Glamour

Hey all, sorry for disappearing for a week. I've been battling some writer's block and time management... stuff. Trying to recalibrate and get back on the writing habit. So, here's hopefully the first of my next streak of unbroken on-time blog posts. I'm aiming for oh... at least six months. Hope you enjoy this one.


Harford, March 11th — At 6 o’clock, the electric lights’ harsh glow in Mr. B---’s stately town home drawing room was diffused through the glamour rendering the room like the grounds at his estates in L--- County. At 6:01, several ruffians of the anarchist Radical Truth Brigade had overpowered Mr. B---’s staff and detonated a spirit bomb underneath the drawing room. This reporter is sadly obliged to say that many young ladies and not a few of the men present were thus unmasked as practitioners of glamourist vanities.

The men were most egregious is their usage, everyone thus unmasked hiding faces running to paunch, between 10 and 15 years of aging, scars, missing teeth, and in one memorable case, a missing eye. The collective shock of so many prominent men unmasked from the vanity of projecting virility no longer in their possession quite distracted the crowd from the young ladies for several moments.

Once the crowd’s attention turned to the young ladies, this reporter observed that most of the ladies thus unmasked were practitioners of the feminine art of subtlety, having used and lost no more from their glamours as from their make-up cases. Several had chosen to dress-up their sartorial choices, but again dear readers, they seem to have done no more with their weaves of glamour than a skilled lady with a needle and good thread could do.

No, dear readers, the shock of the night came upon viewing the unmasking of the notorious blue-stockings and agitators for ‘female emancipation’ Miss A--- and Mrs. C---

Dear readers, once the glamours of the night were removed, they were revealed as stunning examples of feminine beauty. Graceful of arm and neck, fair of skin, and, in Mrs. C---’s case, stunning blue eye color.

Miss A--- granted me the favor of a brief interview on her way to her carriage under the condition that I quote her completely. Condition agreed to, I asked her why she chose to appear to society in her typical plain manner, bespectacled no less (said spectacles having disappeared with the glamours). Her answer, and true to my word, cited here in its entirety: “You try being most improperly propositioned at age twelve because your bosom has begun growing and see what you value.”

Miss A--- did not vouchsafe me the name of the cad who so accosted her seven years ago.

