Three figures sat behind a desk, their faces wrapped in shadow. One of them spoke.
“We are here today to discuss what we have learned about the new recruit, Turlough.”
Another one leaned forward, towards the visible figures on the other side of the table. Their words immediately broke the sense of mystery. “What happened to our lights here?”
The third figure interjected, “Actually, that would be related to the subject at question.”
“Oh. The Shockwave incident, right?”
“Right,” said the first figure. “Which is one of the things on the docket for today. Now if I might continue uninterrupted?” A few moments passed. “Good. First is the question of origin, of which we know nothing. Except he is extradimensional and from somewhere where magic is normal.”
Meztli was on the side with lights, but with less comfortable chairs. “We wouldn’t have hired him to begin with if there were any suspicions of something wrong. As far as can be determined, he really just came through a portal not knowing where it led.”
“Yes, it is just a bit concerning. He was embroiled in trouble there, and immediately came upon further trouble. He handled it adequately though. That leads us to the shockwave incident.”
“Inconvenient, to be sure,” said the second figure. “But hardly concerning on a large scale. Turlough didn’t seem to have any ill intentions, and it’s Shockwave who should have known better.”
“For the record,” Meztli said. “I don’t believe he even knew what a sonic boom was before the incident.”
“That brings us to another matter,” said the third figure. “Being ignorant of our world yet speaking English perfectly.”
The final figure in the room who had so far been silent commented there. “That’s a pretty common type of magic,” Great Girl said from where she stood leaning against the wall. “He’s from a type F world, right? Some of my friends talk about a game that has magic similar to his.”
“And he just suddenly learned it upon being here?” the second figure asked.
Great Girl shrugged.
“He was quite clear about his ability to more or less spontaneously learn things,” Meztli said. “Even that speed magic was a spur of the moment decision, I believe.”
“Haste,” Great Girl supplied helpfully.
“Yes, I believe he called it that,” Meztli nodded. “From what I learned after the Shockwave incident, Turlough was running at a normal pace until Shockwave lapped him a few times while talking. That seemed to spark some competitive drive, and he suddenly used the spell on himself, passing everyone but Shockwave in a short time. Though also exhausting himself quickly. The two of them talked on the bench after that, which is where Turlough revealed he could use it on Shockwave. Then the incident, of course.”
The first hidden figure shook their head, “A speedster can hardly resist the draw to become faster. The strange thing was how much. Shockwave estimated double speed, correct?”
Meztli nodded, “Double, but the sound barrier threshold might have been a factor limiting that. Shockwave estimated Turlough himself went three times as fast.”
“The absolute increase in speed is significantly different there,” the second figure commented, “But that is the nature of powers. Effects that enhance others are usually quite rare, however. But that brings up the recent matter of concern.”
“His limited capacity,” the first figure said. “He ran out of mana after two short fights, incapacitating himself.”
“Mana?” Great Girl raised an eyebrow.
“That’s what he called it,” Meztli shrugged.
“Oh. It’s just that… when my friends talk about games, usually mana isn’t related to the same one that has similar spells to Turlough’s.”
“Regardless,” Meztli said, “Turlough spoke confidently that his capacity would grow given time. He also mentioned that his recovery rate would be constant, though I intend to have him explore that area to see if he can become more efficient. Before his collapse, he used Force Armor on himself and the other participants, plus refreshed one. That particular barrier is strong enough to stop a shot or two from a handgun, and can be the difference between death and getting away from something uninjured. Then he used his other abilities along with Haste, which seems particularly draining.”
“It’s higher level,” Great Girl offered helpfully.
“That reminds me,” Meztli said. “The reports from Extra said he mentioned having a level.”
“Spell levels and character levels are different,” Great Girl said.
“Are you sure?” Meztli said.
“… that’s just what I heard. He might not be exactly the same.”
“Regardless,” Meztli continued, “He stopped making references to level after joining us. He said he was level 11, but seemed to think it was low.”
“11?” Great Girl couldn’t help but comment. “That’s low? No, it has to be on a different scale. There’s no way I could fight a level 11 wizard.”
“Could you elaborate?” said the first figure behind the desk, clearly trying to get a bit of light on them.
“Wizards at that level should be throwing around Chain Lightnings and Disintegrate. Or Cloudkill. At least, my friends talk about that all the time.”
“You will forgive us if those names, while descriptive, don’t tell us what you mean exactly,” said the second figure.
“Well, one can zap everyone in a room with like… two lightning bolt’s worth of damage. Disintegrate can take out a ten foot cube of stuff, or melt a person. Cloudkill is just a bunch of deadly gas. At least that’s what-”
“Your friends told you, yes,” the third figure said. “It doesn’t appear Turlough has those abilities. Meztli, do you think he is hiding abilities on that sort of level?”
She shook her head, “I don’t think so. He’s been pretty straightforward, and if his powers make any sense in terms of effort required, then he probably couldn’t do those. Doctor Martinez’ scans made it quite clear that he was fully passed out after the second spar.”
