Getting into a battle during our apartment hunt had really thrown things off schedule. People in New Bay were pretty relaxed about rescheduling due to super related incidents, but I had to be light on the details since I was trying out the whole ‘civilian identity’ thing.
There could be any number of six feet tall green skinned tusked mages with cats riding around on their shoulders! Yep.
Still, I intended to put in the effort for the sake of my civilian friends. Friend? I mostly knew Khithae, and people from Extra and the Power Brigade. And while some people from Extra like Basant certainly fell in the category of ‘civilian’, I wasn’t buddies with any of them. Friendly, but not friends.
Whatever. I hedged on the exact details of why I had to reschedule, but eventually Midnight and I showed up at Bay View Heights to meet up with Oswin Brierley, the manager and landlord.
When we arrived at the gates cordoning off the apartment tower from the surroundings, we were met by the man directly. Oswin was a perfectly normal middle aged man, except for the extra eye on his forehead. It seemed he was active enough to stay in shape though, and one of the things recommending this particular apartment complex was him.
“Well hello there you two,” Oswin grinned and waved. “I hear the pair of you are looking to be roommates?”
“That’s right,” I nodded.
“It is simplest,” Midnight explained.
“Can’t say we get a lot of people with your particular build Mister… Deathstalker, was it? But I imagine you’ll have to deal with the same issues almost anywhere that can house Mister Turlough.” He laughed jovially, “But why don’t you come see what we have to offer.” The first thing he did was take us on the elevator and then into one of the upper apartments. “Everything comes furnished here, which I’m sure is one of the things that drew you to us.” He showed us the living room and kitchen areas as we quickly passed through the apartment and stepped out onto a balcony. “And here’s that Bay View. Got an almost straight shot down this boulevard to the bay itself. Ain’t it a beauty?”
I nodded. I had to admit that it was quite a sight. “Very impressive.”
Midnight nodded. “A great view. But do you have anything… lower?”
“Sure thing,” Oswin said jovially. “Though I assure you this is within your budgetary constraints.”
“I… like to go on frequent walks. Access to the street is important to me,” Midnight recited his excuse. I honestly agreed that ease of access to the outside was better though. If I wanted a view I’d just learn a flying spell. Though I had to look up the restrictions on flying supers again before I did. The city could be very particular about their airspace.
Oswin smoothly transitioned us out of the apartment back to the elevator to look at another one. On the way a writhing mass of tentacles got into the elevator with us.
“Hey… don’t I know you from somewhere?” I asked. The question served two purposes. First, I wasn’t completely sure I recognized the figure. Second, if it was who I thought, they might not want to interact outside of work.
There was a moment of awkwardness, then there were some squirming sounds. And then… “Aren’t you that polyglot?”
“Something like that,” I admitted. “You’re Jim, right?”
“Close enough. My actual name is ——–, but people don’t have the vocal chords for that.”
“Yeah that makes sense. So do you prefer I call you ——–?”
It was only because Translation also helped me interpret bodily expressions that I recognized the equivalent of someone’s ‘face lighting up’. Though Jim had no face. “Oh you can actually say it! It’s easier to just call me Jim, though. Nobody will recognize you’re referring to me otherwise.”
“Ah, good point,” I nodded.
“I can’t believe we ran into someone from work,” Midnight commented. “What are the chances of that?”
“Oh, well, the Power Brigade employs a lot of people,” Jim pointed out. Since we were conversing in his native language he didn’t care about being overheard. “And this is near work, after all. That’s why I chose it! Plus the good reputation. The manager is great.”
“That’s good to hear from an actual resident instead of just reviews,” I nodded.
The elevator dinged. “Well, see you later,” Jim ‘waved’. “I was just dropping by to grab some stuff on my lunch break.”
Oh right. It was the middle of the work day, after all. I’d just taken a personal day for the sake of apartment hunting. An extra one, now. “See you later,” I waved.
“That was unexpected,” Oswin admitted as he showed us to one of the few ground floor apartments they had. “That’s not a common language. But it’s good to see you getting along! That’s the most important thing here, meshing with the other residents.” He showed us through a very similarly furnished apartment, slightly differently arranged but quite recognizable. There was a notable difference though. He bent down to pull open a panel next to the sliding doors leading out to the porch. It revealed some sort of flap. “Got a micro door available here. Usually not used by residents, but it might be easier for you to operate, Mister Deathstalker. Or it can remain sealed.”
“… is this for pets?” Midnight asked.
“While I have no doubt that was the original intention, these have been used by more than pets in the past.” Oswin shrugged, “But either way, instead of a balcony out here you have a little deck,” he pulled open a sliding glass door and stepped out. “And it goes directly down to the garden.”
I nodded. “That’s quite convenient.” The only problem with this place was… that there were no problems. It seemed comfortable, affordable, and it even had the luxury of a walled off garden area so people could experience a bit of nature inside the city. “I have just one question. The prices you have listed… is this place Cursed? Haunted?”
“Cursed?” Oswin looked aghast at the suggestion. “By no means! Bay View Heights maintains its eminently affordable prices by virtue of a legacy property tax arrangement among other things. But umm… if there was a ghost would it be a problem?”
“Not really,” I shrugged. I could get rid of a ghost if they bothered me, even if most magic was only partially effective on them. For something that got by on virtue of being non-interactable, partial effects were pretty good.
“That’s the sort of answer I like to hear,” Oswin grinned. “It seems you’ve already met Jim, but we have quite a variety of residents here. Everyone understands that the other residents are trying their best to get along with each other. There are some cultural differences, but if you have any issues just bring them up with me and I’ll work to resolve them. I assume you read the terms of the lease already?”