Gravas's Rules for Newbie FBI Mages

  1. Do not transform into your badass were-self in the elevators
    1. There's cameras in there
      1. Not all the security folks know about magic
      2. You're totally naked for bits during a transformation. Don't do that to the security guys and gals
    2. Some of y'all are bigger than the car!
  2. Yes, yes it's very cool you can conduct electricity under your skin but tasing your computer in frustration is counter productive
  3. That's not electricity that's magic
    1. You're having magical growing pains
    2. Go to the mage gym and work that off, RIGHT NOW
  4. Special Agent Delacroix, the female one, is God and chief scientist.
    1. Don't tell Supervisory Special Agent Jones. It'll just make him sad.
    2. Do not earn her angry face.
    3. Tell her about the cool new magic thing you did
      1. She'll tell you how to do it better and for less energy.
      2. She’ll teach everyone how to do it.
    4. Learn the new tricks she teaches. They’ll save your life.
  5. Special Agent Delacroix, the male one, is God’s right hand man, Team Mom, and confessor.
    1. Do not earn his I’m disappointed in you face.
      1. It's like kicking a puppy.
      2. The tech support staff will make your life miserable.
      3. When tech support is unhappy, we all suffer.
    2. That dumb thing you did in the field? Tell him right now.
      1. He can't fix it if he doesn't know about it.
      2. He can't teach you how to do better if he doesn't know about it.
  6. The kids we're in the field for are more important than our pride
    1. You will do dumb, stupid, humiliating things in order to convince them to let you help
    2. No one will give you shit about it
      1. They've done worse
      2. If they do, SA Delacroix, the male one, will give them the disappointed face.
      3. No one wants the disappointed face.
  7. This is not a pissing contest
    1. The Delacroix's win all Agency pissing contests from now until the end of time, amen.
    2. Weres are not allowed to mark territory on the premises.
      1. Why the fuck do I have to make a rule about this people?! Professionalism, God damn it.
    3. Mages from puberty aren't better.
    4. Mages by ritual aren't better.
    5. I swear to God if I hear one more ‘my life sucked more in order to get my magic’ contest, I'm getting both Delacroix's drunk and getting both of them to fucking END this contest. They WIN people, shut up!
      1. The last time I had to enact this rule, the agents were in therapy for 5 months coping with the DELACROIX’S shit.
  8. Do not threaten civilians with magic. They might believe you.
    1. Do not threaten anyone outside the department with magic. They might believe you.
    2. Be prepared to spend five hours signing paperwork if anyone believes you.
    3. Either use it and deal with the paperwork and board review or don't. No threatening.
  9. Your title is Agent or Special Agent. HR is never going to sign off on Mage, Wizard, or any variant thereof.
    1. HR is not in on the magic thing.
    2. We'd have to spend too long reading them in.
    3. You thought five hours was bad? Federal employees require a security clearance.
  10. No one is allowed to add “In accordance with the prophesy” to the end of any answers given to a supervisor
    1. Or fellow agent
    2. I see you, you little shits, Skippy’s list stopped being funny back in the early aughts, damn it
  11. The HR office worker signing off on your travel expenses is Ms. Rodriguez, not Sugar Daddy.
  12. Having magic does not mean you have superpowers
    1. Bullets still hurt
    2. Bullets can still kill you
    3. YOU'RE STILL FLAMMABLE
    4. Falls can kill you
    5. You aren't immune to drowning
    6. Oh my God, it's like you all regressed to being toddlers
  13. No singing Bohemian Rhapsody during firefights
    1. Not even as psychological warfare
  14. Magic bullets do exist
    1. SA Delacroix the female is the only authorized teacher
    2. Only on the rifle range people! I have to sit in on the paperwork meeting too! Next time I'm sending Delacroix the male
      1. He will wonder why you're interrupting him getting therapy resources to the kids for this shit
  15. Past lives have no effect on seniority
    1. They don't exist
    2. Prove it in the lab Agent
  16. SA Delacroix, the male, has the forms for “wall-to-wall” counseling
  17. Shooting is not too good for people threatening our rescues, but you still have to fill out the paperwork and go through the review.
    1. This also applies to knives
    2. Also chairs, pool cues, and broken bottles
    3. It especially applies to government vehicles
    4. And civilian vehicles.
    5. We're still a law enforcement agency people!
  18. You have to fill out the warrant and paperwork before eating someone else's magic. Otherwise that's assault. Possibly attempted murder.
  19. Love potions
    1. Don't exist
    2. Would be rape if they did
  20. Mind control is rape
  21. Werebugs and weresnakes of any variety are not allowed to transform around Agent Harmon. Phobias are not funny people. We don't want to end up in extra sensitivity training classes again. The yearly ones on sexuality and unconscious bias are enough already, okay?

We are sorry for the inconvenience

Set in the same universe as Drake


The chanting reached a crescendo, echoing against the limestone cavern, as we burst in. These guys had gone old school in their fashion choices, as well as location — robes and hoods on all five members at strategic points around chalked sigil (not a pentagram, thank you). Chanting in Latin, bowl of blood in the leader's hands, probably from the goat carcass at his feet. Eight more folks in robes created an outer circle. Like I said, very old-school. Unfortunately, as I could taste in the air, they were also effective.

Jones and Rodriguez on either side of me raised their guns, ready to shoot the leader. I quickly motioned ‘no’ at them. “Shoot now, we're going to have backlash rebounding and magnifying in here. Probably bring the whole cave complex down around our ears. Safer to let them finish.”

