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Ultimate Cosmic Power, Itty Bitty Living Space (IC)


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1:43 PM


Silberman's Books, West End

Freedom City


An old 1974 Dodge Monaco sedan pulled up in the alley beside the bookstore - the door requiring a few kicks before it popped open. A young man in a pageboy cap and worn out old pea coat clambered out, stretching; Morgan eyeballing the door and sighing. Stupid prudence. If he'd blown half the jack from the Baron job on getting his car's body tuned up along with the engine...


Meh. Svartalves never liked extras. He reached into the back and took out a duffel bag, along with a notepad; checking the listed work order. Package number three, basic alarm array. He referred to it as the Blinky Light Package - mostly since unless the buyer picked up additions, it was basically a bright blinky light if anyone used magic in their vicinity. On the positive side, it was nice and cheap, and usually helped get people past the whole 'magic in business' hump.


That being said, honestly? He'd have done this one for free. Scuttlebutt said Silberman's was a good place, and run by a lady who was firmly on the side of the angels, if you could trust the local kids. Still, guy's gotta eat, right?


...though that didn't necessarily stop him from adding a few, er, 'weekly special discounts' onto the bill. Even if the weekly special had only been declared about, oh, say, five minutes into their phone call. Of course he'd planned those specials all along, it was just a coincidence they came up then. And nobody had any proof otherwise.


The young man jogged up the front stoop and knocked on the door. Giving a bit of that old-school no-entry-unless-invited thing.

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The holidays were rapidly approaching, and business at Silberman's Books was picking up. Acoustic Christmas music played over the store's sound system, and the air smelled of pine wreaths, freshly-roasted coffee and pumpkin spice, despite Gretchen's repeated pleas to 'stop the horrific cult of the Great Pumpkin before he devours all souls'. Old-fashioned looking Christmas ornements and lights were drapped over the bookshelves, and a vintage Christmas train set was choo-chooing its way around the table in the children's section.


The store had a handful of customers floating around and was fully staffed; Maddy was on the sales floor, working her warm magic, Lance and Gretchen were working the espresso bar as a team (Gretch pulling shots, Lance steaming milk and pouring drinks) and Lynn was on register. By this time, with two holiday seasons under thier collective belts, Silberman's was working like a well-oiled machine.


But something new was happening today, a visit from a 'supernatural security expert'; as was often the case on issues involving magic or superheroics, Gretchen was not convinced, but for once, her girlfriend Lynn wasn't either. They were having one of their mental discussions, courtesy of Gretch's Ring of Power while they worked.

- - -

Did you talk with Reena about him?

She doesn't know a lot about him; she said he's a pro, but he's super-young and just starting out.

Do not sign anything until I've had a chance to read it. Also scan it and send the PDF to your brother. He doesn't know anything about magic, but he's a lawyer, so he might catch something we would miss.

That's actually...that's actually a really good idea.

I'm very intelligent. Most of my ideas are really good.

Ha ha; you really- wait, did you hear that? Somebody knocked on the front door!

Why do you always ask that? I don't have magic pixie ears, so I didn't hear that.

Let me see if I have a good angle on him...hmm.

'Hmm' what?

Well, he's dressed like a lookout from a 1950s gangster film, which somehow makes me think he's our guy.

That is sound logic.

I know, right? Let me finish with this lady, and I'll go see.

- - -


A few moments later, the front door opened, and a beautiful young woman looked up at Morgan expectantly; she was just over five feet tall, with curly, shoulder length brown hair and deep brown eyes that danced with hints of mischief. She wore a Simpsons-themed Christmas sweater, boot-cut jeans and cowboy boots, as well as a brown Silberman's Books apron. Her friendly smile was a joy to behold.


"Hi, welcome to Silberman's Books! How can I help you?"


Edited by Heritage
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If he'd been told he looked like a lookout from a 1950's gangster film, Morgan'd have probably replied (dryly) that he hoped it was set in Boston. He didn't mind being accused of looking like a crook, but that pea coat was made in his hometown, damnit.


As it stood, he only took one look at the woman - and did a quick double-take. He'd met elfin girls, he'd met girls who could be described as 'pixie-like', and...well, she put 'em all to shame. That and he had to grin slightly at the Simpsons sweater. A quick cough to mask a laugh, and he took off his hat, holding it at his belly.


