I nodded weakly.
“That can’t be right.”
“You got a better explanation? I’m all ears. Or… whatever” Birds don’t really have ears…
“I–no. I… I guess…” She sighed. “I don’t know.” She sat down. “Can’t believe I took control of a priest.”
“It’s not your fault,” I explained, “You’re not in full control of your powers yet. It’s all operating on a subconscious level right now. You need to train. Learn to control–”
“I don’t want to control people’s minds!”
“I was going to say ‘Learn to control your powers.’ Because right now, you can’t even tell when you’re using it.”
“I need to talk to someone. Father John, maybe. He could–”
“No. Don’t tell anyone about this.”
“Don’t tell anyone? This isn’t normal, Alex. God doesn’t give people mind control! This is the kind of thing the Devil does. I–I could be possessed or–”
“You’re not possessed. This is– your power comes from you. Nobody else.”
“How would you know?”
“I went through the same thing. Except with spontaneous combustion, not mind control.”
“This isn’t like that. You’re a phoenix; it’s natural for you to make fire. But this… there’s clearly something wrong with me.”
“There’s a limit to what most phoenixes can do. I went beyond that. Started… bringing bugs back to life. Melting doorknobs. It didn’t stop until I learned to channel it. To put it to good use.”
“How could I possibly put mind control to ‘good use’?”
“I–I don’t know.” I shook my head. “Like you said, mind control is… it’s manipulation. It interferes with free will. But you need to use it, to get it out of your system.” There really wasn’t any easy solution.
“I need to talk to Father John.” Lilly stood up. “He’ll know what’s causing this–”
“No need.” I sighed. “I already know why we’re like this. We’re powerful spirits, reborn as mortals.” True, just leaving the part about what kind of spirits we are.
I nodded. “Happens from time to time. Spirits get tired of being stuck in the Otherworld, so they come down here to be reborn. Occasionally, a more powerful spirit is reborn, and you get a mortal with unusual powers.”
“I guess that’s… possible…”
“The problem is, there’s some group of radicals who think, well, they think we should all be dead, so… you need to keep this secret, okay? Nobody can know about this.”
“People are trying to kill us?”
“Yep. And we know next to nothing about them, so it’s really best not to take any chances. Don’t tell anyone about this whole ‘reborn spirit’ thing. Not even the priests. It’s entirely possible we’re dealing with religious extremists here, and… well, you have to admit…”
“Yeah, I get it. I’ll keep quiet.”
“Good. I’ll help you with training. As long as we’re careful, I think we can get through all this academy crap without any more–” I stopped, sensing someone coming towards us.
“Excuse me?” some school official popped her head in the door, “Do you have a moment?”
“Hmmm? Uh… I guess.” I shrugged.
She walked in and sat down in a chair by my bed. “Father John tells me you’ve both realized your destiny.”
“Huh?” I frowned.
“You told him God called upon you to be a prophet, didn’t you?”
“Not exactly…” I hesitated. “All I said was that He’d told me to preach His Words. I don’t know why he would think–”
“He said you revealed God’s true thoughts about the ‘cubi. You brought back a message from God; that makes you a prophet.”
“I… I guess…” Couldn’t exactly admit I’d been lying, could I?
“I know you just woke up, so we can do this later if you want, but I always feel it’s best to get these things done right away, so…”
“Sorry. Get what done?” Clearly, I was missing something.
“Some administrative stuff. For your transfer.” She smiled. “Now that you know what God wants you to do, you can begin specialized classes next semester.”
“Right. Of course.” How did I forget? The Academy’s all about training for our “destiny”, so if someone discovers what theirs is, they get to skip the general stuff and concentrate on their specific task. It’s like choosing a major.
“Wow.” Lilly smiled warmly. “Congratulations, Alex.” She sounded sincere, so either she was a good actress, or she actually was happy for me.
“Yes. Quite an accomplishment.” The woman nodded. “To be a prophet… every angel dreams of it, but God only chooses a select few to bring His Word to this world.”
“It’s an honor.” It was. That was the problem. It was an honor that really should have gone to someone else.
“Guess this means we won’t be having any more classes together,” Lilly said.
“Oh. Yeah.” I frowned. If Lilly’s still stuck in the regular program…
“I guess I wasn’t clear,” the woman said, “This isn’t just for Alex. Both of you are being transfered.”
“What?” Lilly turned, shocked. “But–I didn’t–I’m not a prophet.”
“Father John instructed that the two of you were to work together.” She smiled. “He seems to think Alex could use a little help interpreting the messages.”
“So… I’m his… follower?”
“Something like that, yes. How you two work out the dynamic is entirely up to you, and you don’t need to decide right away. You won’t be starting classes again until next semester, so you’ve got time to work out the details over your break.”
“We’re… going home?” Lilly.
“Of course. You need time to prepare for the new training. And celebrate. I’m sure your families will be very proud of you both.”
“Wait… what about my halo certification?” I asked, “I failed, right? So–”
“Don’t worry about it.” She chuckled. “You’re clearly fine without a halo.”
I smiled. So… I don’t need to worry about halos. I get a break. And I get to spend more time with Lilly! Fuck yeah! Being a prophet rocks!
And then came the paperwork.