ONE WEEK LATER
The fire raged through the tenement. Windy and Striker were assisting rescue crews in containing the blaze. Everything went smoothly until Windy noticed movement on the upper floors. Even with coordination, it would be difficult to rescue them. Suddenly, Bianca arrived to offer assistance. After being quickly briefed by the firefighters and heroes, she was able to rescue the inhabitants on the upper floors by levitating them safely to the ground. After the fire was out, everyone got together to coordinate a mop up.
"It looks like we're all set. Thanks Bianca!" said Windy. A few awkward moments later, Striker thanked her as well.
At that moment, the press arrived. As usual, leading the charge, was Jill Hooper, the city's most trusted on air personality.
"Striker! Jill Hooper, TNN news"
Anticipating her questions Striker responded. "We were able to handle the blaze with few casualties. Lt. Morrison of Emergency Services should be able to provide more details."
"It looks like you guys had help! Who's the new face?"
"Yes, we were assisted by a new local hero…"
"Her name is Bianca." Interjected Windy. "She assisted us last week during a mop up of the south end…"
"Is it true she uses magic?"
"Um, no comment"
Another reporter spoke up. According to attorney statements, this Bianca used powers that are considered unregistered by the Alliance…"
"Is the Alliance aware of this?"
"Are her powers divine or demonic based?"
"NO COMMENT!" he exclaimed as he stormed into the vehicle."
Inside, Striker was stone faced. It was moments before Windy said something.
"So what now?"
"What do you think? We certainly can't sponsor her, or let her on the team!"
"Why not? She's been a real help. Have you forgotten when she helped when the Squid was attacking that nightclub? Hell, she had him on the ropes before we arrived. And he's one of our tougher foes!"
"I know. I know…."
"And what about tonight? No one could even reach the people on the upper level until she came. And we wouldn't of even have known about that unmarked gas line if she didn't detect it. You know we don't have anyone with X ray vision on our team."
"Look, you know how people feel about magic."
"So she's not a meta! You weren't this stubborn when Neuro and I sponsored Turbo Jade for membership. And she isn't even a meta!"
"Jade's different! She has the advantage of her power armor. My concern was she wouldn't be able to keep up power wise, and she proved me wrong. But Bianca's different."
"Because she's a witch?"
"Of course! We all know how to control our powers…"
"You mean the Alliance helped us harness and control them."
"Same thing… in a way. But magic, well… I've heard different things."
"In other words, you're falling for the same crap those religious nuts are spewing out."
"That's not it! It's just… Look… even if I truly wanted to sponsor her, the Alliance would turn it down."
"But we don't know if they have anything about mages…"
"PLUS… even if they DO allow it, the city council will certainly turn it down, precisely for the reasons of those 'religious nuts' you brought up."
At that last statement, Windy had no more to say. For a few minutes, she was coldly silent.
"Look, I know how you and the others like her, and I truly would if I could…"
"But you won't. I get it." She said icily. "So how do you plan to tell her?"
At this, he lowered his head. "That's the real problem."
VETERANS PARK, ONE HOUR LATER
Bianca sat alone with her cat in the middle of the park. Moments later, a solitary figure in a dark robe, approached her, and sat on the opposite side of the bench.
"Hello My Lady" said Bianca in a solemn tone.
After a moment of tense silence, she continued.
"I thought I made it clear the last time."
"That you have." She said slowly, but the others do not agree with your intentions…"
"Not everyone." she exclaimed. "or have you forgotten Master Aldin's statements? He spoke quite convincingly for his entire circle!"
"I have no quarrel with Master Aldin! And I am fully aware of his actions during the dark times! But you should know that most members feel otherwise about your actions, and they are quite influential in the council."
"I know. But…"
"And I haven't even mentioned the other factions! Who knows how this will affect upcoming treaties…"
Suddenly, from the distance, came a sharp scraping. Moments later, a group of seemingly young teens walked by. All of them looked like they came from a skateboarding meet. A few would drop their board, and step on it, elevating it for them to retrieve. On closer inspection, one would notice (as Bianca and Sylene did) the clan symbols on their boards or clothing. If this alone would not indicate the true nature of these youths, their sharp fangs would certainly reveal them to be of the vampire faction. Both witches grasped any items or jewelry, as if to offer a silent warning. This was normally not a problem, because of the treaties, which indicated how those of different factions would deal with each other. Of course, no one wanted trouble.
As they casually passed, one of them apparently recognized her.
"Hey Bianca! I saw you on the news the other night! You really showed it to that Squid guy!" said one of the Vampires.
"Yeah! You rock!" said another raising a sport bottle full of hemoglobin.
Bianca smiled and nodded silently, acknowledging their compliments. Of course, praise of any sort, however rare, was always relished amongst the factions.
As they were out of sight, she finally spoke. "The vampire factions seem to have no problem with this. And from what I hear, so do the lyncos. And those factions combined never agree on ANYTHING!"
"Bianca." Sylene said curtly. "You know my feelings on this! Our circle will not support you on this! And…" she continued, "neither will I!"
After a few tense seconds, Sylene rose and left, leaving Bianca to her thoughts. A few moments later, a black cat walked up, and climed up on the bench next to her.
"Told ya!" he said innocently.
At that, Bianca looked at the cat, made a moue, and tapped him lightly on the nose.
THE FOLLOWING NIGHT, LEGBA'S BAKERY
Bianca slowly sipped her coffee, pondering the previous nights events. The place was empty, aside from her and the owner, Rosa, who was making more coffee. She approached her table, filled her cup, filled one for herself, and sat down.
"So what's troubling you Bianca? Lady bothering you again?"
"We talked last night. As expected, she disapproved of the whole thing."
"No surprise there."
"And she hinted at disproval from the council…
"The council?" she laughed "Those fools…"
"And she threatened to support any action by them."
At this, Rosa became somber. "Ah"
After a brief pause, Rosa spoke up. "Well I think you're doin good, no matter what anyone says! Hell, you said so yourself it's pointless to hide if they already know about us anyway! And how are we any different from those underoo fellas?"
"We're not." she smiled "Of course they don't rely on spells and rituals for their powers."
"True. And they certainly know squat about dealing with magical threats of any kind! And that's where you come in girl!"
At that, Bianca finished her coffee and raised her head with newfound enthusiasm. "You're right!"
A few minutes later, Rosa spoke again. "So enough about our people, tell me about your new friends!"
"The In Crowd? They're wonderful! Those two I told you about, Neuro and Howler are nice. And Windy, she's wonderful! Striker, he's their leader, I dunno. He doesn't seem 'comfortable' around me. At first, he encouraged me to register with the city, but when he found out I used magic, well…"
"That's too bad. He seems like a nice guy on television."
"He is. I guess he's just following the party line."
"You mean those high and mighty types in the alliance? Who cares what they think?"
"They're the original superteam. Groups like the In Crowd wouldn't even exist if it weren't for them."
"But what do they have against people like us?"
"Nothing! But the only reason reason they exist, hell the reason ANY supergroup operates is through the cooperation and trust of the public. So if the public or government distrust magic…"
"They have to follow! It sounds like these high and mighty fools can't form their own opinion!"
"They're not… like that!" said Bianca objectively. In a calmer tone she concluded "I just wish it were different."