Magical Security Taskforce




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Chapter 19: Surprise!

Session One

The day began as a routine Saturday time-killer for Troy, Marie and Kurt. Lunch, a matinee at the theater- typical fare for local teenagers, but as long as the movies cycled every week they didn't complain. Besides, Kurt had just one more week on his lease at L. B. Gould: next Sunday was graduation day. After that, his average day would change dramatically, even if he still didn't know what it would look like.

“I feel like such a third wheel without Kathryn or Kamila here,” he said.

“Kathryn had other plans,” Troy replied quickly. He didn't bother mentioning Kamila. She was an official member of the social circle, but had long been designated that one obnoxious friend that few of them really liked all that much. The sixth member, Yuki, had apparently become their cute mascot.

At the end of the excursion, Troy pulled his mother's sedan up to Kurt's apartment and killed the motor. “Mind if I use the bathroom?” he said.

“Uh... sure, I guess. You can't wait?”

“No,” Troy replied, not elaborating.

Kurt and Troy both stepped out of the car. Marie followed.

“I'm sure he won't be that long,” Kurt said, turning around. Not only did Marie not elaborate, she didn't even reply. She just smiled and followed them in.

(By the way, Troy got his driver's license in February. In case you were curious. And no, you don't want the details.)

As soon as Kurt walked in, Kathryn, Renee and Yuki shouted, “Surprise!”

He stood there, mouth agape, at the three cute girls in his apartment. Kurt also saw Molly standing behind them, trying to look inconspicuous. Donovan was there too, pointing an accusing finger at Kurt. Neither of those two cheered.

“What the hell?” Kurt asked.

“It's a surprise graduation party!” Renee exclaimed.

Kurt blinked. “Yeah, but... in my apartment?”

“Yeah, uh, we were going to do it in the community center or Renee's place but we couldn't find a way to get you there without making you suspicious,” Troy said, pushing his way in.

“It's more of a surprise this way!” Yuki said.

Knowing he was going to regret it, Kurt asked. “How the hell did you get in?”

With a devilish smile, Renee simulated her trigger gesture. Kurt slapped his forehead.

“I should have known. Okay, you win let's party.”

Kurt entered the party hall, not that the girls had done a whole lot of decorating. A few streamers here and there and a banner congratulating Kurt for surviving high school (granted most of the difficulty was negated by his good standing with Molly). More importantly, the place seemed a little cleaner than Kurt had kept it. He quietly hoped that he hadn't left any dirty underwear lying about the living room the way he normally did.

With Kurt now securely inside, Marie now had access to the apartment. She turned to Troy, puzzled. “So how did they get inside? You never explained that part to me.”

Troy panicked for a moment, then realized that panic was probably not the best response. With a slippery smile, like a cat trying to hide a live mouse in its cheeks, he shrugged and facetiously replied, “It's magic!”

Marie narrowed an eyebrow. “No, seriously, how did they get in?”

He exhaled. In those precious few seconds, he had thought up a plausible lie: “They found his spare key.”

But something else had drawn Marie's curiosity. “Why is Molly here?”

Troy looked at Molly, lingering close to Kurt but not actually participating in conversation. “They're kinda friends, I guess. And Renee bought the snacks.”

“And that Donovan creep?”

Donovan was still glaring and pointing at the entrance. Troy averted his eyes and said, “I have no idea why Donovan's here.”

Marie shook her head. “You guys have weird friends,” she said, approaching Kurt. He and the other girls were in the kitchen area, surveying Renee's selection of standard party food.

“Great spread, but what are we doing for dinner?” Kurt asked.

Renee and Kathryn stared at each other, both baffled. “Um... we have cake!” Renee answered.

Kathryn showed said cake off. “Yeah, I bought it from Dairy Queen myself.”

“We can order pizza,” Yuki suggested.

“Uh... we had pizza for lunch,” Troy said.

“Yeah, and I don't want to argue about what to get. Lord knows what Donovan likes on his pizza.” Renee glanced at him. Donovan was still glaring and pointing at the entrance, despite nobody being there.

“Stand aside,” Marie said, pushing past Kathryn and Renee and making her way to the cupboard. “I'm sure we can whip up something with what we got...” She flung the doors open and saw two cans of soup, three cans of assorted Chef Boyardee pasta and six packs of ramen noodles.