"Hello! I'm Morgan - from Crowe Consulting? I've got the paperwork and the materials for the package you wanted to see."


He poked his head sideways, briefly, and took in the store - before grinning at her. "Holiday rush?"

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"Oh, awesome! Lynn Epstein, glad to meet you!" Her handshake was firm and soft, with just a hint of callouses from work. She theatrically gestured for Morgan to enter. "'Enter freely of your own will, and leave some of the happiness you bring.'" Once they were inside, she answered his question with a chuckle and a shake of her head . "Yeah, well, this is the mad fourth quarter blitz, so we're all going for broke, am I right?" In addition to her beauty, Lynn was also very graceful; the way she moved across the sales floor seemed like a dance, one that Morgan imagined she could do blindfolded with little difficulty. 


Intriguingly, mixed among the usual bookstore posters on the walls encouraging people to read were several colorful, classic posters from the 'Golden Age of Magic', announcing shows for performers such as Thurston, Kellar, Blackstone, Houdini and Al-Kazar; there was also a standing rack of magic tricks for beginners by the register. The overall effect gave the bookstore a unique feel, hinting at mysteries below the surface, which wasn't such a bad thing for a place like this.


"Here, come on into my office; we can talk there." The small office had bookshelves on all sides, which were dotted with unusual bits of bric-a-brac, but the most distinctive item was the mammoth desk that dominated the center of the room. Behind it was a large leather swivel chair, and before it were two comfy leather chairs for guests.


Dropping into the big leather chair that dwarfed her, Lynn Epstein somehow still managed to command the space as she smiled and pushed a candy dish in Morgan's direction. "So, tell me about yourself and your company, Mr. Crowe; I am very interested to hear what you have to say."

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...it was...odd.


While she commanded the space, it was like Morgan simply existed in the space. Like he blended in. Just became a part of it, like the furniture or the fixtures - at least, until he spoke. He sat down in one of the comfy leather chairs, having taken off his hat as he walked through the store. He'd acknowledged Gretchen and Lance as he passed, even giving a thumbs up and signalling for a bottle of water. A neat flick had landed exact change on the counter, while he'd caught the bottle on the pass-by.


Guy's moves were smooth. A bit too smooth, for his age. Hm.


"Okay, first off, lemme say - love the decor." Morgan gave a grin. "Old-school sleight of hand meets arcane mysteries. My kind of style." A reach down to the bag, and he brought out a small folder - along with a few rocks and chalk. "So, uh...my company and I? Well, we're a fairly small operation - founded it a few years ago, after I graduated from Claremont Academy." Had to close up a year later, mind, after...bloody Branagh.


"I did some work for a Baron Katastrof in the Downtown area before the temporary closure, along with a few local bodegas in the Fens, and a couple of pro bono jobs with a few of the FCPD precincts in Bayview. Nothing major, just consultation and stress testing." Grin. "Kind of fun, actually."


A lean back in his chair, and he lifted up the water bottle. "As for me, well...not that interesting, honestly. I'm not a big-time wizard or spellweaver like...I dunno, Equinox, or Kid Cthulhu. I got a few tricks I learned growing up, and I managed to parlay them into a job." Chuckle. "Lousy hours, and the pay kind of stinks, but there's not much else I'd rather be doing, y'know?"


Subtle, Crow.


"So! Anything specific you want to know about?"

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Lynn pursued her lips and nodded as Morgan went into his patter; not so different from a stage magician's, really, though hopefully the boy (yes, that's how she thought of him) was not interested in misdirection. And yes, there was the blatant mention of low pay; frankly, she'd be disappointed if he didn't flop that right out there. It was traditional, after all. And he had that quality that many magicians had, where they appeared to be so boring or run-of-the-mill that no one gave you a second look; Lynn guessed it was cultivated in part because at its core, magic was cheating, a con, a negotiation for the highest return for the lowest risk. With all that on the line, maybe it was nice if the universe overlooked you most of the time?


At length, the changeling leaned forward and rested her arms on the desk, those deep dark eyes looking the young man up and down as she silently consulted with Gretchen, her partner in all things, during which her eyes always went a bit unfocused.


You did do a background check on this guy, right?


I didn't hire anyone, but I did a very through search.




He's clean in the criminal justice sense. Claremont grad, legitimate business license. His father was a Celtic-themed hero named Red Hand, which probably explains all the magic.


