Training in a safe environment before combat made sense to me, but I hadn’t expected that training to involve so much running. I wasn’t bad at it, but I quickly realized how big the difference was between myself and the others. I usually only ran enough to get away from everyone chasing me, but here we were running laps around an underground ‘gymnasium’ and were told to continue more or less until we couldn’t do it anymore.
I didn’t recognize most of the people since I was new, but Sophia and Meztli were both faster than me. I was considering pushing myself to go faster than them, but then I couldn’t run for long. As for the others, many wore super-type uniforms made out of colorful ‘spandex’, and even masks. The way most masks didn’t cover anything but a small circle around each eye made me wonder what they were for, because I could still easily recognize someone without.
Most people appeared to be human. However, there were a few with widely varying body types which I wasn’t sure were from some sort of power or being an alien. There was a small case they were also extradimensional, but that was usually rarer from what I’d heard.
“Hey newbie,” someone said as they passed me. I was jostled to the side from their motion, but I didn’t mind that.
“Hello,” I replied. It was hard to believe they were already to the corner in front of me, and around it.
“Sup, newbie,” said another figure, and once more I was jostled to the side. There was plenty of room for people to pass, but apparently they couldn’t be bothered.
“Hi,” I said in response.
“Morning, newbie,” said a third person. The figure was very familiar. The same colors as the other two. Triplets, or just some sort of trio?
“Good morning.” I also realized that they weren’t going all that close to me, yet I was getting pushed to the side. What would cause that? I had a glance over my shoulder and saw them coming up behind me once more.
They slowed down as they got close to me, their thin frame coming into focus. “Aww, you figured it out already?”
“Of course,” I said. I’d actually thought that maybe they were teleporting. But it seemed they had just been going very fast. Was that even possible? This track was a tenth of a mile and they ran the whole thing in a couple of seconds. “You’re just very fast.”
Somehow, they seemed offended at that. “I’m more than just fast.” Though I was looking directly, their figure blurred and disappeared, leaving behind only a blue line for a moment. I staggered backwards slightly. Then I saw the blur again. Once again the force pushed me back. Was it a strong gust of wind?
“Come on newbie,” they said as they passed once more- briefly slowing to speak- “You stopped running! You’ll be the slowest person at this rate.”
I had stopped running. It wasn’t smart to read and run at the same time.
|Turlough (No surname)|
Shocking Grasp +3
Force Armor +6
Mage’s Reach +1
Remaining Points: 13
It would take most of my points. But that wasn’t as big of a concern as it once was, since I’d leveled up twice in the past week. I was still catching up to where I should be, but I could afford to impulse spend a few points. Nine of them, in fact. That was what was required to unlock a fifth ranked spell.
I started running again. Once they turned around the corner, I used my spell.
If I were some sort of asshole, I could have just cast grease on the floor- but I didn’t want to be responsible for someone crashing into a wall at who-knows-how-much speed. Though if there were other people like this speedy person, it would be a good counter.
I sped up. Not only did I start sprinting, but my speed was boosted by magic to several times what it normally was. It wouldn’t let me beat this person, but I sure as hell wouldn’t be the slowest. I was around the corner passing up the nearest person when I was passed once more.
“Oh-” this time they didn’t slow down, instead only saying a single word. I was a little more than halfway along the next section when they caught me again. “-wow,” they spoke one word at a time, “How’d-you-get-so-fast-sud-den-ly?”
“Magic,” I replied as they passed once more. I could see them running now. Haste didn’t just increase movement speed, but visual acuity and reaction time and so forth. Otherwise, it would just be a recipe for people hurting themselves.
‘I-guess-you-aren’t-obli-gated-to-tell-me,” that next sentence sounded disappointed. At this point, I had completed four laps, a little less than half a mile. I was getting a lot of surprised looks as I passed people.
I wasn’t actually going to be able to keep this up forever. I was sprinting after all. And Haste didn’t last forever. In fact, it was just about up. “It is magic,” I said the next time the runner was close. I really, really wanted to try to reach out and touch them… but I wasn’t sure how Haste would interact with a speed power. It might also cause them to plant face first into a wall.
I only got about half a mile done before I felt Haste fading. Now, technically it was a waste of my mana to use the spell… but what was mana for if I wasn’t going to use it? Once more wouldn’t bring me close to mana exhaustion. I had a maximum of seventeen now, and so I’d still have four or five since I also used Translation upon arriving here, after I used Haste again.
So I did. I finished up a mile in a little over two minutes and then fell over onto a nearby bench, panting and sweating. “Uuuugh. I’m tired.”
The next gust of air was kind of soothing, but it wasn’t as much as usual. “Good to meet you Tired. I’m Shockwave, by the way,” said a voice from next to me on the bench.
“… my name’s not Tired. It’s Turlough.”
“Turlough, huh? I can’t believe nobody told me there was a new aspiring speedster joining up. You’ll need to work on your fitness to really make use of that power though.”
“It’s not really supposed to be used on myself,” I said. “It doesn’t let me do magic faster. It’s better for other people.”