Slowly, Marie closed the doors, sighed, and turned to Kurt. “You're single.”

Kurt nodded. “That and my lease is up at the end of the month.”

Molly coughed, getting everyone's attention. She opened a drawer and magically summoned a menu. “I believe Rosa's offers carry-out.” She handed the menu to Marie. Marie trembled, nervously taking the sheet from the class president.

“But...” Marie tried to say.

“Yes?” Molly said.

This was Marie's first time speaking to Molly, so forgive her for being a bit intimidated. “Do we have enough money for that?”

Molly turned away. “There's a little extra money in the council's coffers that Claude doesn't want the principal finding out about. Apparently we're not supposed to be carrying a surplus, so this is a handy expenditure.”

Marie didn't dare question this, so she wrote down her order and passed the sheet around and called the order in when everyone was finished.

Naturally, Molly sent Troy to get the food. Troy sighed, not bothering to protest. Marie patted him on the shoulder and offered to join him on his journey.

With them gone and dinner covered, Renee clasped her hands and said, “So what now?”

Kurt rolled his eyes. “Don't suppose you thought of entertainment either?”

“What, you don't have any video games or anything?”

“Nope. Not really my thing.”

“Well, what's this?” Renee walked to a table in the corner of the room.

“It's a model race track.” Indeed it was- a small magnetic track with two electronically-controlled stock cars on each lane.

Renee, at least, was impressed. “Ooh, a tri-oval,” she said, picking up a controller and sending one car for a quick lap.

Kurt shrugged. “That's about it. Sorry I don't have Guitar Hero,” he grumbled, a bit annoyed that he was getting blamed for this problem.

After a few more laps, Renee grew bored, set the controller down and huffed, “Fine, I'll go get my Wii.” She approached Molly and extended a hand. “Car keys!”

Molly narrowed her eyes. “Forget it.”

“But how am I supposed to get home?”

With a mocking smile, Molly simulated Renee's trigger gesture. Renee got the hint and sighed.

“I suppose... ittekimasu!” she exclaimed as she teleported away.

Everybody looked at that curiously except for Yuki, who nodded and replied, “Yep, see ya!”

(By the way, Renee gets her driver's license at the end of the month.)


Session Two

Given the volume of the food Troy had to carry back, it was a good thing Marie had gone with him. And yet, the group devoured it and made quick work of the cake as well. Renee also arrived with her Wii, which filled up their itinerary in a hurry. Kurt got his indoctrination into video games, as he, Yuki and Marie tried their hands at Brawl. Yuki and Kurt lured a very reluctant Molly into the fourth controller. Marie wondered if it was proper etiquette to let Molly win on purpose, but soon found that Molly hardly needed the charity.

“You've played this before,” Kurt said, amused at Molly's ability to systematically destroy his character.

“Once or twice,” Molly replied, emotionless.

While Molly decimated her virtual opponents, getting a challenge only from Yuki, Renee occupied herself with the tabletop track. Before long, she found herself racing against Troy. They effectively simulated the monotonous act of driving around in circles (or tri-ovals to be precise) until Renee flipped her car off the table.

“Woo hoo!” she shouted.

“You just killed Jeff Gordon!” Troy said, slowing his car to honor some imaginary caution flag.

“Yeah, I said 'woo hoo,'” she replied, smiling goofily. Troy chuckled.

They were interrupted by a commotion from the TV area. Marie and Kurt were celebrating a successful double-team on Yuki's Pikachu- Marie's first kill in the game. They high-fived excitedly.

“I guess it's not so bad that you brought her,” Renee said.

Troy did a double-take. “Who? Marie?”

“Yeah. I originally thought it was going to be MST only.”

“Oh.” Troy said, trying not to take offense. “Well, she's friends with Kurt too. When Kathryn told her about the plan, she wanted in on it.”

“She seems to be fitting in,” Renee said, watching Marie cringe as Yuki exacted her revenge in electrifying fashion. When the carnage was over, Marie and Yuki laughed.

