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“What was that today?” Jessie asked before taking a bite of her Eggplant Parmesan.
They were celebrating the successful completion of the job at Ralph Smith Honda. Kyle had sprung for dinner at one of the most expensive restaurants in town.
He cut into his steak, took a bite, and sighed. It was as soft as butter. Apparently, when you paid that much for a meal you got something worth eating. “Someone attacked us.”
“Someone started yanking apart the spell while I was trying to cast it. Anyone trained in magic can do that once they’re aware of a spell. They didn’t know anything about the spell’s trigger so they were easy to fight. You only saw the effects at round three. At that point they cast their spell over mine.” He grinned, “But they still did a crap job of it. The RealDreams monitors the spell as it progresses changing the light output of the illusion to cancel out any visual interference, so all I had to do was give it enough power…”
Jessie waved him off, “Please spare me the explanation.”
“Well you asked.”
“I didn’t need you to get technical. ‘Other magi messed with me,’ would have worked.”
Kyle grinned. “Other magi messed with me.”
“Oh! I now understand. Wasn’t that easy?”
“Do you have any enemies you know of?” She stressed ‘know’ oddly as though she thought he might have made a host of enemies he didn’t know about.
Kyle ate another mouthful of perfect steak and thought about the question. He also thought about the steak. Once he was rich he was going to come here way more often. “Like I said, it could have been anyone. Probably just a hacker mage. Some kid in high school who did particularly well in their magic classes and decided to apply it by messing up my illusion.”
“You think it’s, ‘just kids?'” She didn’t seem convinced.
“Sure, haven’t you ever seen an advertising illusion do something odd? I remember this one, someone had changed a dragon advertisement so that the fire wasn’t coming out of it’s mouth, it was coming out of its… Uh, they messed with it.”
Jessie giggled, “Were you about to say something indelicate?”
“OK, the fire was shooting out of it’s butt. Great fiery gouts of it. It was a relatively dumb hack for the most part. They just flipped the flames and moved them over to the other side of the illusion. It didn’t even look very good. I guess it’s the thought that counts with something like that.”
“Too much information, dude,” Jessie deadpanned then broke up laughing when she saw the look on Kyle’s face. “Sorry, just kidding. Do you really think it was students?” She seemed to consider something that made her a little nervous. She looked around the restaurant like she expected someone to be watching. Kyle looked around as well. As far as he could tell even the wait staff was ignoring them. “You had a pretty big illusion going there, maybe bigger than I’ve ever seen. Surely it wasn’t easy to disrupt.”
Kyle stabbed his last bite of steak, then thought about what Jessie was saying. “Um, well magical security involves a lot more than size. Actually, input power is more important and my power requirements are still pretty low, but you’re probably right. They used a lot of energy trying to block out my illusion; that wasn’t cheap. I guess that means it wasn’t a student.” He sighed, and this time it wasn’t over the quality of the steak. “Thanks so much for making me think about that before tomorrow.” She shrugged, then focused on her plate leaving an awkward silence hanging in the air. It was like she suddenly wasn’t comfortable with the topic. That was odd, it was her topic. She probably just liked her food as well, though he noticed she’d mostly just picked at it. He thought back to her first question. “I suppose I do have an enemy. Thomas the Illusionist. He controls most of the industry. When I was researching him I even found a conspiracy site about the ‘suspicious’ problems companies have when they try to compete with Thomas Illusions. At least, I assumed it was a conspiracy site at the time.”
Jessie cut up some of her food, then pushed it around on her plate with her fork. She didn’t eat any, and she answered without looking up. “A near monopoly on illusion is probably worth good money.”
“He’s one of the world’s richest men.”
“Do you suppose he has spies?”
Kyle raised his eyebrows. “Spies? Isn’t that a little, I don’t know, dramatic?”
She shrugged and looked at her plate some more. He wondered if he was making her uncomfortable somehow.
He thought about spies a bit more, “I suppose corporate espionage is a thing. The existence of my spell got back to Thomas very quickly. It wouldn’t be unreasonable if someone is still paying attention.”
Jessie looked around the restaurant again. They were still being roundly ignored. Kyle didn’t even see anywhere someone could have hidden and listened to them. At length she spoke quietly, “If there’s a way to secure phones and things, it might be worthwhile.”
Kyle didn’t like the idea, but he couldn’t disagree. “Maybe.”