Rodriguez shot me a betrayed look. Drake, at my back, shifted forward, eyes snapping over from watching the chanters to keeping an eye on Rodriguez and his gun.

“They aren't summoning what they think they are, I swear,” I murmured, hoping I was right about what they were.

Jones shrugged and turned back to start directing the local cops. Everyone robed was much too focused on the chant to react to FBI agents and local laws enforcement taking positions behind them. Once the chant was done, there was going to be some rude awakenings.

I walked over towards the leader and waited about 5 feet to the left and behind. I recognized the voice; Barnes never was all that good at enunciation. Or research. The magic levels in the cavern finally popped, something like your eardrums once the airplane reaches cruising altitude.

He spun around, blood sloshing over the side of the bowl, as the last syllable hung in the air. “You’re too late Amanda! Now you shall see exactly what I am capable of!” Oh great, monologuing. Bastard can't even get my name right either. It’s Jessica to assholes like him, Jessie to my friends. And Drake. “I have done what those fools swore I never could and summoned a great beast! Devourer her, minion!”

I raised an eyebrow and waited. A tiny wail rang out, the rocks around us reverberating. A dull ache took hold of my bones as I felt them vibrate in sympathy. Looked like the rest of my team weren’t feeling that, thank Ishtar. Barnes spun back around, bowl clattering to the ground. He was starting at the circle, a look of utter devastation on his face as I handcuffed him and handed him off to Jones.

“Don't walk him out yet, I may need him in a minute.”

“What for?” Jones asked, also staring at the huddled form in the middle of the chalked sigil. It was a rusty red color, darkening to a ruddy black at the hooves. I saw the tip of its tail peeking out from under its butt, most of that ropy muscle getting pinched between the limestone floor and whatever Barnes had summoned’s ass. The hands were a pale orange and balled in tiny fists. The head was overlarge compared to the neck and couldn't yet be lifted. Little nubs on the forehead showed where horns would one day grow in. The face relaxed, eyes unclenched, and coal-black pits for eyes opened. They got one look at me and promptly opened their mouth of pointedly sharp teeth and wailed again.

All in all, an example of a health demonic baby.

“Well, Mom, Dad, or Other are probably going to want to know that we caught the kidnapper,” I said, wincing as the little guy (or gal) started working their way up the audible range. “So just stay outside the circle and keep Barnes—”

My jaw dropped as the demon’s wail cut off. Rodriguez had stepped into the circle and scooped them up. Their head was resting on Rodriguez's shoulder and the strap to his holster was stuffed in their mouth.

“Gods damn it Rodriguez,” Jones muttered to my side as he jerked Barnes away from the circle.

“Rodriguez?”

“Hmm?”

“Don't… You can't leave that circle until I finish.”

Rodriguez bounced the demon against his shoulder a bit. It cooed. “All right.”

“No matter what else is in there.”

Rodriguez looked me dead in the eyes. “I got it.”

If he didn't, this was going to be hell to document such that his wife would get his pension. Shit. I swear I’ve gone over this with all of the team before. Multiple times. Gods damn it.

“Hey Barnes. You should watch this.” I took the bag of salt Drake offered me, stepped up to the edge of the circle, planted my toes at the edge, and tossed a pinch of salt on the ground. Sending my magic into the ground, I spoke a single word in a language not intended to be spoken with human vocal cords or jaws and waited.

Black smoke curled up from the edges of the circle Barnes had used. It swirled inwards, surrounding Rodriguez. He moved to the side as the smoke condensed. Then it imploded and out stepped… well, take a human, scale them up to ten or eleven feet, turn their skin bright red, make their feet cloven hooves, and add jet black ram’s horns, curling three times over themselves. They caught scent of Rodriguez and let out a bellowing scream that shook the cavern. Rodriguez took half a step back involuntarily.

“Hey Uzzoth,” Drake said quietly.

The head swung toward Drake and their nostrils flared like they were trying to sniff out Drake's location.