Troy smiled. Marie seemed to tolerate Yuki better than he did. “Sure. She's been hanging with Kurt and Kathryn and Yuki all year. We're all friends. Besides...” He turned to Donovan, sitting in the corner and glaring at Troy. At least he wasn't pointing. “...being in the MST doesn't mean anything about getting along with us. Who invited Donovan anyway?”

“I did,” Renee said, also looking at Donovan. He continued to do nothing but glare, deaf to all the fun coming from the TV. Of course she had invited Donovan. When Kathryn had suggested the party, Renee had envisioned an affair wishing Kurt the best for whatever future he had with the MST. Therefore, this event was closely tied to the MST students. Therefore, Donovan fit in... right?

“Oh...” Troy backpedaled. “I didn't mean that he shouldn't have been invited, it's just that, uh... well...” He stopped stammering when Renee giggled.

“What's going on over here?” Marie said, barging into the conversation. She had inflected it perfectly- playful enough to not threaten Troy, but loaded enough to make Renee back off. Marie added a good cursory glance at Renee for good measure.

Troy set down his controller. “We're under a red flag while Renee goes under the table to pick up her car.” Renee smiled.

“Ah. Well in that case, I'm kinda thirsty.” Marie raised her eyebrows. Troy recognized this as girlfriend-speak for 'let's do something else.' He didn't need Lucidrol to understand that.

“Yeah, me too,” he said. Wrapping an arm around her waist, they walked off to the kitchen area.

Renee watched the exchange in awe. She could never say it to anybody, but Marie's presence bugged her. She wanted know more about Troy's girlfriend, but that was only half of it. Renee would have had no problem talking to Marie and feeling her out if Marie wouldn't have been so defensive around her. The problem was that everybody else was so comfortable with the new girl. Even Molly had rewarded Marie with toleration (as opposed to the loathing she had for most of the student body). Renee's magic-using friends sure seemed open to including Marie as part of the family, as if they had voted her in without consulting Renee. Or even worse- to replace Renee.

“They sure look cute together,” said Kathryn, leaning her elbow on Renee's shoulder. Indeed, Troy and Marie were joined at the hip in the kitchen, plastic cups in hand.

“Yeah,” Renee conceded. “Looks like he's doing well with her.”

“One whole school year.” Kathryn sighed. “And we're here alone.”

Renee nodded. “Yeah. And either of us could have had him if we wanted.”

“I'll admit it: I'm jealous.”

With the weight of Kathryn's arm finally getting to her, Renee shrugged it off and said, “Of her?”

Kathryn cracked a smile at Renee. “Of both of them. That's one thing I could never do- make it as long as they have.”

“He has grown up a bit. That's for sure.”

“Guess it's our turn now.”

Renee nodded. Kathryn's words would have lingered, would have put some things into context, and would have prevented Renee from having disruptive opinions of Marie. But Kathryn was never one for sentimentality, and her smile crept into something downright filthy.

“Wanna make out?” she asked.

So much for all that; Renee forgot everything else in the exchange. Before she could recover and figure out whether Kathryn was serious, Kathryn had left to reserve a spot in the upcoming game of Wii Tennis.


Session Three

Molly was also thirsty, which could be interpreted as Molly-speak for 'get me the hell away from these people.' She barged into the kitchen, disrupting Troy and Marie's little lovebird moment, and poured herself a drink. Marie stood up and found a different corner. Troy followed and Molly was left alone to watch Renee try to coax Donovan into playing Wii. Donovan followed her to the TV area, took a controller, and summoned Blaine to do the actual game playing. Renee considered this a partial victory.

“Thanks for coming.” In the chaos of watching her sister attempt to involve Donovan socially, Molly did not hear Kurt approach.

She didn't mind. “I felt it appropriate given your service to us.”

Kurt snickered. “Guess you could put it that way. I know you're not big on parties, so it means a lot.” She glanced away. 'Not big on parties' only scratched the surface. 'Not big on people,' more likely.

“Although you sure know how to handle a Wii,” he added.

Molly huffed. “Spare me the innuendo.” It took Kurt a moment to realize what she meant; he laughed awkwardly when he got it.

He also dropped the subject immediately. “Oh, hey, I was talking to Marlowe this week...”

Her head darted toward him, eyes widening. “Did he find you something?” she asked, eagerness slipping into her voice.

