(Meant to do this this weekend but hey, here we go)
"No, Robots are swarming a building over there," Valorosa gestured towards a squat building, "They look a lot like Fumian tech to me."
Dozens of multilimbed robots, rather spider like in design, were swarming a building. Each robot appeared to be about a foot wide if you counted leg span. Some were swarming over the entry way so I couldn't make out details but the last word 'clinic' was revealed on the sign. Bleeding and not feeling too hot, I nevertheless figured we had no choice but to engage. The only question was would I send Pogo on to the base or have her wait here in the vehicle.
Then she took the choice from me.
Screaming "Justice springs eternal and so do I!" Pogo leaped from the damn hovercycle and crashed down below smashing and mashing the robots. They weren't as durable as some we'd faced, thank goodness, and her frenetic pacing meant they had difficulty swarming her.
"We are never having kids," Valorosa jumped off after descending at a slow glide to join the fray, calling out, "I'm going in the building since she's got the outside."
"Great," I lowered the vehicle and did my own less spectacular landing, the ground shaking as I did so. My leg took it all right, but was weaker than usual thanks to the wound. I punched one robot and broke it easily. After all the heavy hitters, it was nice to have something go crunch right away like it was supposed to.
"Gross gross gross," Pogo grunted as she rammed her shoulder against one bugbot, then back to another only to kick a third. It was obvious to me that she was already way ahead of me when it came to sheer number of bugbots she had destroyed, "Why do they have to have so many legs? Who needs that many legs?"
I grabbed a newspaper dispenser, uprooted it, and began to beat some of the other bots on the wall, "Welcome to the glamourous life, Pogo," I declared and smashed more and then called out "How bad is it in there, Valorosa?"
"Dozens of the little monsters, they're trying to steal stuff from the freezers," She called out.
"Freezers?" I smashed another that was trying to escape, and yes, it squirted. Then I glanced up. By now Pogo and I had cleared up enough on the outside that I could read the rest of that sign, "Holy cow," I read the now revealed words, "It's a fertility clinic."
Pogo blushed, "So these things want people's, you know, stuff? For, for babies?"
"That's the G-rated version," I agreed, and hammered at more of the things, a sinking sensation falling into my gut, "Valorosa, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"That there are only so many reasons for gathering human genetic material? Si," She actually sounded offended, greatly so, "We can't let even one of them escape, Eel. Not one."
"Roger that," I said, increasingly alarmed as dozen of old sci fi and horror plots of yesteryear rekindled in my brain. Slave labor could be achieved a lot of ways for a species as high tech as the Fumians. If you couldn't get people, why not steal people to be?
And what had been a cakewalk became a desperate search and destroy mission that, frankly, managed to mix the worst aspects of creepy and gross. I kept my newspaper dispenser weapon handy and slammed as many of the things as I could, "Pogo, keep an eye out for the windows and other exits. If you see one trying to escape, smash it. We'll get the ones inside."
Unless, I thought, the little bastards were slipping down through the grates and vents where we couldn't fit. That would bring a whole new world of challenges if I had to rip the foundations of this place apart.
And, of course, the thought of 'what if Apocalyptic found us like this?' also came to mind. No, Mister Brute would look after Slice first. He fancied himself classy like that. We had time.
Honestly, I wasn't sure what time it was when we got what I hoped was the last machine. I looked up, and said "Let's get to the base, and get a shower. I think, I think I have an idea. But we're going to have to wake Lady Obsidian."
"She needs a full eight hours at least," Mabel protested, "Whatever it is, we can start it up without her and then get it going right?"
"Fine, Mabel, how are you at knifeforging and electronics?" I finally asked.
"That," she observed, "Is an interesting combination."
"I know," I told our computer friend, "I'm creative like that," then I glanced at Pogo, "Sorry, Pogo, we're going to need that knife after all."