“If his intentions are genuine, then it is of little concern what he can or can’t do, now or later,” the first figure declared. “If nothing else, the job of monitoring him has come into our hands, and even the abilities he has displayed so far are quite useful. Unless there is some large deception we uncover, we can make use of him. Which brings us to the other reason we are here. Names.”
“For Turlough and the other two new recruits,” the second figure nodded in the shadows. There was a moment of silence. “Ahem.”
“Oh, sorry,” the third figure said. “Couldn’t see you. We have to get these lights replaced. Even the extra meetings rooms need some functionality. Regardless, we thought about how to assign names. With Turlough being some kind of wizard, a name like that fit. What did he call himself? A magician?”
Sophia walked up to the apartment door and knocked. The handle turned and she threw open the door. “Sup, nerds?”
The nerds in question were a chunky man, a more fit man and his girlfriend, and a final figure half hidden behind a screen on the table. “Welcome, Sophia,” Mesud greeted her from his position at the head of the table. “Glad you could make it this week.”
“You know how my work is,” Sophia shrugged, “I get called in at weird hours. At least it pays well.”
The somewhat more chunky fellow known as Rumen shook his head, “It seems dangerous, being part of the emergency repair team. What if something’s left behind after the heroes leave?”
“It’s fine,” Sophia said. “They clear the area of anything too dangerous. And the rest is what I have that structural engineering degree for. The streets need to be repaired asap so I have to figure out whether it just needs a crew or a repair super.”
“Oof,” Axel shook his head, “Repair supers don’t come cheap.”
“When you can do a few hundred man-hours of work with the wave of a hand, it probably shouldn’t be cheap,” Sophia commented. She set her bag of dice down at her seat.
“Hey, before you sit,” Larysa caught her attention. “Can you get the chips from the kitchen?”
“Sure things,” Sophia wandered the few steps through the door. The crinkling of a couple large chip bags could be heard. “Where’s the bowls?”
“On top of the fridge,” Larysa said.
“Oh,” Axel began to get up from his seat, “I forgot to get those down.”
“It’s okay, I got it,” Sophia walked back out with large bowls cradled under one arm and chips in her other hand. She stood proudly at her full height of five foot nothing as she walked out. Those who knew her in other contexts might have found the difference in height rather striking. “I’m used to climbing up on things.” She set down both bowls and bags in the middle of the table, leaning to make sure they were centrally placed, then sat in her seat. “So what did I miss?” Sophia asked.
“The evil wizard was lured out of his tower into that trap you guys set up,” Mesud summarized.
“Oh! I take his spellbook.”
“As you lay your hand on the vile tome bound in human leather, you are filled with a sense of dread. Each page is filled with spells more foul than the next,” Mesud handed over a piece of printer paper.
“I’ll burn it to destroy all of the evil spells inside. After I take the good ones, of course.” Sophia looked at the list in her hand. “Ooh, Enervation.”
“You might recall that I house ruled draining spells are evil,” Mesud pointed out.
“Yeah… I know…” Sophia shook her head. “That means Vampiric Touch too. Oooh, stoneskin. Did he have any components on him?”
“He came into battle with it cast,” Alex commented. “I hacked through him with my adamantine greataxe.”
“We found another set of the materials in his tower,” Rumen offered helpfully.
“Sweet. I assume nobody minds if I take that, right?”
It had been a couple days since I had seen cat buddy around. I kept my eyes out in the same areas he’d appeared before, but I saw nothing. Unfortunately work was keeping me pretty busy, so I couldn’t just wander around hoping to see him again.
We had our first job in a couple days, and we actually had details about it now. It was a security gig for some big party. It wasn’t just us three trainees who would be there, obviously, but we’d be part of the detail. While all of us knew some things about fighting and controlling our powers, the job was more about standing around looking official. We’d be in our costumes, because people apparently liked the idea that supers were watching out for them. Even if we weren’t heroes.
I was actually kind of disappointed. It seemed like it would be an easy job, and the very fact that there was a large security detail meant there probably wouldn’t be fighting. And if there was, the chances that I personally would be involved were slim.
So beyond our normal fitness training and sparring practice, we were to familiarize ourselves with the layout of the location we were going to be guarding. We were given a layout in a format unfamiliar with me, but clear enough to puzzle out in a short time. But the most effective thing was when we had a little training exercise.
When I stepped into the training room, I expected to see a large circular room. Instead, I saw a large ballroom with people dancing around. While it could certainly have fit inside the training room, it wasn’t the right shape… nor did I know where so many people came from. And all without masks or anything.
I was one of the first to arrive so I wandered around for a minute, surprised to find that the stairs at the back were real. The people weren’t, though. None of them looked at me as I walked past them, but I wasn’t sure what they were. Illusions, maybe… but not magical ones. At least not at the level I could detect, but illusions were supposed to leak less magic than other sorts of spells. Otherwise they would only fool warriors.
As I rested my hand on the railing, I felt something. It wasn’t quite right. It didn’t feel like varnished wood, but instead cold concrete. So the structure itself was real, but covered in an illusion to make it look more grand. These training facilities were certainly impressive. And here I’d thought making a large room underground was already a big accomplishment worthy of the fanciest of dwarves.