1965-03-24 - Birth of the FireHawk
Summary: A potential meltdown at a nuclear plant in Queens draws heroes to the rescue, only to be confronted by the last thing any of them might have expected.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
kwabena bruce-wayne sage lorraine-reilly lucian slade-wilson 

A Subsidiary of Hewitt Industries
8 PM

"Do it."
"Sir, are you sure about this?"
"Do it. I win either way."
The man in white shrugged, then flipped six switches, then turned the large dial slowly. He did not look up as the figure writhed in the chamber.

"Crawl out through the fallout, baby when they drop that bomb
Crawl out through the fallout with the greatest of aplomb

When your white count's getting higher, hurry, don't delay?
I'll hold you close and kiss those radiation burns away?"

The guard turned his radio off and yawned.
It's still fairly cold in New York City, and people are getting ready for Wednesday night. Martin Luther King, Jr. has not yet reached Montgomery, but he will by tomorrow. The revelation that the United States and the South Vietnamese are using chemical weapons is still fresh in people's minds, and they are reaching for their TVs to find out more.

Not terribly far from the energy institute, an unlikely pair are seated in a cafe. Kwabena Odame, dark skinned and African-born, is seated across from Sage, a warm cup of coffee in hand that still lets loose steam into the radiator-heated air. "So, dat's it. Dere is some kind of… I have a hard time to explain. Is like, a piece of time is just…" He lifts a hand, mimicking a puff of smoke. "…gone. I hope you undahstand, my English is not de best."

Lucian is not kissing anyone's radiation burns away without damn good reason. Midweek in the evenings, he generally runs one of the most successful clubs in the city, but not tonight. At this hour, he strolls out of Greenwich Village to take in the vibrant spirit of the city at its outer fringes, in places where people still head home or ride the rails to distant destinations on the fringes. No call for posh colours to call attention to hismelf, he wears his long turquoise coat open, scarf in peacock blue around his throat. Humming some incongruous tune, he stops now and then to look in storefront windows or the masses going past him. If anything catches attention about him, it might be the song he hums.

Batman sets behind the wheel of his pitch black Ford GT-40 traveling quickly through the city streets as the police radio mounted to the dash blares out all manner of chatter. The car is a sleek and stylish design of supercar, with red accent lines across it, and a large bat with wings spread to either side on the hood of the vehicle. On either door is a large yellow circle with a pitch black outline of a bat with wings spread in the center of it. The windshields are little more then pitch black metal thickly riveted into place, with a pair of holes at eye level encased in glass. The passenger and driver side windows have received a similar treatment limiting its visibility a good deal, but greatly enhancing its protection. Beneath all the modifications that make it an intimidating speed demon of a car it's still the same supercar, with its iconic sleek design still visible through the complete custom job that's been done around it.

He'd just come off from a recent bout of crime fighting and was already on his way home. Time seemed to flow faster when he was on the job then any other time in his life. Every time he put on the suit it seemed like such a short thril-ride before he'd have to go back to the costume that was Bruce Wayne. He was never quite so alive as he was right in this moment, behind the wheel of the bat-mobile speeding along the back alleys, and city streets alike with a blistering speed. The thought crossed his mind on the possibility of responding to a purse snatching in progress on the other side of town, a bit of public service to put off his return to normal life.

Meanwhile, inside the institute proper, Slade Wilson is concluding an interview with one of the sub-directors. Today he is here protecting the interests of one of his legitimate research initiatives and tracking the current and future investigations taking place.

A nice change from hunting ninjas and blowing up abandoned subway station. He has a good number of bruises under his well-tailored business suit. But they are already fading, he will be perfectly fine in a couple days.

Sage is perhaps overdressed for the occasion of meeting Kwabena. Elegant pantsuit, blue and white. Her hair pulled back into a thick braid. She should probably be meeting with some business tycoon with her look, not sitting down to tea with someone else in so casual a setting. She nods understandingly. English is hard. "What language would be easiest to relate the experience?" She might not necessarily know it - not right away - but give her time to look into it. A day or two. She doesn't look concerned or worried. Interested, perhaps. "Because if switching to another language would help, then I am happy to do so. Or…" She gently taps the side of her head with forefinger and middle finger. "We can jump to something more invasive. It is, of course, your choice."

8:02 PM

The man in the white lab coat blinked. What was happening? "Sir, containment will not hold! We've got a runaway reaction!"
"I'm not seeing anything on the Geiger counters. Check your machines again!"
"I've checked them, twice! More and more power is being drawn from the reactor chamber! Sir, we need to evacuate!"
There is the sound of a shot, and the man in black says, "You can stay here, Jenkins. Keep her company."
And then he was running towards the doors, unable to keep the grin from his face.

In Queens, the lights flicker, and many houses suddenly go dark. At the same time, a frenzied call is made to the NYPD, and the caller is frantic about "explosions" at the Roosevelt Alternative Energy Insitute.

A quiet, almost pleasant voice begins droning through the speakers in the ceilings. "Attention. Attention. Please advance to the nearest exit and move to the nearest safe facility in…(click, click) Arlington, Virginia. Message repeats…"

As for dress, Kwabena is almost always underdressed. There are reasons, reasons to which some are painfully aware. Blue jeans and a black t-shirt, along with his leather riding jacket. "No, no. Is not difficult for me, just some of de concepts." He considers Sage's offer for a moment, when the lights in the cafe flicker. He frowns, and turns to look around for a moment. It just so happens that an officer of NYPD is having coffee at the counter, and he can't help but notice the frantic voice coming from dispatch. He turns back to Sage, concern in his silver eyes. "Dat does not sound so good."

