Magical Security Taskforce

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VOLUME: 6

CHAPTER: 4

1 2 3 4 5

Chapter 48: Emergency Session


Session One

Almost a month passed with no demons, no talk of revolution, and no stupidity from Donovan. Yuki proved to be surprisingly capable with most things related to running the school, with Molly filling in on everything else such as dealing with the occasional cry of dissent. Things were about as peaceful as they came at L. B. Gould. Molly and Kathryn were still generally miserable and Troy didn't seem to notice. They would have all been lulled into a feeling of security- that perhaps things were finally going to be quiet from now on. But they had experienced that before and knew better.

The first interruption came not from demons or Donovan, but from the MST. Central Academy called for a week-long emergency session for selected units, anybody jonesing for extra credit or students who had a coinciding spring break that couldn't manage to trip to Florida. L. B. Gould High School's scheduled spring break did not coincide with the session. At least it wasn't until Yuki introduced a calendar change, inventing a religious holiday to justify it.

It threw several of the students, but not many. Molly had done the same thing two years ago and most of the juniors and seniors knew better than to trust the posted academic schedule. Yuki dealt with the underclassmen on a case-by-case basis.

“My family and I were planning a trip to New Hampshire that week to see my grandmother. It's the only time my Dad can get off work. I don't get to see her that often and granny's getting up there in years so...” The sophomore boy fell to his knees. “Please, Yuki, I-”

Yuki smiled. “Go ahead, take your vacation! That's more important than school, right?”

“I didn't say that.”

“It's okay, I'll cover for you. When you come back, it'll really be spring break and you can catch up on everything you missed in class!”

“Aw, thanks, you're the best, Yuki!”

“You're welcome, but call me President Yuki,” she chirped.

So once again, when the fateful day arrived, the unit waited outside Molly's house with their luggage. At least this time, the weather was bearable.

“You know, I was hoping to have a fun spring break for once,” Kathryn said. “What the hell's the point in only going for a week?”

“The way Molly explained it to me, they had some sort of policy or rules change that undoes something we learned before,” Renee explained. “They don't have time to go over it in July, so they're re-training us now so we're prepared.”

“I wonder if it has something to do with what happened to us?” Troy suggested.

“Nah, that would make too much sense,” Kathryn replied.

“Here comes Molly!” Yuki said, pointing down the street at the approaching Caravan.

Molly beamed all their luggage to Indiana as they all got in. Renee, still leery of the baggage transport, threw her items in the back seat and had an epiphany.

“Uh, Molly...” she asked, half-tempted to take her bags out of the van then and there. “...isn't this Claude's van?”

“I think it's Claude's parents, but that's the general idea,” Molly replied. Yuki, occupying the front seat, leered at Molly.

Molly shrugged. “It's not like he's using it anymore. No doubt he's long gone, and this was left in his garage with the keys inside.

“Is it safe?” Yuki asked.

“We've used it before with no incident. And Claude has always been a demon.”

Troy wasn't certain. “But we know now. How do we know he didn't booby-trap it or something?”

With a sigh, Molly popped open the hood and turned to Troy. “Well... let's have our resident Motor Club member take a look at it.”

“School doesn't even have a Motor Club anymore,” Troy grumbled, getting out of the car.

They were delayed for fifteen minutes while Troy checked the car's interior for signs of sabotage. He found nothing but an empty reservoir of wiper fluid. Satisfied, Molly insisted they get moving, despite Troy's face being covered in grease and oil.

He put on a brave face and rode along quietly, but the smell got to the other passengers.

“Come on, Molly, let's stop somewhere so he can wash up!” Yuki pleaded.

“Yeah, it smells like a race track in here,” Renee concurred.

Molly shook her head. “We're already behind thanks to your paranoia. We can't afford to make another stop.”

A thud added emphasis. Although Yuki was afraid that a wheel had fallen off, it was just a large bug colliding with the windshield. Molly used the wipers to scrape it off, but the lack of fluid smeared her side of the glass. Unable to see, Molly finally gave in and pulled into a gas station.

