Tiamat – 3

The grand reception was as grand as the name implied. Failha, despite her considerable wealth, was still impressed by the opulence shown in this reception area. She looked at her phone and scrolled through the local files that she had on it. She navigated to the one that was labelled Church of the Stars. Various bits of information were put together as she scrolled through.

Church was founded five years ago by a group of billionaires that share the belief that there is alien life out there and they were the precursor to what we worshipped as gods in mythologies all around the world.

Current estimates put seven of the top ten richest people in the world are part of the Church of the Stars and an estimated fifty-seven more from the rest of the top one-hundred are also members and donors.

The compound was built underground, but the aesthetic and sheer size of the room she was in rallied against that fact.

The lounges were of a regal design with the softest fabrics and the most luxurious woods. The cushioning it provided was perfect, gently supporting Failha’s rear without any strain or discomfort on her part. The marble reception desk was the size of two ping pong tables put end to end, with a holographic display in the middle. A logo was on display, floating and rotating in holographic space. Behind the desk were two identical twin receptionists, both wearing a dress that hugged their bodies tight, that she thought they would explode out of them if they even so much as move.

She could see Ysabelle, aka Haze, tapping away on her brand new company issued smartphone. Her form fitting black pants suit hiked up a little as her foot bobbed back and forth, her high heels squeezing her toes together. She sported a black blazer, which plunged low and revealed lush light skin and ample cleavage. Sitting between her breasts was a large platinum teardrop adorned with an oval Sapphire. Her brown hair was swept and kept back and a pair of black square-rimmed glasses finished her look off.

Her attention drifted from her to Lorelei, aka Siren, who was leaning back on a lounging chair, seemingly asleep. She had a sleeveless white blouse on, revealing varying tattoos of different styles and colors and images in both arms. She wore a sharp black pencil skirt that had a slit to one side, with stockinged legs crossed and a pair of black high heels. Her pink hair stood out even more so today, Failha noted.

Titus was at the counter as she stood up and made her way to other side of the room. He was handsomely dressed with a blue button down shirt, the top two buttons undone and a pair of black chinos with a relaxed pair of loafers. His hair was parted to the side and held in place with some hair product. He completed the look off with a pair of black rimmed sunglasses. He was flirting with the receptionist as she excused herself from the group, making her way to a bathroom.

The opulence also seemed to extend here as the gold trim and polished marble counters caught her attention. She took a moment to regard herself in the mirror, after having assessed her peers moments earlier. Her black hair was swept back into a tight ponytail while her face only held a touch of makeup. She had on a white top that wrapped around her form snuggly, with a half crescent coming down exposing some of her neckline. She had on the same white color skirt that came down to the top of her knees and a pair of white stilettos.

She washed her hands and dried them off with some paper towels. Despite having years of experience as a superhero, she was nervous. It had been years since she had gone undercover like this. Her nervous ticks were coming through as she reached for the sink again, making the move to wash her hands again. She was stopped however by Siren appearing at the doorway.

“Failha. They’re ready for us.”

“Thanks Lorelei. I’ll be there in a sec.”

Failha heard the pink-haired woman’s footsteps echo back into the grand reception. She regarded herself in the mirror one more time and headed back. As she emerged from the bathroom, she caught the large doors open to an even larger room. The receptionist, who was now standing from the desk regarded the group.

“Please, walk on through to the end of the room where an elevator is going to be waiting for you.”

The ceiling above them inside the next room was made of glass and what she expected to be a ceiling made way into blue open skies. The opposite end of the room had a pair of elevator doors, where a tall man stood in a nice suit. His blond hair was cut to a buzz and he had a warm smile on his face.

“Holy shit.” Titus exclaimed as they all approached the window overlooking the town. Were it not for the fact that they just walked through a reception area that was several hundred feet underground already, she would not have believed that they were beneath a mountain range.

“Titus, watch your language.” Chided Lorelei as she approached the ledge.

“Welcome, Al`keitras. I am Xavier, and I have been assigned to help you in any and all of your needs for your stay here at Starchild’s Sanctuary.” The heavy French accent was a surprise. The obvious manservant gestured towards the elevator doors and urged them. “Please, come. I shall show you the rest of Sanctuary and where you shall be residing when you are with us.”

