by Travis Pullen

"HELP! He–!"

Klarion skidded to a halt past the alleyway where the woman's voice had just been muffled. The bearded hero crept back and peered through his hood around the corner, tucking away a vial into a special pocket in his uniform. He had urgent need to be elsewhere, but it was not in his nature to ignore a cry of distress. Even if that very aspect of his nature irritated him right now. Time was against him.

There were two Hellions. One was holding a blonde woman around the waist, with his other hand clamped over her mouth. The second street tough had her legs, and he was yanking off her shoes while she tried vainly to kick him.

The green runes running up and down his costume glowed faintly in the dark, as the hero cleared his mind and focused. A psionic lance shot straight out of the darkness, felling one Hellion immediately. The second crook was so distracted by the woman's struggles, it took him a full three seconds to realize that his partner-in-crime had just hit the ground like a rock. Time enough for Klarion to cover the distance between them with a quick burst of speed. The masked bandit threw his intended victim to the side and reached for his gun, but Klarion hit him with a quick left hook. The gun clattered to the ground, and the punk pulled out a knife instead, waving it back and forth with practiced ease. The moonlight glinted off of his tattooed arms.

Klarion smiled grimly, and focused a different thought this time. Subdue. Strange purple colors played over the Hellion, who grunted and froze. It would only hold him for a few seconds, but it gave the mystic hero a chance to step back a couple paces. Klarion calmed his thoughts and shot another psionic lance at the villain. It works every time, he thought as the second villain crumpled from the powerful mental blast.

He stepped over the unconscious crook and slowly knelt down to check on the woman. She was curled almost into a ball, huddled against the brick wall, her hands tight against her mouth, as if trying to stop the small, garbled mewling sounds that she kept coming out.

"Are you hurt?" He asked gently, but firmly.

"Y-yes- I mean, no." She replied. "No, you stopped them before they really hurt me." She took the mystic's proffered hand, and he helped her up, although she froze momentarily when she looked up and noticed his green, glowing eyes.

"I'm afraid time is of the essence," Klarion told her. "My comrades are waiting on me to deliver something important to them. Can you notify the police by yourself? I have urgent matters to attend to elsewhere."

The woman straightened and pushed her shoulders back at the sudden request for help from a hero. She regained more of her composure by the second.

"Yes. Yes, I can do that."

Klarion smiled at the new confidence in her voice and thanked her, and turned back down the alley, thinking that Paragon City bred very brave citizens. If he could get this vial to his new allies and help them solve their mystery, they would be able to help him on his quest.

The blonde woman waited until Klarion rounded the corner and disappeared, before waving her right wrist slightly in a turning motion. As she did so, the bodies of the two Hellions flared a bright, blinding white, and then disappeared. She chuckled, her voice changing from its previous high pitch to a low, throaty sound.

"Yes, hurry along, witless fool!" she said. "For you have been delayed yet again, and have lost more precious minutes. How else may I hinder your quest, I wonder? Perhaps your heroic friends might have a few questions for you if I somehow reveal to them the nature of the runes on your ‘costume,' hmm? Would they be so quick to help you then, I wonder?"

She smiled wickedly and stepped farther back into the shadows, to let them claim her. As she disappeared, the only thing to linger was cold, dark laughter.
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