Mage Among Superheroes 36

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Being low on the totem pole really made life suck sometimes. Criminals weren’t exactly the most considerate of anyone, even those of their ‘own kind’. A big villain might treat you well if you had some sort of useful power, but for those without they had to work hard to get by. Sometimes it was possible to get lucky though. The right group could be a real benefit. The only problem was finding the right one.

That was the biggest issue, which was why Deimos had made his own. The first mission had almost been a disastrous failure, but he’d made it out with what he needed. His crew hadn’t been able to handle a single warehouse worker- because of course they had a power. Seemed like everyone did but Deimos. 

The next crew was more successful, and there was some progress. But ultimately the limitations of normal humans became a barrier. He managed to get his hands on some amazing information, but couldn’t do anything with it alone. Nor did he have the manpower to get some necessary additions.

Owing favors to villains wasn’t high on Deimos’ list of things he wanted to do, but as he thought back on a job he’d gone into, Rodentia was probably one of the best to work for. At least she didn’t ask for anything impossible. Totally worth what he got out of it in the end.

—–

Deimos sat across from a woman with graying hair, clearly a little bit nuts. Every tech super was nuts in some ways, or at least thinking on a different plane of existence from normal humans. When you could come up with things normal people couldn’t even begin to comprehend, you weren’t exactly normal. And sometimes that expertise was used to make headgear that had two little satellite dishes that vaguely resembled mouse ears, to go with her mask.

Both parties were in masks, of course. Deimos couldn’t exactly keep his identity secret without wearing a full hood, since the burn scar on the side of his head was pretty obvious- but hiding from a physical defect was the kind of thing that proper villains didn’t bother with. Unless they were really good at it and pretty high ranking, anyway.

“I just need you to put together this blueprint I have,” Deimos explained. “Once you do that, I can assemble the rest of the device.”

“Sure,” the old woman shrugged. “But I don’t accept cash. I need you to do a job. It’s an easy one. Simple material retrieval.” Deimos had kept his groan internal. Nothing people said was simple ever was. She pulled up an image. “See this place?”

Deimos saw it alright. What were they going to get? With a place like that, they’d have to get into a secret underground base or something. What a pain. But he couldn’t exactly go to anyone else. They might realize the value in what he had and want it for themself. “I see it, yeah.”

“Here’s a floor plan,” Rodentia pointed to the screen. “What I want is here, on the fifth floor.”

Deimos took a look for it. “What do you want?”

“Everything,” Rodentia said. “Every last bit. The whole dairy section. Except for all that fake crap, of course.”

—–

That was how Deimos found himself in a large truck, backing up to a supermarket. It would have been easier to just hit up their shipping, take an incoming load… but Rodentia had been very specific. They were to steal what the place had, but only what was stocked on the shelves. Slipping into the storage would have been easier, but apparently was unacceptable.

The job was a bit more than it seemed on the surface, but it was still ridiculous. Anyone who noticed might call the cops, and they might call in some supers for a bunch of masked thugs robbing a place. It wouldn’t matter that it was a supermarket.

Deimos wished it could have been one of those on the edge of New Bay, where land was cheaper and they could build widely sprawling floors. But this one was well inside the city limits, and stacked vertically like almost everything else. Deimos got out, helping people to unfold the tarps that would serve as a slide, leading everything into the back of the truck. At least Rodential supplied that sort of crap. If she had mooks of her own that weren’t robotic mice, she probably would have done this job on her own. Actually, the mice probably could have done it. But he wasn’t going to mention that.

Climbing equipment was next. The place was open and they could just walk in the front door, but Deimos wasn’t exactly planning to advertise their presence. This would take some time, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to walk into the place unmasked and swap. So they had to go up the side. 

Rodentia herself was ‘busy’ and thus not present, which suited Deimos just fine. In addition to the truck and other equipment, there were some very specific devices that were coming in handy. A pair of robot mice were holding onto the ends of two ropes, pulling them up the side of the building. He was driving one himself with a specially made tablet, while one of the other guys he’d hired was controlling the other. The mice climbed up to the window and disabled the security on it, slicing it open and pulling the ropes inside. It took a second to find something to secure them to, but after a moment the mice wound their way around some posts attaching to some of the nearby shelves. Their sensors indicated the ropes should hold up to one ton at a time between them.

Deimos watched the men begin sliding the tarp up the ropes, using the surprisingly strong little mice to aid them. He tried to decide against being inside, where he could monitor the transport situation, and out here on the ground… where if anything went wrong he could get away. 

Given his previous failure, he needed to build up trust with the crew and opted to go inside. That involved a bit of climbing while a ground crew of four stayed with the semi truck. He slipped his head into the window and looked around. Nobody was wandering the aisles at that time of night, at least not on the same floor. 

He climbed in with the others, and they scurried their way towards the carts. Then they began reaching into the rows of fridges, dumping as much as they could into a cart before rushing over to the window and sliding cheese down the tarp, where they flew into the semi. It seemed like the angle would cause them to get damaged, but that was part of Rodentia’s plan so he ignored it. Until they got to the milk, that is. Milk wasn’t cheese, but it could be cheese so it was apparently necessary too.

