Demo: Part 11

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?”

“Way too late, and we’re running out of time. Adam’s the traitor, or he’s one of them,” she said, facing forward, keeping her lips out of view of the stands behind us.

I took a breath. “Do you think there are more?”

She shrugged. “I’m not ruling it out. I was always told that traitors come in bunches–like grapes. What we need to decide is this. Do we take him down now or later?”

I stared at her. “Later. Definitely later. The place is full of security for a bunch of politicians, at least one of whom hasn’t decided if I’m a threat or a menace, plus there are a bunch of powered security who’d protect first and ask questions later. Why would we ever take him down now?”

Her lips tightened. “Because he might know he outed himself, and then he’ll either escape or put his end game into play. Either way, potential disaster.”

I froze for a moment, and then said, “Point taken, but I don’t think he realized it.” I rechecked my helmet’s display. The new suit’s helmet gave me a 360 degree view, or near enough to it. “Adam’s sitting down in his seat.”

“Then you’re willing to risk waiting?”

I checked where I’d last seen Adam, but he was still sitting.  “I… Yeah. I think I’ll have to risk that.”

She gave the barest of nods. “Then as soon as this is over, we get people we can trust into your lab, and I’ll enspell them so that they can see magic. After that, we take him down. His powers are magic based, right?”

“I assume. He can hide himself. That seems like a fairy power. I can still see him with sonics.”

She raised an eyebrow, her mouth hinting at a grin. “I love the fae. They’re such complete bastards. If he asked for the ability hide from human sight, sonics don’t count.”

I smiled back (a little)–not that she could see it. The Rocket suit’s helmet covered my face. “What bugs me though is that there’s no motive–”

She held up a gauntlet covered finger to her lips.

The spell was over.

Samita reached behind Tara to tap Amy’s shoulder. Her armor made a dulled, metallic thump, and Amy turned.

Frowning, Samita asked, “Is there anything the rest of us should know?”

Amy shook her head, frowning. I said, “Nothing to do with the tournament. Drop by my lab afterward and it might come up. That goes for everyone.”

Rod nodded, and opened his mouth to ask a question, but stopped as Lee’s whistle interrupted him. Team one and team four went back to their respective flags while an announcer who wasn’t Lee gave their codenames and powers, adding that the codenames they used today might not be the ones they used as a hero.

I ignored the announcer, half wondering what strategy each team would use, and half thinking about what Adam’s motive could be. The first time I’d met him he’d been angry about Agent Lim sidelining him. He’d been working with the Feds, but after the mob killed his girlfriend, and he went on some kind of murderous anti-mob rampage, Lim took him out of the field and got him into therapy.

I could see where he might have a grudge against Lim, but so far nothing had been pointed against Lim directly. Fairies had tripped Amy’s wards and tricked Vaughn out of information which they’d handed to Stephanie, probably knowing it would go to the Coffeeshop Illuminati.

Suspecting that paying attention to the incidents so far might be the best route to understanding, I nearly missed the beginning of the fight.

At the announcer’s “Go,” Patriot Jr and Izzy flew across the field. Akesha, the woman in powered armor ran along with them, keeping up, which was impressive enough. Patriot Jr’s power, as I understood it was to generate a force shield in front of himself while flying.The force shield was, or at least could be, considerably larger than he was. It wasn’t a versatile power, but in battles, he shone.

Leading the way, he flew low, destroying the rock squares that dotted the field like tombstones, throwing up dirt and grass into the air.

I half expected that would be the end of it, but rather than staying in the air the dust blew off to the side, and Stephanie’s mesh helmet which suddenly reminded me of nothing more than a fencer’s helmet, blazed.

I wasn’t caught directly, but the symbol on it demanded to be looked at. Viewing it from an angle, I resisted, but Patriot Jr and Akesha caught her gaze full on.

She turned her head and they struggled to keep her face in sight, plowing into the foothill to their right.

21 thoughts on “Demo: Part 11”

  1. “Leading the way, he flew low, destroying the rock squares that dotted the field like tombstones, throwing up dirt and grass into the air.

