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A Harsh Reminder That We’re All Mortal …

Pendragon trickled out of a tap in the park across the road from the museum and half rose as a shapeless, watery blob making sure that she was alone in the park before taking her shape.

Pendragon trickled out of a tap in the park across the road from the museum and half rose as a shapeless, watery blob making sure that she was alone in the park before taking her shape. She could see the glow from the fire caused by the explosion, but couldn’t smell or feel the heat and smoke, which troubled her, though she didn’t know why. She had to force herself to take deep breaths and count to ten to fight back the rising overwhelming panic as her chest tightened, feeling like it was being squeezed. It took her a couple of minutes to calm down enough to notice that the smoke was being contained by a massive force field.

She let out a deep breath, unexpectedly relieved to see the reason why she couldn’t sense the flames and smoke. Then she saw the scale of the damage: at least two city blocks were in flames while heavy dark smoke swirled thickly around and above the flames. The explosion must have been massive and she had barely noticed it down in the museum’s sub basements. The casualties must be horrific. It would probably take days for an official number to be announced, but she was sure that it would easily be in the thousands. Pendragon looked at the smoke and flame filled dome again and realised that the dome was preventing anyone from getting in and out as well as containing the smoke and flames, and couldn’t work out why the Guild would allow such a thing. They were all about doing the right thing and rescuing those in need. If ever there was a time for them, now was it.

“What are they thinking?” She exclaimed to herself, starting towards the destruction determined to do what she could to rescue people from the flames.

“The smoke is poisonous.” A middle aged man in a dishevelled suit answered, stepping out of the shadows behind Pendragon, startling her. She hadn’t sensed him nearby and was sure that her attention wasn’t so focused on the destruction that she missed him. He carried a camera in his hand, which he raised and pointed at her, hiding the haggard expression on his face. “Why did you do it?” He asked and Pendragon immediately recognised him as a journalist for one of the major news broadcasters, although she couldn’t remember his name. She didn’t make a habit of watching the news.

She glared down the camera lens. “I had nothing to do with this.” She said flatly, waving her hand at the destruction behind her. “What do you mean poisonous smoke?”

“Smoke that’s poisonous.”

“Isn’t that basically all smoke?”

He smiled wryly at her from behind the camera. “Not like this it’s not. This stuff instantly kills anyone who breaths it in.”

The force field containing the smoke and flames suddenly made perfect sense. It was fortunate that it was put up as fast as it was. The death toll could’ve been much worse that what it’ll end up being when the final figures are finally in. “Why would anyone do that?” Pendragon asked softly, looking over her shoulder at the flames in horror.

“That’s what we all want to know.”

Pendragon looked back at him and saw that he was recording their conversation. “I had nothing to do with this.” She repeated flatly, racking her mind for his name, feeling that knowing his name would somehow put them on a more even footing.

“So it’s just a coincidence that you’re in the area tonight?”

“Yes, Sandy, it is.” She exclaimed hotly, finally remembering his name. She saw the sceptical expression creeping across his face behind the camera and added, “I’m a thief. Not a mass murderer. What do you think I was doing tonight before all this?”

Sandy Jones was silent for a minute as he considered his answer. “You’ve got to admit that it’s a hell of a coincidence.” He said finally.

“It ruined my carefully laid plans.” Pendragon said, sounding more petulant than she had intended.

“I think a lot of people’s plans were ruined tonight.”

“Yeah.” Pendragon sighed, glancing over her shoulder at the smoke and flame filled bubble. The thick smoke now almost completely filled the dome. She wondered how the fires still had enough oxygen to burn before remembering that these probably weren’t ordinary flames, that they were designed to inflict untold damage and most likely could burn without oxygen. They were probably fuelled by magic. She suddenly straightened and looked sharply at Sandy. “What are you doing skulking about the shadows?” She demanded.

“The same as you, I would imagine.”

“I was finishing up my job and wanted to see what all the commotion was.” Pendragon shrugged, Indestructo would verify that she was trying to leave the museum with stolen art canvasses. Hopefully no one would look any further into it than that. “As a journalist I’d imagine that you’d be where the action is instead of hiding in the shadows.”

