35.3 Proof

Micah hung in the air, his arms and legs outstretched, a shifting torrent of spells and energy surrounding him.  His thoughts were a strange mixture of idle fancy and complete focus, a state he’d found himself in before, always during his most complex undertakings.
No one truly knew how hot the sun was.  Reaching it, even leaving the Earth, had so far proven impossible.  Micah had once read a claim that its surface was slightly hotter than ten thousand degrees.  He had no idea how scientists could know such a thing, had never cared enough to investigate.  It was only theory, so far as he knew.  Lightning was understood much more thoroughly.  Countless bolts struck the ground every day.  Their heat did not last so long as the eternal fury of the sun, but it burned brighter.
Lightning was known to reach as high as fifty thousand, five times the sun.  Most of the half-Awakened, the petty Empowered who had no understanding of their own capabilities could not match power like that.  Even the so-called Dillon types, the electrical manipulators, could usually only create a pale imitation of such a thing.  Micah was nothing like most Empowered.
A fourth bolt struck the abomination before him, a brief flash of brightness and a shock of sound.  The thing that wore his dead friends and colleagues like a suit fell to the ground, its skull a charred ruin.  The flames and smoke that filled the room as a result of their fight didn’t harm him, not so long as Vulcan’s Filter held.
This wasn’t the first or the third or even the tenth such thing that he had put down today.  Already, its unnatural vitality had begun to restore the damage, its patchwork skin knitting over the reforming flesh and bone.  Micah paid attention, but only in a distant way.  The Anubis Ward flared again, protected Micah as the thing tried to draw his life out, steal it to restore one of the many injuries he had dealt.
If past experience held true, the thing would heal to full but remain immobile.  Its stolen power could restore the damaged brain but not recreate the delicate pathways necessary to sustain thought.  Soon… yes, there it was.  The mindless corpse-thing slumped in on itself, the power that sustained it withdrawn.  Micah had done nothing but remove another of the abomination’s proxies.
He knew not how long he had been about this, trapped in the battle-rage and earie focus that had come upon him in the wake of… of the treachery.  The monster that had worn the skin of Hana Lizborne had revealed itself and struck down those who were his to protect.  Now, it was his task to avenge them, to save the rest who were not here.  He had to find the thing’s heart, its true self.
Apollo’s Foresight drew his attention to a figure in the corner of the room just before it lunged for him.  Another proxy, concealed from his sight by twisted light, making it seem like part of the wall.  He recognized the spell, Dawn’s favored glamor, and it threw his fury to new heights.  How dare that thing use this stolen skill against him!?  Micah invoked the Eyes of Hermes to see through the effect and called on Zeus’s Majesty once more.
Even as the thunder receded and his foe was thrown back and through a wall he knew had made a mistake.  Two more broke through the floor below him and the ceiling above, their mismatched hands reaching for him.  He used the Bast’s Embrace, strode through shadow into another part of the building and away from them.
Micah took a deep breath, tried to settle himself.  He couldn’t afford to let his focus lapse like that, to be distracted by the repulsive nature of his foe.  Its pawns were too well coordinated and their physical strength too great for him to match if he allowed them to close with him.  Not even the Arms of Heracles would help him if he did.  He had to kill it, that was his task, but he must be cautious in its execution.  The thing’s bodies were too well coordinated, any mistake he made could lead to failure.

Brother Micah set out once more, to seek the part of his enemy that could actually die.  His thoughts were on his purpose, on his environment and his resources.  He did not let them dwell on the shining metal robe that held his strength.  A quarter of its rings were blackened, their power spent and gone.  Not all that remained were suited to combat so this must end soon, one way or the other.


Insight, you observed the Lodge on your last visit to the city.  List the specialties of those members not touched by Skinthief.
She’d remembered, as she did everything she saw with her power.
Stop.  That one.  Is he still in the city?
He was.
Ware, go with her.  Bring him here.

So, covered by Ware’s don’t-notice-me field and guided by her eyes, they set out.  Anna didn’t want to go back out there.  Neither did poor Avery.  But they were Citadel and they’d been given an order so they would.  She didn’t want to think about what might be ordered if the man said no.  Luckily, Brother Jonas was all too eager to assist.


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3 comments on “35.3 Proof

  1. Whelp, Brother Micah seems to think that Hector’s power must be centered in an original, and my opinion of his knowledge of how powers fundamentally work has increased considerably in light of his impressively broad array of abilities and the further implication that the Awakened all have much more versatile powers than other Empowered (Sister Dawn’s favorite glamour, though it might be just one variant of a general light-manipulation power). Seems likely that their training allows them to broaden their powers. Checking back to their first viewpoint chapter, they also apparently get stronger over time, which so far as I can tell does not happen to others.They would seem to be genuinely on to something.

    If he’s correct about Hector’s power (in which case the Hector in the life-support pod in his house is definitely the original and he was lying about his original body maybe being dead so no one would go looking) then presumably Skinthief-prime is on the truck out.

    Also, apparently he has a specific anti-life-drain shielding spell? Or maybe the Anibus Ward is called that because it blocks death in general?

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    • Probably protect his life in general yeah, Anubis is the egytian god of funerals and death, he had many roles such as protectors of graves and embalmer but one of his most prominent duties was as a psychopomp so my guess is that the ward is supposed to keep him away.

      I agree that the Awakened certainly seem to be on to something, thought it is possible the difference come from the fact that they study and explore their power as much as they can while the Citadel is focused on combat application of the power and training to be the best operative possible. Some Empowered DID progress during the formation, they did a good job with Kelly for example.

      The lodge seem really cool thought, if I gained a power in this universe I would probably join one (while watching out for anything too cult-like, people outside the Lodges don’t seem to have much information about them so some wariness would only be good form).

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    • Probably won’t be explained in-story unless I decide to add more detail to the scene during rewrites so I’ll explain:

      Anubis Ward protects against direct harm to the soul/lifeforce/ka/etc. In practical terms, that means it’ll block some forms of mind control powers and certain powers that kill or disorient without a detectable method. For instance, it block’s Jason’s death gaze and would block Gregory Warp’s illusions but won’t do anything against a gunshot wound or Dawn’s purely optical glamours.

      Awakened do not literally get stronger with time. They DO gain more ways expressing that power as they learn new spells/rituals/etc. Brother Micah looks like an exception but, again, he hasn’t actually gotten stronger. He’s able to store cast spells for later use. Each one of those rings represents an hour’s work and most of the magic he might’ve been able to use over the course of a day. Making them is difficult and he does have other things to do so he doesn’t add a ring to his robe every day. Also, not all of them are intended or useful for combat.

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