Next to me, Amy muttered, “I didn’t prepare any spells to handle that. Red Hex?” Her voice raised as she said Samita’s codename.
Samita shook her head. “Not directly. Troll and I both wear rings that I bound to spirits of probability. They protect us from getting hurt, and of course I enchanted our costumes. I might be able to repurpose something…”
She frowned, and opened one of the leather pouches on her belt, sticking her arm inside, and pulling things out to examine. This wouldn’t have been anything to remark about except that she’d stick her arm in all the way to the elbow while the pouch was at most four inches deep.
Weirder, she’d take objects out of the pouch that were wider than the pouch—a white, porcelain basin, for example.
After examining it, she put it back in.
I knew better than to ask about it. We didn’t have time, and even if she wanted to talk about how it worked, it was magic. All the same, maybe I could convince her to let me examine it sometime?
Tara watched as the balls rolled round the arena. “I think,” she began, stopping, but then continuing as all of us turned to listen, “that the balls will be less of a threat to us physically, but if they contain any iron or if Moonglider’s wind is strong enough, they’ll be able to redirect the balls at us.”
Rod shrugged. “I’m pretty sure I can do some redirecting of my own.”
Tara frowned. “Only if you can touch them. They’ll be able to do it remotely. That’s in addition to them having two high speed flyers while we have one, and that we may have to fight them blindfolded.”
We had thought through how to handle Stephanie’s devices in a straight fight, but since Lee hadn’t mentioned that we’d be facing balls and playing capture the flag, this was all new.
“Not exactly blindfolded,” Amy said, “and I can fly quickly even if it’s not as quickly.”
She’d modified her supernatural sight spell so we could use it while closing our eyes. I didn’t personally need it. I’d modified my helmet to filter out Stephanie’s devices.
“I know,” Tara said, holding up a hand. “Give me a moment to think.”
Tara closed her eyes, clenching her fists. Then all at once she opened them. “Troll, Red Hex, and I will be on defense. Bloodmaiden and the Rocket will be on offense.”
Rod frowned, eyes narrowing within the diamond mask. When not a troll, his trench coat, mask and hat made me think of a 1930’s pulp hero. “Why? Putting the Rocket and I on offense worked great last time.”
She met his eyes. “Do trolls have a weakness for iron like the rest of the fey?”
He threw up his hand while shaking his head. “Right. Magnet shithead will take me out in a second. I guess I’ll have to trust to the Brothers Improbable.”
The ring gleamed on his right hand.
Before I could ask what that meant Samita said, “The bound spirits are brothers.”
“Which works great,” Rod said, “except when they try to one up each other.”
Tara held up both her hands. “We don’t have time to talk. Here’s the plan—”
She barely managed to get through it before the announcer said, “Athletes, please take the field. We’ll begin in two minutes.”
They’d given us ten last time, but I supposed that we’d all already warmed up.
We left our seats to the cheers of the crowd, walking onto the field at the same time as team one. People shouted the Power’s name along with “The Rocket” and even “Ronin” because apparently Tara had decided to take on her dead father’s codename.
Amid all the screaming an alert appeared in my HUD.
[Escalation beginning. Regime metahumans have escaped the presidential palace with several guards using previously unknown powers. As per my most recent research report, the regime invested in a power juice program.]
I wanted to scream. This was all falling apart at the worst time.
The report from this morning—one I hadn’t yet read, and that the Coffeeshop Illuminati certainly didn’t have. I messaged Hal, “If I haven’t already told you to, update everyone in the League as well as everyone outside who’s helping us on this—including Dr. Nation, and give everyone all the reports.”
It flashed off, and I stood next to the rest of the team in front of the flag.
The balls, both gray and made of stone rolled around the outside making a noise that reminded me of a bowling alley. I supposed that we’d be the pins.
Lee walked on to the field and spoke into a microphone. “The rules for this match will be the same as any other except that the stone balls you see rolling around the field will make things more exciting. Interfering with them in any way is completely allowed, but Agent Lim requests that you don’t kill anybody with them.
“We’ve moved the healers closer to the field to improve their response time.”