He glances back toward the officer for a moment, before leaning across the table so that he might speak in quieter tones to his counterpart. "Dese mutants were sent out, I am sure dey were sent will bad intentions. I wondah…" By now, the officer is making to depart, and he sure is in a hurry. He looks back to Sage with a perked eyebrow.

Batman looks down at his radio for a moment before uttering the words. "Roosevelt Alternative Energy Institute" His eyes narrow beneath the cowl focusing firmly right on the radio setup. He slams down the parking break suddenly and without warning. The Batmobile spins out right in the middle of traffic sliding and skidding to one side, crossing the divide placed in the middle of the road. It just barely manages to miss coming into contact with two other cars as it spins into the opposing lane. For a moment it skids to a halt at the far side of the road. Just as quickly the parking break gets lightened up, allowing the cars tires to spin in place for a short moment. The car rockets off right back the other direction and towards the Roosevelt Alternative Energy Institute, barely a moment to spare. It weaves in and out of traffic, with Batman behind the wheel looking right down the middle of the road making hairpin turns to avoid slamming directly into the other cars on the street.

Coming up on the building proper he spins the car out one last time, allowing it to circle itself several times before skidding to a halt right in an open parking space at the front of the facility. He steps out from within the car motions slow but deliberate. He shuts the door firmly before walking around to the other side pausing mid stride to stop at the parking meter which has the little red flag up. He presses down one gloved hand onto his utility belt and exact change falls out the bottom into his other free hand. One solid motion sends money into the parking meter and the flag goes from green to red allowing him to continue on his way into the facility.

His footfalls are fast carrying him up to the front door in spite of whoever may be attempting to leave. He walks right on through as if he owned the building attempting to make his way towards the source of the explosions. He wasn't about to let anything happen to this city on his watch.

"That's fair, I had—" And then it goes dark. And the cop receives the panicked order. Tessa's head tilts to the side as she considers. Her gaze flicks back to Kwabena and she nods slightly, indicating the door to the cafe with a motion from her hand. She rises from her seat and heads out immediately, seconds behind the reacting police officer.

Sound matters to the blond, for all his casual hum thrums lightly across his palate. The casual feel of the street changes when the lights go out and the early onset of the dusk catapults his block and those around into darkness. Down the street, a cafe cast into complete shadows is loud enough to gather his attention for a moment. Such a place where Kwabena and Sage share their kaffeeklatsch, in fact. Another stream of shoppers race out through an open door ahead, peering around, helpless in the night. That very oldest of fears hidden in the hindbrain awakens in the chattering conversations, unease breathing through every word. Halted for a few steps, he resumes his jaunty pace with a very different intent, slowly stretching his awareness out to the broadcasts filling the air, chasing along currents in the walls and over power lines, through radios and points between. Knowledge is a powerful drug and tapping directly into the living current gives details — names, directions, places.

"Roosevelt," he says aloud, a matter of open curiosity. Englishman in New York, his cut-glass accent is a purr, even as he grants a warning. The next intersection gives some way to orient himself, relative to the station. East, north, there. They might have a moment to see him. He rounds the corner, away from pedestrians, somewhere no one is likely to notice him phasing out of sight. And so what if they do? He's already airborne, rocketing northwards to the Alternative Energy Institute. Traffic is scarcely a problem at the speeds he can travel. Alighting on the rooftop takes only seconds.

Slade frowns, lips pursing as the lights flicker and a voice announces the evacuation procedure. Looks like the remaining employees seem to hurry to escape. But Slade isn't, because he heard the gunshot pretty clearly and he has invested money in this place.

So instead of running away he moves deeper into the institute, moving swiftly and quietly despite his attire and the heavy shoes he wears.

Security isn't an issue for Slade—most of the doors are already opening by fleeing employees. The map on the wall displays the layout, as well as the reason Hewitt doesn't let reporters come inside.
The east section with the simple-yet-stark label of REACTOR. The floorplan also shows a laboratory east of that, but it would mean traveling through the reactor room to get there.

A few police cars are rolling up on Vernon Blvd. to get a look at what all the fuss is about. Almost all are standard beat cops, foot patrol. The guard at the gate says he is unaware of anything that is going on?

And then a relay is closed in response to data it does not understand, and the air is suddenly alive with an air-raid siren.
The guard's eyes open wide in fear and he yells, "RUN! It's gonna BLOW!" With that, he bolts from behind the partition and runs down 38th Avenue. The cops, many of them already feeling that fine edge of danger, get in their cars and pulls back from the facility, others opting to "duck and cover" behind walls.

Kwabena throws the jacket over his shoulders before slipping out of the cafe not far behind the police officer. His motorbike is parked not far away; he can't be certain how Sage got here, but that bike is their best chance at following the cop without getting snarled up in traffic.

He makes a beeline for the motorbike and scoots forward to allow Sage room. "Hold on, dis might be rough ride."

Moments later, the motorcycle is rocketing in pursuit of the officer, weaving through traffic with impressive skill. His time as a cab driver has certainly paid off! It doesn't take long for them to pull up by the institute, which happens right around the time that the alarms sound, and people begin to scatter. Eyes wide, Kwabena drops the kickstand and eyeballs the building from end to end. "… Shit, is de nucleah plant!" Instinct drives him next, and he shoves a hand under his shirt to pull at something. Black is brought up to cover the majority of his face, leaving only his mouth and chin exposed. A mask.