“Um... no,” he said, looking away. That put a damper on what he was about to say, but he said it anyway: “But he says you sent a letter of recommendation for me.”

Molly turned away, her hand covering the side of her face. She seemed to have trouble controlling her breathing. Kurt smiled and said, “Not used to going out of your way to do something nice, huh?”

“Simply a matter of professional courtesy,” she said.

He shook his head. “You didn't have to do that. You're way above me in their food chain. I know it, you know it, Marlowe knows it. I'm just another guardian-wannabe. You're Molly Pearson. A good word from you makes a difference.”

“No. I don't profess to having any sway with them. If they find me as special as you seem to believe, they would have found us a field agent by now.”

Kurt nodded. “Too bad I'm not qualified for that. I just hope they find somebody before I leave.”

“If not, it's ridiculous. Without a trained agent, you're the closest thing we have to support. It's like we're going from temporary protection to none at all.” She heaved a sigh. She had echoed this point many times with Uriel, which he seemed to understand. If there was an ulterior motive to her letter of recommendation, it was to help get Kurt situated out of town and force Uriel to take action. As much as she appreciated Kurt's support, there was no substitute for a trained professional.

“I'm sure it'll get taken care of. Still...” Kurt put a hand on her shoulder. She shirked and shrugged it off. His smile remained. “Thank you. I'm honored that you'd do something like that for me.”

“I can't be entirely sure that I'd still be alive without you around,” Molly replied. That sort of thing did tend to influence opinions.

Forgetting that she had already shirked it off once, he put his hand on her shoulder again. This time, she stepped aside until he was out of reach. “I think you guys will be fine. Even if somebody went after you again, you can handle it. And Troy and Kathryn are coming along nicely. They're not helpless anymore.”

She didn't respond. Molly didn't care whether or not she and her unit could handle another demonic plot. It was being subjected to demonic plots in the first place that bothered her.

Kurt sighed. He found the lack of a reaction fascinating. “You know, the world won't end if you decided to take a day off and let your hair down.”

Molly glanced at him oddly. Her hand felt the back of her head and what little hair she had there. She had short hair. She always had short hair. It wasn't budging.

“I mean, how often do you just try to have fun and enjoy life?” Kurt asked, giving up on euphemisms.

“I'm not one for fun,” she said, eyes cast downward. “Bad things happen when I let my guard down. Fun isn't part of my job. To put it your way, I am, after all, Molly Pearson.”

“I don't see the harm in chilling out for a few hours. You'll feel better.”

She faced him again, angry. “How I feel has no bearing on this. I know my purpose in life, and fun is not included.”

He chuckled. “Well, I'm giving you permission tonight. You're getting really wound up over everything and-”

“Kurt, I am seventeen years old. In that time, I have had at least three demon factions try to either kill me or lure me over. Don't think a few months of peace means they've given up.”

Their eyes met. As much as Kurt wanted to dismiss it as paranoia, he couldn't ignore her history. She had been targeted, she had been spied on, and apparently some demons had once tried to draw her to evil. No wonder she turned out like this. Half the student body was probably convinced Molly had accepted the offers.

“I feel exposed enough just being here,” she added.

Now that was a bit much. Being constantly on guard was one thing, but not even being able to enjoy a little get-together? This wasn't even that wild a party: were it not for young Yuki necessitating a certain decorum, Kurt or Kathryn would have almost certainly gotten someone drunk and/or naked by now.

“Come on, it's just a party, what's the worst that could happen?” he said.

Congratulations, Kurt, you just said the secret words!

The front door flew open and in burst Vincent, still clutching that magic briefcase. The party froze, its patrons turned to see who this intruder was, and Kathryn lost control of her Wiimote and sent it crashing into the TV.

Once he was assured that he had everyone's attention, Vincent grinned. “Now is this a party or is this a PARTY?!” he yelled, throwing up the Shocker with his free hand.


Session Four

Vincent had killed the party, so signs of life were scarce. A lot of dropped jaws and awkward glances around the room perhaps, but everybody went silent. As the apartment's proper tenant, Kurt took it upon himself to engage the trespasser. Molly started warming up a nice spell just in case.

“Excuse me, this is a private engagement,” he said, trying to temper any initial hostility. So, if you don't mind-”

“This your place?” Vincent asked.