Pogo grumbled, "Could you at least put in a good word for me with Lady Obsidian so when I do get old enough she'll consider me for the team?"
"I think she was considering you for the team when you got older anyway, but no promises," Ariana offered the girl a carrot with strings.
"Well, good," Pogo cheered up, "I mean, it'll be cool for you guys to get someone young on the team for a change."
My twenty-year-old girlfriend gave Pogo a look, then whispered to me, "She does know I'm not some old witch, doesn't she?"
"Of course, she doesn't," I assured her in a whisper back, "She's just a teenager, and a half decade seems like forever. You are a very sexy young woman, I'm a hot young stud, and we make the older people jealous."
Her smile was dazzling.
"Now," I added, "let's get back on our broom and get to the base."
She gave my arm a swat and took the main driver seat to boot.
Eh, worth it.
It turned out that thanks to the science labs, waldos, and workshops; Mabel was indeed able to start work on my little project. Compared to the usual technology Lady Obsidian and she worked with, this would be low tech, but I still got my two cents in.
"The balance has to be perfect, they have to feel identical or this won't work," I said.
"Pinprick, would you please tell tiger here to ease off and let me handle this?" Mabel groused.
"Speaking as someone who uses a weapon?" Pinprick said, "Fish Guy's right."
"Look, I know I'm being pushy but –" I blinked, "I am?"
"Slice has used this thing for years, she's going to know if the balance is off that it's a fake," Pinprick said, "You've got to get all of it right down to the last gram and that's not counting the balance."
Several zeroes and ones dashed along a display.
"I don't know what she's saying but I'm pretty sure it wasn't polite," I muttered.
"Fish Guy," Pinprick he said, "go soak, shower, clean up, and get some sleep. Lady O isn't the only one who has been pulling hard hours, and we've got the plan. The only thing we'll need later is your john Hancock."
"But," I started to protest.
"The only reason I'm not hitting you with a sleep arrow now is I don't want to have to wash you myself. Do you want me to wash you?" Pinprick gave me a look, "My little hands getting every square inch?"
I shuddered, "I think I'll shower and go to bed now."
"This team leader stuff is a breeze," I heard him mutter as I walked off.
And I almost stepped on Slime, the Alien was slithering through the hallway. Arctic Fox had grumbled about the sulfur smells but even she had been grateful for all his help. I wondered if we were considering expanding the team again at this rate.
And, tired as I was, it occurred to me, I was long overdue on a talk with him, "Uhm, Slime, got a minute?"
The good alien shifted its attention and bulk of its form to me and again words scrolled along, Yes, Eel? What is it your want to talk about?
Despite Slime's willingness to talk, he seemed cautious around me in a way he hadn't before. And I knew why.
"I want to apologize for not listening to you when you warned me about the delivery the Fumians were doing. I tuned you out, ignored you, and let my obsession with Mister Brute carry me off. I failed everyone, but I could have gotten you killed," I finished lamely, "I'm sorry."
I realize, Slime scrolled slowly, I should have explained that their transport would have your fellow Earthlings on it. I should have stressed that. Had I done it, I know you would never have abandoned them and me. We both made mistakes.
I nodded, "Still on me, but thank you for understanding," I told Slime.
I do understand. But, that is a matter of reason. Taking what I know of you, what occurred, and evaluating, Slime continued, but reason is only part of who we are. And, while it may not be reasonable. It will take time to regain my trust of you, Eel. I am sorry, but, I would be lying to say things are exactly as they were before between us, or will be right away. I hope you can be patient?
I felt stunned. For a juvenile moment I was tempted to point out that it hadn't been easy for me to apologize, and given he had agreed it was partly his fault, he had a lot of nerve shooting me down and acting like it was nothing.
But that was a lack of sleep and maybe a currently fragile ego combining there. Slime had just been honest with me, nothing more, and nothing less.
And I owed it to him to be the same.
