Mage Among Superheroes 32

Previous Chapter-–Chapter Index–- Next Chapter

A few more blasts of ice and a ball of fire were deflected from the unnamed villain with long hair in the center of the courtyard. I tried to take stock of the situation, including how the sonic based man worked. Sound attacks, obviously, but he could also use another version that deflected incoming attacks. There had to be limits, but as Mace kindly demonstrated a moment later he could also knock away a whole person, even with significant momentum. And he always seemed ready for attacks, even from behind. 

Suddenly I saw Acid Man splatter into a million pieces. At least, green goop ended up flying everywhere from an explosion of sound. That was… hopefully fine. I liked Rasmus. Previous times his acid body had discorporated had resulted in little harm to him, so hopefully this was the same. I saw a piece near me wriggling, which was a good sign- since normally acid just lay in a puddle. Not that he was really acid, given all the strange aspects of superpowers- but it was close enough to get the idea.

Adding my own attacks to Ice Guy and Shockfire seemed like a waste of mana. Maybe we would hit the limit of how much the enemy could deflect at once, but it sure didn’t seem like we were getting close. Sure, his waist length hair was disheveled and he was sweating, but it seemed like he was probably always that way. The hair. The sweat was probably from all of the power usage and moving his arm so vigorously to play that V-shaped lute.

I heard a crackling in my ear. It eventually resolved into something like real words. “… -ad A. Come in, Temp Squad A.”

“This is Turlough of Temp Squad A. This guy has sound powers and I’m pretty sure everyone else’s eardrums and comms blew out.”

“Copy that. Seems like yours is-” only garbled static came over for a moment. “Just hold on. There’s … incoming.”

Hopefully that word was reinforcements. I dove behind a planter, and dirt splattered over me as a sonic blast exploded over it. “Got it. I’m going to have to stop now because I’m pretty sure this guy has super hearing.” Maybe I was reading too much into the way he looked at me when my comm started speaking, but it also made sense with how he was reacting to things from different angles.

I looked over at the squad captain. Ice Guy was constantly working on maintaining a wall of ice that at least seemed to partially provide him cover. Shockfire seemed to have gotten tumbled around a bit, by the amount of dirt all over him, but there was only a little blood. Especially compared to Mace, who hadn’t gotten up again from when she was blasted away the last time.

Angling myself behind a tree, I tried to catch Shockfire’s eye. I gestured for him to circle around, though I had to admit I wasn’t sure if he would fully understand.

I began to circle around counterclockwise, which would get me closer to the opposite side of the loud guy. It would also bring me closer to Mace, which was another goal. 

I wasn’t fast when crawling, so I had to stand up and crouch-run. It shouldn’t be too hard to over to Mace… if the guy let me. Which of course he didn’t, even though I hadn’t done anything to him yet. I didn’t say my plan, but I supposed he was able to guess that if I was going for our downed ally I had some sort of support power. 

A huge blast of energy hit me in the side, making me sway. Mace got hit by that crap multiple times? I’d have to upgrade her durability in my mental ranking. That took a huge chunk out of my Energy Ward, between a third and a half. That could kill someone! Which might have been the point.

I knew there was a level of etiquette super power users of all sorts might follow, such as not using deadly force. Either he expected me to have defenses, or didn’t care. As a villain of course he wouldn’t care about legal implications, but there were practical reasons. For example, if you killed a hero, anyone coming to bring you in would be much more likely to not take the risk of restraining you and just take you out. The same worked from the hero side. In addition to legal restrictions limiting the use of deadly force, any known for unrestrained violence against villains would find themselves a target as a dangerous entity. 

Mercenaries… well, we got paid to do our jobs. The experienced members all said that it was best to follow the same practice, even if we had a bit more leeway than heroes. Same reasons of course, since we didn’t want anyone to try to kill us.

Whether he didn’t know or didn’t care, the guy lobbed another mound of energy at me. I couldn’t predict it ahead of time, but as it hit me I felt how it was much more condensed than some of his other attempts. And it staggered me once more, even if I didn’t get directly injured. I noticed that the guy seemed to yell things like, “Yeah!” And “Nyow!” The second one was not a word, but a sound. Kind of like his weird lute, but… fake. 

He seemed to use his mouth-sounds to deflect attacks, as I saw Ice Guy shove a crawling wall of icicles at the guy- which he shattered. He was still looking directly at me, and when his arm picked up for a big move, I jumped behind another planter. The concrete cracked and I got a whole pile of dirt on my back, but I was out of the direct hit. I wasn’t sure if I could take another hit. Should I refresh Energy Ward? I should be able to do that and use it on Mace, but I wouldn’t have anything left after that. If I just used it on Mace, I could also use a couple Firebolts, since I had around eight mana left after the Force Armors on Temp Squad A. 

I stayed prone behind the planter, wondering what I should do. I couldn’t hesitate long, because soon Shockfire should be in position. Then I felt magic. Not another super power, or a weird sort of spying thing like happened at the party. Actual, magely magic. It just wasn’t coming from me. Not… directly anyway. It was Midnight.

