"What happened here?" Gwen thought, horrified.
She and the other Keepers stood transformed, staring at the still smouldering remains of the town hall building in Desiderata Valley, remaining completely silent, even as those behind them did not.
"From what Vesta and I could pick up, it was most likely a bomb. Non-magical authorities will be here to confirm it shortly." Aideen answered grimly as she and Vesta approached them, the latter with a large bandage above her left eye.
"I was close to the building when it exploded. I tried putting up a shield but both my reaction times and power levels are not what they used to be in my youth..." Vesta offered as explanation, gesturing to her injury.
"Bomb... Who would want to do that?" Bridgette said.
"And why?" Lindsay asked.
"You just HAD to wish for more excitement in your life, didn't you?" Heather directed her thought towards Izzy.
"I would never wish for this!" Izzy thought back.
"We are not certain it was actually a bomb, so we cannot say for certain that this was an act of terror. If it was, we don't know who would have such a motivation to do such a thing..." Akari walked up to them.
"Bridgette, Marissa's probably too busy to tell you this, but I'm sure she would appreciate your help over by the field hospital..." Akari thumbed its general direction and Bridgette flew off.
"The rescuers and RCMP want our help. Izzy, can you go help control the fire and smoke?" Aideen asked.
"On it!" Izzy flew off towards the fire trucks.
"Gwen, Lindsay, Heather, you can use your powers to help clear rubble." Vesta commanded.
"What can we do?"
Samuel, Ezekiel, Cody and Sierra walked up to them. Samuel was the one who spoke.
"Samuel! Good to see you." Vesta shook his hand.
"Ask around and see where they need people. I'm not fully certain..." She rubbed her head and groaned.
"Come on, Madame Keeper. My wife would never forgive me if I let you stress yourself out over this. Your successor and the others are the ones who beat Radcliffe and his goons. They can handle this..." Jack came and led her away.
"Well, we know what we should do. Let's go people!" Gwen commanded.
She, Heather and Lindsay flew above the wreckage and surveyed it for a moment.
Heather was the first to make a move, focusing on a particularly large slab of concrete.
Floating it with upmost concentration, she put it in an empty lot nearby that had been cordoned off.
Gwen wrapped several energy whips around another and did the same, while Lindsay used her telekinesis.
Once they had cleared a significant amount of the rubble on top, they flew closer to the still smouldering wreckage and hovered around the emergency services personnel still using tools to help clear it away and try to find anyone trapped inside.
"What now? Is there anyone inside?" Gwen asked.
"Yes! The mayor was having a meeting inside with several people- both Magical and Non-Magical about some organization they were planning to set up!" The leader of the rescuers said.
"We've managed to get some out before you even got here, but several others are still unaccounted for, including the Mayor himself and his wife!" His Deputy added.
"BLOODHOUNDS OUT NOW!" Somebody yelled out from behind them.
The handlers released the dogs onto the rubble and the dogs began to do their job.
One particularly large one with brown fur and wearing a toque was out in front.
"We'll see what we can do!" Gwen flew over the rubble and scanned it with a silver beam.
"Different energy levels scattered around the rubble, some weaker than others, some with magical vibes, some without..." She thought.
"Meaning?" Heather flew next to her.
"I think there are people still alive in there. I can feel their energy. Some are duller than others!"
The largest bloodhound with the toque barked loudly, standing next to a spot Gwen had detected a presence in.
"Zeke's found one!" Samuel yelled.
Just then, another dog barked near another spot Gwen detected a presence.
"We've got another one!"
"It looks like my theory is correct. Let's move!"
Gwen detected another a presence and they flew towards it.
"Right here. Remember, move the rubble gently. We don't want to injure them more than they already are."
Heather flew lower and moved the stone slowly away piece by piece assisted by Lindsay's telekinesis.
"Another one?" Cody and a paramedic flew out on what looked like a flying motorcycle except without the wings, with a floating stretcher between them.
Gwen nodded as Heather and Lindsay uncovered what looked like a torso.
Motivated further, they uncovered the rest, to discover a very bloodied woman breathing heavily with her leg twisted at an odd angle and one of her collarbones jutting out slightly.
Lindsay looked like she wanted to turn green at the sight and the other two Keepers weren't far off.
"Let's go." Cody nodded to the paramedic and they performed a spell to move the injured woman gently onto the stretcher, with the paramedic performing additional spells to stabilise her.
With a solemn nod, Cody and the paramedic flew over to the waiting row of ambulances with her.