Lorelei and Titus walked in without hesitation, while Failha and Ysabelle exchanged a small smile before following into the elevator. The inside of the elevator was as grand as everything else that they saw, and as they began to descend further into the sanctuary, it became apparent that the town was no small town. The buildings and structures were houses that were large and expansive on land which was standing far, far below than would have been expected.

There must be some powers or alien technology at play here, otherwise the weight of the mountain should have crumbled down onto the sanctuary.

“Thank you for having us.” Failha said as they descended further, indicating each and shaking hands. Xavier nodded, smiling.

“It is quite literally our pleasure, ma`am. I am here to serve.” He turned around and indicated the left hand side of the elevator. “Now, if you’ll look to your left, you’ll see that there is are a couple of white buildings surrounding it. That is our hospital and infirmary. We have the best doctors money can buy, and you will be well taken care of if you ever fall ill.’

The large building held at least five floors by Failha’s estimate along with her enhanced eyesight. There was a northern building which had the main entrance. There was a southern building, which held an emergency sign that was in large red LED. The field was at least a football field wide and twice as long as much.

“Over to the right of the hospital is the administrative division, where staff offices and formal buildings are located.” The cluster of buildings was something you would see in a thriving small city, but with more polish. Two buildings stood out to her discerning eye. One was topped with a large antennae and the other was labelled as “Science and Technology.” Both were towering over the rest of the group of buildings.

Failha made a mental note of them as the elevator descended into a tunnel, with the glass going dark. The rear glass they were looking through dipped and the elevator slowed. With a soft ding, the elevator stopped. The doors opened into a lobby. Xavier stepped out of the elevator, waiting for the rest of them to step off. Outside large windows, two four seater carts were waiting.

She made eye contact with Lorelei who nodded and stepped in stride with Ysabelle, linking arms with her. She tried to make eye contact with Titus, but the man would not turn around.

“Please, follow me. Your luggage has all been delivered to your assigned residence.” Xavier said as he stepped into the passenger side seat of the cart. Failha followed, and turned just in time to finally catch Titus’s eyes. She leveled a stare at him, before he understood her meaning and nodded slightly.

Her handsomely dressed teammate followed her to the lead cart and hopped in with her in the back seat. The cart lurched forward, quiet as a whisper. The lack of engine rumbling gave away that the cart was fully electric. They passed through a gate, with an armed guard at a gate booth. The man waved them through as he saw Xavier.

“Why the armed guards?” Failha asked as they headed into what looked to be an empty main avenue where people could dine and a market of sorts where stalls could be put up.

“There have been recent attempts from some rather unsavory groups that tried to insert themselves into our dwelling. Of course we guarantee your utmost safety and the guards are there merely as a precaution.” Xavier said as the cart turned to a wider street and pushed forward towards a gated community of sorts.

Failha looked about the community as they crossed its threshold. Houses were the size of million dollar mansions, suitably housing a family with elbow room to spare. Lawns were well manicured and maintained, and it seemed that the plots of land were equally divided. Failha counted at least a dozen mansions on this street, and she counted at least ten streets out.

They turned on a street and headed further into the community. “Your family is quite lucky, you actually get a corner lot.”

Xavier indicated the lot at the end, which rose up on the corner next to a bit of open space that stretched far into the horizon. Xavier stopped the cart in front of the large house, with the cart behind them stopping next to the curb as well.

The house was a large two floor mansion with gabled roofing. The house was in a white color, and had multiple large windows across both floors. The front was supported by large white marble columns to support a second floor balcony.

Xavier was already walking up towards the main door, following a paved path that was flanked by well-manicured shrubbery that were about waist high. The front lawn was bisected in half by the S shaped pavement. On one side of the lawn was a large apple tree, while on the other side was a larger fruit-bearing orange tree.

An enormous red door with a large black knocker in the shape of a gargoyle adorned the entrance.

The large house was adorned in a lot of finery that surely weren’t easy to obtain. Failha wasted no time assigning rooms to the rest of her team, and spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking. As evening, or what felt like evening as reflected by the change in lighting outside, crept on, Xavier appeared at Failha’s open doorway.

