“No,” Anya said quietly. The slight sixteen-year-old brushed an emerald corkscrew away from her face, her dark eyes a murky sludge. One hand clasped a black mini-backpack resting beside her on her seat like a witch’s familiar. “You can’t allow this.”
Laura Henderson, wishing once again she’d selected a career in robotics or slime mold research, or anything that promised a minimal amount of conversation with other humans, summoned her most sympathetic smile. “Anya, the judge took your preference into account, but–” she paused, her fingers drumming lightly on the table. “Your father is able to provide a more stable environment. Your mother’s situation is…complicated. I realize that sole custody will be an adjustment for all parties, but it’s only for two years, and then–“
“Not two years,” the young woman said, her voice creaking. “If he wins soul custody now, it’ll be decades before I can break his hold. He’s been searching for ways to interfere with my work ever since I became aware of The Mission. Without me, the balance will topple. This entire city will be plunged into darkness.”
“Anya, there’s clearly been some sort of misunderstanding,” Laura began, struggling to keep up.
“Yes,” she hissed. “There has.”
A pale, thin stream of silver light poured down the walls as the small room began to vibrate.