"Well, it may only get worse from here so we'd better steel ourselves..." Gwen thought.
They nodded determinedly.
Another dog barked loudly so they flew over to where it was.
Lindsay listened closely and could hear crying below the rubble.
"I hear someone crying under there!" She exclaimed.
She cleared away the rubble before the other two could help and when she did, a tear came to her eye.
A wailing baby covered in so much dust that they couldn't see the colour of her skin with scratches all over was trapped under its mother, who had apparently braced herself to protect the child- and wasn't moving.
Gwen scanned the mother and when she did, she bowed her head for a few seconds.
The paramedics came over and moved the mother slightly so they could rescue the baby.
Another set came and moved the mother- but not to an ambulance. She was beyond their help now...
Gwen sighed and turned to Heather and Lindsay.
"We'd best continue to reduce the chances of that happening again..." She thumbed the direction of the baby and the mother, the latter of whom was on a stretcher and a white sheet being drawn over her.
"That was absolutely horrible!" Lindsay wiped a tear away from her eye as she sat with her fellow Keepers under a tent, drinking some bottled water.
"And to think it's not over yet. There must be still some more people still under there!" Bridgette exclaimed.
"And they don't want us to help anymore!" Heather exclaimed angrily.
"It's not that they don't want you to help. You've run yourselves down trying to help all you could. They thought you needed a break!" Sierra joined them, holding a bottle of Pepsi.
"What were you doing here anyway? Don't you have sort of royal stuff to do?" Izzy asked grumpily.
"Actually, not today. A Princess has got to take a break every once in a while. Went to Toronto to do some shopping and relax. I came over as soon as I heard what happened. Turned out not to be much of a break after all..." Sierra frowned, taking a sip of her drink.
The largest bloodhound they had seen earlier came trotting over to them and morphed into Ezekiel.
"I can't get the smell of smoke and blood out of my nose, eh..." He sputtered, running off to find some water.
"Me either and the smoke is part of my element..." Izzy muttered.
An RCMP officer, alongside Vesta approached them.
"You should come with us. We have learnt some new information you should know." The officer said.
The Keepers and Sierra looked at one another anxiously before following.
"It was a bomb that caused the explosion." The officer said.
"WHAT?" They, along with several others in the room exclaimed in unison.
"I found the device in the wreckage with Ezekiel's help. Here's a picture." Cody slipped a slim, grey device out of his pocket and touched it once.
A picture of what looked like a charred, twisted metal box appeared for a few moments and everyone present went silent.
Cody looked even more grim that before as he returned the device to his pocket.
"The RCMP has it now and is picking it apart. An initial scan has revealed that it is an ordinary bomb and not a magical one. No magic whatsoever was used to create it..."
"So a non-magical person created the bomb and put it there?" Gwen asked.
"Looks that way." Cody nodded.
"Who would do that and why? What would they hope to accomplish from such a terrible feat?" Sierra asked.
"That's what the police will find out- with our help if they want it." Vesta answered.
"Could it have been a hate crime?" Lindsay burst out suddenly and everyone turned to stare.
"What? We all know it's a possibility. You don't think that it could be? A prominent community where Magicals and Non-Magicals lived side by side peacefully even before magic was exposed? Maybe someone wants to change that!" Lindsay suggested.
"Oh dear. I do not even want to consider the repercussions if that turns out to be the case..." Sierra rubbed her head, feeling a migraine coming on.
"Whether we know the motive or not, it was still an act of terror; an act of mass murder. Rest assured, we will investigate. All of us, since we don't know which side caused it." An officer said.
"Which side? So are we all on different sides now?" Vesta raised an eyebrow, turning to him.
"Well if Lindsay's theory is correct- still can't believe she actually came up with a theory..." Heather thought the last part.
"Hey!" Lindsay thought indignantly.
"... then someone thinks we're on different sides." Gwen finished Heather's statement.
"EXACTLY!" Lindsay cried out.
There was a beeping sound coming from Vesta and everyone turned to look at her as she retrieved her cell phone from a pants pocket.
Glancing at it for only a moment before she put it back, she spoke.
"News conference in an hour. They want me to stand in for the mayor for this since he's currently in critical condition at the hospital..."
"So what's the plan then? Do they need us for anything else?" Gwen asked.
"Not necessarily to speak, but they would appreciate your presence along with the law enforcement..." Vesta read another incoming message.
"Okay then people. We need to go prepare. The media is already starting to convene..." One officer declared.
