“Okay, so maybe fire wasn’t the best thing to try out.” Alex shrugged. “Anyway, it works. Halo’s not completely incompatible with dark magic after all. I just ran into a bug.”
Amazing how he’d calmed down like that. Right in the middle of a panic attack, and then… all I did was touch him, say a few words, and… suddenly he was okay. Well, I guess we’ll find out later.
In the meantime, we were taking a walk outside. It would have been a flight, but… that’s kind of hard without feathers.
“But you need someone to get it started, right?” I asked.
“Yeah. I don’t suppose you’d be willing to…”
“I would, but I have no idea how I did that before. I couldn’t even tell I was doing anything at all. It just–”
“Yeah. I understand. You probably can’t do it on cue. But these halos can connect to each other, right? Pool resources? If we can figure that out, then you won’t need to worry about that ability of yours. And of course I’d let you borrow my power when you want, too.”
“Huh. I guess that might work. But I don’t think we learn how to link them until later.”
“So? We can just search the Internet.”
“We don’t have Internet here,” I reminded him, “Minimum technology, remember? Interferes with magic.”
“Doesn’t interfere with my magic.”
He shook his head. “I think it’s because I spend all my time around computers, so they feel perfectly natural to me.”
“So, what? You think it’s a mental effect? That there wouldn’t be interference if people were more used to computers? That doesn’t seem quite right…”
“Think about it. A few hundred years ago, all it took to screw up someone’s magic was a light bulb. That’s not an issue anymore.”
“We have shielding now to minimize interference.”
“There’s more to it than that. The interference is directly related to how advanced the technology is. Each year, technology progresses a little further, and the outdated technology stops causing interference.”
“You seem to know a lot about this.”
“It’s my job. I’m part of a small research project trying to bridge the gap between magical and electronic devices. Utilizing the capabilities of each in order to achieve greater results than either could accomplish on its own.”
I stopped. “You’re trying to… use magic and technology together?”
Alex nodded. “We’ve made some pretty neat stuff, but so far it only works with our own magic. Anyone else’s magic just… doesn’t play well with it.”
“I’m not sure magic and technology are really meant to be mixed,” I told him, “The world’s becoming more and more artificial as technology spreads. The interference between technology and magic is the main thing protecting the nature we have left.”
“Fair point, I suppose.” He shrugged. “Personally, I see it all as nature. Even if we rearrange some particles into a new form, it’s still made of the same stuff.”
“You’ve got some odd ideas for an angel,” I said. “Oh. I–I’m sorry, that was–I didn’t mean–”
“Nah. I take it as a complement. All those ideas most angels have about superiority and ‘divine destiny’…” He sighed. “I hate being associated with that crap. Used to get picked on all the time for being an angel.”
“You grew up in a mixed community.”
Most angels live in angel-only communities. A lot of species embrace mixed, multi-species communities, but angels usually see a mixed community as “full of the unholy”.
“I always wondered what it would be like,” I said, “To live with other species. I’ve hardly ever even visited a non-angel town, though.”
“Well, my experiences weren’t really typical.” He laughed.
“Uh… well, I was adopted, for one thing. By non-angels. Actually…” He paused. “It’s kind of an interesting story how they ended up adopting me, if you’d like to hear it.”
“It all started when my soon-to-be adoptive parents got caught in an avalanche…”