Ch. 18.3 – Sara

Sara locked her fingers around Alex’s hand, holding on as though he could vanish if she slipped. Stay with me, she thought, their minds echoing into one another. Always, she heard in her own mind, with his voice, a communion more than telepathy, more than Vision.

Relief gave way to fury as they turned on their targets. The Quadrum Regime invader and Sovereign Mandate traitor retreated together, Knight and Weaver advancing relentlessly on them. “Time to answer for what you’ve done, Travesty,” Sara demanded, making a fist. Her Weaving choked West’s Vision down to a trickle, barely maintaining contact with his mercenary.

“Prime,” Dologur grunted, “get us out of here.”

Travesty made a fist, forcing a wider trickle of Vision through the link. “What? Just let them win, after all this?” the puppet asked.

“Don’t be a fool,” Dologur retorted, still reaching for supplies that Alex destroyed before he could deploy him. Laser vision beats utility belt, Sara noted with a grin, though she wasn’t sure if the notion had come from her or Alex. “Your Majestic working has been stopped. We have a partial success, and lack the resources to claim anything more. We leave, or we fall.” The alien did something inside his armor, and a static shield popped up, diffusing Sara’s assault.

“Except you’re not leaving, jerks,” Sara said, casting a net of Rift-infused Weaving out over the two. It hung up on Dologur’s shield, but wore at it relentlessly.

Through his avatar, West swore. “Fine,” he conceded. “Evacuation protocol Gray Six Theta, go.” The black-armored woman appeared behind the two, placing a hand on each of their backs. Vision cords shot out to the other Complex agents and Quadrum soldiers. Dologur’s shield flared, throwing off Sara’s Weaving net. As one, the entire enemy group vanished.

*Sorry,* Victor sent, crestfallen. *It’s a lot easier for me to keep someone out than hold them in.*

*Freedom’s your thing,* Alex replied, sending a psychic pat on his shoulder. *We won. Don’t worry about it.*

Reporters ran toward the Knight and Weaver. *Yeah,* Sara cracked, *we have other things to worry about.* She smiled at Alex, trying not to feel guilty, failing somewhat. *They’re all yours, hero. I’m going to be a complete wuss now and hide behind you.*

She felt Alex crush a sigh. *You stomped West like a bug. I’ll handle the media.* He checked his helmet, added a distortion screen to the bottom half of his face, and straightened. Rose, Powerstar, and Marie flew over to them, Max emerging from Sara’s shadow. Eve, Molly, Akira, and Ekaida fell back to the stadium interior where Victor could extract them.

There was a brief cacophony of questions, mostly variations of “who/what are you” and “where did you come from” in English and Portugese, with occasional mentions of “angel” and “dragon.” Alex held up his hands and waited, and the crowd calmed. He pointed to a woman near the front of the pack.

“Rahaf Antar, Peninsula Satellite Network,” she said. “You identify as ‘Captain Bastion,’ is that correct?” Alex nodded. “What can you tell us about your abilities and presence here?”

Captain Bastion’s smile made Sara feel better. If he’s giving me confidence, it’s got to reassure them. She ducked behind him, as promised, all the same. “We are people gifted with abilities humanity has called magic or psychic throughout history. The most common English term among ourselves is ‘Majestic,’ from the Latin majestas, meaning greatness or magnitude. Our larger organization is the Alliance of Wonder, dedicated to helping each other and working toward this very day.” He took in the reporters with a wave. “We came here to rescue some of our own from the entity you’ve rightly labeled the Travesty King. Unfortunately, it was a trap, and none of his captives were ever here.” Memory struck at Sara, strapped to a table, Quadrum tech tearing at her, and she gripped his hand. Cap pointed at another woman.

“Kerry Blake, BCC.” She stepped forward, completely unperturbed by the six demigods facing her. “You are a remarkable group, but there remain unexplained an angel, a shape-changing dragon, several armored soldiers, and why all this happened at a Purity West press conference.” That smile is downright predatory, Sara mused. “Would you care to elaborate on their natures and sudden disappearances?”

