2020-03-01: Back Into The Fold
|Synopsis||Fusion approaches Airman regarding team membership to Sentry.|
Ahh, Little Italy. It seems that one can't go three or four steps in this part of town without running into an authentic Italian restaurant or an overflowing cart selling fresh vegetables and fruits. Of course, there's also the mob influence in this neighborhood, though that's something that's not quite as visible as what the tourists come here for. Not usually, at any rate. At the moment, though? There's actually a fairly pronounced mob presence at the corner of Mulberry and Dempsey, where three mooks in zoot suits are standing outside the front of Mamma Petrelli's and are shooting their tommy guns into what appears to be thin air. "Show ya face!" One of the thugs hollers out above the din of the machine guns, before he and his two partners stop firing. The rest of the street has cleared out - everyone's fled, and the poor fruit stand across the way has been decimated, with oranges, apples and bananas littering the ground like so much raw pulp. "Where the $#!@@ is he?" one of the other thugs asks, whirling about as if ready to start firing at shadows.
The answer comes at first with a sound like a far-off hurricane, a roaring of wind that seems to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once. The red-and-white striped awning that hang overtop Mama Petrelli's restaurant flaps and bucks with sudden moment, the only warning before a blur-like blast of wind hits the capo straight across the jaw, and then a similar blow hits the thug flanking the other side. WHOOSH! *SOK!* SHOOM! *CRACK!* And like that, the two outside thugs are laid out flat, leaving only the one remaining. To him, an airy, eerie voice calls out, like a ghost whistling through the trees. "You know how this works, Mikey. Tell me where The Fedora is and you don't get put in traction." The disembodied voice almost seems ...to be having fun?
- Beep* *fzzlftz* *Beeeep* *crackle* *sssssszzzzzzz* *WHACK WHACK WHACK* *Beeep*. "Fulgur!"
The sounds echo from a small device held within the hands of the figure high above the skyline. The device is simple enough, a small radar like needle that is designed to track wind. Or rather, a very specific kind of wind. It was created by none other than the great Lady Locomotive as a means to track down missing comrades when the need is severe enough, and is suppose to be easy enough for a child to use it. The trouble is..? Every time the figure holding the device turns it on, the distinct *beep* turns into a crackle of static, and occasional blurred screen.
"I hate technology." The words are spoken aloud and with much venom. As much venom as another team-mate might produce even. The figure that hovers high above those towering skylines is petite of figure and frame, with flowing locks of silver-white hair that are held in check by a single band at the base of her neck, the rest left free to tumble down her back. A domino style mask is placed over her features, an attempt to hide her true identity from the rest of the world.
The device finally comes to life with some manner of constant sound, and direction, though it isn't for a lack of thumping against Erana's thigh and abuse from different slurs in as many different languages.
It leads her down towards the sound of gunfire? Arriving a bit -too- late to assist in the ceasing of the tommy-guns, still - through the darkening sky a bright, golden aura streaks downward, the gold hue of the aura surrounding her slim frame increases in intensity as she appears above where the thug is cringing in fear, just catching the sound of the disembodied voice from the street below. Considering the grandness of her entrance, Erana's arms merely cross over her chest, as she waits for the figure to speak. Her heart? It's racing about right now, and it has nothing to do with the situation she's found herself in, rather the fact she has no idea what she's going to say, and she really hopes the first words out of her mouth aren't something stupid. Like 'Gosh it's been so long!' or 'Wow you look great!' or 'It's a nice night isn't it'?
At first, 'Mikey' seems like he isn't going to co-operate. Sure, he's shaking at the knees, and he's giving scared looks to either side of him, where his pals lay knocked out on the sidewalk next to him. But he begins to steel his nerves, his jaw setting just a little bit as he lifts his up his chin. "You.. you can't make me talk!" he starts out. "You don't know him, the Fedora, what he can do! He---" Then, something catches Mikey's attention. Or, more specifically, someone. His beady eyes widen as he sees the gold-wreathed figure descending from the sky, and if possible, the thug turns yet another shade paler. "Aw, hell, Sentry? Really?" The thug then drops his gun altogether, letting the weapon clatter uselessly to the ground. "This... Hell, this ain't worth it! He's holed up at Borsalino's on 185th!"