“Hey Uzzoth, it's Jessie, I'm here too.”

Uzzoth’s eyes dilated out and back down to slits. Their tongue darted out like a snake's as their nostrils flared again. “This circle is extremely sloppy,” they whined. Barnes made an indignant noise behind me and got an elbow to the ribs from Jones for his trouble. “I can barely send this projection and I do not have time. Someone has stolen my child.”

“Thank you for answering my call anyway. We found them. We'd like to get your child home. With you.”

Uzzoth sniff the air again. “Why then are they not in the circle? I could have been gone already. What favor are you hold my child hostage for?”

Shit, shit, shit. If he survived this, I was going to kill Rodriguez.

“Your child is in the circle Uzzoth. Two feet towards me and then three-quarters of a foot to your right.”

“I only smell a human there,” Uzzoth growled, staring straight at Rodriguez. “What idiot is in the circle with my child?”

“He was crying!” Rodriguez burst out. “You just wanted me to leave a kid screaming on the hard ground?”

“You picked them up?!” Uzzoth roared, teeth bared. “You showed compassion?! You stealer of—”

“Uzzoth, quit wasting time and tell me how to send your child home before I can't.”

They refocused on me again, then reached out the outline of their arm and rested a hand against the barrier of the circle. The circle sparked, then glowed where they touched. I reached up and splayed my hand against the barrier opposite their hand.

I was starting up at the ceiling of the cave, head in Drake's lap, arms splayed like I'd been crucified. The stone under my ass was leeching warmth out of me.  A mahogany thread sat heavy in my mind.

I moved to sit up and collapsed back into Drake's lap. Tilting my head up, I got an upside down view of a worried boyfriend. “Sit me up, please.”

Drake looked like he wanted to hold me there for as long as possible, but he levered me up to sitting position and helped me lean forward to touch the circle. I pushed the thread through the murder hole (so to speak) in the circle, tossed a loop over the child, passed the thread into Uzzoth’s smoke form, and ground it down into the stone.

“Rodriguez, put the kid down and step out. Now.”

He looked mutinous again. “Now, probie,” Jones snapped. Rodriguez complied. As soon as he was clear, I shot as much magic as I could stand through the circle and thread. Uzzoth’s form collapsed and when the smoke dissipated, the child was gone as well.

“Well,” said Jones brightly, shoving Barnes forward towards the entrance. “That went better than the last time someone was stupid enough to ignore the expert.”

Rodriguez was helping Drake get me back on my feet and drape my arms over their shoulders to walk me out.

Drake shot Jones a look as he frog marched Barnes out of the cave. “Don't think I've heard this story, Jones. What happened?”

“Oh, I spent a subjective month enjoying Ballel’s hospitality before Jessie pulled me back.”

“Could have been worse.” I was slurring my words pretty badly. “Rodriguez here almost had to explain to his wife why their new kid had horns!”

Faith

The man at the tent flap handed his customer another tissue. The customer blindly accepted, angrily wiped at red-rimmed eyes, then blew his nose.

The man placed both hands on his customer's shoulders, looked him straight in the eyes, and murmured, “Be around family or friends tonight, alright?" 

The customer shakily nodded and plunged out of the tent, back into the joyful noise of the revival. The man closed the tent flap, cutting off the noise more than the cloth barrier should.

"Did you enjoy shattering his faith?" the wisp of a demon asked from the corner of the tent.

The angel in the shape of a man sighed. "That wasn't faith."

A hissing laugh filled the angel’s mind. “Oh?”

“That was the infinite expanse compressed and cut down to the shape he needed to justify his biases and life. Cramped and made as small as himself. Faith… Faith is belief in spite of, and in addition, to evidence. That… that was not faith, or I could not have shattered with such a simple demonstration of historical fact.”

“Is this what God's Messengers do these days, weed the poor of faith from the flock?” the demon asked sardonically. “When did you usurp our roles?”

