. We used to write letters back and forth when I was at camp, but he stopped getting back to me, like, a few months ago.

I: Any friends? Mutual acquaintances?

DF: I don’t know. How come you want to know? Doesn’t he work for you guys?

I: Mr. Falco, you would do well to cooperate with this investigation. If we don’t believe you’ve compiled to a satisfactory degree, there could be consequences.

DF: [gulps] What kind of consequences?

I: I think you know. Now please answer my questions.

DF: Okay. Umm, I mean, yes, sir.

I: Many of your peers and associates, Mr. Falco, have been identified as problematic personnel. Potential subversives. Disruptive influences. If they’re left to their own devices, they could have a detrimental effect on the entire student body at Camp Prospero. We need your help to ensure this doesn’t happen. [looks at notes] You would say you’re close with Jack Ferguson, correct?

DF: I guess so, yeah.

I: The records indicate he’s your best friend. You’re closer to him than anyone at Camp Prospero.

DF: Well, yeah. I mean, I used to be. [sighs] I don’t know. Jack and I started together. We met for the first time when both of us were cadets on the train. He was the first person at camp I knew, so I just kind of stuck with him. Jack’s–umm–a really good guy.

I: But?

DF: But what?

I: Mr. Falco–

DF: Fine, okay. We don’t connect like we used to. Well, I’m not sure Jack and I ever really got each other in the first place, but we were tight, you know? Lately he’s been avoiding me. I think all of us, really. I don’t know what’s going on with him. But it hurts a little.

I: You thought you were closer than that?

DF: I mean–not really. I’m worried about him, that’s all.

I: That’s good, Mr. Falco. And if you are truly concerned for him, you should tell us what we want to know.

DF: What’s that?

I: For a start, where the other pieces of the Spear of Destiny are. We know your classmate Drake Masterson holds one, but the other three have been missing since the Barstowe incident. We suspect Mr. Ferguson and others may have hidden them in a misguided effort to protect them. We need those artifacts, Mr. Falco. We need to make sure they are kept safe.

DF: [squirms] But isn’t it better this way? The Spear’s so powerful, it could do anything. Nobody should have something like that. People just can’t be trusted with it.

I: We’re not people, Mr. Falco. We’re the BMA. No one else is qualified. Certainly not a group of teenagers. Additionally, we need to know whether Mr. Ferguson’s magical abilities are truly gone, or if he is concealing them from us. He is far too powerful to be allowed to walk free with them, without proper precautions and observation.

DF: [shrugs] I don’t know. Jack says he doesn’t have them, and I believe him. You don’t know him. If he did, he’d be using them to pull a prank or something. He’s not dangerous.

I: We respectfully disagree, Mr. Falco. Now, will you help us, or not? The Spear pieces. Where are they?

DF: I don’t know.

I: The truth. Have you heard from your brother?

DF: No!

I: Have Mr. Ferguson’s powers returned?

DF: I don’t know, okay? I said that already. I can’t tell you what you want to know.

I: Can’t, or won’t, Mr. Falco? I’m warning you–

DF: Uh-uh. You can’t make me tell you anything, even if I did know. [takes a deep breath] I know my rights. Is this the part where I ask for a lawyer? Huh?

[pause]

I: That won’t be necessary, Mr. Falco. You may go.

DF: Right. [gets up, pauses] Permission to speak freely, sir?

I: Of course, Danny. That’s the purpose of these sessions.

DF: Uh-huh. [pauses] Umm–okay. Well, for someone who’s supposed to be helping us feel better, no offense but–uhh–you’re kind of lousy at it. Just saying.

The Camp Prospero Files: Drake Masterson

REPORT #053567234: PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION, CAMP PROSPERO PERSONNEL

The following report and its contents are classified TOP SECRET under Federal Code 7906-A. The information contained within is the exclusive property of the United States Department of Defense, The Bureau of Magical Affairs, and its branch offices. Any unauthorized release will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Interviews conducted by professional staff for the purpose of determining the mental status and fitness of key training camp personnel.

 

Subject: Drake Masterson

Designation: Class 4

Rank: Senior Scout

 

INTERVIEWER: Have a seat, Mr. Masterson. Now tell me, what shall we discuss?

[pause]

I: Mr. Masterson?

[pause]

I: Mr. Masterson, I asked if there was anything you wanted to talk about. Is something bothering you?

[pause]

I: Mr. Masterson, are you going to answer my questions?

DRAKE MASTERSON: They told me I had to show up here, pencil-neck. They didn’t say I had to talk. Hard pass.

