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|Turlough (No surname)|
Shocking Grasp +3
Force Armor +6
Mage’s Reach +1
Remaining Points: 7
I was still level 13, though not far from the 525 experience required to reach level 14. Those extra points were kept as reserves for emergencies- a slight increase in efficiency of one of my other abilities wouldn’t be worth all that much. Though I did have thoughts about spending more points in translation to ease the mana costs. It would also make it able to switch to unfamiliar languages faster, and improve my learning of those languages.
I was fairly certain I could speak English without Translation now, but it wouldn’t be well. I wasn’t sure if I could ever speak Midnight’s language without magic. I simply didn’t have the vocal chords for that, though if Familiar Bond worked… I shouldn’t need to speak the language.
But for the moment I was going to continue using Translation. Every few hours it took three points of mana, which meant it was significantly hampering my mana regeneration during the day- about twenty percent- but my bigger problem was still capacity. That came with levels, though, and I was doing my best to get them. I just needed to fight more.
Before any of that, I had to deal with cat buddy. Midnight was… not a cat. That was easy enough to determine by finding any other cat and trying to speak with them. I imagined a detailed investigation of Midnight would also reveal features that were different, but I didn’t know what I would be looking for even if he would let me.
The important thing was he wasn’t really capable of independent action. In short, he could barely find food and water, and had little success eating out of the trash. Taking care of another person was within my capabilities given how well I was being paid. Even the training time with Power Brigade was a decent wage, and the job had netted me a thousand dollars for a few hours of work. I was under the impression that was a significant amount of money, though I would find myself with less available funds once I was paying for my own living arrangements. It was still within the first month of staying in Extra’s housing, but it was meant to be temporary. Since I had work, I would either begin to be charged reasonable rent or have to move.
I thought I might move closer to work, but I had weeks to make the decision- or I could stay another month or two in my place. I didn’t really have anything stopping me from moving, though. My only possessions were some clothes and some books and papers which generally were in Storage.
I looked around the small apartment. It was pretty basic, just a bedroom, a bathroom, and a small kitchen. It wasn’t large, but even the bedroom was larger than my room in the tower. Towers weren’t known for having a lot of space, but so many things in New Bay showed me I had been wrong. The buildings here were on a scale I couldn’t imagine without magic supporting the structure, but they were apparently very stable.
The addition of Midnight didn’t really change the amount of space the apartment had. He was cat sized after all. “What do you need?” I asked him. I had looked up things cats might need. “Do you need a bed?”
“There is room on yours, and I find it quite comfortable,” Midnight commented.
The information I had found indicated that pets tended to sleep next to comfortable beds about half of the time anyway. “Okay, there are bowls for food and water on the counter…” I looked at the list, “Do you need a litterbox?”
“What is that?” Midnight asked. “A… trash box? Is there not one of those right here?” Midnight gestured towards the garbage can.
“It’s for… pooping in.”
“Do you not have something for that in that room over there?” he gestured.
“Yeah. It’s not really made for you though. But if you can use it…”
“I am capable of operating human devices,” Midnight said. “It will not be a problem.”
“Great. I’ll be back later. Anything else…? If you want to go out, I could crack open a window or something.”
“I can use the door. Though I may not be able to get back in.”
So he could operate doors on his own. At least, if they opened outward. I imagined pulling would be… difficult. He was still just cat sized after all.
“Okay, that should be it then. I’m off to work,” I waved and began to walk towards the door.
“Turlough,” Midnight said calmly. “Before you go, I could use your help with something.”
I looked back at him, sitting on top of the fridge. “What do you need?”
“… Can you help me down? I am not fond of descending from high places.”
“Then why did you get on top of the fridge?”
“I needed to see if anything was up here,” he flicked his eyes away. “It appears there was not.”
I could have used magic, but it was much easier to just reach up and lift him down. “It’s not much further from the fridge to the counter than from the counter to the floor,” I pointed out.
“It is an entire multiplier of my height more,” Midnight said. “On that matter… can you arrange for something about halfway to the floor?”
“Umm… sure,” I said. I looked around, but didn’t have anything immediately. Then I saw a drawer. It was still empty- I had no idea what was supposed to go in it- so I pulled it out halfway. “There, would that work?”
