Amy nodded, and then closed her eyes for a moment, making a small motion with her right hand. “We can talk privately–at least for a little while. I’ll warn you when it’s over.”
“Sure,” I said, noticing Samita glance in our direction and frown. “Uh… It looks like Samita noticed your spell.”
Amy’s helmet didn’t make it easy to see, but she appeared to roll her eyes at that. “She would. Look, she’s supposed to be mentoring me in traditional magic, but she’s also watching to make sure I don’t go batshit insane and drain the school’s blood in an act of ritual horror.”
“Um. Okay. Is it too late to include her?” Continue reading Demo: Part 11
“Okay,” I typed. “Keep watching them, and report—unless I’m fighting. Then only bother me if it’s bad, and it’s something I can actually change. Actually, tell anyone in the League under those conditions.”
The alert flashed. [Understood.]
I needed to encourage Hal to use a handle in the League’s comm system. Having him interact with me through the alert system didn’t make a lot of sense.
Taking my eyes off transparent letters in my helmet’s HUD, I started paying attention to everything around me again.
Amy nodded toward my hands, a gesture made a little stranger by her black and blood red helmet. “What were you doing?” Continue reading Demo: Part 10
Amy and I walked over to student seating. Students sat in bleachers slightly to the left of the VIP stand. Tournament participants were in the first row. A stone wall about three feet high rose in front of us.
Bearing in mind how powerful some of the fighters were, I wondered how much protection that really represented. Then I noticed the telltale shimmer of a force shield above the wall. For a moment I wondered whether it generated by a person or a machine but then I realized that small black discs with glowing sides sat at even intervals on top of the wall.
One of them was within reach.
I reminded myself that tampering with it before the match would cause no end of trouble. I’d have every chance to look at after the tournament–assuming nothing disastrous happened.
Still… Continue reading Demo: Part 9
I ignored him. The last thing I needed was for the man to connect the Rocket with one of the kids who’d trashed his pictures at the club a month ago.
Out of the corner of my helmet’s view, the photographer tensed as Rod jumped over the wall in troll form, carrying Samita in one hand and drooling from his mouth. The ground shook as he landed.
Tara, who’d landed just behind Rod, didn’t fall, but she did have to take a few extra steps where she might normally have taken one.
The photographer along with the rest of the crowd took several steps backward. A few people cursed. Others made wordless noises. Continue reading Demo: Part 8
Tara and I parted after that, each of us heading to our own rooms. The week flew past. We had two matches with each of the three teams, losing more than we won. That was okay. It was actually the plan. We’d come up with strategies and tactics for fighting each team, and devices or spells that might help.
Tara wanted to test how the other teams would respond to similar tactics that didn’t use the new equipment.
It had the side effect of getting them used to less effective versions of the same idea. Combined with losing, it might lull our opponents into thinking we weren’t much of a threat.
I explained as much to Haley on Friday night, the night before the tournament. We were sitting in my lab with the lights on low, deliberately next to the wall and out of direct view of the door.
Haley glanced in the direction of Stephanie’s lab. “Are you sure you can tell me this? It’s not as if I’m going to tell Travis, but Izzy hears everything.” Continue reading Demo: Part 7
In the first sinking moments of understanding what she’d asked, I thought I might be able to get away with pretending not to know. Then realism set in. She’d realized who was missing from the common areas simply by walking through them and remembering our normal habits—whatever they were.
Lies would be useless. She’d probably be able to match up everything we’d ever said in her presence.
In the face of that, I had no choice.
Sighing, I led with, “It probably doesn’t matter anymore anyway. You know how Turkmenistan’s been in the news lately? Most of the Heroes League was involved with a plan to bug the presidential palace, steal files, and set the regime up for embarrassment or overthrow. We weren’t going to go forward without permission. Unfortunately, someone gave all the stuff we’d collected up through the fourth of July over to Gordon and Stephanie, and they gave it to the Coffeeshop Illuminati, and now, well, who knows what’s going to happen?” Continue reading Demo: Part 6
Tara nodded. “And how do we win?”
“Well,” I thought about her question, trying to guess what she was going for, “the obvious answer is that the specific strategy and tactics might be different for each team. That’s not the answer though. Our best quality as a team is that our capabilities could be completely different at the end of the week than the beginning. I might modify my suit or bots. Amy or Samita might use new spells or new magic objects.
“We’ll have to train against the other teams all week, so we may have to come up with ideas, and then not try them out until the tournament–which means we really won’t know how well they work.”
Tara grinned briefly. “That’s what I was thinking too. But we’ll have a better idea of what might work than you think. I can remember every move the third and fourth years have made in a fight I’ve seen.” Continue reading Demo: Part 5
“Huh.” I stared into the distance as I wondered how exactly we’d handle a faerie invasion, and also, why they’d bother.
I happened to have aimed my staring vaguely in the direction of the door, and so I was watching as Samita and Tara walk though the magically guarded doorway.
Technically, I heard Tara before I saw her. Her voice cut through the silence, a torrent of words with barely any space between them. She was very excited about whatever it was. Continue reading Demo: Part 4
“The tournament will work like this. You’ve got four teams. In the first round, there will be two fights and the winners will fight each other in the second round. It’s quick and simple, and it will have to be. We’ve got the VIP’s for the afternoon, and not longer than that. With luck, it’ll be exciting and get everyone back here in time for supper.”
Lee’s mouth quirked in a half smile. “Does anyone have any questions?”
Patriot Jr’s hand shot up. “I’m not trying to second guess you, sir, but why these groups? There are enough upperclassmen alone to fill the exercise, but you sprinkled in a few second years. I’m not complaining. They’re powerhouses, but why?” Continue reading Demo: Part 3
It wasn’t going to be the good kind of awesome though. It was kind of awesome you get when all the people who hate you go into one corner and you wonder what they’re going to do when they come out.
To be fair, it wasn’t everyone who hated me. Jody wasn’t on their team.
Not yet anyway.
Over the loudspeaker, Lee said, “Blue Mask. Group 1.”
That was interesting, I thought as a guy who could almost have passed for Zorro walked up to their group. “Almost passed” because he had a blue mask. The inside of his cape was lined with blue as well—upping the number of capes I’d met who actually had a cape to two.
He carried a rapier.
I barely had time to process that when Lee said, “Slugger, Group 1.” Continue reading Demo: Part 2