I nodded. It was mostly about not breaking things and not throwing loud parties late at night- though I heard the soundproofing was pretty good here. Either way, there was nothing I had trouble with.
“When you say variety of residence…” Midnight spoke hesitantly. “There aren’t any Bunvorixians here, are there?”
“Not by that name, no. Your issues…?”
“Ancestral enemies,” Midnight said. “What about dogs?”
“There are a few,” Oswin admitted. “But they’re all required to be well trained and controlled.”
“Well, nothing can be perfect I guess,” Midnight performed something like a shrug. “Turlough, what do you think?”
Ultimately, we did decide to move into Bay View Heights. The price was good, it was close to work and nearby stores and restaurants, and didn’t have too many dogs. Plus it had a nice door for Midnight so he didn’t have to jump or mess around with magic just to turn a handle.
I had become a regular visitor of the library ever since I realized how many heroes, villains, and other powers to learn about. As a mage I’d spent a lot of my life memorizing information and this was no different, though I also had to memorize names too. Technically I had learned the name of ancient wizards who popularized various spells, but since they didn’t actually affect spellcasting it was easy to ignore. It was more important to know what you were doing. There was a big difference between a twenty foot radius and a thirty foot one, and people needed to recognize that.
Though I showed up regularly, I didn’t talk to Saveliy much. He was always there if anyone needed him, but he had mostly just set me up with the computer system and let me do whatever I wanted after that.
This time, however, he took the initiative to talk to me. For some reason I was more uncomfortable with a voice echoing out from beneath a human shaped mass of hair than I was talking to Jim, but maybe that was because of how rarely Saveliy actually said anything around me.
“Turlough.” The word wasn’t just made of sound, but something more. A sort of mental pressure, maybe. “Maybe check out… your own information page!”
I’d checked it out when I first arrived, but it didn’t say much. However, since it had been suggested, I looked it up. It wasn’t surprising that there was more information. I had been keeping the Power Brigade up on what I could do. As it was my own profile, I was able to access all of it. Probably. At the very least it didn’t say anything required higher clearance. I was listed as a ‘wide variation power with unknown growth potential’. Technically that was right, but even if I didn’t know what I would grow into, I could approximate it. For example, I knew that at level 40 I would have more than five times the amount of points I had now at level 17. That could take a while though.
The one thing that interested me was a listing I had occasionally seen. Black Market info. Those usually required higher clearance, but in the few situations I was able to access the info it was just an incomplete and less accurate rehash of the Power Brigade’s data.
I was fairly certain that it used to say ‘none’, but now it said ‘unacquired’. I was really curious about what the black market might know about me, but I wouldn’t even know where to start to get it. And even if I could just buy it, I wasn’t going to pay people who were snooping on me. Well, whatever they had shouldn’t be that complete anyway. I had only a handful of public appearances, and it wouldn’t necessarily be easy to tell what I was doing just by looking.
Out of curiosity I looked up Midnight. He was a member of the Power Brigade now too, after all. They did have a listing for him. He was correctly listed as a Celmothian. The actual information was quite short.
|Powers: Replicates some (all?) of Mage’s abilities, purportedly through a combination of the natural bonding abilities of Celmothians and a Familiar Bond spell cast by Mage.
Additional: Currently no alias. Name up for review by board.
… I hoped for his sake he got a decent alias. While there wouldn’t be a huge number of black cats that could talk, and apparently very few Celmothians in general, it was kind of pointless anyway. But the Power Brigade would still give him an alias, because that was how things worked. I was gunning for Cat Buddy, but I don’t know if that was even in the running. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too bad.
It was five decently long blocks from the edge of Power Brigade HQ to Bay View Heights. A decent walk, but much closer than the previous apartments. It was also not worth considering paying for a ride. I wondered if I should get a driver’s license at some point, but I’d have to save up a bit more to buy a car anyway. Getting a ride with others was both convenient and inconvenient. I could go from any point to any other point, but it took some waiting unless I set it up ahead of time.
The walk wasn’t short, but I had two companions to share with. Midnight didn’t do much of the walking himself, but Khithae obviously wasn’t sitting on my shoulder.
“I can’t believe you got into Bay View Heights,” she said. “I couldn’t even get a walkthrough of the apartments there. I hear they’re pretty nice though.”
“They are,” I admitted. “But your apartment building is good too, isn’t it?”
“What, Western Luxury Apartments?” she shook her head. “They’re fine, but the Luxury faded with the carpets from last century. Not too pricey, at least. Even though they’re technically cheap apartments, Bay View Heights costs quite a bit more.”
“Yeah, we could fit four or five of our previous place in,” I nodded.
“And my room has a spot for a mini-fridge!” Midnight said excitedly. “It is being delivered in a few days.”
“… sorry,” I said. “I guess this sounds like bragging?”
“Ah, don’t worry about it,” Khithae waved it away. “I know that… your job pays more. That’s for the risk. I’m glad for the job I have, as it more than pays the bills.”
As it might be obvious for people who lived nearby, my cover still had me working at the Power Brigade. Just as a ‘language consultant’ rather than a combat position. There were a lot of options available for concealing my identity further, but some of them were major pains so I didn’t even consider them.
“… I miss the cafeteria,” I commented.
“Really? It wasn’t that good,” Khithae pointed out.
“Sure, but it was consistent. Now I have to pick somewhere to eat every time and walk over.”
“Don’t you have a fancy kitchen?” Khithae pointed out.
“But then I have to cook. And I don’t know how.”
“How do you not…?” she shook her head. “I’m sure you can learn if you try. I could teach you, though I don’t know if you’d like a lot of the food I want to eat.”
“Well, maybe,” I shrugged. “Or maybe I should just learn to conjure food.”
“… Your solutions to problems are very different than most people’s,” Khithae grinned.