So, something just came up.
During my meeting with the Pope, François went to the bathroom and didn’t come back. He’s not in any of the stalls in the city hall.
Naturally, we’re all alarmed about this, and we’re looking for him as fast as we can.
Glenn will continue guarding the Pope. We have a hunch. It’s not a coincidence that François went missing while His Holiness is here. If at any point of time we determine that the Pope is in actual danger, we have a plan ready. We are not going to let him come to harm on our watch.
Alpha and Beta have moved in. They’re working to dispel every enchantment they can. François’ housemates have fled. The stench Paul made is that bad. It doesn’t bother Alpha and Beta. They can smell, so can Prometheus, Valerie recently installed that upgrade in them, but they can turn it off on command.
I think everyone who has ever owned a fluffy has wished that they could do that.
Speaking of Valerie, I’ve just blipped to her lab with Marley.
I know, blipper etiquette, but this is urgent.
Just as I’m about to tell the Nerd Squad why I’m here, we notice something on one table.
It looks… kind of like an ant farm, filled with blue gel. Angus the pictsie is here too, looking at it.
But instead of having ants inside…
It has tiny fluffies inside.
“Fwuffy wub jewwy nummies!”
“Hewwo nyu fwend!”
“Enf! Enf! Enf! Enf! Enf!”
“Crivens, look at 'em go! They dinnae have any shame!”
Me and Marley are caught completely off guard by this.
Everyone else turns to us, and Valerie smiles.
“They’re called micro fluffies, Cal. One of our newest projects. Alex here is a brilliant geneticist, he’s been working on them, using Hank’s DNA.”
Alex steps up. By now I’m pretty sure his last name has always been Ginger. I think I was just being paranoid about that.
“Yes, Angus here requested it. He and his clan have grown rather fond of fluffies, and now that their mound has been moved, they wanted to get some. As pets, Marley, don’t give me that look.”
“Aye, from wut we hear, they’re nae very tasty, ye ken. But tha normal-sized ones dinnae fit in oor mound.”
“I’ll have to make them a bit hardier before they’re ready for that. Fluffies are fragile enough at normal size.”
Marley cracks a grin.
“Pwesent com-puh-nee ecks-epp-ted, Mawwey pwee-soom.”
“Oh, of course, Marley. X-Positive fluffies are more durable than most, and you’re more durable than most X-Positives in general.”
“Mawwey am da stwongest fwuffy awive.”
“You’re just like Cal.”
Angus grins down at Marley.
“Aye, I tole Reiny, I’d be happy to welcome ye both into me clan. But ye dinnae fit in oor mound either, ye ken.”
Angus mentioning Reiner reminds me why I’m here.
I turn to Valerie.
“Your grandfather’s gone missing. He was at the city hall with us, he went to the bathroom, he didn’t come back. Des tried finding him with magic, but François blocked it. Des is calling a meeting with the other wizards so they can combine their powers, but it’d help if we had technology looking for him too. Deploy the drones, stealth 'em.”
Valerie, clever as she is, got all of it.
She starts fiddling with her COMP.
I turn to Jack, who was watching Miles work out the last few bugs in the Fluffigotchi’s code.
“Jack. I’ve got a job for you, too. It’s time we found out exactly what happened three hundred years ago.”
I tell Jack about the destruction of the Faucheuse family’s house, and the plaque commemorating the exact date it happened.
“Got it. I’ll grab a cloaking device and move out to France immediately. If I’m invisible and intangible, it’s like I’m not even in the past.”
“It just occurred to me. Won’t you going back create a branching timeline? That’s what happened when Future Quin and Marley came back. And the Caldroid.”
Jack smiles rather smugly.
“I’ve danced with Lady Time plenty of times by now, Cal. Love the metaphor, by the way. But I don’t usually dance with women.”
“Not judging. You do you.”
“See, if only everyone was that okay with it. My point is, going back won’t create a branching timeline if I don’t want it to. Time didn’t branch when Adam sent us 14000 years into the past.”
“Yeah, but Adam had a lot more raw power to work with. The Phase Distorter needs a lot of power to go back without branching time, too.”