Midnight nodded from where I had set him on the floor. “That should suffice, thank you.”
Given our initial interactions, I had expected him to be more standoffish. However, helping him a few times had apparently made him more comfortable with me. And there was the matter of Familiar Bond. I felt the connection, still growing stronger. Even though he wasn’t an animal. I wasn’t sure why it would work, because it should only work on animals. It wouldn’t even work on magical beasts. On the other hand, mages from back home hadn’t exactly gotten to test on aliens of any sort. Well, it should only be beneficial to both of us so I wasn’t concerned about it. I’d only tried it because he looked like a cat and really needed help.
Training at the Power Brigade always began with a morning run, as well as some other exercises. As I went around the track, I saw a familiar figure. Then I saw them again, and again. Each time, the blue figure briefly became visible as they looked right into my eyes. It was a reminder of what would be coming later.
Once I finished my morning exercise, I found Shockwave standing outside dancing back and forth from foot to foot, a motion I could only make out because of the way the repeating images came to my brain. “Hey Turlough.” The androgynous figure was suddenly standing in front of me. “We’re all signed up for an official training session. I’ve got a room. And ear protection!”
We made our way down to B6, where I found the room was heavily modified. Specifically, there were strange pyramids lining the circular walls and on the ceiling too. “What is this?” I asked.
Meztli was there to answer my question. There were other trainers at the Power Brigade, but she worked full time in that job and was familiar with both of us. “Sound dampening,” Meztli explained. “It makes the waves reverberate in a random direction instead of directly back towards the center of the room. It might have been fine since the room is circular anyway, but… in the worst case it builds up in the center disastrously.”
Meztli held up three pairs of what I presumed were the ear protection, a device that went over the head and covered the ears. She walked into the room to the only other feature besides round emptiness and the sound-scattering walls- a large, clear wall.
“This is reinforced plastic. It should take sonic booms fairly well, and we’ll be able to watch. Shockwave,” Meztli looked sternly at our very excited third companion. “You’ll be able to go as fast as you want, but if there are any problems you need to stop. You won’t be able to hear us, so the signal will be visual.” She held up a clenched fist. “I’ll just extend my thumb like this. That means stop, so make sure to look every time you pass. It should be pretty clear when I’m starting the signal, so if you see me halfway, please just stop- or if you notice any problems on your own.” Meztli pursed her lips. “Will turning be a problem?”
“Shouldn’t be,” Shockwave said. “I did the nineties in the gym just like normal. A nice curve should be fine.”
“Ah yes… the gym.” Meztli looked up at the light fixtures far overhead, which I now saw had some reinforcements on them. “If the lights go out, please stop. Don’t want you to plow into a wall at supersonic speeds.”
“Don’t worry I’d… probably be fine.” Shockwave frowned at that. “Right?”
I shrugged, “I feel like that would be bad.”
“Right but my power lets me impact things at speed without injuring myself too much. So with your magic on top of that…”
“I don’t think it helps,” I answered honestly. “It just makes you faster. I’m pretty sure people can still hurt themselves with the extra speed.”
“… right, I’ll be careful then.”
We all put on our ear muffs, then I reached around the edge of the thick plastic wall to Shockwave. Firm physical contact was the best way to use Haste. Apparently it could work at a distance, but targeting spells like that could actually be trickier than people thought, unless there was some kind of magical connection to work through.
The instant I finished casting Haste, I pulled my arm back and stepped away. I saw Shockwave walk in little nervous circles, just looking like a blur. But after that, when I was safely behind the wall, I no longer saw a blur. My eyes basically couldn’t process anything except splotches of light as Shockwave passed in front of us, as well as a feeling of pressure.
Even with the ear muffs it was loud, and I felt the room trembling. The wall in front of us was holding firm, however, and the only damage I saw was a few small cracks in the concrete walls. Meztli was paying special attention to some spots, however.
It was a strange experience, but it was over in about a minute. I could suddenly comprehend Shockwave’s movement again, and the figure ran another lap around the room before stopping in front of us. I could tell Haste had faded away, but I looked to Meztli to make sure it was okay to take off the ear muffs.
“Well,” Meztli said. “That was interesting.”
Shockwave was grinning widely. “That was awesome! How fast was I going?”