Okay, good to know.


Have you offered him a job yet? This is normally the point you offer someone a job.




Lynn's eyes snapped back into focus, and she smiled not unlike the Cheshire Cat. "Before we go any further, I have a question for you, Mr. Crowe." Suddenly her hair began to move on its own, flowing upwards and off her neck as it twisted itself into a very flattering and fairly regal style, somewhat Greek in style, that completely exposed her pointed ears. <"Tell me, how do you feel about the Fair Folk?"> This last sentence was spoken in delightful, singsong Irish Gaelic, without a hint of an American accent.

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"..." The amiable look had disappeared, replaced with an ominous stare - flat, cold, frightening - if she'd ever recieved a glare from Midnight (or God forbid, the Raven), it wasn't hard to see the influence of that in his own. It was as if one moment she'd been a happy little squirrel on the ground...


And then the next, an owl, a predator, had landed in front of her.


And was looking hungry.


A scent wafted by her nose - that of cold iron. One moment the hand on the table had been empty, the next it was filled with a small bag that reeked of the stuff; the other having fingers on her letter opener. She could catch a glimpse of a pair of metal plates on the back of his gloves, then - they'd been hidden by the cuffs of his jacket, and had some fairly ominous sigils carved into them. They sparked - only slightly - but nothing happened.


<"...raise your hands to beside your ears."> He spoke in a rasp, a very cold rasp. <"And please keep them where I can see them.">


He slowly - very slowly, got to his feet. Taking up the letter opener with him; the bag still in his hand, now being held by it's ties. His gloves sparked again, nothing happening, and he eyed them for a split second, before speaking curtly. <"...I would appreciate if the next words out of your mouth are an oath of non-violence. In the Traditional manner. You don't look like one of Branagh or his Lady's people - but I'd rather be paranoid than pleasant right now. Speak.">


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Hey Gretchen?


How go the negotiations?


I done goofed. I think he wants to kill me now.


He- what?! What did you say to him?


I may have shown off my ears...and used magic...and looked a bit hungry.


You. Are. An idiot.


Yep! Now, I THINK I can still turn this around. But if not, I leave you all my cool posters and stuff.




Yep! Love you!


She was very careful to leave her eyes locked on Morgan during this whole exchange as her hands went up, and dear Lord, did she look embarrassed right now! <"I don't...actually know the Traditional manner, so I'm just going to say this as simply as I can. And I'm switching to English, okay?">


Deep breath.


"I, Lynn Epstein, am a colossal f###ing idiot. I think having faerie powers is super-cool, and sometimes I forget that magic and faeries aren't a big joke to everyone, and just because I'm super-hot doesn't mean I can get away with dumb s### by smiling, batting my lashes and saying 'Oopsie!' in a cute voice. I apologize to you, Morgan Crowe, for insulting your intelligence and activating your 'Kill Mode'. I am, in theory, a responsible adult, and capable of having normal conversations that don't involve stupid magic powers. I can also explain that I was born in Atlantic City, and am the product of the Jewish day school system and not the misty courts of Avalon, even though my changeling powers derive from the Winter Court. I humbly ask your forgiveness, and offer in return a lifelong twenty-five percent discount and free shipping on all orders."


And then she shrugged.


"I am so frickin' sorry, dude."

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". . ."


Okay, so. His neck was turning slightly red. As was his face. And suddenly the pack in his hand and her letter opener looked...well, a mite dumb.


"...well. Uh." Beat. "...this I do swear, by the...uh...Cup, and the Sword, and the Staff, to do no harm in this place until I am released, or violence is done upon me."


Long pause.


"That's, uh, the traditional. Sorta. Paraphrased. Mostly." He carefully put the knife down, and the packet disappeared up his sleeve. "...and I may have...slightly...overreacted there. And tried to fry you. Like, twice." A gloved hand slapped his face. "...frak me, I need to see a psychiatrist."


Morgan flopped into the chair opposite her. "So, uh, I may have just spent about two years in the Fae equivalent to the Hanoi Hilton, and that left me jumping at shadows way too much with a side order of irrational distaste for pointy ears. So...yeah. Forgiven and I'm sorry for threatening you in a place you welcomed me of your own accord and holy crap it's getting warm in here."


