Worse,  the goblins didn’t just have teeth. They wore armor and carried weapons–specifically swords and bows.

I took in the situation, and came up with the best plan I could think of on short notice. “I’ll grab Haley. Cover me?”

Still staring down the hallway, Amy didn’t look at me. “I’m going with you.  You need someone to handle the troll.”

To be fair, Amy became a lot more intimidating as Bloodmaiden than she was as Amy. She went from being only a little taller than Haley to a little taller than me, and from being thin to… It was hard to tell if she became more muscular because her black and blood red armor would have thickened her arms even if they didn’t grow. I was pretty sure they did though. Even her hair thickened and grew.

All the same, while she looked intimatiding, she didn’t look “I can take down a troll” intimidating. (more…)

Having already reformed the suit’s helmet, I watched as the suit attempted to connect to several different networks, finally only connecting to one–the Castle Rock Compound’s network.

Once connected, notifications began pouring in to my phone, lighting up in the corner of my HUD. I caught a few names as the numbers climbed–all of them students, most of them League members or friends. They were probably trying to contact me after I had sunk into the floor.

I considered opening up my queue and reading them. One of them might have been Haley. (more…)

The glow of the blood red gem on Amy’s armor’s breastplate was the only remnant of the transformation as Amy took step toward me. “Do you want me to carry you, or do you want Vaughn to float you upstairs?”

Samita cleared her throat. “Maybe you could carry me?”

“Why?” Vaughn asked. “Did I do something wrong? I tried not to flip you over or anything.”

“No. It’s just that you and the Rocket have been on the same team for years now, so I thought he’d probably be more comfortable than–” Her voice trailed off. “I’m sorry. I’m lying. It’s because it’s terrifying. I’m sure it’s fine for you because you’re controlling it, but I was falling in the dark. I couldn’t see anything but wall, and the only thing stopping me from hitting the ground was air.” (more…)

Standing together in the dark, I looked each of them over, all of them grey in my HUD.

“But really, how bad? Is this ‘fairy pranks and vomiting slugs’ bad, or are we talking ‘slaves to the fairy queens’ bad?”

Vaughn put a grey hand up to a grey chin. “That’s a toughie.”

Samita frowned. “It’s somewhere in between. The little people have infiltrated the entire compound, keeping anyone who isn’t magically protected from noticing anything troubling. Practically the entire world is watching what’s happening in Turkmenistan because it’s everyone’s nightmare. ‘What if the supers take over and rule the country?’ Well, no one in the compound cares now. When shows are interrupted with news, no one pays any attention.”

I thought about it. “You know, that’s actually better than I expected.” (more…)

It took longer than it should have. I wasn’t checking my phone when I was in the cell, but now I was encased in my suit. The time was in the upper right corner: 7:04 pm. Haley had started climbing around 6:30 pm.

Even assuming it would take thirty minutes to scale the wall, she would have finished by now.

I was fairly confident that it wouldn’t take anywhere near that long. I’d watched her start her climb, calculated her speed based on how far she moved, taking into account the possibility of slowing down, and come to the conclusion that if it were 1000 feet, she shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to scale the entire thing. (more…)

Nicole stood on the front steps of the high school. Her backpack lay on the ground next to her duffel bag, which was currently filled with her soccer uniform, and a towel.

It was a warm day. It could have been summer. The grass had turned green. The trees had leaves, or at least buds. Nicole was barely noticing any of it. She was on the phone.

“My boyfriend? Mr. Noshow, you mean? He’s still not here, and soccer ended twenty minutes ago.”

Over the phone, Melissa said, “Well, he might have a good reason.”

Nicole shrugged. “If he does, he has a good reason an awful lot. I don’t think he’s ever been on time.” (more…)

“I hit it with the sonics. I’m guessing I didn’t damage it enough that I could punch through it myself yet. How did you get here?”

“Earthmover sent me down here right after he sent you.”

“Whoa. What happened?”

She paused for a second. “I told him that he shouldn’t have done that. Loudly.”

Nodding, I said. “That seems excessive, but I basically didn’t do anything except try to explain what was going on.”

Her shoulders drooped. “He had a little more reason. I shifted. I didn’t mean to, but it happened.” (more…)

That left me alone in the dark again, but one thing had changed. Before Adam talked to me, I could believe that this was unplanned, an overreaction by Earthmover who might easily be inexperienced at teaching.

Now I knew it was intentional, and that Adam, or whoever was controlling or using him, wanted me out of the way.

It seemed likely that if someone wanted me out of the way, the best thing I could do was get back in the way.

Well, assuming that I wasn’t stepping in front of a metaphorical Mack truck. (more…)

Nothing happened for a long time after that. I never did learn exactly how long. All I knew for sure was that I was grateful that at least I’d gotten to eat before being shut up in a doorless and windowless room.

Okay, that’s not all I knew for sure.

I also knew that my room had breathing holes. They were on both sides of the top of my cell. The cell wasn’t much more than six feet tall. I could touch the ceiling, and had during my initial few minutes inside.

I couldn’t see at all. The cell had no light. (more…)

Adam gave a hint of a smile. “Why would you think I’d know anything about that?”

“Oh.” I realized I’d given something away, and tried to think of a way to answer that did minimal damage. “Well, Troll smelled fey on you, so I guessed you might have a connection.”

He blinked. “I didn’t know it was that obvious, but yes, my powers come from the fey. I’ve never told anybody, but I suppose it had to come out sometime. Sorry, but I haven’t noticed anything unusual.”

“Really? That’s weird. I’d think you’d see something before I would, and I’m pretty sure I saw something inhuman on the Fourth of July.”

He nodded along as I talked. “Interesting. What did you see?” (more…)