There was one thing about being in the mercenary category rather than the hero category that was fairly consistent- night shifts. Some heroes worked at night, many mercenaries worked during the day, but more of us got the night shifts. Which, surprisingly, didn’t correlate as much with crime as I thought it might. There were many criminals active during the day, and not just in shady back alleys but doing stupid things in public. One would think that they would all be rounded up pretty quickly and locked away, but things didn’t always work like that.
But regardless of the proportions of things, here we were out at night where my ability to see in the dark was marginally useful. It would have been more useful except for the fact that the streets were pretty well lit. But when street lights started going out, I could shine. If that ever happened.
Having not made much use of my potential ability to learn new spells in the relatively short time I’d had the knowledge that actually worked, I was still considering some options. Darkvision might be nice, but the drawback was that it would take a good portion of my mana to set up. Given the duration of the spell- generally all day like Force Armor- it might be viable to gather two or so hours before a patrol and cast it on the four who needed it, but that wouldn’t always work. Sometimes we had training scheduled before a patrol, other times we did not.
And I’d have to cast the spell. Though it shouldn’t be too difficult to pick up something low level like that, 4 mana per use added up quickly even after I learned it. That was a project for when not on duty, and one possibly superseded by the fact that night vision goggles existed. Though having the option available for emergencies, if I didn’t need points to pick it up, would be nice.
It seemed that like most nights our current outing would be eventless. That was how things always were until, suddenly, they were not. This time the relevant events came at a distance. “I sense something in that direction,” I stated, “In the direction of that parking building.”
Captain Senan furrowed his brow. I had begun my career in this world with the assumption that supers could sense different powers as well, and while that wasn’t entirely incorrect… unless something related to their power or supernatural senses were a component of power, the results were minimal. Like how Shockfire could sense machines and to a much lesser extent living beings because of the electricity running through them.
“Any idea what?” our captain asked, not doubting me but simply pointing our squad in that direction. “I don’t sense anything in particular.”
“A good question,” I responded, tilting my head, “… magic?”
“Why do you sound so unsure about that?” Acid Man asked. “That’s one thing you should know for sure, as our authority on the subject.”
“Yeah but it’s like… magic without mana. If that makes sense. Which it doesn’t, just to be clear.”
“How big of a situation is this?” our captain asked, “Someone causing mischief or…?”
“It’s pretty active,” I said, trying to recall why some of it felt familiar. “Should be one person slinging stuff all over or a group. Fighting, I think.”
“What about the location?” he said with his phone out. “How accurate?”
“It’s definitely that parking building,” I said as we drew closer. “Soon you’ll be able to-”
There was a terrifying screech that I could feel even a block away, and something flew off the side of the third layer of the parking building. No, not something. Someone. That was definitely a human shape.
“Well, that was a guy who just got sent flying. Are we supposed to check on him first or…?’
“Our job is to minimize civilian casualties and property damage…” Ice Guy frowned. “I could only see a vague shape, but it should have still fallen near the building, right?”
I nodded. “That’s right.”
“Then we’ll check them first. Time to pick up the pace.”
We moved from a quick walk into a proper jog. Sprinting was faster, but showing up panting was the least helpful thing we could do. Not all of us were in equally good shape either, though all of our squad was fit and Rocker was certainly improving in that area.
The good news for the fallen individual was they still looked like a human. Or humanoid, at least. I could have expected much different given that fall from such a height onto asphalt. Retaining a shape was good news.
Acid Man was slightly ahead of the rest of us, carefully placing his fingers on the fallen woman’s neck- I could tell she was a woman now that we were closer. He frowned, then shook his head. “No pulse.”
Then she grabbed his arm and bit into it. That sort of thing was always bad news, because anything that wanted to bite you and was actively doing so was dangerous. More worrying was how easily Force Armor collapsed, and I got a glimpse of sharp fangs sinking into his forearm. Then there was a scream.
Not from Acid Man, though. There was a reason he was the one to go forward. He was the least likely of us to be severely damaged by most things, and in this case his body automatically reacted. As it turned out, biting acid wasn’t fun.
“Vampire!” Acid Man called out as he slammed the figure back into the ground. I wasn’t sure how much damage the fall had done, enough to stun them at least, but that and acid directly in their mouth and being slammed into the ground stopped her again.
“Any idea what kind?” I asked.
“Dunno, she just tried to suck my blood,” Acid Man shrugged. “She’s out now though.”
“She’s faking,” I whispered to Ice Guy. “Make an ice prison. Solid.”
“That’s…” he hesitated.
“I guarantee she’s not the type that needs to breathe. Or that can freeze to death.”
Ice Guy moved forward, but he didn’t need to touch his target to use his powers. It was simply easier to do larger uses of his power from up close. After an initial blast of ice covered the woman in a thin layer, it began to grow until it was a few inches thick- and intentionally translucent. “Good call,” he said. “The way she’s looking at me annoyed and not panicked backs you up.”