Okay, so the flush had crept from his neck to his cheeks and now his whole face was turning crimson. Mumble. "...and for the record, being super-hot does kind of let you get away with it." Another facepalm. "I humbly ask your forgiveness, and offer in return a fifty percent discount on my wards and up to three free additions. Except the really tough ones. I'm out of phoenix toenail clippings."

Edited by Quinn
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So. You dead yet?


I think we're good here.


Good. You're still a dumbass.




For her part, Lynn felt just awful; she triggered this poor young man who'd just...damn it, she was so stupid! "Don't...don't worry about it, dude. I think we've found out that we each have our own biases and issues and blindspots, which just makes us both human, right? Here, you want some water? I can make some." Making sure to keep both hands in plain sight, she made a slight gesture and conjured forth a giant pitcher of ice water with sliced lemon, and two glasses. "Personally, I could use some myself." She poured two glasses, set one within arm's reach of Morgan, and then took a big swig of her own.


Sinking into her chair a bit, Lynn sighed. "So actually...when I'm not selling books or scaring the crap out of magicians with PTSD, I actually fight crime, y'know? As Grimalkin, Mistress of Mystery." There was a swirl of mist around her, and then there she was, the spiky-haired elfin girl in black and midnight-blue leather. "See, good guy! Not very bright, but, y'know, still good!" She returned to her previous appearance and sighed. "So yeah. magical security systems! We've got one, but we might be due for an upgrade, am I right? I mean, what if some guy tried to kill me right here in my office? Scary!" Her tone was light, but she still looked deeply embarrassed by the whole incident.

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Yeah, he was still beet red and not at all at equilibrium. Moreso when she literally misted into a leather catsuit right in front of him.


That, got him literally picking up the glass of water, and throwing it into his own face. He blinked, shivering as an ice chip went down his collar, and shook his head firmly. "Okay! Cold! Agh! So! Grimalkin! Heard of you! Really heard of you. Like, wow. You're..." A blink, and his face got slowly far more animated. "Just...wow. Okay, so, you've been on...well, you're...wow!"


Finely honed mind that Morgan's was, occasionally it could indeed crash. It helped he wasn't dressed as Crow and was trying to be frightening as hell in his usual persona right now - or that other persona wasn't...not thinking about that right now.


Ahem. So. Finely honed mind back in order, focused, ready, sharp as a tack and-"Can I have your autograph?" DAMNIT MORGAN.

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When Morgan threw the glass of ice water right in his own face, Lynn's jaw dropped; it had been a while since she'd hit a young man with both barrels, as it were, and she'd forgotten how...traumatic that could be for today's impressionable youth.


Uh, Gretch? I think I broke the boy.


We've talked about this. Is he bluescreening?


Kinda, yeah.


Let me know if you need the paddles.


Will do.


Thankfully, the young magician recovered quickly enough, enough to actually request an autograph! At that, Lynn couldn't hold it together, and she busted out laughing; it was not malicious, soul-scarring Mean Girl laughter, but in fact more like a good-natured guffaw.


"Oh, I'm...I'm so sorry! I'm not laughing at you, I swear, more like...the whole situation. Oh, Lord! Yes, I will happily give you an autograph. Also a towel." As she rummaged around in her drawer for a silver Sharpie, she casually made a sort of helicopter gesture with her finger, and a big, fluffy white towel wrapped itself around the damp boy.


"Y'know, I think I actually have a few old eight by tens lying around. Made them up a few years ago after I ran that charity kissing booth in Liberty Park; they would've had to take you away in a stretcher!" She grinned and gave Morgan a playful wink as she rifled through the drawers of her desk. "Ah, here we go; ooh, sassy!" She held up a full-color glossy of herself (or rather, Grimalkin) coquettishly looking over her shoulder at the camera, then wiggled her eyebrows with her nose just over the top of the photo. The changeling pulled the cap off the marker with her teeth, and then signed it and inscribed a personal message. "Here you go...enjoy! Always happy to meet a fan."



To Morgan

Remember to Breathe!

Your Sassy Pal, Grimalkin

X X X  O O O


Dropping the Sharpie back into her drawer, Lynn slid it shut and slapped both hands on top of her desk. "Okay, so, back to sanity and business! I am a young entrepreneur looking to protect my place of business from supernatural threats. Whaddya got for me?"