“…” there was a very long silence. “… You can use it on other people?”
“Yeah. Of course.” That was how magic worked. There were only a few spells that didn’t work on other people.
A masked face was very close to where I was draped over the bench. “Use it on me.”
“Tired…” I said. Explaining that I was basically out of mana. “I need a break. And maybe some energy bars.”
I heard the sound of crinkling wrappers next to my head, and I saw three of the Power Brigade bars piled there. “Do you need more? I can go get more.”
I pulled myself up into an actual sitting position and started unwrapping one. “I just need time. Maybe… ten or twenty minutes before I can do it again?”
“Uuugh. I’ll be back later then. Gotta get some laps in.” With that, Shockwave was off to be a blur of blue except for the black hair and tan skin behind the mask.
Soon enough, Meztli was running up. “Normally I’d say you should run for more than a couple of minutes, but at that speed I suppose I can cut you some slack. You still need to work on endurance though.” She held out her hand. “Stamina recovery boost? Can get you back up and running and ready for more later.”
“Sure,” I said, holding out my hand. Once again it took a moment before the energy flowed into me, but this time the invigoration didn’t go away. My breath recovered almost instantly, and my legs stopped complaining.
Meztli frowned. “Sometimes that’s harder.”
“It’s probably the force armor. You’re not actually touching me, so it’s harder.”
“You keep magic armor active all the time?” She looked me straight in the eye. “Good choice.” Then she returned to her laps.
I got up to run a little bit more, keeping a measured pace this time. After some time, I heard a beeping sound. Shockwave suddenly stopped in front of me, looking at a watch. “Now?” they asked.
I reached out my hand. “Alright.”
Just over a minute later, Shockwave and I were looking at a very cross Meztli, her arms folded in front of her. “What is this?” she said.
“A bench?” I replied. It was a bench.
“And that?” she pointed to the ceiling.
I frowned. “Some sort of… water… device.” I tried to recall the technology overview, but I was drawing a blank.
“Fire sprinkler,” Shockwave offered helpfully.
“And that?” Meztli pointed to another part of the ceiling.
“Oh! A lightbulb,” I nodded.
“So then,” she paused, “WHY ARE THEY ALL BROKEN?!”
I pondered. That was a good question. “Some kind of concussive force? There was a really loud noise too.”
“That would be the sonic boom,” Shockwave contributed.
“And why was there a sonic boom in the gymnasium?” Meztli looked sternly at us.
“I don’t know,” I answered.
“We were testing a new combination of powers,” Shockwave said. “Specialized training.”
“What floor are we on?” Meztli asked ‘calmly’.
“B7,” I said. “The gymnasium.” At least the answers to most of these questions were easy.
“Listen, Turlough, I know you’re new here,” she turned her gaze to Shockwave, “But you know that power experimentation doesn’t belong here.”
“… sorry. I got excited.”
Meztli sighed, “It’s gonna take a while for even the specialist to clean all this up. Couldn’t you have stopped before you made a full lap around the area and broke every light fixture?”
“In fairness,” Shockwave said, “I couldn’t hear anything breaking and didn’t see any problems until after I finished the first lap.”
“By which point you’d already blasted everyone into the walls.” Meztli turned her eyes back to me. “I would have appreciated you telling me about this power. I would have warned you not to mix it with speedsters except in controlled circumstances.”
“I couldn’t do it earlier,” I said. “So I didn’t think to mention it.”
“Couldn’t do it…?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “I just spent the points earlier. It was kind of spontaneous.”
“Fine. Turlough, since with your background I honestly believe you didn’t know this would happen, just promise to be more careful in the future. Shockwave, you’re suspended for a week. And you have to sweep all the glass.”
“Aww man!” Shockwave said. “I hate sweeping.”
“That’s why it’s a punishment.”
“Okay,” Shockwave nodded, then looked at me. “So, when are you going on your first mission? I just so happen to be looking for a partner.”
“No.” Meztli said firmly. “Absolutely not.”
“What?” Shockwave frowned. “I could finish most missions in a single minute!”
“Let me ask you this,” she said. “Who’s going to pay for every window you shatter?”
“Uh…” Shockwave tilted their head, “The city?”
“Like hell they would. They’d take it out of the Power Brigade’s cut. And we’d take it out of your paycheck.”
“Sorry buddy,” Shockwave turned to me. “I’m actually more of a lone wolf. Can’t be shackled down with partners and all of that crap.” They leaned close, “But meet me in the training hall later. I didn’t get a chance to get up to full speed and I want to know how fast I can go.” I nodded.
Meztli sighed. “You’re also disallowed from any more crazy training stuff till the end of the week, since you chose to not do it safely when you had the chance.”
“…Aww,” Shockwave hung their head.
Well, at least I wasn’t in trouble. And I made a note that Haste and ‘speedsters’ mixed too well. Too bad it was so expensive in terms of mana. It took fifty minutes to recover all of the mana used up in just a single minute.