I Put A Spell On You, Part Six: Confrotational

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Solomon was already sitting in the viewing room, watching the interrogation through the room's one-way mirror, when the others entered. “Ah, hello, everyone,” he said with a rueful smile. “It seems that you didn't need to fly all the way out here after all.”

“I thought she didn't confess,” Catherine said, sliding down into the next chair as the others slid into place.

“She hasn't, but she isn't exactly offering much of a defense,” Solomon said. “At the moment, she's accusing Director-General Lee of using her as a patsy to steal magical secrets, or something. I have to confess, I lost track of her chain of thought some time ago.” He shrugged.

“Wow,” Roland said, looking through the glass. At the moment, Chronovore was sitting, arms crossed, and glaring at the woman across from her, who was trying to draw her into further conversation. “She trying to escape?”

“Not a whit.” Sam shook his head. “It's really quite odd. She always struck me as quite a rational person.”

“Well, it doesn't matter much,” Agent Mallory said, as he closed the door behind him. “We just got some pretty damning evidence from her accomplice. He's a fence, not in the big leagues but big enough for something like this. He claims she contacted him, told him she had something big for him. Combined with the loot actually being on her, and the fact that we can prove she was in the city when every item was recovered, it seems like an open-shut case.”

“Except for the part where we still don't know how she was actually able to do this,” Roland pointed out. “That sort of seems like the big deal, here.”

Jack, sitting next to Prita, nodded slowly. “I would tend to agree. A skilled lawyer could conjure a dozen ways for that ring to hit her pocket.”

Prita considered. “If I study it, I could at least see how long she had it.”

“Good thought, Vedana.” Agent Mallory nodded. “If you'll come with me, I'll take you to the evidence.”

“I'll come too,” Jack said, standing again. “I might be able to match the ring to the energies we sensed in the reefs.”

“The more, the merrier,” Prita said with a smile. The two followed Agent Mallory out of the room, leaving their teammates behind. As they did, Blossom walked in, mask solemn.

“Sorry,” she said. “I missed your message.”

“Lovely,” Amplifier said with a snort. “Glad to know we're being protected by the best.”

Catherine glared at Amplifier. “I've had just about enough of you. You caught the bad guy, we get it. Leave off.”

“Fine, whatever. I'm not needed here anyway.” Amplifier grabbed the door, glancing over her shoulder. “I sure hope she confesses soon. It'd be nice to have our city back.”

“God, what is with her?” Roland said, sitting back in his chair. “Is it just me, or is she more hostile now than she was when she thought we were going to upstage her?”

“She really is,” Catherine was still glaring at the door on Blossom's behalf. For her part, Blossom didn't seem to have minded the insult, being fixated on watching the interrogation avidly. “You think there's a reason for it?”

Roland, settling in, straightened. “What?”

“It just occurred to me that temporal energy is a sort of energy,” Catherine said thoughtfully. “An energy that could be amplified if you had the right powers.”

“Yeah, uh…” Roland shook his head. “No.”

“You have a better idea?” Catherine snapped.

“Just about anything?” Roland shook his head. “Look, why would Amplifier turn Chronovore in if Chronovore was working with her? And why would Chronovore cover for her by refusing to cooperate? If I was a crook, and my partner arrested me, I'd sure as hell be spilling the beans. Blossom, back me up?”

“Huh?” Blossom looked over at Roland and Catherine. “Um… yes. That makes sense.”

Roland's face fell. “You weren't actually listening to me.”

“No…” Blossom said slowly. “I've never seen an interrogation before. It's so white in there!”

“Blossom, this isn't a game!” Catherine stood, stepping towards Blossom. “You need to start paying attention!”

Blossom shrank back. “Sorry,” she said softly. “I just thought it was nice-looking.”

“Great. That's great.” Catherine shook her head, pacing back and forth. “One of my teammates is spending his time picking fights with the locals, the other one seems more interested in making out with them, and you're judging the relative whiteness of rooms. We need to make a good impression, Blossom! We don't want them to think we can't handle this!”

“Easy, Pipes,” Roland said, laying a hand on her shoulder. “Lay off the kid, she made a mistake.”

“How did you even make that mistake?!” Catherine shrugged off Roland's hand, her own arm coming up. “Why weren't you wearing your comm on duty?”

“I just… I was trying…” Blossom broke off, mask totally rigid.

“Woah!” Roland almost yelled. “Catherine! Blossom is not the enemy, okay?”

“I know that!” Catherine yelled over her shoulder.

“Then put the damned pipe down!”

Catherine blinked. For a long moment, she looked down at the ancient flute in her hand. Blossom was watching her carefully, body tense. Through the glass, Chronovore and the interview had broken off, staring at the noise coming from the other side. Finally, she looked into Roland's worried eyes. “I…” she started, and then took a deep breath. “I'm sorry, Blossom. I was… I was out of line.”

“Is everything okay, Pipes?” Roland asked carefully.

“Fine. I'm just… I don't feel well.” Catherine reached down, cracking open her small flute case, and placing her pipe in it. “I think I'm going to go back to the tower and lie down for a bit.”

“That might not be a bad plan,” Roland agreed. “Blossom and I will stay here and watch the rest of the interview. We'll fill you in when we all get back.”

“Thanks, Roland.” Catherine smiled faintly. “I'll see you all in an hour or two.”

Roland watched her go. “That was… not good.”

“I didn't think I'd made that big of a mistake,” Blossom said softly. “I mean, I've never forgotten to wear my comm before. It was just once.”

“I know, kid. Catherine's just… I don't know, something weird is going on.” Roland frowned thoughtfully.

Blossom smiled. “I'm not a kid, Roland.”

“Oh, yeah? How old are you?”

“Um…” Blossom spent a moment considering. “About ten months.”

Roland blinked. “Seriously?”

“Yes,” Blossom said. “But I passed my intelligence and maturity test. Legally, I've been an adult since January.”

“Yeah, well, you're still the youngest member of the team,” Roland said, and then added, “By a lot. So you're our kid.” As Blossom sighed, he shook his head. “Catherine doesn't have any reason to be this stressed out. This is a pretty routine mission.”

“Mm-hm,” Blossom said.

“Blossom, you're a lot stealthier than I am,” Roland said, coming to a decision. “Could you keep an eye on Catherine? Jack's totally flaked on me, and I don't want her alone right now.”

Blossom looked longingly towards the interrogation room, but nodded. “Sure thing, Roland. Take notes, okay?”

“No problem.” Roland sat back in his chair as Blossom left. Something strange was going on in New York. The only question was, was it connected to their mission, or just a coincidence?

And either way, how were they going to deal with it?

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