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A more than slightly bashful grin crossed his face as he admired the picture - putting it into an inner coat pocket and patting it. "Thanks. I've been tryin' to keep track of most of the major magic heroes in Freedom City. For obvious reasons." A laugh, as Morgan seemed to be going more at his ease. The tang of cold iron still wafted in the air, though; annoyingly. "S'fine. Okay, so - yeah, back to sanity and business!"


He reached down and picked up the duffel bag, putting it on the side of the desk. "So - right now, after...well, that-" He waved a hand, as if the brief murderthoughts were of no nevermind to him. "-s'pretty obvious you got the whole magic faraday cage rig going up; matches what you told me. Didn't hear any alarms or see anything light up when I tried to power up the gloves, though, so I'm guessing you haven't got any basic alarms or alerts tied to it, right? So - I brought with me a basic rig for our Blinky Light Package."


She saw him unzip the duffel and take out a few oddly shaped stones, along with some stencil cutouts of Gaelic runes, and a can of spraypaint. "Now, normally I'd go with proper metal plates, a blowtorch, and some spot-welding, but since you aren't after a full installation - yet - this stuff's just for a temporary test-drive. Basic installation's fairly straightforward, and I'll do that pro bono today; how it works is these runes-" He tapped the stencils. "-basically tie into your existing system and start to light up when the wards go off. The paint used on these stencils'll then be used to make similar runes on these rocks, principles of sympathy, which'll heat up and start to make a blinky light. Good to keep in a pocket or on your desk, and I encourage decoration. Pet rocks are terrific."


Morgan picked one up, tossing it up and down in his hand. Oddly, his whole explanation didn't sound like a pitch - more like an engineer or an electrician going through the motions. "Normally, I'd be welding a few plates into your building's internal structure; sticking 'em under the floorboards or in the walls, and attaching metal flakes to the rock. Much more permanent and long-term, and with the plates I can work up a whole building reinforcement if you want that as an add-on. As it stands, I reckon you're wanting to see something simple first, before looking into extras or bigger packages?"


Beat. "Bigger security packages. Security."

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Lynn rolled her eyes at Morgan's self-consciousness, but she was intrigued by what he had to offer in terms of security. However, she was starting to get the sense that she should get Gretchen in here; it's not that Gretch knew more about magic than she did (she didn't), but she had a better head for things like security and all things technical.


"Well, the building is a lot tougher than it looks; it's actually solid brick and stone over a steel frame, pretty rare for a two story building at the end of the 19th century. But, if we could make it even tougher, I wouldn't be upset. If you don't mind, I want to bring my partner in on this conversation. She's actually a lot smarter than me, and will probably think of things I'd never even consider."


Her eyes went unfocused for a second as she nodded her head slightly; to Morgan's trained eye, almost certainly some form of mental communication. Sure enough, less than a minute later, Gretchen entered the office. She looked a bit younger than Lynn, and her clothing and demeanor more or less screamed 'angry art student'; she wore an open US Army fatigue jacket over a Nightmare Before Christmas t-shirt, jeans with shredded knees and a pair of Doc Martins. Tattoos on her skin peeked out here and there, most noticeably the words "The Future Is Unwritten' on the knuckles of her left hand. Behind her black plastic-framed glasses she wore a great deal of eye makeup, and multiple piercings of various kinds adorned her ears. Lastly, a beautiful silver ring with a large ruby was on her left index finger.


Gretchen cocked her head to one side for several seconds as she scrutinized Morgan with her dark blue eyes; her gaze was not hostile, merely analytical. Apparently content with what she saw, she simply nodded. "Well, then. Morgan Crowe." She stepped behind the desk and sat on the arm of Lynn's chair, her fingers intertwining with the changeling's.


"Tell us about the big security packages. What can and can't they stop."

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...gee, ask him an easy one, whydontcha. Morgan leaned back in his seat, letting out a rush of air - running his hand through his hair, briefly. She could see the glove and backplate in finer detail now; the runes intricately carved into the iron, the careful and minute adjustments of each line and circle fitting the old lore. Oddly, though, the kid didn't seem to have a lick of personal magic. Funny, that.

"...ask me an open-ended one, why don't you..." He pondered where to go from there. Ultimately, shaking his head. "One sec. I'm - really sorry, I actually have...one moment."


