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“You’re late. Where are you?” Drake looked around trying to see his meetup, feigning a casual lean against the no-parking pole buried in the cement sidewalk. Everything he wore, from the sandals to the perfect white T-shirt, screamed just an ordinary day, just an ordinary person, no need to look here.
He hoped any pedestrians nearby bought the spell he was weaving. He wanted everyone to live through today including himself, though the flood of cars being diverted down the quiet street due to construction on a major artery, did not bode well.
“Look up,” crackled a sultry static-disrupted reply.
“Why…” Drake glanced up. “Oh hell and…,” slipped out before the cell phone went dead in his right hand. Drake straighten up and took a couple steps back, closer to the building.
Slowly descending from the sky was a vision of masculine superhero excellence, red cape rippling in the steady wind funneling between the urban buildings, black skin gleaming nearly blue perfectly set off by his cream and red suit. People on the crowded sidewalk walked faster in directions away from the place the six foot eight inch mountain of muscles came to hover, placing his invulnerable body protectively between Drake and the street filled with civilians. “Viper.” Power Fist’s deep resonating voice declared.
“Captain Perfect.” Drake stared past the spandex-covered obstacle, so much planning just shot to hell. The building he intended to enter once his contracted backup arrived irksomely was beyond his reach on the other side of the street. Dozens of pedestrians were taking shelter from the possible fight within the stone edifice, while equal numbers of more experienced urbanites were streaming out. Building fell down when superheroes of Power Fist’s strength levels were involved. A two-block distance provided the best protection.
“That’s not my name,” growled the hero.
Overlapping with the hero’s voice was another, recently learned and delightfully sultry voice saying in Drake’s right ear, “I’m going in now. Keep him busy.”
Long familiar with the light tingle of magic, Drake did not react. Over Power Fists shoulder he watched a raven-tressed college student snap a picture of the superhero with her cellphone, waving his direction a second before adjusting her backpack and entering his target building. Lydia? What was she … no, when the woman pulled the door open she turned in profile. Those were definitely not Lydia’s tits. Drake was fairly confident the Ice Queen just slipped into the building.
“Then what is your name?” Drake’s golden eyes snapped to the hero’s brown ones. “Shall I look it up on the registration database?” He mimed touching his cell phone. “Oh, wait. Your name doesn’t show up, sell-out.”
“Neither does yours Viper.”
“Of course not, I’m not Powered.” Drake took a few step further down the street, away from where he really wanted to go. He would have to trust Ice Queen’s reasonably priced services. “Nor am I American, you kolos.”
Power Fist followed without shifting his body, continuing to hover a few inches off the ground in the stupid pirouette-passé position flyers use. “Where are you going Viper?”
“Wherever I want. It’s still a free country, or so you copycats say. Though all those lovely lists of yours may prove you are much better at tyranny than any British Crown.” Drake stopped at the end of the block and turned to completely face Power Fist again. He wanted to see his hireling exit if possible. “How do you sleep at night knowing your government publicly endangers hundreds of Powers by publishing their birth names on the internet? It’s almost like they want public lynchings.”
“All duly registered Powers willing to undergo training and work with the government and within the law are allowed anonymity for the protection of themselves and their family.”
“How beautifully rote. Was that spiel part of your training?” Drake sneered.
“Duck in three.” Came the voice Drake could hear but not his opponent.
He closed on Power Fists, his cell phone still grasped in his hand. The hero lowered himself to the ground, bracing for an attack. An attack which was only a whisper Power Fist had to bend forward to completely hear. Drake voice dripped with vitriol. “How long do you think *Two* they will let you live free? How *One*long will it take for all Powers to be slaves?”
Behind them, the side of the building exploded into the clear street. A concrete molding stripped from between the first and second floors flew at Power Fists back, shattering around him, leaving Drake unaffected in the lee of the hero’s braced, invulnerable body. Not even Drake’s sandal covered feet were cut.
Power Fist head twisted around to look at the fiery destruction behind him. “What did you do?”
“I. I did nothing.” Drake took a step back from the agitated hero. “All I was doing was walking down a street, talking with you.”
