Liz’s felt her entire body jolt with caffeine pangs as she watched Siren’s Coffee passby on her left. She would kill for a good cup of coffee, literally. As in, she would happily have killed the monsters wandering around the store to get to a cup of coffee, but she knew they didn’t have time to stop. Jocelyn had started to fade and getting her treatment was top priority. Still, a nice warm cup of coffee would be heavenly. She imagined it would help her relax some, which she could use right now. Dad, however, looked like he was having the time of his life.
Liz couldn’t remember the last time she saw him smile so much. He looked totally at ease, as if the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders. She was almost worried that he was so relaxed he would get sloppy when out of the corner of her eye she saw some movement in the bushes. Before she could even blink, her dad pulled the gun from his holster, fired it into the head of the offending creature, and replaced the weapon. His smile didn’t falter the entire time.
If today hadn’t already been insane beyond all belief it might have been a little creepy, but honestly, for her, it was a welcome relief. She closed her eyes and rubbed the fatigue away from them. For the first time all day she allowed herself to relax for a moment. When Mark had gotten injured and Dad was still Ability-less she shouldered the primary damage dealer role. That was a lot of responsibility, and she hadn’t realized how much it had been wearing on her.
Opening her eyes to see how everything was going it was pretty clear that Dad welcomed the stress. He never cared much for depending on others, and having to rely on his kids to keep him safe was probably driving him bonkers. Even though she complained about some of the training she took on she knew it didn’t hold a candle to the schedule Dad had kept for the past five years. That, and he really liked guns, and took any excuse to play with them. This was probably better than Christmas for him.
The next few blocks had no more surprises and she let out a high sigh of relief as the carriage pulled into the driveway. The garage doors opened and she saw a group had gathered to greet them. A very concerned Haley rushed out looking for George but her eyes widened in horror as she couldn’t find him. Mark hopped down from the carriage quickly, wincing in pain as his ribs creaked, and intercepted her. He led her away to explain the situation and Liz was relieved that she didn’t have to deliver the news. It was awesome that George was willing to stay and help people, but she couldn’t imagine how that would make Haley feel.
Jocelyn was next on the priority list and as Mom walked out Liz waved her over.
“Mom! Bite wound here! She needs some help and is losing consciousness.” With that statement Mom immediately went into triage mode. She began her inspection as the stretcher was lowered from the carriage and after checking a few things out she took out a vial.
“Here, drink this,” she helped Jocelyn sit up to drink the bright red liquid. Liz’s eyes widened in amazement and she couldn’t help but blurt out.
“Oh my god! Mom! Is that a healing potion?”
Her mom just smiled. “Well, it wouldn’t do to just sit and wait for everyone to get back, so I started doing some experiments, and then the notices hit. Turns out, a good understanding of science can lead to Alchemy under the right circumstances. Combine that with the Healer and Observation and you get to figuring out healing potions pretty quick. You should stay and help me make some later, it’s like baking, with monster parts!”
“Uh, thanks Mom, but I think I still have to help out more on the stabby side of the equation for now. Sounds like fun for later though!” Liz always enjoyed spending time with her Mom and being able to pick her brain for bit would be nice. That is, if the ever had that much free time again. Liz could only hope that things would eventually get less crazy.
While Liz and her mom were catching up on the latest, the recent arrivals all sat around in awe as they watched Jocelyn heal before their eyes. Color returned to her face and she almost immediately began breathing easier. Her eyes cleared as she sat up with a start and gasped loudly. The potion had done its work well but she clearly had gone through some pain during the process. She looked around noticing everyone focused on her and immediately began to blush.
“Why is everyone staring at me?” Jocelyn had been pretty out of it and the sudden attention was somewhat unnerving.
“Just glad you’re ok now.” Liz replied for everyone. She extended a hand to help her off the stretcher and after she was on her feet they made their way inside. Groups of people paired off and proceeded to get the carriage and horses stowed. Jocelyn continued to look around in a daze. She was limping but was clearly going to be fine.