“Yes, and I don't-”

“Nice to meet you! Name's Vincent Wagner.” Vincent extended a hand.

Kurt didn't shake it. He was trying to figure out the name. “Wincent Vagner?”

“Nope, Vincent Wagner.” What made this impossible to figure out was that Vincent pronounced it 'WIN-cent VAH-gner.'

Giving up, Kurt shook his head. “And who are you?”

“Told you, Vincent Wagner.”

“I meant what are you doing here?” Kurt asked, cringing. He feared he was somehow baiting himself to be on the losing end of an Abbott & Costello routine.

Vincent's smile grew and he patted his briefcase. “Biz... ness.”

Kurt cracked a smile, finally spotting the chance for a comeback. “Well we're not here for business. This is a party.”

“I see that. Lotsa girls here too.” Vincent scoped the room, winking at Renee. “Nice selection.”

Dropping her spell, Molly marched up to Vincent. “What Kurt is failing to imply is that you are intruding on us and should leave before I get angry.”

“Why? What happens when you get angry?”

The room stirred to life as everybody prepared for Molly's anger. Troy and Marie ducked, Kurt backed away from the action to avoid any shrapnel, Kathryn covered Yuki's eyes. Renee smiled, eager to watch her sister's wrath.

Noting the reaction across the room, Vincent decided he wasn't curious enough to find out. “Look, I need to see somebody here.”

“Whom?” Molly replied, just about ready to throw up the glare.

Vincent smiled brightly. Not the randy grin he came in with, but something proud and noble. Which is funny given his answer:

“My son.”

With a gasp, Marie separated herself from Troy and stood up, taking two steps away from him and staring back with some concern. Yuki and Renee also looked at Troy, inching closer to him, not sure how to react.

Troy saw the three girls staring back and blinked. “Why are you all looking at me,” he said, annoyed. “I know what my dad looks like. It's not him.” He rolled his eyes. “Thank God.”

Pushing Kurt and Molly aside, Vincent stepped towards Troy, that oddly parental smirk still on his face. “Are you sure?”

“Well... I mean I haven't seen Dad in awhile, but-”

“But you've suddenly grown curious as to his whereabouts. As if a revelation has dawned on you... like falling under... a spell?”

Troy's eyes widened. Could it be that the mystery of his father ran even deeper into the fog? That the man Troy had spent eleven years calling Dad was an imitator, or that he had somehow become a completely new and completely repulsive person in five years?

He could only stare back as Vincent went for the kill: “Am I right... Donovan?”

Insulted by the mere thought, Troy grunted, looked away, and pointed in Donovan's direction.

Vincent noticed Donovan for the first time, glaring back at Vincent just as he did towards everybody else. Walking to his son, getting plenty of space from the shocked and bewildered witnesses, he saw the resemblance immediately. The boy had his dad's hair, eyebrows and inappropriate sense of ostentation.

“That's more like it.” Vincent extended his free arm, requesting an embrace. “Son!”

“Kathryn, I'm scared!” Yuki shouted, hiding behind her friend.

But Donovan was not down with such a reunion. “I have no father,” he muttered.

“Now, now, when you find out where I've-”

“No!” Donovan stood abruptly, pointing at Vincent. “There was no father. There has never been a father. My mother swears my existence is nothing shy of immaculate!”

Rather than try to out-pose Donovan, Vincent chuckled. “Oh that... yeah, we were both pretty wasted. She probably doesn't remember me. I'm kinda foggy on the details myself.”

“So then how do you know Donovan's your son?” Renee asked.

“Magic,” Vincent replied, matter-of-factly.

Troy, for his part, was staying away from the conversation. Not only was he determined to avoid anything regarding Donovan's origin, but this was not his idea of a parental reunion. If it had been Frank that had burst through the door in a similar fashion, Troy wouldn't have handled it any better.

After a moment of fleeting angst, he turned back to the mob. Instead, he found Molly standing right in front of him, glaring. He screamed a little.

“Get Marie out of here,” she commanded.

“Huh?” He looked away to dodge her eyes.

In return, he got a sight full of Kurt. “He mentioned magic and there's an MST insignia on his briefcase. You don't want Marie learning anything.”

Troy almost screamed again seeing Kurt, but their points were made. He squeezed past them and took Marie's hand. “C'mon.”