“Ma`am, dinner is ready.”

“I’ll be right down.”

“Very well.” The manservant responded before disappearing back into the hallway.

She had changed into activewear as she had intended to perform her evening yoga, but decided to forestall the exercise until after dinner and talking with her team.

She entered the large eat-in kitchen to find that all three of her teammates were already seated in front of a large spread.

Lorelei was wearing a black spaghetti strap cami and a pair of black skinny jeans that looked to have tears and rips. She also had high-top canvas shoes on. Titus was wearing a pair of basketball shorts and a plain grey tshirt that was hugging against his somewhat lean torso. He had sandals on his feet. Ysabelle on the other hand was wearing a yellow sundress and had bare feet. Her curly brunette hair was down and around her head, with a volume that made Failha realize just how much product she might actually be using to keep it swept back when in costume.

The meal was being served up by Xavier and Rico who both smiled warmly at her and bowed their head a little as she came in.

“Wow.” She said as she took a seat at the head of the table, her eyes wandering from one dish and onto the next. The Peking Duck sat atop what looked to be orange slices, while slices of various vegetables surrounded the large fowl dish. Aside from the duck there was also a generous portion of ham, that looked to be baked to perfection with rings of pineapples surrounding the cut of pork. Various other dishes were also available but before she could identify them, Xavier cleared his throat.

“Ma`am, if you please.” Xavier said as he handed a plateful of duck and some of the sliced vegetables to her. She graciously accepted the plate and looked to her fellows.

“Well, let’s eat.” She said as they all began to dig in. The meal was filling and warming, and in no time at all, they were stuffed to their fill.

“Thank you, Xavier. That was probably one of the best meals of my life.” Lorelei said as she wiped her lips daintily, freeing it from the sweet bean sauce that came with the Peking Duck.

“My compliments, Xavier. That was quite a wonderful feast.” Failha added, with an agreeing nod from Titus, who seemed too full to speak.

“You’ll have to teach me how to make that sauce Xavier.” Added Ysabelle as they began standing up from the table.

Conversations between Ysabelle, Titus and Lorelei came about as they stood from the table. Failha nodded to them and tilted her head towards the backyard as she caught their attention.

“Xavier, we’ll be out in the back yard enjoying a bonfire. Is there wood anywhere near by to use?” Failha asked as she stopped by the rear doors in the eat-in kitchen that led to the patio, which opened into the spacious backyard.

“Yes ma`am, it’s in the shed. I’ll come get it.” Xavier said as he juggled the used plates and silverware into his arms.

“No, please, you’ve earned some rest after that fine meal. If you can tell me where the shed is, I’ll get the firewood.” Titus said, catching Failha’s intent for privacy before she offered a reply.

“Alright sir. The shed is to your left at the end of the house right behind the cart garage. The door is not locked and the firewood would be towards the back.” The manservant recited from memory.

“Thank you, Xavier. Please, relax for tonight, yeah?” That was Ysabelle, her soft voice and smile radiant.

The manservant relented and nodded in agreement. And soon, was gone behind the kitchen wall, likely depositing the plateware and silverware into the sink. Failha nodded and made her way to the spacious open backyard, heading for the firepit that was towards the end of the open space. Four chairs were situated in a half circle around the firepit, facing the house while pointed towards the firepit.

“I’ll go get the firewood.” Xavier said as he peeled away from the group.

“I’ll come with you, T. Wait up!” Ysabelle said as she gave Failha a weak smile.

Failha and Lorelei made their way to the firepit and sat down in chairs next to each other.

“So, what do you think so far?” Lorelei broke the silence a few seconds after sitting down.

“I think that this place is for sure getting some sort of support from a cape or capes. That dome is not natural.” Both women looked up at the dome, that was now showing a darkening sky and a hint of stars.

“I think I can confirm that they have cameras and mics everywhere.” Whispered the pink-haired woman. She was still looking at the stars above as Failha turned her head slightly. “I made a scanner on my ring that detects faint traces of electrical signals. I was ‘casually’ running my hand through the furniture in my room and I got a ping twice. Once right by the fireplace mantle in the center of the room, then again on the headboard of my bedframe.”

