Erik Mahren recently lost his fiancée, Backdraft, who died during the Halloween invasion . He’s been getting more depressed, and in an effort to help him, Gunny Bardue orders him to get tested for mutant powers, as he has a talent for picking up any weapon and knowing what it is and how to use it. During the tests, Erik is given a mysterious staff, which he figures out is a nasty magical weapon, which he destroys in a way that ticks off all the magical students and staff. When Sir Wallace tests him, Erik saves Fey from a magical trap, and she discovers that he is filled with magic and going into burnout. An attempt to stop it fails, and Erik magically explodes on the hazard test range.
When Erik wakes from dreams of previous lives, he discovers he now looks like a teenage girl and has a magical corona that is dangerous to everything around him. The magic teachers create warded clothing that will allow her to move around, and she makes some magical artifacts by instinct. Circe realizes that this means Erik is an Artificer, and arranges for Mrs. Carson to officially send Erik to ARC, while she actually becomes Caitlin Bardue, a student at Whateley, while they work out a way to let her control her powers without making her a soul-bound slave as all previous Artificers have been. Caitlin meets and makes friends with Jericho.