Turning back, Power Fist stared daggers. If his eyes could kill, Drake would be dead. “You did something Viper. You always do.”
“Would you believe I am one of the good guys?” Drake half-smiled.
“Not in a thousand years.”
“Well, then I suppose I don’t need to remind you, there are a lot of people needing rescuing right now.”
Power Fists fists glowed red as he clenched them. His teeth ground and every muscle of his body tensed to leap. Then he turned around and flew toward the bleeding people who had taken shelter within the destroyed building.
The Greek walked away whistling a tune most people know as the Macedonia.
“Two of the three Bleue Toscano Eggs of Power retrieved and the third neutralized per contract.” The Ice Queen passed Drake a wooden box, intricately carved with dozens of designs, as she entered the mid-priced hotel room they eventually agreed to meet in. It took over a month, several states, and one embassy appeal for Drake to ditch the surveillance assigned him after the blast. “Try to keep them separate from now on.”
“It shouldn’t be difficult with the third destroyed.” Drake opened the box, verifying the two Faberge-style enameled eggs cushioned within the case. The magic shimmered the air, carrying the scent of burnt caramel and a taste of clover honey in warm milk.
The wheat blonde, the black wig long disposed of, sat primly on the bed of the modest-sized hotel room, crossing her nylon-covered legs which barely reached the floor. For once Drake was dealing with someone shorter than him; being just shy of five and a half feet in this day and age only was an advantage in that most people underestimated him. They likely did the same with the five foot nothing beauty in front of him. “Who said anything about it being destroyed?”
She smiled, her blue eyes dancing. “All I did was crack the outer shell to leak some of the pent up energy to move it safely. The inner shell hardened within seconds.”
“So where is it?” Drake closed box, dancing a finger around one of the designs, completing the protections. No one would be able to open the box but him. He set it aside on the empty luggage rack.
“Not here. “ Laughing, she leaned back on the bed, bracing herself with her arms. Her laugh was much younger than her staid navy business suit indicated. Shocked, Drake moved her age down from the late-twenties he had pegged her at based on her street history and reputation. “I am not stupid enough to put those three Eggs within a mile of each other where they can form a Tierce Set. Some collectors are idiots.”
“So where is the third?” Drake walked over to where woman arched on the bed, her blouse primly hiding flesh which the business jacket advertised in a wide gap to accommodate her generous breasts. He lightly tapped her crossed legs with his jean clad one and she unconsciously dropped one of the legs providing him room to step between them and hover over her. “Hmmm?”
She looked up, leaning her head back because of his closeness, looking more aroused than intimidated. Her voice dropped from sultry to pure sex. “Safe.”
He leaned forward, placing his hands either side of hers not touching her bare hands, his lips hovering over hers. “How much?”
She named a number and he jerked back.
“Gadsdamn, that’s ten times…”
“…what the contract clause which you turned down specified.” She interrupted, standing and walking over the curtains while she talked. The woman looked coltishly over her shoulder before moving the curtain rod to block out the late afternoon sun. “The clause amount was based on risk. Risk of non-success. Well, success has been achieved.”
“Fair enough, but I am not in this one for profit.” Drake moved to the one chair of the room and sat down, raising his feet to the bed, blocking her by the curtains. “The first contract already drained the budget.”
“Well, then, since I took the risk. I get the benefit. I’ve been needing a small, untraceable power source.” The Ice Queen climbed into the middle of the bed this time, pretty much the only way to get by him in the small room. The slit in her skirt displaying the top her stockings before she tucked her legs under her. Strained buttons because of the tilted position threatened to pop until she unbuttoned her blazer. “I assume we have met your orders?”
“They would have liked it to have less of an … imprint.”
“They should be grateful no one was killed and a twenty-mile hole wasn’t carved into the planet. The eggs were sparkling blue AND the enamel had turned deep purple by the time I got there. Maybe two, maybe three minutes before we had one large empty grave blamed on the Powers.”
Drake raised his eyebrows. “And you controlled that?”
“I got mad skills.”
“Humph,” he grunted. “That I agree with; the cell phone trick is intriguing.” He dropped his feet to the floor and switched seating locations to the edge of the bed.
