One city is a screech of grinding gears, rusted metal, and despair. The other is a song of paranormal defiance. Both co-exist in the same time and space. Whether humans live above the magical world or the magical world lives above humans doesn’t matter. One group is charged with protection of these cities. A secret collective of witches granted stronger powers than the others. Their identities must remain secret, for in both worlds knowing a name is power.
Tamara Becke followed stealthily behind the troll blundering ahead of her. His wide body stretched the black trench coat he wore. Most eyes were on him, so even her hair that was dyed bright red didn’t draw much attention. The troll stopped suddenly, ears swiveling, and she leaned against a halodeck that was displaying the day’s news. Nonchalantly she checked her nails and tried to ignore the thin stand’s creaking. When he finally started walking again she waited before darting through the crowd to catch up. Instead of turning into an alley she knew led to underground caves, he remained on a steady path forward. She soon realized he was going towards the docks. During this time of day there would be a crowd as ships came in with new supplies or ferried people out. And she had a good idea which he intended to do. She waited until he entered the docking station, and then created a small light that distracted him and led him towards a dark corridor. Just as his fingers closed around the ball of light, she pulled out her dagger and drew the titanium blade across the back of his knees. It was spelled to withstand the impact and created deep gashes. She rolled between his legs to avoid being crushed. His angry roar shook the walls around them. Hopefully they were far enough from the check points any guards would write it off.
“Cannot stop me.” His words came out as a rough imitation of English.
“You are in violation of our treaty by being above ground. Add the selling of illegal magical weapons….Well, I can do what I please.”
He swiped a crooked hand at her and Tamara just barely avoided the claws. Even without full use of his legs, the troll was still a dangerous enemy. She leaped over his arm and aimed for his throat. Before she could he grabbed her arm and slammed her into the wall. Her dagger fell to the floor. She let her body go limp. He drew her towards him, dangling her above his head. Tamara whispered a spell that sharpened her nails just enough to prick his skin. He released her with a surprised gasp. She swung and her feet connected with his chin, toppling him over.
“Come.” Her dagger flew towards her and she closed her fingers around the hilt. Standing on the troll’s chest she traced flaming symbols in the air; one for his head, two for his arms, two more his legs. Sheathing her dagger she began to mumble a spell that had become routine for her. “The gods demand justice, may your body serve.”
The symbols flared and lines appeared over his body. He let out one howl of agony before being separated, his body parts sent to different realms.
Bowing her head she whispered, “Forgive me for the blood I spill.”
The last thing she did before leaving was leave a ‘marker’ on the security camera. By the time anyone viewed the tape there would be no evidence of the fight.
Her earcom buzzed and she clicked it. “Tamara here.”
“How is my little amsel?”
The sound of her husband’s voice made her remember it was her turn to cook dinner. Checking her watch she realized he’d be on his way home. She stumbled a little as she began running.
“Lonely.” Her voice was light with only a hint of whining.
Jörg chuckled. “I’ll be there soon.”
She could imagine the smirk he’d have on his face.
“I can’t wait!”
“Be good until I’m there. I love you.”
She felt her cheeks heat up, but she knew he was just teasing her. Ending the connection she took off at a full run. Jumping over a rail, she slid into a cab just before the door slid closed.
Ignoring the driver’s grimace she took out her cred stick and paid him extra to speed.
“Building 315 in Sector One.”
He gave her an incredulous look but accepted the money. She accepted his silence.
Tamara dashed from the cab pass the tidy yards. In this sector, there was the illusion of a green suburb but just beyond the gate was the true iron jungle the city had become. But there was no time to dwell on this. She had less than three minutes before Jörg came home. Once she reached her building she wasted no time getting inside, almost forgetting to lock the door behind her. Tamara used magic to have dinner to start itself. The stove turned on high, to appear as if it’d been on longer, and pans floated out of the cabinets; rice packets were torn open and poured in. It didn’t take long for the small house to heat up, with extra help, to add to the illusion. With another flick of her wrists she’d defrosted the ham she’d been saving and cut it, the slices fell into the pan. Satisfied she slipped into the laundry room and changed out of her sleeveless black jumpsuit into a short, pink dress. She hid her boots under a pile of dirty clothes. Tamara heard the door opening and, sneaking around the corner, got back to the kitchen just in time to cancel her magic. When Jörg saw her she was stirring the rice. He knocked on the wall and she pretended to be surprised. She ran and jumped into his arms, enjoying the feel of his arms tightening around her. It wasn’t all faked; she needed the normalcy he provided. Not every day went so smoothly. Looking into his warm brown eyes and seeing his smile, she could forget what she was. What she did. Love wasn’t forbidden by the collective but she feared the day work would follow her home.
“Dinner smells delicious.” His voice snapped her out of her thoughts.
“It’s not much, sorry.” She smiled shyly.
She rolled her eyes. Tapping his arm she said, “Put me down and I’ll make you a plate.”
“Why is it always so hot when you cook?”
She laughed nervously. “You’re imagining things.”
Tamara turned just in time to see him pull of his work shirt and a cold feeling spread through her body. There was a scar that started at the bottom of his rib cage and curved around his left shoulder blade. It hadn’t been there this morning, she was sure of that. She had a flashback to demon she’d tracked down the night before. Its scythe-like claws had wounded her, but before it could land a fatal blow someone had jumped in the way. Shadows had swirled around the person like a second skin, masking them from identification. Could he be another agent or something else? The thought left her nauseated. But she had checked for magic, he had none. She was only half aware of him taking the plate from her and making a joke. She mustered up a small smile. He sat on the couch and switched on the television. Tamara hurried into the bedroom. She picked up the picture they’d taken on their wedding day. Sitting on the bed, she held it to her chest.