"Alpha Sentinels, Deploy!"
A wave of relief washes over him as the lawyer's letter falls silently to the desktop. He winces as his fingertips prod the bridge of his nose, sore from reading glasses that seemed comfortable an hour ago. He briefly considers organizing his desk before answering the call, and quickly surrenders to old urges instead. Duty calls, and its clarion drowns all his worldly concerns in the exquisite urgency of the moment. There's nothing quite like being a hero. He grabs his charcoal tweed jacket with the elbow patches as he hops onto the grav-disc. The platform effortlessly glides him down to Alpha Control, but he still misses the old fire pole. He had wanted to show his kids that fire pole. They were going to think it was cool. In the briefing room the anticipation is already welling up inside him. Giant monster fight, classic six man deployment, save the day, home in time for tea. It's easy to lose his concerns in the moment- for a few minutes there is no Yoko, no child support, no Strawhouse Provisions, nothing but saving the day. The briefing is a mere formality- he knows his job, and as Sage's displacement spell cascades across his skin he's already reaching out with his mind, to the place where people are in danger. The street is all but deserted, Variant and Foil managed to activate a Sentinel Priority Beacon, likely saving hundreds of lives in the process. Even several blocks away the thing is uncomfortably close- a kind of insectoid dragon maybe. Spectrum and Will are already there, fighting it. Sage steps through a dimensional portal to a better vantage point, and for the moment Luther Blackfeather, the hero known as Dr. Raven, is alone on a rooftop in West Severance with an immortal plant-monster. Their mission: save lives. His thoughts focus on the people below.
"This building's already taken a hit. See if you can stabilize the collapse. I'm going to talk to them."
"As You Say."
Lord Greenwood bursts into a swarm of insects and dissipates down through the building's ventilation system. Miss March is calling for estimates. He hasn't had time to properly assess the other building yet. He gives her a rough estimate. Five minutes. Nobody ever gets five minutes to do anything, he knows, but she'll try to give him as much time as possible, and that's all he can ask. In five minutes, a man could change the world. It's been less than five minutes since the call came in, and he's already forgotten completely about the bankruptcy hearing.
An Open Channel
Telepathy: superior (rank 2)
As one, hundreds of people in the neighborhood get a flash of the same image- Steel Will, the Shining Sentinel, streaking across the sky. They hear the confidence in Miss March's voice. They feel the warmth of Spectrum's power. The flow of information is open, and in that moment those hundreds of minds feed back a densely layered snapshot of thoughts: feelings, observations, intuition. A lesser mind would be destroyed by that flood of information, but Doctor Raven rides the wave, a thousand processes streamlined as his brain organizes, analyzes, deduces, and induces. Everywhere else they're able to follow the standard evacuation routes, but this building is damaged- some of the exits are blocked, and it is threatening to collapse. Doc Raven doesn't panic- he plans. Whatever they know, he knows. Dozens of eyes and ears on every floor, information absorbed and extrapolated. Got it. Everyone below the fourth floor on this side of the street can take the stairs. He finds them, just those people, and places the thought there, in their minds. Get out, take the alley three blocks to where it intersects Duncan, paramedics are on their way. Stay together. He finds the people on the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors, where the monster's body hit the building. He places a different thought in their minds: Go toward the hole in the west side of the building. There are slides now, made of wood and earth, courtesy of The Alpha Sentinels. The slides are sturdy, and lead to the alley. Take it to Duncan. Stay calm, and stay as a group. The lady with the ankle brace, make sure someone helps her on the slide. He finds the people on the top two floors. They're huddled together, the building is beginning to lean in spite of Greenwood's support. Go to the north windows. There will be vine bridges, extremely sturdy, The Alpha Sentinels' handiwork, take them to the neighboring rooftop. One of your office workers is ex-military. He will be the last to leave- make sure everyone gets out. They're a great team, Greenwood provides the means and Raven supplies the motive, although this building is in worse shape, than most, and has no fire escape. Six miles away, at SLJ Urgent Care, a team of paramedics instinctively know where on Duncan Avenue they're meant to go- avoid Holliday and Lombard, there is a mountain where the intersection used to be. Allison is racing down Gilbert toward a parking garage- suddenly everyone on the street decides to simultaneously evacuate the left lane. Back at Alpha Control, Director Pope is planning a containment strategy for the creature. Here and now, people are running, sliding, and crawling to safety. But there's a problem.