After the confession, the airy voice can be heard once more, almost dancing about Mikey's head. "Thanks, Mikey. That wasn't so hard, was it?" A shadowy figure starts to take shape then, seen in a shifting blur of motion before it begins to coalesce into the form of a man. Standing about six feet tall, the individual is wearing a sleeveless outfit in black, silver and grey. The material is form-fitting and sleek, showcasing his wiry frame, and boasts folded over gloves and boots which add a certain sense of flair to the costume. His eyes glow white, and his hair seems almost to be made of smoke or mist, billowing and waving from his head in wisps and plumes before dissipating entirely. "Don't get any ideas, you're still going downtown, but whether you're conscious or not when you do is your choice," he finishes, before finally turning to face the new arrival directly. His features are pleasantly surprised as he catches sight of the individual, but also clearly a bit confused, and one eyebrow lifts up as he sort of floats over towards her. "Hey hey, this is a surprise! Knew that these guys were making some kid of big play, but it looks like it's bigger than I thought! What's Sentry's interest?" He doesn't sound upset at all - and in fact, seems a little more excited than anything. After all, there's a part of him that feels like he's been chasing his own tail since all of the so-called Anomaly Incursions have begun, and if Sentry's involved with this current caper - then perhaps he's finally on the right track as far as ferreting out the real power players in the New York mafia scene these days. It's been so crazy these past few months, after all...
Meanwhile, behind the hero, Mikey's eyes are darting furtively back and forth between the gun at his feet and the door to Mama Petrelli's to the side. Suddenly, the thug grits his teeth and makes his choice, diving for the gun and aiming towards Airman's back, desperately yanking the trigger as he does so!
It's a really good thing the figure still hovering above the city streets is looking straight ahead and therefore catches sight of the thug as he dives for the weapon discarded upon the ground. With no more than a second or two after the figure turns the gun towards the back of Airman, he'll find the gun's trigger isn't moving. No matter how much he tries, the trigger doesn't even budge, much less fire forth the rounds. Instead, a small, golden light is held between the man's trigger finger and the trigger itself, keeping him from using the weapon at all.
Another second and the gun streaks out of the thug's hands, as two hands form seemingly out of the street itself, crunching the weapon within their powerful grip, turning the metal into nothing more than metal slag. After the hands have finished crushing the weapon, one lifts upwards to offering an index finger towards the thug, waving back and forth in that 'no-no' gesture, before a gentle flick of the large thumb and forefinger together slams into the thug's jaw line, sending him slumping down against the wall with a satisfying *thunk*.
It..isn't that she's showing off or anything. Nooooo. Erana? Noooooooo. She's just.. being really cautious about making sure the guy's down for the count. It's then, and only then that the silver haired heroine turns a bright smile towards Airman, and speaks! "Gosh great, night nice, is wow!"
With a flush of her cheeks and thankful for the golden aura surrounding her, Erana lets out a quiet sigh. So much for looking all suave and intelligent. "I ah. Mean. He almost caught you monologing?" A wry grin spreads itself over Erana's features, as the thugs below will soon find themselves wrapped tightly into golden 'rope', before her attention returns to Airman. "Actually. I'm here for you, I mean.. Sentry. Sentry is here for you." As if that doesn't sound ominous (or at all stalkerish), Erana's features wrinkle into a scowl. "Ah, can we talk? Somewhere private?"
One moment, he's feeling pretty good about himself - three fairly important mafia lieutenants taken care of (or so he thinks), and he's finding out that the case he's on is running parallel to something even bigger, on Sentry's radar. Sure, a lesser hero might feel a little territorial, might get concerned about being 'muscled out' by Sentry - but Airman? Nah, he's been around long enough not to worry about that sort of thing. After all, he helped found Sentry! Well, that was some time ago, but even so. Still, there he is, one moment smiling and thinking - is that really Erana - Fusion - there? My, but she's grown up - and nicely! And the next moment, there's a clatter of motion behind him, and he realizes that he nearly got himself shot in the back - or put Era at risk if the bullets would have passed through him.