Batman wasn't the type to run from danger, even before he gained the moniker. He'd always been the type to run into the burning building rather then away. So while a nuclear meltdown of course sets off his fear response he pushes through entering the building in spite of himself. He may not have been a nuclear engineer but he didn't spend so much of his life earning multiple engineering degrees for nothing. The least he could do is try to slow down the meltdown long enough for people to escape. Even as the cops run he remains calm and stoic on the outside moving one step at a time to work his way further into the complex. His cape billows softly behind him as he moves through the halls eyes narrowed down as he holds one hand out in front of himself allowing the builtin Geiger counter to work its magic and see how bad the situation really is.

Tessa's car is definitely not going to do them any favours in the traffic. So she goes with Kwabena, latching on as she hops onto the motorcycle behind him. Of course it's going to be a rough ride. Everyone's fleeing as best they can, she thinks. "Nevermind that, let's just see what's going on!" Ever curious.

Slade is not a nuclear engineer either, but at least has a general idea of what the controls of the power plant are for. He has no idea how much radiation he could survive, though. Certainly more than a normal man, but it is not something he is willing to test.

But he heard a gunshot, so this has been sabotage. The one-eyed man is looking for a killer.

Through the cacophonous wail of the air-raid siren and strobing shouts, Lucian remains unnaturally calm. He briskly crosses the institute's rooftop, headed from the generator to leap to next part of the facility. That much remains visible to the eye, for anyone bothering to look upwards. Peacock scarf fluttering, he casually spans the distance with a flex of his shoulders. Then landing upon the laboratory to the east of the complex, finding his way through the nearest door. Radiation might be bombarding him, but the fact his manner is anything but terrified is telling. Those particles are absorbed at the subatomic level into him, swallowed into him. Through to the reactor room, he moves efficiently indeed.

The Geiger counter starts clicking as Batman closes in on the eastern section. Not nearly enough rads to be fatal, or even damaging. Batman would even recognize the modelthe Hewitt T400 "Tokamak" reactor. Enough power to supply Queens and a chunk of Manhattan for the next 500 years…or make New York a very quiet place for the next 5,000.
The terminals in the control room on the west side paint a grim picture
there is a runaway reaction all right, and the rods are not only fully exposed, the water in the reactor chamber has boiled away to a level where it no longer covers the rods?
As both Slade and Lucian arrive, they should expect enough radiation to make them glow in the dark.
But if that is true, why is Batman's Geiger counter barely ticking??
Lucian could testify, should a Bible ever get close to him. There is little radiation beyond the chamber itself. In fact, he would be consciously aware of the radiation levels beyond the container…dropping.
And they can all see the sudden flare of brilliance from the chamber, and then the Geiger counter stops, dead. Not even a click.
The terminal nearest Slade reveals that the reactor rods have degraded completely…decayed until no radioactive energy is left.
There are a few moments of complete, ghastly silence, as the alarms shut off.

Well, he's never been one to back down from a challenge. Leaving the bike, he pulls gloves over his hands from somewhere beneath the long sleeves of his uniform. The caped visage of Batman is just visible entering the building, and so Kwabena makes a gesture toward the entrance he'd taken. "Looks like a likeminded one," he says, and rushes in behind the caped crusader.

Once inside, he follows one principle; go against the flow of evacuating civilians. One of them goes so far as to try grasping hold of Kwabena, screaming about evacuation, but the Ghanaian casts the worker aside and shouts, "Run!" before moving right along. This is well out of his league, but he does see a map on the wall. "Where… where do we go?" he asks, turning to Sage. The mask prevents his expression from showing, but his mouth is at least drawn into a concerned frown.

Then, the alarms fade, and he can't help but feel a shiver crawl down his spine. He looks around, hands clenching into worried fists that begin to emit a crackling sound as they begin hardening into something… supersolid.

A brief glance to the terminals in the control room reveal Slade that coming here might have been a BAD idea even for him. This is no accident, but sabotage.

And then Batman steps in. "What the hell?" Mutters Slade, glancing at the costumed vigilante. Which ranks high in his list of dangerous people. No way to hide, though. And all he has on himself is a small handgun.

And those rods… "this makes no sense," he adds, "it is as if something has absorbed all the radiation. It should be impossible."

Batman is working quickly at the controls putting his advanced engineering education to the test as he continues to monitor radiation levels in the room. There's just one small problem: Nothing his Geiger counter is telling him matches up with what he's seeing. This gives him pause casing him to stop and turn to face the window. Instead of turning just his head he turns his whole body in a sweeping motion the cape fluttering behind him as he moves. Eyes narrow and focus as he looks over it closely, watching the chamber even as the flash goes off that should have reasonably blinded him. Thankfully the lenses of his cowl prevent eye damage from the brilliance.

"What do we have here?" He finally says looking at the viewing window, before turning his attention back to the terminals. He has a theory already building in the back of his mind but he needs to confirm a few things first. "Goodevening gentlemen, I don't suppose either of you happen to have something to say about this?" Asked as he flicks through the complex mathematical readout before him, coalescing the data in his mind. "Not that I intend on looking the gifthorse in the mouth, but from everything I know of engineering we should be radioactive dust right now."

However before the frantic worker can leave, Sage catches him by the arm. Sure, she has rules about telepathy. She was taught and trained by Xavier. But there are ways… "What's going on? Where is it?" And while that might not get much from the man except for panicked 'I need to get out', whether he realizes it or not, the path he took to escape flitters to mind. Surface thoughts that Sage scans without having to plumb the depths of the man's mind. She breaks contact just in time to catch Kwabena's question. "This way," she says firmly, pulling him momentarily into the right corridor.

