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         Chapter 9, part 1

    It was quiet that night, miles away from the noise of civilization. Out in the ocean, one couldn't hear the buzz of electricity, the chatter of conversation, or the iron roar of industry. The only sound was the gentle lapping of waves against the rocky shores of the islands.
    Hidden away in the Atlantic was a small cluster of islands. On one of these islands, against all probability, there stood a great, stone castle. And that was where Paragon chose to spend his vacation.
    With the discovery and recruitment of several new meta-human talents, both The Protectorate and the Midnight Society had grown. That, coupled with Sycorax's greatly diminished villain activity, Argent City was a safer place than it had been in years. And in that time of stability, Paragon decided that the city was in good enough hands for him to take a much needed break. It had been nearly a year since his wedding, yet he had seldom seen his own wife, and even then only briefly.

    Perhaps it was foolish to expect a vacation to go as planned.

    One night, Allen Marlow (better known to the public as Paragon) and Sycorax (who had no other name) were awoken by a shrill, sporadic buzzing noise and a flashing green light. The cawing grey raven added its voice to the cacophony, and the situation was compounded by two crying infants.
    "What is that?" Allen asked, scrambling out of bed. "What's going on?"
    "An alarm," Sycorax replied, trying to recall what that particular pattern indicated. "It's... intruders. In the courtyard. Maximum alert."
    She made a sign with one hand to cancel the spell.
    With the alarm dispelled, Allen could hear a low, mechanical whirring noise. He grabbed his mask from the nightstand and went to the window as Sycorax tended to the babies.
    "We've got company," he muttered under his breath.
    Once she had their children settled down, she went to his side and looked out at the open courtyard. A helicopter was landing in the middle of the grassy clearing. It was a modern, military-grade vehicle, but its blood red coloring and the emblem of a fractured skull made it clear this was not the property of a nation's army. It was Retribution.
    Sycorax leaned out the window and conjured a glowing white energy around her hands that seemed to repel heat from the air. She made a gesture with both hands, and a pillar of ice rose up from the ground below the copter, lifting it seven feet off the ground and freezing the doors shut with a thick frost.
    "It's too damn early for this..." she muttered, massaging her forehead.
    "I'll go talk to them," he said, as he started to don his Paragon suit. "They only hunt villains."
    "Do you actually think they'll listen to you?" she asked. "They know we're married. They'll consider you compromised and see you as a villain, too. Best case scenario, they won't listen to you."
    He shrugged his shoulders, already almost fully equipped. "Either way, I can handle them," he said with a trace of his heroic voice. "I'll be back before you know it."
    It had been a long time since she heard him speak like that. As corny as it was, she found it charming. And the sound of his confidence did carry some reassurance. Yet she was not convinced.
    "But you still don't know this castle very well," she explained. "They'll find a way around you. I've been living here for months now, and I know this place like the back of my hand. I know the secret passage ways and the traps. I'll handle them. I need you to stay here and protect our children."
    "In that case we should all stay here together," he said. "I can put up a force field around the four of us--"
    The grey familiar interrupted him with a loud caw.
    "Sorry, Eddie. The five of us-- and they'll be powerless to hurt us."
    "If we were all that was at risk, I'd agree. But there are things of value in this castle besides us; things that I cannot let these Visigoths get their hands on. I'll handle them."
    "I don't like it," he told her, shaking his head. "No, I don't want you going out there by yourself. These men are armed and dangerous. They're here to kill you-- you're the last person who should be going out there!"
    She smiled slyly and pinched his cheek. "Don't worry about me, sweetie. I'm not the one trespassing on a violent sorceress's private residence. The fools... They have no idea what's about to hit them."
    "I know you're a great sorceress and all, but you're not bulletproof. You can still be... you can still--"
    "I appreciate your concern, but this is not up for debate. The mother bird must protect her nest."
    "But--"
    "No buts."
    "I... No. I won't let you do this," he said firmly.
    But she only smiled. "You're so cute when you get all serious like that."
    "Sycorax, I don't want to lose you," he said, taking her by the shoulders, his posture slacking. "When you disappeared last time, I was scared. More scared than any time I faced death, myself. As a hero, and as a champion of the city, I'm supposed to be independent and unshakable... but I can't do this without you. If anything were to... to happen to you, I... I..."
    "Nothing's going to happen to me," she said as she held his face in her hands, and lifting his head to meet her gaze. "I love your sympathy and your soft and gentle side. But right now, I need you to be strong. I need the bad ass Paragon who'll punch a goddamn dragon in the face for his woman. Our children need you."
    He straightened up to his full height, and Sycorax had to look up at him. He took on a heroic stance, and donned that smug, confident smile, though she could also see a trace the fear he tried to mask. "You can count on me."
    "Don't worry," she said, and stood up on her tiptoes to kiss him. "Watch the kids. I'll be back before you know it."
    Sycorax stepped back; her husband's hands sliding from her shoulders down to her hands as she moved away from him.
    He held onto her hands for one last, lingering moment before they slipped from his. She then turned and left.
NEXT
chapter 9, part 2

PREVIOUS
chapter 8, part 5

FIRST
chapter 1, part 1




I don't feel ready to start posting this final chapter, but if I don't start, it'll never happen.
Maybe that's a relevant message I need to apply to my life in general.

Chapter 8 ended on such a sweet note, and now chapter 9 starts with a home invasion. Good bye, tonal consistency!

Questions? Comments? Whatever? Your feedback is always appreciated.

DFTBA!
:iconrainbow-acey:
Rainbow-Acey Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I know, it took me forever to respond. I am very scatterbrained :dead:

I like how Sycorax just doesn't have a name xD she's just Sycorax(the magnificent, obviously :lol: )

dangit...how are intruders getting into their vacation home...in the middle of the ocean...they must've been very compelled :o

I find it amusing how she pinched his cheek and then you remind us that she's violent.
I'm sure nothing bad can possibly happen to her :'D right?
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:iconwilldabeast-0305:
Willdabeast-0305 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
thanks for the feedback, Acey!
I don't have a lot of readers/followers, but the comments I do get really mean a lot to me!

Unfortunately, I don't have anything specific to reply back with yet, because I am a walking ball of fear and self doubt right now. I'll try to have something useful to say once I remember where I put that genie lamp and wish to be a functioning human being again. Oh boy I CAN'T WAIT!
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July 5, 2016
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