Sister Elizabeth Ignatius gestured at the lawn in front of the park bench, the bench in turn in front of a tasteful fountain statuary on the grounds of St. Mary’s Academy. “Sit.” The cat woman stood all of five foot three, but the taller girl she addressed sat down on the ground quickly and respectfully, even nervously.
She sat down on the bench herself, and motioned her companion, Sister Annabelle Sebastian, to sit beside her. This still left them looking up at the coyote teenager she’d brought out here to interview. The girl was attractive, enough so that looks alone could get her in trouble with the rowdy crowd at St. Mary’s. The build of a cheerleader, liquid green eyes, well-groomed tan fur and straight shoulder-length dark hair combined to give her a classic “blossoming girl next door” look. Yet her most immediately noticeable feature guaranteed she’d have little trouble in practice: she couldn’t fit into the house next door. From the tips of her ears to her bare foot paws, she had to stretch at last twenty feet. She was dressed in simple denim shorts and an unadorned dark grey T-shirt; a backpack the size of a toolshed rested by her side.
“Thank you, Miss Durant.” Sister Beth intertwined her fingers and rested them in her lap, looking up at the young giantess. “Sister Annabelle has informed you that we normally require some contact with a prospective student’s legal guardians before we consider an enrollment application.” Annabelle, a demure-looking vixen who couldn’t have been twenty-five yet, nodded. “Why do you think you deserve an exception?”
“I don’t. I mean, I do, but I know you have to decide if I deserve it. Ma’am. I mean—”
“Miss Durant,” the cat interrupted, politely but firmly. “This is your opportunity to convince me that you do.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” The coyote fidgeted, looking away. “I’ve never met a nun before. I’m not sure what to say. My family wasn’t very religious. I was expecting… ah… someone older and dressed in one of those black and white things.”
“A habit,” Beth said. “We don’t usually wear those these days, and I’m sure I’m twice your age.” The cat was almost exactly twice the coyote’s age, although her businesslike dress, demeanor and grooming gave her the authority of someone older still. “Tell me about why you ran away from what I surmise was a loving home.”
The girl stiffened. “I didn’t say I was… I didn’t say any of that!”
Sister Beth sighed. “Miss Durant—Riona—you’re a sixteen-year-old girl with no fixed address trying to enroll herself in a reform school, which is to say the least unusual. Your clothes are well-made and of current fashion, so you came from a home with parents willing to spend the considerable amount necessary to outfit a giantess in custom tailored contemporary wear. They’re well cared for, so you’ve learned to care about your appearance yourself; you don’t have any signs of being rebellious, which is also unusual at St. Mary’s. And you don’t show any signs of being in mourning, so I’m assuming your parents are alive and well.” She looked up and lifted her brows. “Is any of that incorrect?”
Riona’s ears folded back as the nun’s recital continued. “No, ma’am,” she mumbled at the end.
The cat pressed her hands together in front of her muzzle. “Let’s continue, then. Are you naturally this size, or are there enchantments involved?” Her tone made it clear she disapproved of enchantments.
She shook her head. “It’s natural. At least, it’s just how I grew.”
“Your parents weren’t giants?”
Riona shook her head once more.
Sister Elizabeth readjusted her glasses. “Tell me about why you ran away.”
I was giant from the very start. It took my mom months to heal after my birth, and by my first birthday I was nearly half the size of my dad. They told me that I threw my parents around a lot when I was upset. Literally threw. I didn’t mean to, but I was a baby. Babies throw tantrums.
As I was growing they took me around to doctors. I must have seen a dozen specialists by the time I was nine or ten, and at that point I was already over ten feet high. They put both my parents through all sorts of tests, too. But nobody could tell us anything. I was healthy, they said I was normal in every other way, but it’s like I was growing at four times the normal rate and four times as much in every direction.
