Jessie had worked a lot of jobs for Charles. Normally, he’d just point her at a Magical IP target of particular interest to the Archmagi, and she’d go and nab a wizard who’d come up with the brilliant idea that maybe they could use a spell without paying. It had mostly been very easy, the sorcerers had been the first group that seemed prepared to fight. Better yet, the pay was great.
Kyle was clearly uncomfortable with her work, and Jessie had been at first as well. After all, IP Bounty Hunters had been used against them by Thomas, but Charles had been patient about that. He’d been willing to explain what each of the men had done and why they were a real threat that needed dealt with. His explanations were convincing. Apparently, spells were doing some pretty important things in industry: holding together the containment on fusion bottles, and keeping half built buildings from collapsing while they were full of workers. If someone started using one of those spells, they could fail. That would be bad, typically there was a backup in place for the fallible magic, but you really didn’t want a major power plant leaning on its backups.
Jessie had even independently verified the first few targets Charles had sent her after. They were, to the best of her ability to determine, legit with exactly the consequences Charles had described. The whole thing was kind of a revelation. First, she now understood why Magical IP laws were so very serious. Second, she understood why it had been easy for Thomas to sick a squad of paramilitary goons on Kyle and her. In the end, she came to the conclusion that she was doing good work.
She’d expected infiltrating the Children of Atlantis to be similar. They’d get quick instructions from Charles, questions about the job answered, and a plane ticket. That wasn’t the case at all. They were working with the Department of Homeland Security’s Task Force on Magical Terrorism, or the DHS:TMT if that somehow seemed like less of a mouthful. As such, they had to meet with Jeff Sandborn an agent attached to that task force.
There was a plane involved though, they flew to Las Cruces. Some of the actual infiltration work was going to take place there, and it was reasonably near the controlling agency’s main office in Albuquerque. Plus, Charles had business contacts there- something to do with genetic engineering or magical genetic engineering. At any rate, he got them a private place for their meeting through a local business.
The office was beautiful. Well, not the office, that was three floors of fairly standard modern corporate architecture in the city’s east side. It had mirrored glass windows, lots of swooping lines, and a big name and logo on the side. However, the view out of the building’s top floor conference room was beautiful. It looked out on a stretch of desert which rose up to the purple bulk of the Organ mountains. The desert plain was surprisingly green. Apparently the spring rains had been good, and all of the patient spiny plants out on the plain had decided it would be a good time to send out flowers and maybe have a couple of kids. Still, Jessie was happy to be inside the building looking out. It had been hot outside.
The trio arrived a bit before Jeff Sandborn and the other attendees to the meeting so Jessie had a bit of unscheduled time to sip coffee and admire the view. Before what she thought of as “the combat spell” had been laid into her DNA Jessie hadn’t much liked coffee. Now she thought it was great. However, that didn’t represent a change in her tastes; it represented a change in the way she prepared her coffee.
The stuff she was drinking probably had at least 500 calories of sugar and full fat cream stirred into it. It was basically a milkshake, and she could barely taste the Java under all the additives. Back when she’d been normal she never would have taken it like that, but now she fought a constant battle with her weight. A battle to keep it on.
When she activated the spell, among other things, her body burned sugar a lot faster than a normal person could. An hour’s worth of activation and activity could easily suck up thousands of calories. She ate big meals, and only ran the spell a little, but she’d still periodically stepped on the scales to find she’d lost weight that she couldn’t afford to leave off. Even in her equilibrium state more of her collar bone was visible than she would have liked, one cup size was gone in her bra, and her hip bones were just under the skin at her waist. It had changed the way she thought about things. She’d started giving money to a couple of third world food charities, and she now found herself slightly jealous of the effortlessly plump. However, she could eat junk food whenever she wanted.
And that was the “nice” part of the spell. Involuntarily, her mind went back to the previous week when she’d nipped Kyle on the nose. Jessie kind of liked Kyle. He’d helped her out when she’d been in a rough spot, at least mostly. That had been complicated. Then he’d stuck by her when they’d both been in a rough spot. He was even cute in a “clueless unfashionable” way. Her attraction hadn’t developed into anything because they’d both been busy, but Jessie thought he reciprocated the and was psyching himself up to ask her out. If he did that, she would likely say yes, and she’d even flirted a little to egg him on.
Had she ruined all of that by biting him? Maybe she’d communicated more than she wanted about her attraction? Maybe she’d come across as some sort of beast. That was what she hated most about the spell, it made her someone other than herself. She imagined it must be what people who suffered from manic episodes must feel like. They had this thing that would switch on, and it would make them feel good, and even allow them to get a lot done, but at the same time someone else is at the helm of their mind and that someone wouldn’t make good decisions.
Screw Thomas, really.