Meet Dieter Resnick. Dieter is the sole child of an abusive single father, a perennial schoolyard brawler, and Ted Binion High’s number one academic prospect. Dieter is terrified of staying poor. He has few friends and is absolutely obsessed with earning a college scholarship. He’s also a... read more
Dieter Resnick is a High School boy who as a Plan for getting out of Las Vegas. An economic slowdown called the Great Slump has not been kind to the tourism industry there, and Dieter is left with little opportunity for dragging himself out of a potential life of poverty. His father is an... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Dieter Resnick is a High School boy who as a Plan for getting out of Las Vegas. An economic slowdown called the Great Slump has not been kind to the tourism industry there, and Dieter is left with little opportunity for dragging himself out of a potential life of poverty. His father is an abusive drunk, whose constant beatings have helped Dieter hone an ability he calls his Sight. This allows him to see where his father will hit his blows, when he should go upstairs to avoid his wrath, etc.
The book opens when Dieter has entered into a fight with Tyrone Nelson and his gang, the Splotches (called as such because they bleach their school uniforms so that they develop splotches). He is fighting him because Tyrone is a pitcher for the baseball team, and intentionally threw a ball at Victor Newmar (Dieter's friend) and blinded him in one eye. At first Dieter tried to let it go, as Victor had, but when Tyrone later bragged about hitting Victor, Dieter lost his cool and challenged him.
During the fight Dieter easily defeats Tyrone, and then tries to allow the Splotches gang to hurt him, but not too bad, so that they will get their revenge without killing him, or attempting to exact their revenge at a later time (when the cops aren't already enroute to intervene). However, Phil Collins tries to hit him over the head with a metal pipe. This probably would have killed him, so Dieter switches from 'let them get their licks in' to 'lets not die' mode. He dodges the blow from the pipe, and it ends up hitting the arm of a recently recovered Tyrone. This breaks Tyrone's arm, his pitching arm, and causes him to fall in a wail of agony. Dieter at this point realizes he's screwed, and runs off. When he gets to the school building, behind the chemistry lab, he gets hit in the back of the head with a rock and falls. The Splotches catch up with him and begin to beat him, eventually breaking several ribs and collapsing one of his lungs. Soon Tyrone shows up, and orders the rest of the Splotches to go harass the cops to give him time to 'finish things'. He picks up a rock and approaches Dieter, presumably to deal the killing blow. Dieter reaches up in a feeble attempt to stop it, but a voice in his head tells him that it can take care of it for him, and then Dieter's arm begins to absorb the kinetic energy from the rock. Eventually it stops in his hand, and Dieter whites out. When he wakes up he realizes there has been an explosion, and Tyrone's head is missing, as is most of the chemistry lab. Dieter realizes he must have caused the explosion, but has no idea how it could have been possible.
Later, Dieter wakes up in the hospital and eventually greeted by the doctor who saved his life, Dr. Anna Montgomery. She tells Dieter that he nearly died, and explains what the police believe happened (while subtly implying that she knows the truth and thinks he should go along with this 'doctored' version of events). While Dieter is in a drug-induced haze and believes he is dreaming, he overhears a conversation between Agent Masterson, Agent Collins, and Dr. Montgomery. The agents argue he has no control, but Montgomery insists he can learn, and is a perfect fit for 'eye-cam'. They relent and say they will allow it. Dr. Montgomery later tells Dieter that she has recommended him for enrollment in her Alma Mater, Elliot College. Eventually Dieter's dad visits and tells him he knew he'd make it, that Resnicks are made of tougher stuff than most people. As Dieter is checking out of the hospital he is greeted by Lauren Curray, a reporter with The Globe. She is apparently looking into a string of mysterious deaths and accidents involving police and DEA agents. One of which, involving an explosion of someone's head, is similar to how Tyrone died. Dieter sticks with the official version of the events, and claims not to remember anything.
Dieter returns to school and work, and applies to various top private colleges. He grows anxious over waiting for the results so he takes on more work tutoring Victor, and working in Victor's dad's restaurant. After several of his classmates receive their acceptance letters, he becomes even more agitated. Eventually he starts receiving rejection letters from all of his top choices, and he loses 10 pounds, develops ulcers, and becomes a nervous wreck. Eventually he gets one acceptance letter, but he can't afford to attend the college without financial aid. Thinking all hope is lost, he receives an email from Elliot College telling him his aid package has been approved and should arrive in the mail. Not knowing he had even been accepted (must less been approved for an aid package) he rushes home to find the package and acceptance letter in his mailbox. He is overjoyed, and is especially excited when he reads the words 'full ride' for his scholarship. His dad isn't thrilled, but recognizes that he's a grown man now and needs to make some mistakes (his dad thinks college is a scam).
