THE PHOENIX SHADOW

Real Magic

Part 1

Max Ryan clicked the final padlock in place, his assistant, a gorgeous 21 year old red head with a figure women would die for, was now fully secured to the glass table top.  She wore a two-piece bikini the same colour as her bright emerald green eyes.  The restraints that held her down were made of a strong red transparent plastic almost the same colour of her dark fiery red hair, which cascaded over the edge of the glass table.  Nothing was hidden from the already amazed audience who waited patiently for the final act to be completed.

Max Ryan walked round the table so that it was between him and the audience.  He was dressed in an almost jet black jumpsuit with a large black cape which moved about him with a life of it's own.

He made a quick simple gesture with his hands and suddenly pulled a large blade of steel from thin air.  The audience applauded as he demonstrated the keenness of the blade by cutting the steel chain still supporting a black box from an early illusion.

Then the audience held there breath as if they were one creature, as Max Ryan, a new mage to come to this small American town, raised the silver blade of the Katanna above his head and bring it quickly down onto his assistant.  The blade passed through assistant and table as if they weren't there, and the entire audience almost jumped as one as both halves of the table and assistant toppled over.  Max had wanted to try something new, he had designed the table himself; it was one piece (normally) with the four long legs all close to the center. At each end was a piece of clear plastic, which acted as a small foot.  Once cut in half the table would tip quite naturally until the plastic foot hit the floor.  As if on cue, when both halves of the table had come to rest at a 60-degree angle the entire audience stood up and applaud.  The assistant's lower half was almost standing up again, while her upper half was almost upside down.  She was still smiling and moved her hands and feet; it had been an exhilarating ride, and only the second time she had done this particular trick.

"Okay, I'm impressed," Stan Steed, a typical tall, dark and handsome stranger, said to his companion who was a head shorter than himself, "but why is the major interested in the guy?"

His shorter companion continued to clap and whistle as the mage on stage quickly righted the two table halves and returned his assistant to her normal one piece.

"Look, I know as much as you do, we both had the same briefing."

The Mage and assistant made a final bow, and in a flash of light and smoke neither were on stage anymore, a final trick, unexpected but enjoyed by all.

"I know that Jed, but I also know how quick you can figure stuff out.  Just thought you had some ideas." Stan said sitting back down on the chair he had occupied for the whole one-hour performance.

"Well, for once I'm just as stumped as you are." Jed Mace finished as he sat down.

They both watched as the audience slowly exited the theater.

Max Ryan sat down in the small dressing room; his assistant and lover Sara Jade watched him perform a small disappearing trick with the large Katanna.  She marveled at how this normal looking 30-year-old man could perform real magic.  She'd worked with him for almost 3 years now and he hadn't changed a bit, his energy seemed inexhaustible.

"The show went well tonight," she said, still in her stage outfit, as she sat next to him.

He seemed lost in thought.

"What's up?" She asked concern in her soft voice.

Max Ryan's shoulders slumped slightly as he relaxed,

"I think things are going to change." He said.

"Change, in what way?" She didn't want to ask but couldn't help herself, "it's not me is it?"

Max gave a slight chuckle and became more his normal self;

"No it's not you.  I wouldn't change you for the world."

"Then what?" Sara asked, confusion on her face.

Before he could answer there was a knock on the dressing room door.  He indicated the door with his eyes,

"Looks like we're both find out in a few minutes."

Getting up from his seated position, Max walked to the door and opened it halfway.  On the other side stood two men, one about 5 foot 9, Max's own height, the other was about a head taller.

"I'm sorry, autographs were yesterday."

The tall man looked disappointed at the remark, the other spoke,

"That's a shame, but that isn't why we're here.  We would like you to accompany us to a, shall I say, more secure location."

"And you would be?"

"Lieutenant Steed and lieutenant Mace of army intelligence," the tall guy said, "this is a matter of national security."

Max turned to look back in the room; Sara was still in her stage outfit;

"Okay," Max sighed looking back out the door, "just give us time to change."

"Your to come alone."

"Sorry, but I'll bring my assistant or I'm not leaving this room.  Please, don't argue, Sam wont mind."

"Sam?" lieutenant Steed asked.

"The Major, your Major I presume, this isn't the first time he's called on my services."

"Max, I don't understand?" Sara said.

"It was a long time ago, I'll explain a bit more on the way.  You guys wait there."

Max shut the door.

"He knows Major Brent?" Stan asked his partner.

"News to me." Jed said.

The door suddenly opened, it hadn't been shut for more than 5 seconds, yet both the mage and assistant had changed clothes.  Max Ryan now wore blue jeans and blue T-shirt with white trainers, and Sara Jade now also wore white trainers and blue jeans but she wore a white shirt tied in a bow above her navel.  Her hair was also tied back in a ponytail, which reached passed the small of her back.

"See, didn't take long, lead the way men."

to be continued...