Remote Control: Part 5

Haley kicked her shoes off and literally leapt across the room, landing on all fours. She hadn’t transformed. However her body worked, she was already stronger and faster than normal humans even before a transformation.

As she crouched, she sniffed the air near the doorway.

Almost simultaneously with Haley’s leap, Amy touched her gem, setting off an explosion of red, darker red, black, white, and pink.

A hint of music lingered in the air as armor appeared on her body. White, with extensive dark red and black detailing of abstract designs that centered around the dark red gem in the middle of the armor. Form fitting, the armor wasn’t as bulky as I remembered her last transformation–though she was still taller. Inexplicably, her hair now hung halfway down her back.

It struck me as the kind of armor you might wear more for formal occasions rather than fighting. The spear on her back and black sword at her side hinted that it was more than a little useful for killing though.

She joined Haley, crossing the room in a few steps, and making a sign in the air in front of her face that shimmered.

After a moment of looking over the area around the door, and then stepping through it into the commons, she came back. “It’s gone.”

“Do you mean gone,” Haley asked, “or dead?

Amy touched her hand to her gem. As colors swirled and her armor disappeared, she said, “Gone. I don’t know where.”

Haley frowned as she stood up. “I can smell it was here, but can’t smell what direction it went. It’s like it teleported away or maybe disintegrated.”

“Or wrapped itself in shadow, and disappeared.” Amy took another look at the area around the door.

I joined them, quietly wishing I’d worn my stealth suit under my clothes.

“Shadow?” I stuck my hands in my pockets. “I know the answer is ‘magic,’ but how would that work? Shadows aren’t a substance. They’re just the absence of light, and not even the complete absence. All you need is to have less light. It’s a little like deciding half a glass of water is a different substance than a full glass of water.”

Amy glanced over at Haley, and when Haley didn’t say anything, she turned back to me. “You believe that I can do things with magic, right?”

“Well, yeah. That’s obvious.” The dark red gems all over room burned a little brighter now, and had since she’d done whatever she’d done to get us some privacy.

Even if that was the most current example there were so many more. I’d seen her spear pass through metal like it wasn’t there. What’s more, there were her transformation sequences, and well, so much.

“Good,” she said. “The program offers a basic magic course for non-practicing students. Take it. You’ll get a better overview than I’ll give you, and every school of magic will explain how it works differently.

“Let’s talk about something more important. Who did you piss off?”

I looked over at Haley. The only person I could think of lately might be the photographer, and most of that probably wasn’t me.

“I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve pissed off anybody lately. We literally bumped into one of the paparazzi last night, but I don’t think he’d be able to send anything after us.”

“He’d be more angry at Hunter and Gifford,” Haley said, adding, “They’re the ones who broke his camera.”

“No kidding?” Amy grinned. “You’ve been busy, but there has to be someone else. Fairies don’t decide to follow people for no good reason.”

I thought about that. “Couldn’t it be after you?”

Amy shook her head. “No. If my people wanted to track me, they’d use spirits they have experience with–not yours.”

Haley frowned. “We haven’t fought anyone who does anything with fairies.”

Amy shrugged. “Then maybe it could be someone your grandparents fought. Revenge is a classic motive.”

Groaning, Haley said, “Then it could be anyone. ”

Amy laughed, and Haley stared at her.

“Sorry,” Amy said, “I should have thought about that. If we were back in my home universe, I’d be in the same boat. Well, then could it be connected to what you wanted to talk about?”

I shook my head. “Probably not, but before I go further, does the privacy thing still work, or did zapping the fairy use it up?”

“Still works,” Amy said, “but if you want privacy, let’s move further into the room.”

We did, and sat down at a stainless steel table that made me think of a restaurant kitchen, an impression compounded by the line of refrigerators at the back of the room.

I turned away from looking at them. “What’s with the refrigerators?”

Amy smiled. “I use blood magic. I’ve got to keep the blood somewhere, but you know what? I’ve been thinking I could get away with keeping beer if I spread it out between them.”

I looked down the line of refrigerators. “That’s a lot of blood. Where do you get that much?”

“It’s not that interesting. I buy most of it. It comes from animals or people, but mostly animals. People get weirded out.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I believe it. Anyway, I was wondering if you could magically read a new language if we needed a translation.”

Amy leaned back in her chair. “Sure. No big deal if I had blood from someone who could read it, or who could translate as a power.”

“Oh. So that’s how that works.” Where would we find someone who knew Turkmen? I had no idea. Not to mention that hypothetically at that point we might as well just hire them. Dealing with the jet’s AI would actually be easier.

“That’s how it works,” she said. “That’s blood magic. So what’s going on? Why would you need that?”

That was it–the point where I had to make a decision. Should I trust or not? The fairies decided me. “We’re going to try to overthrow Turkmenistan’s government indirectly. We need someone who can read Turkmen and help me decide what documents we steal and translate.”

