In my peripheral vision—which included almost everything behind me—Samita opened up a box and threw the dirt inside it into the air. It hung in the air like a cloud, and then in one burst dispersed, spreading across the entire field.
That’s when things got weird.
All the grass on our side of the field drooped, and spread across the ground, covering the dirt in green. As it did, the green became darker, and shinier—like glass, or ice.
Jaclyn and Meteor both fell. For the little that it’s worth, Jaclyn did better, turning her initial stumble into a jump that threw her into the air. She landed only ten feet past our flag, but it didn’t matter. She was still traveling at two hundred miles per hour. Along with Meteor, she slid past our flag pole and toward the obstacle course—depending on the angle. The ground wasn’t level. It wasn’t impossible that they’d slide into the parked cars off to the side of the course. Continue reading Demo: Part 15
I couldn’t argue with her there. Jaclyn alone had a chance of taking out our entire team in a straight fight. Add in another speedster plus Travis, Rachel, and Mist for good measure…
We were toast.
That sounds defeatist, but it wasn’t. The funny thing is that what gave us a chance of winning was the fact that we were playing a game. Jaclyn might be able to kill any of us with a blow in real life, but here she had to decide how much she was willing to hurt us to win.
In front of me, Tara met each of our eyes in turn. “I think I know what they’re going to to do. Rocket, you’ve got a way to stop Ghost, right?” Continue reading Demo: Part 14
The flash worked better on the audience than anyone else. All around me, people were saying things like, “Can you see what’s happening?”
Amy shook her head. Tara, like me, appeared to be unaffected.
She’d probably anticipated the explosion.
Not that that mattered. What mattered was that the blast hadn’t affected Gordon either. Either his hood or something in his mask had blocked the light. Continue reading Demo: Part 13
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
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