“What? Why?” Marie asked, confused. Even without an answer, she didn't argue when he led her into a different room, shutting the door behind them.

Satisfied, Molly returned to the the drama. Kathryn prevented Kurt from the same. “What's that about?” she asked.

“Had to get Marie out of here so she doesn't find out about our little hobby.”

She narrowed her eyes. “What room is that?”

Kurt paused, blinked, and opened his mouth a couple times before finally answering, “My bedroom.”

They both paused. They both blinked. And Kathryn opened her mouth and cheered. “All right, Troy!” She and Kurt high-fived.

From out of nowhere, Vincent threw an arm around both their shoulders, nodding in approval. “Now that's more like it, am I right?!”

Suddenly disgusted, Kurt and Kathryn shrugged him off.

“Gross,” Renee said with a scoff, although her eyes strayed back to that bedroom door.


Session Five

However Troy had done it, Marie was out of the picture and everybody had the green light to be astounded that Vincent Wagner was in the MST. “For the love of God, don't tell me you're the new field agent,” Molly said, openly showing her disgust.

“Okay, I won't.” Vincent shrugged. “That was easy. Doubt I'm on God's good side though.”

“What do you mean?” Kurt asked.

“Heh... let's just say I can see why the MST wanted to check for any natural heirs I didn't know about before going about the proceedings. So what, they're sticking an agent around these parts?”

Molly narrowed her eyes. “You haven't heard?”

“Heard what?”

Kurt rattled off the statistics. “Let's see, four unique demonic incidents, two factions involved, one full-scale attack and an MST mobilization to stop it. This town ain't as sleepy as it looks.”

Vincent nodded. “Nice! And I bet my boy's been right in the mix.”

Both Kurt and Molly looked away. “He's... made things interesting,” Kurt said.

“But if you didn't know about all the attacks, why the hell are you here?” Kathryn asked.

Holding up his briefcase, Vincent smiled at Donovan. “I am here today to pass on a family treasure. One that we have guarded for generations. It's time to pass the torch.” With a regal march, he stepped towards Donovan, who still seemed uninterested in anything his father was saying.

Kneeling, Vincent unlocked the case. “Behold! A legendary book of magic!”

Molly and Kurt did plenty of scoffing and eye rolling during Vincent's ceremonial charade. But once that case opened, they became so overwhelmed by the magic within that they almost fell to their knees too.

Yuki felt it too, stepping forward to get a glimpse of such intense power. Even with her strong lineage, she couldn't help but fall under its spell. Neither could relative newbies Kathryn and Renee. Although they couldn't put a finger on such an feeling, all they knew was that it was magical and that it was good.

It was a book. A decent-sized paperback of a couple hundred pages or so, somewhere between digest and letter sizes. Light silver trim livened up an otherwise blank green cover. The pages were a bit yellowed and dog-eared and the corners had been roughed up, but it wasn't ancient. Someone completely ignorant to magic wouldn't give it a second glance in a used bookstore. But since the only one in the apartment who could fit that category was doing God knows what with Troy in the other room, by the look on everyone's faces, Vincent could have been holding a holy relic.

“The Tome of Vincent Wagner!” proclaimed its bearer, making a big show of passing the book to Donovan. The son received it with two hands, speechless.

“Whoa, whoa!” Molly shouted. She couldn't take her eyes off the book, which diminished but didn't eliminate her ability to yell at Vincent. “As Donovan's Guardian, I demand to know why you are doing this now! How can you possibly think he's ready?”

Vincent smirked. “It's tradition! How was I to know he already got exposed to magic?”

Molly wrinkled her nose. All recruitments were public record to anyone who bothered looking. That wasn't what irked her though. “You mean you were going to give it to him even if he didn't know what it was?”

“Sure! Back in my day, kids got all sorts of neat stuff before they knew their powers. Cloaks, jewelry, focus items- nothing like a magic trinket to get them into the spirit. Kinda wish I hadn't pawned off that amulet of divine protection I got when I hit sixteen.”

“You sold an amulet of divine protection?!” Yuki cried.

“Had to get those Metallica tickets somehow. Tell you what- it was worth it.” Getting back to the point, Vincent said, “Besides, it's company policy. Something like that you don't want one person getting too attached to.”