"Well, I can't say I wasn't hoping for an immediate 'it's okay' and mutual hand-" I glanced down "Ah pseudopod shake? But I guess I can't blame you for needing time, and I hope we can rebuild the bridge I burned. It stings, but I'll try to respect your space."
Not burned, Slime assured me, We just need to put a few bricks back into place. Hopefully stronger than before. Besides, we are superheroes yes? We'll probably save each other's lives quite a few times over the next year.
"We probably will," I took the comment as the positive spin it was intended to be, "Uhm, catch you later, Slime. Thanks again for the help."
You are welcome, And Slime slithered off even as I? I went to bed.
Sleep took me, though I wasn't as sure I needed it as much as others. I think I got more sleep than they did; certainly, more than Lady Obsidian, but Pinprick was determined I get at least a four-hour break. I guess I needed it more than I thought, because I did not want to wake up.
Want or not, I rolled slowly getting to my feet. The Boxers that said 'Sea World' on them were a gag gift from the team, but had proven to be incredibly comfortable to snooze in. Ariana had a hard time looking at them without laughing.
And I was secure enough to deal with that.
"Mabel," I said cueing her in with a voice activation that it was okay to listen in and converse, "Could I get an update again?"
"It's ready," She chimed in helpfully, "And Lady Obsidian has approved of your plan."
"Great, let's hope they find it sooner rather than later," I said, "I'm going to need that flare gun with the special attachment."
"You don't need the special option," She snorted, "You just want to say you had one. Yes, it's ready."
"Awesome," I smiled for a moment, "Any other news?"
"Oh, it's still been crazy, of course, but the commercials appear to be working, we've gotten more reports of shifty scams and tricks, and the Fumians are finding it much harder to make their bargains. Our response time goes up, incidents go down. Overall, it is working," She would have smiled if she had a visible face.
"That is good to hear," I said, "I'll talk to Lady O since she's up again, shortly," I replied.
I took a deep breath, and forced myself to deal with fifteen minutes of checking on the Caleb side of things. Nothing that took a lot of time mind you, e-mails and accounts, that kind of thing. And I had to actively consider that I might not be the one on the 'take down the Apocalyptic side of things as the Fumians were still priority number one, but at least she liked the idea, or so it appeared.
When I looked up, I noticed the visitor light was on. Masks would be required, "Who has come in?"
"Doctor Salem, her apprentice, and –"
"Mayo's here?" I grinned. Mayo was a friend, a member of the undersea races who had lost his sight, but found a new calling. He'd started out as a reluctant draftee for the Eldest, and ended up taking out an intruder into the base- rather ruthlessly in fact. He liked to say he was not like me, that he was not a hero. But he was most definitely a friend.
This despite the fact Doctor Salem and he had run me ragged while the former recovered from her mystic excursions. I'd griped about some of the weird mystic incidents she had me covering to the others. They jokingly referred it to as the Twelve Tasks of Fish Guy, which given the incident with the carnival cruise that was a convention for necromancers, demonologists, and warlocks was quite surreal. You have not known fear until someone polymorphs you into a shuttlecock.
"Yes, and so is Dr. Bench," Mabel answered, "And before you ask, because I know you will, Dr. Bench is a leading expert on cancer. Lady Obsidian trusts him, but obviously she's not going to risk the secret identities of others hence the warning light."
"Understood," I said, "Where are they located?"
"The Bio-Science lab, they're talking about the sample, but nothing that you can't come in on," She said.
"Thanks, I think I will," I figured, "Maybe Mayo will have a moment for Breakfast."
Lady Obsidian was looking much better when I came into the Bio-Science Lab. She could probably use another six or seven hours on snooze but still, there was some of the old energy back. Of course, she had aged well. Doctor Salem, not so much. Sometimes, I worried the energy she had spent in letting me out of the Balance (Long story) had aged the already crone like mystic even further. Not that I would use the term crone to her face.
