Knife in the Ribs
a Whateley Universe vignetteApril Fool's Day Prank
Knife in the Ribs
by Diane Castle
He looked up from his desk and focused. It was important to use his magics carefully, so that no one on campus realized he had the power, or the knowledge. Ahh. Good. He still had several minutes before anyone paid any more attention to his workings.
Workings. That brought to mind his spellwork that the little bitch Bladedancer had destroyed. He had spent days teaching Hekate how to lay that out, and had even ensnared the girl by making her put her own sigil within it. He hadn’t been that foolish, but a Wizard like Circe would have been able to tell a couple things about him from it. Nonetheless, he needed to investigate the child Geomancer. If she had a natural talent for manipulating ley lines, he might need to remove her. It would be preferable if he could suborn her or enslave her, but it was best to have multiple backup plans, just in case. And if Bladedancer was going to be a continuing problem, it might be best if everyone believed Bladedancer had killed Geomancer. That seemed… oddly manageable.
It was a shame that Hekate was no longer on campus. But the chit had failed abysmally in her quest to enslave Fey. He smirked evilly at the notion of having that particular luscious redhead under his thumb. Hekate had failed, but he would succeed. Not today, though. He had other tasks to attend to. He had just heard back from Darrow. He still had trouble thinking of Darrow as an old man held together by alien power armor. He kept seeing Darrow as the eager young pup who had been so excited to learn how to construct his own Arc of Souls. But that had been so long ago. And now he was in the body of a youth, while Darrow slowly decayed, both physically and mentally.
But Darrow’s report had been most informative. Team Kimba was proving to be quite the thorn in Darrow’s side. He laughed to himself. How could anyone believe Team Kimba was a threat to him? He knew all their strengths, and all their weaknesses. Several of their team had raw power. So what? So did many other mutants. He planned on taking all their power for his own, when he was ready.
It was the subtler members who interested him. He knew why Don Sebastiano’s plan to ensnare Fey and Chaka had gone astray. A minor scrying had revealed the truth of that. He even knew why Hekate’s most infamous failure – the one with which Don Sebastiano still tormented her – had failed so drastically. He snorted in amusement. Idiot children. If he had known ahead of time that Hekate was trying such a transformation spell, he would have made up an excuse to stop her, just to prevent her from realizing that her target was immune to a spell like that, but in the long run there was no harm done. Hekate was on the run – temporarily, at least – and Don Sebastiano had all the magical knowledge of a lead pipe.
He smiled at the metaphor. Yes, The Don was little more than a blunt instrument, wielded by a master of a mysterious martial art. He had enjoyed his game with The Don. It had taken almost a year to turn it all into a minor war, complete with ridiculous attacks at other teams and helpless pawns. But it had furthered his goals in ways no one else could begin to comprehend. The Don was no more than a pawn in his game. Plus, it had given him an excuse to teach Hekate the spell of Ogun’s Collar and then let her try it out on those dimwitted lovers Cavalier and Skybolt. He laughed to himself at their idiocy. Ancient, dark magics like Ogun’s Collar were difficult to attempt, and carried great risks for the careless. So it had been an interesting test of Hekate’s competence. He had been pleased that she pulled it off, and didn’t go insane from her exposure to the taint of the Mythos within. It should have been obvious to the entire school that Cav and Sky were enslaved by magics so ancient that even Circe didn’t know them. And it should have been obvious to anyone with an IQ above room temperature that such magics had to have an origin. A logical origin from which someone could learn them. He had expected someone to investigate the students who had family histories of magic or Voudoun or shamanism. But no one had even thought to check him out, much less one of the half a dozen other campus students who obviously could have had access to something like that. Fools. They were all fools. They deserved to suffer from his ultimate goal.
He stared at his working. He had three projects going on in the deviser labs this very second. Not that he was touching any of them. No, all of them were projects that he was manipulating from afar. Even the deviser directly under his thumb had no idea that she was developing a side project that would soon pay dividends for him. The other devisers were easily swayed, either through exchanges and trades, or through more direct mental control. They had no Exemplar or magical protection from his powers, and hence were so easily manipulated into working on what they thought were their own concepts.
Yes. The new biomorphology experiments by Delta Spike were moving forward nicely. It was such a shame that, as soon as she had the next success he was awaiting, another ‘dynamorph’ would sweep in and destroy all her weeks of work. She had never realized just what liabilities her origin gave her. Delta Spike was a product of the inventions of the mad deviser Doctor Pygmalion. Doctor Pyg liked to kidnap young male mutants and turn them into extremely powerful, extremely attractive young female mutants. But Doctor Pyg wasn’t fool enough to gift angry victims with such power. No, he mentally enslaved them too. Each of his creations was a bimbo who thought of him as a demigod who deserved her worship. Delta Spike had tricked the doctor into ‘capturing’ her and turning into a gorgeous girl, and had been fortunate enough that the authorities had arrived at the perfect moment. After the physical transformation, but before the mental one. Delta seemed to be unaware that she had gambled everything on getting the authorities to come in and rescue her in what amounted to a fifty-second window. More importantly for his own goals, she was utterly unaware that she had a significant mental imprinting from Doctor Pyg’s devises, and could be mentally maneuvered by anyone who understood how those devises worked.
Yes. The new experiment by Nephandus was moving apace. The boy never seemed to understand why all his hard work continually failed at the least convenient moment. He had no intention of revealing that he was going to keep making Nephandus look like a campus joke. If Nephandus was ever understood to be competent, people in the Bad Seeds might question why Nephandus had not developed anything of use in so long. It was much better that people failed to realize that the most valuable work done by Nephandus was being done while Nephandus was under hypnotic control.
And yes, Thunderfox was moving along so well on her latest invention. Sexy, luscious Thunderfox. So much easier to delude and control that the prettier, better-endowed, but deplorably stubborn Mindbird. He would wait until the right moment to pluck that particular plum. Meanwhile, Thunderfox was his best pawn in the deviser labs.
One of his alarms triggered, and he hastily removed his working. Then he carefully constructed his magical ‘mask’ so that his true self was invisible to any casual contact with mages or Psis. Even that filth Fubar had not been able to penetrate his mask. Not that anyone had seen this particular masking spell in several millennia. He hadn’t taught it to Hekate, but he had planned to. And now it looked like he might yet be able to, if Darrow was correct, and there was a way to free Hekate from that Sidhe curse.
He placed a textbook on his desk and waited for several seconds. At the knock, he cheerfully said, “Come in!”
Stonebear stuck his head in the door. “It’s TNT again. We gotta go.”
He put his book down and said, “Right. The Wild Pack has to protect this campus.”
And it was so true. He needed to push the campus in just the right ways, so that the ley lines would form with nexi in precisely the right places. He needed to pretend to be the campus hero, while letting all manner of violence and bullying slip ‘under the radar’. He needed a sorceress like Hekate as his pawn, even if the little bitch wasn’t smart enough to realize that the only way her attack on Stormwolf could have failed was if Stormwolf himself was a far greater mage than she was. If, in fact, Stormwolf was Hekate’s Master.
Adam Ironknife ran down the stairs, plotting what damage he could do simply by apprehending those TNT idiots in a way that made things worse down the line…