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The Interview

The rain was coming down in sheets and the grey clouds that filled the sky made it seem more like night than the middle of the day.  Alden Duke ruminated upon the city below from his leather executive chair, his head leaning against the thick glass of his office window, several stories up.  He was one of two guardians for Chicago; he covered the South side, while the other Guardian watched over the North.  The rain suited his mood.  He had just finished an interview with another potential apprentice.  The next applicant would be there in an hour. He gave himself time between the interviews to cool off and process what he had learned about the latest set coming up.  So far, all he had uncovered was that this graduating class didn’t know their heads from their hindquarters.  Lost in thought, he didn’t notice the presence behind him.

                     “You know brooding isn’t going to help you make a decision,” a silky voice cooed.

Alden jumped, whirling around with his hand on the knife at his belt.

          “Enora,” he sighed, relieved when he saw who it was.  “After all these years, have you still not learned how dangerous it is for you to sneak up on me like that?” he scolded.

His wife leaned against the doorway, smiling, her hand attempting to conceal from her mouth the giggle that her shoulders betrayed.  Alden’s hand dropped carelessly from the hilt, and with a mischievous glint in his eye, he shifted his buckle as he sauntered her, wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her to him in a passionate kiss.

                     “My, my, that is dangerous,” she breathed in his ear after they separated.  “I’m taking it the last interview didn’t go well?”

          “No it did not,” he retorted, somewhat emphatically.  “More of the same... manufactured robotic answers, no original ideas.  Basically, every one of them parroting only whatever they thought I wanted to hear.”  Alden looked depressed.  “Hopefully this last one will go better.”

                     “Well, I’ve prepared us something to eat while you wait, help to ease your mind,” Enora offered.  “How does that sound?”

          “Sounds heavenly,” he smiled gratefully.  He took her hand in his as they climbed the stairs to their shared apartment above the office for a quick bite.

After lunch, Alden quickly skimmed the file on his desk.

          Dajan (no last name)
           21 years old
           3rd in his graduating class in test scores
           1st in his graduating class in tracking,
                  undercover skills,
                  evidence gathering,
                  and tailing

So far, this looked promising.

He was at the bottom of his class in adherence, attentiveness and cooperation.

That was not a good sign.

His psych profile read as follows:

                  Dajan is an extremely intelligent and sensitive student, ranking in the highly advanced category of intelligence.  However, he displays considerable problems with authority and working in groups.  This would tend to lead one to believe he would have difficulty with personal interactions, however, in undercover settings, Dajan exhibits impeccable social skills.  He is highly adaptable and very capable at solving logic problems, contrasting with some trouble addressing emotions and emotional issues.  He seems to be detached most of the time.  Dajan would be well suited to a guardian role; he may have problems, however, in taking orders during his apprenticeship, and may have a high tendency to bend the rules.

Alden smiled to himself after reading the report, just in time for the knock at the door.  He opened it to an olive toned young man of average height and athletic build.

          “Are you Dajan?” Alden asked the young man.

                     “Yes sir, I am,” Dajan replied, remaining in the doorway.

          “Well come in and have a seat, then,” Alden urged, ushering him into the office.

Dajan seated himself at the desk.  Alden thumbed through Dajan’s file as he sat.

          “I do interviews a little differently,” he told his guest.  “I’ve reviewed your files and have seen your grades and test scores.  But all that tells me is that you can read and write.”

Dajan shifted in his seat, as Alden closed the file and set it back down on his desk.  He ran his fingers through his shoulder length red hair and picked up an e-cig.

          “Do you mind?” he gestured to the device.

                     “No sir,” Dajan replied, sitting up in his chair as straight as a board.

          “Dajan,” Alden began.  “I noticed there is no last name listed for you.  Why is that?”

                     “Sir, I am an orphan,” came Dajan’s well-rehearsed monotone.  “I spent most of my life on the streets.  Dajan is the name given me by the lady that sometimes looked out for me.  She told me she was not a blood relative.  When I was 12, I was picked up by the psych squad and placed in a juvenile center for 'gifted' people, and was trained and educated there before going onto the academy.