They moved the jugs of milk a bit slower, sliding a few at a time where the men at the bottom could stop them before they tumbled into the pile. Two men stood on either side with arms outstretched, and two in the middle actually in the back of the semi, stopping the sliding jugs and then slightly more carefully placing them in rows in the truck. 

Deimos was just making a final sweep of the place, making sure they’d only left behind non-dairy options, when the elevator dinged and a man in pajamas stepped out. The man looked at Deimos and the thugs for a moment before leaping back into the elevator and pressing the button to close the doors. Then it was gone.

“Alright, hurry it up! Last sweep!” This wasn’t the sort of thing worth risking their lives or freedoms for, but villains could be a bit particular. It helped that the stupid robot mice had cheese scanners that confirmed everything but one fridge clear. It had six gargantuan wheels in it, enough that Deimos could only hold one in both arms. “Everyone take one!” They had a couple people free after that, but they ran towards the window. Then the elevator dinged again. “Go! Down!”

Deimos demonstrated what he meant by leaping onto the sloping tarps, sliding his way down as the first of eight. He slid to a stop as he reached the bottom, his heavier weight dipping him into the tarp. There was just enough room for him to toss his cheese wheel into the pile before he leapt out of the way for the next guy. Once everyone was down he pulled out a blade and started cutting the ropes. Security was just appearing at the window up top as they sliced through. 

“Get moving!” Deimos shouted as he slammed the back closed. He tried to flip the lock closed, but it was wonky, either already damaged when they got it or perhaps slammed into by too much cheese. He hopped up onto the rear and crouched down, holding the sliding door closed. “Drive! Route B!”

They didn’t end up in a high speed chase, and if they had Deimos probably would have abandoned the truck and let cheese and milk spill out all over the road… but as it was they found their way to warehouses in the docks where Rodentia had a little hideaway. 

The woman herself was present, waiting for them. When she opened the back, milk was leaking everywhere and mangled bundles of cheese were mixed together, packaging ripped open. Then she nodded. “Great! Consider the job done.”

—–

Well. Upon reflection, working for weirdos was better than working for psychos. Getting a pickpocket with a power hadn’t been easy, and when he got locked up… Deimos had thought he might get his head cut off by the villain who loaned the guy. But instead he owed him a favor, which might be worse.

At least after all of that Rodentia had finished what she promised. And a few days earlier there was enough happening in the city that nobody noticed a small group of thugs rooting through warehouses that were fortunately much less lightning filled. All they had was old crap anyway. Like last generation anti-power suits, which were hardly better than well insulated rubber. Several times heavier than the spandex equivalents actual supers got to use now, but at least they were bullet and stab resistant, as well as heat and electric tolerant. Enough that with a gun a normal thug might stand some chance against supers.

Deimos snapped some wires into place. This device was way too bulky in its current form. He needed a whole setup to hold it up by his shoulders instead of dangling from the side of his face, but if it worked… well, he wouldn’t be just a nobody.

Surprisingly there wasn’t even a spark as he turned it on. The little screen lit up over one eye, reminding Deimos of a video game. An old one that hadn’t figured out how to not have a cluttered HUD. He looked at one of the guys and pressed the button. 

 

Scanning… No powers detected. 

MK1 Anti-super Defensive Augmentation Suit detected.

 

It didn’t even register the man’s gun, but then again… it was just a gun. The suit had super tech in it, even if it was just the materials. The real test would be using this on an actual super.

All he had to do was go stand outside some hero’s HQ and he was bound to find one. Or a merc group. Then he could look forward to a life of luxury and comfort behind bars, as watching them would be highly suspicious. 

No, that wasn’t a good idea. It would be better to wander around town, along very public streets. He could look at aliens and crap and see if their abilities registered at all. 

 

Scanning… power detected: Healing. Intermittent functionality

Scanning… power detected: Plasma Barrier. Strengthened by rage.

 

Deimos had no way of knowing if it was right without seeing anyone use their powers, but he might be lucky and walk by a known factor. Patrolling heroes might come into view. He just wanted to make sure they didn’t take note of him. Wearing funky headsets wasn’t illegal, nor was wearing a mask- but the latter was suspicious. And if he did the former and then the latter, it wouldn’t be hard to make a connection and that could cause trouble he’d rather not deal with. But only if people remembered him.

 

Scanning… power detected.

Numerous powers detected…

Organizing Data…

Spatial/temporal distortion

Matter creation (Minor)

Energy manipulation

Telekinesis (Minor)

Mental manipulation (Minor)

Size Manipulation

Analysis incomplete: Insufficient energy flow.

 

Who the hell had such a grab bag of random powers? Deimos took a look at the actual person involved, and recognized a tusky, green-skinned face. What the hell, it was that guy again? And he was some sort of lucky prick that got born with a variety of different powers. What a pain. He was first on Deimos’ revenge list, but he was reasonably hesitant to do anything out on the streets. But maybe he could find a weakness.

He tapped another button on the headset.

 

Scanning… weakness not determined: Insufficient power.

 

Well crap. That was what he got for not getting the real Phasmotron Amplifier. Though he was planning to make use of this thing to sell some data. Then he could put together a crew to get it working at full functionality.

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