A lack of nuclear radiation of any sort and Lucian raises his eyebrows, almost casually surveying his surroundings and, well, the man within. "How odd." An Englishman walks in behind Batman announcing that finding when he feverishly works various equipment, sounds like some start to a joke. Well it might be as he tucks his hands into his pockets, raising his chin when the illuminated flash by all rights ought to be dazzling him and everyone else for minutes. Afterimages do indeed dance, and he smiles.

How not? It's a beautiful sight. "Remarkably lovely, though, isn't it? Rather rare to enjoy that sort of spectacle. I only wish I thought to bring a proper black tea." The casual smile flashed at them both holds a devastating ease to it, Slade's reaction clearly heard. "Nothing is impossible. Improbable, but not impossible. Keep an open mind and the world does become a great deal more orderly. You'll want to go that way." An inclination of his head — never pointing, that's rude — indicates a set of conduits, sooner or later. If need be, he will point them out more directly.

The massive metal door simply reads NUCLEAR PHYSICS LABORATORY. Steel, most likely lead-lined. A square vault door. The kind that would be in front of a federal vault.
To Lucian, it might look like a prison door. To Slade, a bank vault, and the real treasure is within.
For Batman, it would most likely mean two minutes, 34 seconds.
However, it is not totally soundproofed, and there is a sound coming from beyond that door.
Lucian can hear that sound. He, more than anyone else would recognize a shriek of pain. but nothing human can make that sound without shredding its own larynx.
Her own larynx. The shriek is female.

Kwabena's arm decidedly no longer feels like flesh trough a shirt, but like solid rock. He follows along now trusting Tessa to lead the way, and while they might be the last ones to enter the control room, they're just in time to hear that shriek.

The masked African only waits a moment. His boots leave a dent on the cement floor when suddenly he's charging for the vault door at a speed that is remarkably fast, but moments before he strikes, the man disappears into a thick cloud of black smoke. Clothing falls to the floor, and the smoke roils violently against the vault door for a few seconds. It almost looks as if there are tendrils poking and prodding at the lock, the hinges, anything, before the cloud floats back into the clothing and begins uprighting it, sans jeans and t-shirt. Now there is just a man, dressed in form fitting black from head to boot, with deep purple lines creating an 'X' from shoulders to hip.

"Air tight," he tells the others, with no shortage of disappointment in his heavily accented words.

Too many people is coming, and Slade look vaguely uncomfortable. "I heard a gunshot," he offers. "And there seems to be no chance of a meltdown now, perhaps it is time I call the building security."

He narrows his eyes at Batman. Did he hear the scream past the door. "I'd suggest not to stay here for long," he offers, heading out.

Reaching slowly down to his belt Batman presses a button on it allowing a small lockpicking kit to drop down into his waiting gloved hand. "I'll keep that in mind." Offered calmly as he makes his way over to the door. "Let's see if we can't fix that." Spoken to Kwabena as Batman starts to break his way through the lock on the vault door with speed and efficiency. His training shines through as he gets down to work though he looks less then comfortable during the process. "It shouldn't take very long."

Sage was going to say something. In fact, she probably should have said something before the path through the facility took them right to the same room as the others. She could, perhaps, use her telepathy to block her own presence, if she was that worried. But she does not. Instead she simple walks in behind Kwabena - by quite a distance after her charges. She glances around the room, leaving the door to Batman and fixates on the various consoles. Of course, they're consoles to operate equipment. No information here, really. "A shame someone didn't think to leave a tell-all manuscript here for us," she says. "I could use a little information before we head inside."

"'Nuclear Physics Laboratory' sounds so terribly innocent, doesn't it?" Lucian slides his hands into the pockets of that long, bright coat. An easy gait up to the doorway gives him a chance to skim his fingers along the vault edges, measuring the circumference, tracing out the details the way an artist approaches a particularly valuable block of Carrera marble for evidence of flaws or the singing truths of a sculpture emerging from the depths. So too might this piece of metal tell him fundamentally what he wants to know, what lies beyond. Right up to the scream. The scream changes everything. Whiteout in the mind, whiteout in the air.

"You're taking too long," he tells Batman. Not unkindly but totally at a distance, indigo eyes flickering. In some detached way, he nods to Kwabena and Sage coming up behind him. "Keep back." The filaments of absorbed energy land on the door in a scalding brightness, too hot to look at.

It takes less time than Batman thinks. He is suddenly aware that the cold metal of the vault door is no longer cold. In fact, it is warm…and getting warmer.
The others looking at the door can see why. The color of the upper half of the door is changing. The tendrils of heat coming from Lucian's hands are working at the door like a scalpel through flesh, but then the door itself begins to glow with heat…

Lucian's earning is certainly heeded; Kwabena takes a few steps back, leaving the door to Lucian and Batman. In fact, he backs up closer to Sage, keeping his face upon that door as it begins to glow. "I'll leave a note in de suggestion box," he answers drily, while quietly preparing himself for whatever might come next.

For a man loaded down with armor he can sure move when he needs to. From the midst of working to a quick jump back, a full on summersault that could easily go wrong but manages to see him landing firmly. The lockpicks go right back into the pocket of his belt allowing him to fold his arms and look over towards Lucian. There's a long pause as he looks at him from behind cool eyes of the cowl. "Thanks for the warning." He finally says unfolding his arms, standing back to allow the others to do their thing.

