Jessica huffed as the four looked at the diagram she had drawn.
“Well, in theory, it should be possible then. But…” she trailed off.
“Only a person can be the fifth weapon,” Sally finished, scowling.
“In theory! Maybe there is a way to transfer it to an object, but right now… yeah.” Jessica couldn’t help but slump down a bit. It has been weeks of secretly working on a solution and they’d barely made any progress.
“This is still good,” Baugh interrupted her gloom. “If it works, then it proves that we can shift that attunement to someone else. And if we know how to shift it to someone else, then we’re one step closer to figuring out how to shift it to something else.”
Jessica grumbled. “I suppose…”
“Hey, wasn’t it supposed to be your turn today?” Hecate piped up.
Jessica grumbled again. “Right, right. Attack puny humans. I’m off then, see you later.” She waved her hand and left the super secret demon conspiracy research room – it always annoyed both Baugh and Salem when she called it that.
To be honest, the first attack had been very fun, but every subsequent one became more and more dull and monotonous. Like a chore to be done. Back when she had been a minion, she had seen Salem buried in paperwork countless times, but never really thought about it that much.
Now she knew.
There was an entire process to it all. The target location had to be approved by Baugh and a bunch of high-ranked spirits, then she had to coordinate her minions, make sure enough of them were available for it, find replacements in case some of them were on a sick leave, pluck out those who misbehaved and discipline afterwards… No wonder Hecate preferred to attack alone.
And, of course, she had to plan the actual attack as well. That, at least, was still sort of fun. It was like writing a whole new theater play every time. But it too had some monotonous parts. She had to scope out the target, specify the supposed goal of the attack, prepare what to say to the magical girls, what new tricks to attack them with…
It was a lot of work, being a demon general. And that was ignoring her helping Baugh with the secret research.
Well, she had signed up for this so she would see it through to the end.
It took about half an hour to round up enough minions for today’s show. Cody and Max were among them, but they both knew not to use their weapons or go all out during the attack. Just like back when she had been a minion, they would pretend to be weak and disposable.
Hmm. Actually, nothing like she had used to act.
Once ready, both she and all her minions had to teleport to Earth into a secluded location, hiding themselves from sight. They had to somehow make it all the way to their target without being spotted. Usually, the group’s leader used concealment magic to make sure no other humans noticed them until it was time. In this case, Cody was the leader, but Max was the one to use the concealment.
Then, she had to wait for everyone to get into position as she sat atop a nearby building, fiddling with her phone, looking at memes online, waiting for the ready signal.
“All minions are in position,” Cody informed her telepathically.
“Good. On my mark!” Jessica, no, Tepes replied whilst canceling the concealment and gathering up magic.
Once she had a thick cloud of darkness around her, she used telepathy to shout “Go!”
Immediately, all the hidden minions sprang up and rushed the mall – the same one where she had defeated her first demon general, ah, good times – while she released the cloud and directed it to swirl around it like an impenetrable barrier, keeping all the puny humans inside along with the minions.
It didn’t take long for two figures to appear in the sky, flying in her direction. Pretty Flame and Frost.
“Ah, magical girls. Ever so meddlesome, aren’t you?” Tepes said in a condescending tone, looking at them as if they were nothing but annoying flies.
“Tepes! Let the people go!” Flame shouted, perfectly in character. All the time in the drama club was definitely showing.
“Hah! As if! My minions are rounding them all up as we speak!” She summoned her spear and whipped it in their direction. “All that’s left is dealing with you two!”
Sensing that the talking segment of the play was already over, Flame and Frost fell into a combat stance – while still floating in the air – and the fight was on.
Naturally, because it was only two of them for the time being, Tepes had to hold back. She didn’t want to completely wear them out before the others could make it here, after all.
Parry here, magic blast there, she still did her best to make it look like she was giving the fight her all. Just to put on a show for anyone who might be watching.
This was probably the most fun part of the whole attack. It felt like dancing. It reignited that warm heart-throbbing feeling inside Jessica’s chest, knowing she was dancing with both Pretty Flame and Erika, who were one and the same.
Eventually, the barrier of darkness around the mall broke, dispersing in all directions. It was exactly the same trick she had used at her first attack, so one could blame her for being too repetitive, but it was hard to always come up with brand new plans, alright?
A moment later, Pretty Spark and Bloom rose up from the mall no worse for wear.
“Tch! So those two were already inside, huh?” Tepes murmured loud enough to be heard.
“It’s over, Tepes! You can’t take on all four of us!” Flame declared.
Tepes could, in fact, take on all four of them, but once again, she had to act her role.
“Thunderstorm!” “Sunflower cannon!”
Tepes dodged and deflected the renewed barrage of magic, but made a show of getting hit by one of Spark’s projectiles – that she actually just absorbed with her spear’s magic-absorbing effect.
“Ugh!” she grunted as she staggered back before kneeling down and holding her stomach as if in pain. She growled in frustration as she glared at the four surrounding her.
And then, they finally moved onto the final part of the act. Naturally, Flame had been worried about this part, but Tepes had reassured her that she could handle it.
“Wha –” Tepes widened her eyes in convincing shock.
She obediently waited for a beat before cold sealing magic enveloped her, attempting to lock her in place.
But it was weak. Really weak. Weaker than she expected even with her being so much stronger than she had been as a minion.
“We’ve got you now!” Spark shouted.
“Ngh!” Tepes grunted in frustration regardless to keep the act. “This is nothing!” She poured just a bit of her magic out to ward off the chilling seal – “Hwah!” – and stood up with a victorious shout.
“No way!” Flame yelled in pretty well-acted surprise.
“Hah! You dare try to use sealing magic on an enchantress?! I’ll show you real sealing magic!” Tepes declared, waving her hand through Frost’s residual sealing magic around her, marking it her own and then amplifying it and directing it back at Frost.
Frost yelped as she realized what was happening, but it was too late.
“Black ice cage!” Tepes shouted as the dark ice surrounded Frost and encased her inside. Quicker than anyone could act, the five layers similar to Frost’s Cryo Sanctuary appeared and covered the initial ice, a symbol of an evil smiling face etching itself into it.
“Frost!” the others shouted in dismay, staring at the now sealed Pretty Frost.
Jessica fake-scowled. “Tch… Out of magic –” She still had over half her magic left. “-- You win this time, magical girls –” They had not won at all. “-- but next time, you won’t be so lucky!”
Tepes twisted her hand in the air – she didn’t need to do that, but it added a dramatic effect – as another surge of dark magic burst out from her and while the three were blinded, she renewed her concealment magic and swiftly left the scene.
She sighed out as she took off her mask and made it back to the teleporter while contacting Cody via telepathy.
Another successful play done. Time to return back to the super secret demon conspiracy research room. Frankly speaking, she was getting quite good at this whole general thing. She felt proud of herself.
Unbeknownst to her, the magical girls were facing a serious problem.
Their sealing magic expert was currently sealed, and the others had no idea how to free her.