          “So,” Alden scratched his beard stubble.  “You would rather remain nameless?”

                     “I have a name,” the young man’s response was unaffected.  “Dajan is my name.  It’s the only name I need, sir.”

          “I guess that makes sense,” Alden nodded.  “I see by your records you have had some issues with authority.  Do you feel that has come from having grown up in the system?”

                     “I’m not sure I take your meaning sir,” Dajan responded, showing signs of tension, now.  “Most of the times I have come into conflict with leadership, it is because they are asking me to do something irrational, or to blindly follow an order without understanding the reason.  I don’t work that way.  I don’t believe anyone should.  I need to know what I’m doing makes sense.”

          “Well, then, we shouldn’t have any problems,” the older man’s eyes twinkled.  “If I take you on…” here he paused, looking the candidate over.  “I’m all about transparency.  I expect that to go both ways.  You understand.”

Dajan nodded.

          “I also see that you have an exemplary record as far as field tests; are you an action junky?” Alden queried further.

                     “No way, sir,” Dajan countered.  “I have also done well on my written tests, as you should see there.  I like to excel in what I do.  I want to make sure people know that I am capable.” Dajan seemed more relaxed while answering this question.

          “Capable…” Alden pursed his lips.  “Got it.”  His brow furrowed.  “Do you have ambitions of being in intelligence, or maybe military operations someday?” Alden was doing his best to stay out of Dajan’s head.  The kid was being evasive, in a not-seeming-so sort of way.  Every once in a while he would pick up a random stray thought when the applicant accidentally dropped his guard.

                     “No, I just want to make a place for myself in society.  I don’t want to wind up in one of those detention centers for rogue mages and psychics,” Dajan answered quickly, shivering slightly.

          “That’s understandable,” Alden clucked.  “The only option you have now is to either be an apprentice guardian, or get assigned to a police psych squad.  Which would you prefer?”

                     “I would prefer being a guardian,” Dajan responded eagerly, looking very serious.  “And I’m not just saying that for this interview.  I feel as a guardian, I would actually be able to accomplish more for the magical citizens, maybe even help pave the road to a path for more and better rights for our kind.”

          “Maybe…” Alden raised an eyebrow as he picked up on rebellious thoughts from Dajan here; though he recognized the lad was being truthful in his answer.

The elder also got a glimpse of a few traumatic incidents.  Unlike the rest of the hopefuls he’d interviewed today, Dajan had spent some time outside of the magic zones and understood the true reality for magic beings in America; that they were second class citizens at best, and viewed as pariahs that needed to be exterminated at worst.  If it wasn’t for the magic zones, this country would most certainly be in the throes of an ethnic conflict between those magically gifted and those not.  Alden shuddered at the thought of it.

The interview had been going on for over an hour as they were finally nearing the end.

          “Alright, one last series of questions, kid” Alden squared himself in his chair and steeled his hands upon the desk.  “When you were outside of the magic zone, what crimes did you commit?”

                     “Excuse me, sir?” Dajan looked troubled.

          “You heard me, son,” Alden remained deadpanned.  “I might as well warn you right now, I’m a certified clairvoyant.  I have been picking up on every thought you’ve had since this interview started, so drop the act.” Alden sat back in his chair, holding Dajan’s gaze.

                     “As you wish, sir,” Dajan’s demeanor changed, his contempt for this process showing tangibly.  “I have stolen several items, mostly food and clothing; I have committed assaults to protect myself.  I have never once initiated an assault for any reason.”  He took a deep breath and looked Alden square in the eye.  “I have only killed once, and it was in self-defense.  You’re the telepath.  You can peer into my mind and pluck the memory from it if you wish to assuage yourself that I am telling the truth,” he said, not nearly as respectively as he had previously been.

The senior guardian peered over his desk at Dajan for several minutes, as the street urchin’s eye twitched, barely containing his disdain.  Alden picked up on rage, humiliation, and defeat.  He let the kid fume for a bit, before he smiled brightly, and thrust his hand enthusiastically across the table.

          “No need for that,” Alden beamed.  “I can tell you’re telling the truth,” he said, pumping the confused man’s arm vigorously in an excited handshake.  “Put ’er there, kid... you’re my new apprentice!”