I: Hmm. “They” told me you might be, shall we say, difficult to hold a conversation with.

DM: [snorts] It’s not my fault people ask for my opinion. I tell everyone to go shove it. You’re nothing special. And don’t think you’re going to get into my head with any of that psychiatric stuff, either. [taps temple] You see this? Fort Knox.

I: I see. [writes in notebook] You don’t like me, do you, Mr. Masterson?

DM: How could you tell?

I: Well, the personal abuse was the first sign. Also, your body language suggests that–

DM: [rolls eyes] I was being sarcastic, shrink. Jesus. Get a clue.

I: Why is that? Do you find you instinctively distrust authority figures?

DM: No. I just don’t believe anyone more important than me exists. If they do, I haven’t met them yet.

I: Uh-huh. [writes in notebook] Very interesting. You have strong opinions, Mr. Masterson. I suppose it’s understandable given your strength in magic. According to my records, you’re the one of the few Class 4 wizards we know about–a prodigy. And with fire magic, too: one of the rarest and most difficult forms of elemental power to control. That must give you some satisfaction.

DM: [smirks] Huh. And here I thought you were just going to bore me to death. Okay, I’ll bite.

I: So you’ll speak to me?

DM: Only if we keep talking about how great I am. Better get a fresh notepad, though. We might be here a while. But I guarantee it’ll be time better spent than with the rest of those scrubs.

I: I gather you see yourself as somewhat set apart from your fellow scouts.

DM: Umm–as in, better than them? Duh. That’s just the facts.

I: And yet without many of them, you might not be sitting here right now.

DM: [eyes narrow] What’s that supposed to mean, shrink?

I: I’m sorry, Mr. Masterson. I was simply observing that while you clearly are quite capable of taking care of yourself, it seems in circumstances where you lacked a certain leverage, these other scouts you consider yourself superior to actually came through for you. Even though they had no reason to.

DM: [glares] What do you mean, no reason? They need me. Who else is going to kick ass and take names when it needs to get done?

I: Ah. And do you also enjoy that feeling?

DM: What feeling?

I: Being needed. Belonging to a group.

DM: [scowls] I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t need anyone. People just piss me off.

I: Indeed. [shuffles through papers] Your file is quite clear on that point. Disciplinary action a half-dozen times, including for physical assault. Assessments indicating extreme narcissism, anger management issues, emotional instability–need I go on?

[pause]

I: You, Mr. Masterson, fit the profile of a loner. A misfit. Your–shall we say–troubled relationship with your family points even more to that label.

DM: They put you up to this, didn’t they? My jerkoff family. Lousy assholes. But so that? I don’t need them or their money. The only person who tells me what to do is me.

I: And yet your actions over the past two years say otherwise. You’ve helped Jack Ferguson and his friends avert several catastrophes. More than that, they seem to regard you as a friend, despite what you say.

DM: [groans] Goddamn it. I’m so sick of hearing about Ferguson. You couldn’t go 10 whole minutes without bringing his stupid name up. And he doesn’t even have the common decency to hold onto his magic so I can beat him in a fair fight.

I: Let’s talk about your feelings toward Jack. Clearly your relationship is complicated, but the record shows he’s stood up and defended you even when he had no reason to, and when no one else would. And your association with him and his fellow scouts indicates a pattern of gratitude, despite what you might say. You’ve had plenty of opportunities to take him out of the picture, but never seized on a single one. Interesting. [clears throat] Thank you, Mr. Masterson. This has been a very enlightening session.

DM: What are you talking about? I didn’t give you anything.

I: I respectfully disagree. One final question, though: would you say your respect for Jack and desire to repay him developed naturally, or more due to circumstance?

DM: [glares and rises from chair]

I: Is this the part where you attempt to harm me for getting to the truth of the matter, Mr. Masterson? Because I warn you, the guards outside will–

DM: This is the part where you pucker up and kiss my ass, shrink. I’m done here. [stalks to the door, but pauses] Got any copies of those notes?

I: No. Why?

DM: [snaps fingers, notebook bursts into flames]

I: Oh! [drops burning notebook]

DM: [glowers] [CENSORED] you, [CENSORED]. [Walks out]

I: Did you record all that? Good. Let’s move on.

The Camp Prospero Files: Tessa Stone

REPORT #053567234: PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION, CAMP PROSPERO PERSONNEL

The following report and its contents are classified TOP SECRET under Federal Code 7906-A. The information contained within is the exclusive property of the United States Department of Defense, The Bureau of Magical Affairs, and its branch offices. Any unauthorized release will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Interviews conducted by professional staff for the purpose of determining the mental status and fitness of key training camp personnel.

