In the weeks leading up to Christmas, everything just seemed to get worse. My parents were acting especially strangly around me, Jason had stopped talking to me completely, and Mora was having no luck at all on discerning the writing. I had also failed my drivers test, and despite my fathers encouragements, I had decided to wait a while before trying again. One of the few bright spots was my lessons. I was becoming quite adept at using my dragon form, especially my stinger and my claws, and I was eager to start flying and ice-breathing, the last two components of my basic training. Unfortunately, secret flying lessons required special facilities to which we didn't have access, and Teresa said I wasn't "ready" to start learning to use my breath weapon yet. I found this odd, considering the "time is of the essence" attitude she'd been taking lately with my training. One day, as we were drilling Wyr'kaka moves in the gym, I decided to ask her about it.
"Believe me, Skyler," she answered, as she swung her tail around to try and trip me, "If it were up to me, that's what you'd be learning right now. But the bureaucrats on the Council have certain rules about this sort of thing,"
"What kind of rules?" I asked, jumping over her tail and side-stepping her incoming claw.
"You know that purple card I gave you?" she asked, as she swiped her head towards me.
I had almost forgotten the ID card I'd recieved more than a month ago. I'd hidden the thing in my dresser without really a second thought about it. I jumped back and curved my long neck down, trying to use it to knock her off balance.
"Yes?" I said.
Teresa stepped to her side, grabbed my neck, and swept me into a headlock with one arm. As she held my face against her chest, I wish for a moment we'd both suddenly turn human.
"The single silver stripe denotes a recruit," she said. "Thanks to Fintan O'Connell, recruits are no longer allowed to learn how to use their breath weapons. But don't worry. As soon as Thadius has a chance to inspect you, I'm sure he'll grand you a second stripe, and then you can learn anything,"
She finally let go of my neck. I went over to the bench and sat down.
"What's so dangerous about breath weapons?" I asked.
"You can go ahead and transform," said Teresa, walking over to her clothes. She quickly became a beautiful young woman again.
"Ostensibly," she continued, as I transformed and got dressed myself, "It's so young recruits don't light themselves on fire,"
"Ostensibly?" I asked, "What's the real reason,"
"You want my opinion?" asked Teresa, as she pulled her tank top over her head, "I think they just don't want anyone becoming that powerful unless they know their gonna work for us. It wouldn't be the first time a draconic's turned informant on an MLF cell,"
"Really?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said, "Five years ago about two thirds of our New York City branch was wiped out that way. I'm sure you heard about it,"
I vaguely remembered hearing something on the news about a "large terrorist cell" being shut down in New York about that time, but I wasn't really sure.
"Anyway, technically you have to be approved by the leader of the N.A. and three other operatives. I'm one, and Quentin and Pat are also going to vouch for you, so that just leaves Thadius. With any luck he'll see you in about a week,"
I went home hopeful. I was going to get to learn how to braethe ice, Catherine was coming home in a week, and Christmas was coming up. Things were looking up.