Troubled child? No, I guess not, ma’am. You’re right, my parents loved me. They probably still do. They did the best they could for me. But a child who literally can’t fit anywhere… it’s tough for her to fit in anywhere in the other sense of the phrase, if you see what I mean. They tried to put me in normal kindergarten, but I was already nearly the size of the teacher and sometimes I broke toys. The elementary school didn’t want to let me in at all, but they did, for like a half a year. Then some little rat boy started making fun of me for being a huge freak, and half the other kids joined in, and I started crying and got upset and bit him. I took his arm right off and the teacher was screaming at me to spit it out and instead I swallowed it.
Uh, sorry, Sister Annabelle. I’m not trying to be graphic. Anyway, I went to counseling then and I think all the other kids did, too, and they didn’t let me back in school after that.
My parents started home schooling me, and they did a really good job. I mean, I had to take the same standardized tests the kids in normal school did, and I passed the eighth grade exam when I was only eleven. But even then I knew I was getting really tough for my parents. They were spending money like they were feeding a family of ten, and they had to build a special room for me on the side of their house.
My mom worked real hard at making sure I was polite around everyone little—I mean normal—because they didn’t want me to be intimidating. Everybody in my neighborhood knew there was, well, a giantess living there. It’s not like you can hide me, right? But dad didn’t really want me going out, and I’d gotten old enough that I didn’t want to be staying in. They wanted me to be as normal as I could be, but I hadn’t been able to make any friends, ever. So when I was fourteen I was desperate to get out and I just started… leaving. I told my parents I was going out for a walk and I went out for a walk.
Hmm? Oh, yes, they told me not to. But with all respect, ma’am, I was nearly twenty feet tall then and what’s somebody your size really going to do to stop me? I’m not saying that was right, I’m just saying that’s… that’s what I did. I don’t think it was right for them to keep me inside. Seriously, how can I learn to behave around people your size if I’m never around them?
So I made friends with a few girls in the neighborhood. It took a while, but they decided they liked me. My parents didn’t like them, though. They said they were a street gang, and I guess they were. They smoked and drank—I didn’t do either, I promise—and I guess they really liked the idea that with me hanging around nobody was ever going to mess with them.
Oh, no, I didn’t beat anyone up. Not really. I don’t have to do a lot more to be threatening than just stand real close to someone and bare my teeth a little.
Anyway, things were okay, I guess, for a year or so. But it really went to h… went bad about six months ago, and I know it’s my fault. I helped the other girls, uh, get cigarettes from a convenience store. They’d done shoplifting before, but I said I could probably help. They didn’t believe me—I can’t fit in a store, they said, right? So I just ripped the roof off one and lifted the clerk up and held him while they took everything they wanted.
Yes, I know stealing is wrong, but I didn’t steal anything. But I’m the one who got in trouble for it anyway. The police came to my house, but not to any of the other girls ’cause the security camera was on the roof and they didn’t get any recordings of anything. But, uh, it’s not like somebody needs a lineup to identify me.
They couldn’t really prove much—they had the testimony of the clerk, but fortunately he’d gotten really wasted on the beer we left in the store when we left so he wasn’t deemed reliable. The defense attorney basically argued they couldn’t prove he didn’t use me as an excuse to explain damage he caused. I’m not sure it was a good argument, but I mean, I was fifteen and I couldn’t fit in prison even if they wanted to put me there, which they really didn’t. So they didn’t charge me with anything. But my parents grounded me, and the only way to do that was to lock me in. They put a padlock outside my wing, and that was the only door I could fit through. My parents could come in to where I was but I couldn’t get out to them.
Yes, I’ll go on. This is kind of the… hard part, ma’am.
After about two weeks of that I was furious and I started yelling at my parents that if they didn’t take off the padlock I’d smash the door down. They didn’t think I could do it, but I was pretty sure I could; I mean, it was one of those big metal rollup doors like a garage has, but I’m a lot of weight. They yelled back and we all yelled at each other and I started just throwing myself against the door. It dented a lot, but held. But eventually its frame just ripped off the walls. As I scrambled through my dad tried to stop me, he ran in front of me yelling and cursing and ordering me to go back inside. And I… kicked him.
