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Meddling in the Affairs of Wizards

The door in the middle of the room burst open and the tail end of an ear-shattering scream blew in.

Maelstrom stepped in front of the Equestrian. Wire stepped between the door and the device holding Sophie's spirit captive. Tam stepped behind Nereid.

A light whipped through the door and struck Wire in the chest, knocking her flat. It continued unimpeded on its path into the funnel, spiraling down into darkness.

There was a pop. And another one. And another. The pops came faster and harder, like a machine gun, and Nereid suddenly realized that the walls of vacuum tubes were shattering, making noise like champagne corks in a fire, and the lights were diving down after the first, consumed by the funnel.

The shrieking scrapes of stone on stone and the thrum and grind of the gears sped up around them.

As Wire picked herself up, a little balding man with white hair and muttonchop sideburns wearing an out-of-date suit stepped through the door, tossing aside a small device that looked like a miniature gramophone.

He stopped, staring at them all through his wire-rim glasses, first with bewilderment, then with growing rage.

"Will interference from you confounded paranormals never end?" he demanded angrily.

"I don't suppose it will," the Equestrian said, a ball of green light growing in one of her hands.

There was a crash from the other side of the doorway, and Nereid heard a familiar voice shouting, "SATOR!"

"Megan?" Nereid exclaimed, then clapped both hands over her mouth as Sator glanced at her, amused.

"Don't worry, dear," he said, removing his glasses and tucking them in the breast pocket of his shirt. "I already knew her name. Humans are so careless."

The great golden-furred wolf was, apparently, just as much a surprise to Sator as it was to the rest of them, especially given the way Simon tackled Sator squarely behind the knees, knocking the magician on his face.

"Oh, that'll piss him off," Maelstrom said, snorting flame out of his human-looking face. "Magicians are sticklers about their dignity."

Simon looked up and around at everyone, and his gaze locked on Nereid. The next moment, Nereid felt someone in her mind.

Pardon the intrusion, Pacifica, a sweet, mild woman's voice said. My name is Renata Scott, and I'll be your telepathic link for today.

Oh, thank fuck, a way to talk, Wire said into the link.

Excellent, the Equestrian said, and her mental voice was much older than her physical one.

Sator rose up from the floor in a graceful swoop, his feet well above the ground and energies crackling around each hand. "I have no patience for this," he intoned.

The dome continued to open its eye to another sky wider and wider.


Note from the Author:

HERE IT IS! Third episode for the week! Thank you all so much! Next new episode: Tuesday!

And remember to vote for WCS!

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Definitely a Boojum

Where the fuck did he go? Megan said through the link.

This way! Simon said, and everyone paying attention could smell slightly scorched spandex and male sweat, with a number of overtones none of them could identify, but I could feel Simon's translation: fear, rage, hope, desperation, frustration.

Meteor shrank down to about ten feet tall so as to follow Simon, since she'd lost her aerial view of the killer in the shadows almost immediately.

Down this street? Megan said, skidding around the corner after the much tighter cornering of the wolf. But this is...

Sator's, Watson said. He's gone to Sator's. Don't you remember him?

For the second time that night, Megan had a bitter taste of memory that I had to filter and poke her out of. C'mon, girl, no time for expository flashbacks, I said.

They paused outside the door of Sator's, which was neatly closed. Simon listened.

"Sator! Sator!" Camerabro was bellowing, moving away from them into the store.

"What is it?" came an irritated reply, and I could feel, via Watson and Megan, that it was Sator's voice.

"It's all gone to shit," Camerabro said. "Instead of just the kids and the dog, there was a spandex ambush."

I could hear Megan thinking, NOT spandex, very loudly. Meteor shot her a hateful look.

"And so you've come here expecting what exactly?" Sator said, and his voice was a silken-smooth growl.

"Enough power to get you what you need!" the cameraman said. "You wanted one more soul. I can get it for you. But first I need what you promised me."

"Were you followed?" Sator demanded.

Meteor started forward, but Simon said, No, wait, and kept listening.

"Damn you, give me what you promised!" the killer shouted. Then he moderated his tone: "I'll go get a soul for you. Three souls. Six souls. I'll bring them all to you! There are so many girls out there in this city, so many with soft throats and powers that bounce off me. I can kill them all."

"Were you followed?" Sator said.

"I'll bring you more souls than you can count," the man said, "just give me what you promised and I'll go out and get them for you."

