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When everything was all done and sorted, we had one capture and one dead vampire. The first one we encountered was the one that was captured, her mouth still messed up from attempting to drink Acid Man’s blood. His powers minimized the damage to himself while forcing the vampire to rethink her plans while playing dead. Ice Guy had frozen her. He’d also created a dome over one mist form vampire, but as we’d been engaged in combat he didn’t have time to make it extra secure. There must have been a gap under the edges that was incomplete, or the ground itself was permeable.
The dead vampire was fully drained of blood by Rositsa, and the clean up crew was bringing a special containment unit so that it would not decay in the light. Or come back to life and bite someone, but I was fairly confident that wouldn’t happen. The last of the four had retreated from the scene, leaping away in its giant wolf form.
“A decent result overall,” Ice Guy said. “Once we remind people how much property damage we prevented. Now then, back to Rositsa. She sure attracts trouble, huh?”
“Don’t all supers?” I asked.
“Pretty much,” he nodded.
I had cast Translation on myself and Midnight upon suspecting her presence, as we were climbing the stairs. That had been useful during battle, but now… she returned to a human form. Her skin and hair had no color, and her irises only had one color, blood red. She could be vaguely compared to a human albino, though I heard their eyes could have normal colors or at most tend towards reddish. There were no half measures with her eyes, though.
“You’re going to be inundated with questions, but I can at least give you a preview of them here,” Ice Guy said. “Like, what happened here?”
“That is a very broad question,” Rositsa said. “Answering it thoroughly would take a long time.”
“Right, which is why you should think of something concise,” Captain Senan nodded. “Let’s start with… why were you here?”
“These individuals determined I was a vampire and requested I join them. I declined.”
“How did they learn you were a vampire?”
“I walk around at night and I look like this,” Rositsa said. “Though there are other possibilities.”
“Right, then what happened?”
“I declined and they attacked me in an attempt to enforce their will. I was insufficient to defeat them all myself, but ultimately your group arrived and I slew one of them.”
“It’s best not to volunteer that information about you killing a guy.”
“I cannot lie,” she folded her arms. “Besides, I understand that self defense is justified and that people don’t like vampires.”
“Probably focus on the self defense part. Also, just because you can’t lie doesn’t mean you have to volunteer every piece of information.”
“I do not. There is quite a bit I consider inconsequential that I have not mentioned.”
Captain Senan sighed. “Well, we’ll try to get the right people for the job.”
If the attack had been on a simple civilian, the Power Brigade could have handled it all on our own. As it was, Extra was going to be involved. “If Zorphax is available, he’s quite reasonable,” I pointed out. “And he had prior experience with Rositsa. Though I imagine he’s generally busy.” The problem with the martian being so competent was that there was a lot of work he would be wanted for. “But we can request him.”
“Reasonable enough,” Ice Guy nodded. “We have enough to make our report now.”
“Don’t forget to mention Doctor Doomsday minions!”
He grinned, “I do know how this works, you know?”
In the end Zorphax did not become involved with the incident, but he did send someone apprised of Rositsa’s situation. She knew how to contact me if there was any real trouble, but it seemed like things were going well when we moved on. I wasn’t going to just leave a friend to fend for themselves, but we also had to get back to patrolling. If we were still in good shape, that was what we were supposed to do. Fortunately no further incidents happened that night. Not near us, anyway. Obviously throughout New Bay there was always trouble, with things escalated given how much more Doctor Doomsday specifically was causing.
After just a few days back on patrol, however, my schedule shifted again and I was brought to a new room, where I saw Calculator. “What are we doing here?” I asked. “The schedule said it was some sort of training?”
“That’s right,” Calculator nodded. “This is for you… and Midnight. I assume you can figure out what you’re doing from this,” he gestured to a large cube behind him, one I had almost missed for how clear it was. Though it still distorted things just enough, and the corners made its presence rather obvious. That was the large diamond Vilhelmiina had put together.
“Scrying?” I asked.
“That’s right,” he nodded. “Given the information that you should be able to improve general abilities with training now, we need you to develop this skill in particular. We’re never going to tell you how you have to spend your limited points,” Calculator assured me, “But we can tell you how to spend your time, and some of it will be this. We need you to scry Doctor Doomsday.”
I shook my head. “That won’t work. Even with a fancy rock.”
“I’m not saying now. That’s where the whole training thing comes in. But your abilities to discover information are quite valuable to the Brigade, so we’ll have you doing various things to train that. It’s not like we’ll ask you to scry Gloom or anything dangerous.”
“I have the feeling Doctor Doomsday could come up with something to injure me for scrying on him.”
“… Which is why you’re not going to be trying that,” Calculator admitted the possibility indirectly. “We’ll start with some practice targets and familiar individuals and see how things go. Especially with… this,” he gestured once more to the diamond.
I nodded. “Alright. What do you need Midnight for? He can use Scrying but…”
“We are still determining if I can improve the rank of spells,” Midnight finished for me. “Results are leaning towards it being unlikely.”
“Even so, he has a different mana pool from you that regenerates on its own, right?” Calculator wasn’t actually asking- he knew the information, and he wouldn’t forget. “And he still needs to be familiar with how to handle the spell once it’s more efficient and powerful.”
“Right,” I nodded. There was more to spells than just their rank.