Still, Fusion has things well in hand - and then some it seems, with the giant hands and what not, and the poor thug sent against the side of the building like a rag doll. Was she ever that confident with her abilities before, he thinks? But then, the girl opens her mouth, and out comes a jumble of words that Airman can only assume were, somehow, supposed to make a sentence. He can only grin at the vocal fumbling, and the white luminescence of his eyes seems to shimmer with the expression. "Heroes don't monologue," he responds after Fusion finally catches her wits about her. "We soliloquy. Well, most of us do. Brass Ring lectures." The last is said with a bit of a knowing grin and a tone of voice that suggests, 'you know what I'm talking about'. "Thanks, though. Don't know what the world's coming to when you can't trust a defeated thug to keep his word..." Yeah, he knows he made a bit of a rookie mistake, but, it's all good now.
Of course, the news that Fusion is there directly for him - or, well, that Sentry is there for him - causes Airman to take pause. Enough so that he actually misses the opportunity make a witty comment about his own personal appeal and why individuals may be after him. Instead, he blinks once, casts a glance to the trussed-up thugs on the sidewalk, and then turns back to the silver-haired Fusion. "Sentry?" He pauses a beat. "Wait, is Ring cleaning out the storage lofts again? I told him last time, I want that crate, I just don't have a lot of..." But, no, apparently that's not it. But what, Airman doesn't quite know, and it's clear that he's more than a bit confused. "Er, someplace private?" he echoes then. "Okay, yeah, I guess. Did you have somewhere in mind? I always like to soar around at a thousand feet when I need some 'me' time, but, not sure how good that will be for talking..."
"No. Yes about that too. Well. Actually." And another string of, "You see." Followed by. "That's fine, though.." All the while, Erana's fingers are plucking away at a small device, when finally she lets out a soft. "Yes! Finally. Okay! The police are on their way to round up the thugs below. So we can talk." The mention of Brass Ring finally does seem to sink in a bit, as Erana's eyes - hidden behind the domino mask, and a great deal of spectacular golden lighting, offer a slight downcast look, before returning her gaze onto Airman.
With a tilt of her head, Erana gestures towards the tall building that rises upwards. The one with the emblazoned 'S' ever so set onto the middle of it. The one that shines ever so brightly in the distance. "Actually. Lets go talk there."
A few minutes later, Erana lowers herself to the rooftop of the Sentry building, the bright golden aura surrounding her frame dimming down to nothing at all, as she takes a few steps towards the roof door, turning back towards Airman a moment, before gesturing for him to go ahead of her.
When the two are finally in the 'War Room', Erana lets out a soft rush of air through her own lungs, and begins pulling up a few monitors. "About a month ago," She begins. "When the incursions really started picking up, Will disappeared." As she says the last, her upper teeth begin to maul heavily upon her bottom lip, as though just -saying- it, still doesn't feel quite 'real'. "Well. Disappeared isn't really accurate. He... He and Codex were working on technology to control or track the anomalies. I think. Will had this harness on, and... The idea was for him to get taken back into the anomaly when it left, and then for the harness to bring him back here. Only. He never returned." One hand raises upwards to run splayed through the curly bangs that idly brush against Erana's forehead, as her gaze flickers towards the monitors again.
"Many of the other Sentry members have left too, Ebb went back to the ocean to help her people work out the incursion troubles there. L.L's retired, and we're at our lowest numbers in a long, long time." Erana's eyes turn back towards Airman then, as her chin sets, the words she was going to use and say are there, at the tip of her tongue, and she's not sure if she can do it.
"We need a founder in charge, Joey. We need -you-. We need help, this world needs help, and we're woefully unprepared for what could come out of an incursion next. It's time for you to put aside your solo career and once again come into the fold."
