The large man who was charging towards me did not respond to my inquiries about his absence from jail, so I had to respond quickly. During training everyone was frequently reminded not to use new abilities in the middle of combat, so of course I did. Or maybe not, because light magic wasn’t really new. It kind of just came instinctively, tossing two orbs of light towards the guy’s eyes and hoping they stuck. And they did.
I wasn’t really surprised because it was extremely easy to hit a big target like that, except for the fact that what I wanted just happened. Sure, all of those properties were things I knew light magic could have, but not the same ones. I’d tried some of it in practice, but it wasn’t the same. But maybe the guy would shrug the magic off in a second.
The fact that he suddenly couldn’t see anything didn’t stop the guy from charging where I just was, but my entire months of training would have been a complete waste if I couldn’t dodge out of the way of a blind thug. Some of the other thugs were standing in his way dazed and they got run over. Then he crashed into a wall, opening a hole into someone’s apartment or something.
“… We should probably take this guy down quick!” I looked to Izzy. “I can knock him down but I don’t know if that would stop him.”
“That would be Gr- your fourth spell, right?” Izzy said. “Do it!
Right, of course she’d remember that. She was probably most of the reason I even got to level 10 to begin with. Well, technically that was level 6 or 7 but leveling was a lot slower without a dedicated fighting buddy.
Even though he couldn’t see, it wasn’t like the big guy couldn’t hear. Was he bigger than last time? What kind of barbarian was he? Well, whatever. Yelling angrily and running at me- since I was the louder of Izzy and I- made my job really easy.
Grease covered an area about ten feet across, vaguely square shaped. Obviously it didn’t have solid edges even if it was made out of magical black goop instead of actual grease or oil. That area was surprisingly small when the giant guy plopped forward in it. I was worried he might reach his way beyond it and pull him out, but Izzy was on top of him in an instant. Or rather, dancing around his flailing legs.
The Grease spell was magically difficult to stand in… and as far as I could tell Izzy wasn’t bothered one bit as she stabbed the guy’s ankles. “Is this guy made of freaking rock?” she yelled, barely visible even over the prone form of the fellow.
The splatters of blood coming out of his ankle belied Izzy’s description of the guy’s toughness… or maybe it just went to show that her class abilities were exceptional. She ducked and dodged about the guy’s flailing legs like she was standing on solid concrete. She never stopped moving, partly to avoid being hit but I also to find the right angles, and activate whatever Scout abilities allowed her to cut things that undersized weapons shouldn’t be able to.
It was kind of fun to watch. That may have distracted me enough that I didn’t contribute properly to further incapacitating the giant. My earlier concerns about him reaching outside the grease were well founded, and his fingers sunk into the pavement. Muscles strained, flipping him head over heels to land on his feet. Then his ankles collapsed in a scream of rage.
“I should inform you that further movement will force me to blast you directly into the pavement with the same thing that previously blasted you through a car.” My words didn’t seem to calm the man, but as it turned out blindly flailing around while unable to stand wasn’t something he could keep up forever.
“… what do we do now?” Izzy asked.
“Now we wait for those with proper restraints to show up and take this guy to a more secure holding facility where he will have additional charges levied against him. And these others will be facing mostly new charges, I imagine.” I was feeling pretty drained, my defensive spells half battered through and I was pretty sure I was leaking blood. Hopefully the crystals in my veins helped with that… or at least hadn’t grown too big. “Oh, you’ll need to stay around to answer questions. Sorry.” I tapped my chin. “Didn’t you call me out today for a favor? I guess we’ll have to get to it next time.”
“This was the favor,” Izzy said.
“… Fighting people doesn’t count, though.”
At around that time, a woman was nearly cackling on a rooftop. “This footage is going to be great! Just what she wanted!”
On another rooftop right next to her, two others were functioning with much more self control. Zack exchanged a grin and serious look with some of Jody’s eyes, while she held a large camera on one shoulder… and her cell phone in the other, pointing it at the other filming. That part didn’t need to be high quality, but the fight scene down below? Well, they’d probably have to censor some of it, but uploading the unedited footage somewhere was going to be fun.
First they had to wait for the other person’s highly edited version to show up. This was going to be big. Zack didn’t know who had it out for that short woman and apparently Mage, but- actually, he did know who had it out for Mage. He took a brief moment to think. Then he exchanged another glance with some of Jody’s other eyes. They needed this story. And it might even bring enough to hire security so they didn’t die.
“… How did this happen?” Calculator asked me.
“You getting attacked by these specific individuals.”
“My friend- my former friend, Izzy, asked for a favor. Some suspicious people were following her. Then she allowed them to lure and or intimidate us towards shady alleyways where we were attacked. The battle included one escaped… pre-convict?” I tilted my head. “Because he hadn’t gone to trial yet.”