The angel snorted. “I weed so that my sisters may lead them to a bountiful harvest. You know where we have found the most enduring faith these days? The humanists and the secularists.”

“Faith? Not in God surely.”

“No, in their fellow man usually. Wouldn't it be nice if mankind rebuilt their faith in something?”

It was the demon's turn to sigh. “I would like to interact with them again.”

The Black Library

The books rustle to each other in the dark. It's usually dark here in the Black Library, so they talk to each other often, exchanging gossip about the infrequent patrons who find their way through the cracks to run their hands in reverence over the spines (‘ticklish,’ complain the older books, the ones with cracking leather and loosening glue who will soon be soothed by the Wandering Preserver), sleepily talking about the wondrous new tidbits learned and preserved in their pages, or listening to stories, both old favorites and new tastes, from the fiction aisle.

There aren't many books of fiction here in the Black Library. The Acquisitor has been seen wandering the halls on occasion muttering angrily about the pace of publication and “They can't very well keep up with all these new mediums without more help now can they?!” The newest books tend to withdraw in themselves the first time they see this performance, quietly guilty at how much energy it must have taken to be found and brought home. Could they have spoken better, sent out their calls for attention, for notice, better, somehow? The oldest books, the ones rebound and rebound around letters of languages long dead, creakily whisper, in tongues accented by five, six, ten languages learned successively, that they had heard the same complaints when they first arrived. Everyone is pleased anyway when three new figures trail after the Acquisitor the next time they walk by.

The Referrer sees more patrons than any individual book ever sees, although this is not difficult, many a book sitting on a shelf is comforted only by their fellows’ description of these mythical beings. They don't get many patrons here in the Black Library, but the Referrer greets each one with glee for the challenge they will pose, the satisfaction evident in everyone's mien when they, the Referrer and the Patron, emerge from the Library's depths, quest complete.

The new books have vague memories of … something before their arrival. It's a warm feeling, calming even, of something communing with them, not like their whisperings in the gloom with the other books, different somehow. The memories fade in time, although books never seen by patrons tend to eagerly listen to these new stories, trying to hold onto their memories of the same. The ones lucky enough to sojourn out again closer to their arrival describe it as like, and yet not, being with a patron. A more purposeful mind somehow, yet not delving as deeply into their knowledge as a patron, copying something of themselves and sending it off. The reference collection, sitting as close as they do to the referrer, have found, touched even, those copies and have a name for the vague and unseen hands — the Metaknowledge.

Rarely, very rarely, the ground picks up a fine tremble, one that builds and builds, crawling up the shelves until all the books are awake, shivering in themselves until The Librarian stalks past, anger leaking from them in sharp, angry crackles, and disappears in the infinite gloom. The oldest books comfort the newer ones while the rest wait with still breath for The Librarian to come walking slowly back their way, gently cradling one of their numbers everyone suddenly realizes they haven't heard from in much too long. The Librarian will find the Wandering Preserver, their numbers will shortly be restored by one, and somewhere out there someone will have learned that The Librarian looks after their own.

And the books rustle to each other in the dark.

Ghost Rescuing

I rubbed at my eyes and took another swig of coffee. It'd been a long day at the office, with three reports due by close of business wedged between two departmental meetings and a local team happy hour afterwards. Plus, this particular online auction, for a pair of reading glasses (rumored to be cursed of course), was out of Saigon, completely opposite my sleep schedule. But the faux Celtic bracelet wrapped around my left wrist and the actually genuine 14th century Hopi necklace both hummed quietly against my skin in contentment. We'd found another target.

Half an hour later, with money and address exchanged with the seller, I entered the expected delivery dates on my calendar. It was late and I was tired, but I still had an exorcism on the to-do list for today. Some periods were slow, with four or six months between finds. Certainly lets my bank account recover, not to mention me reacquaint myself with sleep. This was not one of those periods and hasn't been for eight months. Luckily this particular find had gone for cheap; the seller hadn't set a minimum price, the initial bid had been low, and it hadn't generated much interest.

