Marco gets inducted.

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The hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn." David Russell

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I stepped through to the Bureaucracy of Magic, walking past some fountains to a front entrance. A sort of moose looking person stood at the entrance next to a lever. He had a security guard outfit on complete with a walkie-talkie.

"Are you the new Bureaucrat? I see you're already keyed in."

"I'm Marco Diaz." I introduced myself to the moose looking guy. "You were expecting me?"

"Sean." Sean shook my offered hand. "Well it's not every day there's a new Bureaucrat."

"Bureaucrat? That's the second time you called me that." I hesitated. "They haven't exactly told me what I'll be doing."

"You don't know?" Sean cocked his head to the side.

I shook my head. "Queen Moon sort of… well it was her decision."

"Ooh yeah." Sean winced. "Go on inside and we'll check you in, and get you up to speed." He pulled the lever next to him and the door opened up. "Oh and no magic inside the building okay? There's sensitive instruments in there."

I nodded. I really wasn't entirely sure if what I did even counted as magic. Hell, I wasn't sure what I could do. So I didn't think it would be a problem for anyone inside.

But I did already have the job. It wasn't like I was going in for an interview. There was nothing to be nervous about. Nothing at all. I repeated that to myself several times and walked inside. The door shut behind me again.

Inside, there was a desk with what looked like the sort of bins they give you at airports and what looked like a metal detector with inlaid crystals. The mix of technology and fantasy made me glance down at my slightly glowing sword. Thinking about it made my head spin slightly so I moved my gaze back around the room. There next to the machine was Sean the security guard, horns and all. Or at the very least a very accurate clone of him.

This is going to be a trend, isn't it.

"Step through the magic detector." Sean beckoned me closer. I did so without complaint.

"Sorry about this. Once you get your badge and clearance you won't ever have to deal with this again." Sean leveled a clipboard and pencil at me. Are you carrying any articles of magic, sorcery, or occult objects of a mystical nature."

"Uh...Probably?" I gripped the hilt of the sword at my waist nervously, indicating it for Sean, Sean seemed to understand and held out a tote for me.

"Just put anything magical in nature into a bin." I put my scissors inside first - those probably counted - followed by my sword.

"Oh you already earned your scissors. That's good," Sean informed me as I patted down my pockets. "New Badges typically have to earn their scissors. It's a bit of a hassle."

I put the Tarot Cards he received from Attar in the bin. "How many others are there? Bureaucrats I mean."

"Do you mean in the present, past, or future?"

"The present." I decided. The question might well have been a good one. I knew from personal experience how wonky time could be, but right now I was in no mood for its shenanigans.

"There's me, I suppose. Maybe three or four others." I eyed up the moose-man. "Ah, I should clarify. I'm retired, kinda."

I nodded at that and held the bin back out for Sean. "I think that's everything, except…"

"Except?" Sean pressed.

"Well, me. I might set this thing off."

"Lets just have you step through." I did and the crystals lit up green.

"Perfect. If it was red I'd have to search you."

Sean looked through the bin for a moment. Examining each piece and waving a metal detector over it that I was sure wasn't for detecting metal.

"Alright," Sean began as he finished waving the detector around. "You're all set. Just head over and check in over at the receptionist, they'll direct you."

I strapped the sword back to myself and wrapped the cards back up. I put my scissors back in my pocket and walked over to the receptionist who was also Sean. A Sean. The Sean.

"Hey Sean," I greeted again.

"Hey," he returned. "So let's see." Sean flipped through several pages at the desk, and opened a file. "You come highly recommended Mr. Diaz. Usually I only get a signature from one member of the High Commission. It shows that both Ms. Hekapoo and her Majesty, Queen Butterfly approved of your badge."

"And that's good?"

"Well, you impressed the right people." Sean said without looking up from the paperwork. "For this line of work, at least."

"And what line of work is that?"

"Well sometimes somebody somewhere in the universe gets a hold of an object or bends time or opens portals willy-nilly. You'll be catching these guys. Think of yourself as an interdimensional magical police officer."

"That doesn't sound so bad." Running around fighting stuff. That's sort of what I signed up for.