Sage doesn't need to be told twice. She stays right where she is until it's safe again. "Thank you for the warning." Her 'thing' is mostly a telepathic probe to detect any minds beyond the door. Since nobody was nice enough to leave any kind of information… To do she lifts one hand to her head, forefinger and middle at her forehead, thumb down by her jaw. It's just a focusing gesture and she knows it, but it's long since become habit.

"No point in vaporizing any of you," says the Englishman, characteristic stiff upper lip and ability to vaporize metal atoms. His presence is like a vaporous void and a mirror at once to the telepathic probe if he happens to fall within it. Those blazing flames interact with the structure of the metal to destroy its integrity, added to the slag effect coming from within. When those two presences meet, he chooses to step back. It might be especially helpful not to lose his favourite scarf if shrapnel goes exploding out.

There is no shrapnel, from this, but the wave of heat that burns through the hole that appears in the top of the door threatens to set the ceiling afire. The vault door is slowly…MELTING.
It sags and tilts crazily, then topples forwards with a metallic CLANG that rings the eardrums.

Then someone steps through the hole.
Her hands are at her sides, clenched into fists, the tips of the wings searing twin trails in the floor as she walks towards them. The eyes are glowing white orbs than turn a baleful red as it…she regards them…

The heat brings a cringe to Kwabena's face; he mutters something that sounds vile and derisive under his breath, but it's unlikely anyone speaks his native tribal language. Good thing, or else the censors would have to put an R-rating on this nonsense.

He raises an arm to shield his face from the heat, then lowers it enough to peer through the mask toward the being that walks through. "What… on Earth…"

« She feels like she's been caged… and she just figured out how to get out. » As if that -look- the woman affixes them isn't obvious enough. Sage's telepathic voice is as neutral as her real voice. Emotions under control, even in this kind of situation. She takes a step back, then another. One hand trying to convince Kwabena to back away. As a telepath, she's a little limited here. She has options… but there's no need to play her hand. Her gaze does fixate on those big wings. « This could get worse if she gets out. » Obviously.

The sight of the woman with glowing eyes is enough for Batman to lower his arm a little bit further moving it right to his utility belt. He doesn't know if this thing is a threat but if it is he has to be ready. He looks over at her with those pure white eyes of his cowl unwilling to move to action quite yet, giving her a moment to explain herself.

Glowing wings and glowing woman: it wouldn't be the first time for such things, but emerging from a prison vault is reason enough. Lucian ponders the manner of events for a short time before saying, "Well, hello. Do come out. Anyone responsible for this about, or are you out looking for them?" The heat shimmer rising off the ground and filling the air floats around him, slowly pulled back in to replenish a little of the energy expenditure spent to fuel the demise of that door. It deserves to be a molten pile on the ground. "Do you have a name, miss?" English manners, olways.

The eyes flickers from one person to another. For a moment, she looks confused, unsure.
Then she spots Batman, and the image fits the pre-programmed trigger. Conscious thought is overwritten by the responses overwriting her brain, responses that had been burned into her by another
She rises a few inches off the ground, points her right arm at Batman, the wing arcing forward.
There is a moment of rising light in the fist of her hand before a bolt of nuclear fire is launched at Batman.

He most certainly will back off. Kwabena is at least partially aware of what might happen if he ends up caught in a chain reaction of some sort; a nuclear meltdown still isn't entirely out of the picture. "Looks like she has been caged," he murmurs in response to Tessa's telepathic message.

Eyes go to Lucian, then back to the glowing woman. When she points toward Batman, his mouth forms into a grimace, and foolish or not, he leaps forward.

The nuclear blast is cleanly intercepted. The costumed man bursts into a fireball of brilliant blue, his mutant flesh and bone immediately sublimating into gas ignited by such severe heat. The figure ends up blasting into the glass, which melts and blows open the wall of the control room… good thing there's no more fissile material in there.

Kwabena releases a horrendous scream of agony and rage. Now transformed into a vaguely man-shaped figure of burning, purple plasma, he pulls arms and legs into a ball and cries out the terror of what he faces; submit the burning to his will and snuff it out, or burn out and leave nothing behind.

Batman simply closes his eyes and hopes. There's not enough time for him to move out of the way, the blast is coming too fast to dodge. All he can do is hope his armor is enough to protect him. Yet as he braces for the impact ready to be sent flying someone jumps in the way taking the brunt of the impact. "That's enough." In that moment Batman sends out a single bat-a-rang thrown with a great deal of force not aimed directly for her but around her. A small metal wire trailing behind it as it swings back round and round in order to try and tie her up. "No one is going to be killing anyone."

English manners are a thing for Sage, too. She has the right accent. The difference being, she adopted the mannerisms and accent as a way to deal with her past. Sometimes, despite herself, it's that survival instinct that kicks in. When the woman was distracted, Sage was going to 'vanish' the group of them entirely. But that becomes harder as she's engaged directly. Instead, she opts for another route. She fixates her gaze on the other woman and pushes her way into the woman's mind. The surface thoughts are awful. Molasses-like screaming, pain and torment. Despite the mental noise she pushes through, forcing her one question into the mind beyond the surface.

« Can you hear me? »

Best wait to see how events turn out. Lucian does not seem the least ruffled by someone going up in heat and flames, odd as that has to be. He raises his eyebrows at the batarang Batman pulls, and the shrill scream in conjunction with fascinating violet plasma is something memorable! How utterly noteworthy in its fashion, locked down by a man ever so patient to recall these things later. "Come here," he calls out to Kwabena. "I can help you some."