I wasn’t thinking when I did it. I was just furious. But I saw him flying through the air and I realized what I’d done but it was too late to stop and I heard him hit the lawn like twenty feet away…
Riona had broken down crying at that point, and the two nuns looked at one another uncomfortably. Sister Elizabeth was the one who cleared her throat. “Did he survive, Riona?” she asked softly.
The girl took a ragged breath and nodded. “Yes. I mean, he was alive when I left. And I read the newspaper the next day, so I know he only got a few broken ribs. I was really lucky.” She closed her eyes. “But that’s when I knew I had to leave. It was too dangerous for me to stay there. I’d already cost them so much in money and time and everything and now I’d nearly killed him just because I was upset. So I threw what money I had and some clothes and Mr. Edgar in a backpack and I just—headed out. I figured I’d head for the deepest forest I knew and then try to make it to a border.”
“Mr. Edgar?” Sister Annabelle inquired in a slightly tremulous voice. She’d been staring at one of Riona’s paws ever since the girl had said kicked him; the coyote had digitigrade paws a good two feet across.
Riona looked self-conscious, then reached into her backpack and pulled out a teddy bear, brown and of canonically plain design, and dropped it down in front of the two nuns. It was bigger than either of them, and had hubcaps for eyes.
Sister Beth cracked a small smile at that, then looked past the stuffed toy back up at the giantess. “Border? So you started in a different country.”
The coyote nodded.
“How much money did you have?”
“Uh, with the exchange rate here, it was ninety dollars.”
“That’s surely not enough to have sustained you between then and now. What did you do?”
Riona ran a hand through her hair. “Let me think about how to tell that.”
The cat nodded, folding her hands in her lap and waiting patiently.
It took me a few days to get through the forest. I’ve never really done anything like that—I mean, I didn’t know how to camp or anything, but I could catch small animals. One time I raided a camp. There wasn’t anyone there so I didn’t hurt anyone, I just took some of the food. Uh, well, half. It wasn’t too deep into the forest, though, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t cause any more trouble than maybe cutting their vacation short.
Finally I came out of the woods and cut across some fields—that took a long time—and followed a road into a little town called, um, I think it was Wiltonshire.
Hmm? Oh, that’s not a little town? It didn’t seem that big. And it was a pretty strange experience, ma’am. I mean, I’ve never walked up to a place and had people start just running before. I know I didn’t look as nice as I do now, though. I hadn’t been able to clean up for days. And I think I must have had a bit of dried blood from the deer. I didn’t really think about that.
Well, yes, raw. I didn’t have a way to cook it. It wasn’t too bad; I don’t mind raw food, or even live food. It’s just that I’d rather have a hamburger.
Anyway, I must have looked kind of like a monster, a huge dirty creature with bloody teeth. People who saw me started screaming and running and then I started screaming and running. It’s kind of funny looking back, but it wasn’t then. I ended up hiding under a bridge until night fell.
Before the sun rose I washed up in the river, and that’s when I met Jed. I was on the shore drying off and… you know how sometimes you can feel eyes on you? That’s what I felt. I turned around and there was a big—I mean, big to you, not to me—wolf watching me from twenty yards away. He said he’d seen me earlier in the night and thought I was a troll, but now that he’d gotten a better look he was pretty sure no troll looked like that.
Oh, he just talked like that, ma’am. He was kind of… kind of crude, but he was always nice to me. See, he and I started talking and I told him some of my story—not as much as what I’ve told you, because I didn’t really want to share so much with a stranger. And he didn’t ask too much. He said he figured I was entitled to privacy. And he said he knew a warehouse that I might be able to sleep in, but he’d have to take me to meet the people who owned it and see what I could do for them. I mean, like you said, I didn’t have a lot of money, and I’d need to start working.
