“Sir, I think you dropped this.”
He turned and found himself face to face with a woman clad in a trench coat and wide-brimmed hat pulled low, like a classic gumshoe from the mystery novels his sister loved. She certainly looked like she stepped out of a noir novel with her dark brown hair down over one eye, her thick, red painted lips and the couple inches of cleavage peeking out from her coat collar. Whoever she was, she was holding out his wallet. While she had carefully manicured nails, the skin of her fingers was riddled with burn scars. It made him glance at her face again, which is when he noticed the implant behind the curtain of her hair. Where her right eye should have been, a glowing amethyst orb shimmered in a silver socket.
“Don’t react," she hissed, "they’ll notice. Just take the wallet.”
“They?” His voice was raspy, his mouth dry, but he took his wallet all the same.
Her organic eye flicked over his shoulder, and he followed her gaze to two androids on patrol. They each bore the bird-like emblem of the Imper Party.
He turned back to look at her. “Are you 'her'? The one they call Emelle Fay?”
“That I am.”
“I didn’t think you were coming... or even that you were really her, the leader of the rebellion.”
“I have to recruit people somehow, and the ‘net is still the most accessible place to do that.”
“Aren’t you worried about getting tagged?”
“You know who I am. Do you think the Party's A.I. drones can get through my spellwork? I’m almost offended. Almost, but I know what you are. I know things are still new to you. So I’ll let it pass this time, AnEstrangedLight.”
“Yeah, that I even managed to make contact without being caught is a miracle. I may be the last of my kin to escape capture twice.”
Emelle Fay offered her other hand. Her first two fingers were intricate filigree prosthetics around gemstone bones. “Enough banter. Are you ready to travel to Camelot?”
He looked askance at her. “Here? You’re going to do magic here? I thought...”
“Do you think I care?" she asked, a smirk on her face. "I’ve already been branded both a terrorist and a heretic, what’s one more spell when The Party keeps crushing us without care for peaceful resistance?”
“I... suppose that’s true.”
“Besides, at this point, you’re dead if you don’t come with me.”
“Citizens, your identification, please.” One of the androids had walked up to stand next to them. Its partner lingered closer to the road, finger on the trigger of its beam rifle.
“Well, what’s it going to be, warrior?”
“If you do not produce identification, I will have to detain you," the machine said, its wedge-shaped face unreadable. What to do? Was resistance the answer? Could they escape?
“Detain this!” He spun and slammed his palm into the robotic soldier’s chest. There was a flash of golden light, and then the android was shoved back into its partner. Both of them tumbled to the ground in a heap.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Emelle shouted. Purple flames burst to life around the outlaw mage as she turned to stand next to him and her hat whipped away in the rush of hot air.
"It's Emelle Fay! It's The Witch!"
The people on the street cleared out fast, none of them wanting to get involved in a scuffle between Enforcers and a known terrorist--the stomp and whir of Party troops arriving filled the air.
Before he realized it, he had transformed back into his true appearance. It was over in a moment as his human shape faded into one more suited to rebellion. Wings of black feathers splashed with white flared from his back as his frame stretched another foot and a half taller. Glowing eyes opened on his shoulders, and he began to float above the sidewalk as he unleashed his repressed magical aura.
Emelle whistled. "I guess we're both the real deal, huh?"
A dozen android troops had taken up position now, their rifles trained on the pair. "Heretic Fay, step away from the angel and put your hands up."
"You want me to put my hands up? Sure." She raised her hands in front of her and then thrust them out. From one end of the block to the other, the androids burst into flames purple flame. With two flicks of her metal fingers, she flung the piles of burning metal and plastic at the collection of other androids coming their way, sending the two platoons scattering.
“Okay, let’s get out of here.” A purple flash came from behind her hair and then it felt like he was being torn apart as a rushing noise filled his ears. Then they were standing in a room with a round table. Many people sat around it; he recognized a few from their mugshots and wanted posters. All of them were enemies of the state--every single one.
“Welcome, friend, to the knights of the round table.”