Rummage, rummage. He put a stack of flyers on the table. "Okay. Before I get into anything else - I really should have said this beforehand. First off, I'm not by any stretch of the imagination a 'wizard'. Not a 'warlock', or a 'mage', 'magus', 'magician', or a pretty staggering number of other choices - so don't bother trying to apply one of those titles while I'm going through the package. Secondly, I don't do artifacts of legendary power - I'm not a serious smith or a magical forger. I can do some things, order in others - those'll be on the list - but don't expect indestructible golems wandering about with giant flaming swords. Seriously, those things are a pain in the arse."


Deep breath. Yeah, now he was in full flow.


"Third, don't trust magic wholesale. I cannot stress this enough. Put it this way - I can make something better than a pack of guard dogs and a set of security cameras; and it'll do the job, but determined mundane can get through as the arcane if they know what they're doing. Most don't, but those that do rarely expect guard dogs or security cameras afterwards. Fourth, the impossible is doable, but rarely worth it. And it costs extra."


A crooked smile. "Now that that's clear - asking what they can and can't stop depends on what you want them to stop. Let me take a stab - small business, decent part of town, not far off from the main drag...stick-up artists, shoplifters, maybe the odd second-story man after the rare tomes?"

Edited by Quinn
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Lynn and Gretchen looked at each other, and then back to Morgan. "Uh, we're less concerned about shoplifters than we are about, y'know-"


"Death curses."


"Right, exactly! The 'Three Unforgivables' kinda s###. Necromancy, voodoo dolls, blood-bending, portals to Cthulhu's house under the ocean..."


"Creepy toys coming to life."


"Anything involving ventriloquist's dummies, puppets or mannequins, really."


"Force lightning."


"Force choking, too. Pretty much any Dark Side powers is what we're talking about here, so...yeah."


"If we can afford it."


"If we can afford it."

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He looked a bit blank as they went through that. Okay, so...animation, necromancy, basically anything under the heading of 'dark magic'.


"You know? That portal one? If I hadn't once closed a gap to Dis in the middle of a suburban development, I'd find that mighty odd."




"Anyway. Don't worry about affording. You're already getting a discount and you may qualify for others, depending. I like giving cash breaks." Grin. "Okay, so. My specialty's runes - creation, application, building and breaking. Think like an engineer or an electrician rather than, like..." He waved at Lynn/Grimalkin. "Miss Programmer there. She works with the real thing, I just work with pre-existing systems. That being said, that means I've usually got a reliable answer for anything. It's kind of situational, granted - can't do chaos-based runes when there's, say, live radiation inside. Learned that the hard way experimenting with Baron Katastrof. Fantastic boom, not so much on the protecting property dealie." A snicker.


"So. Blocking black magic can be covered under any package, then - we work on the principle of the four D's. Detect, Distract, Defense, Discourage. Detect malfeasance, magical or otherwise, distract and distract and bamboozle 'em, defend your employees and property, and discourage further action. If you want specifics, tho'...off the top of my head, this building'd probably want the Bodega Special, then. Small, two-story place, half business half home? Downstairs, punch a few holes in the walls and put reinforced rune plates into the main struts, enhancing building structure and serving as a focus point for the detection system, with a master control plate upstairs in a secure location. Now, I see you don't have a camera system, so I can hook you up with that - old-school fat ones, mind, the newer ones tend to burn out fast when you slap a lens of true sight on the front. As for Distract and Defense - you've already got a good ward system, but I can set you up with a more selective, and activatable, Faraday Cage equivalent - a few runes of power in the building corners, taking up a lot of local energy, messes up more than a bit of magic. Add some shield runes sewn into your uniforms and you've got a recipe for giving an attacker the good stuff with a garden hose while they just got a squirt gun. Or just zapping them with a taser."


He stretched. "Combine those with the alarm system I'm already offering, and a few of the 'discourage' options on the flyer, and that's what I'd be comfortable sticking in this building. I've also got cards from a few regular security companies - trustworthy guys, good joes - they can set you up with better quality burglar alarms and locks than I can." Chuckle. "If you like, I did bring kit for a demonstration."

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Suddenly Gretchen rose to her feet and crossed her arms tightly across her chest, and when she spoke, her tone was pure ice; her eyes were hard, and the large ruby on her finger began to pulse like a angry heart. "This store already has a state-of-the-art security system, including hidden high-def cameras, heat and motion detectors and heavy-duty locks. I installed it myself. The fact that you failed to even notice it does not speak well of your skillset."


