The man had rather long blond hair, and always wore a white ruffled shirt and matching white slacks. The slacks were always too tight. Around his neck, he would likely wear the rubies stolen from the museum with a brazen disregard for the military forces that pursued him.

He was wearing a silver cape, almost grazing the steel sidewalk. It would never touch though, held up as it was by a permanent floating charm. At least, that's what his police descriptions said. It was actually a cleverly sown hem. He hated dragging his clothes through the dirty streets of Adar. Someone should have cleaned them up. He could've. But he was a lazy Archmage. And the only name they had for the target was Delta Zeoi, a spectacularly odd alias.

He was the target. It was Jack's job to take him down, but that wasn't likely to happen. He had been concentrating a little too hard on Delta, making it easy for the Archmage to sense his mental signature. Delta glanced up at the man hidden in the trees, about fifty yards away.

"Snipers again?" He muttered, "Well, if they won't leave me alone, I'll just have to hurt them. Still, Icouldn't kill him. Shedding blood wreaks havoc on my complexion. Maybe just a warning flare will do."

Delta looked skyward and thought, "Nimbostratus… medium heavy rain…lighting… a pinch of thunder for effect… effective immediately…" And completely without warning, a downpour started. A great bolt of lightning flashed in the sky. The thunder roared menacingly. The soldier didn't move.

A sigh escaped Delta's lips. This was always how it went. The soldiers were too stupid to move. Either that or they were had some kind of 'loyalty' hang-up. No, no, that would be too ridiculous.

"Five seconds," He called lazily. They knew what was coming. People started gathering around the chanting Archmage, who was flailing his arms wildly as if he was invoking some ancient god of days past. It was only for show. "Four," he called loudly, over the increasing winds. The soldier stayed at his post. "Gah, forget it! Three-two-one." He said hurriedly.

A bolt of lightning hit the trees. Jack fell with a great thud. "He's not dead, just unconscious. It's a special bolt I made myself. It didn't actually hit him, the magnetism just froze part of his brain," Delta shouted to the staring onlookers. "Still, It wouldn't hurt to call a medic," He walked away.

"Hey, turn off the rain?" A voice called. He paused, and turned to the teen who had requested the return to normal weather.

"You look new," He said, eyeing the boy, who was wearing awfully strange clothes, "so I'll do it this time, but next time, you're going to have to ask nicer, or you won't get anything at all." Despite his rudeness, Delta could help showing off by setting the outdoor temperature at a perfect seventy-five. He left, thoroughly satisfied by a day's work.


But his clothes were soaked.

"I hate wet clothes!" Delta complained, as he appeared in the Cartodian base. "Would someone please fix this?"

"Why don't you do it yourself?"

"Fine, Sharon," Delta complained, "I'll do it. But you'd think that an Archmage could get some service around here."

Sharon jumped down from the second floor, landing with a graceful flourish that belied her desire for attention. Her eyes were downcast though, and Delta almost instantly knew why.

"I know, I know, the Council is a little strapped for funds now that Kofi's gone. I'm sorry."

She tried to laugh it off, as always, but Delta could tell she was worried. And who wouldn't be, what with the Head Archmage splitting off to create another Magic Users Federation? The Dissident Order, they called themselves. It was more than enough cause for alarm. It didn't get passed around too much, but the idea was at the forefront of each Archmage's mind: War. The last War had devastated entire galaxies, and there was no telling what could happen should Kofi gain enough followers to put up a decent fight. The Archmages would have to fight to prevent such an outcome with everything they had, even if it did mean petty museum theft. There was a greater good.

"There's an Archmages meeting today," Sharon said softly, as she spiraled back down to reality, "You'll be there, right?"

"I only had one mission today, so probably. And you can stop calling me Delta, this is the base."

"Whatever. Anyway, I'll see you at the meeting. I have a bit of planning to do for the next operation."

"One of your mysterious clients?" Delta, now Laurence Raph, asked

"A girl's got to make a living. Being an Archmage gives you room, board and prestige, but we still don't get paid. See you at the Council Meeting." Sharon said, as she glided back up to her room on the second floor.


"Fifty-one, fifty-two, fifty-three, fifty-four, fifty-five."

"Delta, are you still combing your hair? We're trying to have a meeting!"

"I've told you five thousand times! Delta is my alias," He shouted from the bathroom, ignoring her other question. "Call me Laurence when we're not on a mission."

"But Delta is shorter and easier to say. Laurence is so long… and you won't let me call you Larry." Sharon complained

"Larry is so common."

"Whatever, just come on!"

"No, no, no and no. How am I going to stay the immaculately sculpted creature I am without the proper time to recuperate from a long day's work? Combing relaxes me."

"Fine. I'll just have to tell Sam that you couldn't be at the Meeting again because of your hair." Sharon said, "I've heard that he's been considering asking the council to appoint a replacement Second Archmage, you know, for when you have extraneous hair situations."

"Fine, I'm coming." Laurence sighed

"Good." Sharon said, striding out of the bathroom corridor and towards the link room.

"The suffering I go through for my art!"

Sharon paused, and turned around to face Delta, who was hurrying behind her. "What art?" she asked incredulously.

"Good point."


Okay, maybe this time I'll be able to get the story off the ground...