Izzy’s forehead wrinkled. “Why do you think that?”
“I’m not sure, but I think she may have talked to the invaders in their native language. Anyway, I know that somewhere in there Amy used magic to transform a little in their direction. Something like that. That whole battle’s a little blurry at this point.”
“I think you’re right,” Daniel said, glancing over at Izzy and then back to me. “Judging from the way she made that shield and that she can fly, her magic is pretty flexible. It’s worth a question. Who do we talk to if it doesn’t work?”
“Maybe Samita? I don’t know her very well, but Rachel and Cassie both do. Also, maybe the League jet’s AI, but I don’t know if it knows Turkmen, or how easy it would be to learn it. Also, I’m still trying to figure the thing out. I didn’t even know it was around until last fall.”
“The AI seems nice,” Haley said. “It’s nicer than Cassie’s gun anyway.”
“Yeah,” I said. “And it’s probably the only option for large scale translation. The problem is that while I don’t know much about galactic history, what I do know is that they keep AI’s under draconian restrictions. Freed AI’s have tried to wipe out all sentient organic life a few times. It’s probably due to Lee’s people, but whatever’s up with that, I’m trying to be careful about how much I use it.”
Daniel nodded. “Plus if the Xiniti believe we’re trying to replicate the AI, they’re probably under orders to burn the planet.”
“Yeah,” I said. “We probably get more latitude than most due to being the Heroes League and because Cassie and I are officially Xiniti citizens, but it’s probably best not to draw attention to it.”
“Okay,” Daniel said. “Does anybody have anything else?”
It felt a little weird not to be planning to do anything together after that, but we didn’t. Daniel and Izzy went off to do something, and Haley and I sat in my lab. For a moment after they left, we didn’t say anything.
Then Haley smiled, and said, “We’ve got the afternoon.”
We did, and it sounded a lot better than going to a club. “We could go out to lunch, someplace where there aren’t any supers or paparazzi.”
Haley stood up from the chair. “Let’s.”
Then I thought about Amy. “Before we go, would you mind if we tried to talk to Amy? The magic labs are in the next suite.”
Haley’s lips tightened for a moment, but then she said, “We should.”
Leaving the lab, we used the lab’s nearest door, walking out into a wide red, rock hallway.
The next opening looked almost exactly like the one we’d left–a square, doorless opening in the rock.
Walking down the hallway, Haley raised her nose a little, and sniffed the air. “We’re in the right place.”
I was about to comment that there wasn’t any reason to doubt that when it occurred to me to ask, “How do you know?”
“You’ll figure it out,” she said, and kept on walking.
I kept up with her, and we stepped into the magic labs’ common area. The first thing that I noticed was that the room was smaller, and almost entirely social.
The tech labs’ common room held machines that we all might need. The magic labs’ common room held only tables, chairs and a few completely empty spaces. I assumed that they’d been left empty in case someone needed to do a particularly big ritual.
That, or maybe the architect had no idea what a wizard might need.
Haley’s eyes darted around the room. “They only have five labs.”
There were twenty tech labs–which still wasn’t many by comparison to the total number of people on campus, but heroes who used magic at a high enough level of sophistication to need a lab must be rarer.
In retrospect, it didn’t surprise me. Most magic based heroes that I was aware of were the result of the faerie incursions–the big one in the late 60’s, or one of the smaller ones that didn’t rate a name or entry in the history books. Typically, they were magic based by way of descent (Rod or “Troll” who seemed like a nice enough guy, but had something against legacy heroes) or a magical device (Crimson Mask or any of the Mask family).
The first two labs were dark. Apparently wizards didn’t believe in working on Saturdays–which made no sense unless they were Kabbalists or maybe Seventh Day Adventists.
What little I’d seen of Samita though made me wonder if she ever stopped studying.
Putting my arm on Haley’s shoulder, I said, “I wonder if anybody’s here?”
“Amy’s here.” Haley pointed at the third open doorway. It wasn’t much lighter than the others, but there was light. It glowed redly.
Then Amy stood in the doorway, a silhouette of a slight woman in a jean jacket and jeans. She walked toward us, the common room’s brighter lighting allowing her to appear in full color.
“What are you doing here?” Her voice had a slight southern accent. Knowing that she came from a completely different universe, I wondered how real it was.
“Looking for you,” I said.
She glanced at Haley, and then at me. “This isn’t a social call, is it?”
I shook my head. “The more private the conversation is, the better.”
Amy’s eyes widened, and then narrowed. “Right. Then follow me. Our only chance for real privacy is over here.”
We followed her inside her lab, avoiding the glowing, blood red gems that matched the gem on Amy’s necklace, and her armor after she transformed.
“Stand here,” she said, standing next to a heavy, wooden table. As we stopped next to her, she took out a knife and cut her hand, touching her bloody palm to the gem on her necklace.
Gems all around the room glowed bright red, and stayed that way, lighting up the place.
At the same time, a high pitched voice shrieked, and then went silent.