“That’s because it takes a lot of power to force changes upon your own timeline. Simply splitting the timeline takes a lot less power. People do it all the time, Cal. Every time they make a decision. But me, I don’t have to force the timeline to change, I just have to… persuade it. If I’m careful, my presence in the past won’t change history. It’s not like I’d step on a butterfly and suddenly, Nazis.”
“What have butterflies ever done to you, Jack?”
Jack laughs at that, and prepares to move out.
At that point, I hear Because I Got High playing.
Ah, phone call.
I pick it up, hearing a panicked man speaking quickly with a French Canadian accent.
“Slow down, Mr. Trudeau, I can’t make out what you’re-- What? What?!? That big?!? And it’s heading my way? Fuck. Sorry, it just slipped out. I’ve already got a situation going on here, I didn’t need this. I’ll get my people on it immediately. Call our President, let him know too. Don’t send any troops, either of you, they’re not trained to deal with this. Thanks for letting me know.”
After I hang up, I turn to Valerie again.
“Legion is coming. And it’s bigger than we could have imagined now. I don’t know where it found that many herds. We need everyone on this.”
Meanwhile, Alpha and Beta work on dispelling every enchantment they find in François’ townhouse. Since the house’s residents have all been vacated, the drones monitoring the house are now searching for François elsewhere.
Paul has left to get himself cleaned up, because a lot of those poopies he sprayed around the living room got on him.
Alpha notices one door in a hallway full of identical doors that sets off his built-in thaumometer. That’s basically a magic detector. Hans was planning on exterminating wizardkind too.
“Pretty sure this door goes straight outside.”
Alpha looks through the wall around the door. He uses the same tech that Pierre’s drones use to see through walls. The exact same tech. Hans really was a hack.
“Yup. There’s no balcony or anything. So this is obviously a magic door. The question is, where does it actually go? Hey, Beta! Come take a look at this, babe!”
Beta exits the master bedroom and walks over.
“François’ staff isn’t here, Alpha. Did Cal say he brought it with him to the city hall?”
“No, he’s pretty sure François went without it.”
“Oh. But what’s up?”
“I found a magic door. I think it goes somewhere else.”
“All doors go somewhere else.”
“You know what I mean. Somewhere not here. It’s locked with magic, too.”
“So? Just dispel it. Oh wait, but if we do that…”
“Then we risk dispelling the entire door. We won’t know where it leads. If there’s something important on the other side, we won’t know.”
“But if there’s something dangerous on the other side, dispelling the door would keep it there.”
“You’re right. Curiosity killed the cat, it ain’t killing us.”
Both robots point their hands at the door, preparing to fire their anti-magic rays at it.
“Ready, Beta? On three.”
“I’m ready, hun.”
Adam and Beta suddenly vanish.
François walks up next to where Alpha and Beta were standing.
He’s followed by two more Françoises. All three of them are empty-handed.
They all speak in unison.
“That was a close one.”
They don’t have to do that. But François enjoys the effect it creates.
Alpha and Beta find themselves firing their anti-magic rays at a completely non-magical kangaroo.
They’re strange creatures, yes, but they’re not magical creatures. So it doesn’t hurt the kangaroo one bit.
The kangaroo stares blankly at the two robots for a few seconds before it gets bored and hops away.
The two robots look around.
Alpha seems particularly exasperated.
“Australia, again? Oh man, this brings up some bad memories. But I needed to hear what Cal said that day.”
Somewhere south of the border between Canada and the USA, Legion stomps towards Calvin’s city, still shielding its vampiric masters from the sun.
Ed spots a herd down below. Vampires have excellent vision.
“Hey, Legion! Stomp that herd!”
“Fwee cheews fow da Cownt.”
Thirty more ferals join the Legion.
“Ha haaaaa! Nice one, big guy! You got 'em all in one go!”
“Fwee cheews fow da Cownt.”
“I really wish you’d say something else.”
“Ouw… ouw name am Wee-gun… fow we am… manee…”
“Well, it’s a start.”