73 – You are on probation!
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Jessica sat on a chair next to Baugh, staring at the comatose Trish. Sally and Hecate stood nearby, also looking at the ticking time bomb. The atmosphere was tense. Neither Hecate nor Jessica were joking around or even cracking a grin.

“And…” Baugh broke the silence, hesitated for a moment, and then continued. “What would be the chances of success?”

Jessica pursed her lips, trying to work out the rough math in her head. “It depends… I’m guessing something like twenty percent chance it works.” Baugh’s hands curled into fists. “About sixty percent chance that the other person just takes her place and goes comatose. And that leaves a twenty percent chance of it going out of control and causing another apocalypse.”

Everyone took a second to take that in. The odds were not good at all.

“We’re not risking this,” Baugh said as he shook his head. “Not yet, at least. We’ll keep looking into it. Confirm whether it’s gonna work or not for certain.”

Jessica grunted. “You know that’s impossible. We can’t ever be hundred percent sure.”

“Are you saying we should just go ahead with it despite these odds?” Sally growled.

Jessica shook her head. “No. We should eliminate the possibility of the worst-case scenario as much as we can and then we’ll try going through with it. If it fails, Trish should still wake up, and then she can help us find a permanent solution.”

Jessica hadn't yet mentioned that she would be the one volunteering to become the fifth weapon in Trish’s stead. She was saving it for an eventual surprise bombshell statement just to see Sally’s face.

Was that scary? Of course. If it failed, she would be the one falling into a magical coma, and she had no doubts that Sally would happily leave her like that and dump her body into a river somewhere. But she also knew that Baugh would try to save her, if only for the endless pestering Hecate would otherwise send his way. And while Jessica didn’t know Trish very well, the former magical girl would probably also lend a hand.

But before going through with it, they needed to make quadruple sure that another apocalypse absolutely would not happen whenever they would go through with the transfer.

Baugh nodded. “And if we can't figure out how to do that, we'll look for a different solution.”

With a clear goal in mind, they got to work, reviewing everything, rechecking the math, and performing small-scale experiments. They were very close to solving this mess once and for all.

And then, as always, the alarm clock known as Hecate reminded everyone about the scheduled demon attack, forcing Sally to go be Salem for a bit. As such, the super secret demon conspiracy research crew decided to call it a day for now.

Jessica heaved a sigh before straightening up and schooling her features as she walked into the castle's corridors. Gotta keep up the scary general act, after all. The minions she passed by bowed, perked up in admiration, scowled in her direction, or whispered something to other minions. It seemed like her reputation had already propelled her to infamy within the various cliques in the castle.

It felt kinda annoying at times, but it still felt cool to be this famous – or rather, notorious. It was as if she had already reached famous actress status. Only… they didn't actually know she was just acting.

Still, she felt quite smug about the whole situation. That feeling quickly dissipated once she entered her division as she spotted a man in armor standing in the middle of the training area, seemingly waiting for her. The various minions stood a good distance from him, visibly wary.

She immediately recognized her fellow demon general, Merdis, who also happened to be her sperm donor.

“The fuck do you want here?” she asked, her voice dripping with contempt.

The man flinched almost imperceptibly but stood his ground. “Tepes. I wanted to… talk to you.”

“Then talk,” she replied, her voice arctic.

“In private.”

She scowled, wondering what this man could possibly need from her. Honestly, she wasn’t in a mood to deal with him at all, but she had an act to keep up, so she decided to humor him.

“Fine,” she finally said with an annoyed grunt. “Follow me.”

The two left the main hall of her division and headed to her sound-proofed office. As Merdis closed the door behind him, Tepes turned around to face him, crossed her arms, and narrowed her eyes. “Well?”

The man hesitated for a second, before reaching up and removing his spiked helmet, revealing the rugged visage of what used to be her dad.


She said nothing, waiting for whatever might roll out of his mouth.

“I… I wanted to… apologize.”

Her expression didn’t change one bit. “Alright. Go ahead then. Apologize.”

“I’m… sorry, Jessica.”

“For what?”

“For abandoning you… and for acting the way I did… and for not telling you anything… and…”

Jessica’s cold stare still didn’t betray any emotion.

“Would you… would you be willing to forgive? Or forget? Or at least, start over…?”

Finally, her expression changed… into an even more intense scowl.


The man flinched as if stabbed through the heart.

“Olivia told you to say all of that, didn’t she? You don’t really mean any of what you’ve said, you’re just following instructions.”

“That’s not… That’s not true!”

“Uh huh. So you suddenly just came up with the idea to say sorry all on your own then?”

The man pursed his lips and stared down at the floor.

“I… didn’t think you would ever want to forgive me… so I didn’t even try to be part of your life again. Olivia convinced me to try.”

She couldn’t help but grit her teeth. As expected, this was Olivia’s work.

“But I meant what I said!” He looked up again, his eyes meeting hers. “I really am sorry. I understand if you don’t want to forgive me for how I’ve acted, but… I… It would be nice if you did…” He slumped once again.

He was right, of course. She didn’t want to forgive him. Hadn’t wanted to. And seeing how pathetic he was now made her even angrier with him. But the fact that he was now apologizing, even though he had needed Olivia to kick him into action, made her feel like the bad guy for not wanting to give him another chance.

Well, she was used to playing the bad guy, but…

She removed her Tepes mask and took two steps closer to the man, prompting him to look up and lock his eyes with hers again.

“I do not forgive you. I did not forget. And we will not be starting over either.” She could see her words slowly filling his expression with despair. “But.” She began releasing her magic in an aura around her, causing the surroundings to rumble in a low hum. “I’m willing to give you one last chance. To prove to me that you’re really sorry.”

With that, she turned around and casually strode over to her desk.

“What… do you want me to do, then?” the man carefully asked.

She turned to face him once again as she seated herself behind her desk. “Nothing.”

“... Nothing?”

“You expect me to believe you’ll really change? No. If I accept your apology, you’re just going to go back to being an asshole.”

“I’m not…!”

Therefore,” Jessica cut him off with a pulse of magic while pinning him with another glare. “Consider yourself on probation. Your apology is a promise. Promise to do better. If you deliver on it, I might forgive you. If not, then I’ll know your words are still worthless as ever.”

The man stood there for a second, trying to process this declaration, before slumping once again with a sigh. “I see. Alright. I get it then.” He pulled his helmet on his head again, looked up to meet Jessica’s gaze for another short wistful moment, then gave a nod, and turned around. “I will do my best to do better, then.”

He left her office.

Jessica slumped in her chair.

Part of her felt like she was being too harsh, but a bigger part of her felt some vindictive glee at seeing that jerk squirm.

Maybe… playing the evil guy was getting into her brain a bit too much.