“Regarding Mr. Travis T. West,” Bastion rumbled, and Sara sensed him make a fist with his free hand, “while we have no hard evidence, it is our hope that the American and Brazilian governments will investigate his involvement in today’s events. As for the others,” he continued, relaxing somewhat, “all I can say for now is that we share our world with many amazing beings, all of which are as diverse as humanity. Some are friends, some are enemies, and most just want to live their lives, like anyone else.” He turned to Sara. *Find the Brazilian reporters for me, please?* The Weaver twitched her fingers and drew a Majestic line in the air, visible to those with the gift, to the team Alex sought. He waved them forward. “Are you the local news team?”

A handsome young man nodded. “Roberto Lopes, Brazil World Journal.” He waved uncertainly at the group. “You’ve said you’re part of an Alliance of Wonder, but who are you people? Are you superheroes? Was this an attack on the Games?” He glanced at the stadium damage and winced.

*Hey team, you up to a little repair work?* Alex sent. As one, the Majestics replied with wordless loyalty. The Captain glowed softly. “Starting from the end, we believe Travesty struck here to draw international news agencies. He hoped to break the world’s spirit, crushing belief in equality and autonomy. As for the damage, maybe we can do something about that.” He floated a few inches off the ground, then drew on their collective talents. Tendrils of crackling Blaze shot across the stadium, reaching out to the wounds in the building. Concrete, steel, and wire came to life, moving back into place, fusing solid once more. The news teams whirled, cameras focusing on a dozen different miraculous repairs. “The local authorities should probably have their facilities people make sure everything is in order, but that should take care of most of the damage.”

Alex floated back to earth. “As for the rest of us, that’s Night Weaver hiding behind me – she’s shy,” he said with a grin, and several reporters chuckled. “To my left with the magic wand is Majestic Champion Wonder Rose.” She twirled in place and bowed. Alex pointed at John. “That’s Powerstar.”

“I knew it!” the American reporter blurted. Her response was greeted with laughter.

*She wants to be the plucky reporter I rescue,* Powerstar sent quickly. *Please move on.*

*Shadowveil,* Max added. *It fits both of me. Avoid gender pronouns if you can, please – I know I’m male right now, but that’s so they don’t think we’re Captain Bastion and his harem.*

Cap nodded and Sara felt him throttle a groan. *That would be bad, yes.* He gestured to Max, masked by solid darkness. “That’s Shadowveil, my dark-wielding counterpart.” Alex glanced at Marie, who’s smile was impishness incarnate. “I’m not sure if our last member has chosen a name yet.”

“I’m Faystar! F-a-y on the front end, there,” Marie explained, her smile beaming. At Powerstar’s sidelong glance, raised eyebrow clear even through the cowl, she turned her most adorable gaze on him. “Come on, you could use a sidekick. Tell them I’m your cousin.”

*That will be enough,* Schnyder’s voice burst in through the link. *You’ve done an admirable job thus far, but we’ll save greater detail for an organized Alliance press conference. Finish up and get out.*

*Agreed,* Alex replied emphatically, turning to the collected cameras. “As for our small band,” he began.

Rose threw her arm around Alex’s shoulders, beaming to match Marie. “We’re the Bastion Knights,” she exclaimed, “here to save the world! Cap’s title isn’t just for show.”

A second dissonant storm of questions erupted towards them. Alex permitted himself a sigh. “That’s all for now,” he insisted, holding up a hand. “The Alliance will hold a press conference at a later date.” Sara couldn’t help a chuckle. *Victor, get us out of here,* he ordered.

With that, the world spun away, forever changed.

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Written by Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan was born in the Bronx, New York, giving him the right to root for the Yankees while making less than six figures. After a long, largely pleasant interregnum in suburban Connecticut, he moved to the Inland Empire, California to be with his wonderful wife and muse, a stepson, and a crazed feline. An occasionally too-avid player of and writer for tabletop roleplaying games, his other passion is metaphysics, which informs most of his fiction.

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