For Sage:

Every person's mind is a home. From the flimsiest shack to the armored fortress, everyone has a home.
This being has a home, too. But it has been chopped up, broken into its parts, and then mortared together again. But not well. The cracks are easy to see, the foundation cracked in places, and it has been rebuilt as a carnival horror house.
The mailbox at the entrance, the letters written like a pasted-together ransom note, read LorRAinE REilLy.
A public-address system plays over and over, "Kill all Superheroes. Kill all Mutants. Kill all Police. Kill all EMTs," in a harsh voice.
But there is someone still in there, crying and lost.

The women stops, staring at the man who leaped in front of Batman. Who took the bolt meant for him.
Her eyes lose that murderous red tint, and she backs up. Her head is full of hornets and she can't seem to think of what to do next.

Its difficult to discern much of anything through the haze that Kwabena's brain has become. X-gene mutations are a fascinating science; somehow, synaptic activity remains, but it exists in a state that is not at all normal. Somehow, the Englishman's words are recognized. Come here. How? His entire being is focused on extinguishing himself before he's permanently extinguished. Out of fuel, one might say.

Yet, synaptic activity. Energy of a sort, retained in a complete transformation into biological energy. The burning man pounces, and ends up soaring over toward Lucian's end of the room, skidding to a halt upon landing. The floor pretty much melts under him, and he turns a fiery purple head toward the man. Now is heard in electric tone, but it's hard to tell if it came from his mouth, or… if it just vibrated the air around him.

The Bat-a-rang swings round several times before coming to a stop the rope is loose for a moment, before he pulls it tight, trying to bring the radioactive woman down to ground level so he can shove her in cuffs. He has a great deal of strength for a human planting his feet firmly on the ground before giving that sharp tug. "If we let this thing out into the city there's no telling what kind of damage it'll cause."

"Exactly," Sage says. "I'm trying to stop her in my own way." It's handy, being able to split her attention. But the result is a voice even more clipped than usual.

« I can hear you crying. Come towards the sound of my voice. » Even with that request, Sage is moving forward. The awfulness of the past torture sloshes around her feet. She can see the cracks and splits in the mind, and there's that horrible voice giving orders. She does not confont it. She knows better than to force that right now. « I know you want safety as much as I do. I need you come to me, or neither of us will be safe. »

"Yes, now," says the blond man to the plasmoid human figure. Sage and Batman have admirably dealt with the flaming woman, at least sufficiently well not to present an absolutely immediate threat. Reaching out to find the baseline energy behind the fire takes a few moments of concentrating, extending his awareness into the burning that engulfs Kwabena. "May I leach some of the excess off you or have you pulled that under control?"

The woman does not try to struggle. In fact, she seems to have forgotten where she is entirely. The wings hang limp, but the cord is already starting to sear and melt.

«I can't. I can't fix the house, and I can't leave it. There's something in the house, and I have to keep it under control.»
The mental door swings open into a room of funhouse mirrors, minus the fun. Batman is here, along with Spider-Man, the Punisher, and other heroes seen on the news, but they are all caricatures and parodies. Batman looks like a fanged vampire. The Punisher seems to have a hundred guns on him. Other are all here, all warped versions, and they are all moved in and set up, most likely by the same person who fractured the architecture.

Leach speaks the electric voice again. Now - the voice doesn't carry inflection in such a state, so it can be difficult to tell whether Plasmoid-Kwabena is asking, demanding, crying… truth is, if he didn't have it under control, the floor wouldn't be the only thing melting. Still, he remains painfully aware of Batman, Sage, even Lorraine, and the fact that he can't do anything to help save going head to head with the burning woman to see who can burn hotter. Probably not the best idea.

"Well there's another chord I'll need to replace." Batman says rather calmly watching as it slowly melts away. He still looks very serious about the whole affair as he watches proceedings take place calculating the temperature of the enemy, by the speed at which the cable melts. It doesn't take much to do the math to be fair, and he's not liking the results.

The mindscape is a strange place. Funhouse indeed. Though to be fair, she can see how anyone would have this interpretation of various heroes. Working her way through the funhouse isn't the difficult part. She's seen an unconscious defense like this before. She forces a door open to show her the exit, which she promptly steps through before it can seal behind her.

« Then we'll have to work together. Because your something is mostly outside the house now, and someone's going to get hurt. I'll teach you how, all right? Teamwork is the key. »

Ask and thou shalt receive. Something in Scripture confides so much, though never did the author likely intend that to refer to Lucifer Morningstar. For in one fleeting instant, the impermeable guise of the mortal flesh may be again sundered for the act of reaching for the heart of the amethyst quagmire with a carelessness typically associated for men picking up recalcitrant puppies and putting them back in their cardboard box with mama. His expression never loses an aspect of the deep calm, something almost borderline on ambivalence at the greater state of the world. Last laugh's with him. "Yes, now. Mind this might feel a tad ticklish, would you?" His fingers reach out and pull, a bottomless pit for the effervescent bands of energy. That which he subsumes into himself at such prodigious rates — greed, ever the sin of men — throws off a weak glow in the shared hue, one star absorbing the corona and matter of another. A casual rock would pass right through him now, though he appears solid enough for a man wreathed in Kwabena's fire. Stealing several aspects away ought to at least make that more manageable for everyone.