Mayo was still as white as his namesake, and the injury to his once dark eyes had still rendered them pale and unseeing as well. Two things surprised me. One was the fancy Chinese style man's robe but with Greek designs and a scrimshaw torc about his neck. The other thing that surprised me? He was breathing air.
Since when did he breathe air?
Doctor Bench was a middle-aged man with seventy percent of his hair gone, which, at that point, someone might ask why would you keep the last thirty percent? Just shave it and let it go. But then, I've got an uncle down to a tuft behind each ear and I half way expect him to try to braid that eventually. The man's a big believer in making the most of what you got.
"Hello, Eel," Mayo said turning to hold out a hand.
"How did you know I was here?" I asked as we clasped each other's elbows. What can I say? It was an undersea draftee bond thang, "I mean, I know you read auras, but you weren't even looking my direction."
"I still did it by reading auras," His smile betrayed his attempt at aloof composure, "It took me time to move beyond my perceived limitation, but as soon as I realized I was mistaken in associating with it my eyes, I made the adjustment. Now I sense the auras all about me. Of course, at first there is only awareness, then basic specifics come to me, and at the last, details."
"Details?" I raised a brow.
"Moods, emotional undercurrents, the harmony of the heart if you would," He explained in that semi-poetical way of his. Then he tilted his head, "Speaking of harmony of the heart, you are troubled my friend. What is wrong?"
"Personal stuff that can wait," I blushed a bit. I was not about to get into the subject of my relationship with Ariana, the ties it had to my sense of self identity, and the screwups I had made that had alienated Slime and perhaps damaged Lady Obsidian's trust in me. At least not in front of others, "The important thing is you guys are here and- " I realized, "I'm being rude." I moved to Dr. Bench, "Sir, I'm Eel. It's an honor to meet you." I gave a nod to Doctor Salem, "Doctor Salem, how's Sindrila?"
"She is fine, thank you," Doctor Salem said, "Despite your rather dubious rescue of her, she seems to have a fondness of you."
"Ah, thanks," I was glad Ariana wasn’t' in the room on that one. There had been a severe misunderstanding between Sindrila and I, and it had gotten awkward for all involved. Sindrilla was a dwarf, and I don't mean like a person with the condition of dwarfism, I mean her father helped craft Thor's hammer. If you don't know how dangerous smithing knowledge like she has could be, you haven't read your Bullfinch's.
In retrospect, I almost wished she was available for hire, she could have not only made a copy of Slice's blade, she could have put a whammy on it to hex the speedster hard and neutralized her.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Eel," Doctor Bench smiled as he shook my hand, "My son is a big fan. You're his third and a half favorite hero."
"And a half?" I raised a brow, "Third I understand but half? you got me there."
"Sometimes you are number four, sometimes you're ranked at number three," He admitted.
"Ah, fickle fandom," I joked, "Thank you for lending your expertise to the cause at it were."
"I was just thanking Lady Obsidian for the opportunity this might present," Doctor Bench said and his eyes lit up, "If there is even a decade of progress in finding the cure for cancer because of this endeavor, then any price is worth it."
"That is dangerous thinking, Doctor Bench," Doctor Salem intoned, "The Fumians take advantage of that kind of mindset. That's why Lady Obsidian wants to do this on our terms."
"Rather brutishly, to be honest," Lady Obsidian admitted, "The important thing is the dish is in place. On the signal, all the Fumians all over the city will lose their holographic disguises. Now this may cause panic, but if we're lucky, we'll find the fumians fast. When the holograms fracture, they'll release a small signature that hopefully we can pick up on the enhanced scanners. We'll have a brief burst of dots on the proverbial city map. If we can seize the opportunity fast enough, we'll have them. I even have another hovercycle ready to go and the car is fixed."