As Troy ran in, Molly shouted, “Make sure to buy some wiper fluid while you're in there!”

While Kathryn cleaned the windshield, Molly leaned back, sulked and checked her watch. The Caravan wasn't a fast vehicle; at this rate, all the food in the dining hall would be gone before they arrived.

“I never imagined Claude could be this brilliant,” Donovan said, impressed. “The subtlety of his sabotage astounds me!”

 

Session Two

By the time they pulled into Central, everyone in the vehicle (save Donovan, perhaps), conceded that Claude had not attempted to disrupt their trip to the academy: the van was just a piece of crap. It seemed that every drive was progressively worse. This time, the seat springs poked through the upholstery, stabbing everybody sitting in back repeatedly.

“If Claude's really gone, can we blow this thing up after we graduate?” asked Yuki.

“If I don't blow it up before,” Molly replied.

Still, they arrived mostly in one piece and reached the gate at the military base. Molly flashed an ID badge at the guard and drove forward, slamming on the brakes when the gate didn't open.

“How about the other four?” the guard asked. After peeking into the van, he said, “Make that five.”

Molly furrowed her eyebrows. Normally the guards barely looked at her badge, let alone the rest of her unit. “Excuse me,” she said, unbuckling her seat belt and turning her back to the guard.

“Since when did we have badges?” Kathryn asked.

“Since always. You've never needed them before.” Making sure the guard couldn't see her, she cast a spell to levitate the contents of her bag. Within the stacks of paperwork were five more badges. She took those and restored everything.

The guard inspected all five badges, matching them up to the faces in the Caraven. Satisfied, he returned them and raised the gate.

“That was weird,” Renee said as they passed. “I don't remember them paying attention before.”

“They've asked for mine before, but I've never seen them check all of our badges,” Molly replied.

They reached the parking lot and their room in one piece. As it wasn't a full session, Hall D was quieter than it was during a normal term. Still, it was an improvement over the dead silence they had experienced during their stays out of season. There were other students present, but they didn't have to wait for the elevator or deal with too many drunks running through the halls.

“Well, I say we get some food and hit up Reggie's,” said Kathryn. “If we're going to be stuck here over spring break, we might as well treat this like spring break.”

Renee nodded, exuberant. “You know I'm up for that!”

“Hope the dining hall's open and we don't have to rely on Giles now.”

“Yes,” Molly answered. “I'd like to get some dinner as well. We may learn something about why we're here.”

“What do you mean?” Renee was confused. “I thought you said there was a policy change and we're here to un-learn some stuff.”

“Exactly. It's only been two years since they did this last time. Why are they changing things already?”

“How do we find out in the cafeteria?”

“Rumors. Whispers. People may know things.” Molly turned to Yuki. “Care to brew an eavesdropping potion before we go?”

Yuki did, but it didn't get them very far. If there was anything going on behind the scenes, the students in the dining hall weren't aware of it either. Drowning in all the banal conversations about wasted spring breaks and plans to reconcile in the FUP, Molly tried to tune them out and wished the potion would wear off.

“I wonder why some kids are here and not others,” Troy said. The rest of the unit, sans Donovan, were watching Molly in bemusement.

Molly covered her ears in pain, but it was a good question. She scanned the room for familiar faces, but it didn't tell her much. “It's mostly guardians here. That's typical for spring sessions. Not as many full units. A lot of guardians get the information on their own and pass it on themselves.”

“So why didn't we do that?” Kathryn asked. “I could have been in Florida this week.”

“According to the official alibi, you are,” Molly replied. “But Marlowe specifically asked for all of us.”

“Why?”

“That might be the mystery.” Molly sighed. She tried to concentrate on the rest of the room again. “What the hell is going on here?” she muttered.

“Why didn't you just ask me?” Suddenly, Giles was standing right next to her. Molly almost jumped and again clutched her ears and winced.

“Where the hell did you come from?!” Molly cried.