They all agreed, going about whatever jobs they were subsequently assigned.
Gwen and her fellow Keepers stood in a line directly behind the chief of police for Desiderata Valley as he spoke while Vesta and the other three Old Keepers stood to a side.
"At 10:32 AM today, Saturday 20th November, 2010, an explosion occurred in the city hall of Desiderata Valley during a meeting..."
"SIR! What was the meeting about?" A reporter called out.
"As we understand it, it was a meeting between Magicals and Non-Magicals from this town and a few surrounding areas to form an organization for Magical and Non-Magical relations here in Canada."
"SIR! Any word on the amount of causalities?" Another reporter called out.
"We have conducted our initial investigations and thanks to extra help we have received..." The police chief turned to the Keepers and some of the magical contingent.
"We can now confirm the amount of deaths at twenty three and injuries at thirty four- at this time since many of the injuries are critical." The police chief finished.
"SIR!" Another reporter, this time female, called out. "Do you have a reason why the town hall exploded yet?"
"Yes, we do. Investigations have uncovered the reason for the explosion. A bomb was placed inside the building, set to go off at a predetermined time."
The reporters murmured amongst themselves even more.
"SIR! What kind of bomb was it?" Another male reporter asked.
"We cannot say for certain at this time..." The police chief was cut off by another reporter.
"SIR! Any motives as to why someone would have wanted to blow up the town hall? Any suspects?" Another female reporter asked.
"To answer either of those questions right now would be mere speculation. I cannot give any answers for certain on that aspect at this time."
"I will now pass onto Mrs Vesta Rosier, who will speak in lieu of Mayor Shapiro who was injured in the blast."
Vesta stepped forward, looking grim, shuffled a few papers and began to speak.
"Today's explosion in our town hall here in Desiderata Valley was an act of mass murder. Our town will come together to support the victims and their families. Rest assured, we will find out who did this and they will not go unpunished!" She declared.
"Be careful what you wish for, huh... If I knew that my wishes held so much power, I'd be more careful..." Izzy stretched out across the arms of her flame chair tiredly.
"Ah, bull. It's not like it was your wish that did it. It was some crazy, psychotic, cold-hearted, murderous lunatic!" Heather exclaimed.
"Heather is right..." Bridgette said tiredly.
"I'm going to have nightmares about this for ages..." Lindsay moaned.
"Aren't we all?" Gwen thought.
"Either way, it looks like we have a new task on our hands. Move over Radcliffe..." Izzy sighed.
"Well, the only bright side I can see to this is that it didn't blow up the entire town. Or a school with elementary school kids inside..." Bridgette added.
"That isn't much of a bright side really. I mean, so many people died today. And that baby with her mom in the rubble... I will never get that image out of my head as long as I live..." Heather's troubled expression never changed as she fiddled with her metal claws, retracting and protracting them again.
"I wonder what the rest of the world will think of this..." Lindsay said.
"This is another incident gone global that we became part of. You can bet that this is all people will be able to talk about at school, at work, wherever!" Izzy exclaimed.
"Yeah... Like Heather said, these are going to be images we'll never forget and this is after we witnessed a lot of terrible things fighting Radcliffe and his minions... Weaker people would need therapy..." Gwen said.
"Hell, strong people would need therapy after what we all saw today. I only hope they catch the bastard or bastards responsible for this so that we can roast them alive!" Izzy snarled.
They all made noises of agreement.
They all sat in silence for a few minutes longer before Gwen spoke again.
"Look, you four. I'd better get us all back home before our families think we all died in a second explosion or something. Plus I'm really tired after today and I don't want to sleep here tonight. Lindsay, you're nearest. You go first..." Gwen stood up, making a portal as she did.
"Rest assured, we will find out who did this and they will not go unpunished!"
Xavier leaned back in his chair, flicking through the various channels and laughing.
"We will find out... they will not go unpunished... HA! They will never figure out that it was me. How could they? Even if I had to go about it the... Non-Magical way so they would not be able to trace it back to a Magical user such as myself..."
Payne and Drake joined him in his laughter, but Savion and Zilla did not, standing in a corner some distance away from the laughing men.
"Ever get the impression that Xavier's gotten a few screws loose?" Savion whispered to Zilla.
"A few? Try everything up there being wired wrong..." Zilla whispered back.
"I'm not certain that joining up with him was the right thing to do after all..." Savion whispered.
Zilla glanced over at the trio of men who were still laughing.
"I am..." She whispered back.