Mage Among Superheroes 44

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The giant bat who was by its own admission some kind of vampire waited patiently as Zorphax approached. When he got close, I put my hand on his shoulder and cast Translation. 

“There, now you should be able to understand,” I yawned. “Should have done that earlier. Talking to people isn’t my job.”

“Um… hmm…” the martian frowned as I spoke. “I… sort of understand.”

“Oh yeah, it’ll take a moment,” I said. It would be more than a moment if I had just cast it directly on him, but since I had garnered some magical understanding of the language it would take effect more quickly for him. “Excuse me,” I leaned around the corner to the bat. “Could you keep talking? It will help him adjust more quickly.”

“Sure, what do you want me to say?”

“Anything, really,” I shrugged. “This is fine. Soon Zorphax will be able to fully understand and then he can help you.” I yawned more, “Then I can go sleep.”

“I think I’ve got it now?” Zorphax said questioningly.

“Yes, I understand you,” said the giant bat from the depths of the alley.

Zorphax slowly stepped forward, his hovering a moderate distance away from his gun. “Great. Now that we’ve established something approaching polite communication, we can begin to sort things out.”

“Yes,” said the vampire. “But I would like the taller one to stay.”

“What?” I said as I was already three steps away. “Why?”

“Because you seem incapable of lying effectively.”

“I’ll have you know I lie effectively all the time,” I said unconvincingly. “Occasionally, anyway.”

“Yes, that will be sufficient.”

“Well, fine,” I shrugged and stepped back around the corner. At least now the spotlights weren’t in my eyes. “Can we speed this up though?” I sighed, “Anyway for Zorphax’s sake, you’re a vampire who came through a big blood portal fleeing a curse of eternal daylight and then the police shot at you.”

“That is an adequate summary.”

Zorphax cautiously stepped around the corner with me, out of the spotlights. “Damn those things are bright,” he shook his head. He swapped to English, naturally getting how Translation worked- though that was also part of the magic. “Turlough, let me get this straight. You walked down here into this situation where you were basically attacked by a giant bat, they told you they were some kind of vampire who uses blood magic or whatever, and you thought ‘this is a reasonable and safe negotiation’?”

“Is it not?” I asked. “Did I do something wrong? Nobody’s died, right?”

“No, it’s fine,” Zorphax said. “Usually newbies just overreact to this kind of stuff. I’m a veteran who’s gone through crazier negotiations, but normally I would have expected this to go sideways already.”

“What are you talking about?” the vampire asked, concerned.

“Sorry,” Zorphax focused his attention on the giant bat barely visible at the end of the alley. “Umm… do you have a name we can call you?”


“Rositsa,” Zorphax nodded. “A fine name. Now then, my friend here is under the impression you intentionally avoided causing significant harm to the officers who opened fire on you. Is that correct?”

“Yes,” she nodded her giant bat head. “That is correct. With my powers I… found it difficult to cause minimal damage. But I did not wish to cause trouble.”

I had the feeling Zorphax could see the situation better than myself. His large eyes seemed well suited to picking up only small amounts of light, for one thing. And the minute adjustments he made seemed to be body language for the sake of Rositsa.

“Okay Rositsa. So, this curse of eternal daylight. I assume that’s basically a death sentence for you… and you kind, if there were others?”

“Yes, that is correct. We would have been unable to go anywhere and would slowly starve to death, if nobody came to kill us first.”

“Alright, so,” at some point Zorphax had pulled out a tablet and started checking boxes and writing notes. “This is an important one. Your food is…?”

“Blood,” Rositsa said candidly.

“As expected,” Zorphax nodded. “Now for some follow ups. Do you have to kill what you get blood from? Does it need to be sapient species?”

“No. To both.”

“So the blood that formed that big… blood portal… what was it from?”

“Humans. Mostly.”

“That’s… somewhat problematic. You’re surprisingly candid about this though.”

“I cannot lie,” Rositsa reminded us.

“Is that true?” Zorphax looked at me.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I’m not a lie detector. I didn’t do it with magic, either. She did say it before though.”

“Hmm. Would like to have Malaliel here, if this were different.”

“Why can’t- oh.” I nodded. “Yeah.” Probably not a good idea to bring an angel to interrogate a vampire.

“She’s quite reasonable, but we don’t want to provoke a negative reaction.” Zorphax shook his head. “Sorry, Rositsa. Let’s get back to the questions.”

“As long as they do not take several hours,” she said, looking vaguely towards the sky.

“The important ones will be quick,” Zorphax assuaged her worries. “Though there will definitely be a lot of paperwork.” He continued asking questions, like where the human blood that made up the portal came from. Half was from enemies, half from allies. After he was finished assessing her threat, he nodded. “Well. That’s enough for now. Would you be willing to be taken into custody? We can’t exactly verify most of this stuff here in an alleyway.”

“Will I be safe?” she asked.

“We promise no more harm will come to you, to the best of our considerable abilities,” Zorphax swore.

“Turlough?” the vampire asked.

“Hmm? Oh. I trust him on that. If they wanted to just kill you he’d just shoot you or sic an angel on you.” I frowned. “Uh, angels are…”

“I am aware that different worlds can have wildly different… acceptance of certain traits. I will submit peacefully.” With that her form shrunk… until she was basically the size of a human. As she walked forward, I could see stark white hair and blood red eyes. Which was actually pretty close to normal in New Bay.

She had handcuffs placed on her, and while they seemed to be of a higher quality than the ones I had put on myself, I had the feeling they wouldn’t be terribly effective if things really went downhill.