“The salad bar,” replied Meg. She and Giles sat down next to Molly.

So did Morgan, who looked at the salad and gagged. “But yeah, you should know that Giles knows everything going on around here. He's as anal as you are.”

Molly returned the glare. Unfortunately, Maple had taken over as Morgan hated salad. She took the glare head on, fell over and started crying.

“I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Whatever I did, I didn't mean to!” she sobbed.

Giles tried to comfort her, while talking to Molly. “But, uh, yeah... we didn't hear anything about a spring session until a couple weeks ago. They definitely threw it together at the last minute.”

“Was it because of what happened to us?” Troy asked.

“Maybe. It might also have to do with the break-ins at the library.”

Molly paused. This was new information. Given how significant the potential implications were, it shouldn't have been.

Meg sat up, Maple's tears immediately ceasing. “Don't call them break-ins, Giles.” She dried her eyes and turned to Molly, who stared back, not fathoming the instantaneous mood swing. “But you know how there's some pretty heavy stuff in the stacks at the library. Apparently, somebody... or somebodies... have been pulling up a lot of information on something really sensitive. I don't know what it is, but whatever combination of material that's being called up has the MST scared.”

“They even were suspicious of us,” Giles said.

Meg nodded. “Yeah. We get pretty bored when Giles is at work, so we spend a lot of time at the library. A couple weeks ago, Marlowe dropped by and asked us a lot of questions about what we were checking out.”

“If they didn't want students looking certain things up, why would they make it available?” Renee asked.

“That's the thing,” Giles said. “There's nothing here that a normal student could really use to raise hell. If they did, the MST would stop them soon enough.”

“But a demon faction acting far enough from prying eyes could pose a threat if they think of something and learn how to do it,” Meg replied.

“And whatever was being researched must have the MST worried,” Giles added.

“But I assume the factions can't get on campus,” Renee said.

“That's right, but students can.” Giles looked around at the students present in the cafeteria.

Molly scoffed. “Are you suggesting that everybody brought in this week is a suspect? It's mostly guardians.”

Giles raised his eyebrows. “Oh, that's just a cover to make it look like a normal addendum session.”

Meg nodded. “Every full unit in this room has one thing in common: they were all on campus at some point since the last term.”

“Thanks to my job, I know who's here and why during the breaks.” Giles pointed at one unit. “Those guys are from Hall H. They were here to start a field assignment, but it was aborted right before they were about to leave. Ended up stuck here for a week. They were pissed.” And another. “That group's college was shut down for a week because of a nasty flu outbreak. Rather than go home, they came here for some extra practice.” He turned back to Molly. “And so on.”

“And we were here because the Hageshoni and Urayoni attacked us,” Troy said. Giles nodded.

“So you're saying they think we're possible suspects?” Kathryn asked.

Meg shrugged. “I think that's what it boils down to. It's nothing personal. They just figure you had the opportunity. They're not saying you had a motive or anything, and I hope you're not cavorting around with any demons.”

Giles chuckled, then looked around the table. “Hey... where's Donovan?”

 

Session Three

The next morning, Donovan emerged from his room at ten o'clock. He sat down at the table in the common area and ordered Blaine to prepare breakfast, then stared straight forward and did nothing.

Molly was on him immediately, sitting down directly in front of Donovan before he could blink. Not that he did anyway.

“Donovan, while you were here last time, what did you do to kill time?” Her tone was harshly inquisitive.

“If only I could kill time,” Donovan replied. “It has proven impervious to my attempts, and continues to thwart my plans.”

“Did you ever do any research at the library?”

“I did not enter the library much. I was far too busy conspiring to rebel against the school and recover the tome.”

Molly frowned. That answer somehow seemed palatable. “And after we got back?”

“The rebellion was successful and the tome recovered. What need do I have for further plotting?” He huffed. “Other than my usual plans for conquest.”

Molly couldn't believe she was going there, but she asked, “And did your other plans for conquest involve the library?”

“I know not.”

“Then how do you-”

Blaine interrupted. “Donovan, how do you want your eggs today?”

Donovan glowered at his minion. “Sunny side up.”

“Blaine, did you do any illicit research at the library last time you were here?” Molly asked, still staring at Donovan.

“Uh, yeah, probably,” Blaine replied, focusing primarily on the eggs.

Enough for Molly. She fired off her trigger and pulled Donovan's seat from under him. Then she walked around the table, grabbed his collar and teleported them to the library. Blaine was left tending to the eggs, which he continued to do even without Donovan.

As they entered the building, Molly instructed, “Now tell me everything you asked them to look up and everything they found for you.”

They didn't even get that far. They heard an angry beeping noise as soon as they entered. Within moments, Marlowe and Smittle had appeared in front of them, Smittle pointing his shotgun at Donovan.

Smittle lowered it as soon he saw who it was. “Damn, hoping it was somebody evil.”

“That's a pretty harsh response for leaving with an unchecked book,” Molly said. “Especially since we're entering.”

“Actually, it detects demonic traces, in case somebody is possessed or something,” Marlowe explained.

“We know about this one, though,” Smittle said.

Molly narrowed her eyes. She hadn't heard anything official about an investigation of library usage, but this was an awfully blatant alarm and the response was less than casual. She could work with this. “Still, a shotgun in the face for that? In the library? Why not install this at the entrance to the campus?”

Smittle explained, “We've tightened up security into the campus and anyone purely demonic is obliterated quickly.”

“Right, so no worries there,” Marlowe added, smiling.

Not budging, Molly asked, “So what makes the library so special?”

“Some git's been reading up on some pretty crazy stuff. We think-” Smittle's voice stopped. Molly noticed Marlowe's right hand in his trigger position.

Marlowe finished. “It's nothing serious, but obviously we have some sensitive material here that students are welcome to, but we may not want in demon hands.”

“What material?” Molly asked.

“Nasty things,” Smittle said, able to talk again. “In the wrong hands, could mean the revival of the-”

Another silencing spell. Molly fired off a counter for it, and Smittle obliged her in repeating the word, “Mynoni.”

Molly felt sick to her stomach just hearing the name. The Mynoni were only spoken of in history classes, and with no fondness. They were the most ruthless, bloodthirsty demon factions that had ever existed. The Urayoni did most of their dirty work through unethical lobbying firms. Even the Hageshoni had a few legitimate industries making aircraft and artillery. The Mynoni's most integrated firm on Earth had been the Mongol hordes.

In a cataclysmic struggle, they had been driven away. Most magi, demons included, assumed they were completely gone. The knowledge that there may be a way to bring them back would scare anybody. As much as Molly distrusted the MST, this massive reaction to library usage suddenly seemed rational and justified.

“Who in their right minds would want to bring them back?” Molly asked. “Even the factions would be at risk.”

Marlowe was unusually grim. “That's what we'd like to find out. We didn't think it was possible to revive them, but somebody's called up a perfect storm of material that has some of us wondering. Question is- is some faction working through a contact in the MST or it some idiot looking this up on his own?”

“Is he truly an idiot if he gains such power?” Donovan said, a little too boastful for Marlowe's taste. Molly felt that nausea again.

Marlowe grimaced. “Donovan, I was trying to tiptoe around it, but you are the only student on campus bound with a demon. And you were here last month with plenty of time to kill. And your track record isn't shimmering with loyalty to the MST.”

Donovan merely laughed. “Do you believe I would summon a horde of demons solely for the laughable purpose of destroying the world?”

Marlowe turned to Molly. She just shrugged. That was what scared her: she wasn't entirely certain that Donovan wouldn't try something this stupid.

Still, Marlowe forced a smile. “Well, that's a relief. Because destroying the world is what it would amount to.”

Grinning, Donovan said, “My goal is to conquer the world!”

Molly rolled her eyes. Smittle nodded in understanding. Marlowe reacted a little more strongly. “Donovan, care to have a word in my office?”

“You will never get me to confess-”

“Donovan, go with him,” Molly said. She hoped that a good interrogation would get him to treat this seriously for once.

Turning to Molly, Marlowe said, “As his guardian, you're welcome to join us.”

“No thanks,” Molly replied, folding her arms. “He's on his own for this one.”

 

Session Four

Molly was indeed throwing Donovan to the wolves, but she couldn't stop thinking about it, even as she returned to Hall D. Could Donovan's research into his next silly dream really have led him into a combination that scared the MST that much? It would have taken a truly evil genius to unlock the secrets to reviving the powers of an extinct faction. Despite what she had said about other demons having as much to lose, there was enough chaos involved that she doubted that nobody has ever pursued the possibility. Since nobody had come close to succeeding, it scared Molly that the MST considered it even mildly feasible.

If Donovan had done it deliberately, then Molly wasn't helping him. He needed to learn the consequences of straying too far into dark pursuits. This would get him into a good deal of trouble, and since expulsion was still not an option thanks to his ownership of Grimoire 17, the MST would hopefully be creative regarding a punishment. After allowing a demon in and sneaking into the Urayoni realm, this would have been his third offense in four months. They would have to come up with something for this.

At the same time, she felt responsible for letting it come to this. Donovan had always been something of an afterthought for Molly. Trying to control him only seemed to lead to more trouble, so she had let him roam free and hoped his idiocy would keep him in check. Other than his attack on Renee, her logic had been generally working. Donovan proved to be a more or less useful ally when most needed, and hadn't gotten anyone killed yet. The fact that he was even remotely useful had been good enough for her.

She returned to room 202, bothered by the possibility that one of her charges may have covertly discovered how to destroy the world. Blaine was bothered that she was alone.

“Where's Donovan?” he asked, holding a plate of eggs and toast.

“Detained under suspicion of conspiring to unlock the secret to destroying the Earth,” Molly replied sullenly.

Blaine nodded as if she'd said he was out for a walk. “Ah. Want some eggs?”

“No thank you.”

The minion shrugged and sat down at the table himself. Molly stood there, wishing she could treat this as casually as him. She had enough problems as it was and 'Donovan doing something stupid' wasn't a shocking turn of events. It was just the magnitude of his suspected actions and doubting everything she failed to do to rein him in.

A strange feeling came over as she felt the need to discuss this with somebody. Even stranger, she wanted to nominate Blaine. “Say... Blaine...” she said, sitting down across from him. He looked up, already confused.

“Do you believe Donovan would be stupid enough to look into reviving a demon faction that would pursue the world's destruction?”

“Yeah,” Blaine said, nodding plainly again. It wasn't the response Molly wanted.

Just as she was about to get up, Blaine added, “Actually, to be more specific, I'd say he'd ask me and Bryce to do it.”

She wasn't sure if she was supposed to be relieved. “And would you?”

Blaine looked away, slumping over in shame. Molly jumped up and leaned over the table, grabbing his shirt collar. “Blaine!?”

“No! We wouldn't.” he admitted. Molly held onto his shirt for a while, then realized his response was a good thing. He just seemed upset about it.

“Look, every so often when he doesn't have any other busy work for us, he tells us to come up with a plot to take over the world.” Blaine rubbed his neck, head still lowered. “Usually we give him something minor from a psuedo-magic book that probably doesn't work. Sometimes we stumble upon something serious that would lead to disaster.”

Trying to summon some courage, Blaine apparently considered this a dire confession. “In those cases, we deliberately don't tell Donovan what we found.”

Thus, Molly was confused. “I would consider that a good thing.”

Blaine shrugged. “Well, we are betraying him a little by not doing our jobs. He's come to rely on us for a lot and it feels bad to let him down. But the more he learns about magic, the more we have to keep him out of trouble. He's our friend and we don't want him to lose everything. We both felt really helpless when he accepted that demon from Kendrick.”

It was an eye-opening moment for Molly, who never really thought much of either minion in terms of having a soul or free will.

Not that she cared. “Touching,” she dead-panned. “Regardless of whether or not you told him, did you or did you not discover a way to revive the Mynoni?”

Soul or not, Blaine was confused. “The Mynoni? Why would we have to discover a way to revive them?”

Molly narrowed her eyes. “Because I, and apparently everyone in the MST, thought it was impossible.”

“Oh,” Blaine replied, suddenly and mysteriously un-confused. “Because they're the Mynoni. They were the worst demons ever. Of course they would have left a way to revive them. It's just a matter of knowing the right place, right spell, right planetary alignment, etc. You know the drill.” He sighed. “If you're asking whether Bryce and I tried to fill in the blanks... no, we didn't.”

She didn't like how casually he accepted the possibility of something so nasty, but at least she got her answer. “So Donovan is innocent?”

“Yeah, I guess so. Why, does the MST think he was looking that stuff up?”

“Apparently.” Suddenly, it hit Molly that Donovan was innocent despite his prior offenses, bound demon and flippant responses to interrogation. The MST would never believe him. “I don't suppose you have any way to vouch for him?”

Blaine stared back blankly. “N... no... but they can't prove that he did anything wrong, so they can't convict him, right?”

The MST was never one for 'innocent until proven guilty,' but he was probably right. Donovan had gotten a pretty lucky streak going in court. Still, Molly huffed, “Maybe, but like hell do I want to go through another tribunal.”

“So you're saying we have to-”

Molly nodded. “We have to convince Marlowe that Donovan had nothing to do with it.” She groaned at her own statement. This wasn't a matter of any concern for Donovan's well-being. Right now she was volunteering for a headache to save herself a migraine down the road.

 

Session Five

Marlowe's office was small and disorganized. His inability to efficiently manage his own affairs was half the reason he enjoyed meddling in everyone else's. There was a full security department on campus and just a signature from Donovan would allow the library staff to establish his research record, but there was no fun in that. No, Marlowe had to find out for himself, before things got too official.

“Now, Donovan,” he began, retaining his devilish smile in spite of the circumstances. “You remember that I'm very forgiving and was willing to overlook such minor infractions such as accepting a demon and trying to kill your guardian's sister. But I do expect a tiny bit of...” Marlowe hunted for the word, or at least pretended to. “...reciprocity in doing so.”

Donovan frowned. “I was not made aware of this.”

That threw Marlowe off his act for a moment. “Um... yes, you were. I made it quite clear that the only reason you're still at this school is so we can use your power. My point is that the only way you'll be able to prolong this agreement and get your grimoire back is to be a good little boy.”

Glaring back, Donovan remained silent. It was probably his best option.

Smiling again, Marlowe said, “Given your nature and prior record, it shouldn't be too hard to convince Chancellor Whalen that you were the one researching the Mynoni. No demons are allowed on campus and we've already probed the faculty and all of the resident students. You are the only suspect with both motive and opportunity.”

Donovan merely raised his eyebrows. Marlowe continued, “But since I still like your potential, if you confess, I can fudge the details and get you off with no trial and little more than a stern warning. I find you far too useful to expel.” He slid a piece of paper across to Donovan. “So... let's have it out.”

Staring at the paper, Donovan heard a voice. It was that voice, from the dark room. “Sign it! When they stop caring you can look this up! They wouldn't suspect you if it wasn't something powerful!”

“No,” Donovan said aloud, startling Marlowe.

“No, what?” Marlowe asked, leaning in and smirking at the outburst. “No, you didn't do it or no, you're not confessing?”

Narrowing his eyes and smirking right back, Donovan muttered, “Wouldn't that be the same thing?”

After a length staring/smirking contest, Marlowe looked up. “Oh. Yeah, I suppose. Good point.” Straightening his posture, he turned back to Donovan. “So you didn't do it?”

Before Donovan could respond, the voice interrupted, “They think you did! You should! Just to show them!”