She tilted her head sideways. “It’s no big thing if one understands technology.”
“A failing old age inflicts on one.” Drake danced his hand over her leg.
“And just how old are you Maionios?”
Drake’s hand stilled a second before continuing to softly stroke the girl’s leg. “Your researchers are exceptional.”
“My Gremlins have mad skills too.”
His golden eyes bore into her clear blue one, squeezing her calf lightly. “Real gremlins?”
“Not imported ones if that is what you are asking solider.”
“Not exactly but it will do.” Drake moved closer.
The blond scooted back until she was against the headboard. “So, what made you decide to do your three-year early.”
Taking the hint, Drake backed up a bit, pulling his legs and sitting Indian style on the mattress. Their knees bumped despite their mutual short statures. He didn’t move further back, and she did not move off the bed. “With Lydia deciding to actually serve out her most recent sentence, something about needing a rest to work out stuff which I never know is a good or bad thing that that woman, I found myself at loose ends and decided to clear the requirement off the slate. Have you started thinking about your mandatory yet?”
“With my lifestyle, I really don’t think I need to worry about it.” She shook her head. “The chances of me hitting sixty are slim to none.”
Drake leaned forward to put his hand on her knee. “What a sad thought.”
“Not really, I just live life really large.” She gently moved his hand to the edge of the skirt’s fabric.
“Do you now.” He leaned further in.
Grabbing his black hair, she pulled him the rest of the way in. “Yes.” Their lips met sending the massive mutual electric shock two world-class mages create when touching skin to skin. Her energy, pure, raw, nearly all unfocused but with the infinite-looking-into-the-abyss signature of a dimensional gate specialist. He knew she was experiencing his powerful, well-harnessed energy in its chaotic swirl of mass and energy transmutation. Adjusting mass-energy had a number of interesting consequences. Including subtly shifting the energy within solid fibers temporarily to the excitement of gas and dropping the materials back down the scale upon the room’s chair completely reformed, an effect which appeared to many like teleportation of non-living materials and took years to master to reassemble with all the atoms back in the correct order.
A skill perfect for his needs of the moment; Drake raised his hands up to the newly bared breasts.
“Whoa.” The Ice Queen pulled back from the kiss and a moment later moaned “Oh,” as his freed lips found her nipples. Her ability with words deteriorated from there. A thousand years’ experience being used on a teenager, and after the opening kiss Drake was positive the girl was this country’s adult legal age for sex but not for drinking, will do that to a female.
Damn he did like teaching.
Much later he traced the ugly spell-tattoo inked into her porcelain white skin. “Would you be interested in learning about clear tattoos?” He dropped a kiss on the death spell before leveraging himself to see her face.
The dreamy look dissolved a bit. “In exchange for what?”
“Well, now my mercenary lover, how about that technology spell?” He smiled, his teeth showing.
“Sounds fair. Gremlin?”
Drake jerked up in surprise. “We are being watched?”
“Always.” She crawled over the bed toward their clothes. Looking over her shoulder to see him admiring the handprints he perpetrated on her expansive ass, she shrugged. “Well, at least I am.”
“I guess I will need to give a better performance next time.”
“The Gremlins don’t really notice these things unless snacks are required.” The pile of clothes vibrated until she pulled her cell phone out. “Yep, they agree. The contract will print on the hotel’s printer as we walk out, which we need to do soon. Your tail is getting close. And you rated the movie butter popcorn.”
“I shook my tail two days ago.”
“The obvious one. We got rid of the other about an hour before you got here, all part of the meetup service. I like to go above and beyond.”
“I had the embassy remove the obvious one.”
“You are behind on the times old man.” She sent him a look of pity as she picked up her brassiere. “If you are going to be soldiering, you need to get more with what the tech of this world can do.”
Drake, recorded in myth as Drakon Maionios, now known by the codename of Viper in many modern government databases, frowned while the teenage mage dressed. When she passed him his pants, he stated, “Maybe we should expand that contract a bit.”
Her face lit up. “I know the perfect restaurant for the discussion, if you are paying.”
(words 2,491 – first published July 31, 2016)