Sator said, his tone hard as diamond, "You brought them here, you fool, you hopeless excuse for a human. And now I shall have to kill them myself."

"I'll do it!" Camerabro shrieked, and the shop was oozing the scent of terror now. "I'll take care of them...!"

"I don't think so," Sator said, his voice matter-of-fact. "I only need one soul, and yours is as good as any."

I didn't have time to shield myself much, but I managed to shield everyone else in the link from the mind-searing death that went with the most horrible scream Simon, Megan, Meteor, and I had ever heard torn from a human throat.


Note from the Author:

YES! You all did it! If you do it again (ten comments), I'll post a THIRD new episode on Saturday!

Vote for WCS!

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I Have a Bad Feeling About This

The energy flare receded quicker, Suzanne thought, than it would have had she seen it in the flesh rather than through the telepathic link.

The cameraman -- the killer -- was standing there, his costume tattered around the edges and smoking lightly. He laughed, a short, ugly sound, and stepped toward Lizzie, who was still dazzled by her own attack.

MOVE, LIZZIE! Simon and Megan both screamed through the link. Lizzie threw herself backward as he lunged forward.

From one side came a swoop of wind and something hit Camerabro hard in a tinkling crash of machinery. He flew backward a good ten feet, landing in a bed of tulips.

The camerawoman, Eartha, dropped the remains of her useless camera. "I always KNEW you were an asshole!" she screamed, skidding to a halt six inches above the ground.

(Renata picked her up into the link, and Suzanne could hear the edges of Renata's high-speed explanation to Eartha. The camerawoman circled rapidly behind the House crew.)

Jeshri noticed Brandon bending down and retrieving something that had bounced to his feet: it looked like a tiny gramophone, with a large black horn and a box made of moving gears.

Camerabro made an incoherent noise of rage and bounded to his feet, then to Brandon.

Brandon looked up at him, still with that silly little smile on his face. "Bro?" he said, and held the thing out to him.

The cameraman snatched it out of his hand and slammed Brandon out of the way with a backswing of his forearm, starting for Jeshri again.

There was a moment's stab of panic through the link -- from Jeshri, who was too far from the light post to grab any electricity, from Lizzie, who had depleted her stored energy, from Simon, who wasn't sure he could get there in time, and from Megan, who was leaping for him.

Then Meteor's giant hand swatted the killer away as casually has he'd just swatted Brandon. He flew in a neat parabolic arc back toward the entrance to the park.

Simon was running as fast as his four legs would carry him, which was blindingly fast to Suzanne, and snapping through the link, Goddammit, Meteor, you DON'T fucking throw the supervillain so he's CLOSER to civilians. Megan, c'mon. The rest of you, stay here and call the cops!

What was I supposed to do? Meteor snarled. Invite him to dance?

Knock him into the river. Squash him flat. I don't care. Simon bounded over a bush. But move your giant ass. Let's try to stop him from killing anyone else.

Oh, Simon, Suzanne thought, Simon, be careful. She remembered him telling her about going to classes at the Gold Star Academy when he was a teenager, learning how to be a better team leader and all that. She thought, You may not be in spandex, but spandex keeps chasing you.

The boy's all right, Renata said. He knows what he's doing.

Yes, Suzanne said, and didn't add, But so did Mitch. She wrenched her attention away long enough for a gulp of coffee and a glance at Watson's intent but calm face before diving back in.


Note from the Author:
Yes, I am cruel. The next new episode will be next Tuesday!

Vote for WCS at Top Web Fiction!

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Secret Identities Hide Many Things

"Move!" Megan hissed, springing to her feet and starting to run.

She felt more than saw Meteor catch up with her and whisk her into the air by catching her under the arms. She managed not to flail her suddenly relativley tiny size-32 feet in the air while this happened.

It was a matter of three giant strides across the park (she'd have to beg Ladybird to come out to fix the crushed bushes and snapped-off trees) and Megan was back on the ground.

Simon's empty trouser legs barely protruded from a fist-sized hole punched in the ground. The shredded sweater was nearby. A giant golden wolf crouched, snarling, between the housemates and the newcomer who was rising to his feet, a white man in midnight blue spandex and a billowing, hooded black cape.

A horrified shock of recognition rocked Megan back on her heels. Fuck! I know him!

Really? came Watson's interested query, over the flurry of other inquiries.

