Hvs.tCF 256:2/Text

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Give him credit. Buck was cool. Almost like they'd only been having a normal conversation to this point, he shifted his stance, lowered his rifle, and shot Janis with a glare instead of a bullet. "Do you even know what's goin' on, you moon mushroom? Huh?"

"Wanda got out, I assume," said Janis. "You said so."

"And the Temple just got blowed up." Gripping his rifle by the handguard, Buck used it to gesture toward the southeast. "And for all we know, you're part of their plan." He leveled the rifle at her again.

"I'm not..." Janis shook her head in confusion. Her stonewall expression started to crack. "What do you mean about the Temple?"

"She came here directly from Spacerock!" somebody yelled from behind, in a deep, throaty voice.

Spade turned around again. Roger'd got up on his feet. His face was all wet with tears. He shrugged off that Carny witness who'd been makin' a big show of sympathizing all over him (man, they never stopped workin' the crowd, did they?), and started walkin' over this way.

The other jurors followed along in his wake, although the Carny knew enough to keep his distance. Nobody was supposed to be this close to the prisoners, but the jurors were all Qualified.

"Lookamancers observed her," said Headmaster Roger. "She made a brief entry into Gobwin Knob's portal. When she returned, she saw and identified a new Decrypted fugitive."

He lowered his voice as he got closer, speaking directly to Buck and Spade. "That was Marie Lavraie, the Predictamancer whose physical remains were left in Janis' charge. The Decrypted caster escaped the park, through a newly generated portal. We do not know what side it is from, yet."

Spade tsked. What was that, eight...nine things to be totally terrified of, now? Seriously, he'd lost count. "I mean, what?"

"Why am I only hearin' about this now?" Buck growled.

The Eyemancers were watching Portal Park for security. It was part of the agreement. But this stuff about the Predictamancer was brand new.

"We didn't see a significant threat in it," said Roger, his voice gettin' wobbly. "I guess... we couldn't have been more wrong."

"Roger, I'm so sorry. But I didn't have anything to do with...with whatever happened," Janis said. She started walking over, too. Nobody was supposed to even be this close to the prisoners. They were gonna have a mob scene here, pretty soon. "I only went to Gobwin Knob to give them final word on the verdict, before their portal is sealed. I was saying goodbye to Sizemore Rockwell. I came back here to perform my part in Wanda's execution."

"Right! Sure!" Buck snapped at her. "N'what about your girlfriend? Huh?"

The Hippiemancer shook her head again. "I was as surprised as anyone else to see her. I don't know what she's doing."

"How was Marie Decrypted, Janis?" Headmaster Roger asked, pointedly. "She was in your charge."

"How was Ivan?" Spade blurted out. "And whatsisname, Claud, prob'ly?"

Buck aimed his rifle casually at her once more. "Where's the Arkenpliers, Janis?" Now his voice was low, with a mean sort of calm to it. "Does Wanda have 'em?"

"No." The Grand Abbie's face was serious as a stone slab.

"How do you know?" asked Buck, in the same tone.

Janis closed her eyes. "They're in Spacerock. I saw them when I was there. Sizemore has them."

"Buck, we gotta seal that portal now," said Spade. "I mean, we gotta run. She's like, gettin' away right under our feet, man."

Buck eyeballed all the other casters huddled around them. He grabbed Spade's shoulder, pulling him close. His breath was sour with beer. "Seal it how? If they can dig bedrock?"

Okay. Well. That might just've been number ten, right there. Spade opened his mouth, but no words came out.

"Would that even do any good?" said Varius Sundry. Buck gave him a who-are-you-and-how-dare-you-start-yammerin' look, but the Weirdomancer only shrugged and looked around at the other jurors. "I mean, who's to say she's even going to her own portal? Gotti ran through one at random. You might inconvenience her, but I'd say escape is laughably easy at this point. Or were you going to seal everybody's portal?"

Buck looked ready to drop Varius to the stones with the butt of his rifle. But he didn't say any a word. For a couple of moments, nobody did.

Then Philip Roffercy, the Predictamancer juror with the top hat and the pet whack-a-mole (or whatever that critter was), sighed out loud. "She's not going to her own portal," he said.

There wasn't nobody standing there whose attention he didn't have. He didn't look too happy about that, either. "Look, I know about Marie," he said, very softly. "Not all of us agree with what she's doing. I think... what's that, Punky?"

He held his pet rodent up to his ear, and seemed to listen to it. His eyes flashed. "Ah. Yes. I think that we would like to help you stop her. We know exactly where Wanda Firebaugh will pop up next."