Meztli looked up to where there was a high observation window. I saw someone up there behind some glass, gesturing.
“Oh,” she laughed, “Of course. Blew out the mics and speakers, so they can’t contact us. We should go take a look.”
Shockwave was out the door in an instant, though moving slowly enough to not create a sonic boom nor their regular level of disruption around them. A few seconds later, though, they were back. “Almost eight hundred,” Shockwave commented. “Just a bit faster than sound. Should have pushed a little harder, was only a couple MPH short…”
I eyed the points sitting in my status screen. A few percent would certainly shoot us over that barrier… but I decided against it. I would certainly upgrade it later- for the mana efficiency if nothing else- but this wasn’t something important to do now.
“So turning was fine?” Meztli asked.
“Same as with just my power. I think it increases the friction accordingly?” Shockwave looked at me, as if I would know.
“Friction?” I felt like I should know what that meant, but Translation must have been missing the right word in my head to fill me in there.
They both looked at me surprised, but Meztli explained. “It’s the force of two things rubbing together, that stops things from sliding.”
“Oh, right.” I shrugged, “I guess it must do that. It’s not really something that was studied, since it basically just works fine. Grease specifically makes things slippery, so it just does the opposite. But that’s the effect it’s intended for, while Haste is just for… going faster.”
“It’s too bad that, while the results are impressive, using it on Shockwave produces… problematic effects.” Meztli looked at them. “We can’t exactly have you running through the city like that.”
“I can slow down,” Shockwave said. “Honest!”
“Would you?” Meztli said.
“I could easily go twice my normal speed without breaking the sound barrier. Cmon, think of what I could do!”
“Be that as it may, even your normal shockwaves could damage many things at that increased speed.” Meztli looked sternly at Shockwave, “Can you actually control whether you surpass the sound barrier?”
“Absolutely!” Shockwave nodded enthusiastically. “I can feel it as I approach. Like a light pressure.”
“Something easy to miss,” Meztli said, “And you wouldn’t be able to hear the damage behind you as you shattered windows and overturned cars.”
“Come on! Please! Pleeease!” Shockwave was on their hands and knees, hands begging. “I need to go fast!”
“I could make it weaker,” I said. “Just put less mana into it, and reduce the effect.”
Shockwave was holding my hand, squeezing tightly- but it was clear that grip strength wasn’t their forte. “How much more juice can you put in? How fast can you make me go?”
“I can’t make it better,” I half lied. “The standard amount of mana is the limit of what I can use. I can only use less.” That part was all true. I didn’t want to explain that weakness to people, even if I trusted them, but I didn’t want to make Shockwave hopeful for nothing either.
Of course, having an upper limit on power wouldn’t matter if I got to the point I had powerful enough spells. High level people might withstand Shocking Grasp all day, but very few people could take a Disintegrate and survive. I would assume that was the same here, though it would be more related to power than level.
Still, I had looked into powers. I had reason to believe there were plenty who could take an attack that would turn a ten-foot-cube of stone to dust. Well, some. Not that I could think about using that anytime soon. I would have to level up to even consider buying it, and then I could cast it… once. It also didn’t even come close to the level of non-lethal or non-destructive that we wanted. I wasn’t going to be able to pay for it if I took a chunk out of a building which would probably collapse the whole thing.
Shockwave looked disappointed that they weren’t going to get to go faster. “Well, at least I should be able to break eight hundred on a straightaway. Want to go to Utah, Turlough?”
“I think you should save any plans of that sort for later, Shockwave,” Meztli reminded. “You might get a chance to do it on official business, to measure the cap on your speed, but you’ll either have to schedule some days off or wait.”
Shockwave sighed. “Fiiiine.” They looked around. “So you can do that again right? Lemme do it again. This time I’ll stay below the sound barrier so you know I can be responsible with my power.”
In short, Shockwave wanted to be allowed to use this power in an actual field situation.
“We can try that,” Meztli said. “And if Turlough has enough, we’ll also see where you end up when he reduces the mana.”
“I could do one more at full power, and two at about half,” I said.
Shockwave grinned widely. I had to admit it was fun for me too, and even Meztli seemed to enjoy the process as long as we weren’t breaking things. Except for a few speakers and mics that couldn’t handle sonic booms.