Mage Among Superheroes 55

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A single instance of scrying Handface wasn’t enough. Even if we could find where he was with the limited information available, it didn’t make it clear if he was alone or with others. I got a bit more proficient at it after the first few times, but that just meant it didn’t take quite so long for the image to come into focus. The results were… kind of disappointing. Instead of improving my success rate watching him, it actually went down. That was because every time he came into focus he realized he was being watched and began to resist. As far as I could tell he didn’t have the ability to sense magic himself, or powers in general. Rather, his new headgear seemed to inform him.

As for what sort of thing could sense magic? The answer was simple. A Phasmotron Amplifier. If you wanted a further explanation from me, it would be literally impossible. The things created by tech supers were off in their own world where nothing made sense. Maybe it simply relied on yet undiscovered foundations, or maybe all of their tech was held together by the power of tech supers in general. Either way, it seemed stopping old Handface from getting his hands on one Phasmotron Amplifier hadn’t been enough. We knew that but now we were sure he had a working… something. At the very least, it could detect scrying somehow.

The image of Handface sleeping provided a small amount of assurance that nothing was infallible. I sighed, “Well, at least it doesn’t seem to wake him up. Though I don’t know if I want to sit through ten minutes of this.”

“We should,” Calculator said. “He could be faking, perhaps.”

“I’m pretty sure he’s not. There was basically no resistance.” Just in case, I moved my view around as far as I could, but it was a pretty tight area. I was just able to try to ‘clip’ through some walls nearby, but it just revealed more warehouse-slash-secret-base decor. I was also immediately forced back through the wall to where I could see my target. Upgrading Scrying would be necessary for more, but it wouldn’t be cheap. It would be better to get combat related things that would help me level up faster, or more safely which was almost the same. After ten minutes was over- during which we determined he slept with no fewer than three guns of different sizes within reach- the image faded away. “Sorry we couldn’t get more.”

“That’s alright,” Calculator nodded. “All powers have limitations, and even this is information we wouldn’t have had. Even when intel comes back lacking, the effort is important.” He paused for a few moments. “You can do this again, right?”

“Not until tomorrow.”

“I meant for someone else.”

“Oh, well… yes. But then I’ll be pretty much drained for a while. I can’t even train for a few hours.”

“We understand,” he said as he looked at his tablet, browsing through something. “You will be compensated of course, as it’s beyond your normal scope of duties.”

“I don’t need more money,” I pointed out. “What would I do with it?”

“… buy fancy cars?” Calculator shrugged. “Or a good computer, or television setup.”

“I can’t drive,” I reminded him. “And what would I need a computer for? I can use the ones here. None of those will make me stronger.”

“I’d suggest a home gym but…” he shook his head, “It wouldn’t even come close to here. And I do believe that’s not what you meant.” He pondered for a few moments, “You need to fight to become stronger?”

“Yeah,” I crossed my arms and nodded.

The man adjusted his glasses, “I believe we could arrange that, given one of the interested parties. You have interacted with Great Girl before, I do believe.”

“Yeah, she led me to all the fictional stuff similarly named to my magic.” It was kind of weird, but then again a lot of the names were pretty straightforward. A firebolt was a firebolt. The weird thing was how certain ranges and areas would match up. “She’s definitely strong, but I don’t know if I’d be a better match now. It depends on her durability, I suppose… but I’d certainly like to try again.”

“Excellent. Then the person we would like you to find is Gloom.” He held up his tablet with a picture of a hooded figure, dressed in black with highlights of red. “He’s very good at escaping capture.”

“Umm…” I stared at the picture, but couldn’t see any trace of the man’s face. “I don’t think that will work. It’s not enough to go off. Unless he’s actually named Gloom?”

“Highly unlikely,” Calculator admitted. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a face. Would video help?”

“I might make some connection that way but it would be extremely shaky if it worked at all. If you have something of his, or better something that was part of him…”

“Unfortunately we don’t have the latter. But we should be able to get some scraps of clothing. That might take a while though.”

“Can it wait until tomorrow then?”

The man shrugged, “I suppose it might as well. No point in having you sitting here on your rear. Tomorrow morning, perhaps. We can have you look for Deimos in the evening. Would that be alright?”

“That’s fine,” I nodded.

—–

“I can’t believe that we’re meeting in a closet,” Great Girl commented as I saw her again.

“It’s better than the first place I was using Scrying,” I noted.

“Oh?” She raised an eyebrow. “Where was that?”

“Men’s bathroom.”

“… closet is much better.”

It was actually quite a large closet. Enough space had been cleared out that my entire squad had fit inside comfortably along with the Calculator guy, or at least semi-comfortably. She only took up space as maybe one and a half of the three people who weren’t around in her normal size. The addition of Midnight didn’t really change anything.

“Gloom, huh,” he commented. “That name sounds pretty emo.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but apparently Great Girl understood.

“Like you’re one to talk ‘Midnight Deathstalker’.”

“What? It’s my real name. I come from a long line of Deathstalkers, and I was born at Midnight.”

“It’s not because of your fur?” I asked.

He looked up at me and I could feel the sarcasm before he spoke. “Oh yeah, for sure. Every member of my family is named Midnight, Charcoal, and Ebony.” He rolled his eyes. “That would get pretty confusing even if we had enough names for it.”

“A good point,” I nodded.

A man cleared his voice, and we turned to see Calculator in his usual suit. “Can we get started?”

“Oh, right, of course.” I looked around. “Who has the stuff?”

