"Alpha Sentinels, Deploy!"
"It's about bloody time," he murmurs, adjusting his collar in the mirror. It is a carefully constructed look. In his Armani suit, sneakers, no tie, with his hair tussled just-so, he is able to inflect the perfect combination of style and ennui. He knows he looks good- after all, that is what heroes do. The reporters, they always flock to Will, or Miss March, but he's been turning heads lately as the dark, mysterious newcomer with rebellious affectations. If he's going to be given this "honor," he might as well make something good out of it. As far as he's concerned, The Alpha Sentinels are somebody's showpiece, a bunch of gaudy spokes-models marched out in front of the public to make the SLJ look shiny and perfect. He's a trophy team member, put on display for the world to gawk at- hardly fitting work for the Chosen One. However, he does enjoy the limelight, even if the challenge is somewhat... lacking. He thinks about his mentor Zephandi, who had fostered relationships between the SLJ and the magical world- using his status as Ur Wizard to push an agenda of superheroics on an arcane community that had historically avoided cultivating a public image of any kind. With Zephandi's death, Sage had gotten a push by the SLJ bureaucracy, and was reportedly becoming the most well-known practitioner of magic on the planet. In the beginning he had been scared that this made him a target, but as the weeks and months wore on he was growing to suspect that being the most well-known member of a group of people ritualistically obsessed with their own privacy doesn't exactly equate to celebrity status. It seems people know him as much for being heir to the LeVent fortune as they do for being any kind of hero. That is about to change. Khazan needs a hero who isn't afraid to speak his mind- someone confident and charming who actually takes credit for the things the SLJ does. On the advice of his father he hired an agent, Marco, who in turn hired an image consultant, Jan, who insisted he cut his hair and stop wearing robes. That was just the beginning. Marco assures him every day that people want- people need to see heroes acting like leaders, and leadership belongs to anyone who can take it. The meek, humble, pay-it-forward stuff is fine for street teams, but an Alpha Sentinel is an icon. He's scheduled to be interviewed by someone from The Caper Chase later in the afternoon, and this current situation, whatever it may be, will no doubt serve as a talking-point. He hopes the mission isn't messy- Jan was specific about which suit he should wear for the photo shoot. He checks his cuffs, and wonders if the pentagram cufflinks are a bit much. Jan says people need to think "spellcraft" when they see him. Instinctively, he shoots himself practiced look in the mirror; dark, powerful, effortlessly cool... perfect. Satisfied, he turns his shoulders slightly, and falls through the floor.
A cushion of blue light catches him as he arcs backward, diving gracefully through a half-dozen dimensions, above time, behind space, beneath memory, outside infinity, all to his destination a mere two floors upstairs, in Alpha Control. Strictly speaking, the wards around his suite disallow any form of travel or teleportation, a perfectly impenetrable eleven dimensional shell he built himself. It took him a week and a half to build them when he first arrived, and he has simply been too lazy to undo it. Not that he would- the only fun he has these days is trying to top himself, and the wards consistently present a challenge. He grins as he passes effortlessly through walls most people will never comprehend, (let alone see,) and for a brief spectacular moment he pauses in the outer Arcanus Obliques as Spectrum and Lord Greenwood arrive before him in their own impressive (but not spectacular) ways. Shadows converge on the floor, planets tumble through the cosmos, ribbons of astral energy spiral inward to eternity... and nobody pays the slightest bit of attention. Typical- the only people who seem to take an Alpha Control mission seriously are Alpha Sentinels. What a bunch of squares. He sneers in frustration as his showmanship goes unnoticed, and resignedly inserts himself into the middle of the room. Miss March is already briefing the team, detailing formation and strategy, presumably because somebody thinks that stuff matters when you've got seven demigods on the job. He knows his job: it involves generally being powerful and awesome. Why waste time in mission briefings? He studies the monitors- the part of town they're headed to includes a really hip occult bookstore. If he can manage to stop in there, at least the mission won't be a total waste of his time. He wonders if the skinny girl with the glasses will be working. Gwen. Thinking about her, he absentmindedly runs his hand through his hair. That place always smells like parchment and ginseng.
Teleportation: supreme (rank 3)
The briefing is over, and the team moves to action. Miss March has one of the buildings marked as high priority- although he missed her explanation of it- so he makes that the landing site. She and Will are already gone, streaking across the sky, while Spectrum folds himself across the intervening distance as a collection of alpha particles, leaving just Dr. Raven and Lord Greenwood to experience Sage's magnificence firsthand. There are eight ways to comfortably transport his comrades from here to there- more if he uses echoes- but only three of them are visually spectacular, and two of those involve extraneous pyrotechnical flourishes which make it look like he's trying too hard. Cassiopeia's Footfall is his favorite midstep enclosure spell, but he does try to switch up the reference asterisms from time to time, just to keep from getting bored with it. Gossamer curtains of starlight and astral energy twist around the trio, and Alpha Control becomes a rooftop in West Severance. His mind wanders in the intervening second it takes to bridge the dimensional seams. There's something about the way she carries herself. Gwen. He wonders if she'll see him on the news tonight. The spell cushion strains against something. Gwen from the bookstore. One of the astral spindles shatters. Gwen's long auburn hair... Wait, what? Shatters? Why would it do that? His instincts take over, and he recovers enough of the spell to set them down comfortably, albeit without any visual flourish. Why is the physical plane bulging like that? He's confused, unsettled, and above all slightly embarrassed. How could he almost teleport his himself through a phase variance control web? Sloppy. He's all questions and no answers. Something else is wrong. If the web is a trap, why hasn't it closed yet? He stretches his mind- senses attuned to extraplanar activity- and sees... are those sutures? Something is being forced through to the physical plane. He opens his eyes as all the windows on the street shatter, and something very large screams in agony over his left shoulder.
