Ch. 7.3 – Akira

Akira felt the cosmic light of the universe wash over and around them. He knew the humans felt only the briefest of spacial alterations through the element they called Rift. The Anshin felt himself bathed in the soul of the universe, everything being one for a timeless instant. It is more the “heaven” they imagine than anything the Magnarium could create, he thought. I wish it was something that Vision could share. He regarded Alice briefly. Even her talent and my experience combined did not allow me to convey this glory, the living miracle that is knowing creation, not for so much as a moment of transition.

It ended as it began, in a flash of raw Majesty. Alex staggered briefly, but Molly steadied him before it could become a problem. The Blaze Prime looked around in surprise. Akira was a bit surprised himself. Most artists I have known were somewhat slovenly, but this lion is rather tidy. The Anshin noted with mild approval that the dishes were put away, the bed was made, and Alex’s art supplies were all in order, save for two pencils still resting on the table.

The most obvious anomaly was a large bundle in one corner of the small apartment. It has a simple note on the side: “Compliments of Benjamin Mayer.” Akira had guessed it was the Weaver’s things an instant before Ms. Taylor cooed. “Aw. I love that man,” she blurted.

“It’ll be a bit tight,” Alex apologized.

Molly chuckled, Amazonian frame making her shrug particularly expressive. “We’ll manage, Alex. We appreciate your hospitality.”

“Seconded!” Sara added quickly.

Alice was looking at a small book shelf and smiling. Max wandered over to a poster of two sets of colorful characters flying and running at each other. “Fanboy much?” Max quipped.

With a grin, Alex summoned his breastplate. “Are you complaining?” he quipped back. Max held up his hand as if performing a fencing salute. “I think I only held it together by pretending I was living some weird shonen origin.”

“What do you mean ‘pretending?'” Alice laughed, holding up one of his manga collections. “Kirby meets Kubo, and you make it work.” Alex smiled shyly and rubbed the back of his neck.

Having strolled through the room, peering into the bathroom and kitchen, Molly came to rest next to one of the apartment’s two windows. Already checking perimeters? Akira thought. “We worked well together,” she said, her casual posture and tone reminding the Anshin of a yawning tiger. “Should we stay in touch?”

“Are you kidding?” Alice’s smile beamed. “I finally found someone besides me who’s willing to let their Majestic flag fly. You’ve got my number.”

Max stopped, expression sober, and leaned against the wall. “I owe you guys. All of you, in a lot of different ways.” He ran fingers roughly through his short-cropped hair. “Damn it. I mean, I have things I need to do, but if you need me…you know.”

Sara hugged him impulsively. “We know, Max.”

After a moment, Akira felt the humans’ collective Vision shift from relieved to awkward. “I’m a bit surprised, Alex,” he said, gesturing around the room. “You are one of the tidiest artists I’ve ever met.”

Alex chuckled at that. “Yeah, they keep telling me to leave some shirts lying around, or they’ll take my artistic license.” Max’s jaw dropped, and Sara groaned. “Sorry, Akira, I’ve been waiting months for someone to walk into that one.”

“You don’t get out much, do you?” Max drawled.

Alice’s eyes flickered from Max to Alex. “So,” she jumped in, “have you decided which of the Allies you’re joining? I’m guessing Molly declared you ‘not Ghost Dragon material,’ right?”

“They’d take him, but he’s kind of shiny,” Sara admitted. Molly nodded.

“Oracles lean subtle, but there are exceptions,” Alice replied, holding up her wand. She grinned, waving the wand gently in the air. “We have a word for Conducting Blaze – psychokinesis. You’d fit right in.” Her smile flickered a bit wryly when Alex raised an eyebrow. “Okay, maybe not perfectly, but we take a lot of Blaze types.”

Alex glanced at Sara, looking a bit surprised. “No objections this time?” Alice’s reaction mirrored Alex’s, turning a wide-eyed look on the Weaver.

“I’m not a big fan of any Majestic organization,” Sara muttered, “but we can’t do this by ourselves. If you want to join one of them, I’m not going to argue.”

“Why would you?” Alice asked. She didn’t sound hurt to Akira, but it was a near thing.

Sara scoffed. “Oh, come on, Alice. We all meddle, and the mundanes block out what we do. Take a lot of powerful people used to operating with impunity, and turn them into a crusading secret society?” She shook her head. “Tell me when that’s ever ended well.”

“We’re not a secret society,” Alice insisted. “It’s like you said, most people can’t see our Talents, and when they do, it’s usually traumatic. Mess up around them, and the Schism opens.” She glanced at Alex questioningly.

“The psychic backlash against Talents,” Alex said, nodding. “Don’t worry, you gave me the basics on that one.”

“You’re arguing semantics,” Sara replied, lips flattening. “Just because we’re not trying to stay secret doesn’t mean we aren’t.” She sighed, deflating. “Look, I know a lot of Alliance Majestics are good people, but your leaders didn’t waste any time making nice with the Grayboys, and last I checked the Complex hadn’t gotten any better.”

“You’d be able to change that a lot more from the inside,” Alice said gently.

Sara’s head shot up. “That’s not exactly a denial,” she noted.

“I don’t think the Alliance is as bad as you do,” Alice continued, “but I’m not going to deny that we still have problems. We can’t be an Alliance of Wonder unless we get our act together.”

“Sorry,” Alex cut in, while Sara rolled her eyes, “‘Alliance of Wonder?’ That’s a much better name than ‘Four Allies.'”

“Many Alliance Majestics use it,” Molly said, not quite grimacing, “but it’s not official, and frankly a lot of us think it’s silly.”

“And some of us,” Alice added, “don’t think we’re ready to use it yet.”

Akira looked the group over. “Maybe,” he whispered, “a fifth Ally would help with that. A group that could embrace bastions of Blaze and nobility.” He waited for the idea to sink in, then held out a hand. “This is not the time. Maxwell, Alice, I can transport you as you wish. We should allow our hosts to settle in.”

Max nodded, while Alice practically skipped to the Anshin’s side. Akira gathered his sense of the universe, and felt where the other two wanted to go. The last thing he heard before they vanished was Alex blurting, “Crap – I left my car at the Red Rock!”

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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