“I thought I saw Warp and wanted to ask him a few questions.”

Pendragon raised her eyebrows in surprise. “That was brave of you.” She remarked with the tiniest chuckle.

Sandy’s phone suddenly rang. He quickly lowered his camera and answered the phone, speaking softly to the man on the other end. Pendragon felt her blood run cold as she heard what he was telling Sandy.

“Fuck.” She breathed, turning to face the dome and took an involuntary step backwards from it.

Sandy quietly pocketed his phone and raised and pointed his camera at Pendragon again. “Davron has been confirmed dead. Do you have anything to say, Pendragon?”

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The Real Reason I don’t Want to Tell Anyone About My Powers …

There was no one in the darkened room, just a lot of dust covered crates to witness the sudden but brief burst of water from the overhead fire sprinkler. However, that didn’t stop the hooded figure who materialised from the water immediately crouching down in the shadows and waiting for any sign of anyone else being down there with her. She had spent the last hour carefully monitoring the museum and hadn’t seen any sign of security. But she knew that was no reason to be careless. Especially since the heroes would undoubtedly be on high alert for any sign of trouble after the events in the south east earlier that afternoon. She hoped that her work tonight would remain undetected. Simply because she didn’t want anyone to start asking questions about what she was up to.

Her teeth gleamed in the darkness as she smiled to herself, satisfied that she hadn’t tripped any alarms upon entering. Much to her chagrin, she’d had no way to tell for certain before entering, although she had suspected that the sub basements didn’t have any alarms beyond the initial door to them. It appeared her guess had been correct. She couldn’t hear any alarms sounding.

She cautiously stood up, still taking care to stick to the shadows, a habit she couldn’t remember forming, concealing her black hooded jacket that was more of a cloak and fastened with black clasps just below her chest. Underneath that she wore a dark grey tunic made of a lightweight metal mesh tucked into silver pants. The boots of her black, knee high boots curled over at the toes. Her gloves also served as arm guards up to the elbow, although the sleeves of her jacket concealed this fact. Two long knives hung from her belt. She didn’t know if what she was after was on this floor or not. She pried open the lid of the nearest crate next to her. It was filled with packing peanuts. Reaching into the peanuts she felt around until her gloved hand felt something inside. She pulled it out and was somewhat surprised to find she held a rolled up canvas in her hand. There were more rolled up canvases inside the crate. She pulled two more from the crate and didn’t bother unrolling them before slinging them over her shoulder and replacing the lid on the crate. Her den could always use more decorations. Hopefully what she picked up wasn’t too ugly.

Inspecting all of the crates one by one was going to take too long, and there were still at least two more levels below the one she was on. With a sigh she glanced around the darkened sub basement once again, even though she knew she was alone. Then she held her left hand palm up in front of her under her right fist. She was completely still for one minute then a bright purple orb suddenly appeared floating just above her left hand. She murmured something in a strange language and the orb suddenly zoomed away from her. She jogged after it, agily bounding over the dust covered crates.

The orb led her down to the third level sub basement. This level made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. She cautiously crept through the third sub basement, keeping to the shadows as much as possible. It didn’t take her long to identify the source of her discomfort; a tall, narrow metal box covered in thick chains almost as thick as her body in the centre of the sub basement. It was giving off an evil feeling that had all her instincts screaming at her to run as far and as fast as possible from whatever was locked inside. There was also something unsettlingly familiar about the feeling. She could feel memories stirring deep within her mind, causing her to tremble as terrible screams began to fill her mind, tightening her chest making it difficult to breath. She remembered the last time someone tried to bring out her lost and mostly forgotten memories and forced those memories back down to wherever they dwelt and focused on her task instead.

Now definitely wasn’t the time to examine them.

Given how horrible she was sure they were, she doubted that there’d never be a good time to do so, and worried that she may never find out who she really was because of her reluctance to remember.