Uh, yes, Sister Annabelle, I know that means I came in illegally. I’m not registered with any place as an immigrant or visitor or whatever. But that’s why I came here, to St. Mary’s. I’ve heard of things like sanctuary. I couldn’t get into any other school here even if I could, you know, physically get into any other school. It’s only a school like yours that could sponsor me.
Um, no, they didn’t check my immigration status before hiring me. I was—let me get back to the story, okay?
Jed took me to this warehouse the next night. It was a—they called it a “machine shop.” They fixed motorcycles and cars and stuff, so it was a garage, but they did other kinds of work—metal work and wood carving, you name it, I guess. And the place was big enough for me to stand up in at full height. Jed said I’d be good for special jobs, but I didn’t know what that meant. Alex—he ran the shop—seemed like he didn’t like the idea, and I could tell some of the others were scared. But Jed stood up for me and got them to see that I had to be somewhere, that I needed help, and that I could probably help them. So Alex agreed to let me stay there for a week.
But I could hold bikes and cars in positions their equipment couldn’t and it was pretty easy for me, and one week turned into two and then into a month. They weren’t really paying me beyond letting me stay there and getting food for me, and it was what mom would have called junk food—burgers and pizzas and stuff, and I wasn’t having nearly as much by weight as mom got for me, either, so I was a little hungry all the time. It wasn’t home, but it was a home, if you understand what I mean.
I guess it was the second month I was there when they asked if I’d help them convince one of their customers who wasn’t paying on time to pay them. They pretty much just asked me to hold him under a paw while they talked to him. The guy was a pretty tough-looking tiger type and he cursed a lot at them until he saw me—then he tried to run. They moved to stop him, but I figured I could do that. I just walked forward quick, picked him up in a hand, set him down, and put a foot on him and said, “I think you should listen to them, sir.”
“Miss Riona,” Sister Annabelle suddenly burst out, “if this ‘Jed’ really liked you, he wouldn’t have gotten you involved with a criminal gang!”
Sister Elizabeth merely lifted a brow at the vixen, but waited to see how Riona would respond.
The giantess opened her mouth, closed it, then looked away. “It’s not that simple, ma’am. Look, doesn’t everyone have both good and bad in them? I know Jed wasn’t all good, but I know he sure wasn’t all bad. I’ve heard stories about what happens to runaways sometimes. They can get into a lot of trouble. They can get killed or robbed or raped because nobody’s looking out for them.”
“Or because they trusted the wrong people,” Beth said, looking up and pressing her hands together, sinuous tail sweeping behind her. “But let’s not pretend that you don’t have some… obvious physical advantages a typical teenage girl would lack.”
Riona leaned forward. “That doesn’t mean I didn’t meet people who wanted to take advantage of me. I really can tell the difference.”
“And the gang at the shop didn’t want to?”
“Of course they wanted to. With me, they weren’t just any gang, they were the gang that had the giantess.” She sighed, and looked over their heads into the distance. “I know there’s a lot I have to learn, but I’m not that naïve. I’d figured out things were… shady… there from the start. But where else was I going to go? Getting shelter and food alone would be hard enough, and I convinced myself that they all really liked me. For a while.”
Beth gestured with an open hand. “All right, Miss Durant, let’s hear how you got from there to here.”
They started bringing me out every once in a while on visits around the neighborhood. That was great to me—like I said, my parents always wanted to keep me inside because they thought it was too dangerous for me to be out. Prissy—she was one of the gang—told me they probably really meant it would be too dangerous for everybody else if I was out, and you know I think she might have been right. I know people were whispering and pointing around me, but they weren’t making fun of me. Given a choice between having people respectfully nervous and people mocking me for being a freak… it’s not that I want the nervousness, but the respect was… nice.