A smile slipped out of me despite the grim stakes involved, "No wonder you were tired. Mabel said you liked my plan for the other side of things. Your choice when and where, but the pay off could be big. I blew it earlier, but the Apocalyptic crew still scares the hell out of me. And I guess getting spooked makes me angry and getting angry makes me rash. Still, that admission aside," I shrugged, letting her finish the obvious unspoken.
"We can't ignore the group of killer supervillains or eventually they'll start hunting more than superheroes, they'll destroy entire buildings or the like," Lady Obsidian took the obvious up and continued, "Yes, I think it has merit. But for this plan to work, I'm going to have to ask you to do something that no sane person would agree to."
"Oh, sanity is a luxury item in this lifestyle anyway," I shrugged, "Shoot."
"I need you to face them for as long as you're able," She said, "Delay them, draw them out, run like hell. Do what you've got to do but buy the rest of us time to retrieve the Fumians."
I stared at her, "Forget about me, are you crazy? They nearly killed me the first time and only didn't because they were playing a sadistic game of let's torture the superhero."
"I know I'm asking a lot," Lady Obsidian said, "But if we can get you near water, you can get away like before, of course, if you jump straight into the water you might lose them too soon."
"Right, a probability manipulator, a speedster who by now may have healed, a person who can boil water, and a man who is both better at hand to hand and stronger than I am," I stared at her, "I appreciate that you seem to think I've improved but, with the exception of yourself, I cannot imagine anyone on the team being able to hold against them alone."
"I'm flattered," Lady Obsidian smiled, "Dice is a problem we may have a solution to, but it isn't ready yet," She glanced over at Doctor Salem.
"I'm afraid not, Vivian," Doctor Salem confirmed, "Should have something soon, but not yet. Enchantments take time."
"And we're back to no chance of blind luck saving me," I muttered before speaking up, "I know I regenerate, but I'm not sure how I'm going to survive this."
"Well, in truth," She confessed, "I considered sending someone with you, even thought about asking for a volunteer, but that's foolish because-"
"Because Valorosa would insist on being the one and she could get killed," escaped my mouth before I realized it.
"I was going to say because whoever volunteers might not be the best selection to ensuring your and whoever it is' survival," Lady Obsidian corrected me before going on, "Frankly, if I thought Valorosa could shift both of your densities at the same time and ghost you with her she would be the one I picked to try. But even with the booster she's not shown that level of ability. I need Tornado for his speed, Arctic Fox for her ability to entrap, and, of course, I should be there to identify the tech. That would leave Valorosa and Pinprick but I'm not sure I can spare them. Our mystic guests will be working on certain rituals. Slime knows the Fumians and is looking for a little payback. We're stretched so thin."
"I imagine there's no time to call in other supers from other cities on this is there?" I asked recalling the coalition they managed to assemble for the battle against the Eldest's undersea army.
"Afraid not," Lady Obsidian shook her head, "Point of fact, one of the teams I normally would ask for help is neck deep in their own problems fighting Major Domo Roboto again."
"I can help!" chimed a teenage voice which startled me. I had forgotten Pogo was there, bounding in, and I mean that quite literally. Gushing, she explained, "I want to help I'm going a bit crazy here, and my family thinks I'm on a sleep over with a friend so isn't like they'd know so maybe I can help out. It will be like I'm trying out for the team, I mean, not right away but kind of like it," Pogo rambled on like she was ready to fall over from happiness at the chance to die.
"I am not having you face Apocalyptic with me, Pogo," I said firmly, "They were already threatening to hunt you down."
"Agreed, it really does defeat the purpose, honey," Lady Obsidian said kindly.
"Nooooo," Pogo said tone that substituted for an eyeroll when the eyeroll might get them in trouble, "I mean, I could help you with the Fuminans, and then maybe free someone else to help Eel survive? I mean, he's big and strong but compared to Mister Brute he's on the puny side-"
"-Probably the slower side, Brute can really move," She continued.
"Well, yes maybe reflexes wise he is quicker," I agreed reluctantly.