Somehow he’d found the time to scurry over to Mace, and he’d somehow guessed exactly what I intended to do. He could have felt some determination through our bond, but now he would be feeling surprise. I hadn’t even told him about Energy Ward, though I suppose I did cast it. I was worried he might collapse, but I felt him keep moving afterwards. That meant he hadn’t used any mana up to this point. I wondered if he knew he could lift himself down with Mage’s Reach? Actually… maybe he couldn’t. For various reasons, one of which was not having hands.

But that was a thought for another time. I peeked my nose up over the edge of the planter and saw Shockfire in position. We were directly across from each other which actually wasn’t quite right, but I had to take the shot.

My first Firebolt was just a little off to the side of the long haired villain, but he deflected it anyway. From that I learned a couple things. First, he wasn’t perfect, though his timing was excellent. Second, I saw what his sudden burst did to my Firebolt. It half disintegrated, with the rest veering off at an angle.

I reached my right arm out to the side. Normally I would stretch my arm directly forward, to aid in aiming it like the sight on a gun- not that I knew about those when I was practicing Firebolt. However, that didn’t mean I had to do it that way. A firebolt came from my hand, not aligned with my arm but out of the palm which was facing towards our foe. The others attacked nearly at the same time, Ice Guy on the side and Shockfire behind. With another shout he broke all of our attacks, but I noticed something about the way they dispersed. 

His defensive ability was powerful, no question, but it wasn’t omnipotent. If we could coordinate our attacks we could take this guy down- but not by attacking all at the same time. We needed to stagger just slightly. 

I stuck out my left arm. While I could have run around to change the angle of my attack, I was hoping being a stationary target was tempting. And I was right, because immediately after our next round of attacks, including Ice Guy just throwing a whole torso-sized chunk of ice that got shattered, I was attacked once more.

Energy Ward was broken, and it had enough punch left over to wobble my Force Armor. I was knocked flat on my back, and when I sat up I felt some blood dripping down my face. But I couldn’t just stay down. Shockfire was out in the open, so I had to make use of what I could. One last Firebolt, and maybe a half if I was willing to knock myself out. But then I’d be a liability to the team, so I really didn’t want to do that.

I got on my knees, barely looking over the planter. “Nice try, idiot.” The man had been looking around for more targets, but he quickly snapped back to me as I spoke. So, I was right. I held out both of my arms to the sides. This was my secret technique. A duo of Firebolts from each hand… was not something I could do. But I could fake him out with a quick succession.

A very much tuned down Firebolt shot from my right palm, a tiny spurt of energy, and then my left made use of the rest of the mana I had gathered for a proper shot a moment later. 

The moment was perfect. My tenth of a firebolt and a cone of fire from my friend across from me hit at the same time as a lobbed sphere of ice from the side came down on him. They all fell apart. A moment later, my Firebolt came streaking towards the man… and he stepped to the side.

I was glad he couldn’t see me grinning behind the mask. That would have ruined the whole thing. My Firebolt hit Shockfire’s outstretched arm, where it was immediately absorbed and re-released. He was much faster with that than calling upon his more limited internal stores. The Firebolt struck the man in the back, lighting his hair on fire. He gave a little yell, probably one intended to put out the fire, but it seemed the way it was clinging to him he couldn’t affect it for some reason. Or maybe it was how wimpy he made the sound.

Then he screamed louder, though it wasn’t amplified by his power. “My hair! My feet!” A long string of profanity followed that up, though I also felt him gearing up for another attack. It was the same as a number of other supers I felt using their power, and the air trembling around him didn’t hurt. I saw movement at the same time. Shockfire seemed pretty much out of juice, and Ice Guy was still gathering up for something bigger, but there was one more of us.

Besides Acid Man, who I assumed was the cause for the yelling about his feet. Yes, of course, it was Mace- and she swung her namesake weapon at the man overhand. It was so very close… but right as she was about to impact he managed another scream with his power, flinging the weapon out of her hand. It seemed like the initial shock was wearing off and he was able to fight again.

Until Mace’s outstretched hand sprayed some sort of orange goop onto his face. A moment later, I felt my back hitting a wall. All of the remaining power he’d been building up was let out all at once as he screamed in pain, a final wave of energy that was fortunately not concentrated in any direction. I stood up, shaking off the dizziness of what was probably a concussion. That made it worse, but I could at least make out the guy’s figure.

He was rolling around on the ground. I don’t think it was on purpose, but it served to help put out his burning hair. He was now too busy screaming about his eyes to care about his hair and feet, even though I could see the raw, red skin of his toes where he’d once had shoes. 

At least he should be incapacitated. I didn’t feel any sign of his power. I looked around, seeing the others shakily standing as well- though Mace was still on her feet, just pushed back. The Energy Ward had protected her enough. Now all we had to do was bring him in. Then it would be a job well done. I smiled. 

Then an explosion of light hit the ground in the middle of the courtyard, and a burning figure stepped out of it, striding over to the man. The form, which resolved itself into the shape of a woman, grabbed him by the shirt and lifted him up to something like a standing position. “You’re coming with me, villain! Nobody escapes the grasp of Shooting Star!” Then she shot off into the sky carrying him, past what had to be at least a dozen camera drones with news station markings on them.

My eye twitched. I looked over at the others, and while I could slightly hear them, my ears were probably in the best shape of all of us so we couldn’t really talk. But I got the general idea they had the same thoughts as me. Stupid heroes.

Previous Chapter-–Chapter Index–- Next Chapter

Leave a Reply