"Uh, sir?" Sean began slightly nervously. "I am obligated to inform you that a Magical Bureaucrats like yourself have the highest mortality rate of any job in the universe."

Oh well that was depressing. "Uh… neat." I managed.

"Lets see… you'll be on call around the clock." Sean flipped a page. "You have no non-religious vacation days or sick days. You have to report to the Commission member who assigned a task to you at the end of the quest, whether you live or die, or you forfeit your paycheck. We don't match your 401k and with well… with recent losses we don't offer dental or any form of health care."

"Fantastic." I murmured weakly.

"Alright. I'm just going to have you head up to floor three. Step into the elevator."

I did so and wasn't shocked in the slightest to see Sean inside.

"Hey Sean."

"Hey Mr. Diaz… can I call you Marco."

"Sure, why not?" I was fairly sure I was going to spend a lot of time around Sean.

There was silence in the elevator. I cleared my throat when Sean looked at me expectantly. "Third floor please."

"No, you want floor three." Sean corrected pressing a button with a backwards three. "Don't worry, it's a common mistake. You don't want to go to the Third Floor, though. Just my advice."

"Thanks."

The doors opened back up and I stepped out and turned right. "Hey Sean."

"Hey Marco." Now let's see, "Hekapoo, Queen Moon… and...you just need to answer a few questions for me."

I could see why they had Sean here. Doing whatever he was doing, he probably ran the whole building by himself. "Alright." I agreed, setting myself on autopilot.

"Lets see, how old are you, Marco?"

I thought about it and almost said thirty then I almost said fourteen.

"Who knows? I spent a lot of time in different dimensions."

"Just take a guess relative to your home dimension's standard year."

"Twenty two," I said, going with the average.

Sean scribbled something down. "Species?"

"Mostly human, I'm pretty sure." Sean checked a box.

There's no way they have a box for that.

"Lets see, I have your resume and your magical security card here." Sean breezed through several sheets. "I just have to ask if you've ever been to the Plains of Time?"

I nodded.

"How long did you spend there?"

"Who knows. Time was sort of stopped the first time I went there."

"That was you?" Sean looked at him slightly accusingly.

"Well it was really Queen Moon's daughter. I just went along to try and help fix it."

Sean nodded and checked several things. "Hmm, with Omnitraxus Prime's questions out of the way and with Lehkmet deceased, I just have Rhombulus' questionnaire left."

"Alright shoot."

"How do you feel about having snakes for arms?"

"What?"

"Marco this question is pretty easy."

"Er-Snakes for arms? Uh...that's pretty wild?" I guessed.

Sean checked another box and I felt an eye twitch.

"Alright. Here's your badge." It was a gleaming crystal- shaped like the jewel on Glossaryk's forehead. "This grants you the authority of the Magic High Commission on your jobs. Keep in mind that while the Magic High Commission has many allies, it's also a mostly neutral party, we only take care of magic and so you won't have any actual authority on any dimension you visit excluding what those governments offer Bureaucrats like you or are willing to offer in a particular case." Sean looked down.

"And-d-d here's your key card for your flat here. It's on the Fourth Floor." Sean said drawing out the 'd' in 'and' as he searched for a small plastic card which he handed to me. "Now don't forget to confiscate any unregistered Dimensional scissors you come across. It's a standing bounty for Ms. Hekapoo."

I nodded- Hekapoo was very particular about who used which set of scissors.

"So… when do I start?"

Sean looked down at his watch. "Two days ago." He looked back at me. "You should get up to the top floor. Queen Butterfly is paging you."

I turned to leave and stepped into the elevator. As I did Sean the Elevator man handed me a mirror phone, thing, like the one Star used. "Oh! I'm glad I caught you. You forgot to pick up your phone and pager."

"Thanks" I told him. "Top floor please."

Sean pushed a the button at the top of his array of buttons.

I stepped out past Sean at the top floor reception desk.

"Is she in… is she in there?"

"Oh, yeah. Go on in." Sean waved him through.

When I thought I was in no mood for time I was unprepared for the magical-moose-man flitting around space.

I stepped inside to see Queen moon looking regal in a black dress.