Zorphax still had his megaphone and called out to the police officers at the end of the alley, who I could sense he was a bit miffed with. Either way, they didn’t shoot at any of us and I got to go home and sleep.


I woke up a bit later than normal. I usually had an alarm set, but since I was technically working in the middle of the night I had some leeway for when I came in to work. Midnight was sleepy too, so we were both zonked out until almost lunch time. When I woke up, I had a message from Zorphax offering me a job. He was pretty thorough, even listing the benefits… and drawbacks. Like no combat.


T- Sorry, I’d prefer not to have a job that doesn’t involve fighting.

Z- I see. We still plan to contract you for further translation work.

T- As long as I get paid, I’m glad to help. Though preferably not in the middle of the night.


With that out of the way, I grabbed some lunch at the cafeteria- a rarity for myself, even on weekends. There also weren’t that many others around the apartment at midday, because nearly everyone was working. A few nocturnal people who were either up early or late, and others with odd schedules.

As I was walking up to the HQ doors, a gust of wind nearly bowled me over- and caused Midnight to dig his claws into my shoulder so he wouldn’t fall. It was a strange paradox that he was willing to sit on my shoulder but wouldn’t jump up on a counter, but perhaps the convenience outweighed the downsides. 

Then the gust hit us once more, almost knocking me over. “Turlough.” Shockwave’s face was immediately in front of mine. “Haste.”

“Umm, I don’t know if-”

“Important. Notimetoexplain.”

I only took a second to think. The fact that a speedster didn’t have time to explain really meant something, and while I was worried Shockwave was just going to get up to trouble… I also felt I should trust them at least this once.

“Fine, but I’m not responsible for any broken windows,” I said as I reached out my hand for theirs.

“… good point.” The instant Haste was finished casting, they were gone with only a “Thanksbyelater!”

I didn’t hear anything after that since I couldn’t hear anything, but I did see something flash on the side of the building. My eyes looked up the towering skyscraper and saw Shockwave running vertically, and then reaching the top. There was a moment hanging at the corner, and then they were gone.

I was impressed. Running up the side of a vertical building? That was pretty neat- but what really impressed me was that none of the windows shattered. And not because there wasn’t a sonic boom, but because the windows were exceptionally sturdy.

I looked at Midnight. “Do you think this counts as work-related injury?”

Midnight said something back, but as we both couldn’t hear each other, there wasn’t really much communication. Except the general feeling of confusion through our bond.

We entered the building, waving hi to the guards as we were moved through security. I pointed to my bleeding ears but couldn’t fully comprehend the response. We went up to floor 5 where we saw Doctor Rajesh Mishra outside his office. “Hey, we can’t hear right now. I’m not really sure if these ruptured eardrums fall under work-related injuries…”

Before I could finish explaining, he gathered energy and reached out his hand to my head, then did the same to Midnight. “What is with you and ear-related injuries?”

“They were unrelated,” I said. “This one was… not the same as before.” I wasn’t sure if whatever Shockwave was doing was on the up-and-up, so I avoided saying anything.

“Well, either way I’m obliged to heal you for things like that, where there might otherwise be permanent repercussions. For something like this, even if it’s determined to be entirely your fault the expense will be minimal.”

“I thought I’d have to fill out paperwork first.”

“Anything relevant was already covered in the documents employing you here,” Doctor Mishra said. “Anyway, don’t hesitate to come here with injuries. They say a lot about being responsible for the payment if you were screwing around, but that’s just to keep people in line. The Power Brigade isn’t just going to let people die or be crippled.” He snorted, “Even if management was full of assholes who didn’t care about human life like Super Soldiers Inc., injury lawsuits cost way more than my fees.” He leaned forward, “But that’s no excuse to just get yourself injured willy-nilly, yeah?” He raised an eyebrow as he looked at me.

“… wouldn’t even dream of it.”

“Uh-huh. So, what happened?”

“I don’t really know,” I admitted. “Shockwave was in a big rush. Looked important. How could I find out what’s going on?”

“You’d probably have to ask them, given their position,” Doctor Mishra said. “You could at least ask the mission desk if they’re on a mission.”

I frowned as I entered the elevator once more, looking to Midnight. “Umm, do you think I should text? I don’t want to be a distraction, and Haste is over now. But they could still be going… wherever.”

“Where?” Midnight asked. “It would have to be somewhere pretty far.”

“Its only like… 15 miles?” I frowned. “Maybe a little bit more. We’ve gone further than that. Like when we went to see-”

“Hammerfist…” Midnight flicked his tail. “Do you think?”

“It could have been that way,” I shook my head. “Either way, we can’t do anything about it now, can we? It would take more than an hour to get there.” We arrive back at reception, and were directed to mission control for our questions. “Umm… I don’t want to pry or anything, but is Shockwave on a mission of some sort? They seemed quite worried and ran off awfully quick. Straight up the outside of the building to the roof…”

The receptionist clearly pulled up something on her computer. “Information on member activities related to missions is confidential by default, but your concern has been noted.” She looked around, swiveling her head, then leaned in. “I really mean it. I don’t know how much I can do but I’m on it. Now get going. Find something to distract yourselves.”

Heading down to the training area, I didn’t really feel more relieved. The receptionist’s words indicated that something was probably abnormal. I hoped I hadn’t made anything worse, but I hadn’t heard any panicked cries about millions of windows being shattered so that had gone well… somehow.

Maybe it was nothing, and Shockwave just wanted to go for a joy-run. If that was the case, we were going to have to have a talk about responsible usage of powers.

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