“Which really isn’t going to help his case,” Calculator nodded. “We might be able to get his charges bumped up to actual supervillainy. Another question, though. Why would they be after her?”
My mind searched for that answer. However, Midnight was able to provide it first. “She was there when I was attacked outside our apartment,” he provided.
“Oh yeah! That was the first time we had trouble with Stargirl’s thugs! Hey, do you think these were related? I mean, they weren’t even wearing shirts with her faces on them, but maybe they-”
“Several of them were card-carrying fanclub members,” Calculator responded. “If only we managed to get the incident on camera.”
“Sorry,” I said. “I tried walking near shady alleyways on the way to work all week but nobody took the bait.”
“Yeah well it seems like they have some sense. At least-” his tablet made a noise and was instantly in his hand. Then he said a large number of words I didn’t know. I wasn’t using Translation at the moment, so I almost cast him and asked him to repeat. Then I figured it out through context. Profanity. Very complicated profanity. “… I wasn’t hired to manage PR. Why does this have to happen to me?” He looked at me, anger in his eyes… but I hadn’t done anything wrong, so I wasn’t concerned.
“Who did what?”
He just showed me a video which involved a lot of me shocking people and clubbing them upside the head, then a flailing giant while I looked on casually. How embarrassing, I really should have been hitting him while he was down.
“… Doesn’t it take time to edit video like that?” I asked.
“Maybe they had a tech super do it,” he shrugged. Even as he said that, his fingers were furiously typing on his tablet. Notifications were incoming and responses were outgoing rapidfire. “I’ll have someone else collect the rest of your report. After that, please spend the rest of today’s shift inside HQ.”
“… I wasn’t looking for trouble,” I said. Izzy was, I guess. But that wasn’t the point.
“We can talk about that later. Right now-” he stopped as another message came in. “… This has to be fake. No way.” He frowned. “Do you know a guy from Channel 72 News?”
My brain churned for a moment. “He was there for the slimes. And after the fire.” I nodded. “Zack, maybe?”
He didn’t say what was interesting, but I could see him taking screenshots of ‘social media’ stuff while watching a video and texting. Seems like he needed more hands for that, but he managed somehow.
I guess I kind of had time off? That would give me a chance to think about what I would spend points on at level 24. I wasn’t quite there yet, maybe because the thugs were still around the same level and I was stronger, or because I’d already beat the big guy, or because Izzy took down a bunch of them with minimal input on my part. Either way, I was a bit short of the 1500 experience threshold for level 24. Couldn’t level every time I guess.
… Slow, probably. I could catch a group with that and make everything easier, and it wasn’t too expensive. It was certainly near the top of my list.
What else should I do today? Oh right. Doctor Martinez would want to see me after I consumed all those crystals. That seemed like a good idea.
“Hey there!” Great Girl waved as I passed by. “How’s it going, Mage? Midnight?”
“Today has been going well,” I said. I got to fight along with my former friend.
“Cool,” she said. “Hey I know you guys aren’t the best pair to ask about this, but are you suddenly having signal trouble with your phones?”
“It seems fine to me,” I said as I pulled it out.
“It’s kinda a pain to pull mine out…” Midnight said.
“13.1% less pain than it could be,” I said.
“Yeah, whatever,” Midnight did his best to shrug. “Still annoying. I need to get someone to develop Celmothian friendly devices.”
“Sounds expensive,” Great Girl frowned as her phone made another noise. “Oh weird. I’m being assigned to guard duty here? I hope there’s not some kind of trouble.”
“I can’t imagine it’s anything major,” I shrugged. “Otherwise there would be an alarm. And you’re not an infiltrator so it’s unlikely you’d get a secret mission.”
“What do you mean by that?” Great Girl raised an eyebrow.
“Just that. They wouldn’t send either of us on anything secret. Unless it was only supposed to remain secret until things began falling apart.” I looked at Midnight, who was remaining quiet on the topic. “Do they send you on secret infiltration missions?”
“If they did and I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
“Pretty sure that’s not how that works,” I said. “And also that you’d lose access to magely abilities. So a big loss for both of us.” My eyes returned to Great Girl. “Good luck with your guard duties or whatever.”
With that, I was on my way to Doctor Martinez.
I figured I should probably review the video of my fight later with the squad, though a lot of context was cut out so they might not be able to give me advice beyond ‘don’t stupidly stand around when someone is down but still potentially dangerous’. Sure, I didn’t have a ton of mana left to blast the guy, but I could have done something.
Maybe the crystals were interfering with my brain patterns? I don’t see what else could have distracted me from battle. It was a good thing nobody else had been left standing… and some might have a lot of trouble standing again. Like that big guy. Maybe whatever damage Izzy did to his ankles would have healed given time, but not after he threw his whole very significant body weight upon it. What was he thinking?
Oh right. Actual barbarian. He probably wasn’t.