Ivan, still in bear form roared at Kyle. Kyle groaned, he needed to be done with this stupidity sooner rather than later.
He tried again, “Ivan! Comrade fuzzball! I know you don’t lose your whole brain when you’re a bear, so pay attention! You need to turn back so I can stun you and we can be done with this.”
Ivan swiped at the “rock” barrier knocking more of whatever magic material it was made of out of it. Distantly, Kyle noted that the little shards of rock vanished before they hit the floor. Whatever the spell was, bits of it weren’t holding together after they left the main mass. When Ivan was in bear form his mind was different neither entirely human nor entirely bear. The situation couldn’t be described any better than that because his classic style magic changed reality in ways no one understood. Ivan’s explanation of the condition had been, “I get too into it. Sometimes brother bear talks me into things.” That sounded like pure mysticism, but who knew, maybe there were bear spirits in the alternate reality activated by the magic.
A little desperate, Kyle bent down, untied one shoe, took it off, and chucked it at the bear. He was hoping it would catch Ivan’s attention long enough to get him back on plan. To some extent, it worked. At least it didn’t fail outright, the bear stopped its roaring and scratching and looked up at Kyle with what he had to interpret as a confused look. “Ivan, we aren’t really fighting! This is an act and the cameras are off. Turn back into a human now!”
The bear seemed to consider that. Unfortunately, whatever train of thought it entertained didn’t immediately reach the correct station because it started to turn back toward the barrier. Capitalizing on success even though it made him feel foolish, Kyle snatched off his other shoe as quickly as he could and tossed it at the bear. This shoe also bounced off its nose, and once again the bear turned back to him looking perplexed. A bear could pull that off surprisingly well. “Ivan, turn human now!”
Maybe it was the angry mother style reprimand, but that finally did the trick. The bear reared up on its hind legs and scratched at its neck with its paw, then there was a ripple and Ivan stood at the base of the stairs as a human, his cloak once again open.
“Sorry, I got carried away.”
“Yeah, I gathered. No harm I guess, but we’ve got deadlines. Do you want to sit down before I stun you? You could fall and hit your head if you don’t.”
“Yah,” Ivan nodded and then sat. Kyle made a few quick gestures. Rude ones actually, they’d been used by an otherwise forgotten Germanic tribe and recorded as a magical trigger by the Romans. His hands filled with green fire, and he pitched it at Ivan. Ivan slumped to the floor unconscious. Kyle thought he heard sirens in the distance, so he ran rather than walked up the remaining flights of stairs.
* * *
Jessie looked down at the red globe of light floating above her hand. It had brightened a moment ago. Did that mean Kyle had received her message and she could cancel the spell and get out of the building? Or was it just that her spell had killed his and now it had more magic to work with. She didn’t know.
They should have arranged an acknowledge signal. Kyle could have activated the green light when he got her message. That or they could have used cell phones or radios like sensible people. When they’d been planning this, Charles had suggested using Oritos to communicate and it had seemed perfectly reasonable. After all, what else would an Enchanted and a rogue mage use to communicate? It was only now that Jessie realized taking communications advice from a guy born before Alexander Graham Bell was probably a bad idea.
Maybe she could still see him on the cameras even though they were turned off. She flicked the light away from her palm, well willed it away really, but it helped to gesture at it, and turned back to the computer swatting its mouse to wake it up. Unfortunately, the part of the security program that controlled the cameras had shut down while she’d been looking at her hand like a dummy. It had probably done that because it was useless after she’d shut down the cameras. She might be able to bring it up by starting them again, but that would be kind of the opposite of what she was looking to accomplish.
Then she noticed a second window lurking behind the main security interface. She brought it up, and at first thought she’d found the cameras again. However, there wasn’t any picture. It was just the same recording controls with a few added volume options.
“Crap!” It looked like the system was still recording sound! Jessie shut that down as quickly as she could, though it took a little fumbling. Could it really have been recording sound independent of video? She was sure Ivan hadn’t said anything about that, but then again he’d been a little hazy on a lot of the security software details. His job had been to watch the system, not to configure it. Jessie shut down the remainder of the security program just in case. Then she decided she’d given Kyle all the time she could manage and made for the door.