Chapter 7: A Cunning Plan

The kamehameha was a failure.  I was able to concentrate my magic into a mass, but it ended up like the bowling ball when I threw it instead of turning into an energy beam.  I couldn’t help but sigh from disappointment.

“W-w-w-w-what was that?”

What’s the stammering for, Mercy?  “Wind magic, I assume?  Or Air Magic?  What’s your categories for magic here?”

“That wasn’t Wind Magic, One Forty Seven!  Wind doesn’t turn solid!  Wind Magic just blows air around!”

Lame!  “What’s the point of Wind Magic then, if that’s all it does?”

“That’s not the point!  What you just did was in the Draconic Class of power!  I-I don’t even know how to classify it!  Please, let me take some blood samples!”

This time I did slap Mercy upside the head.  As she rubbed the spot behind her ear I asked the important questions.  “Okay, from your reaction, what I just did is really strong in this world, right?”

“Yes!  Chantless activation, combined with swift, multi angled strikes and precise materialization of weaponry from thin air!  I’ve never even heard of a human performing that kind of feat, let alone seen one.”

“So it’s enough power to break out of this base and make a run for it?”

“Definitely.  In fact, I’d say you could single handedly conquer the entire base if you chose.”

Oh-ho?  “What makes you say that?”

“Well, there’s only one platoon of soldiers stationed in the base.  I could easily see you beating all twenty of them.”

“Seriously?  This is a pretty big emplacement for only twenty soldiers.”

Mercy shrugged noncommittally.  “It’s easier to keep a facility a secret with fewer people, and most of the rooms were made with the intention of housing and training the Specimens we’d be summoning.  There’s no helping that there’s a lack of staff.”

I hummed to myself lightly, deep in thought.  Because just like Baldrick, I have a Cunning Plan…

“Mercy, is there a cafeteria, and if so, how long until the next meal is served?”

*****

Walking boldly down the deserted hall with one hand guiding the wheeled medical stretcher that I’d had Mercy retrieve from the Medical quarters, I hung a left at Mercy’s guidance towards the installation’s cafeteria.  Following behind me was the unconscious girl strapped onto the stretcher with a large sealed canvass bag resting on her legs, and Mercy pushing the stretcher from the rear.  I’d sent Mercy out beforehand with instructions to bring back the stretcher and the contents of the bag without alerting anyone, directly or indirectly, to what I was planning.

My plan was to walk right into an ambush.  The only questions were, who’d be on the receiving end, them or me.  And how well would I fare with only twenty minutes to explore my new magic powers.  But I was able to figure out more than a few tricks in that time.

“Those doors,” said Mercy from behind.  “That’s the cafeteria.”

I separated from the stretcher and snuck up against the wall to take a quick peek inside.  It was a large open room with the same bland coloration as the rest of the installation, lots of unoccupied wooden benches and long tables inside with uniformed people with trays either seated and eating, or meandering around some serving pans being manned by a pair of cooks.  Wow.  It’s almost like a steam tray line from my own world.

I just said “my own world” just now, didn’t I?  I had to suppress an inner sigh just then.  To jazz myself up for what was to come, even though this wasn’t Upper Blackrock Spire, I mumbled aloud, “Alright, time’s up, let’s do this,” before taking a big step into the cafeteria.

Before anyone could react with more than a glance I filled my lungs and shouted, “FOOD FIGHT!

The blast of air I created was on the level of gale force winds, coursing out without any kind of destination.  The air pressure in the room was immediately so unbalanced that people were blown over, tables flipped, and food flew everywhere, including into the eyes of a few people.  Not bad for just moving air around.  But that’s just the start.

The soldiers in the cafeteria were universally angry at my antics, and began pulling weapons as they righted themselves.  Some big guy with grey hair and… he had animal ears.  Seriously?  Anyway, he got a sword out and had a simultaneously demanding and condescending tone of voice.  “I dunno who you think-”

WAIT!” I interrupted, holding my hands up to add significance to the word.  It worked, as everyone was both confused and annoyed enough to listen to what I had to say.  It’s always worth trying to make peace beforehand.  “Just so you know, I’m taking over this entire base, starting with you guys.  Anyone who straight up surrenders to me is going to be treated well.  So, who’s up for surrender?  Eh? Show of hands?”