Great Girl pulled out a plastic bag. “One scrap of cloth ripped from Gloom’s hood. I was trying to tear the whole thing off, obviously that didn’t work and he got away.” She handed it to me. “Scrying huh… so he’ll have like a plus one on his save?”

“What?” I tilted my head.

“Uh, you haven’t met him firsthand and you have a possession,” she explained.

“It will be more difficult than the baseline, if that’s what you mean,” I said. “A larger piece would help too.”

“Oh, sorry,” Great Girl shook her head, “We really don’t have anything.”

“It’s alright. I’ll give it a shot.” I looked at the bag, “I can take it out, right?’

She looked at me, “You’re wearing gloves, so it should be fine. Well, it’s old evidence anyway. Never led to anything.”

“You don’t have anyone with tracking powers in this world?” I asked.

“Not anyone good enough. The good ones are swamped with work, and Gloom is… resistant.”

“Hmm.” I shrugged. “Well. Time to get started.”

I concentrated on using my mana. White mists began to form on the surface of the mirror, our reflections fading away. I held in one hand the scrap of cloth, the other my phone with a still picture of Gloom along with a blurry video below. Along with the hood he kept his entire form obscured with baggy clothing. Only his voice identified him to some extent, but even that was distant and echoey. It was like the nighttime wind speaking dark magic.

My mind focused on that lack of face, the nothingness, the tenuous string of connection through a single scrap. There was something there, at least. I reached out for it and pulled, both ends moving closer to each other. I found myself close. I just had to keep concentrating.

I found myself sinking through nothingness as the darkness of the hood pulled me in. My mind was focused only on the connection to Gloom, and I held on tight, but I couldn’t help but sink deeper into the darkness, a darkness where there was nothing. No light, no sound, no touch. I barely even had the faintest sense of my connection to Midnight, even though he was practically touching me. 

What was I doing again? I’d lost track of it as I tried to find something, anything to guide me. There was a slight buzzing in my ears. I turned around. Probably. Maybe I remained perfectly still. “…ough…” A noise? “…lough…” I latched onto whatever it was, or tried to. My grip on anything was vague and ill defined. I wasn’t even sure who was speaking. Or who I was. “Turlough!” Oh yes. That was it.

My eyes snapped open to see Midnight standing with his paws on my chest, yelling in my face. “Turlough! Wake up! Get away from it!”

“Yeah,” I said dazedly. “I did.” For some reason the back of my head hurt. And the front. And the rest of it, but all in different ways. “I’m fnn…” I tried to say fine, but my mouth didn’t really work and there was a surprising amount of liquid suddenly inside it. Metallic. Oh yeah, that was blood. Did I bite my lip? No, it was coming from my nose. 

“You’re not fine,” Midnight said. “But just stay here, okay?”

“Okay,” I tried to nod, but I couldn’t really lift my head. 

I lay there for… a few seconds? A minute? I couldn’t really tell. All I could feel was my head and Midnight’s worry and a small amount of the pain I was feeling reflecting back to me thirdhand.

There was a loud thumping of feet above my head, which I presumed was outside the door. Then a voice. “You can set me down now.”

“Oh, right. Sorry.”

I smiled as a figure’s face came into view. “Hi Doctor Mishra. Good to see you.”

“How is he?” A bright light shone in my eye.

“Not great,” I admitted.

“Awful,” Midnight tattled.

“I’m sorry…” Great Girl’s head appeared way above Doctor Mishra.

“Excuse me,” came another voice, and she disappeared.

“Ooh, Doctor umm…” I searched my memory. “The first one!”

“Martinez,” he said. “How are the injuries?”

“He definitely hit his head pretty hard,” Doctor Mishra commented. “I’ve fixed some of the physical trauma.”

I let them do that while I appreciated how the pain was less. That wasn’t a great experience, feeling like I’d nearly been killed. Experience… idly, I opened my status window. Only I could see it so it wouldn’t get in the way of the doctors.

 

Turlough (No surname)
Level: 18

Experience: 902

Storage +1

Firebolt +2

Shocking Grasp +3

Grease +2

Force Armor +6

Mage’s Reach +1

Translation +1

Haste +4

Disguise

Familiar Bond +1

Enlarge

Energy Ward

Sonic Lance +1

Scrying

Remaining Points: 4

 

Nice.

“Definite metaphysical trauma to the brain,” Doctor Martinez commented. “That’s odd. What were the circumstances?”

Great Girl took the chance to explain. “He was trying to scry Gloom.”

“Gloom? Can’t say that I understand how his powers work. But this doesn’t seem out of line. Unfortunately, this might come with some sort of lasting mental trauma.”

“… he seems a lot better,” Midnight commented.

I did feel a lot better. For one thing, I hurt a lot less. Midnight also was less worried, which meant I didn’t have to feel that, which made me feel better. 

“I did take care of some of the physical damage,” Doctor Mishra pointed out.

“It’s more than that. We have a mental connection. He feels… happy?”

“Possibly some sort of confusion from the incident. But that’s better than the alternative,” Doctor Martinez commented.

“No, I’m fine. No issues.”

“He means that,” Midnight said. “By his standards, he’s fine.”

“Why would he be happy though?” Doctor Martinez questioned.

“Well,” Midnight pondered. “I’m not quite sure but…”

“That was worth like… half a level,” I said. My brain was still a bit fuzzy, but thirtyish experience was… half of one hundredish right?

Midnight sighed, “I thought so.”

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