"Hello Marco. All settled in?" Queen Moon didn't wait for a response. "Good. I suppose you'll want your first task." She settled into a chair at the far end of a long desk. "Now as you know Toffee has been defeated." I gave her a look.

"Yeah, I was there. Are you shouting?" I asked. "Wouldn't it be easier if I just came over there?"

"I don't make the rules of this place." She almost shouted from the far end of the table. "Now Toffee's return inspired some of his old followers. He was always revered by his fellow Septarians but his resurrection seems to have gathered… a cult following. Amongst certain monsters, of course. You'll be going to the Jaggy Mountains and the Forest of Unlikely Spider Bites to bring stability back to the region. Do you have any questions?" She asked grandly.

Uh yeah, like a dozen. I raised my hand and she nodded at me. "Can I-uh- can I get a map?"

She sighed.

"Yeah, I know I'm ruining the dramatic moment but if I don't know who I'm fighting or how to get there it's going to take a while…"

"You're not getting paid per Diem." She informed him. "Or per hour."

"Yeah but I can't go on the next mission if I haven't finished the first…"

She put her head on her hand and gave a rotating dismissive wave with her free hand. "Just ask Sean for a file."

"Do you show up in person to all of these?"

"No." She sighed. "Just the first one. I try and make it seem… less daunting. Considering most of you die within the first few weeks." She stood up and walked past him. "I have a funeral to get to, good luck Marco."

Holy shit, what is this place?

"Cool." I said. "Thanks. I'll just hit up Sean then." I spoke in the empty room.

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So, whoever named anything in Mewni was a prick.

I looked over the map. "Forest of Probable Itchiness. Forest of Certain Death, ah, there we are, the Forest of Unlikely Spider Bites." I looked at the map I had received. "To the... North?"

The cloud kingdom of the Poney Heads occupied a huge section of the map and I could only guess what was under it.

I supposed that the cartographer who did this was just doing his best but seriously? Come on.

I looked at a photo I had been given. It was a purple lizard monster, like Toffee, with a bunch of spikes on his shoulders and a sort of flange fin like things on the back of his head instead of hair, unlike Toffee. Its mouth was more crocodilian than lizard like and its snout was wider.

The packet he had received from Sean - for what I was generously calling a quest - indicated that Amethero (Marco hoped he was reading that correctly) was immortal, with regeneration and enhanced strength, even for his size.

Of course, I knew the truth. Creatures like Toffee weren't immortal. You just had to reduce them to a fine enough paste that there was no hope that it could regenerate. That Amethero was a lieutenant for Toffee indicated that he was lacking compared to the menacing and dangerously competent lizard who I had crushed and broke until he was pulp and then had kept going.

Fire could do the trick, too.

Septarians could be killed. It just had to be done right. I imagined that few beings in the universe were truly immortal as in couldn't be killed whatsoever. It was probably more likely that some things were hard to kill and just lived, like, a long-ass time.

Attar was probably one but with Lehkmet dead he wasn't sure who on the High Commission was truly immortal. Queen Moon certainly wasn't and if Lehkmet could die then the others could too.

I brought myself back and focused.

I had killed in Hekapoo's dimension, I could do it now too. It had always been in self defense, though.

But this guy was amassing an army. He could end up hurting Star just like Toffee had. Perhaps even as much as Toffee had, even if I doubted it.

Was it still self defense if you were striking first? Honest question.

It probably wasn't.

Except in hypothetical cases where someone was literally hazardous to the health of other just by existing. That would be self defense, and wasn't this kind like that. If I stretched myself just a little I could picture it.

And I… kinda wanted to kill Amethero. Though I wasn't sure how much of that was me and how much of that was the presence of Typhon who sat beneath my skin and bubbled to the surface in purples and blacks.

I felt for my sword and held the handle. I had used mostly a 'Japanese' sword in Hekapoo's dimension, so I was happy to not have to make the switch to a different kind of sword.

Alright. I had my weapons. I was set and determined. Now to actually do the work.

"Just have to find and kill a dude." I reassured myself. "Not too hard, right?"

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"Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories." Sun Tzu

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