Of course, I only went out with them when the gang wanted to make a point. They’d ask me to see how strong I was by stepping on things or snapping them or something like that. They didn’t ask me to do anything to other people other than hold them under a paw or pick them up in a hand or something like that. But if you were double-crossing them and you had something you liked, like a bike or a car, it might get hurt. I remember walking on a car when somebody was in it… they wouldn’t let him out, and just had me take a step on the hood, and then another, and then another. They said he’d start talking before my paw was on the windshield, but he didn’t actually start talking until I was just about to step on the roof.
Would I have kept walking if he hadn’t? Hmm. Honestly, yes, ma’am. I mean, all he had to do was just talk, and I’d think if a coyote my size was about to step on you, you’d do what you needed to do not to be stepped on, right? It’s not my fault if somebody’s stupid.
Anyway, things didn’t really go past that for a while. Not until the gang war started. I kind of, uh, helped start it.
I didn’t mean to, but I knew there was another group that we’d—well, they’d—been in fights with before. A month ago or so the shop gang intercepted… something. I don’t know what it was, but I guess it was probably drugs. The other gang was going to be selling it, but we—they—got it and sold it instead.
One night while I was in the shop and most of the rest of the gang was out, it was just me and Prissy, three of the other gang broke in. I’m pretty sure they didn’t know I was going to be there, or they just figured they could take care of me. They had guns, after all.
The shop had closed for the night but the front door was still open—normally there wasn’t trouble, I guess—and these guys just came in, three who pushed their way into the shop and said they were there with a message for Alex. Prissy started to say that he wasn’t there, and they drew guns and just started firing. Not at her, but at everything in the shop. Computers, TVs, cars they were working on, test equipment, even just the walls. And then—
Then they turned to me.
I’d curled up in a corner, and they made me stand up. One of them said, “And last thing, tell him we’re not scared of his giant bitch.” And they shot at my legs.
Yes, they hit them, ma’am. But I… I don’t know just what I was thinking but I didn’t know if they were going to kill me or try to permanently cripple me or what, but I was scared and suddenly in pain and then really, really angry. There was a metal cabinet thing by me, about six feet high, and I picked it up and held it in front of me like a shield and I ran toward them. I pushed one down with the cabinet and he fell under me—I’m pretty sure I stepped on his rib cage—and I threw the cabinet at the other two. It hit one of them—the one who’d been speaking—and he fell over. Then I ran after the other guy and picked him up and squeezed him until he screamed, then shook him until he dropped his gun.
I knew I was bleeding from my legs in a few places but I didn’t care. Right then it was like I was too angry to feel pain. I walked over to the one I’d clobbered with the cabinet—a tough-looking cat—and I picked him up, too. He started screaming don’t you touch me over and over again, until I shoved him in my mouth headfirst. Like, all the way, until his head was touching the back of my throat and his arms were pinned to his sides and just his legs were sticking out past my lips. I watched them kicking for a few seconds.
And then—then—it wasn’t what I was planning to do—I swallowed. I got his head in my throat, and then his shoulders, and then—then the rest of him.
Yes, whole, Sister Annabelle. I didn’t think I could do it, either, but it… wasn’t that hard. I could feel him still struggling inside me, though. That was about the strangest thing I’d ever felt.
By then all the pain in my legs was coming back hard, and I dropped down to my knees and set the other guy down in front of me and said to Prissy, “Do I let him go or not?”
Prissy was staring at me and crying hysterically. I’d never seen her cry before. She didn’t answer, though, so I did let him go. I set him down and said, “Are you scared of Alex’s giant freak now?”
I think he peed himself. When he turned and ran, I didn’t follow.
When Alex and the rest of the gang got back, Prissy and I told them what had happened. Prissy was scared. I realized she was as scared of me as she’d been of the other guys. That hurt. I’d never even hinted at threatening any of them, and it’s not like they didn’t know I was dangerous. I mean, they were all dangerous, too, after all. Most of them carried guns or knives.