“She’s got a Doctor Doomsday pin,” I said. “So she should be similar to the knowledge I have, which is undead and bloodsucking and magic.” I clapped my hands together, “Oh, blood magic!” That was what it was.
A roar from the nearby parking structure reminded us that the situation was still active, and we hurried towards the nearest stairs, having already determined activity was on the third level. While we did that, I was trying to determine if one of the things I sensed was familiar.
When we got to the third floor, everything was a mess. I wasn’t just talking about the fact that there was blood all over the floor and the pillars, or the wrecked vehicles but also the giant wolf, giant bats, swarms of rats and bats, and magic flying around including spikes of blood and black flames.
“Who’s our target, if any?” Ice Guy asked, frowning. “It seems to be a civil war or… is that a werewolf?”
“No,” I stated flatly. “The big wolf is another vampire. Also that bat-” I pointed, “Is Rositsa. So we’re fighting against the rest of that mess, probably.”
“Doesn’t sound like an unbiased assessment,” Ice Guy said. “But I suppose that’s not really our job. We’re supposed to stop this.” He took a deep breath, holding his hand up as he built up a large ball of ice, “Doomsday associated vampires, stand down!”
He gave them exactly enough time to turn and target him with some spikes of blood before chucking his built up attack into a section of them. With his other hand he built an ice wall at the same time. Loudly announcing our presence was a bad tactic unless we were intentionally drawing fire- and given how harried looking Rositsa was, I think that was the plan.
Seeing the masses of rats and bats, I really wished I had a big blasting spell, though even now my reasons for not having one stood. There was plenty around to cause collateral damage to. Even so, I could have something in the small to mid sized area. I’d add it to the list.
Acid Man moved to head off some rats swarming towards us- nobody was sure which side the rest were on yet. Rocker confirmed which of the larger bats was on our side before doing something that looked like a yell but sounded like nothing. To us, at least. The giant bat, however, was sent sprawling.
I knew that in general vampires were not fond of fire, so I turned that upon the one that was currently a dire wolf. Firebolt was easy to aim at something so large and conveniently flammable, though the flames only lasted a moment before the wolf rolled around on the wet ground. There sure was a lot of blood, huh? Midnight and Shockfire followed my lead, shooting fire into the larger gatherings of things we were certain were not friendly.
The rats were, apparently just rats, and as they charged to their death upon Acid Man their blood was forcefully ripped away from them, gathering around Rositsa and the other individual in bat form. Though there was a good amount of magic, most of it was coming from those two- unless one counted transformations and calling swarms to the fray, which I was not for the sake of convenience.
A swarm of bats flew over Acid Man towards Shockfire, his bolts of fire causing no significant damage to the group as a whole. But as they began to swarm around him, their bites temporarily held back by Force Armor, he showed them something else. Clasping his hands together, lightning pulsed out from him in all directions, finding surrounding bats enough to turn them into smoking piles on the ground.
Briefly, before they all dissolved into a mist which began to slink across the ground. “Catch that mist!” I called to Ice Guy as I blasted the dire wolfed out guy with a Sonic Lance. Even if I was wrong and this guy was a werewolf, both that and vampires were tough enough that their organs wouldn’t be liquified. And it would be hard to justify killing either with little additional information because I was friends with some of each now. Them being Doctor Doomsday’s minions was a good reason to bring them in, but not to kill them.
The large wolf flew backwards, blood dripping from its mouth. That blood was pulled towards the unfriendly bat, but a shriek from Rositsa blasted it away before the enemy vampire could add it to their own claws.
A shell of ice soon encased the misted vampire, and though the battle had been heavily swayed against Rositsa when we arrived, the fact that she had been holding on one versus… four-ish… meant that with our help things were much easier to manage. One of the swarms of bats flew with her and long blood-scythes from her claws lashed into the enemy vampire. They pierced all the way through the form, which was already destabilizing to turn into mist.
I have to say, that guy really gave it a good effort. But somehow Rosita ripped the blood out of the bat and then the mist itself, forcing it to reform into… a desiccated corpse. At the same time, that blood poured into Rositsa’s wounds and began to seal them. Her swarm of ‘bats’ suddenly turned into globules of blood as well, pouring towards her.
The wolf form vampire didn’t hang around any longer, as they were already rushing towards the far side of the parking building, leaping off a few cars in his way, their hoods crushed. His push sent them into further vehicles across the lanes, and sent him out of sight.
“Hi Rositsa,” I said. “Did you just absorb that guy’s blood.”
“Yes,” she said, her large head turning towards my face. “Was that bad? Your face indicates it was undesirable. Yet these individuals were not some sort of authority figure. Nor do I believe they are well looked upon by the world. Is this the thing where people don’t like any sort of blood magic?”
“… They attacked you first right? That makes it self defense.” I looked down at the shriveled body. “Is this guy dead?”
“Vampires cannot survive without blood.”
“At least the insignias are in pretty good shape,” I said. “Clear Doctor Doomsday markings. And maybe we don’t have to mention that you took all his blood, just that he ran out.”
“This world’s conventions are confusing.”
“You’re telling me,” I agreed.