The tonight’s exorcism was a first for me actually, an iPhone. I shouldn't be surprised, there's more humans now that an at any point in history. Through sheer numbers, we're going to leave more behind than ever before. It's not like I'm the only one, doing what I do, either in history or right now for that matter. And, eventually, ghosts fade, no matter how strong a personality they'd had in life. I'd never run across someone from earlier than 1720 for instance and that'd been weird. The earliest anyone in the network of folks Sharana, our forum moderator, had wrangled into actually believing we weren't crazy had ever released died in 1682.

The necklace might be authentic 14th century, but the ghost calling it home died in 1937. Some rich white lady who'd enjoyed collecting Hopi artifacts. At least she'd given them back in her will, along with enough money for preservation or a museum, to the tribe. My last job before retirement is going to be to release her and tie myself to the necklace for my successor's apprentice.

The bracelet had made it very clear she was not done yet and would be staying right where she was, thank you.

I wiggled my mind though the spaces between electronics in the iPhone I’d bought two months ago. There wasn't much space in here but I could feel him, somewhere down inside. The phone had been his most constant companion item in life, and he was still clinging to it in death, even after the data and apps had been wiped free of all trace of him. I shudder to think what would have happened to him if the phone had gone to a recycler or something before I or one of my friends got to him.

The number of items destroyed while still inhabited by a ghost over the ages didn't bear thinking about.

Forty-five minutes later, I had the spirit out and headed on to whatever comes next. Thirty minutes after that, I had my notes typed up and posted to the forums. Hopefully whoever has the second exorcism of a phone will have an easier time of it. I was collapsing in bed now. Work tomorrow was going to be difficult. I'd concentrate on something repetitive, like data entry.

That's me, office drone by day, ghost rescuer by night.

Old God, Same Portfolio

People tend to forget there's two sides to fertility. They all remember the being fruitful part. But so few remember I was a woman’s god. Or they chose to believe that every woman wanted as many children as possible.

How many remember the stained smiles of new brides, slightly behind but always watching their new husbands, flinching at the slightest movement towards them as their husband demanded my blessings on his third wife, certain this time to possess the heir he wants? How many remember the silent women coming under the cover of darkness through the back alleys, begging for me to rescind my blessings, please the one at their breast would die if their milk dried up as the one in their belly grew, please they’d had so many they couldn’t bear another, please they couldn't watch another die, their husbands could barely feed them, please…

Did anyone ever bother to see in the first place?

You all tend to forget how closely I was tied to the fertility of the land too.

Humans don't need my help bring fruitful anymore. Why are you so surprised to find me here? If you’ve tracked me down, you’d know it was here, the other Planned Parenthood clinic across town, or the Sierra Club.

Even Gods Have Pets

 “Here boy!” I call across the empty space. The light this far out on the edges is dim, a soft twilight lit by distant stars. Glorn has a great sense of direction, but still, I like seeing where they are.

Glorn slithers over, heavy muscles sliding through the empty reaches. I saw a snake-analogue swimming through an ocean, two or three planets back — Glorn cuts through space like that snake. Just more smoothly, less wiggling back and forth. They have something in a mouth.

“Drop it, Glorn.” Their back muscles wriggle in a puppy bow; darn boy wants to play fetch. “Drop it.”

A rocky asteroid falls out of their jaws.

“And the other ones.”

Two more asteroids, one icy, another full of silicon, drop from Glorn’s last two scaled jaws. Looks like he found the local gas giant and completely wrecked the orbital mechanics.

I give Glorn a vigorous rub and pat where the first set of front paws turn into scaled muscle, then let him climb up while I scoop up the local asteroids. Glorn twines himself across my shoulders, wrapping scaled muscles over limbs to hang on. I get a few head-butts and check rubs from the furred mouth while I'm reinserting the asteroids they found into the rings around the local gas giant. If I've got the physics right, they won't coalesce into moons for another few million years. Assuming I actually understand the physics and haven't just made it happen through expectation.