Lynn's face went pale; she gave Morgan a horrified look as she reached out to gently put a hand on her lover's arm. Her voice was calm and soothing, like a balm on a bad burn. "Honey, hon, that just means you did a really good job. I've always said we should have a few blinky light cameras set up in obvious locations, just to act as a deterrent; Mr. Crowe can put the runes of true sight on those."


"Sure. Why not."


Gretchen's posture became a tad less defiant as the changeling continued to try and smooth things over between the two techs. "The Bodega Special sounds excellent, Mr. Crowe; we're very interested in that. But I think a simple demonstration is a good idea, just to put our minds at ease." 


The ring faded down to its normal shine, and Gretchen slowly resumed her seat at her partner's side, though her gaze nevered wavered; Lynn would probably make one hell of a hostage negotiator!

Edited by Heritage
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...on the one hand, she hadn't laughed at him for missing them. That was pretty cool.


On the other hand, the little voice in his head was now screaming bloody murder about being talked down to. Stupid little voice in his head. Yeah, he hadn't seen the cameras. Or the state of the art detectors. He'd missed it. She was right. Shut up, little voice, we are not calling Chaos down on her head for her impudence and no he was not calling for the Eye to do it here and-


Deep breath. Lynn saw him go stony under Gretchen's tirade, before simply shutting down as she calmed down her girlfriend. He kept a blank face, eyes meeting Gretchen's dead on without twitching - did they spark purple for a - NO. - before shaking his head slightly, and managing to give a somewhat more stilted smile. "Don't suppose you teach classes on concealment, Miss?" The stilted look turned somewhat wry. "Can tell I'm used to dealing with older tech. Less likely to go on the fritz when you slap a rune on it, but a lot more obvious."


Cough. "...anyway. If you, uh, want a demonstration..." He cast about for a subject change before the slow roil in his gut got worse. Shut up, Eye. "You got a storage room or a box or something? I can put a basic demo on that, null sweat."

Edited by Quinn
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It took a second for Lynn to respond, but then she shook her head and spoke. "Sorry! Um, yes, we have...here!" She stood up and indicated that he step behind her desk. "This is my great-grandfather's safe." It was a big steel box bolted to the floor in the back corner of the office.


Lynn drew a circle in the air with her finger, then reached into the resulting hole, her hand disappearing up to her wrist. She fished out an old-fashioned key ring with several large keys with she playfully tossed to the young 'magitech'. "Here you go; it's the long skinny one."


By now, Gretchen was now almost completely calmed down, but she had a hard time meeting Morgan's gaze; instead, she moved into Lynn's chair and wordlessly checked Grimalkin's website with her phone.

Edited by Heritage
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Oh thank God, they were talking business now. Morgan didn't bother trying to force Gretchen to meet his eyes, instead letting out a long rush of air and popping up to his feet - adopting a perky (...no, not crazed) look that even the Perennially Preposterously Peppy Part-Fae across from him might have seen as excessive. He clapped his hands together and hefted up his duffel bag. "Excellent! Safe's a nice safe test site, straight angles, durable, and that's an old-school one too, so it won't show scorch marks. Lemme just pop it open so you can empty the thing."


A neat little two-step over to it, and he knelt down - knocking at the side, examining the structure, leaning down, going around the back. "So! Either of you two worked with this kind of magic, before?" He poked his head up from behind it - speaking in a truly ridiculous Scottish brogue. "Magik roonz, lassies?"


He turned the key to pop the thing open, gesturing for Lynn to clean out the inside. Just in case.

Edited by Quinn
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At the sound of his Scottish burr, Lynn chuckled as mists danced around her form, forming into an approximation of traditional Highland dress. Meanwhile, her hair tumbled down to her shoulders in deep red curls, her eyes went green and sparking, and her pale skin was splashed with freckles across her nose.


"Ach, nae! I cannae say I have!" She knelt down, her lovely dress rustling slightly as she pulled out the lockbox from inside the safe, along with a few zippered vinyl pouches. She stood and looked for a place to put them, noticed her portal in the air was still open, and then drew it open wider with her fingers before depositing them in the space beyond. It looked like the bower of a wild animal, underneath the roots of a great tree. The floor was soft with pine needles, and sunlight filtered in through the gaps between the roots and earth.