Even though they cleaned my wounds and helped me bandage them, that was the first night I went to sleep there worried about what they thought of me. Whether I was… well… whether I was still safe there. They were arguing a lot about what the other gang was going to do now, and they were talking about what they needed to do.
The next morning when I woke up nobody was in the shop, but that wasn’t too strange. It was a Sunday and they weren’t open for business. I got myself some cereal for breakfast and I’d just finished it when somebody started pounding on the roll-up door.
I started to reach for it, but I figured if it was someone who worked there they’d just have a key. So I just yelled out, “We’re closed.”
But the pounding didn’t stop. It was Jed, and he was yelling my name. “Riona, you gotta get out.”
So I rolled the door up, and he said, “Get your backpack and come with me. They’re gonna torch the place.”
I ran back inside and threw stuff in my backpack, but I didn’t understand at first. He said the other gang was going to come to torch the place, but Alex’s gang knew. And—and they weren’t going to stop it and they weren’t going to come tell me.
Sister Beth held up her hand, looking astounded. “Miss Durant, you’re saying they were going to let their enemies burn you alive along with their business?”
The coyote giantess bit her lip and looked away. “That’s what Jed told me,” she said softly. “He said they didn’t trust me anymore after seeing what I did when I got angry. And I know there was a fire, just an hour after we got away. I saw it in the paper the next day.
“And that’s why I know Jed was a good person, Sister Elizabeth. He got me out. And he’s the one who told me about St. Mary’s. I’m here because of him.”
The two nuns looked at one another, then back up at the coyote. “So you came straight here after that?”
Riona nodded. “Jed said we both had to leave the city, that the gang would figure out he’d helped me and he needed to be moving on. I asked which ones in the gang wanted to—uh—wanted to set me on fire, and he said it was really only Prissy and Alex, but Alex was the leader.”
“Did you… do anything to them?” Sister Annabelle said, her voice squeaking uncomfortably.
Riona looked down at her and remained silent for a few long seconds. “Do you really want to know, ma’am?”
Annabelle swallowed. “I hope it was more merciful than they wanted to be to you.”
The coyote considered that, then nodded. “It was.”
The nuns looked at one another again.
“All right, Miss Durant,” the cat said at length, folding her hands in her lap and looking up once more. “Let me recap. You’re a runaway from a well-to-do home in another country prone to dangerous tantrums who fled her home after nearly killing your own father in one of those tantrums. You came to our country illegally, fell in with criminals and used your immense size to intimidate victims at the behest of these criminals. After your own life became threatened, you killed at least four people, one in a remarkably horrific manner.”
The coyote’s ears folded back incrementally as the nun spoke; at the end they were buried in her hair. “That’s… uh…”
Sister Elizabeth simply raised her brows.
“…that’s about right, ma’am,” Riona sighed.
“You told Sister Annabelle in your meeting yesterday that you had enough money to not only pay our tuition but to help find accommodations. That suggests a considerable amount of money, and I can’t help but notice that your story fails to explain how you came into it.”
The coyote swallowed, but remained silent.
The cat raised her hand. “No need for more details at this point, Miss Durant. Just tell me whether or not that money belonged to Alex’s gang.”
Riona nodded almost imperceptibly.
“Of course.” She steepled her hands, looking into the distance, and let the silence accumulate.
Finally, after over a minute had passed, Riona shifted uncomfortably. “If there’s anything—”
“Be quiet,” Sister Elizabeth said. “I’m thinking.”
Riona looked down again, fidgeting.
Nearly another full minute passed before the feline nun looked back up. “Here’s my proposal, Miss Durant.”
The coyote’s ears swiveled forward and she looked down at the nun.
“You can fit into some parts of our school, and it will be up to you and the teachers to arrange how each class can accommodate you. As for living arrangements, there is an old chapel in a residential neighborhood about ten miles from here that’s owned by St. Mary’s but no longer in use. We can rent it to you as an apartment and take care of the modifications necessary to handle someone of your stature, and possibly arrange an option for you to buy it.
