Everything She Does Is Magic, Part Two

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Catherine sat down across from Director Henry, crossing her hands in front of her. “Sir, I hate to admit this, but we are out of our depth,” she said. “I know that the team has been doing their best – I haven't seen Jason out of the library in a week and a half, and the last time I saw Yousef he was knee-deep in robot parts trying to build a predictive engine – but we just don't have the research capabilities to predict this woman's moves. Give us a city, a target, and we can end this. But we can't continue the way we are now.”

“I would tend to agree,” Oliver said after a moment, leaning back in his chair. “Fortunately, I have a solution. I've called an expert in necromancy, a man with firsthand experience of Doctor Croyden.” He passed a folder to Catherine, who opened it curiously.

“Name sounds familiar…” she mused, looking at the file and glancing at the attached picture. A balding, portly man glowered back at her, his goatee perfectly trim. “Looks familiar, too. Let's see… instructor at the Institute for Applied Villainy…” She looked up sharply. “A [i]supervillain[/i]?”

“Technically retired from active duty,” Oliver replied mildly. Catherine turned the page.

Almost immediately, she slammed the report shut. “No.”

“I'm afraid so. She trained him in the necromantic arts, you know.”

“And now she's a rogue, and so was he!” Catherine yelled. “I have to protest letting him anywhere near SEA operations…”

“Protest noted, and overulled.” Oliver said. “Doctor Wydemere will be arriving this afternoon.”

“I don't like this,” Roland mused, stirring his coffee. Catherine had just stormed through the kitchen, warning Roland, Yousef, and Alice about their guest's imminent arrival. “I mean, Jason Wydemere? The Witch Doctor? That guy was a villain.” He held up a hand as Yousef opened his mouth. “And I don't mean one of those registered villains, man. Wydemere didn't just goof around and fight superheroes for the licensing cash. You know he was Number 5 on America's Most Wanted for almost a year?”

“Yes, but…” Yousef started.

“Who are we talking about?” Blossom popped around the corner, head tilted.

“The Witch Doctor,” Roland almost spat. Blossom's face went blank, and he continued. “The director actually invited him to help us, can you believe it? Just because the guy got a pardon for fighting Rex Mundi doesn't mean he's on our side!”

“Uh, Roland…” Yousef said.

“I don't know if this is some sort of science thing, Yousef, and I don't care. That guy is bad news, and we don't need anything that he wants to give us, got it?” Roland turned. “What is it, Blossom?”

Blossom's mask was still totally still. “The Witch Doctor is coming? Here? When?!”

“Uh…” Roland glanced over to the others. Alice shrugged helplessly, and Yousef winced. “Like, in a minute and a half? Catherine and the Director are already outside waiting for his… car…” He broke off as Blossom spun, her legs lengthening as she burst into a spring. “What the hell?” He took off after her. “Hey, Blossom, hold up! Where do you think you're going?”

Outside, Catherine stood stiffly beside the Director, her uniform crisp and her flute case in one hand. “I still don't see the value of having a supervillain around.”

Oliver chuckled, leaning on his cane. “So he made a few mistakes in his youth. Haven't we all done that?”

“He helped start a war,” Catherine said bitterly. “A war that ended up killing millions of Sayleen.”

“He didn't expect that,” Oliver pointed out. “Without absolving him of blame, the war was coming no matter what. He and his allies merely tried to turn it into a nearly bloodless coup.” He paused reflectively, and then added, “They failed quite dramatically, of course, but still.”

“I don't think being an accidental war criminal is much absolution,” Catherine bit out as a long black van pulled into the garage. “And I stil don't trust anyone like him.”

“You may change your mind eventually,” Oliver said, with a twinkle in his eye. “Now hush. He's about to get out of the car.”

As Oliver spoke, the engine shut off, and Wydemere stepped out of the driver's seat, wearing a pressed green suit and a slender smile. “Director Henry. What a pleasure to see you again. And this must be Captain Becker.” He held out a hand, which Catherine took with ill grace. “Thank you for giving me the chance to tour your facility, Director.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” Oliver said with another broad smile. “Come on in and meet the staff. And I'm sure…”

There was a whisper of sound, and the lights flickered out. Catherine snapped her flute into her hand as she dove into Oliver, pushing him down to safety. He sputtered something at her that she didn't process, watching the flickering shadows for signs of movement. A flash of green out of the corner of her eye, and she blinked as she saw the slender rope-like arm swing past, even as a flicker showed a figure sweeping towards the Witch Doctor.

There was the sound of metal on wood, repeated three times in quick succession. A small, sharp wooden needle clattered to the ground next to Catherine, half-piercing a tiny metal disc. She looked up in shock. “Blossom?!”

The lights came on. Blossom was crouched behind Doctor Wydemere, her fingers extended into long claws that curled around his neck. A series of metal discs littered the floor around him, punctured by wooden spines, and sparks of electricity jumped across the bottom half of his tie, now sitting on the floor.

“What the hell are you doing?” Catherine yelled. Both combatants ignored her.

“I've been training,” Blossom said neutrally.

“I see that you have,” Doctor Wydemere said, glancing down at his tie. “I rather liked that tie.”

There was a momentary pause, and then Blossom's claws pulled back into her hand. “Oh! I'm sorry, Father! I didn't think of that!”

Jason Wydemere looked down at the tie, and back over to Blossom, and then grinned and patted her on the shoulder. “Not to worry, my dear. Top marks. And it's good to see you.”

"Thank you, Father," Blossom said, beaming. "It's good to see you, too."

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