Failha nodded. Titus and Ysabelle joined them.

“Got the firewood.” Titus said cheerily.”

“Thanks Titus.” Failha said as she got off the reclining chair and crouched by the firepit, helping Titus with arranging the firewood. “So, if Lorelei here is correct, which I believe she is, there may be cameras and mics scattered throughout the house, and likely throughout the entire complex.”

Both Ysabelle and Titus froze for a split second before they were able to gather themselves and continue with what they were doing. Titus began placing the logs in a manner that would help a draft fuel what fire would be going.

“I see. Are we safe to talk here?” Ysabelle asked in a low voice as she sat down on the empty reclining chair at the end of the semi-circle. She looked to Failha, then to Lorelei for confirmation. The latter nodded.

“Yeah, as long as we’re not too loud, the nearest mic or camera that I was able to detect was by the patio counters.” The pink-haired woman said as she looked at the rest of the team. “We should be good here.”

All four of them sighed a relief a little, which in turn resulted in a shared laughter among them. As Titus and Failha finished the stack, Lorelei piped up.

“So, what’s the play here Fa?” She asked pointedly.

“We keep our cover. We do not, under any circumstances, reveal our identities, or powers unless we absolutely have to.” The caramel skinned woman stated clearly. “Your ring is already a little risky, but it’s one risk that we need to take and I’m glad that you thought to bring one. As I explained yesterday, they will likely have surveillance on us at a level that we’re not used to.”

Failha turned her head towards the house, and with the help of her enhanced vision, she could make out that Rico and Xavier were both busy with the dishes. She used the opportunity, focused her attention on the pile of wood and took a deep breath. She could feel the warm sensation that spread from the back of her throat, that changed to tickling sensation before a hot breath of fire erupted from her mouth and onto the pile of wood. The breath of fire ignited the pile quickly and the fire got rolling.

She quickly returned her eyes to the manservants, who seemed to not have noticed, or are showing no signs of noticing the show of skill. “So, we try and find out as much as we can within the next couple of days, and extract out of here. I don’t want us to embed here too long as some of our faces are somewhat familiar to the press, especially mine.”

“What exactly are we trying to find out, Fa?” That was Ysabelle that asked. “You said that we were looking for people that went missing, and that the cult is suspected to be performing blood sacrifices or some shit like that.”

Language.” Admonished Lorelei.

“It’s true, we are investigating missing persons reports. According to the report, this cult was one of the last known locations for three of the ten people that were reported missing under suspicious circumstances.” Failha said as she lounged back on the chair, all thoughts of doing Yoga melting away as her muscles relaxed into the warmth that began to radiate from the firepit.

“Okay. We’re trying to see if they have some sacrificial chamber or room or something like that, then what?” Titus added in.

“Then, we try and extract as many potential victims as we could, along with any evidence we can take with us.” Failha said as she levelled her eyes with Titus and took a deep breath. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, okay? We still need to find any indication of wrongdoing, or evidence of the missing persons before we can think of doing anything.”

Everyone nodded, the firelight illuminating their faces. With the air getting warmer from the heat, and the non-natural surroundings that should have provided a much more warmer night, Failha felt displaced.

“I also suggest that each one of you begin taking notes of everything and anything that you find. I know the company provided all of you with the latest in smartphone tech, so you should have the same options that I do.” Failha felt like an old mother that was teaching her children to look out for themselves. But it was the one thing that she was good at, and she wanted to help them become the best heroes that they could be.

All of a sudden, two phones buzzed as they vibrated, one beeped, while another belted out the older “You’ve got mail” notice. They all looked at one another as they fished out their phone.

“Please all gather in the amphitheater at once. Thank you. -Management”

Well, isn’t that fucking ominous.

****

Failha watched clearly as the assemblage went underway. The amphitheater filled with people quite quickly. Some faces Failha recognized as heads of various departments and bureaus. There were also a bunch of top executives from the biggest companies in the world, a handful of which Failha knew.

The amphitheater surrounded a circular stage that had a podium set in the middle. The hubbub was suddenly shushed as a lone figure in a sharp suit walked out from behind the curtain wall. Hushed murmurs swept through the audience as the man approached the podium. Soon only his footsteps that echoed in the chamber were the only sounds heard.