Yuki's eyed widened, her head darting back and forth between the book and its former owner. “You mean... it's on the list?”

Vincent smiled and nodded dramatically. The list she was referring to contained the greatest artifacts in the MST's possession. Most were in the hands of various magi around the worlds: they were made to be used and didn't do much good collecting dust in a vault. After several high-profile incidents where agents went mad with power and skipped off with the loot, the MST mandated that such items get new owners every few years.

In a hushed voice, Molly said, “I believe it.” She was looking over Donovan's shoulder as he flipped through the book. Inside were elaborate circle spells and complex philosophies that gave Weavers access to powerful conjuring techniques. Before Molly could read too much into them, Donovan slammed the book shut and glared at her.

Needless to say, Molly wasn't comfortable with this thing in his hands. “How can you leave this with Donovan?” she asked Vincent.

“The tome has always been kept safely in my family. My father had it, and his father before him, and his-”

“I get the point,” Molly spat. “But you can't leave it with a trainee.”

“Relax, there's nobody after it. I mean, I've had that book for years and except for that time I left it at a motel in Charlotte, nobody else has touched it. And the only people that know I'm here are the MST guys that told me where Donovan was and some guy I asked for directions.”

Still, Molly couldn't accept this. Not when there was something so powerful going to someone so dense. She didn't have any reason not to believe Vincent, but he wasn't a portrait of credibility either. While she herself was unfamiliar with the finer details of the MST's artifact management, she knew where to look.

“Kurt, do you have a computer?” she asked.

“Yeah, it's in the back.” Kurt pointed to a room next to the bedroom which served as a small office. As Molly soon discovered, he used it more often to store old magazines, stacks of loose papers, an expired television and two Goodyear tires.

She turned on the computer, brushed off the papers stacked on the keyboard and slammed the door behind her.


Session Six

Minutes later, the door opened and Molly emerged, still pretty peeved. “Okay, Wince,” she said. “I searched Moogle to verify your claims.”

“Moogle?” Renee was suddenly interested, her eyebrows raised at Molly.

“Yes, it's a search engine for magi,” Molly explained, not understanding why Renee had called attention to it.

“But it's called Moogle??”

Molly rolled her eyes. “Yes. It's a portmanteau of Magic and Google. It's not that clever.”

Renee was not letting this slide. “But... Moogle? They call it Moogle?”

“Yes. What's the problem?”

Looking around the room, Renee was bewildered at everybody staring back at her like she was the crazy one. Apparently Kurt wasn't the only one who wasn't up on his video games. “Anybody? Anybody?” She looked across the room at Kathryn, but she was too busy trying to eavesdrop on Troy and Marie to participate.

“Yuki?” Renee pleaded. Surely Yuki had gotten the reference.

But no, Yuki just nodded complacently. “Yeah, it's a good site. I use it all the time.”

Dismayed, Renee shook her head and slumped down onto the couch. “I don't know you people.”

Kurt shrugged off Renee's outburst and turned to Molly. “What did you find?”

“That there is nothing in the database known as the Tome of Vincent Wagner,” Molly said, narrowing her eyes at Vincent Wagner. This time, she said his name normally, just to piss him off. She approached the 'tome' and continued, “The MST defines a tome as a revered hardcover book of magic of at least a thousand pages.”

“What? So that doesn't qualify?” Vincent asked, a little insulted.

Molly snatched the book from Donovan, flipped through it, held it up and replied, “There are Harry Potter books that are more qualified than this thing.”

Donovan grumbled. “Return the tome to its rightful owner!”

“I'm not finished.” Her glare was still on Vincent. “What is this and why isn't it on the record?”

Vincent shrugged. “It is. Check the inside cover.”

Molly did- besides an ISBN number and “Copyright 1938, Croatoan Press,” there weren't any other clues. She returned to the computer and Moogled the ISBN number.

“Damn it.” She came out three minutes later, frowning.

“Do not question the tome,” Donovan said, smirking.

“It's not a tome,” Molly insisted. “It's officially known as Grimoire 17. Obviously they don't say whom it's entitled to, but that it is due to be transferred before the end of the month.”

