Evil Beatnik didn’t have an easy time of it.
Marcus started to twist toward me, but one leg shrunk, and he fell over. He began to push himself away from the ground, but it wasn’t simple. Long spikes had grown out of Marcus’ legs, sticking themselves into the ground.
I couldn’t see it to know for sure, but judging from the way Marcus’ legs and body shrank, I suspected I couldn’t see half of what Marcus had sunk into the ground.
Marcus growled something I couldn’t understand as he pushed up, and fell back down. Not that he sounded at all like Marcus, of course.
The spikes began to retract into his feet, and Marcus stood, his features turning into Evil Beatnik’s—as much as they could. When Marcus used his powers, his skin turned from light brown to the same gray Haley and Travis’ claws had when they transformed. At that point Marcus had turned all gray, creating the impression of a beret, turtleneck shirt, and pants out of Marcus’ body.
I racked my brain to think of something that I could do about it, but nothing came to mind. Hitting Marcus didn’t do much good, and anyway, it wasn’t Marcus I wanted to hit.
I didn’t know what to do.
When we’d practised, Daniel had the best chance of taking Marcus out. Between telepathic attacks, and straight out telekinesis, he could take Marcus out of a fight.
The rest of us had a harder time.
Sonics would hurt him, but he could also shapeshift away from having ears.
Not that I went through that in a completely rational way at that moment. At that moment, my thoughts were closer to “Crap. Crap. Crap.”
That and thinking how incredibly inconvenient it was that the original team (and thus ours) hadn’t included anybody who knew anything about magic.
Well, other than Lee, and he didn’t seem to be nearly as into understanding sorcery as he was into dismembering sorcerors.
And anyway, he wasn’t there.
What happened next could be considered a reminder that waiting sometimes does solve problems.
Marcus’ right hand disappeared while his forearm bulged. Evil Beatnik’s ring fell to the grass. It turned into a silvery mist again, and floated toward him except Marcus turned into a ball.
A big ball.
I wouldn’t have put it past Evil Beatnik to have the ring stretch to fit, but it would have had to stretch to hula hoop size. Maybe the ring had a hard limit to its ability to stretch, or maybe Evil Beatnik didn’t want to try again on Marcus.
Either way, he didn’t.
The silvery circle hovered above the grass.
Meanwhile, the Ice Twins’ whole crew—including Mr. Madness—lay on the ground in a haze, muttering and sometimes pointing at shapes in the clouds. Mr. Beacham and his girlfriend lay near them.
Bongo Boy sat, hand still bleeding, surrounded by monkeys, and coughing a little. I guessed he must have been gassed too.
That’s when I noticed that whether or not he’d intended it, Marcus had been brilliant. We had to isolate Evil Beatnik, and in stopping Mr. Madness, he’d sprayed the man’s madness gas everywhere. No one eligible to be possessed could think clearly enough to be useful, and even if Bongo Boy could, he was over thirty by at least forty years.
The time had come. I could call Kayla, and reveal Evil Beatnik over the TV.
At least in theory.
Theory came in because as I decided to call her, I realized that Evil Beatnik had one rational person under the age of thirty available who hadn’t just bested him in a contest of will.
Yeah, that’d be me.
I felt cold metal on the ring finger of my right hand.
“HQ,” I began, and then found I couldn’t speak any more.
My body felt strange—good in a way, but not right.
Evil Beatnik’s voice spoke in my head. “This is better. Much better. A normal body. Well, Nick, here we are, together at last. I’m trying to decide where we should start. City Hall? The power plant? Or maybe we should rob a jewelry store? What do you think? Anything that you’ve always wanted to do?”