    I half expected that would be the end of it, but rather than staying in the air the dust blew off to the side, and Stephanie’s mesh helmet which suddenly reminded me of nothing more than a fencer’s helmet, blazed.”

    I feel like I’m missing something because this just is not making a lot of sense to me.

  2. Stephanie makes objects that visually entrances anyone who looks at them. Sort of like a hypnotic effect but faster and more potent.

  3. On a completely different subject, how does Worm keep so many people voting for it when it’s been finished for what, 2 years now? I really want to see LoN climbing the ranks like it deserves!

  4. Stephanie is on the other team. That might need some clarification, because I was confused about that as well.

    To be fair, it’s difficult to keep teams coherent in the reader’s mind without a lot of buildup/backstory to go through. I still get confused about the Shift occasionally because he doesn’t have as much screentime.

  5. Ah, the action hath begun! Jim, either Amy needs to join the league, or she and Nick need to get a room (nowhere near Haley, as well as complete decontamination before coming back). I’m not sure which yet. Maybe both? Either way, you’ve really brought a character who was originally “anime girl” pretty far.
    Now I really want a side story in which the league visits anime-world.
    The omnisphere brilliant because it allows crossovers and dementional travel while sustaining suspension of disbelief.
    Anyway, it’s weird having an arc about a place on the other side of the world relative to our protagonists. Not that I’m complaining. Or horribly fragmenting my sentences.
    I don’t have anything to add.

    Actually, I do. Nick from the darkest timeline should have had a (fake) goatee.
    Now I don’t have anything to add.
    Keep doing the work we all wish we were.

  6. The typos I caught:
    she’s supposed to mentoring me in traditional magic
    to be mentoring
    facing foward, keeping her lips out of view
    forward
    Amy shook her head, frowing. I said, “Nothing
    frowning

  7. @Andrul: Whenever I vote, I always vote for the serials I love and read. That means I vote for LoN, and I vote for all three of Wildbow’s stories. That’s that.

    @Black Hat: Dark-Nick’s goatee should be on the Rocket suit.

    Hg

  8. Typos – helment should be helmet and guantlet should be gauntlet respectively. ‘Asked for the ability hide’ needs the word ‘to’ added before hide.

  9. Thanks everyone for corrections. I think I’ve included them all now.

    @MadNinja:For what it’s worth, my idea for Stephanie’s devices was essentially, “We’ve got piles of inventors who have ridiculously advanced biology, physics and chemistry. What would ridiculously advanced neuroscience look like?”

    Indistinguishable from magic apparently–much like any sufficiently advanced technology.

  10. You know what? I’m now getting suspicious. OF AMY. Hear me out.

    The best way to infiltrate the Heroes League would be through magic, because they don’t have a specialist – except perhaps Amy. Ergo, natural target. We only have her word about some of the spells she’s done too, like the magic protection… granted, Samita might have said something if the lab stones looked funny, but maybe there’s something beneath the surface that she wasn’t testing for. Who gave Vaughn that email info? An image of Amy. Who is now secretly suggesting a preemptive strike to Nick (in a classic “but she said we should do it!” scenario)? Amy.

    I’m not saying she’s out of character, or even consciously aware, but she also had her own enemies (was it an older sister or a twin scenario that ended up giving her the bloodmaiden title even though it’s not really her’s? I don’t recall) and they could have suggested how to control her. Perhaps by tainting her blood. She is, in a very real sense, a pressure point who could be exploited. Nick might regret telling her that he can see Adam using sonics.

    Then again, I may also be completely out to lunch.

  11. I am re-reading the series and am a little confused. IIRC, previously Nick had theorized that Patriot Jr was an aerokinetic. This chapter says that he has a force field. Was Nick wrong or is that what he does/all he can do with his air ability?

    1. Patriot Jr’s ability is essentially to create a force field that extends ahead of himself, allowing him to fly and crash through things without getting hurt. It’s possible that it’s based on controlling air or that it’s based on the ability to create force fields. Based on what Nick’s seen, the answer isn’t yet clear. Since this story is told from Nick’s perspective, the fact that he doesn’t know means that you don’t either (unfortunately).

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