“Greetings, and welcome. I’m sure most of you know who I am, but for the benefit of our new members, I am Smith.” Clapping and cheers sounded out from the audience. “I have founded this congregation, for we believe in the Starchildren. They have been present in our histories, mistaken as gods, sometimes mistaken as monsters!”

With a wave of his hand he continued. “But now, they have come back for us!”

He paused for dramatic effect, which the audience ate up and cheered even more loudly. “Now, we have proof!”

Projections emerged all around the stage. Four distinct forms appeared in the blue haze light of the holographic projection. The left most was a creature that resembled a large single eye, with a mass of writhing tentacles around it like an octopus. It stood on four tentacles like a humanoid with four legs and feet. The eye was large, as big as a human head. The skin it had looked rubbery and slimy.

Next to it was a large biped, which had a humanoid form with four arms. Two arms were where you would expect them normally and two were below each where the armpit would be. At the end of each arm were two fingers and a thumb that ended in sharp claws. The clear female had the upper arms tucked behind at ease, while the normal sized arms were folder over her chest.

The woman stood tall and proud as it looked about the room with eyes that looked front. The woman wore what looked to be a simple pair of pants and boots and she had what looked to be undergarments to cover her modesty. The top of her head supported what looked to be hair, her nose was short and but pointy, and her ears curved to the back of her head and ended in points.

The figure at the right end was that of a  disturbingly large creature that seemed to have a wispy, even almost ghost like lower body, and the waist was where it started with a more than ethereal form. It had a tall and lanky frame with a long torso that had two arms that stretched towards the ground. The hands were three long fingers and two opposing thumbs, the hands resembling an osprey’s talons.

Its face was long and pointy, with a pair of horns stretching out from its temple and arced towards the ground. A large pair of bat like wings were folded together on the creatures back.

In the middle of the group was a large creature with a humanoid torso and a snake like body. The torso has two sets of arms and the creature was also clearly a female. She had a regal armor pieces that covered her top with a mix and match of plates and chainmail, stopping short of where her torso turns into get serpentine lower half. All four  arms had vambraces. On her hip were two swords and her back too. Her head was human like, with a mane of hair set by a circlet with a large gem in the middle.

The audience gasped audibly as the holograms moved about on the stage.

“Greetings, members of this congregation. I am Dka-la. I am a representative of the Visuvian High Council.” The woman’s powerful voice sounded out through the chamber. The English it possessed as one with an British tinge to it.

“These three are my cohorts. My council if you will.”

The serpentine lower half writhed on the floor, carrying her forward towards the many tentacled eye creature. She turned towards the audience again with one arm gesturing over the one-eyed creature.

“This is my second-in-command, whose name I cannot translate to your language, but she has elected to go by the name Ygha the many-tentacled one.” The creature moved forward on four tentacles, standing side-by-side with Dka-la. Surprisingly, the tentacled creature spoke through a mouth that was unseen.

“Hello humans of earth.” A voice that had sounded to have multiple sources, one with a deep almost male voice and one with a lighter female voice that sounded similar to an echo.

The serpentine female slithered over to the large creature at the far end. Even with her tall frame, this creature still was head and shoulders above.

“One of our greatest heroes, Epres Scath Deoda.”

The creature glided forward with wings spreading out wide. It drew an axe from its hip and raised it high. It then moved back to its place.

Dka-la moved to the creature to the right of Ygha, who stood as tall as she had earlier. “This is Kadlakad the Strong. She is what your kind would call a general of our armies.”

The four-armed bipedal female stood forward and assumed the same stance it held. “Thank you, Leader Dka-la. I am Kadlakad, General of the Grand Armies of Visuvian Empire. I look forward to working with your world governments.”

Failha startled at that.

Working with the world governments!?

Alarm raced through her mind as the implications of such a revelation dawned on her. Lorelei and Titus seemed to be sharing the same thoughts as their expressions were grim. Ysabelle on the other hand simply watched the proceedings with a straight stoic face.

“As Kadlakad had stated, we look forward to working with your world leaders. You who are gathered here will be the first chosen to join in our ranks!” Cheers erupted from the audience.

