I Put A Spell On You, Part One: Fit To Print

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Yousef looked up from his magazine as the Magisters entered the canteen, raising a hand in a halfhearted wave. “Uh, hi, everyone. Mission go okay?”

Roland wiped his brow as he walked through the doors, brow furrowed. “I never want to see another egg for as long as I live. Who even thinks of harnessing Easter magic, anyway?”

“No, that part made sense,” Jack said, his attention on a series of small scratches along his arms. “I mean, culturally speaking it does. Easter is a time of ressurection and rebirth. I can absolutely see using its magic to become immortal. But I would like to know how someone can be simultaneously powerful enough to do that, and a massive enough failure to harness the cultural power of secular Easter instead of religious Easter.”

“So… many… bunnies…” Blossom mumbled, shivering. Half of her body was a skeleton of wood, and she staggered slightly as she walked. Roland helpfully reached out to steady her. “Why does anyone think that's cute? Why?”

Yousef stood, tapping the seat. “Why don't you, uh, find a seat, and I can get some food for you.”

“Thanks,” Blossom said, her mask forming a smile a moment later. “I could use some greens, I'm ravenous.”

As Yousef hurried over to the next-door storeroom, Roland opened the small fridge and pulled out a can of beer. “Want one?” he asked the others. Blossom and Jack shook their heads, but Catherine nodded after a moment.

“Why not, we're off duty,” she said with a smile. Roland tossed the can underhand to her, and she caught it with a grimace. “One that wasn't shaken to hell would have been nice,” she complained, opening it carefully, and then trailed off as she glanced at the paper that Yousef had been reading. “The East Coast Times, really? Yousef, I thought you'd be better than this tabloid trash…” She broke off, staring at the cover.

“What is it?” Blossom leaned over. “Hey, it's about us!”

“Uh-oh,” Roland said, walking over. “What's the damage?”

“Oh, uh, I was going to clean that up,” Yousef said, stopping at the room's threshold with a bag of mixed salad greens in one hand. “It's not really important…”

“I don't believe this.” Catherine was staring at a large article titled 'THE MAGISTERS – THEIR SECRETS REVEALED!' She looked over the first page, glancing through it. “Is this even legal?”

“I would expect so,” Jack said dryly. “Blossom, you might find this interesting. Apparently you've never been seen in public without your mask on. Are you an alien in disguise?”

“It's not a mask!” Blossom complained. “Well, alright, it is a mask, but it's also my face!” She broke off in a huff. “Who wrote that?”

“A Mister Mack Saller,” Jack said.

“I've heard of him,” Catherine said after a moment. “He's that teleporting reporter. What did we do to get on his radar?”

“Well, we sort of bullrushed him a couple months back, in Detroit,” Roland had taken the paper and was scanning through it. “Boy, he must have been working on this ever since. He's got all my old school reports.” He whistled slowly. “Line them up like that, they look kind of bad, don't they?”

Jack grimaced. “I'm sure he's having a field day with my own history.”

“Yeah, and… uh. Catherine, you may not want to look at this…”

Catherine grabbed the paper from Roland, and groaned. “I don't believe this.” The picture showed Lance embracing a young woman, and was captioned 'TROUBLE IN PARADISE? PIPER'S FIANCEE SEEN WITH MYSTERY BRUNETTE' She shook her head. “That's Macy. She's a good friend of both of us, Lance has known her forever. Of course they're hugging. Where does Saller get off?”

“What's wrong with my mask?” Blossom asked no one in particular. “It's a very nice mask. It's made of oak. Father had it hand-carved for me.”

“Everyone, please calm down,” Oliver strode into the room, looking around at the group. Just behind him, Jason nodded to the group, standing at ease with a stack of file folders in his hands. “Mr. Saller is a purveyor of gossip and innuendo. No reputable person considers his exposes to be factual news, and within a week everyone will be discussing the next set of juicy rumours to cross his desk.”

“You're just saying that because you're not here,” Roland said. “How did you manage that?”

“Perhaps I simply haven't led a very interesting life,” Oliver said with a slight smile.

“Perhaps your interesting life is classified high enough that Mr. Saller didn't want to risk speculating about it?” Catherine suggested.

“Anything is possible,” Oliver said blandly. “I would like to congratulate you on the arrest of Simon Merriweather. In particular, I would like to mention your turning his spell against him, Catherine.”

Catherine shrugged modestly. “He tried to put magic into rabbits, I just found the song to get them off our backs. Jack's the one that analysed his spells, and Roland and Blossom held the things off.”

“Catherine's being polite,” Blossom said, one arm deep in the bag of greens as a network of greenery began to spread across her legs. “I didn't behave very professionally for a few minutes.”

“Well, I'm afraid that it's not rest for the weary. We're working on another lead right now, and I expect that we'll be sending you out again at some point in the next two to three days.” Oliver said. “We have a situation developing, and it may be a serious one.”

“Do tell,” Jack said, as Jason began passing out folders.

“Three days ago, Steelbreaker's gauntlets appeared at a private auction house. The auction itself was extremely undercover, but it attracted attention from the S.E.A.”

“Steelbreaker the superhero?” Jack said into the silence that followed. “He died in the New York disaster.”

“Indeed,” Oliver said. “And his gauntlets were assumed to be destroyed along with his body. Unfortunately, we weren't able to confiscate the gauntlets, as we could not prove that they were stolen – there is a legal issue pending on the matter – but we confirmed that they appear to be genuine. Furthermore, we've discovered that Helix Prime's runestaff and Stillstand's cape have also gone on sale in the last two weeks, both relics that were believed destroyed in the same event.”

“All three of those were magical superheroes,” Catherine said thoughtfully. “Is there a connection?”

“That's what we intend to find out,” Oliver said. “We're still finalizing our research, but I think it's time you visited New York City.”

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