The orb came to a halt floating above something on the other side of the sub basement. Giving the evil metal container a wide berth, she darted over to her it floated at debated with herself about whether or not she should extinguish it now that she had located what she was after. While she could see perfectly well in the dark, the idea of being alone in the dark with whatever was giving off that evil feeling inside the metal container was not appealing. But neither was the idea of giving whatever it was an easy target in the unlikely event that it managed to get out of the container. She stood debating with herself for long moments, unable to settle on a decision.

A dull boom that shook dust from the roof sounded from overhead brought her back to reality. She glanced up at the roof, wiping the dust from her face, wondering what could’ve caused such an explosion that it was felt at least three levels below ground. She hoped that whatever it was didn’t occur in the museum above her. She wasn’t sure how that would effect her plans of remaining unnoticed on her way out. There weren’t any fire sprinklers this far down, which puzzled her. She was going to have to make her way towards the commotion before she would be able to leave.

“Gods dammit!” She growled, finally deciding what to do with the glowing purple orb and sending it to hover on the other side of the room, angling it so that she was hidden in the shadow of the stack of crates behind her while she worked. She stared thoughtfully at the small, wooden crate for a moment, trying to detect any magical safe guards. She couldn’t. All the same, she sniffed carefully at it and still couldn’t detect any kind of security. There was another boom, more a thud than a boom, that shook the roof above her head. She growled softly in annoyance as she pulled a pouch attached to her belt under her cape and unrolled it on top of the crate revealing a number of different lock picking tools. Her carefully laid plans were being ruined by bad luck. Most likely because a hero and villain were clashing it out nearby.

It was only a matter of seconds for her to unlock the padlock holding the thick wrapped around the crate in place. She winced as the chain loudly crashed to the ground, wondering how she managed to forget to catch it. The ground shook, rattling the crates all around her as another thud boomed overhead. She glanced warily at the metal container behind her, suddenly all too aware that she had her back to it. She then looked quickly up at the roof before extinguishing the purple orb with a wave of her hand. There was likely more than whatever was in the box to worry about being noticed by now. Sighing at the darkness, she turned her attention back to the crate she had she just unlocked. She carefully opened it, revealing something wrapped in red silk amongst all the packing peanuts. She carefully removed the item and pulled the silk wrapping away, smiling in satisfact as she looked down at the Lucis et Flammae; a sickle shaped ruby and diamond encrusted copper sceptre. She had sensed the magic from it the moment she removed the silk shroud from it and knew for certain that it was the real deal as its power flooded through her, fighting her own until it was subdued.

The sounds overhead had grown in intensity, showering her almost constantly in dust. She carefully tucked the sceptre into her belt, adjusting the canvasses slung over her back to further conceal her real prize, tossed the silk cloth back into the crate, closed and locked it again. Thanks to the near constant shower of dust raining down from above, any sign that she had broken into it would soon be obliterated, although her foot prints might be visible to someone with sharp enough eyes. Once again giving a wide berth of the metal container, she darted across the room and bounded back upstairs, still hoping to be able to make a clean get away without anyone seeing her. However, that hope was quickly extinguished almost the same moment she reached the first level of the sub basements.

She emerged from the staircase just as the sub basement roof exploded in cloud of dust, plaster, pipe and other debris she couldn’t identify, she raised an arm over her face to shield against the dust and debris. The ground shuddered violently beneath her feet and when the dust settled enough for her to see, she saw that there was now a massive hole in the floor. Keeping a careful eye on both the hole in the roof and the floor, she crept forwards, carefully stepping over the wreckage of the crates and their contents. Lying on the now heavily cracked floor of the sub basement below amongst all the wreckage was a massive, bulky figure with dust covered steel knuckles. She stared down at him for a moment before a familiar voice shouted angrily. “Pendragon! I should have known you would be involved.”