“In return for this, we will put all of your current wealth into a trust fund administered by St. Mary’s, from which we will pay your tuition, rent, food and utility bills, and provide a modest stipend. The rest will be invested in interest-bearing accounts. Upon your eighteenth birthday or your graduation from St. Mary’s, whichever comes later, control of the fund will be returned to you, but you will guarantee that a minimum of one-third of the balance at that point will be donated to the church.”
“That’s a lot, ma’am, isn’t it?” Riona said, running a hand through her hair.
“If I’m going to go out on a limb for you—and make no mistake, getting the school to agree to this will require me to balance on some very thin limbs indeed—I’m going to drive a hard bargain for it.”
The coyote smiled weakly, then took a deep breath. “All right, ma’am.”
She nodded. “I’ll start talking to our lawyers this afternoon. I expect to see you here tomorrow at eight in the morning, sharp, to begin what I expect will be a long and arduous placement process.”
Riona’s ears flattened again, but she nodded, awkwardly rising to her feet. “Thank you, ma’am. This means—this means a lot to me.” She smiled, then glanced at Sister Annabelle, who was simply staring at Sister Elizabeth with a slightly open muzzle. The coyote cleared her throat and said, “Ah, th-thank you again. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“You’d best. And do not put anyone in your mouth, Riona,” Beth said, waving a hand in dismissal.
The coyote laughed nervously and hurried away.
Sister Annabelle kept staring at Sister Elizabeth as the giantess took her leave. Finally, she blurted, “How could you even suggest we could accept her? She’s—she’s—”
“An intolerable risk,” the cat said evenly, standing up and smoothing down her skirt.
“That’s exactly why she needs to be with us.” She motioned for the vixen to follow her as she walked back toward the school office.
“We can’t handle someone like that! She’s a danger to other students, to the teachers, to—to anyone around her!”
“Most of St. Mary’s student body is composed of dangerous ne’er-do-wells.”
“None of them are likely to eat people who they’re upset with!”
Elizabeth sighed, coming to a stop on the sidewalk and crossing her arms. “Sister Annabelle, we are an institution of last resort. We accept thieves and gang members and worse and do what we can to set them on the right path—or failing that, at least less wrong paths. We may not be able to handle Miss Durant, but that isn’t the right question.”
“Then pray tell, what is the right question?” the vixen snapped.
“What happens to not only her but everyone she comes in contact with if we don’t try to help her?”
The vixen bit her lip, running a hand through her hair.
Beth resumed walking. “Riona is clearly well-educated and understands how to behave in society, which gives her an immense leg up—no pun intended—on many children who’ve passed through these doors.”
The vixen sighed herself, and opened the door for the older cat. “And I think she’s just learned a façade of politeness. We can hope to socialize delinquents, but not true sociopaths.”
Elizabeth inclined her head in acknowledgement, stepping past Anna. The pair of nuns walked in, and then stopped at the crossroads of the administration building’s main hallway.
“Will you join me in the chapel?” the vixen said, gesturing to the right. “I think I’d like to spend some time praying for guidance. Perhaps you should as well.”
The cat put her hand on the vixen’s shoulder a moment, looking into her eyes. “My mind is clear. This is the right thing to do, Sister, and you know that as well as I. I shall join you to pray later, but I have much work to do today in convincing the rest of the administration this is the right thing to do.” She tilted her head. “It would help me considerably if you stood by my side.”
Anna ran a hand through her hair, then finally nodded reluctantly. “I shall on one condition.”
“And that is?” She began to walk down the hallway toward the left.
“The administration provide all staff and teachers stun guns upon request.”
The cat folded her hands in front of her, lacing her fingers. “I’m not sure those would stop her, but I shall look into what might, as much as I would prefer not to.”
Shaking her head, Sister Annabelle crossed herself hurriedly and followed Sister Elizabeth down the hallway.