“Plus, having you alternate will be easier on you. You’ll have several hours, during which we’d like to have you perform two full uses of Scrying each. That’s only forty minutes, but you do need to recover mana.”
I wondered if mana recovery was a skill that would ever be codified with a rank. Then again, everything I had spent mana- including Mana Crystal Deposition- so it was kind of the opposite. Active focus could bring me above ambient levels though, and seeking out the right areas. On that topic, I was fairly sure the ambient mana recovery had increased once more, from around ten percent to around twenty percent above the ‘standard’ one mana per ten minutes.
“Alright, who am I Scrying first?” I asked.
“Vilhelmiina. She has given permission for you to do so under supervision. The city would probably complain about security risks if they knew but… that’s not their call.” He shrugged, “She’s still studying the scrying anchor, though we’re unsure what might come of it. But that will be an obstacle for you to overcome as you attempt to focus on her, hopefully being useful training. Though we intend to have variety to see what works.”
I focused on trying to scry Vilhelmiina and not the anchor. Mana flowed out of me, becoming swirling mists within the diamond cube in front of me. I wondered how she knew it would work with my magic, as she didn’t seem to have traces of magic around her. But I couldn’t focus too much on the cube itself, or I would scry… me? It generally had to focus on people though. Doomsday’s weird scrying anchors potentially being an exception.
There was a brief flicker of Vilhelmiina’s crazy figure within the cube, then I was snatched away to the scrying anchor as expected. I was still able to rotate the view, but walking around it proved much more interesting.
“Fascinating,” Calculator said. “I took you at face value on needing a mirror. This displays…” he shook his head, “New dimensions. Pun not intended.”
“So… what should I work on? Distance from the viewpoint or… trying to actually latch onto Vilhelmiina?”
“I think the latter would be best here,” Calculator adjusted his glasses. “We can aim for distance with other targets.”
“Alright,” I nodded. At previous times, I’d fought against these scrying anchors. I wasn’t sure if this one was different but… I had some ideas. I mentally pushed it away with an arm, holding myself further from it. That didn’t do much, but maybe if I ‘covered’ it, cutting off its influence?
I tried a dozen different things, and in the end I was rewarded with another flash of Vilhelmiina and her mad outfit of tubes and wires, as well as unkempt hair. She didn’t quite look at me as it happened, but I felt her pushing back. It was normal to have resistance when Scrying, after all, but I hadn’t been ready and I found myself forced away. The spell faded. I sighed.
“Looks like it broke early.”
“She resisted,” I pointed out.
“Of course. That’s for the training. Plus, she likely didn’t know it was you.”
“I think… it would have been easier, with this focus.”
“If we’d known that, we could have made you a three foot cube of glass a while ago.”
“Vilhelmiina was very specific about it being precisely one meter,” I pointed out. “Also it’s diamond.”
“It’s-” Calculator put his head in his hands. “Of course it’s diamond. Why wouldn’t it be.”
“I don’t know,” I shrugged, “I assumed it was difficult to make them though.”
“Mostly power intensive,” he said. “Though also difficult if one wants to make something flawless like this.”
“Apparently she built a machine just to make this. I didn’t see it though.”
“No doubt it fell apart immediately after fulfilling its purpose,” Calculator shook his head. “Alright, next we’ll have Midnight. We’d like you to scry either Sirine or Swarm. Since your squad had negative interactions with them previously, knowing what they’re up to might be useful. And good practice, since they won’t be expecting it.”
“They might have scrying anchors?” I tilted my head.
“They might,” Calculator agreed. “Only one way to find out.”
“I will choose Sirine,” Midnight said, walking around the cube. “This does not seem like it was made for someone my height.”
“To be fair, it’s also not for someone my height,” I countered. “It’s just kind of sitting on the floor below waist level.”
“We were kind of surprised with its delivery,” Calculator pointed out. “We’ll have it lifted to a more useful level later.”
“Maybe an adjustable height?” I mentioned.
“On a clear surface,” Midnight said. We both looked at him. “So you can see it from below. Cubes do have six faces, after all.”
“A reasonable point,” Calculator admitted. “Usually unnecessary but… it would be best not to discount the potential information gained from ceilings.”
I realized that up until that point, though I had rotated the image, it remained horizontal. Was that a requirement, or simply something I had assumed? I suppose we would find out eventually.
Sirine was found, unsurprisingly, in the water. With the limited distance displayed beyond her, there wasn’t much more information to be had. She was swimming around, but Midnight held the scene for the whole ten minute maximum.
Then it was my turn to scry Swarm. Mists swirled within the diamond cube, then slowly parted to reveal… a complete mess. It was like we were looking at many overlapping images. No, that was what we were looking at. Apparently, Swarm was in the middle of using his powers and was in multiple places at once, and we could see all of them- and comprehend none of them.
“Well this is a mess,” I said.
“Keep focused,” Calculator said. “I might be able to pick out something useful, if whatever he’s doing has not been called in. How’s the resistance?”
“Not bad,” I admitted. “I don’t know if he’s weak or the scrying orb helps. Though I think his actual resistance isn’t that much.”
“… did you say orb? It’s a cube.”
“I have been informed that it is an orb by its creator.”
Calculator sighed. Ultimately, he managed to pick out something from the mess of images and send a tip, and the image faded just in time to see supers arriving to deal with Swarm- and then all of the images condensed into one, the main body of Swarm somewhere safe and away from the scene. Then the image faded.