She spun around and faced the caped muscular figure in grey and orange glaring down at her from above. She glanced over her shoulder at the now groaning Warp below her as he struggled to regain consciousness. The man above her took a step closer, revealing a strong chin and neatly combed hair and a furious expression, which startled Pendragon. She had seen him angry before, many times in fact, but never like this. Something bad had happened, and he believed that she was involved. Judging from his expression, it was something she probably didn’t want to be associated with. She knew that tonight was definitely not the night to play games with this hero. Tonight he wouldn’t be holding back. Tonight he would be throwing all his considerable force into each and every punch. As untrained and unfocused as he was, even being lightly clipped by a stray punch could seriously injure her. Tonight was definitely a night to run from a fight and not bait him. “Indestructo! I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She smiled at him, knowing full well that he wouldn’t believe her.

Indestructo snorted with bitter disbelief. Pendragon began to back away from the holes, slowly unslinging the canvasses from her back and eying Indestructo and Warp, trying to figure out who was likely to make the first move. Warp was now on shakey hands and knees, groggily shaking his head. Indestructo was apopletic with rage, she could almost smell it coming off him. Given his near invulnerability, Indestructo was likely to make the first move, despite the risk of being attacked by Warp, who didn’t appear to be in any shape to attack at any rate. Pendragon saw Indestructo tense ever so slightly, something very few other people would have been able to notice, and quickly darted backwards a couple more steps, throwing two of the three canvasses at him, which he easily caught even as he lunged at her. She threw herself sideways, agilely bounding over a couple of overturned crates and sliding under two leaning precauriously against one another. However, she needn’t have worried; Warp had apparently recovered enough to launch himself at Indestructo while he was distracted by Pendragon, who watched the pair of them try to pound one another to pulp.

She watched them for a moment and noticed that they were near the holes. Without hesitating, she sprinted forwards and leapt onto Indestructo’s back, using him to springboard up to the floor above. She lost the third canvas as she pinwheeled her arms on the edge of the hole, trying to keep her balance on the basement floor and not fall backwards. She managed to keep her balance, finally stumbling forward after what seemed like the longest time, but which was less than a second. She made a beeline for the nearest sprinkler, making sure that there was no one else around to see her make her escape. But then she saw the sky through the hole Indestructo and Warp had created; it was too orange and smoke filled. The sound of sirens was almost deafening. There was someone speaking through a loudspeaker, but their words were drowned out by the constant sirens of what sounded like hundreds of emergency vehicles. She couldn’t smell any fire or smoke, which she found even more unsettling than the sight itself. Pendragon stared at the sky through the hole, hesitating, torn between curiosity to find out what happened first hand and wanting to get away before someone else saw her and assume she was involved in whatever tragedy was unfolding outside.

The ground jolted violently beneath her feet, reminding her of the danger immediately below her. The basement was empty, and she leapt up at the fire sprinkler just as it exploded, only to melt into the water and disappear back into the sprinkler.

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Introduction

Do you ever feel like you’re in the wrong world? Like something, everything, is wrong but you just can’t figure out what it is?

I do.

All the time.

My psychologist says that this is simply due to my amnesia and the fact that I can’t remember anything beyond eight months ago when I woke up floating in Port Phillip Bay with only a name and the strange clothes I was wearing.

Maybe he’s right.

I don’t think he is though.

Everything about this world feels wrong. The feel, the sound, the taste, the scent. It’s all wrong. Jarringly so. Although I’m slowly getting used to it. To the fact that it’s all slightly off.

But I still haven’t gotten used to the nightmares. I don’t think I ever will. They’re so bad that I can’t sleep at night for fear of what they’ll show me. I told my psychologist about them and he tried hypnotherapy on me to try to bring out more of those terrifying half forgotten memories.

It was a disaster; I wound up screaming and was completely inconsolable for hours afterwards. I have no idea what I remembered that day … I’m not sure I want to. My psychologist hasn’t brought up the nightmares since, except to mention that he’s looking into me being kidnapped at some point. He’s wasting his time. I have already looked into the vigilante and villain records and there’s no record of me having anything to do with them.

I’m not sure I’ll ever find out who I really am. This doesn’t upset me though. I don’t think my life was that great before. Now I’m free to do what I want, which I don’t think I was before. With my powers and abilities the world is now my playground.