Closing the portal with a flick of her fingers, she sighed with satisfaction, hands on her hips. "There we go, safe as houses! Right then, back to your wee runes, laddie!"


For her part, Gretchen merely rolled her eyes and shook her head as she continued to text.

Edited by Heritage
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"Oh, for a claymore and a machine gun prosthetic." He finished, dryly - though he did sneak a few covert glances. Redhead. She had to go for redhead. Oy.


"So, layman's terms, what I'm doing is basically the equivalent of taking a computer program or a DVD and sliding it into a computer. Your systems are already set up, see - I'm just installing a new program." A hand snaked into his bag and popped out one of those stencils, followed by a spray-paint can. "What we have here-" Morgan held up the stencil, a rune that looked like a very straight lightning bolt. His other hand shaking about, the spray-paint going shooka-shooka-shooka. "-is an Eihwaz rune. Eihwaz, not Ehwaz. Veeeery different. Defense, trustworthiness, protection, motivation. Fun fact, I've actually recorded a minor efficiency increase when security guards carry stones with these in their pockets." Grin.


He slapped the stencil on. "So, slap this on, empower with a bit of the local ambient power, salt to taste with my own paint mixture and the flakes of the connecting runestones, and hey presto - you've got a basic protection on your safe. Thieves'll find their tools breaking, mishearing combination clicks, or worst-case, the safe'll seal shut. Pain in the butt for you, sure, but they won't have what's in it." Shooka-shooka-shooka.


"Oh, and remember, NEVER get one of these stencils reversed. Reversed rune does the exact opposite - in our Eihwaz's case, confusion, destruction, and fallibility. You'd be like to have the safe collapse on you." Chuckle. "Anywho..." PSHHHHT.


The paint was a dark green, hard to see against the safe - but it glistened only for a few seconds. Morgan muttered a few words in the Ould Gaelic, pushing the safe door shut and locking it - before reaching and tapping his fingers onto the rune. A faint glow, and the safe just seemed...realer. Like it was just that much more...solid.


A satisfied nod, and he rapped on the top with his knuckles. "Oookay...so, quick-and-dirty like that oughta last you...oh, about a day, maybe two. Either of you have a pair of bobby pins you wouldn't mind losing?"

Edited by Quinn
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Despite herself, Gretchen turned around and sort of peeped over the back of the chair to see what Morgan was up to, the technician in her too intrigued to ignore it. Meanwhile 'Highland Lynn', smelling faintly of pine and heather, listened intently to the magician's explanation, gleaning some of what was being said, but a lot of it was frankly going over her head. It wasn't that Lynn was stupid (she was, in fact, fairly bright), but anything that felt too much like homework tended to make her eyelids heavy; her free-spirited nature rebelled at too much order..


At the mention of bobby pins, however, she actually laughed out loud. "'Bobby pins'? I don't think I've even touched a bobby pin in years! Let me have a look in the drawers, though; I hold on to all kinds of junk."  The redhead began to slide open various drawers on her desk, rummaging around and occasionally sniffing the air. "Maybe I was too optimistic; I don't think I have any- ah-hah! Found some!"


She handed them over to Morgan and leaned in closer, eager to see a bit of magic demonstrated.

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Oh, he loved it when they were interested. He cracked his knuckles, taking the bobby pins. "Okay, so most magic is pretty overt if you know what to look for. Always on, right? I can't sense it like a proper wiz, but the gloves popping off like that says ward-on, apply directly to magic."


With an oddly deft hand, he started working at the lock - with a steady click-click-click sound. "Beautiful thing about runes? They're like anti-virus programs, off until you need them. Means often, they're below the radar, your average baddo can't see or sense 'em. Means your happy little burglar's working away at the lock, doesn't know he's tripping the rune, and the alarm." Smirk. "Which means here's Johnny Robber getting his rocks off breaking his picks or ruining his clippers, and doesn't know it's because of the magic little dingus in the ba-"



Well. That was...unexpected. One moment he'd been happily working away - the next, there was a sharp scream from the metal on the back of the safe, a twist and a crunch - and then an earsplitting blast that sent the young man bouncing across the floor, to impact into the wall; face covered in soot. A massive voice rung through the office, clear and unmerciful, echoing with the sound of ages!




A figure, rather well-framed and broad of shoulder, could be seen in the smoke; stretching and waving, the squat block of the safe right underneath it.

Edited by Quinn
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