Mage Among Superheroes 25

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Three figures sat wrapped in shadow. “Today we come here to discuss matters of great import. As you both know-” there was a thud on the table in front of them, “Dammit are these lights still out?”

“Hold on,” came another voice. *Click* “Sorry, the movement activation is fried, but they work just fine.”

The three figures in the room were revealed. The one with the stern grumpy face who had begun the meeting was an older man with specks of gray in his dark beard. The second was a middle aged woman dressed in the same sort of suit as the other two, while a younger man with olive skin was walking back to his seat after having flicked the switch.

“Right,” said the older man. “As I was saying… actually, why are there only three of us here?”

The younger man answered that quickly, “Well, two are on vacation. Swiss Arms never shows up for anything, and Captain Punch was injured in that whole moleman thing.”

The older man sighed. “I’m not sure how we’re supposed to make decisions with less than half of us here.”

The younger man shrugged, “We’ll simply have to give the reports a once over and summarize them. Not to bias your opinions, but I think there’s not much we can do besides share the information.”

“Hit us with it,” the older man said. 

The younger man flicked something on his tablet, causing it to be projected onto the screen. “This is a video of an incident several weeks ago.”

A surprisingly crisp image of rows and rows of shelves and boxes filled the screen. A pair of workers moved through the area, with automated counterparts in deeper sections.

“Is that Mage?” the woman asked.

“Correct,” the man said, “Though not the focus of this, I’ll get to that later.”

The image changed to another camera, where a handful of men armed with guns burst through a door. A woman with several animalistic heads and an equally excessive number of arms was pulled through the door after them, struggling. They tossed her to the ground and shot her twice.

The scene flipped back to Turlough for a moment, talking with the other warehouse worker who was hiding up against the shelves. Then the battle happened, with Turlough harassing the intruders from behind shelves, with return fire damaging several boxes and also himself. The woman working with him charged someone at the last moment, helping to take out the final couple of enemies.

The video sped forward as they tried to deal with their wounds followed by calling in the incident, and retrieving the guns from the fallen men. With no way to restrain them on hand, the unconscious men were left as they were. Then the video zoomed in on a small section, where one man stood up, half limping away. He found his way to a small box in the rear of the warehouse and took it with him.

“This warehouse wasn’t deemed in need of significant security,” the younger man said as he continued his presentation. “For the most part, the goods inside were of little value. However, this group of basically armed thugs beelined directly for the one thing that should have been kept safe.”

“What was it?” the older man asked.

“A scanner,” the younger man answered.

“A scanner?” the woman raised an eyebrow. “Like, a piece of medical equipment?”

“Not quite. This was meant to see something not normally covered. And frankly, impossible.” The younger man shrugged, “It didn’t even work, because it was missing some key pieces of technology.”

“Like what?” the older man asked.

“Like a Phasmotron Amplifier,” the younger man said, pulling up another video.

Before the video started playing, the older man interrupted. “Sorry, not all of us have Tech powers like you Calculator. What’s a Phasmotron Amplifier?”

“I don’t have a tech power,” the young man said. “I just think fast. As for a Phasmotron Amplifier… as a piece of Super Tech, if I were to try to explain it, anyone with a degree in any engineering field would agree that it can’t work by any known laws. But of course, things do.” Calculator gestured towards the video and had it play.

The video paused on a zoomed in shot of a man pulling a box with wires sticking out of it through a woman’s bag. A few moments later there was a scuffle as someone immediately pulled it off of that man, after which it disappeared from the floating hand that had taken it.

The video fast forwarded.

“Is that Turlough?” the woman asked.

“Indeed, and so was the man who retrieved the device before. If you look carefully here,” Calculator gestured to Turlough bending over the fallen man, “There’s no lump in the man’s pocket, yet he pulls it out. Since we already saw it disappear, he has to have used his Storage power to retrieve it.”

“What are you saying?” the woman asked. “Is Turlough part of a conspiracy of some sort?”

“I am over ninety percent certain he is not,” the young man said. “Among other things, he secured the device. He also immediately reported on his new ability to disguise himself as he was in that battle.” He fiddled with his tablet for a moment. “And there’s this.” The image showed a zoomed-in image of a man’s face, with worming red marks in the shape of a hand. “This is the primary perpetrator in the first incident, and his face was perfectly normal before he came to the warehouse. This indicates a very real attempt to take him down. More importantly, Turlough didn’t request to be in either of these locations. Plus the woman at the party, Masha Yakolev, properly confirmed the tech we retrieved was hers.”

“Good,” said the older man. “Seems like a crisis was averted then. Without that part, they can’t make that scanner work.”

“About that,” Calculator bit his lip. “There was an attack on the lab where Masha had been developing the Phasmotron Amplifier. The blueprints were stolen. They’d take a tech super to decipher, but that’s just a matter of time.”

Another image popped up on screen. It was of a man with a mask, but some of his cheek and ear were visible. The portion of the scars that could be seen, a dull red compared to the brilliant red they had been when fresh, matched the patterns of the wounds of the man in the warehouse.

Calculator let the information sink in for a few moments. “Given the security on that lab, and the improved quality of the group infiltrating, it’s likely this man isn’t working alone. They had the resources to pull off two simultaneous jobs, either of which could have gotten them what they wanted. Now, it’s better that they didn’t get the functioning Phasmotron Amplifier, but it’s only a matter of time before they get one working.”