The interior of the mental house looks non-Euclidian—few straight lines, muddled angles. For Sage's experience, it is easy to see that this fracturing of her mind is the result of some pretty brutal brainwashing techniques, with some torture thrown in for flavor.
The center of the house shows Lorraine, but as she must have looked when she was a small child; she is working on a large control panel similar to the one in the control room in the real world.
And for the same reason.
Looking out of place in the disjointed room is a large, gleaming contraption. A sign bolted onto the side of it reads:


Lorraine looks to Sage, then points to a map, like the map in the facility. Only many pieces are missing, some are hammered into the wrong places, and many are taped in. Another hallmark of the brainwashing.
«I can't put it all back together and maintain the reactor at the same time!» she nearly wailed. «I need help!»

The ordeal lingers for three, maybe four long seconds, when finally the purple becomes blue, and is summarily snuffed out into tendrils of smoky black. The gaseous anomaly hovered over scalded floor for another moment, when, with a 'pop' of displaced air, smoke solidified into man. A smoking, naked man, crouched down to prevent the nethers from seeing light.

Kwabena cranes his neck up to take stock of what's going on. The hair on his head, in fact, every shred of hair on his body has been scalded away. He remembers leaping for Batman… nothing else.

"Sage," he murmurs, looking from Tessa to Lorraine, confused for a moment. This memory loss stuff is a real bitch… feels just like Ghana, which has him frowning for a moment of distraction.

"Welcome back." Batman comments after a long moments silence to process what he just witnessed. Today was going to be one of those days from the looks and he'd just have to get used to that. As the rope melts completely he just retracts what's left of it back into his belt pouch with a single press of a button. A moment later he's pressing another button and something from behind him drops into a waiting hand. "Not every day someone comes back from getting blasted into plasma." A blanket. He drapes the blanket over the naked man as if this were just another perfectly normal day.

"I'm speaking with her right now," Sage says, noding towards Lorraine's still form. "There is a catch. She can't regain control of herself and maintain the reactor. Someone is going to have to stabilize it while I help her." Just a little problem, really. "Someone else needs to help me on my end." Hopefully stabilizing the reactor in the real world can buy them some time. It'll at least avert disaster for the moment.

« Team effort, » she tels the younger Lorraine. « We do this together. I'm going to bring a friend in to help us. »

Too premature to say all's well, but close. Lucian takes a measured approach to blankets and belts, prepared to sacrifice his own scarf for the joint effort of clothing Kwabena. Peacock blue, very fashionable, he holds that out to be taken — or strangled with, all things considered. "Fantastic. Well, that you have established a conversation and assured the miss can communicate." A positive outcome given Sage's particular admission, he dusts his hand off on his coat. "That fellow with the cape and ears seems to do well toying with the control panels and calibrating everything. Is that in your bailiwick?" Sorry, Batman, the dry English wit is what it is. "Unless you've any bright ideas about that, sir." Sir being Kwabena.

The being that was once Lorraine Reilly seems almost like she is sleepwalking. There, but…not there. Whatever is occupying her time has to be pretty awesome. Still, it's better than letting the clockwork run amuck.

Lorraine points to the control panel. There are a hundred controls there, a symbol of the power she can control…once she learns how, that is.
«If it runs too hot, turn the dial to the left. Too cold, turn it to the right.» She looks at the needles and turns it to the left, and some venting can be heard very far away in the mental landscape. «I have to put it back together. Can you do this?»

Rising, Kwabena readjusts the blanket, twisting and tying it around himself so that it covers what must be covered, nothing more. He looks to the Batman, that little tidbit of information filling in some gaps, gaps that extend far beyond this incident here. It seems silly to thank a man for the decency of a blanket, while also welcoming him for taking a nuclear bullet, so, Kwabena elects to allow for a simple nod of acknowledgement.

Now Sage provides direction, and Kwabena turns to look between Lucian and Batman. He's had his experience with telepaths… not necessarily good experience, but it isn't unfamiliar territory. Plus, his body is weak. It may not appear so outwardly, but the transformation to plasma and back has the effect of, well, starving ones self for an unhealthy period of days. Too much more physical exertion might cause his body to begin eating itself to survive, which is ugly.

"I do not know if I can handah anodah blast," he answers truthfully, eyes falling upon Lucian for a moment with a shake of his head, declining the scarf, before turning to Batman. "If you can help him, I can help her." Clearly, Lucian has a talent for supplanting the forces of energy.

A brief pause, before he adds, "Its 'Shift'," by way of introduction.

Assuming no one disagrees with the settles upon plan, he will step up to Sage's side. A deep breath is drawn, then he gives her a steadying nod that doubles as confirmation that he's ready. Then he turns toward Lorraine, quietly promising himself that she's not going to throw another nuke his way, regardless of how delusional that may be.

Batman gives a firm nod of his head. "Just glad you're still with us, I'd hate to be the one to try and track down your family if something happened to you on my account." Before moving towards the control room. "Leave the reactor to me, if I can't manage to stop it I want all of you to take the woman and run." Speaking out an order. "I'll hold it as long as I can but I don't want to see any of you trying to play hero when this place goes up."

Then he's moving back to the controls a rapid fire of fingers tapping out onto the keys as he tries his best to troubleshoot what might have gone wrong with the system to push it to this point. He works fast and furiously to find the solution, in another life another time, a world where his parents hadn't met their end in a back alley maybe he would have been a nuclear engineer. However there was no time to dawdle on what ifs.

Sage tries not to sound too confident, but quite frankly Sage is always confident. Or often, at the very least. « I can handle it. » She's still bringing in help, just in case… whatever it is - the mental projection of whatever Lorraine's become - decides to come find her.