 

Subject: Tessa Stone

Designation: Class 3

Rank: Trainee Scoutmaster

 

TESSA STONE: [salutes] Trainee Scoutmaster Tessa Stone reporting as ordered, sir.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you, Miss Stone. I hope we haven’t pulled you away from anything important.

TS: No, sir. Just refamiliarizing myself with the Scout Handbook and codes of conduct.

I: I see. Transition to your new role going well, I take it?

TS: Yes, sir. It’s a privilege to be serving the magical community and helping out people like me. I was in their position once, so it’s nice to be able to give back.

I: Of course. Are you planning on standing for the whole interview, Miss Stone?

TS: [pauses] Sir?

I: Have a seat.

TS: [shifts uncomfortably] I’d prefer to stand, sir.

I: Uh-huh. [makes a note] And why is that?

TS: I’ve always found it–productive to maintain a clear chain of command, sir. I don’t like to–I mean, it’s unprofessional to get too comfortable with superior officers.

I: Interesting. Let’s explore that. You must have some mixed feelings about returning to Camp Prospero–the same camp you graduated from–to work as a staff member. After all, you’re sure to encounter scouts you trained with frequently.

TS: I guess that’s true, sir. I mean, the part about seeing people I know. I requested Camp Prospero as my post personally.

I: Right. And feeling indebted to you for your, shall we say, services of late, the BMA obliged your request. I’m not sure they would have done the same for many other people. How does that make you feel?

TS: [blushes] Umm–grateful, sir?

I: Do you feel special?

TS: No, sir. I don’t want to be a charity case.

I: You’re hardly that, Miss Stone. I’ve read your file. High marks, stellar participation and patriotism, and dedication to preserving military discipline is written all over it. You were an exceptional scout.

TS: Thank you, sir. I tried my best.

I: I’m sure you did. Getting back to the point at hand, however–is there anyone at Camp Prospero you’re looking forward to seeing again? Anyone in particular?

TS: I don’t know what you mean, sir.

I: Really?

TS: [flustered] Well, I know a lot of people there. They were my friends. Still are. Sure, it’d be nice to see some of them.

I: Including Jack Ferguson?

TS: What? What does that have to do with anything? [crosses arms] Sir, what’s all this about?

I: I believe you were informed, Miss Stone. We’re conducting psychological evaluations of–

TS: Sir, what’s all this REALLY about? I know I don’t have clearance, and I know you don’t have to tell me anything. But with all due respect, please don’t insult my intelligence by lying to me.

[pause]

I: Miss Stone, we’re attempting to determine if your history at Camp Prospero has in any way compromised your good judgment. And on an otherwise spotless record, the only thing that stands out is your–ahem–relationship with Jack Ferguson and his associates. You are aware that several of them, as well as Mr. Ferguson, have a history of disciplinary problems?

TS: [tenses] Yes, sir. I was there. There were a handful of times that things got–out of hand.

I: [snorts] Now you’re insulting my intelligence, Miss Stone. Mr. Ferguson’s reprimand sheet alone is longer than my arm.

TS: Is this interview going somewhere, sir? I’m a little busy.

I: Ah. So there is a real person inside that uniform.

TS: What’s that supposed to mean?

I: It means, Miss Stone, that you’re trying to feed me a line. You’ve been telling me what you think I want to hear.

TS: And what do you want to hear, sir? Please let me know so I can just tell you and get out of here.

I: You’re not comfortable with being analyzed, are you? With someone else knowing a lot about you?

TS: [pauses] Honestly, sir? No. I think private things should stay private.

I: And I’d be inclined to agree with you if the subject weren’t so important. Let’s consider the past two years at camp. A scout-lead rebellion that led to your scoutmaster being fired and administrative turmoil. And then there was the Barstowe incident–

TS: Incident? Is that what we’re calling it now? A lot of those people I know at Camp Prospero–the people we’ve been talking about–almost died because the BMA laid down on the job and let a psycho through background checks. She almost brought down the whole camp, and if she had, all of you would’ve been next!

I: It was unfortunate, it’s true. But that’s in the past. We’re talking about the present.

TS: Oh, no you don’t. I’m not letting it go. A lot of our scouts had to go to therapy over that summer. Some of them spent months in the hospital. They’re never going to be the same. We’re goddamn lucky nobody actually died. And the government hasn’t so much as apologized to them for it.