"-And Mister Brute fights a lot better," She says repeating things I myself had mentioned, but somehow it came out as more annoying from her.
"Gee, thanks," I muttered.
"Heck, Mister Brute is probably even smarter!" She finished.
"Standing right here," I stated slightly gruffer than before.
"Oops," Pogo gave me a sheepish glance, "Sorry?"
Lady Obsidian looked her over, as if struggling, then finally said, "Desperate times I suppose. If you don't follow my orders, any order, I will send you packing back to the base and you will never ever even have a chance to join my Young Heroes of Tomorrow Program, you understand me?"
"Young Heroes of Tomorrow Program?" Her eyes widened like someone being told that golden tickets could be found in a select few chocolate bars.
I gave our leader a confused look and mouthed 'Young Heroes of Tomorrow Program?'
Our team leader shot me a very quick glare where Pogo couldn't see it, and then said, "Yes, Pogo. A Trainee program for young heroes who aren't ready for certain threats, but will be one day. When they finally join a full super team, be it the New Samaritans or some other team. They will be ready. So, can you follow orders? Because we don't need Mavericks on the YHoT," She tapped her foot expectantly.
"Yes, ma'am, I mean Doctor, I mean Lady I mean, yes I can follow orders, I've good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it people like me," The girl snapped a salute that was completely off kilter. But it was utterly sincere, and that meant a lot.
"Fine, you're with us," Lady Obsidian said, "Go on and tell Pinprick I need him. You should find him in the monitor area."
Pogo bounded off, and once Lady Obsidian was sure the girl was out of range, she said, "Pinprick will be by your side on this one."
"Thank you," I said taking a deep breath that I hadn't realized I had been holding.
"I didn't do it because Valorosa and you have feelings for each other. I did it because despite her training, she's still a rookie next to Pinprick, and you're going to need his experience as well as his very weird powers. Besides, you're risking your life against overwhelming odds. You deserve my right hand."
Doctor Salem raised a brow, "His ego would be quite swelled to hear you say that."
"Why do you think I never say it when he's in earshot?" Vivian replied wryly, "I love my boys to death, but there's not one of them that doesn't have at least ten pounds of cocky in a five-pound bag."
I nodded, thinking of Tornado's swagger and Pinprick's braggadocio, "They can get pretty full of themselves."
She gave me a long look.
"I'm the modest one," I assured her.
A longer look.
"Relatively speaking," I amended.
She sighed, then turned to the mystics, "We've set up an occult lab in the same room as last time."
"Thank you, Vivian, we shall make the most of it," Doctor Salem said and made to head there, Mayo looked less decisive. Without missing a beat, Doctor Salem said, "Yes, my apprentice, talk to your friend. Much does indeed weigh on him beyond the obvious and we should not become so focused on the forest we neglect the individual trees, if you will pardon a land-walker metaphor."
"It is a good one, thank you, my mentor," And the blind man from the depths put a hand on my shoulder, "Let's go have a brief meal, my friend."
I smiled, "How did you know I was going to, is this a magic thing?"
"Friendship and empathy only," He answered, "So yes, magic. Lead on."
And we talked, I meant to ask him how he was breathing air now, but instead, I chattered about me, I'm a bit embarrassed to say. I talked about Ariana's apparent concerns, how I had started wondering if Caleb had a place in Eel's life, and the screw ups I had done as both. We had breakfast, a brief one, and finally I said, "And that's what's going on with me."
"It sounds like you are already working on a solution to your own problems," Mayo assured me, "You are looking within to discover yourself. That is rarely a bad thing, particularly if you also be aware of how others see you as well and consider why."
"I thought I wasn't supposed to care what the world thought of me?" I said, "Isn't that the zen guru kind of way?"
"Are you living in some deep private rift where you may meditate in solitude for decades at a time?" He inquired of me, "Or , for a more traditional surface take, are you on some mountain top where almost no one will find you and if it is it is because they actually want your opinion?"
