Mage Among Superheroes 206

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Even as I was turning to face the second trio of enemy supers, I could feel Sir Kalman rapidly drawing upon his mana with every swing. It seemed he was still grouchy about not being able to harm Iron Bloke the first time, and was drawing upon his recently learned Guard Breaker ability. Though it was meant for battering past shields and through armor, it seemed to have some effect on durability superpowers as well. Obviously it didn’t completely pierce through it- or he would be cutting off the guy’s arm with every swing or chopping through his skull. But I did see he had drawn blood in several places, and placed the semi-invincible powerhouse on his back foot.

Dart was still looking for an opportunity to catch Iron Bloke. Her poison should take him out of the fight, but he was clearly aware of that as well and making full use of his head-to-toe covering. Though that wasn’t quite as true now, with Kalman’s slashes and even Squad Ten’s hail of bullets- even if he couldn’t be hurt by said bullets, they could chew through a protective suit given time.

Lustre seemed to have Headspin under control- his fitness and hand to hand combat abilities should be sufficient to take her down unless she showed another power we didn’t know about. And in the worst case where she wore through the effects of Mental Freedom… the one ending up confused was our least offensively capable ally. No offense to Lustre, because that wasn’t his job in the slightest.

Slipping into the hall to avoid the combat radius of Kalman and Iron Bloke, I could see Digits advancing relentlessly. It seemed he was more than capable of protecting his kneecaps- though I did notice his legs seemed slightly more armored. Either way, he advanced forward in a half-crouch to reduce his profile, his fingers flashing as his hands and wrists twisted to block a barrage of bullets. It could be said he ended up with a stupid power… but he was making great use of it and turned it into something strong.

I didn’t want to wait for the two women behind him to make use of their powers. There was a simple and quick opener I had at my disposal that I’d already planned as a counter to Digits. With a single instant to gather two mana, I cast Grease at his feet. I was disappointed that he didn’t immediately slip and fall onto his back, but he did slow his advance as he struggled to keep his footing. It was unfortunate that the struggle would likely be successful, but I couldn’t complain given the amount of mana I’d spent.

On some level we were lucky to be fighting in the cramped corridor- even though it made things awkward with Squad Ten. Because while the wind powered Gust and the cyborg called Switch stood behind Iron Bloke, I could see some non-supers behind them unable to fire because of the crowd. 

Gust didn’t seem to have trouble directing her powers along the top of the hallway, however, a continuous blast of wind that staggered the few parts of Squad Ten that were between me and Digits. I could feel the wind pushing on me from behind him, but he looked like he was struggling to keep his feet and more importantly keep his weapons trained in the right direction. 

I must have missed something in the briefing about Switch, because while I was prepared for laser eyes or things like that I was not prepared for her hand to suddenly fly off and towards my face. I still dodged it, as the rocket propelled hand’s trajectory was predictable, but it was startling. 

The reduced hail of bullets let Digits fully regain his footing and begin to walk beyond the patch of Grease. If I had spent a similar number of points on it as I had Gate, it would probably be three times as wide… but as it was only a few steps from the middle. Definitely something worth training when I had time, though I had to be aware of how it might mess up my allies in some circumstances.

Seeing Digits beginning to move forward with speed, I could tell he would reach Squad Ten in a moment. And while I didn’t know what would happen if he got the head of one of his copies squeezed off, it was better not to linger and find out. I gathered my next spell, using a grand total of a single point of mana! Light flew from my hands directly towards Digit’s face. However, he blocked it with his hands! And if it had been something besides light, that would have done something. But it was light so… it just kind of moved past. I might have lost a little bit of the mana from the collision- powers could be weird like that- but it was still bright and hovered right in front of his eyes.

At that moment, Midnight jumped out from behind some random pipe, striking Digit’s ankles with Shocking Grasp. Unfortunately, his protective leg gear seemed to minimize the damage- and he kicked out at Midnight, forcing my buddy to dodge away. It seemed he was done with the cages for the moment… which was good because we could really use him here.

That was even more true after I got knocked in the back of the head. Force Armor shattered as my head was knocked forward. I saw stars and a trail of a rocket-propelled fist returning to its owner. I didn’t know it could return to her… but I should have also figured that she could control it in flight. Otherwise it would be strictly worse than a gun.

Gust swirled her powers near the floor, driving my Grease up against the wall and allowing her and Switch to continue closer, along with the regular soldier types behind them. I vaguely saw Current slip down the hallway behind them as they passed our branch into the area. Ah, so that was what she was up to. Well, I didn’t actually know, but something sneaky seemed like it could be helpful. 

The main problem was we kind of had to take down Digits, and I didn’t know if I could gather enough mana safely with a rocket fist flying at me. It seemed it didn’t take more than a few moments for Switch to catch it and shoot her hand again, and while it was still easy to dodge going out… I had to be aware of it on the way back. If I got knocked in the back of the head again, I’d might be out- even if I cast Force Armor again. Which I did, because it would be foolish not to. Stoneskin was also a thought, but that wasn’t optimal against concussive force to the head, and I had to think about my remaining mana. I needed to conserve enough for Chain Lightning, specifically. 

