Magnolia looked up from her copy of Guns & Ammo when she heard the stack of books fall over for the fourth time. ‘Mer, stop doing that.’
The boy lifted his goggles up onto the top of his head. ‘They will stack, I know it.’
‘Are you even allowed to do that?’
‘Sure!’ he said, ‘all the Library books are self-repairing.’

‘Wouldn’t it be easier just to require some building blocks?’
He pouted. ‘Dun you even know what I’m doing?’
‘Playing, I assume.’
He began to stack the books again. ‘I’m stacking these in order so I can best process the information.’
She smiled. ‘Mer, usually you have to open the books to, er, process their information.’
‘That’s you,’ he said with a conspiratorial smile. He brought his hand down on the stack of books, and she felt her ears pop. ‘There, done.’
She quickly went back to her magazine. ‘I did not see that.’
‘Yes you did.’
‘No I didn’t, cause if I did-’
‘You two!’ a familiar voice called.
Merlin stood in his chair, turned and leaped off into the arms of Grigori, who caught him and swung him up onto his broad shoulders. ‘Come on, something’s happened.’
She was on her feet in a minute. ‘What?’
‘I’ll explain in a minute. First, back to Moscow.’
She shot a look at Merlin. ‘He’s not allowed.’
Grigori slapped himself in the head. ‘Of course, I forgot.’ He lifted the boy down and depositied him back into his chair. ‘Looks like your get to read some more, little wizard.’ He then took her hand and shifted her away.
They appeared in the Moscow Agency conference room, which looked pretty much like all of the other Agency conference rooms, except for the trim colour, and large drinks cabinet on the back wall.
‘Grigori…’
He sat heavily in the nearest chair. ‘Your Agency has been breached.’
‘What?’
‘Solstice attack, or…we assume Solstice attack, because they’re the only ones stupid enough. Powerful blackout too, it’s going to last at least another nine hours.’
‘Counter-attack?’
‘We haven’t had time to organise one, this has only just happened. We’ll go in, but we’re not going go in blind.’
‘Send me there, now.’
‘You’ll get killed.’
‘As is my job,’ she hissed.
‘There’s no sign that they’re taking prisoners, or making demands, we don’t know if they’re after anything, or if this was just a random attack for the sake of taking down a few suits. But…that isn’t the only issue.’
‘What else?’
‘When an Agency is hit by a blackout bomb, all of its functions cease-’
‘I know.’
‘Security protocols fail.’
‘There’s no-one in the cell block at the moment, and I’m pretty sure the doctors don’t have any-’
‘It means, Magnolia, that those in the basement can escape.’
‘Fuck.’
‘Not the time for that,’ he said with a forced smile. ‘And…Jonesy is rather clever and productive, there’s probably more than a hundred experiments down there. Maybe even two hundred. If you’d been confined for your whole life, you’d want to hurt those that relegated you to that fate. The Solstice are a secondary worry here.’
‘I can handle myself.’
‘He can handle himself,’ Grigori said. ‘You have to think with your head here.’
‘I’m-’
‘Let’s hit the armoury, by then, we should have a few more willing to help out. My kids are spamming everyone, calling in favours, and that’s beyond the regular calvary.’
‘Ok.’
He turned and walked out of the conference room, she followed, tensing her leg to feel the knife that Taylor had given her, reminding herself that he was stronger than her, that he’d be fine without her, that he was invincible, that he didn’t need any help. Probably.
‘I’m coming sir,’ she whispered.