Dajan’s expression was one of shock, but he gripped Alden’s hand firmly and shook it, and as the realization settled around him, he slowly slipped into a sheepish grin.

                     “I guess I will report here to you after I am discharged from the academy, then,” Dajan stammered, still reeling.  “Thank you, sir.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Dajan stood briskly, barely managing to avoid knocking over his chair, and left Alden’s office in a flurry of excitement.

A few minutes late, Enora came in and sat across from her husband, who was positively glowing.

                     “I’m guessing from the smile on your face you have found your apprentice,” she crowed.

          “Indeed I have,” Alden replied, looking back down over the city below with renewed enthusiasm.


Additional stories from this world, in chronological order:
| In The Beginning  |  Escalation  |  Project X  |  The Woodshed  |
| Meet the New Boss  |  Back To Reality   |  The Interview |
| The Turing Test  |  Ohm’s Law  |  Hero’s Anthem |


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 12th, 2014 02:19 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this quite a bit. This was a very different kind of interview -- having someone who can read your mind during an interview would sure change the dynamics.
Jul. 14th, 2014 05:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you, i enjoy thinking about just how magic or psychic abilities would actually be used in a real world application
Jul. 13th, 2014 03:23 am (UTC)
Different take on the topic and an interesting bit of fiction. I really enjoyed it!
Jul. 14th, 2014 05:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you I'm glad you enjoyed it, I figured an interview is a type of interrogation.
Jul. 13th, 2014 08:26 am (UTC)
This was very well-written and it really took me back to my days of reading YA fantasy (mostly the Tortall series is what comes to mind!). I really like Dajan, and I'd love to see more of him.
Jul. 14th, 2014 05:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I will keep him in mind for future topics
Jul. 13th, 2014 08:22 pm (UTC)
Fantastically well-written and so complete! Nice work!
Jul. 14th, 2014 06:00 pm (UTC)
thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

Edited at 2014-07-14 06:01 pm (UTC)
Jul. 14th, 2014 03:21 am (UTC)
Aw, yay! They sound like good matches for each other.
Jul. 14th, 2014 06:02 pm (UTC)
I think they are pretty well suited to each other, they could for an intresting story later.
Jul. 14th, 2014 05:51 pm (UTC)
I am loving this place more and more every time I see it. These are interesting characters, and we've learned more about this world here in some respects than we have in all the other snippets... I would love to see these compiled. I do love, though, how each one stands alone.
Jul. 14th, 2014 06:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you since I created this world back when I was 16 I often come back to it for my writing.
Jul. 14th, 2014 05:54 pm (UTC)
I love the idea of there being a "magic zone". Very creative.
Jul. 14th, 2014 06:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you if I get the chance I will create a link in one of my posts that explains a little more about the world these characters inhabit.
Jul. 15th, 2014 05:32 pm (UTC)
Excellent. I really enjoyed these two!
Jul. 16th, 2014 09:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Jul. 16th, 2014 05:11 am (UTC)
the worldbuilding in this is really, really cool. and yeah, being interviewed by someone who can read your mind will really change things.
Jul. 16th, 2014 09:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I lik eintegrating psychic powers and magic into my stories.
Jul. 16th, 2014 06:07 am (UTC)
I found myself wondering for some reason if the North side Guardian was actually Alden's wife. They had a great rapport here. :)
Jul. 16th, 2014 09:01 pm (UTC)
No Alden's wife isn't the north side gaurdian, But she is a very important in the city.
Jul. 16th, 2014 11:24 am (UTC)
I liked this creative take..A very Good read! Enjoyed it!:)
Jul. 16th, 2014 09:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Jul. 17th, 2014 02:51 am (UTC)
Cool! I enjoyed this glimpse of interesting characters in an interesting world.
Jul. 17th, 2014 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Jul. 17th, 2014 07:32 pm (UTC)
This was really well-written. I wish all interviews could be conducted like that!
Jul. 17th, 2014 11:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you, the idea of being interviewed by a clairvoyant appealed to me.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )