Magical Security Taskforce




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Chapter 50: Gut Instinct

Session One

First Renee hooked up with Troy. Then Molly opened up her old wounds to share with Kathryn. While she felt a little better sharing them with somebody, and appreciated having a new sympathizer, Molly didn't enjoy reliving all those experiences. It left her in a bitter mood for the rest of the day.

Thus, she was particularly sour on being summoned to Marlowe's office. Although it allowed her to be out of the dorm when Troy and Renee returned, a walk or an errand would have handled that just as nicely. This was going to be annoying busy work or worse.

The moment she saw Vincent Wagner inside, she filed it under 'worse.'

“You're back already?” Molly asked, glaring at him.

Vincent smiled. “It's only been two days since I saw you, sweetie. I never left.”

“Yes, Vincent's been staying on campus while he receives an official briefing regarding his Yovoni mission,” Marlowe said.

“Ever consider spending some time with your son?!” Molly practically shouted.

Scratching his bearded chin, he still smiled in spite of the yelling. “Suppose I could. But if things fall the right way, we'll get plenty of bonding time.”

Molly narrowed her eyes. That's when she saw Meg leaning against (and possibly supporting) a bookshelf with a sad sack of a boy the same age. He had long, unkempt brown hair, red eyes and slumped over with either regret or boredom. Either way, Molly guessed this was the true library culprit.

“I'm guessing we have a field assignment,” Maple said.

“Yep,” Meg replied. “I'm sure Reggie will be filled in when he gets back.”

Marlowe nodded. “Almost, Miss Haynerd. Or whichever one you are. Vincent has requested Molly's unit to be his backup for his mission.”

“So why are we involved?”

“We could have asked Molly directly as a favor, but she'd certainly say no.” He looked at Molly, who shrugged and nodded. “So we're skipping all that and going straight to making it your field assignment. At least tentatively.”

“Tentatively?” Molly asked.

Vincent smiled. “It's totally possible that I'll kick so much ass I'll be able to take care of them alone. But if not, you two lovely ladies and Reggie get to kick ass with me.”

Marlowe chuckled. “And he almost certainly will need your help. We had hoped to give you something more useful to us, but there's no denying that this qualifies as punishment.”

Meg stared at Vincent, disgusted. “No, sir. So what's the job?”

Gesturing at the boy, Marlowe replied, “Well, this is Terrance, the little mole that's been rooting through the library trying to solve the Mynoni riddle.”

Terrance scratched his head. “Yeah, um... sorry about that.”

“Don't sweat it,” Vincent said, chuckling. “Gotta do some crazy things to get some action these days.”

Meg rolled her eyes. With pinpoint sarcasm, she replied, “Yeah, shame it came to that. If you weren't such a stupid dweeb, I'd totally make out with you.”

Marlowe coughed. “Well, Terrance will have his day in court over it, but in the meantime, he's given Vincent information on where to find the Yovoni behind all this. His mission is to hunt them down, find out what they're planning and put a stop to it. If he needs a support team...” He smiled. Molly and Meg frowned.

Maple lowered her head. “I suppose I should work on my charm resistance potions.”

“That would be advisable. The Yovoni are tricky creatures that use indirect methods more than outright conflict. But I'm sure our commanders will have no trouble approving outright conflict against them!”

Vincent nodded. “Sounds like a party.”

Grumbling, Molly played along. “How long before you may need our help?”

“No idea. I may take care of it all myself. I might get caught five minutes in. Gonna be fun either way, that's for sure!”

“Yes, well try to wait until Reggie gets back before getting yourself caught,” Marlowe said. “That way we can get everybody off the hook once the mission's complete.”

“Except me,” Terrance mumbled.

“Except you,” Marlowe replied cheerfully. “But play nice with Vincent here and we might not expel you.”

Chuckling, Vincent added, “Play nice with me and I'll show you the legit ways to score.”

Terrance's eyebrows perked up. Molly and Meg looked at each other and shook their heads. Thankfully, they were excused. The next part was just for Vincent and Terrance. They shuddered at what that entailed.

The only positive Molly drew from it was Meg's mutual disgust. At least she didn't have to suffer alone.

At least part of the time. As soon as they got outside, Morgan shrugged. “I don't see what's so bad about it. At least there are no body-snatching warlocks.”


Session Two

While Molly was away, Kathryn was left alone to figure everything out. She was angry with Troy for killing Marie, angry at Renee for throwing herself at him and bringing all this out, and angry at herself for having so many doubts about it all. Worst of all, as hard as she tried, she could no longer be angry at Molly. Despite her malice towards Troy in the past and all of her prior sins, Molly's behavior made sense in a disturbing way. Kathryn now saw Molly as another victim of the MST rather than one of their tools.

Troy, on the other hand, looked more and more like a loyal servant, destined to climb the ranks and become a reliable cog in their system. Kathryn constantly complained about the MST to him. Most of the time, he shrugged her off as if she was being paranoid. She often came to feel like she was only being paranoid. Even in times when it was clear that the MST wasn't concerned for their lives, the way Troy accepted it made Kathryn force herself to. With Molly revealing herself to be on Kathryn's side, Kathryn now knew that she was right. She had always been right. And, unfortunately, Troy was wrong.

From the moment Kathryn first met Troy, she had always seen him as somebody to protect. He was unlucky, unremarkable, and never seemed all that tough. Yet, while he never seemed to express it completely, he had a positive outlook on life, and on people. He was trusting. Looking back now, he was a little too trusting. He never questioned the logic behind his father leaving what seemed like a healthy enough family. He never fought Molly the way Kathryn wanted him too. And he followed her right into the MST despite Kathryn's misgivings, even from the start.

Kathryn hated thinking about this kind of thing, because the more she did, the worse it got. If Troy was capable of killing Marie that coldly, did that mean he ever really cared about her to begin with? They were a damn cute couple for sure, and he clearly enjoyed Marie's company, but he never seemed to gush over her the way he did for Renee. Kathryn took it as a sign of love over infatuation. It might have been mere tolerance. Even Troy's dismissal of Renee in January may have been his knack for 'doing the right thing.'

Either way, he was clearly not somebody who needed protecting any longer. Kathryn should have felt proud about that. He had grown up, overcome his obstacles and turned into a strong, capable young man. She just didn't know what this transformation meant. Was he always like this without her knowing it? Was this a product of her training and something for her to be proud of? Maybe his newly-found confidence was also what was turning him into something ugly. Regardless, Kathryn suddenly saw Troy in a different light, and she didn't like it.

He returned to room 202 alone and silent. Troy walked to the lounge chair, ignoring her glare, and sat down. He sat there, eyes closed, and took a deep breath. Then he looked at Kathryn, cracked a half-smile and said, “I can't believe this is real.”

“Way to go,” she said obligingly.

“Thanks. I wasn't sure about it at first. I wasn't sure if I was ready for all of it again. But it's like... why not?”

Kathryn shrugged. “I 'unno. I still haven't really been able to think about it. Not after Kurt.”

She was hoping to see if he'd say something encouraging to her. Instead, he said, “Well, I guess it's a little different for me.”

“How so?” she asked, a little miffed at the response. It shouldn't have been different at all.

“Well, Kurt was... you know, he was special.”

Now she was seething. At no point did Troy seem to be picking up on this. “And Marie wasn't?”

“Well, she was a demon. That kind of threw a wrench into things.”

“So what? Isn't it hard to move on after what you two had?”

“Maybe a little, but I can deal with it.”

Kathryn sat up. “Why? Because you had some closure with it?”

Troy stared back, curious. “Closure? What do you mean?”

Her steeled eyes didn't budge. “I know you killed her, Troy.”

He leaned back, eyes widening. Troy looked away before she could glare him into submission. “So?” he said, trying to sound dismissive.

Her voice elevated. “So why didn't you tell me? Did it mean that little to you?”

“Well... I don't know. I didn't want to have to think about it. I mean you're still on about Kamila.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Yeah. You're telling me you're not?”

Troy still didn't look at her. “Well, yeah. I did it. It's over. Whatever.”

“Whatever?! Look, Kamila was just a friend. And she wasn't a very good one either. And I know it was in defense, but it still bothers me.”

“See what I mean,” he mumbled.

“Marie was your girlfriend. And one of my best friends. And I read that report: she wasn't going to hurt you. Far as I can tell, she kept Renee sane down there. She was pleading with you to save her.” Kathryn stopped, her eyes welling. “Why did you do it?”

He looked more annoyed than angry. “I don't know. She was stuck. She didn't have any way out. Figured it was the easiest solution for both of us.”

“Killing her?! And what do you mean she didn't have any way out?” Kathryn shook her head violently. “Don't you get it? You were her way out!”

“She wanted me to leave the MST.”

“Great! They've caused enough trouble! I'd be right on board with that.”

“Well, I'm not. Like it or not, this place has done a lot for me.”

Kathryn scoffed. “Yeah, it's made you one of their soldiers who doesn't give a damn.”

Troy folded his arms and sneered. “What?”

She stood up and shouted, “You killed your girlfriend and you act like it doesn't matter! Well, what if it was me on the other side of that? Or Yuki? Do you do the same thing just because it's easy?”

He didn't answer. He didn't look at her.

When it was clear he wasn't going to answer, she continued, though her voice suddenly softened. “Troy, it's just that for all these years I really thought you were a good kid that just needed a boost. No matter how many times Molly got on my ass, I was willing to help you get closer to Renee. I didn't want to join the MST, but I did it because I thought you needed me.” She sighed. “And I didn't really like the idea of going in to save Renee, but I knew you couldn't do it alone.”

Now it was Troy's turn to sneer. “What do you mean you didn't want to do it? And remember why we went in there before saying I don't give a damn.”

“I didn't want to do it because I thought it would get us all killed! You were so worried about Renee that you forgot that it put me and Donovan into more danger. Molly and Yuki too. I didn't care. I followed you because you needed me.”

Troy shrugged. “Yeah. I needed your help. And you know I appreciate it.”

“Do you? I'm not so sure anymore.” Her voice started to crack. “I keep following you, but where the hell are you going?” He narrowed an eye at her. “I mean, I used to admire how strong you were when your dad left. Or when Molly was torturing you. Or when Kurt died. Now I just... now I wonder if you ever cared about any of them to begin with.”

He was so stunned by that accusation that all he could do was glare back.

She shook her head and backed away. “I don't think I really know who you are, Troy. I don't think I ever really did.” She sniffed. “And I don't think I want to anymore.”

As she went back to her room, shutting the door behind her, Renee entered in time to see Kathryn in tears. She stared at the closed door for a while, then walked up to Troy, squeezing his shoulders.

“What happened?”

Troy just grunted, still staring at the door. “She's just in one of her moods again.”

“Oh,” Renee replied, satisfied with the answer. Still, she added, “Guess I can't blame her.”


Session Three

Nobody knew whether to consider it a good thing at the time, but Vincent barged into room 202 dramatically and demanded to take Donovan out to dinner. Donovan initially refused, claiming his bid for conquest could not stop for such trifles like family. Molly, despite the annoyed looks she constantly gave to Vincent, forced him into it. Not so much to push the father-son reunion: she just preferred him to be both out of the dorm and supervised.

Donovan trudged down the stairs behind his father, while Vincent seemed to walk with some sort of misguided paternal pride. “So what's there to eat around here? Suppose I should treat you to someplace special.”

“I do not know. My minions fetch my nourishment for me.” He was likely referring not only to Blaine and Bryce, but Giles as well.

Vincent nodded. “Awesome. Not too many guys have minions at your age. But you gotta know where they get their food, right?”

“Hmm... Blaine!”


“When I request food, where does it come from?”

Blaine looked at both Donovan and his father, then shrugged. “Usually, I just get it from the cafeteria.”

“The cafeteria it is!”

Vincent laughed. “Ha! You don't need special! You just want food! Spoken like a real man.” He teleported them to the cafeteria and flirted with enough female employees to cut through the line in a flash.

“So let's hear all your conquests,” Vincent said, wolfing down one of the steak sandwiches on his plate.

Donovan snickered. He wasn't sure about this father-son business, but boasting he could handle. “Shall I start with my entrapment and capture of four Zukoni or my quest for revenge on the Hageshoni?”

“That sounds awesome, but I get enough work stuff at work. Gotta shove off to kick some Yovoni tail tomorrow. I want to know about all the other stuff. You taking over the school? Scoring with lots of girls?”

Unfortunately, Donovan didn't have nearly as much to brag about on these ends. “Sadly, forces have conspired to force a setback to controlling the school.”

“Heh, I didn't mean that literally. It's not like a student could actually take over a whole school. I just mean kicking ass and making everybody love you.”

Sneering, Donovan replied, “Love? I will make them fear me! Intimidation is the only true path to fealty.”

“Nah, the trick is to be awesome. It works a whole lot better. You land a whole lot more minions when they want to serve you than if they're forced to.” Donovan furrowed his eyebrows and leaned in. “You gotta go out and show them that you are simply the man. Get into their heads, their hearts... their pants. If you kick ass, others will kick ass for you.”

“But how do you enjoy ruling with an iron fist if it's handed to you?” Donovan was intrigued, but frightened. If this was truly the right path to success, his methods had been wrong all these years.

“Hey, don't sweat the details. The point is getting people to kneel for you. It's a lot easier to get them to want to than it is to force them.”

Donovan turned away. His father is absent all his life, acts like an obnoxious jerk and now had the audacity to tell him how being inspiring tends to win out over pure conquest. Trouble was, for an obnoxious jerk, Vincent seemed to be using this technique to great success. He did things his own way, earned an impressive reputation in this MST and spent his life in the field investigating, battling and seducing demons. Even if the actual job wasn't up his alley, Donovan would have loved that kind of respect.

Just as Donovan was about to ask for more secrets to Vincent's success, Vincent got a telepathic message. He pinched his ear and replied, “Why, yes, I am at Central. For one more night.” Pause. Vincent flared his eyebrows at Donovan and smiled. “Hey, that only takes one night. I'm game. What's your room number?” Another pause, then a nod. “Ooh, even better. Okay, meet me at the Potion Portal in fifteen!” Donovan narrowed his eyes: the Potion Portal was the bar in the student union.

Vincent smiled and asked, “Hey, you wanna join me? This girl's a guardian; bet she's got some sweet co-eds in her unit.” Donovan stood up and walked away. His father just said, “Okay, see ya 'round.”

Donovan levitated out of the dining hall. It still wasn't any faster or more efficient than walking, but he enjoyed the feeling. Flying was a cheap thrill to make up for his troubles, which were more immense than he could ever show his father.

He hated that he was envious of that man. He hated how Vincent seemed to have the world at his feet, yet used it only for questionable purposes like bedding floozies and doing the MST's bidding. With that kind of power, Donovan would have overthrown the MST by now.

The worst part was that Vincent had practically handed him a blueprint on his path to success and Donovan had been doing the exact opposite all this time. To truly achieve his goals, he either would have to start from scratch or soldier on with his own unreliable methods.

“There are other ways.”

Donovan paused. It was that voice again. He didn't bother looking for it. He had already dismissed it as some unexplored part of his subconscious... just a very loud one.

“And what do you suggest?” he mockingly asked aloud.

“New allies. Ones that will expose and destroy those that claim to be on your side.”

Floating there in the dusk, Donovan considered it. It wasn't that he believed or trusted the mysterious evil voice in his head. In fact, he didn't think listening would prove to be at all substantial either way.

That was why he tolerated it. He had nothing to lose, so figured he'd give it a whirl. “What do we do first?” he asked, still unsold.

“We've already begun,” the voice replied. Donovan looked down. He didn't remember giving the order to fly again, but the path moved under him as he sailed along, picking up speed and floating upwards. Instead of heading to Hall D, he was leaving the campus. Soon he saw the parking lot underneath him. Then a forest.

Then nothing.


Session Four

Donovan was fully aware of what was going on, but had no control over any of it. Yet he didn't feel like his body was moving against his will. Instead, he felt like he was completely immersed in a movie. Or more accurately, a bitchin' theme park ride. The only discomfort was not the sense of disembodiment, but rather that Donovan hated bitchin' theme park rides.

He should have known something was amiss when he teleported away from the academy mid-flight. That was impossible, as Donovan had learned after several previous attempts. The ensuing darkness was another bad sign; teleportation was usually instantaneous. But it wasn't until he saw the regal entryway that he realized he had passed through a dimensional gate. This realm looked far more pleasant than the Urayoni world, with a fountain nearby and framed art surrounding the platform. Donovan also heard classical music in the background. The hanging lamps and wood paneling gave it away: this was a Hokoni realm.

The large doors swung open before him and Donovan felt himself taking flight again. He passed through the doors, navigating the hallways decisively. Whatever was driving knew where it was going. He seemed to be winding through most of the complex in a fairly straight line, until reaching a pair of tall, ornate doors. They too opened and granted him access to what appeared to be a throne room.

It was actually an office, but it was a forgivable mistake. After all, behind the veneer desk was an actual throne. And for all Donovan knew, the man sitting on it could have been a king. He looked the part- a gray-haired gentlemen with sharp eyes and what could pass for a Napoleonic military uniform. The red carpet, columns surrounding the office and court jesters added to the effect. The man's iPhone was a bit of a distraction though.

He looked up from the interactive anachronism and eyed Donovan suspiciously. “Who are you?” he said with a gruff voice. The jesters gestured at him.

“I am Donovan Dunmar,” said the voice. Donovan never opened his mouth.

The man narrowed his eyes, then pushed a button under his desk. Trap doors opened underneath all of the court jesters, sending them plummeting. To their deaths, Donovan hoped, but that would have been expensive and awfully messy downstairs.

“I called for you weeks ago. Why are you here now?” He put his left hand to his chest and a piece of parchment materialized on his desk.

“It took time to see the light of day, but now I have arrived to do your bidding.” Again, the evil voice was speaking for Donovan. He didn't like where this was going, but curious enough to ride it out. He had already resigned himself to being a mere witness to this exchange.

“I am not a patient man. In fact, I don't remember what I summoned you for in the first place.” He looked through over the parchment. “Do you have any idea who I am?”

Donovan waited for the voice, hopeful for an answer. He loved being able to respond to questions he didn't know. Shame the voice copped out and replied, “My master.”

“Flattered, but do you know my name?”

“I do not.” This didn't encourage Donovan either.

Nor the man, for that matter. Disapprovingly he said, “You should. My name is Grandon Crostell, superior to Kendrick. Him you know, correct?”

“Yes,” replied the voice. Donovan wanted to jump in on that one, but wasn't fast enough. He was just thankful the evil voice knew Kendrick as well.

Then the voice added, “he fused the two of us.” Finally, Donovan realized that this was his vrockrompir demon speaking for him. An interesting development, he thought. He let it ride further.

“Indeed. And he sacrificed himself in order to keep you from Hageshoni hands.” Grandon leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desk. “I am sure you despise the Hageshoni as much as I for their actions.”

“Yes! We must have revenge!” His demon's response excited Donovan. He was totally on board with this, despite having already gotten his revenge on Sho.

Grandon stood and paced around, eventually ending up in front of his desk. “And we shall have it. The Hokoni are planning an invasion! We will make these contemptuous creatures pay for their crime by surprising them and besting them in combat.”

“Excellent!” Okay, now Donovan felt like he was watching a movie. A pretty stirring one perhaps, but he felt more like a spectator than a participant.

Just as he was weighing the pros and cons of enlisting with the Hokoni to engage in war, he felt his butt itch... and scratched it, right on command. He told his fingers to wiggle. They did. He wasn't sure if he was regaining control of his body or if he had never really lost it. He probably should have at least checked once or twice before letting the demon call all the shots.

“How may I serve you?” the demon asked, either unaware or unconcerned about Donovan waving his hand around behind his back.

Grandon turned around to check the parchment and replied, “At this time, you may not. You are not a committed Hokoni. Kendrick refrained from including such dialogue in your contract. Perhaps I can have my people draft one for you if you are interested in joining us.”

Donovan took a step back reflexively before the demon could respond. This was where he drew the line. After the last debacle, he wasn't signing any demon contracts without first having his lawyers (or at least one minion) read it first.

The demon said nothing. Grandon frowned.

“All that and you refuse to swear allegiance... you sicken me, Donovan Dunmar. You are an indecisive coward. The Hokoni will not stand for it!” Grandon put his hand on his chest. “Be gone!”

The next moment, Donovan was alone in the middle of the woods. Through the darkness, he saw a clearing in the distance and fought through the brush towards it. He had full control of all of his limbs and thoughts. He needed them to get through.

Fighting and defeating a bush, he saw an endless expanse of blacktop and the moon reflecting off windows of hundreds of parked cars. He was back in the academy parking lot.

Confused and frustrated, Donovan began to swing his hands around to teleport to the FUP. At this point, he wanted nothing more than to unleash his problems on innocent magical creatures.

Instead, he started to fly over the cars towards the academy proper.

“The fool!” the demon said. “How did he not see your usefulness! He will pay! They all will pay!”

Donovan felt helpless in the air and didn't know where he was going. But once again, he just went with it. He didn't mind being controlled by his demon. It was certain to lead to far more excitement. Just as long as he didn't have to sign anything.


Session Five

A day had passed and Molly didn't sense anything amiss, but it was only the afternoon so she wasn't ready to be relieved yet. It felt like she had been doing nothing but damage control since they had arrived. And they still had two days left.

On top of that, Molly still had regular academy stuff to deal with. Normally she was annoyed by such busywork, but she found it somewhat soothing to sit in the library and study proper protocol when addressing field generals and superior officers during field assignments. As long as she didn't remind herself that she'd be in the midst of all that very soon, she was happy somebody considered decorum important.

“Whatcha reading?” asked Kathryn, taking a seat across from Molly without asking permission. Normally Molly considered this a treacherous affront to her personal space. This time, it felt comfortable.

“Guardian stuff. It's more procedural, but I get homework too.”

“I don't,” Kathryn replied with a snicker. “At least none that I plan to do.”

Molly raised an eyebrow, surprisingly calm. “Officially, I must insist that you study.”

“And unofficially?”

“I no longer care.”

“Then why do all this?” Kathryn leaned over and looked at the page Molly was reading. “Seriously, you're studying how to talk to higher-ups? If you're as sick of this as I am, what's the point?”

Eyes frozen on the page, Molly answered, “It's all I have.” Kathryn didn't have a response. Turning slowly to her, Molly added, “For the last ten years, I've been groomed to do nothing but serve the MST. They need me.” She looked back down. “And despite my misgivings, I need them. I have no other career aspirations.”

It stunned Kathryn for a moment. She had always disliked Molly's fervent devotion to the MST. Now she pitied it. This was a girl who had been brainwashed, slowly coming to accept that she had been brainwashed, but with no recourse.

“You know, you should at least learn to live a little. I mean, we should be demon free until our field assignment thingy. Try to enjoy it for a bit.”

Molly closed her eyes, stung by memories. “That's what Kurt always said.”

Her eyes remained closed and her breathing was deeper. It affected Kathryn too. She knew Molly had too much resolve to actually cry over this, but the fact that she was fighting it almost made Kathryn lose it herself.

“He's right,” she answered. “I mean, otherwise you're going to go crazy... well... moreso.”

“Perhaps. But I've always been of the mindset that fun was for the weak. I don't even know what there is to do around here.”

With just the slightest smile, Kathryn opened her mouth. Molly interrupted and said, “If you suggest a boyfriend I will force you to do your homework.”

Kathryn chuckled. “Fine, fine...” Unable to resist, she added, “Get a girlfriend. I'm not a hater.”

Molly leaned back, petrified. Kathryn burst into a victorious laugh, struggling to stifle it after a librarian shushed her.

Ducking her head into her book, Molly shook her head. “Even if I was interested in something like that, I doubt I would have much to offer either sex.”

“You never know. I think Meg has a crush on you,” said Morgan, appearing suddenly and sitting down next to Molly. Molly inched away slightly. Giles quietly grabbed a seat on the other side.

Meg, for one, was unamused. “It's not a crush. It's professional respect.”

Chuckling, Morgan smiled at Kathryn. “So what were you laughing about anyway? It was like a beacon.”

Kathryn grinned. “Molly's life sucks and she needs a boy or girl to play with.”

Mindy threw a hand up. “I nominate Giles!”

Molly buried her head in her hands, cheating momentarily to see how Giles reacted. He didn't really, chuckling at Mindy and retaining his usual neutral smile. Molly glared at him and said, “This is supposed to be the part where you violently decline.”

Giles waved her off. “Oh, I don't mind. Let's go out sometime. Anyway, I was curious if you heard anything about how Vincent Wagner is doing.”

Everybody else was staring at Giles, shocked at the very real possibility that he had just asked Molly Pearson out on a date. It set a new standard for casual, even for Giles, so they weren't entirely sure if he really intended to. Especially since he changed the subject immediately... and pronounced Vincent Wagner wrong.

Molly, for one, was happy to talk about something else, and answered before anyone else could. “It's pronounced 'WINcent VAHGner.' And he just left yesterday, not that that eliminates the chance of him being captured already.”

“Ah, sorry. The site I checked didn't include pronunciations. Maybe we can ask Donovan if he's heard anything. That's his dad, right?”

That wasn't supposed to be public knowledge, but Molly dismissed that thought. She was at first surprised that Giles cared enough to ask Donovan, then startled when he tried to flag Donovan over, only to be silenced by the librarian (now keeping a very close eye on that table).

Indeed, Donovan was at the library, hovering through in blatant defiance of the building's no-magic rule. Had the librarian not been busy watching the rowdy table, she certainly would have said something. Particularly as Donovan seemed to be doing everything in his power to look suspicious. He darted his head around constantly, shielding his head with his arm and flying off when he saw Molly staring back.

“Maybe he's busy,” said Giles.

Molly narrowed her eyes and turned to Meg and Kathryn. Although Donovan had been cleared of spying, they didn't like this either. “Come on,” she said.

They jumped out of their chairs, startling the poor librarian and raced up to find Donovan hovering up to the balcony stacks. He knew which floor he wanted, yet avoided the online catalog that retrieved books for everybody. Even more suspicious.

“Donovan!” Molly shouted, but he ignored her and floated into the archives.

“I'll get him,” Kathryn said, holding her staff up and floating up to his floor. Meg and Giles followed to offer some backup.

They found him hovering in one place, staring in front of a particular section, scanning the shelves. Once they landed, he flew away.

“Corner him,” ordered Meg, chasing after him. Kathryn and Giles ran down separate aisles to cut off any exits.

Giles found him first. Donovan glared back, but Giles raised a reassuring hand.

“What's going on? We just want to see what's up, but you keep flying away.”

Donovan flew forward a little, then landed. Giles smiled.

“I just wanted to ask you something.”

Then Donovan shot a hard energy ball straight into Giles, knocking him flat. Donovan resumed his flight and hovered past him, back over the railing and descending over the main hall. Molly was waiting for him, trigger finger at the ready.

Instead of engaging, he just sailed over her head to the other side. The one with the exits, where he flew out, ignoring the blaring alarm he sparked.

Upstairs, Meg wanted to chase after Donovan, but stopped when she saw Giles. He was clutching his stomach, but not harmed too badly. A quick trip to the nurse would fix it.

Too bad Morgan took control and charged after the renegade, shouting, “Get back here, you son of a bitch!”

Molly and Kathryn followed. The chase was on.





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