There were an odd number of candidates at the trials.
Normally, this mattered not. Quantity of candidates were less important than quality, and only the best and brightest could join the Premier Witch Council.
But for this particular set of trials, the fact that there were an odd number of candidates was not just surprising but also worrying:
On the full moon after the Premier Gemini Witches died, trials were held to find a new pair of luminaries to replace them.
One candidate had come alone.
“I know what they think of me,” Candidate Chacone says during the final trial, “I know what they said.”
The eleven luminaries remain silent, observing. Judging.
“They think I’ve done something to her, a diabolical thing. Then mutilated myself for more power. An abomination of a Gemini witch.”
Still the luminaries say nothing.
“But she was the one that slammed a wall between us. She’s the one that left me alone, screaming!"
Some of the younger luminaries at the ends flinch at her tone, but the Premier Taurus Witch at her place in the center merely holds up her hand, settles them.
"My magic wants desperately to harmonize and all I had were the shrieking echoes of myself.”
For seven hours and thirty one minutes, Luminary Chacone headed the largest, most successful coven in history.
If the knowledge had stayed within their secret half world of magic and marvels, then it would have been a triumph.
As it is, Luminary Chacone’s actions have brought unwanted attention from the shadowy government organization known as SHIELD.
The magician doesn’t look like anything special, Maria thinks on the opposite side of the glass. Nothing like Loki–grand robes and staff and regal demeanor–but perhaps that had more to do with his alien heritage than his magic.
If Maria had passed by this magician on the street, she wouldn’t even turn around. The magician looks absolutely normal. Absolutely human.
The magician waits, patiently, silently, as she has done since agents escorted her here. No demands for explanations. No pleads to go back. No questions.
This should Coulson’s job. For all that SHIELD is still cleaning up the literal alien invasion, this feels like a peace time interview, or even a recruitment.
But Coulson is dead, and Fury can only trust Maria to do this, never mind that she’s a battle commander and not the deft touch of whatever Coulson was.
Maria steels herself and enters, posture impeccable, and the magician reacts by blinking slow and sleepily at her.
“You did something,” Maria begins, a shaky start but not inaccurate, “During the invasion.”
The magician nods, open, “I protected those that I could.”
“More than that,” Maria responds, unable to find words for what she means to say.
SHIELD had experienced losses that day, of course, Coulson one of many. But only from the direct attack on the helicarrier. When the rift was open, monsters from across the universe raining chaos down, SHIELD stood firm. Agents stood back up from hits that should have taken them down, were able to do things that should have been beyond them. For several hours, SHIELD was undefeatable.
The magician huffed a soft but honestly amused sort of laugh, smile curling her mouth though her eyes continued to droop in exhaustion. “A matter of convenient coincidence,” she answers, though Maria hardly had a question formed. “My priority was to ensure that the building would be safe.” Again she laughs, or tries to, “I told everyone to believe that the shield would hold.”
A/N: The later bits are related to this long ago Avengers crossover. Just doing some “spring” cleaning of little ficlets and such on my computer.