Environmental Awareness: superior (rank 2)
Immediately, his eyes widen as he feels the immensity of the creature behind him. Oh... shit. He spins on his heels, to face the thing. Even at a respectable distance, he can feel it pushing out in anger, straining against circumplanar imposition. Someone is channeling a few thousand deltarcs of arcane power into a control web, not to catch Sage, but to bind this creature. Will slams into the creature, unleashing power measured in megatons, and Sage watches as the damage is dispersed across a half-dozen different planes. It would take several hours to kill it that way. He's never seen it before, but it is clear what it is, judging by the thing's six dimensional planar shape. It is a heatleach: an abomination from Outside. Someone's been feeding it, too- a heatleach's projection into the physical plane should be the size of a housecat at best. It rolls on top of Will, and the Alpha Control earpiece splits uncomfortably into static as several of his teammates shout simultaneously. Giant or no, a transdimensional parasite with that much thrust on the physical plane is vulnerable elsewhere. Who would be reckless enough to bind the leach this way? There is significant danger in summoning like this... unless... someone would need an entire group of low-level adepts stupid enough to divert the transplanar feedback through their own bodies. Who would be that foolish? He shunts himself to a safer vantage point two blocks away, just enough space to breathe, space to think. Miss March interrupts his reprieve.
"Will! Keep it pinned down. Sage, where are you with that ranged support?"
"I... I'm here. I know that thing. It's a heatleach- but they don't normally get that big. Ever. Someone has been specifically pumping this one up. The control spell they're using is a phase variance web, which means there should be more than one of them, and they've got to keep within line of sight, more or less. Is there a circle of summoners on top of a building nearby?"
"Sage, Al's looking for it, but we need to keep this thing from away from civilians! Can you hit it from where you are?"
Creation: supreme (rank 3)
- Ranged Attack
- Area Affect
"Let's go for Fire & Ice, we've got to hit it with something to stop it from moving! Careful Will, it almost… Oh God! Will? You ok? Spectrum, pull him out of there. Sage, you with me? Let's hit this bastard with everything we've got."
There is no subtlety this time, attacking the thing on the physical plane is not a great strategy, but he's part of a team and he already almost got two of them lost in the Arcanus Obliques because he was distracted. Lumi's Teeth creates frost needles with four dimensional tips, which should partially disallow astral transfer. With any luck, this will limit the places the heatleach can divert physical damage. There is no flourish, his hands move in basic chords and a furious hailstorm of mystic ice peppers the monster's obsidian carapace. He's about to launch a second volley when Brainchild cuts in over his radio.
"Mom I've found them, I'm taking Callum! Sage, meet me at these coordinates!"
He frowns as his hands move on their own- the second wave of frost needles digs into cracks left by the first- and he sidesteps across town, to the intersection has Allison instructed. He might not have noticed the phase variance binding before, but now he is able to pinpoint exactly where the power is flowing from. Ambitious practitioners with a casual disregard for human life often bind circles of low-level adepts to their will, but every chain has a weak link. It's a risk sending his teammate in first, but she's the only one fast enough to take out the control ring and give him space to operate before the summoners are able to react. He watches her rocket up the side of a building and then out over a midtown intersection. He's already got the spell cushion in place, and her momentum will be preserved through the teleport. He watches as she falls, disappearing above the pavement and reappearing at a perpendicular vector, a living bullet 25 stories in the air. He feels the control web fracture- she's taken out the circle and the heatleach is now fully vulnerable. Unfortunately, so is his teammate.
Power Manipulation: supreme (rank 3)
Castor's Sidestep puts him in the room with an impressive thunderclap. He's impressed by how many are already on the floor; maybe Allison didn't need his help. An astral rift is opening to his left. The cult leader is finalizing a simplified four dimensional version of Diocletian's Wrath- a deadly spell, but one with a serious vulnerability in that form. Brainchild could never outrun it on the physical plane, but with the astral nodes in straight line like that... Sage reaches out with his own will. Four dimensions is easy. There are over two hundred practitioners of powerful magic in the world, but Sage is the only one who had been apprenticed to the Ur Wizard, and Zephandi earned his title for a reason. The dark tendrils of Diocletian's Wrath arc toward Allison, and Sage folds the dimensional space around her. The cult leader, caught at the source, bends with the spell, and the recursion loop is completed. He will be continually and painfully drained of his magic, after which he will stave to death between dimensions. Crisis over. This experience has shaken him up a bit; it'll be nice to get back to his room and rest up before his interview... A gunshot echoes through the garage. Sage spins to see Brainchild standing between him and a cultist who had been leveling a revolver at his back. The cultist fires again and she moves in a blur, smacking the bullet harmlessly away. She clenches her fist, and a drop of blood from her blistering knuckles falls silently to the floor. The cultist raises the weapon for another shot.
A gun. Something so stupid, so simple. This wasn't like the phase variance web, he could have avoided that if he hadn't been daydreaming. This was a real thing. He could have died. Honestly died. Died...and not as a hero, like Zephandi- not saving the world at all- but from the bullet of an untrained adept. She had saved his life. Twice. It is a simple thing for her to dodge the shot, but she hadn't moved. She is protecting him. Because that's what heroes do. Sage's eyes flash, and the chain lighting of Shango's Spear forks across the room. The cultist slumps to the ground. The SLJ's young mage eyes the bodies of the fallen cultists warily. A gun. He doesn't feel much like giving an interview. He could have died. He didn't, because he has a teammate. He struggles for something to say.
"Hey... um... thanks."