I lifted both my hands in a surrender motion, repeating, “Eh?  Eh?  Anyone?  Beuller?”

The big grey haired guy shouted for the attack.  Well then-

With a flick of the wrists I shot out some more proper Wind Magic.  Instead of creating sheer winds though, I created concussive blasts throughout the room on the same level of a bunch of flashbangs exploding.  Something I realized while toying with my magic before was that shockwaves from explosions were nothing more than displaced air.  And yet, depending on the power, a single shockwave could destroy a building.  In this case though, it just destroyed various tables, which sent wood splinters dancing through the air, and damaged the inner ears of the Fulchas soldiers throughout the room.  People were stumbling, shouting, and screaming everywhere.  A few got their feet under them, and the grey haired guy pulled together an assault party of four people, led by himself to rush me.  That won’t do.

Something else I learned from experimentation is that my ability to solidify air is shoddy at best.  The instant I lose the image of a form in my mind, the air dissolves into normal gas once again and the magic I used to make it becomes unusable afterwards.  Fighting with a solidified gas sword in my hand would quickly leave me without a weapon at all.  And creating complex shapes like a wood axe or a drill creates a lot of useless parts to the manifested form, resulting in an even more wasteful use of magic, and a greater likelihood of losing the image in my mind quickly.

Simple geometric shapes however, were far easier to use and far less wasteful.

I slammed the grey haired guy with the shape of a twelve sided die at an angle to toss him up into the air to come crashing down through a table.  The other guys I struck with spheres and cylinders like they were medicine balls and baseball bats.  The crunch of fractures and cries of pain rose from the charging would-be heroes, and another air cannon blast sent them back across the room.  Oops, I was distracted by the assault team and it pulled my attention from another group of attackers.

At the far end of the room there were women holding up truncheons like Colonel Lumpy had, and power was forming near them.  Not nearly as fast as Colonel Lumpy’s Fire Bolt, though.  And I’m pretty certain I heard some chanting in the form of, “Dance and burn, strike my enemy without fail,” from one gal with reddish blonde hair, (sandy blonde?) as flames started taking the form of what I can only conclude to be an arrow or a big dart.  Seems these people need to chant in order to use magic.  Then let’s try-

Working my fingers like I was pulling triggers, I fired out formless blobs of solidified air, not unlike the water balloon experiment when I first tapped into my magic reservoir.  Except the blobs were not nearly so big, nor so soft.  The blobs struck the torso of the gal with the speed and consistency of a beanbag round fired from an anti-riot shotgun.  The liquid form of the blow allowed all the inertia behind the beanbag rounds to be transferred into the target without breaking the skin, which tossed the magic casting gal back like she’d been kicked by a mule.  The hit should have driven all the air from her lungs and maybe broken a few ribs, making it unlikely she’d be able to breathe comfortably for a while to come.

Pleased with the success of the beanbag magic, I used it on the other casters trying to fight back while throwing around a few more concussive blasts to keep people’s heads down.  After a while people stopped moving about and were only hunkering down, waiting for the storm to pass them by.  After a few more blasts to make sure all the fight had left everyone, I stopped my assault and shouted to be heard over the inevitable hearing damage the soldiers all suffered, “Okay, now who’s up for surrender?  Show of hands?  Beuller?  Beuller?”

The first sets of hands were raised by the kitchen staff, who had been cowering behind their counter since the start.  Then hands started to lift in one set after another throughout the room as most everyone who was still conscious officially gave up the fight.  The grey haired big guy, however, slowly stood up while favoring a leg and an arm, and said with blood stained teeth, “Enjoy it while you can, buddy.  The teams posted outside will have heard your assault and reported it.  You won’t get very far before you’re hunted down.”

Some of the soldiers had the glow of defiance smoldering in their eyes from that.  Well, well, well, Mercy didn’t tell me about that little snag.  But, it was unimportant.

