CRASH!

Scrapyard's fists pounded the sidewalk, sending Neuro and Howler back a few yards. Behind the super powered thug, the gang members who were still standing, were cheering him on.

This is bad, thought Neuro. He thought he and Howler could take these jerks all by themselves. The Fourth Avenue Demons had been terrorizing the neighborhood with violent attacks, burglaries, and other petty crimes. Normally, the gang alone was nothing that they couldn't handle. Unfortunately, they didn't know about this rogue meta, or Balrog as his team liked to call them. This one, Scrapyard was a real troublemaker. He came under the Alliance's attention three months ago. The teams of the city, including their team, the 'In Crowd' were required to be on the lookout, and approach with extreme caution if encountered. So far, he had put six cops and four metas into traction. Both he and Howler did NOT want to join them.

Nearby, a cloaked figure silently observed these events. She was holding a small locket, and contemplated. "It was time." She thought to herself as she raised her hand, and concentrated…

"Call the rest of the team! There's no way we can handle this!"

"They're tied up on some emergency downtown. We're on our own!"

Just then, Scrapyard charged at them, flanked by gang members. The two young heroes prepared for retaliation. Neuro would try to give Scrapyard a mental blast, while Howler would take care of the gang members with sonics. Unfortunately, they were vastly outnumbered.

All of a sudden, everyone was distracted by a burst of light from behind. A cloaked figure wearing a wide brimmed hat, brandishing a staff, emerged from the glow. The gang, who's attention was shifted toward the new antagonist, started to attack.

Immediately, the individual raised her staff to an angle, gave a brief chant, and spun around. This action radiated a burst of energy which expanded, and struck all the gang members, sending them crashing to the ground like bowling pins.

All the Demons were down for the count. Scrapyard, however, wasn't defeated so easily. He immediately got up, and charged towards the girl.

Immediately, she raised her staff, and chanted again. At this, the sidewalk that Scrapyard was on shimmered, and seemed to come alive. It immediately enveloped the criminal, rendering him helpless.

While the two young heroes watched all this in astonishment, she approached them.

"Hello." she said calmly.

Minutes later, the police, along with the special meta squad, took all the gang members into custody. Striker and the rest of the team finally arrived. After being debriefed by the authorities, he spoke to the heroes.

"Good job guys! Sorry we couldn't help. We had to deal with a three alarm fire on the east side."

"No problem. Actually we had some help. Let me introduce you."

At that moment, the girl who assisted them earlier stepped forward. "It was a pleasure to be of service. I am Bianca."

"You should have seen her! She practically took out the Demons and that balrog single handedly!"

"It was nothing." Said Bianca. That gang was causing trouble to some businesses a few blocks over. I have… 'friends' who work in that neighborhood, and I thought I could drive them away…"

"It's a pleasure Bianca" said Striker "are you registered, or do you plan to?"

Ah, the big question, thought Neuro. Every up and coming meta who would choose to fight crime had to register with the Alliance, the nation's premiere super team, sanctioned by the government. They would, in turn, work with the city in certifying the newbies into assisting police, emergency services, and the community.

"Well, I have just started out. I hope I haven't gotten anyone in trouble. I was concerned no one would approve of me using… "

"That's okay. Neuro and Howler have vouched for you, and we can use all the help we can get."

"Yes, but my powers…"

"The authorities normally let a few loose instances slide, but you would really need to register. The Alliance, of course, needs to measure your power levels to let the authorities know how best to use your abilities"

"It's standard stuff." Said Neuro. Plus, it helps to know your limits, shortcomings, and all that."

"Um," interjected Bianca "I'm a Witch."

At this, the heroes seemed stunned at this revelation. Howler and Neuro looked at each other with sudden unease. Finally, Howler responded.

"Are you a good witch, or …HEY!" he yelled as Striker hit him in the arm.

"Dude! Really?"

Striker gave him a hard look, and gingerly turned toward Bianca.

"By Witch, do you mean…"

"I use magic" she said as he waved her hand. As she did so, a wave of glitter appeared and faded.

"Um, I see." Said Striker.

This was a problem. Although heroes with powers coming from mutations or chemical exposure were acceptable in society, those with otherworldly or unexplained powers were treated with suspicion by everyone, normal and super alike. All present were painfully aware of this.

"Bianca, I thank you for helping my teammates, but I'm afraid we can't sponsor you for the team…"

"WHAT?" interjected Neuro. "After what she did tonight?"

"We'll discuss this later…"

"But she…"

"I said LATER!" and turned toward Bianca.

However, as he tried to speak to her, they all noticed that she walked far down the street, with her head lowered.

As the team was heading back to the base, Striker broke the ice.

"Did you even know she was a magic user?"

"We didn't ask! And frankly we didn't care! She saved us from being pounded into dogmeat!" said Neuro.

"But she's a magic user!"

"What difference does that make?" interjected Howler.

"You know the Alliance's stance towards magic!"

"Only because they cave in to religious nuts and soccer moms…!"

"Who support politicians. The same ones who fund the Alliance!"

"What's the big deal anyway? It's not as if she turned anyone into frogs."

"I know. But eventually, this is going to get out. You know not everyone is comfortable with magic or magic users."

"Only those who's votes matter" interjected Windy, who finally joined in. I mean, lets face it. The only reason not everyone trusts them is because not anyone bothers to understand who they are."

"Windy, you've heard the stories about their powers coming from cults…"

"That's BULLSHIT and you know it!"

"Guys guys, lets cool it. We're supposed to be a team, lets act like one.

With that the argument ended. A few minutes later, Stryker broke the ice.

"In any case, you two are going to have to answer a LOT of questions."

At this, both Neuro and Howler moaned.

Hours later, Bianca was sitting on a rooftop, contemplating the earlier events. She knew there was no turning back. For the past few weeks, she had worked in secret, keeping her neighborhood safe, and making it a living hell for those who killed Deidre. She knew she was taking a risk with possible exposure to outsiders, something frowned upon by the Council. But she was also tired of hiding. Her aunt always drilled in her the consequences of exposing their world to outsiders, but she (and Deidre) never accepted it.

As she pondered, a small black cat approached her, and rubbed himself agains her leg. Without looking, she stroked his subtle neck. A few moments later, the cat spoke up.

"You know Mistress Sylene won't approve."
"You think? Here I thought she'd be all open arms."
"I don't see how…"

"I was being sarcastic!" she said stroking the cat.

After a long silence, she continued.

"It was unavoidable. Plus you know I can't remain hidden forever."

"I know Bianca. I'm just worried that the others won't see us that way."

"Well, in any case, it's too late to turn back."

"That's what I'm afraid of."