This time, Molly chimed in as well. “Despite what it may look like, Donovan is innocent.” She appeared behind Donovan and sat in a chair next to him.

Marlowe was surprisingly cheerful about the sudden intrusion. “Molly! Glad you could drop in again. You seem more convinced all of a sudden. Care to provide some proof?”

“Certainly.” Molly gestured to a figure behind her... that didn't exist.

“Where the hell...” Molly turned to Donovan, “Hey, get your minion in here.”

Donovan did so without question. “Bryce!”

“Sir!” Bryce said.

He probably should have. “The other one!” Molly yelled.

“Won't work. Blaine's busy.”

“I was just talking to him five minutes ago. He was supposed to meet me here.” She turned to Marlowe. “Anyway, my proof is that research like this would be work for Donovan's minions and unlike him, they know better than to delve into things like this.”

It was a unique defense, but Marlowe accepted it with a smile. He turned to Bryce. “Is that so?”

Bryce, meanwhile, was facing a glare from Donovan. “No, of course not! We would never withhold information because of something silly like an ethical code. What do you take us for?”

Molly fell forward and almost banged her head on the desk.

“Donovan is innocent!” came a booming non-minion voice from behind. Molly lifted her head to see who it was, but wanted to return to the desk as soon as she saw his hair.

Marlowe raised an eyebrow. “Well, what brings Vincent Wagner to the stand?”

Vincent grinned, happy that Marlowe pronounced his name correctly “I know who was researching the Mynoni. You can let my son go.”

Molly shook her head. “Wait, how did you know they suspected him? This just happened an hour ago and you're stationed... not here.”

“Just figured that I'd suspect him too if I were them.” Vincent ruffled his son's hair. Donovan shuddered, still facing forward. “I know my boy.”

“Nobody can possibly know me,” Donovan mumbled. “If they do, me changes.”

“So you just happened to be in town today, happened to know we were all here, assumed Marlowe suspected Donovan and happened to come across information absolving him?” Molly knew she had to ask, but regretted it, afraid of Vincent's answers.

Vincent thought for a moment, then nodded. “That about sums it up.” He chuckled. “I did cheat a little. Dropped by your dorm just now and this twerpy redheaded boy was in the kitchen doing dishes. Said Donovan was over here.”

Molly would have slapped her forehead if the desk hadn't been covering it.

Marlowe coughed and smiled. “Well, I'm not one to question a man's secrets to success. What I would like to know is why you are so confident in your son's innocence.”

“That's easy,” Vincent said, sitting on the small patch of Molly's chair she hadn't occupied. Molly jumped up at his proximity, giving him far more territory. “Because he's not messing around with the Yovoni.”

“The Yovoni?” Molly cried, abandoning the energy ball she was about to fire into Vincent's ear.

“Yep, I said I was spying on them, remember? And get this, I get one of them in bed with me and she talks about their big plans to get the scoop on the Mynoni.”

Marlowe leaned forward with interest. Molly would have if she hadn't automatically tuned out the moment she heard 'in bed.'

“Guess one of her friends charmed one of the students here into doing the homework.”

Molly returned to the conversation only to dispute the statement. “But charm spells are automatically negated upon entering the campus.”

Vincent shook his head. “No spell. She just said he could bang her brains out if he pulled it off.”

Nodding, Marlowe starting writing this down. “And where was this?”

“Texas.”

“Ah...” Marlowe smiled. “Some boy graduated from A&M in December and asked to stay here on his own. Wanted to get some extra work in before his field assignment this summer. Methinks he and I need to have a chat.”

Donovan snickered. “And the trail goes cold as you apprehend the wrong man.”

Marlowe waved him off. “No, no, you're free to go. Vincent's one of our top agents. With his help, I'm sure we'll get this straightened out.”

Vincent threw his arms around Molly and Bryce's shoulders. “Oh yeah! Those bitches are toast!”

Molly groaned. She was too stupefied to even shake his arm off.


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