The Flow of Information
Illusion Control: supreme (rank 3)
Out in the street, Spencer is becoming unhinged. Spectrum's power is unfathomably vast, and its breadth and depth are only checked by concentration and willpower. At times the sheer enormity of his own abilities can overwhelm him, and it's happening now. He's raging, burning, leveling anger at the monster, at himself... and it has to stop there. A man without limitations can no longer be called a man. There are multiple solutions, but only one of them works quickly. Dr. Raven knows it's unfair, he feels the burden that his friend and team-mate bears, but the situation, the here and now, that's what counts. Sometimes saving the day means making the hard choices. To save the day, he has to hurt a fellow hero. So be it. He takes the crowd's fear and panic- a dirty trick, but necessary- and echoes that into Spectrum's mind. Rules and limitations are nothing but arbitrary boundaries. Fear instinctively embraces those boundaries, panic welds them together, and what was briefly more than a man becomes a child again, alone and afraid. It's a shitty thing to do to a friend, but the flow of information can be manipulated just as easily as it can be transmitted, and the world has more use for a neurotic Sentinel hero than they do for an unbound god prone to temper tantrums. It shouldn't be like this, but a lot of things shouldn't be the way they are. Luther's brief regret brings up memories of Yoko, of the kids, of Edelweiss, and a decade of rationalized deceit. It wasn't cheating, he thinks, at least not in the legal sense. The moment passes and Spectrum is a man again and Doc Raven feels like less of one. He focuses on the evacuees, the soldier got the top floors clear, the woman with the ankle brace is being helped, everyone is gathering a safe distance away, and oh god the press would have a field day if they knew what Sage had just done to the cult leader who was controlling the monster. Miss March is in the air, she commands his teammate to level the now-empty building, barricading the street. The same building Doctor Raven is currently standing on. Oh, shit.
Telekinesis: supreme (rank 3)
Sprinting for the edge, he notices Greenwood's bridge is still intact. He slips over the side of the building, falling onto the web of vines. As he takes his first step there is an audible groan as the building starts to lean. On the neighboring rooftop, the rescued crowd gasps in horror as the world falls away behind him. Stone, mortar, and steel all crumble and twist as clouds of dust and debris boil up around him. A silent denial washes over the onlookers, baited breath, hoping against hope, preparing for the worst. Fear gradually turns into curiosity as, one by one, they begin to notice the bridge is still standing, its vines anchored at some unseen point in the cloud of dirt. Through the haze of settling dust, the lean silhouette of Dr. Raven edges toward the crowd. An old soldier reaches out and grasps his arm. Everyone is safe, sir. The relief is overwhelming then, and the crowd begins to cheer. Down in the alley, the bright echoes of relief ring in the ears of the rescued. Dr. Raven exhales, and the twisted vines of the bridge, frozen in empty air, now fall limply to the ground. Teleporting directly to the roof had been a poor choice, strategically, but he knows Sage still has a lot to learn about being a team player. For now he revels in the moment, that hint of vulnerability elevates his heroic actions in their minds, and reinforces the notion of Sentinels as the "good guys." One last loose end to tie up.
Healing: superior (rank 2)
Across town, Spectrum feels a weight lifted from his heart. It's a small thing, something he'll attribute to focus, or distraction, or self-improvement. Spectrum's subconscious mind is on the defensive, still clinging to the fear of losing control. Dr. Raven is subtle. A brief glimpse of Director Pope, smiling. This was always the plan. The strictures of fear loosen, and Spectrum is once again unbound, but this time he has purpose and direction. It's shady business- manipulating a god- the type of black-bag activity that is seemingly out of character for front line defenders of the SLJ. At the end of the day, though, the Alpha Sentinels are just one piece of the puzzle, and that much power can never be contained without a series of checks and balances. He thinks about the means they're using to control him. His kids and his debt. None of it seems very heroic, but sometimes, that is what heroes do.