Ms. Inez, the only full-time librarian at Higbee Public Library, was easy enough to mimic. Syd was able to do it without a second thought, squashing themselves down a few inches, expanding a few inches more, and swapping out the dull patterns of an insecure teenager with the bold patterns of someone trying to liven up a job they used to love. There was the briefest flash of what passed for Syd’s true self as the process completed, but they shrugged it off with a shudder. Being whoever they wanted to be, whenever they wanted to be…that embarrassment was a small price to pay.

The voice was a little tougher, but Syd had a great talent for mimicry there, too. Even before they’d fallen in with the Margrave, Syd had been able to do a passable imitation of most people they knew. Now, of course, it was everybody.

“Hello!” Syd said, going up an octave throughout the word. “I’m Ms. Inez, the librarian. My voice is my passport.” They giggled at the in-joke, then nodded, satisfied.

The library seemed deserted, with only the thrum of the AC and buzzing of fluorescent lights. “Some things never change, Higbee to Higbee,” Syd muttered. “This place never has any budget.”

They clasped their hands. “Oh, won’t some brave man, woman, or none-of-the-above come and deliver me from this place?” Syd cried, in Inez’s voice. “Or fund the library to a level adequate to provide the necessary services, whichever comes first?”

There was no answer. Just like at the city council meetings when they asked for more funding, Syd wagered. Before trying to figure out the ley lines to put the library out of its misery, Syd looked around the YA section for some quick getaway disguises in case their cover was blown. Everything either had an abstract cover on it or was a photo from the 80s or earlier–another snort of budgetary disgust from Syd. They eventually settled on filching an 80s book featuring a young man in a white tee and jeans–a standard enough look–and a lady from a rather sexist etiquette book from the 70s. The bellbottoms were out of fashion but people might not notice, or think it simply retro.

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