“And then they’ll have… a scanner?” the woman asked.

“My apologies,” Calculator inclined his head. “I left out the most important piece of information. It’s not just any scanner. It was a power scanner.” He looked between the two others present and could tell they didn’t get the implications with just that. “The tech super who made it said it would pick out the powers and weaknesses of anyone in only a few moments. Not everyone believed him, and he died with it incomplete- and nobody else believed it would work.” Calculator shook his head, “And if we were the sort to believe that given these circumstances, the Power Brigade would never have made it this far.”

—–

I looked down at a small device in my hand. It was a cell phone. A smart one, if the information was accurate. So far I had been getting by with a ‘landline’. It seemed that a hardwired communication device was an oddity, but Extra was used to having displaced individuals staying in their apartment complex who wouldn’t have certain basic necessities.

I understood the value of the phone. It was not only capable of calls, but was a small, portable computer. It was difficult to input information on, the ‘keyboard’ having the same random arrangement of letters as the others I had seen but much smaller. Even so, it saved me the time of going to a nearby building to access the internet and the information therein.

At the current moment, I was wondering how I would keep it safe. During training I would not need to have it on me, but if I wanted to communicate elsewhere I would need it with me. We were given communication devices while on a job, but I was thinking about everyday use.

I hadn’t been in a battle outside of training in a while, except for on the job, but I knew it was quite possible. Maybe it didn’t matter, since it would be protected by my own Force Armor if I kept it in a pocket, but I often used Shocking Grasp which would interact very poorly with it. I should be able to avoid damaging anything on my person, but I really didn’t want to find out and lose a big chunk of my income. I would quickly earn more, but that didn’t mean I should be careless.

“Okay,” I called upon some mana and the phone disappeared from my hand. I picked up my landline and dialed the number that should call my phone. I almost instantly got a message about the number not being available. I pulled the phone out of storage and tried again, and it worked just fine.

I hadn’t really expected it to work extradimensionally, but it would have been conveniently safe. I would just have to be careful with it.

“What are you doing?” Midnight asked from nearby, flicking his tail.

“I’m testing if I could keep my cell phone in storage. It doesn’t seem to work there though.”

“That device?” Midnight asked. “It is for communication, is it not?”

“That’s right.”

“Could I contact you with it?”

“If you can operate this phone here,” I gestured to the table. “The buttons aren’t exactly made for paws.”

“Teach me how to use it.”

So I did. Midnight was surprisingly dextrous. Or rather, it wasn’t strange that a catlike person was dexterous, but rather that he was able to press individual buttons. He did so through careful tilting of his paw, after carefully picking the phone up off of the hook with both paws and laying it next to him. “Hello Turlough. Do you understand me?” He stood with his head about halfway in between the ends of the phone. It was clearly made for a human sized head.

“It’s pretty quiet, and low quality,” I admitted. “But I hear you.”

“Very good. I require more food in my bowl. When it is convenient.”

“Sure thing,” I pulled some cans out of the drawer. Midnight was certainly a cat, with a sort of prideful arrogance, but with the Familiar Bond between us we shared certain feelings. He was hungry, so it was easy to empathize and immediately rectify that just as I would do myself. He also understood that I didn’t have to have helped him at all, and he was finally willing to ask when he needed things.

“I wish I had hands,” Midnight muttered. “There is only so much one can carry in their mouth.”

“Yeah…” I said thoughtfully. Even if he could manipulate door handles and the like, it was harder than for a human. “Hmm…”

“What are you thinking, Turlough?” Midnight asked. “It seems serious.”

“I was just trying to figure out if you could use Storage without my mana. I don’t mind a couple times per day, but even a cheap spell like that adds up pretty quick.”

“I am not a mage, Turlough. Even if I had your mana, I could not cast a spell.”

“Really?” I asked. “It doesn’t work? Have you tried it?”

“I do not understand what you think I should have tried,” Midnight admitted.

“Magic?” I questioned. “I guess I didn’t mention that part. I suppose I should check if it works.” I gathered a bit of mana, focusing on myself, and on the connection to Midnight. Force Armor formed around both of us. “Yep, works just as it should.”

Midnight bristled. “What was that sensation? It is completely unfamiliar.”

“I can affect both of us with magic,” I said. “Most things anyway. And I can use you as a conduit for spells. I’m pretty sure there have been recorded instances of familiars using spells independently as well, so you should be able to.”

“How would one do that?” Midnight asked. “Do I simply step on this can of tuna and wish to store it?” His paw pressed down on a small can, and then he suddenly lost his footing as it disappeared. “Ah! Sorcery!”

“It’s magic,” I corrected. Something felt strange when he did it, though I couldn’t quite place it. Then again, it was new.

“So if I wished for the can of tuna to return…” Midnight muttered. He concentrated for a moment, then it appeared in front of him again. He jumped in surprise as it fell onto the kitchen counter. Then he poked it with his nose and stored it again.

“Midnight, you should probably-”

“This is amazing, Turlough! I’m doing magic!” he returned the can, then stored it a third time. “Haha, look at that. It’s… gone again…” his eyes slowly drifted over to me. “Turlough,” he said. “Magic is tiring.” Then he collapsed onto the counter.

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