Following Mom through the garage Liz saw the splashroom had undergone yet another amazing transformation. New tables were set up with even more bubbling containers on them. They were made of concrete and tile. “How?” Liz began but Mary had been waiting for her to notice.
“Oh, what do you mean? We just needed to do some remodelling in here to accommodate some of the experiments I was running.” The exaggerated look of innocence on Mom’s face was almost comical.
Liz knew exactly where this was coming from. She was her Mother’s daughter after all. “Ok, look, I’m sorry I dropped the unicorn on you like that, but it was just too good an opportunity to pass up, but I really want to know how you did all this!”
Relenting, Mom continued, “Eddie apparently really wanted to help, and the only skills he had were around construction. After volunteering to try whatever, he started a couple projects, and we saw he picked up a construction skill when the notices popped up. After that, we did some experimentation with cores he was able to unlock a Construction Ability. It helps him build stuff really quickly if he has the raw materials and a blueprint of what he wants.” Dad had been hovering behind us for awhile now and was fidgeting madly. Mom turned to face him and smiled, “I figured you’d have some projects for him, especially since we seem to be picking up strays at a pretty good pace. And now you can tell me whatever it is you want to tell me before you explode.”
Jason had looked like an overeager puppy by this point and exploded out his news. “I can use guns now! I need to get my handguns, and a shotgun, and the rifles, and the other handguns, because I can use guns now!”
Liz and her mom did their level best not to laugh out loud. Through herculean efforts they were able to keep themselves to smiling and nodding as Jason went on to explain in impressive detail how he would get his guns, and then have his guns, and then use his guns. Moments like these it made it incredibly clear where Mark got his penchant for overexcitement. Jason had a good thirty years to develop a better sense of control, but he still wasn’t able to suppress his inner spaz completely.
After noticing everyone on the first floor had turned their focus to him, Jason quickly locked down his emotions and returned to his regular stoic demeanor. “Where’s Eddie right now? I think I will talk to him about some fortifications.”
Mary pointed out back, “He’s getting an inventory of what we had in the shed. We lost all our records that we had on the computer so he thought he could be useful by writing stuff down until we figured out what to build next.”
“That’s really thoughtful of him. I’m just going to grab some more weapons to have on hand and go chat with him then.” Jason attempted to play it cool but he couldn’t quite keep his hands from twitching in excitement. Also, I totally knew he meant ‘guns’, not ‘weapons.
After studying Jason’s face rather intently Mary handed him a few yellow and red mana cores. “Here, take these. It looks like your Abilities are built around your physical Stats and the yellow ones should be useful if you try to develop some more skills. It tends to be hard to manipulate mana through the system directly, but if you pull from the cores it helps you when you try out new things. The red ones are for Eddie. I finished my experiments with these and he should be able to get some more use out of them. We need to catch up some more, so come grab me after you finish collecting your guns. I need to finish up a few more things here.”
Mary turned to Liz and handed her three red vials. “Go find your brother when he’s done catching up with Haley and make sure he drinks one of these, please love? One should do it based on what I saw, so you should each keep an extra one just in case.”
Liz took the potion but before she left she walked over to a table with numerous boxes on it. Poking around she saw mana cores of various sizes and colors. “Can I grab some of these too?”
Mary nodded, “Those are the ones I’m done with, so sure. Just try not to carry a lot of them in close together, they tend to start having strange interactions when you start mixing colors together.”
“What do the colors mean? And where do they come from? Are they different depending on the creature? How did you get all these?”
“I don’t have a lot of information on them yet, but from what I can tell, the color inside creatures is somewhat random. Those small ones came out of Fuuzers and nerfligns, and we got almost every color. The ice wolves tended to have green cores, and the bear type creatures leaned towards yellow. There seems to be some relationship between the color and types of abilities they help you develop. Yellow for physical, red for influence, blue for mental, and green for magic. At least that’s what my HUD display is telling me, and it seems to be accurate on other things. We’ve been doing quick patrols to clean up corpses since they tend to attract larger monsters if left alone. ”
“Wait, you can see that? That’s amazing! What ability gave you that?”