"This is going to feel…. unusual, I suspect," she tells Kwabena, nodding as he steps close. Sage's mind reaches out to Kwabena's, sweeping him up aaaaaand… then he's there, with Sage. Outside a mental funhouse, and in front of the console with the dial on it. Muck and misery and days of torture making a mess of his mental footwear. « Too hot, we turn this dial to the left. Cold, we turn it to the right, » she explains. « I could do this myself, but I fear her… other self is in here as well. »

The control panel Batman is working with is nearly dead. There are three conduits leaving from the reactor, all three going into the laboratory and into an ugly machine featuring a shattered glass cylinder. Most likely where she was kept…and where she was changed. As far as Batman can tell, the chamber she was in kept drawing more and more energy until it simply drew ALL the energy from the reactor into the woman herself.

Inside Lorraine's mind, the fix-up begins.
As Lorraine removes pieces that don't belong, the scenery of the house itself changes. The caricatures of heroes disappear, one by one. The rooms seem to melt and change from their funhouse counterparts into something closer to the East Side brownstone she shares with her father.
One piece at a time.

"Yeah," Kwabena answers drily. "I know." As a rule, he doesn't mess around with telepaths, unless absolutely necessary. This happens to be one of those moments. Again. So, he stands there and looks at Lorraine with no amount of pleasure in what's about to come, until his psyche is pulled and injected into this other plane. That's when his eyelids flutter and close.

Inside, he's clothed back in his X-Men uniform of black and purple, but his eyes are a natural brown, rather than their obvious mutant silver. Mental projection can be an intimate thing, and reveals things about a person they'd never reveal about themselves otherwise. He peers at the mirrors for a moment, perplexed and still feeling queasy about the sudden change in scenery, but soon enough he's gathered his willpower and steadied himself. He looks to the dial, then to Sage, before turning toward the funhouse. « I think you're right, » he answers, his accent and trouble with English all but gone. He looks down at himself, and the aerodynamic uniform transforms into a pleasant combination; pressed brown slacks, a maroon turtleneck, and a matching jacket. He smirks a bit, then turns and walks toward the funhouse, looking toward Lorraine as she works. « Hello, there. Goodness… do you, uh, need a hand? » He shows his hands and gives her a friendly smile. « No stranger to manual labor. »

….Well. Sage was not expecting that in the least. Still… « He's with me, » she says to Lorraine. She did say she'd bring in a friend. She stands perfectly in front of the console and waits. Turning it when necessary, even if the needle moves but slightly. No need to take risks! She keeps her mind alert and aware, just in case that other mental self of Lorraine's decides to make a visit.

It only takes a few moments, but time is subjective in the mind, and even Twa can sense the tension eases, and each puzzle piece put in its proper place, repair one more chunk of the funhouse, and have the surroundings look normal again.
Lorraine thanks Kwabena as she lifts it, no puzzle pieces falling out, because of course they don't. They are where they belong. The moment she hangs it up, She-Who-Was-Lorraine opens her eyes again, a luminous white as her face becomes active again…and immediately tightens as shame flows into the shining face.
"Oh….oh, God…I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…"

« Look, it's okay, » Kwabena tells Lorraine. « We've all… had moments like this. Some worse, some not so bad. » He gestures for her to come over. « When mine first happened, I killed three people. Didn't mean to, it just happened. I still beat myself up over it, just, not like I used to. It gets better. I'm still alive, and trust me, your punch packs a wallop. »

Oh, he worries about the decision to leave Sage, but maybe there's some link with her dial and the controls Batman is working? Maybe they're all helping each other, somehow?

« One day at a time, yes? »

Sage keeps that part of herself in Lorraine's mind, manipulating the dial as need be. It does mean though only she is free to act, though, with Batman in the reactor room and Kwabena's attention in Lorraine's mind as well. Sage's powers are varied and odd, to say the least. She carefully approaches Lorraine, providing physical support if she can. "It's all right. You're safe now," she says quietly. "But we'll need to get you out before the people that did this return." She sends a mental communication to Batman, letting him know that Lorraine is now under control for the moment.

Batman pauses for a moment as someone speaks into his mind. His expression says a thousand words but he just says a few. "Stay out of my mind if you know what's good for you." To thin air as he works. He clearly didn't like anyone going anywhere near his head even to telepathically talk into it. There were some places people just shouldn't go. "If everything's under control, I'll handle the police."

Lorraine's shoulders sag. She still feels horrible about what happened. She looks around, and then down at herself, startled at the wings along her forearms. "How…where can I go? I don't…I don't know where I can go. I can't go home…not like this…!"

"We'll figure that out," Kwabena tells her. "Hell, I know people and safe places. One step at a time." He reaches out to grasp Lorraine's shoulder in a friendly way, before leading her back toward Sage. "So…" he murmurs to Sage, looking between her and the dial. "How do we get out?"

"I'll cloak her with telepathy. We'll take her to the school." Because that's the only safe space she can think of. Sage does not offer up more information to Batman telepathically. She wasn't even in his mind - and that upset him. Oh no, she's not going to poke that bear a second time. Nope nope. "We'll…" She frowns. The wings. So much for using a car. "We'll have to call the school. Someone should know a teleporter."

Five minutes later, the place is swarming with cops. The employees are being investigated, and the facility has been locked down.
Kwabena and Sage left with the forever-altered Lorraine, without anyone else knowing. A tunnel was later discovered leading from the lab to an alleyway, but no other evidence of anyone else being there is ever found.

Batman gets out without being seen. Because BATMAN.

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