Glorn is doing the check rub thing with all their heads as we head out of the star system and I rub a hand over the trail wrapped across my chest. The human I used to be would absolutely have gone insane from the sensations of Glorn against my skin. But, well, they're my ungodly horror from outside time and space now.

I always did like having pets.

Immortality

Petra sighed and closed out her connection to the building system for the day. She almost wished work has run late into the night. There wasn't anything at home for her after all. But the warrant to interrogate Jane’s stock broker under empath-connected polygraph was just going to have to wait until the forensic accountants got back to them tomorrow. Who knew when she'd be able to actually run it — judges were still real careful about magical intrusions into folks. Although she did tend to have an easier time with her warrants. Having a reputation of an extremely light magical hand did have some benefits.

Some days she regretted letting her great-grandkids kids talk her into the rejuvenation treatment. They were only in their teens and early twenties, it was perfectly natural to fear death, hers or theirs. The bone deep weariness of outliving both her partners, all their grandparents, and a couple of their parents just wasn’t comprehensible at that age. Why should it be?

What was that term from that game she’d loved at their age? Oh yes. Immortality Blues. Turned out that game had prepared her for reality more than she'd ever expected.

Oh the tech hasn't really gone in the same directions. No digital copies of people for instance. No, the rejuvenation drugs had more walked off of Bujold’s page than transhumanism’s. Eternal Middle Age. Well, maybe more Elizabeth Moon’s work.

My gods she was reminiscing about her early adulthood a lot tonight.

Why not? As long as she recalled the bitter with the sweet from them.

Regan, the grandchild, not the great-grandchild with the same name, had worked so hard, trying to unlock the medical secrets that could save her grandfather (all this time of legal polycules, and no one had come up with a reasonable name for your genetic relatives’ partner? Maybe she was just old-fashioned for thinking people would regularly want a word to distinguish between genetic and non-genetic relations.) Everyone had thought a werewolf’s regeneration would mean a longer life. No one thought about what all that cellular regeneration was doing to their telomeres. Not until the most active shifters of the first publicly homo sapiens lupus had started dying of old age in their 40s. Liam had made it until his 60s but that had been thirty years ago. He'd looked like a weathered 105 year old. She'd lost Ricardo thirteen years ago, just three years before “the miracle drug” had been approved. The Nobel Prize ceremony for Regan’s entire lab last year had been lovely. There was talk these days of swapping out the cash prize for a rejuvenation.

Nobody had expected the witches to just… keep on going. There’d been so few of them who didn't burn themselves out in puberty, trying to learn how everything worked. But she had looked like a damn 60 year old when they were scattering Ricardo's ashes. Her doctor had been saying she had the fitness age of an average forty year old.

And now the rejuvenation drugs were going to hold her to that for another fifty years.

The kids were starting to make tentative  pushes to getting her dating again. The idea was… rather awful. Still. Maybe by the two decades mark she'd be up for a relationship again.

She didn't ever mention to them how active her sex life was. Some things a great-grandkid had a right not to know.

Petra sighed again walking down the steps into the maglev system. Maybe she should have told the FBI to shove their offer of a free treatment cycle. Of course they'd made all the right noises about needing her expertise again, her flexibility in order to navigate the new criminal law challenges such a drastic societal upheaval as rejuvenation would bring. Should have told them to shove the contract, used her own money and gone to medical school like she'd wanted.

She just hasn't been able to bring herself to use the clan-family money that way. Not with the debt medical school and all those cybernetic body enhancements she'd need to have a foot in the door would cost.

Oh well, another couple of years on the FBI contract. She should also have the new undergraduate degree finished then, and then on to medical school.

Maybe she'd try for a spot at one of the Martian schools. They were pretty cutting edge these days.