Dieter then heads off to Elliot College by bus. He challenges himself to read Ulysses but dozes off on several occasions. When he wakes up after passing through Chicago he finds that he has an attractive young woman seated next to him (he had schemed to avoid a seatmate by sitting next to a seat with a broken TV). The bus stops and he gets off and does some stretches, and senses someone watching him with a prickling on the back of his neck. He dismisses it, and goes back on the bus as it heads off again. After pouring himself some coffee on the bus, Dieter gawks a bit too openly, and his seatmate takes off her sweatshirt and in a presumed accident, elbows him in the forehead with extreme prejudice. It draws blood, and she proceeds to perform first aid on him. They begin talking about where they're going, and where they've been, who they are, but Rei Acerba Bathory (as he learns her name is) continues to turn the conversation back to him, revealing little about herself. They reach a lull in the conversation, and doze off for the remainder of the journey. Once they arrive in New York, they part ways, and Dieter runs off to a bench to set his bags down.
Shortly after doing so he begins to sense an extreme murderous intent, like he felt from Tyrone when he tried to kill him with the rock. He uses his Sight to track down where it's coming from, and finds its' source is two big bodyguard looking dudes and a tall man. After watching them for awhile he realizes they are heading straight towards Rei. She notices them, and proceeds to leave the train station to lure them away from the crowd. Presuming he is seeing a damsel in distress, Dieter stows his bags in a locker and proceeds to follow them.
They are led to a warehouse where Rei goads the three men into a fight. Rei proceeds with super speed and takes out one of the guards with a boxcutter, but the other guard is also super quick, and caves in the side of her skull with his fist. Surprisingly, this doesn’t kill her, but it does incapacitate her long enough for the tall guy to shoot lightning out of his hands at her. She dodges the worst of it, but is disabled again by the electric shock. The remaining guard then kicks her numerous times, breaking her ribs, collapsing lungs, and wreaking general havoc on her anatomy. Seeing that she would die if he did not intervene, Dieter finds a metal pipe and attacks the tall man who is about to scorch Rei with another lightning blast. He hits the man over the head, but unfortunately the metal attracts the electricity and he is blown across the room, has his hands burnt to a crisp, and his heart starts beating too fast to properly pump blood. As he is dying he looks over at Rei who tries to rally after somehow recovering the ability to breathe, but falls back to the ground. He tries to reach his right hand over to her, but finds it difficult to move, so he exchanges some light banter while the tall man, and the large man, come over to finish the job. Dieter manages to lift his left hand to flip them off, and then whites out as he lets loose another electric shock.
Dieter wakes up and realizes he’s alive, the other guard was cleaved in two by some sort of sword, and there is screaming coming from the warehouse office. He goes to investigate (because why not?) and finds that Rei is torturing the tall man by flaying him alive. Rei learns that his mind was wiped, and the parameters of his mission suggest knowledge of Dieter and his route that should have been secret.
After cleaning up, Dieter and Rei continue on their journey to Elliot College. They tell a clean version of their story to the Dean, Joseph Albright, and begin Dieter’s entrance into the college. He is told he is a magus, and has the choice of A) Enrolling at Elliot college and working for the magus enforcement folks for a few years and then going off on his own. or B) Getting a memory wipe (which Rei has suggested is not an option for him). He chooses A and meets the class group he has been assigned to, Lambda. He finds out that Rei is a member of the same group, but doesn’t live in the dorm with the rest of them. His roommate is Jay Dante, a shy first year who is good with illusions.
After telling his new group-mates the story of his arrival they realize something serious is happening, that is possibly responsible for the delayed arrival of their Captain, Lucas Wright, and the initiate he was escorting, Joshua Wilco. In the morning, they realize their fears were warranted, as they discover that they were both killed on their way to Elliot College.
A quorum is held to inform all of the student body that over 20 students were killed, over 80% of the entering class. Dieter and Rei were the only group that was attacked and survived. They mourn the loss of their fallen classmates, and then get back to their lives.
Sadie, a member of group Lambda, is assigned to tutor Dieter so that he can catch up to the rest of the group, many of whom have been learning about magic since they were children. However, this quickly meets with disaster as Dieter and Sadie nearly drown in a dome of grape juice. Dieter uses an explosion to propel him out of the dome to break the circle, to allow the juice to flow out, and them to breathe. This works, but has obvious side effects, that land Sadie and Dieter in the hospital. Monique, the new group Captain, is furious and assigns Jules to be his tutor instead.