Donovan hummed victoriously and beckoned for his property. Molly wasn't finished though: “But nothing in there says it needs to go to Donovan. Furthermore, as a Class A Grimoire, ownership must be transferred every seven years.” With her own victorious smirk, she added, “That makes handing it to the next generation awfully difficult, wouldn't you say?”

Vincent merely snickered. Kurt and Yuki looked to the ground gravely. Shaking their heads, they both muttered, “Heirloom clause.”

Nose upturned, Molly narrowed her eyes at them. “What?”

Kurt explained, “Those transfer rules don't apply if an artifact's recognized as a family heirloom. Or at least they're extended to make it feasible to pass something on to descendants.”

Yuki nodded. “Yeah. Ups it to 21 years. I'm due for some pretty neat stuff when I turn 20.”

Despite being added to pacify objections from well-off families like Yuki's, this corollary to the transfer rule gave Molly very little ground to protest Vincent and Donovan. The exchange had already taken place, and that whole 'nine-tenths of the law' thing was hard to dodge. This did not sit well with Molly. Much of her rise to power at L. B. Gould was thanks to her ability to find and exploit loopholes in administrative protocol. She would scour the books harder to find something, of course, but until she could do so at her leisure, she had no choice but to return the book to Donovan.

Donovan laughed loudly, a mocking chortle normally reserved for movie supervillains. Molly responded with the glare.

“Just because you have it doesn't mean you can use it. Even if nobody knows it now, that thing is a demon magnet. Put it away, hide it in your dark room, and don't let anyone set eyes on it.”

In spite of what sounded like a threat, Donovan nodded. “Indeed. We shall bide our time and use it as our secret ace when our enemies least expect it.”

Molly sighed, but turned away, figuring that was close enough. Vincent gave Donovan the briefcase. Once the book was locked inside it, its magic aura vanished instantly.

“Whelp, now that that's out of the way, I can go back to work,” Vincent announced.

“What on Earth do you do?” Kurt asked.

“On Earth? Not much,” Vincent replied. “With the tome I'd go around to various worlds as a freelance ass-kicker. Now I'm told they found me a nice job as a super spy infiltrating the Yovoni. Hot damn!”

Molly and Yuki groaned. The Yovoni faction specialized in the sex trade.

“Oh, sweet,” Kurt replied accidentally. Good thing Molly had already used the glare on Donovan or he would have gotten it there.

Instead, Molly led Vincent to the door. Still, he had to get one last farewell in. “Take good care of it Donovan. And check out the page with the seduction spells; there's some fine ladies here and you'll have to pass that bad boy on someday!”

“Thank you, Mr. Wagner,” Molly said loudly and firmly... and incorrectly. She opened the front door and practically threw him out.

“It's Vahg-ner,” he replied. She slammed the door in his face.

Molly leaned against the door, exasperated. “Donovan, if you so much as unsnap that briefcase, I will destroy you.”

He wasn't unsnapping it, but he also wasn't listening. Donovan clutched the case tight and looked at Renee and Yuki warily.

“Jeez...” Kathryn shouted, leaving her post at the bedroom door and walking up to Kurt. “Will you guys shut up? I can't hear anything in there.”

She got stunned looks from Molly, Renee and Yuki, but Kurt was right on her wavelength. “Did you pick up anything?”

“Well, they're not talking. That's encouraging.”

Renee hid her face in one hand. “Oh, jeez...”

Kathryn didn't let that comment get past her. “Come on, you want to know what they're doing too.”

With just an angry grunt, Molly declared that she didn't. She joined Renee on the couch and stared at that briefcase.

Eager for a report or not, the bedroom door cracked open and Troy emerged. His hair was messed up and his shirt was now on backwards, but the look on his face would have suggested that someone had beaten the tar out of him. And Marie was not the tar-beating type.

After making eye contact with him, Kathryn raised her eyebrows. Hesitantly, she cocked her head, flashed an encouraging smile and raised her arms to signal a touchdown.

Troy glanced back into the bedroom, turned back to Kathryn and shook his head. Sheepishly, he gave the signal for a false start on the offense.

Marie followed behind him, trying to get her hair back into place. She wore the same stupefied look on her face. “Let us never speak of that again,” she mumbled.

“Agreed,” Troy replied immediately.





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