“Your help in guiding humanity towards a peaceful coexistence with us Visuvians will be remembered by the lasting generations of humankind to come!”

Failha clapped uncomfortably so as to not stand out, with the rest of the team following suit.

“What’s the play, Fa?” Titus asked in a quiet whisper.

“We’ve got to get more solid evidence. Maybe extract one of the US government members.” She replied coolly, leveling her voice the best she could. “Otherwise, humankind might be at war soon.”

A grim expression crossed over Titus’s face. She looked to him and gave him a small smile. She regarded Ysabelle next to her and Lorelei a seat over. They both held a straight face but fire was lit in their eyes.

“Now, my friends, most of us are still off planet, we must insist that communication be limited for now. Discovery of our meeting may leak. For our fear is that your world’s champions might not wish to relinquish their dominion over the masses.” It was Ygha that spoke.

“Fear not, as we do not leave you to your own devices. We have… Dispatched a group of our own to help you.”

The curtains behind the projections dropped. A group of the biped Visuvian’s stood in a line. Five males and five females, with the males being larger and bulkier than the females. Aside from the extra arms and dull glowing white eyes, they were almost human, much like the Kadlakad.

Each of them wore clothing and armor that resembled earthen medieval counterparts. The males had long hair that ended at their shoulders, while the females had longer that were held back in tight braids. The males had shields on their backs while the females had spears and swords.

It didn’t quite compute with a lot of the audience as hushed murmurs began making its way through the amphitheater.

The largest and tallest male, who had tan skin with red tattoos, a head of wavy red hair and a pointy nose, stepped forward. The male had armor akin to platemail which clanked loudly.

“Greetings, humans. I am the one called Xzarxl.” He said with a voice that resembled gravel crunching. “These are my warriors. We and our magics are at your service.”

The hologram fizzled out and the room burst out in conversation. Failha nodded to her team.

Stay here and keep an eye out on everything. She mouthed then made her way out of the amphitheater. She headed for the entrance hall, making her way to a bench. Her mind raced at all the revelations.

Aliens and magic? What have these people for themselves into?

There were aliens that looked human enough and then the others that were clearly not.

We need more answers.

Resolve began burning from within Failha. She pulled out her phone and began going through the meticulously typed notes and added a few more bullet points from the revelations in the meeting. She never striked her older notes, only appending the information.

  • Potential capes in the members of the Starchildren cult.
  • Alien tech present?
  • Only one exit, guarded.
  • Guards are PMC, non-cape so far.
  • Entire complex? City? Base is covered with basic CCTV. More advanced CCTV possible.

Ysabelle emerged from one of the amphitheater doors, bringing her out of her focused stupor l her eye searching before settling on Failha. She made the quick but awkward jog to her, stopping within an arms-reach.

“Hey Fa, something is happening.”

Ysabelle helped her up and strode in step with her as they walked back to the amphitheatere. The audience was deathly quiet as they passed through the threshold. The Visuvians were seemingly putting on a display of sorts. The group, at least from the demeanor that it took, was by the podium.

“Watch, humans, as my soldiers perform magics that we may impart to some of you that are capable.” The gruff male voice sounded through the speakers. The four-armed leader nodded.

One of the females stepped forward. The female was wearing a red outfit, with a pointy wide brim hat that you would see on a witch. She seemed to be covered in a thin fabric that hugged every inch of her from the neck down. Her top was a high collared black sleeveless shirt with a white stripe running down the center.  She had breasts that would be a small size for human females, but a just perfect for the more petite framed Visuvian. The top was finished off with a red vest that was a little frayed and tattered towards the ends.

The female was wearing a baggy pair of pants that covered her narrow waist all the way to just below the knee where it hugged her legs. It was of the same color as the vest and the hat, and had a stripe running down each side of the pant leg. The female wore no footwear, which was also the case for the rest of the present Visuvians. They all had flat but wide feet, similar to humans, but seemed to have pointy nails or possibly claws.

She stopped short of the edge of the stage and raised her upper arms. Her hands were clearly with pointy with almost claw like nails. The lower arms, flexed underneath and a dark glow began surrounding all four hands as she began a gesture. Her arms and hands followed fluid motion that consisted of three movements in the span of second, then a rush of wind as a pillar of black fire erupted from a spot in front of her and shot through the air.

