Usually, unconsciousness was a nice feeling. Or rather, no feeling at all- which was pretty nice when the things that brought me to unconsciousness were physical pain, exhaustion, and the like. Those would be better to some extent when I awoke.
This time, unfortunately, I was unconscious but not unfeeling. I wasn’t aware of my body, but something inside my head was still wriggling around. It was unpleasant, and I felt it trying to draw me away. From what, I couldn’t quite tell. I only knew that something was pulling back against that, keeping me dangling in the middle somewhere.
At some point, I felt a sudden urge to run, one that had been suppressed up at that point. But not being conscious or even having a proper feeling of a mental body, it only added to the discomfort and pain. But that only lasted for a moment, before I felt a soothing shield once more separate me from sections of my brain that weren’t being nice.
My thoughts weren’t so clear at the time, but upon waking up and reflecting upon what I remembered that was the main thing I remembered.
And I was quite glad to wake up, because I honestly hadn’t been sure if I would.
“Uuuuugh.” That was the first sound out of my mouth, but I couldn’t really be blamed for the lack of eloquence. Even doing that made my throat hurt, and shifting slightly made me realized that my entire body was like that. No, not my entire body. Just my front.
“You’re awake,” I couldn’t open my eyes, but I knew that was Midnight. “I’m glad.” Midnight sounded tired, so I reached over to pat him on the head. I only did it briefly, because it hurt and even he flinched from that.
“You’re alright then?” I asked. I couldn’t tell if the pain I felt from Midnight was partly his own, or just reflected from me. Though that meant he was at least not terribly injured, or it would have been stronger. There was something else though. I’d have to ask about that… in a minute. “What about… Ceira?”
“We were fortunate to be further away from the blast. Ceira is somewhat worse than myself, though.”
I just sat there for a bit, going through my memories. “I hate Stargirl. And Gloom.”
“Somehow you remember that name right,” Midnight sighed. “Even with this bond, I don’t understand what’s going on in your head.”
“We need different magic for that,” I said. “… Are my eyes broken?”
“You’ve got bandages over them,” Midnight assured me. “The doctors said you should recover fully. Though some of that was only because of Doctor Mishra.”
“If he’s been here… how bad was I?” I asked.
“… Not great,” Midnight admitted. “But you’re tough.”
“Midnight, I have a very important task for you.”
“Okay. What do you need?” I could feel Midnight preparing to scurry.
“Read my status screen for me. I need to know I leveled up from that.”
I felt both a strong mental sigh from Midnight as well as hearing his physical one. “I’m glad to see you’re feeling better. I’ll look at it for you.”
|Turlough (No surname)|
Shocking Grasp +3
Force Armor +6
Mage’s Reach +2
Familiar Bond +3
Energy Ward +3
Sonic Lance +2
Remaining Points: 37
|Mana Crystal Deposition +1
Basic Light Magic +1
Mental Freedom +1
Technically, I was trusting Midnight that nothing between experience and remaining points had changed. He didn’t read all of that out for me. Either way, it was nice to know that I had vaulted into the middle of level 24.
“… Great Girl hates Gloom, right?” I asked Midnight.
“Yes. They’re nemeses of some sort.”
“Then I guess I can’t retract my earlier statement about hating him. Instead, I will simply have to say that he’s also allowed to be my nemesis if he wants.”
“… Is a level worth almost dying?”
“Yes!” I answered enthusiastically. “Besides, I didn’t die. I guess it didn’t feel great though.” My mind finally arrived back at Midnight’s other thing. “Hey, why do you feel like your insides are going to melt?” It took a moment to remember where I’d felt that before. “How many mana crystals did you absorb?”
“Only as many as I needed to.”
“Follow up question. Was Mental Freedom leveled up before or after you repeatedly used it on me while I was asleep?”
“… I didn’t check,” Midnight admitted.
I clicked my tongue. That hurt down at my throat, but at least my tongue itself was fine. “I was hoping we could learn something there.” I yawned. “Why am I tired?”
“Because you’re injured and you weren’t really asleep for any of that.”
“That’s… a good point,” I said, feeling myself begin to drift off.
Then a door slammed open. “Turlough! Are you alright? What happened? Why didn’t anyone tell me anything?”