“It’s called Observe, and I’m frankly surprised you didn’t end up with it, too.”
Liz thought about that for awhile. Normally she’d be at home poking and prodding with Mom, but this time around she had been running around trying to get stuff done with Mark and Dad. She knew beyond any doubt that she had helped save lives out there, and didn’t regret her decision to do the patrols one bit, but it would have been cool to learn how to make potions and get more information just by looking at things. Maybe she would be able to unlock those things later.
For now, she’d leverage Mom’s awesomeness. She looked over the contents of the boxes and decided to grab some reds and blues. Gears were turning in her head as she contemplated the possibilities. She had a few ideas that she wanted to try out and those attributes seemed to work into what she wanted to do.
“Have a plan then do you?” Mary smiled knowing that look on Liz’s face. “You should probably swing by again with Mark if you’re trying stuff out. He’ll need yellows and greens.”
Liz nodded, already deep in thought and planning out her next moves. She walked up the stairs and saw Mark giving a sobbing Haley a hug off to a corner. Not wanting to interrupt the moment, she quietly moved into the kitchen to scrounge up a snack. As she opened the door to the fridge Barry appeared so suddenly Liz wondered if he unlocked some magic of his own.Then again, Barry had always had the ability to instantly appear where food was available. He adopted a perfect sit and displayed a very impressive set of puppy dog eyes as she rummaged through the fridge. Liz quickly grabbed a bunch of lunch meats and shut the door.
Glancing down at the eager puppy Liz enacted the first of her ideas. She pulled a red core from her pocket and studied it for a moment, pushing her focus towards it. Remembering the feeling she had when she used her power shot, she tried to pull from the core. “Lay down. Sit. Paw up.” she called out softly as Barry performed the tricks flawlessly. She sensed the stone, but didn’t feel any family flow come from it. She knew she had already acquired the training skill earlier, but she wanted to see how far she could push it.
Taking a deep breath and putting her entire attention towards Barry she tried something new. WIthout saying a word, she mentally projected an order to Barry. She pictured her left sandal by the front door, pulling every detail she could from memory and imagined Barry bringing it back to her. She continued to focus on the picture until she felt the familiar pull and the red core started to dim. She felt a little dizzy as she continued to pull as much as she could from the stone and she didn’t relent until it had stopped glowy completely. Stopping before she got weak again, she gasped at the mental strain that suddenly hit her.
She didn’t get any notifications but Barry did dash downstairs. She could feel a thread of connection to Barry, but it was really weak. Although her head was pounding, she felt she was really close to a breakthrough. She didn’t want to let a chance at unlocking something new slip away. Gritting her teeth she focused on that weak connection. She reached deep and pushed more power into that link and smiled broadly when Barry came back, sandal in mouth.
By this time Mark had finished his conversation with Haley and had wandered over. Liz had given Barry a huge wad of lunchmeat and was doting on him. “Who’s a good puppy! You are! Yes you are! And Mark, Mom said you should drink this.”
“Wow, you’re in a good mood. Wait, what’s that? Is that what I think it is!”
“Yeah, apparently Mom can make healing potions now.”
“That’s awesome and wow that rules!” Mark tripped over his words as he attempted to describe how amazing potions were to him. He quickly down the drink and lifted his hands to his ribs. “That’s amazing! They don’t hurt anymore. I mean, they really hurt for awhile, but now I’m healed!” As he did a few stretches to confirm everything was working well, and as he stretched out and balanced on one leg Barry nudged him behind the knee. Mark, suddenly off balance fell forward and barely caught himself before face planting.
“Barry! What the heck was that for.”
Liz had a smile plastered on her face “I have more news. Mom figured out how to develop new abilities too. Right Barry?”
Barry barked affirmatively.
She began explaining as she basked in the latest notification in her display as Mark listened in rapt attention.
Ability Gained - Animal Taming