I picked up a shattered bench leg that had fallen near me, turned on my heel, and shoved it into the airspace just in front of the open cafeteria doors.  Coming to a halt, I took my hand off the shattered leg and left it floating in mid air.  I turned back to the captive audience and explained to them, “You might not know this, but sounds are just vibrations in the air that are interpreted by people’s ears into words, explosions, and cries for help while this scrawny guy  kicked all your collective butts.  So, in order to not be interrupted during our little meet n’ greet, I set up this wall of air to absorb all the sound waves before they left the room.  So!  No one heard a damn thing, and no help is coming.”

The light of defiance instantly left the soldiers’ eyes, to be replaced by a mix of horror and despair.  Okay, yeah.  That’s much more manageable.  Grey hair on the other hand, snarled, “Then I’ll hunt you down myself and tear out your-”

“None a that,” I interrupted with solidified air the consistency of a tube of rubber filled with water striking grey hair’s temple.  The guy dropped like a sack of potatoes.  Ah, good old concussive injuries.

“Okay, everyone who’s conscious, toss away your weapons, line up facing that wall on your knees, with your hands behind your heads.  Mercy, come on in.  Mercy?”  Oh, for Pete’s sake, the air wall.  I cancelled the vibrating air, allowing the shattered bench leg to drop to the ground and for Mercy to hear my call.  After she wheeled the stretcher into the cafeteria, I set the vibrating wall up again.  “Okay, Mercy, chain ‘em up just like I told you before.  I’ll cover the room from here.”

I felt like a bank robber all of a sudden.

“Wait, please,” called a scared voice from the wall.

“Who said that,” I called in return.  One hand lifted from behind someone’s head and quivered in the air.  “Is there a problem, lady?”

The uniformed woman turned her head as much as she could but was still unable to look at me, though she still called out as if she could.  “Please, let me heal the wounded before you tie us up.  I can’t treat them with my hands bound.”

Heal?  Is that what it sounds like?  “Mercy, can you tell me who that is?”

Mercy paused in her effort of rooting around in the large bag that had been carried in on the stretcher, peered at the person with her hand raised and said, “That’s Specialist Daphne Rogrend.  She’s a Combat Healer, and is in charge of the medical wing.”

“So, she can heal people.  With magic?”

“”Yes,”” came the reply from Mercy and Daphne at the same time.

Jinkies.  Healing magic?  How useful.

“Okay, Specialist Daphne, I’ll let you save your people, on one condition.  Come over here first.”

Daphne stood up, a little shaky, probably as a flashbang after effect and walked carefully towards me, keeping her hands up the entire time.  In the relatively uneventful time frame it took her to approach, I took a measure of Daphne.  She was probably about five foot four, and had light brown hair in a tight braid running down her back with wisps of hair hanging free at her temples and forehead.  Daphne had something of a smallish and immature face to match her stature, but her body was definitely that of a grown, though slim, woman.  She had a bleeding gash from a flying wood splinter over forest green eyes, eyes filled with barely contained fear and determination in equal measures.

“Okay, that’s close enough,” I said as I rifled through the bag on the stretcher.  “You can start healing your buddies after doing one thing for me.”

“What do you need me to do?”

I yanked one of the items out of the bag while the contents spilled out onto the floor, and tossed the one in my hand to Daphne.  She caught it on reflex, clasping it to her chest to make sure it didn’t fall from her hands.

“Attach that around your neck and wrists, first.”

Daphne looked at the Enslavement Collar in her hands, then to the pile of them forming near my feet before closing her eyes in frustration, before exhaling a half cough of begrudging acceptance.  Then she began attaching the clasps around her wrists.

“You know Mercy, I’m pretty sure there’s more than twenty of these soldiers,”

“Oh?  Sorry, I never counted them.”

“It’s fine,” I remarked, patting the half emptied sack on the stretcher.  “I’m just glad I had you bring so many of these babies on my little recruitment drive.  Now.  Specialist Daphne.  Tell me your name.”

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