I met him my first day in town! Megan said, blank with horror as the man turned his sparkling, if somewhat sinister, large-chinned smile on the crowd. He was chasing the Merlin. Oh my god. Oh my god. I handed the Merlin to him. He said he'd been after him, and I just handed him over. I as good as killed him!

FOCUS! Renata's mental command poked Megan straight in the adrenal glands. Angst later, girlfriend, she added, a little more kindly.

The man had spun to face Megan and Meteor, and just seized Meteor's ankle and tossed her partly into the air, off balance. Meteor shrank rapidly as she fell, and she dropped with a crash into a copse of trees and boxwood hedges. He turned to Megan.

He had been trained to fight, somewhat. He knew how to throw a punch, for instance. Megan's arm registered a significant impact as she blocked -- she guessed that Watson's Class 5 estimate might be a little low.

Unfortunately for him, she'd been trained better.

When he skidded to a stop, shoring up against the lamp post recently vacated by Brandon, Simon pounced on him. The man twisted away, rolling to his feet. Simon's flashing teeth caught and tore off the hood and cape, leaving his face exposed. His eminently recognizable tiny eyes and birthmark shared space with a bleeding scrape across his cheek where one fang had scored him.

"Bro?" Brandon said hesitantly. Events had apparently confused him.

The cameraman's eyes narrowed and he slapped something on his belt. The camerawoman, Eartha, yelped and dropped her rig as it sparked vigorously.

The streetlight flickered briefly, but the hardened Wonder City infrastructure held.

"No more film," he said, sneering. "Just you all, dying."

"God, I've wanted to do this forever," Lizzie said, and, raising her arms toward him, dumped a vast red explosion of energy into the killer.


Note from the Author:
And I've been SO eager to post this, so THANK YOU ALL for commenting!

I believe it was [profile] interleaper who remembered the very first person Megan met in Wonder City. (Correct me if I'm wrong...) Good memory, indeed!

The comment incentive will return next Tuesday!

Vote for WCS!

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This story arc has been published as a novel!

Buy in print at Createspace or Amazon!
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Welcome to the Jungle

The woman at the front desk of the YWCA handed Megan an address on a slip of paper while suggesting that it was a place more appropriate for "her type." Megan reshouldered her backpack and made her way back to the intersection with Main Street. She paused under a streetlight to pull the map from her jeans pocket.

"Great," she said, sighing. "Other side of Broadway."

Traffic stopped for the light, so she crossed Main and turned north toward the city center. The fluorescent spire of the new Trylon gleamed at the center of the skyline ahead of her. She supposed that if she walked another twenty blocks, she might see the top arc of the Perisphere as well. Maybe she'd go tomorrow, when she'd recovered from the bus ride.

She heard whistling air above and behind her and ducked. Someone scrabbled at her backpack from above. She reached up and back, gripped a handful of cloth, and helped change her assailant's momentum from "forward" to "down." He made a nasty crunching noise when he hit the pavement.

"Are you all right, miss?" a deep male voice said from above.

"Fine," she said. "I think he may have broken something in his fall."

A figure in midnight blue spandex, sporting a hood and a billowing black cape, landed lightly a few feet away. "You have excellent reflexes," he said, bending to examine the groaning figure.

"I'll tell my mom," she said. "Is he okay?"

"I think he's just broken his flight harness," the superhero said. He hauled her assailant up by the back of said harness. Wires and twisted metal trailed from a smashed box on the little man's chest. "Thanks, by the way. I've been trying to catch the Merlin here for a couple of weeks."

"She tried ta kill me," the Merlin said, trying to stop his bleeding nose with the patch of fabric visible just above his metal gauntlets. A few fake feathers tumbled to the pavement.

"Teaches you to mug women twice your size," the hero said. He turned a brilliant smile up at Megan from the depths of his hood. She wondered vaguely how he kept the hood from falling back. "I'll just get him out of your way, miss. I'd offer an escort, but it seems superfluous."

"Thanks," she said again. "Am I going the right way for the YPCA?"

The man cocked his head and thought. "Yep. Ten blocks northeast, by the rooftops. New in town?"

She nodded, stuffing the paper back into her pocket.

He grinned again and bounded to a rooftop, dragging the complaining Merlin behind him. Then he called down, "Welcome to Wonder City! I hope the rest of your stay is less eventful!"


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