The audience gasped audibly as the ten-foot pillar of fire burned for a second, before winking out of existence as it was willed. Even Failha was frozen by the spectacle as it receded as if nothing had happened. Again, a hush of whispers and talk swept through the crowd.

“Silence!” The leader exclaimed loudly, his voice booming without the help of the mic. “That is but a simple spell that any decent magician can perform. But not everyone is capable of manipulating the magics of the universe.”

The pause that followed was palpable as everyone was hanging on his word.

“We can test who among you can be tutored in the art of magic, but we cannot do it here. My mages shall visit your homes here in the Sanctuary, and we will have you perform the ritual of testing. If you succeed, you and your peers will undergo a rigorous training. Now, I believe we are what you call dismissed. We shall begin with the dwellings closest here and make our way through the rest. That is all. May you all have a good day.”

At that everyone began filing out of the amphitheater. Failha lead the group out of the gathering and out on to the main road that lead up to the large building. Their designated carts, one with Xavier, and one with Rico in the driver seats were waiting. The rest of her team caught up with her stride as the made their way to the carts.

“That was a mind fuck.” Ysabelle said quietly.

Language!” Hissed Lorelei quietly at Ysabelle.

Everyone was visibly bothered by the events that transpired a few minutes ago. The push of people from within began to swell outside the building.

“Do you think any of us can do magic?” Titus mused as they separated into groups of two for the carts again.

“I don’t know Titus. Maybe what we think of as superpowers are just magic.” Failha said,  exasperated as all the thoughts and questions about the existence of extraterrestrials and magic further pushed into question schools of thought that were already unraveling at the advent of superpowers.

“Right. Sorry.” He sheepishly replied.

“Ma’am, will you be participating in the trials immediately or am I to prepare the younger siblings first?” Xavier chimed in as the previous conversation lulled.

“Yes, I suppose I have to. No harm in finding out right?” The brown skinned woman replied. She turned around and watched the ensemble of carts trailing behind them as they exited into the main street.

Ysabelle and Lorelei were in an animated conversation in the cart immediately behind. They were likely taking about the same events she and Titus were just discussing. Behind them was a pair that seemed familiar to her.

She had to rack her brain to connect the dots before the connection was made.

Is that the Canadian Prime Minister’s wife with the Second Lady of the United States?

With her vision, she could make out the telltale sign of an ear piece on the driver and whoever that was sitting in the passenger seat of the cart. In the cart behind that were four men with burly statures all with almost hidden ear pieces as well.

“Fa? Fa? Are you okay?” Titus’s voice and his hand on her shoulder brought her out of her thoughts.

“Yeah. I’m good. Just thinking to myself.”

Titus held a frown back as she replied. “Okay. Gotcha.”

“I don’t mean to brush you off Titus, it’s just a lot to think about, you know?” She sighed heavily.

“Yeah. Tell me about it Fa. Four months ago, I discovered that I had superpowers. Two weeks ago we were fighting a literal Kaiju.” He whispered quietly to her. It still sometimes escaped her that this new team of hers were rookies.

They’ve done so well in the short amount of time they’ve spent in real world scenarios.

“Yeah. It’s been a crazy with all the attacks around the world and now this.” She whispered back as Xavier navigated the cart around the corner into their street. “Xavier, since we’re at the end of the street, we’ll likely be last to perform the testing, correct?”

Xavier nodded but didn’t take his eyes of the road. “The master has only told us that we were to assist and facilitate the Visuvians needs in the testing. The Visuvian masters have said they only need to ask for a private room to perform a ritual that takes ten minutes.”

She did the math in her head, and estimated that they have about an hour before the Visuvians would be at their door.

“Gotcha. Thank you Xavier.” She said as the manservant pulled into the driveway of their temporary abode here in the Sanctuary. She hopped out of the cart and was joined shortly by the rest of her team as they strode into the house.  “Let’s put together a quick bite to eat for our guests before they arrive, yeah?”

All three nodded in silent agreement as they went inside and prepared to receive a visit from the Visuvians.

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