I: All records of the Barstowe matter are sealed, Miss Stone. Divulging that information carries high penalties. You would do well to control your emotions.

TS: Is that because you outrank me, sir, or just because I’m a woman speaking her mind? You think I’m scared of you because I wear your uniform and follow your rules?

I: I think that you are emotionally compromised, Miss Stone. You’re too close to this camp, and these people. Especially Jack Ferguson.

TS: [glares] All due respect, sir, but I don’t care what you think. I do what I know is right. That’s what my father taught me, and he gave up a hell of a lot more for his country than most of you people. Jack might not be perfect, but he’s a hero. He’s traumatized. And we all let him down. Every single one of us. That’s not something any psych test will wipe away.

[pause]

I: I see. Are you worried about what you’ve said here today being used against you?

TS: I’m worried the country I wanted to serve isn’t the country I thought it was. If you demote me, reassign me, whatever, you’ll just be proving me right. [sighs, straightens uniform] Will that be all, sir?

I: Yes, Miss Stone. You’re dismissed.

The Camp Prospero Files: Jack Ferguson

REPORT #053567234: PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION, CAMP PROSPERO PERSONNEL

The following report and its contents are classified TOP SECRET under Federal Code 7906-A. The information contained within is the exclusive property of the United States Department of Defense, The Bureau of Magical Affairs, and its branch offices. Any unauthorized release will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Interviews conducted by professional staff for the purpose of determining the mental status and fitness of key training camp personnel.

 

Subject: Jack Ferguson

Designation: Class 5 (INACTIVE)

Rank: Senior Scout

 

INTERVIEWER: Welcome, Jack. Please, have a seat. Make yourself at home.

JACK FERGUSON: Damn, man. If I knew it was going to be that kind of interview, I would’ve brought a beer or three. [laughs] Oh well. Easy come, easy go I guess. [shrugs and lays sideways across chair] So I’ve been at Camp Prospero for three years now and this is the first time anybody’s asked me if I wanted to talk about stuff. What’s the deal here?

I: We just want to talk with you, Jack. As you said, we acknowledge that in recent years the Bureau may have neglected to monitor the well-being of those under our purview as carefully as we should, and we’re trying to remedy that situation.

JF: Uh-huh. Okay. [raises eyebrow] You know how I know you’re full of crap?

I: Umm–how?

JF: You used a lot of big words right there, and I didn’t understand anything you said. [sighs] But then again, I’ve never really been a big fan of books. Or reading. Or work. So overrated.

I: Yes, well–getting back to the subject at hand, tell us a bit about your mental state.

JF: My what now?

I: How are you doing?

JF: Oh. Huh. [shrugs] I mean, I’m okay, I guess. Year’s been pretty good. Took a little break. Just chilling. You know how it is.

I: I assume you’re referring to the leave of absence the BMA granted you after your last summer at camp?

JF: You mean the vacation? [smiles] Yeah, it was pretty sweet. I went to Nepal. Found these monks and got the hook-up at their place for a while. Slept on the couch. Well, I don’t know if they have couches, but they gave me a room and stuff. It was nice to forget about everything and just unwind. Plus, it was fun. Those guys thought I was hilarious. You’d think they never heard a knock-knock joke their whole lives. We had some pretty great parties, too. Did you know you can make a great cocktail out of rum and goat’s milk that’s got a–

I: Interesting, I’m sure. But you must admit the last two years have been rather stressful ones: changes in camp leadership, personnel problems, etcetera. And that’s not even beginning to address personal trauma. [pauses] About your magic–

JF: [sighs] Dude, can we not talk about all that? You’re bumming me out.

I: I’m sorry, Jack, but it’s important. I understand your magical abilities have yet to return.

JF: Yeah. That’s kind of what happens when a crazy-ass witch tries to drain your life energy or whatever. What do you care?

I: Jack, you’re the first–perhaps the only–Class 5 wizard on record. Your aptitude is stronger than any magical individual the BMA has ever encountered. Regardless of the current status of your abilities, you are a high-priority asset. Surely you recognize the need for us to keep tabs on you.

JF: Not really, man. I never asked for this, you know. I don’t want to be magic Jesus or whatever. Besides, with all the trouble I’ve caused at camp, I figured you all would be happy I was out of commission.

I: Are you happy?

JF: In general? [laughs] Sure. I’m Mr. Positive. Ask anybody. It’s all good.

I: You’re deflecting. I mean, are you pleased to be without your magic? That seems like an odd reaction.