"Obviously not," I replied.
"Then you need to care what other people think, Caleb. Not as much as some other things, but it is a factor, and it does affect you. If you neglect the world, you neglect yourself," He assured me.
"I save lives," I reminded.
"Yes, you should thank them more often for letting you do it," He nodded and stroked his chin. I didn't know if he was going for a faux beard stroke deliberately or not.
I gave him a look. Sure, he can't read my facial expressions, but if he picked up moods and emotions in my aura I'm pretty sure he got the gist.
"I thought you wanted the zen guru 'kind of thing'," he reminded, a thin smile of those weird teeth of his.
"Point," I conceded, "sorry to monopolize the conversation. How have you been?"
"Well, I learn more every day, and my loss has lead, ironically, to many gains. I believe there is an ebb and flow to life itself, not just the oceans. The undersea peoples, the Atlantians, the Lyonese, and more, well, they're each recovering from the control of the eldest. His cultists have been driven out from most of the great undersea kingdoms. Most of them, I fear are withdrawing too deeply in isolation, refusing to even interact with each other, let alone with a surface world that will never understand them. Too many old prejudices, old hatred. It would be nice to blame what is worst on us on the likes of the Eldest and his cultists, but no, there is no easy way to discard all our wrongs onto another. I have tried, when not teaching, to interact with some."
"Did you go back to your own village?" I asked, remembering how he and many others had been drafted there and he had wondered about returning.
"Once," He confessed, "they were happy to see me, but I suspect they were happier I left. They cannot understand that I have a surfacer mentor, that I have even taken up certain surface ways. It frightens them. They want to forget the horrors ever happened. I fear my village is incredibly provincial. They are good people, understand, capable of dealing with great hardships but they are cautious about change to their culture."
"I've been in small towns too, strong, but slow to –" I shrugged, "It can be pretty much a toss up whether you want to admire it or if it vexes the hell out of you."
My friend smiled, "Exactly so."
"So, what are you and Doctor Salem working on, if it can be said?" I was curious after all, and it might give him a chance to roll with it and change the subject if he'd like.
"A luck charm for your group to help counteract this Dice fellow," He answered, "Something to either balance his powers out, or counter them all together."
"Nice," I beamed, then sobered, "But you won't be able to get it in time for Pinprick and I to lure them?"
"I'm afraid not, though I do have something that might be of use to you in another way," Mayo reached into his pocket and drew forth a tiny crystal. I could see my reflection in each of the eight facets, clear as a high definition screen, "This crystal is empowered with an illusion of many. Call on it's power once by saying Istvha Mirro, and it will create many illusions of you."
"Decoys," I grinned, "thanks man, this could buy me some time. Maybe even save my life."
"What good is magic if it cannot help a friend?" He gestured expansively.
"Now, if only you had a spell helped me understand women," I smiled weakly and pocketed the item.
"I think I'd have better luck learning how to turn sea foam into pearls," Mayo shrugged.
"Oh lord, the young ones are complaining about women," Pinprick grumbled as he came onto the scene of our meal.
"What, we're not allowed?" I raised a brow.
"Either of you two been married?" He asked rhetorically knowing darned well we hadn't, "No? Then consider it a Saint Crispin's day thing. You weren't there in the trenches of Agincourt and you got no scars under your sleeves, so I don't wanna hear about it. Women are the worst best thing and the best worst thing that will ever happen to a man. Roll with it, learn from it, move on. You ready to go, Fish Guy?"
"Yeah," I said, getting up, "Later, Mayo. Thanks again. Alright, Pinprick, let's go, get ourselves killed."
"Relax kid, I'm pretty sure I'm smart enough to get out of this alive," He said and motioned me to follow.
"Don't you mean ' get us out of this alive'?" I inquired following the more experienced hero.
"You ask a lot," He said as we went down the hallway to our, make that my, almost certain doom.