By the voice, that would be Great Girl. What were the questions? My head kind of hurt. “I… leveled up.”
“That’s great,” she said. I heard a chair get moved around, then I felt a hand on mine. “But you didn’t really answer the rest of the questions.”
Normally, I would have immediately done so. With my current mental state, though, my brain wandered about and then remembered some things. “I think… I’ll have to tell you later. It’s classified and all that.”
“Classified?” Great Girl asked. “You working with the government or something? Also, I thought I was kind of high ranking enough to hear that anyway.”
“You’ll have to ask… Calculator…” I said with a yawn. “But I think the best thing would be for you to stay here with me for a bit.”
“Okay,” she squeezed my hand slightly. It hurt, because like everywhere else on my body it had a side that had been facing Stargirls final explosion thing. But I didn’t have to think about that long because I fell into actual unconsciousness.
When I woke up, it was dark outside. Midnight was curled up between my feet on the bed. Fortunately, our bond reminded me of his location before I did any moving, so I minimized my jostling as I looked around. There wasn’t much to see. It was a recovery room, so it had a bunch of medical stuff, my bed, chairs, and a person in one of those chairs.
Francois was an excellent outfitter so Great Girl’s outfit and mask grew with her- and of course shrunk with her. I was already basically aware of her actual height, but had never actually seen it. To be fair, I couldn’t really measure anything with her sprawled out in a chair, but she was visibly smaller in all manners. I wondered why she was still around as I drifted back into sleep.
Midnight woke me up, not by doing anything but by having proper consciousness. I wasn’t really tired anymore since I slept to various degrees for half a day and then properly for a full night, so my mind easily responded to stimulus. He was on his phone, looking at… something. It was both mentally upsetting and amusing, which was better than it being just the first I guess.
“Morning,” I said.
“Good morning Turlough.”
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Just keeping up with the news.”
“Let me know if anything important happened, then,” I yawned slightly. I heard shifting on the other side, and saw Great Girl just waking up. “Good morning to you as well.”
“… Morning,” she said groggily.
“Why are you still here?” I asked. Realizing that could have been worded better, I quickly followed up. “You don’t have to sleep in a chair.”
“You asked me,” she said.
That… could certainly have been one interpretation of what I said. “Well… thank you. I’m feeling much better this morning.”
“Thas’ good,” she nodded, her words slurring slightly, then yawned. “Stupid barracks isn’t much better’n a chair anyway.”
“You’re still restricted to… um, on guard duty here, right?”
“Yeah, it’s stupid,” she said, standing up. “Want to go get breakfast?”
I looked down at myself. “I’ll need to change into my stuff first,” I said.
“Oh, right. I’ll wait outside, then…”
It didn’t take long to change out of the medical gown. Because it was unnecessary and I was still sore, I left off the jacket, settling for the bandages and my shirt. I tossed it into storage just so I didn’t have to carry it around, then stepped out into the hall.
“You ready?” Great Girl asked from down below my shoulder.
I nodded. “Yeah, we’re coming,” I said, gesturing to Midnight.
Great Girl looked up at him. She frowned, then her eyes widened. She slowly began to grow until she was my height. “Uh, that was… sometimes my power gets weird in the morning.”
I very much doubted that. Before I really thought about it, I just decided to come clean. “I know you’re only five feet tall.”
“What? No, I’m… you must be hungry!” she said, grabbing my arm and pulling me along. “Come on, let’s go have breakfast!”
“I have a very good memory,” I reminded her. “And even if I am momentarily distracted I recognize it later.”
“Ah. Hah. Well, um… just don’t tell anyone what you think you know, okay? Wouldn’t want people getting weird ideas.”
“Sure,” I said. “We can keep it secret.”
Breakfast was fine. Standard Power Brigade food, which was a pretty good cafeteria. They weren’t cheap about meals. Great Girl didn’t say much, but she was probably still embarrassed about me knowing she was short. For a human, anyway.
The silence broke around the time we finished eating, with Calculator showing up. “Ah good, you’re both together. That will save me some effort. How are you feeling, Turlough?” He was very careful with names, and since I didn’t have my mask on, calling me Turlough was fine. I had the tusks either way, so it really didn’t make a difference.
“Better,” I said. “Enough to walk around.”
