Here it is, big guy. The moment of truth. The coup d’etat. The ma-
“Shut the fuck up.”
Yeah, sure, and watch you fail like your attempt at speedrunning Battletoads.
“That’s different. Battletoads isn’t going to up and shoot me.”
Pro tip: Battletoads was mostly memorization. You have a bad memory.
“Welp, I’m dead.”
No, but Mags might be.
“Mags? While that’s easier to say, the word Magnolia is just so much more pleasurable to the ears.”
And she’s pleasurable to the-
“Can it, voice-in-my-head. We’re here.”
Nope, you’re here. I’m in your head. Eatin ur brainz. Om nom.
Vincent suppressed an urge to facepalm and walked into Ryan’s office. The door was open, so at least Vincent was allowed a small amount of dignity before he shot himself in the leg. Magnolia was already here, as was Taylor, who was standing in a corner behind Ryan’s desk, glaring daggers (almost literally) at everything.
Good thing you peed before coming here.
“Good evening, sir.”
“Evening, Recruit. Feel free to take a seat.”
Hell no.
“No thank you, sir. I prefer standing.”
Curt walked in, glaring at the floor like he wanted to stare a hole in it. He required a chair next to where the couch usually was, and sat in it, and Stef shifted in, along with the couch, shortly thereafter.
“And that’s everyone. All right, Vincent, start from the beginning.”
“Okay, I was born in nineteen eighty-”
“The beginning of the story of today, Vincent.”
“… right.”
Hey, I thought it was funny.
“Okay. Stef and I were on patrol, and she was about to concede defeat in a contest, when out of nowhere, we walk onto the set of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, and promptly get attacked by magpies. I chased some of them off with a stick-”
“It was a chunk of steel that I pulled off a car.”
“… chunk of steel… but I realized as I was chasing them off, that I’d not want to get lost, so I turned around and headed back to where Stef was, only to see Magnolia knife-deep in Stef’s chest.”
“I didn’t get the whole knife in there. Just enough to-”
Taylor’s eyes (and only his eyes) moved to make eye contact with Magnolia. She looked like she was going to collapse on the ground for a moment, but regained herself and stood silent.
“So, I shout in surprise and alarm, distracting Magnolia, and apparently, I later found out, snapping her partially out of being influenced by the magpies. Then, I saw Curt tackle Magnolia. I didn’t see where he came from, but he apparently saw enough to know what the hell to do. At that point, I started attending to Stef, who I think was actually dead for a moment or so, then we were almost shifted back here, but it failed. Magnolia vanished-”
“Faded.”
“-Faded sometime during or immediately after the failed shift, which left Curt, myself, and the wounded, possibly dead Stef covered in blood and sick, because I got hella motion sick from the failed shift. I went to find something we could use to carry Stef out of the blackout zone, and ran into Magnolia, who was now back to normal, and we walked back to Stef, because I’m an idiot.”
Yes, you’re an idiot.
“Why did I just say that? Anyway! At that point we were shifted proper to the infirmary.”
Vincent took a breath.  Ryan sat in thought.
“We’ll send someone to investigate the magpie presence in the area, but in the meantime, we’re done here.  Everyone may go.  Except you, Vincent.  I’ve got to talk to you about how long you’re staying here.”
With that, Taylor grabbed Magnolia’s shoulder and shifted away, and Curt drug Stef, almost literally, from the room.
“Vincent.  You’re quite talented.  You handle two poltergeists in Denver, and saved Stef’s life just now.  When are you planning on returning to Phoenix?”
Vincent had to think hard about how to answer.  Ryan didn’t seem to be in any hurry for an answer.
“Actually, sir…  I’m not completely sure.  I’ve never really had many friends in Phoenix, and while I got on well in Denver, I didn’t bother getting to know anyone.  Then, I got here, and it’s like I’ve known you guys for years.  Obviously, I don’t, but it still feels like it.”
Ryan closed his eyes for a moment.  He thought he heard Stef make a ‘squee’ type noise from the next room over, but wasn’t completely sure.
“Well, Vincent, I think we can keep you for as long as you’d like to stay.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Vincent turned to leave, then turned back to Ryan.
“What are you going to do about Magnolia?  You’re not really going to let her get away completely scot-free?”
“Of course not.  I was going to assign someone to observe her for-”
“I volunteer.”
“What?”
“I volunteer.  Someone’s got to do it, and pretty much all the recruits are terrified of her, and she trusts me.”
“Well, I think that’s a good idea.  Go ahead and do that, then.  Just don’t leave her alone for more than a few minutes.”
A quick elevator ride later, and Vincent was in front of Magnolia’s room, where the door was not quite completely closed. Vincent pushed on the door, again cursing his curse of knocking, only to find Screen lying on Magnolia’s bed. And Magnolia lying on Screen.
“Huh. That bed looks far more comfortable now than it did last time I was in here.”