Since I had to watch my back, I stuck to quick spells- after Force Armor, it was another Grease. Except this time, I aimed at the ceiling. It fell on Switch and Gust, momentarily blinding them. Meanwhile, Digits had successfully clawed away my light magic and was looking annoyed. But hopefully that meant we were making progress…?

I stood at an angle, keeping my eye out for the return path of the flying fist. Midnight had raced closer to me, and suddenly my job was much easier as he Hasted both of us. That allowed me to look between forward and backwards several times as quickly. I could easily dodge the returning fist… so obviously it didn’t come for me. Squad Ten was a practical sort who wore a helmet as part of his combat uniform, but it didn’t help enough when he was hit with great force directly in the back of his head. The others of him flinched as that one fell apart into wispy smoke. I couldn’t tell if they were less durable or if the hit was just that good. 

Digits was charging forward, but Midnight went to meet him. And while the guy was trying to catch a Hasted Celmothian dancing around his ankles, I launched a Firebolt as he half turned away. Small mana spells, still, so I could respond at any point. The battle behind was not over yet, with Iron Bloke only going down slowly- I could still feel the clashes of power.

Sadly, Digits wasn’t stupid so one arm was still ready to defend himself from the Firebolt. It probably wouldn’t kill him or anything, even as a super, but it would have been nice to see some damage. It did make his attempts to catch Midnight worse, though.

Gust put on a sudden burst of power, forcing the three remaining parts of Squad Ten against the wall of the corridor while Switch took another couple moments to fire her rocket fist again. But I could sense something was different, this time. I could feel a greater injection of her tech power.

It looked almost as fast as before- but I was Hasted now. And as I dodged to the side, I saw it rapidly change its trajectory. I wasn’t sure I could dodge this… but I had an idea anyway. I didn’t have the time to cast much of anything else, so I had to try. 

I reached out with my staff, channeling a small amount of mana through it. I didn’t think much about it, but I was very glad it hadn’t been my hand a moment later as the force knocked my staff back, and through it me. It apparently took a moment for my spell to take hold. And then… the rocket fist was gone. Oh good, it did count as an object. Though it seemed I had to overcome some of the owner’s control to grab the hand.

Gust’s winds were growing even stronger, forcing Squad Ten down into the corner. Even crushed by her power, however, Squad Ten wasn’t helpless. The rear one used the piled up front two of him as a way to prop his arm away from the wall just enough, a simple pistol held in his hand. I wondered if it had special ammunition, but it didn’t. That wasn’t going to do anything to Digits… but that wasn’t the target. 

From his position on the ground, Squad Ten took a few shots at Gust’s leg, grazing her ankle- but that was sufficient to disrupt her concentration, letting him stand up. Just in time, as Digits seemed to have given up on Midnight and was instead just charging towards the two of us.

“Buy me a couple seconds!” I said to Squad Ten.

He nodded, bravely stepping in front of me as I gathered mana. Two of him on either side forced Digits to spread his arms wide to deflect the incoming fire, while the one in the rear quickly began to reload their weapons. Everything seemed to take an eternity… but that was only because I had Haste. Squad Ten took his job very seriously, holding his ground to slow Digits just a moment more. There went two of him, exploded by a single finger each. Seeing the remaining one’s reaction, I knew it hurt.

But I wasn’t going to let his sacrifice be in vain.

“Hey, Digits, block this!” I called to him. Lightning crackled between my fingers as I reached towards him. And yes, the taunt was on purpose. He was quite good at predicting attack trajectories, so I doubted the warning changed anything.

Lightning arced from my hand towards his. I didn’t even try to avoid his fingers. It crashed directly into his frontmost outstretched hand. I knew that couldn’t do any damage. But I wasn’t trying to hurt him there. Instead, my spell did exactly what it was supposed to. It chained from one thing to the next. It spread throughout his fingers, jumping to his other hand that tried to block… and then to his body, and through it to the supers and mundane soldiers behind who were still trying to get a proper line of fire.

The power would be greatly reduced, as the initial portion was technically blocked. But it didn’t really matter, as the remaining power still packed just as much punch as a direct hit from Sonic Lance. 

Switch was staring in shock at her empty wrist when she and Gust were hit by the spell, kindly reducing the power once more so that the mundane individuals behind might not go into immediate cardiac arrest. Then again, they might.

People toppled to the floor all along the hall. But not Digits. This guy was… annoyingly sturdy. Though it did seem that was due to specifically getting gear to resist Shocking Grasp, which sadly also limited the effectiveness of Chain Lightning. But the way his hair stood on end and his eyes were bloodshot with rage, I think I caused some real damage finally.

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