“If you weren’t, we’d really need to hire additional medical supers. Sorry you couldn’t be fully restored, but Doctor Mishra has to keep some energy in reserve for other emergencies.”
“… What happened?” Great Girl asked. “Am I allowed to know that now?”
“It would happen eventually anyway,” Calculator said, not-so-subtly taking a step closer to where Great Girl was sitting. “I need you to promise me that you will stay and listen, for everyone’s sake.”
“Sure, I can do that.”
“Good. So, Shooting Star-”
“I’ll freaking strangle her!” As Great Girl started to stand up, Calculator kicked her legs out from under her, knocking her back onto the bench.
“Stay and listen or you’ll be fired,” he looked her directly in the eyes, and she swallowed. “Good. I believe you will be satisfied with the eventual outcome here. Now then, one of Shooting Star’s fan meetups was attacked by Gloom yesterday.”
“…Damn,” Great Girl deflated. “Really? Now I feel bad.”
“Please leave your comments for after I finish. Anyway, it just so happened to be that Turlough was present and got caught up in things,” his eyes burrowed into me. “That would have been very damaging to the Power Brigade’s reputation if your identity had been revealed there. Some people might still guess.”
“… Lots of portal powers could have done that,” I said. “Err, the visible parts of that.”
“It’s a good thing your Disguise spell didn’t fade until after you were in the ambulance. We’d rather not be seen as provoking anything. That wasn’t what you were there to do, was it?”
“We were looking for a Bunvorixian,” Midnight explained. “Also, I’m going to confirm right now that that great dane she has is one of them. And he’s got a portal power too.”
“… Are you sure about that?” Calculator asked.
“Absolutely. Both of us felt him doing magic, right?” Midnight looked at me.
“He used Calm Emotions,” I said. “Which makes him… not a mage, at least.”
“The other part,” Calculator clarified. “About being an extraterrestrial.”
“Absolutely,” Midnight said. “We exchanged a few words in Bunvorixian. Also, I don’t think dogs can get portal powers.”
“Weirder things have happened. But… good. That’s good,” Calculator smiled slightly, which only meant bad things. For someone at least. “She registered a powered companion, but if she failed to mention he’s of extraterrestrial origin that’s extra ammunition we can use, along with the recent attack on Turlough.”
“What?!” Great Girl exclaimed. “You were attacked again? Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because you would have gone and punched her,” I explained. “And that was probably not the right solution at the time.”
Calculator was still standing in position to prevent Great Girl from doing anything problematic, though his threat or her rational mind were keeping her subdued for the moment. “We successfully arrested the videographer with charges of promoting supervillainy. We traced actual connections between her and the other fanatics, but unfortunately Shooting Star’s hands still appear clean in this scenario. Though we’re holding tightly to the comments she made on the situation.” Calculator shook his head. “Starting any new actions against her at the moment would be ill advised, at least until we see how her reputation settles after the attack. Driving away Gloom looks good for her, but not having any additional security for the sake of her fans and the injuries will look bad for her. And we’ve pushed the hero association to censure her for directly injuring innocents. If you could have been there in official capacity, it could have been more… but either way, she should have better control.”
“So she did injure Turlough?” Great Girl asked.
“Physically, yes. Gloom also directly attacked him.”
“Really?” she asked. “Are you… alright? I know how it feels.”
“I’m feeling pretty good,” I nodded. “I leveled up and learned a new spell.”
Midnight also contributed, “He means it. Also, I think that particular spell helped a lot with the side effects there would have been otherwise.”
“Yeah…” I reached out to pat Midnight on the head. “Thanks again buddy.”
“Well,” Calculator said. “Additional details are available if you desire, but I just wanted to inform you and Great Girl that actions are being taken related to Stargirl- dammit Turlough- related to Shooting Star. Any interference would likely make the outcomes worse for the Power Brigade and yourselves and better for her. So…”
“I promise not to punch her,” Great Girl said. Calculator looked down his nose at her. “… or kick her. Or do anything like that, until you guys finish your legal crap.”
“Excellent. Good day. Oh, and you’re no longer restricted to HQ.” With that, Calculator spun on his heels and was off.
Great Girl looked at me, then back at him, then back at me. “Wait so they didn’t need me for a villain threat?”