Jules is much more methodical than Sadie, and spends months teaching him theory and having him watch her casts, and learn to engage his Sight on command and for longer periods so that he can watch more closely. Finally he is granted permission from Monique to begin real casts and he becomes even more bogged down with work work work. He makes progress, but still struggles with control.
One day when they are returning from their study in the woods, Dieter notices something is off. Jules agrees and they crouch down and try to figure out what it is. Finally they see some men in black combat fatigues carrying weapons and empty satchels running away from the school dormitories. Dieter puts two and two together and realizes they probably planted bombs at the dorms, and tells Jules to go and pull the fire alarm to evacuate everybody while he works up a distraction.
Dieter uses his knowledge of chemistry to magic up a sort of napalm bomb. He doesn’t use a timer, he just makes it, and due to his lack of control it becomes unstable enough to eventually collapse, so he runs for it. Some of the men see him and attempt to shoot/stop him. This leads them towards the bomb, and they go up in a blast of flames. All but two of the men with guns are injured, leaving just a man who looks to be a magus with an ACT device trying to open a portal. The bomb distracted him, causing the spell to backfire. The portal pulled him as it is attracted to the ACT device like a magnet, turning the magus into a human puddle.
Rei arrives and after exchanging some witty banter, says that she will take care of the two remaining combatants, and tells Dieter to go warn the professors at the Faculty lodge. So he runs off and Dante joins him after he passes the dorms on the way (only group leadership have access to the faculty lodge and Dante was promoted to Lieutenant after Lucas died). When they arrive they split up so that Dante will check upstairs, and Dieter downstairs. Shortly after entering Dieter finds Professor Simons dead with a hole in his head. He then hears something from upstairs that suggests the people who killed him are still in the building, and Dante is probably trapped, or dead, up there with them. Dieter goes up the stairs, develops a plan, and an illusion, and manages to throw one down the stairs knocking him out. Dieter then goes back up the stairs only to find a shrouded Dante, who quickly includes Dieter in his illusion to hide them from the three remaining combatants who are on the floor. Rei then knocks on the window and asks to be let inside. They let her in, and she appears to be slightly tipsy from her drinking of the two men she killed out in the woods. She forces Dieter and Dante to not intervene by using her glamour and begins toying with the three of them. After they throw out a grenade and Rei laughs it off, Dante throws Dieter into a room, puts a mattress on the door, and throws up some fortification spells. The blast injures them both, but not severely. Rei makes short work of the rest of them, but returns, even more intoxicated, with the bomb they had been planting. Dante makes a quick decision, and jumps out the window. Dieter talks to Rei and gets her to take him up onto the roof with the bomb, and then he convinces her to throw it into the pond some distance away. It explodes at the same time as the dorms do, but they have all been safely evacuated.
Dieter carried Rei back to the groundskeeper’s cabin where she lives and cleans up. He learns he’s supposed to meet with Albright to debrief and after getting some new clothes he goes to do that. He relates his story and then, since he is the last to be debriefed, the DEA agents prepare to have a conference to explain what they have learned. Only the members of Lambda, the Alguacil Gaston Spinoza, DEA Agents Masterson and Collins, and Dean Joseph Albright are present. They learn that DOMA North America is at war with a recently taken over DOMA Mexico, and the other schools were attacked at the same time as theirs was, with varying success. They learn that the DEA wants them to run a mission to Las Vegas to retrieve some of the ACT device that these attackers have been using, so that they can prove to ICE that they have done something illegal. ICE is very powerful, so if they can prove something illegal has been done, the war can be over easy peasy. Lambda is needed because they are all immune to glamour, which Talmax (the group that took over DOMA Mexico) uses to control people.
They all agree to carry out this mission, and are told their combat training will start soon.
Part 1: How To Make Toast
1. Behind the Schoolhouse
2. Flowers and Lysol
3. Outward Bound
Part 2: On the Road
4. Big Blue
5. Enter the Dragon
6. New York
7. Trailing the Tall Man
9. What Are You?
10. Blood Washes Out
11. Sun In the Eyes
12. Rail Time
Part 3: Elliot College
13. Failure To Bloom
14. Welcome To Elliot: Just Sign Here
16. Man Down
17. Training Day
18. Sick Day
20. Red Alert
21. Coming Down
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