JF: You think so, huh? [scoffs] Okay, I’ll level with you: yeah, I’m happy. I’m glad my magic’s gone. And you know why? You know what people called me? They never did it to my face, but I heard it. Behind my back. Between you adults. You guys gave me a nickname.

I: I’m not aware of–

JF: I might not be able to read your mind anymore, but I know you’re lying.

I: [coughs] Yes, well–Worldbreaker. They’re calling you a Worldbreaker. A wizard so powerful your abilities could literally–

JF: I know what it means. But you know how that feels? Huh? I don’t want to break anything–except maybe the nose of whoever decided to put me in this room. All my magic did was set me apart from everyone. Made people scared of me. Destroyed things. And it was all my fault because I had these powers or somebody else wanted them or I wasn’t trying hard enough–you name it. Why would anybody want that kind of pressure on them? So screw it. I hope my magic never comes back. There, I said it. Can I go now?

I: Not just yet, Jack. We have more questions for you.

JF: Like what? You’ve got my whole file there or whatever. What else do you need to know?

I: We need to determine your mental fitness for the upcoming term at Camp Prospero. You must admit, you’ve done some pretty strange things over the past two years. I’m quoting from Scoutmaster Hasselberry’s own reports: “…running of commanding officer’s underwear up the flagpole every day for a week…mesmerizing Centaur and Quetzal scouts into switching places with your troop for official inspection…holding a ‘Come as Your Favorite Roman in a Bedsheet Party’…on report half a dozen times for drunk and disorderly…out of uniform…conduct unbecoming a scout…” Need I go on?

JF: [rolls eyes] Gee whiz, I don’t know why. Maybe because a bunch of people with bad haircuts and worse attitudes are trying to order me around like I owe them something and ruining people’s lives when they disagree with them. Give me a break. Hey, I’ve got a question for you: how come government and stuff turns everybody into total assholes? No offense.

I: Umm–none taken. Do you need a moment?

JF: [blinks] What? Nah, I’m good. Forget about it, man. Just venting.

I: Right–anyway. Regardless, it appears you’ve got quite a following at Camp Prospero. Do you think you’re a disruptive influence?

JF: What am I, a chemist or something? Chemists do that disruption stuff, right? Or is that pilots? Whatever. I mean, I can’t help it if people think I’m cool. They’re not wrong. But I’m not trying to be a problem or anything. Last thing I need right now is more people hanging around me. It cramps my style. I just want some space.

I: Are you sure that’s the reason?

[Long silence]

JF: Did I ever tell you about my buddy Danny? Maybe you talked to him already. Short kid? Eyepatch? Geeky clothes? Comic book in his back pocket? Anyway, he said the funniest thing to me the other day–

I: Jack.

JF: That’s my name. Don’t wear it out. [chuckles] What’s up?

I: I asked you a question. You still haven’t answered it.

JF: Was it the one about what conditioner I use?

I: I never asked about that.

JF: Pretty sure you did, bro. Let me see those notes. I bet you have it written down somewhere.

I: Those are confidential.

JF: Confidential, shomfid–umm–whatever. Let me see real quick.

I: Jack, control yourself!

[A brief scuffle]

JF: Okay, okay. Jesus. You guys don’t have to threaten to tase me. Don’t want to go through that again. I mean, without fair warning. [laughs]

I: Uh-huh. [sighs] My question was about why you want to be alone when you clearly have a history as an extrovert. What caused this change of heart?

JF: I don’t want to talk about it.

I: Is it because your friends’ opinion of you has changed? Do you worry about not being able to protect them?

JF: Protect them? [snorts] I think I’ve done a pretty lousy job so far, don’t you?

I: You seem to think so.

JF: That’s it, dude. I’ve had it with this.

I: Jack, calm down–

JF: Or what? You’ll shoot me or something? [spreads arms] Go ahead. You’re probably doing the world a favor. Take me out before I get my scary powers back and blow it all up because I’m a dumbass loser. I don’t want to be that guy. I just want to be normal. You hear me? Normal! I wish I never heard of magic or the BMA or any of it. Tell all your buddies behind the two-way mirror, too. I’m out. [walks toward door, then stops] And for the record, my friends don’t need me to protect them. They need to be protected from me. If they’re smart, they’ll get as far away from me as they can. If the last two years taught me anything, it’s that nothing good happens to people who hang out with me. And I’m done with it.

[Walks out and slams door]

I: Right. I think we have what we need. Send in the next candidate, please.