Leon looked at his not-quite rescuer while he got his breath back.  A dark-haired, tonsured man with a broad chest and a little bit of a paunch looked back at him.  The man smiled, crow's-feet at the corner of his eyes spreading up his face to wrinkle his brow, and held out a slightly grubby hand.


Leon looked at him warily, bringing his breath back under control, and finally took it, shaking it firmly.  Magnus squeezed slightly, his smile becoming a grin.

"I'm not a watcher," said Leon.  "I'm a hacker, just like you."

"Hah, perhaps not just like me, nameless.  Why did you fight on his terms then?"  Magnus nudged the unconscious assailant with a dirty, once-white shoe.

"I'd just incarnated!"

"Quickest way to lose an incarnation is to not pay attention to where you're incarnating, nameless.  You won't be anything for long if you're not more careful."

"My name's Leon, Magnus, and I am careful.  I'm not stupid."

"Well Leon, let's say I believe you for now and that you were just unlucky.  Are you here for a purpose, or just for some... fun?"  Magnus raised an eyebrow as he said the last word, and Leon wondered if there was a wrong answer to the question, one he needed to avoid.

"I... I am looking for some people," he said.  "When I meet them, I will have a task to complete."

"Caution at last!  Well, if you know who these people are I may be able to tell you where you should be looking for them.  On the other hand, I have my own jobs here and should be getting back to them sooner rather than later."

Leon nodded, wondering how much he could trust Magnus.  He looked down at his assailant again: yes Magnus had taken away the knife, but he hadn't stopped the attack.  Leon could still have lost.

"Thank you for your offer, but I think I know where to start looking," he made himself smile as he spoke, keeping his words light.

"Of course you do."  Magnus nodded.  "If you're headed my way then you are welcome to walk with me a while.  Otherwise, I shall wish you the best of luck in your endeavours, and I sincerely hope that if our paths cross again it is for the best of reasons."

Leon picked a street at random and pointed along it.  "That's my route."

"Ah, then we are parting company already.  I have a meeting outside a campanile to attend, and that is this way."  Magnus pointed roughly at right-angles to Leon's path.  "Ciao!"

They walked away on the separate ways, Leon wondering how he was going to find the Luna Heretics and Magnus whistling a jaunty tune.  Behind them, unseen by Leon but expected by Magnus, the fallen assailant suddenly glowed brilliantly and disintegrated into a mushroom cloud of dust a little under three feet high.  The dust swirled and electric colours sparkled in the cloud as it slowly settled, the attacker unmade as quickly as he'd been made in the first place.

The End

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