She didn’t say anything at first, but then said, “I’m in, but I hope no one from home hears about it. They might get the wrong idea.”

“To be honest,” I said, “we’ve got an alternate way to deal with the documents, but I’m thinking we’ll need you because of the fairy. My best guess is that whoever set it on us is here.”

20 thoughts on “Remote Control: Part 5”

  1. *Groan* Not Faerie! Faerie is always bad news! I think no matter the story or game I haven’t ever met one were the introduction of Faerie was followed by good things happening.

    Sigh… better get the old cold iron blade out…

  2. I’m assuming that we’re hearing a bit now, about the magical side, of the LoN-verse. Universes are complex things, and I like the way that more LoN detail unfolds, every so often. The existence of other worlds, Faery, which presumably includes fairies, as the (primary) source of magic, magical objects, and (indirectly) users of magic? The business of beings of faery, stepping between worlds, is presumably relevant.

    Nick needing to learn a bit about about magic – if nothing else, how it intersects with how he uses, and hopes to use, technology. Dealing with Blood Maiden, who knows at least where to look for information on magic, is smart.

    Trying to work out where magic and tech intersect is likely to be very tricky… It seems unlikely that one can trump the other, reliably. It doesn’t seem as though Nick is playing with direct reality sensing and mangling tech, which might be able to detect the ‘dimensional disturbances’ caused by magic, even counter (some of) them, but, who knows what some of the stuff his grandfather collected over the years might be capable of?

  3. Remember how back in the comments for Part 3 I made the remark that their precautions against being overheard weren’t that great, because there are plenty of people in the school with powers of their own? I’ll take one precog point, thanks.

    Anyway, nice worldbuilding. Nick mentioned last Part that most of the magic in their world comes from faerie incursions, so it makes sense the spy set on them was a faerie. I also appreciate that Amy was all, “I am not going to spend an hour trying to explain magic to you. There’s a class for that.”

  4. I love the story!

    “It’s a little like deciding half a glass or water is a different substance than a full glass of water.”

    Should be “half a glass of water” — of instead of or

  5. Then maybe it could someone your grandparents fought. Typo? Word missing. Then maybe it could be someone your grandparents fought.

  6. Interesting take on Nick’s part regarding the “shadow as a substance” thing. However, he kind of has it wrong. Shadows define the region of occlusion for a radiant source. That radiance could be light, or heat, or X-rays, or spraying water, or bullets. Being a physics guy, he probably should have known that (which doesn’t mean he would have thought about it like that in the moment). A better analogy would have been if he’d said something like the area under an umbrella being a difference substance. (As an aside, what we perceive as “cold” suffers from the same issues as “shadow”, being the lower relative level of heat, as compared to light, which still gets thought of in everyday terms as its own substance or thing.)


    1. As I wrote that, I wondered if I should try to go with a more technically correct explanation or one that someone might come up with on the spur of the moment. I went with the latter mostly because I thought it would be shorter.

  7. Interesting turn of events here. Magic in the world could certainly throw certain technical plans into disarray.

    After all, Turkmenistan is where the Door to Hell is located.

    It’s also in the Middle East, and there’s a long, long history if Djinn activity in that region.

  8. He hasn’t fought a Faerie, that we know of, but he has had dealings with someone who has ties to them. Darkcloak or Dark Cloak, I forget which. Better yet, that guy’s powers dealt with shadows and manipulation of attention. Coincidence?

  9. @Farmerbob1: according to a thing I read not too long ago, most djinn are far above that thing’s power/skill level and the most active member of their species recently died a tragic death. Though it was for a good cause.

  10. In the “shadow as substance” discussion, why do we perceive light to exist and shadow not to? They’re both states of the underlying medium.

  11. I don’t really think of something could be “wrapped in shadows”, but if it could be made to not reflect any light, wouldn’t it basically be the same thing? Or to bend light around it? Idk, I’m sick so silly stupid things are making sense to me

  12. Well, if it were possible to create a malleable field that was absent of light, as opposed to a field of absence of light defined by the presence of other objects, then such a malleable field could wrap around things.

    Science-wise, well, that would be rather challenging 🙂

    It seems though, as if Nick and crew might be getting involved in magic, in which case, all sorts of science goes out the window.

  13. I am amused at how Nick goes into Tinker fugues at the merest hint of any kind of technical question, but seems completely incurious about this whole magical anime princess from another universe thing Amy’s got going.

  14. I’m gonna say Gordon’s behind the listening, somehow. Maybe not consciously. (Maybe it wasn’t even a fairy, but one of Diva’s creatures?) I dunno. Suspicious.

    By the way, I love the hint of music and the fact that Amy’s hair changes length. Also, she’s like a peculiar vampire. Nick did mention last part that she’s from a different universe though? When did he find that out? I know there were family issues but I feel like that’s new information.

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