All things considered, Joey's not the fastest horse on the track. He's bright enough when it comes to certain academic pursuits, but when it comes to common sense, or reading between the lines? Well, there's been more than once that instead of calling him by his code-name, 'Airman', people have called him an air*head*, instead. And with good reason, unfortunately. Sometimes, he just doesn't get it. And right now, as Era is hemming and hawing about Sentry, as she gets that heavy tone to her voice and that look on her face as Ring is mentioned? As she and Joey head to Sentry's *headquarters* for whatever it she wants to talk to him about? Yeah, right now Joey's just not getting it either. Instead, he's looking about the interior of the base to see what sort of changes have been done, glancing idly this way and that as they head down one hallway or the next. He can't help but peek into the cafeteria on the way through, and a note of surprise slips out at what he sees there. Or, doesn't see. "You guys got rid of the soft-serve machine?? How long has..." But his voice trails off as he comes into the War Room, and dour look on Era's features finally starts to register. And as she sighs and begins to speak, Joey falls silent and listens.
"Will's... gone?" he asks, not certain if he heard her right. How could he have? Brass Ring - missing in action? The leader of Sentry - the man who always inspired everyone to 'do their best' - gone? "Surely he had some sort of back up plan? I mean, Codex is on it, right?" But he knows from the tone of Era's voice, from the look on her face, that whatever safety nets were in place, whatever efforts have been done after the fact - no one knows when, or if, Brass Ring is coming back. The news stuns him, and he's so taken aback that at first he almost doesn't register what Erana asks of him. For a moment, he just stands there. He doesn't move, he doesn't speak, he just stands there for the longest time. Then, his heroic facade dissipates, the wispy, smoky halo of faux-hair seeming to evaporate as it's replaced by real hair, brown and unkept. The white glow fades from his eyes, and he pulls the open-faced cowl down to pool around the back of his neck, revealing the light layer of mahogany stubble that frames his jaw and cheeks.
"That's not me," he finally states quietly. "I'm not... Look, I'll help out if you need me, I'll come back to the team, but I can't... I mean, I'm not a leader. Not like Will. He..." Joey stops suddenly, pressing his lips together and collecting himself before he continues. "I wouldn't know what to do. I mean, I can barely keep track of myself, let alone a whole team." He crosses his arms over his chest then, and his blue eyes scan the images that scroll forth on the various monitors, taking in the news reports and the data streams there, the information on the incursions that's available. "Who's in charge right now?"
With a deep breath, Erana answers the last question, first. "I am." As though the strange reality of that sentence isn't enough, she repeats it. "Currently, Fusion is the leader of Sentry." And that heavy burden is something that Erana isn't quite willing to take on, at least completely. She tries again. "Joey you're one of the founders. LL invited you in, you're the grandson of the original Airman. You are exactly what Sentry needs to lead."
Even as she says the last, Erana's fingers idly move to her own mask, there taking off the domino style item, to idly tuck it into the pocket of her utility belt. The scabbard that is looped off the small of her waist is removed, as well, and placed upon the table before her, allowing Erana to edge herself up onto the corner of the stylized 'S' table, legs dangling down as she gestures towards the monitors. "Everything is still in such a state of disarray. Every day more people arrive, and still others just up and /disappear/. Beacon's doing everything they can to contain things on their end, but Sentry needs to be here - for /us/." Again splayed fingers run through her bangs, before her fingers clasp to each side of her on the table, swinging her legs back and forth (crossed at the ankles).
"I know it's a lot to ask of you, and I can't tell you how glad I am that you're going to help out. But I have to offer leadership again. Out of anyone else, you're the most qualified to do so. Zee and I - we're all that's left, Joey. We need to get new recruits, there are some potential ones out there, some that have what it takes, from the different worlds, but .. I .. I just don't know if I can do it.. If I can lead them. But I fully believe -you- can."
While Era moves to sit on the edge of the large conference table, Joey stays standing in place. It's like he's afraid to move, lest he finds out more terrible news about former Sentry teammates, or is asked to take on even more weighty responsibilities. Not that he can think of much anything weightier than this. Leadership of Sentry? He's felt confident adventuring on his own, but when he was with the group - he always viewed the other heroes so much larger than life. Lady Locomotive was a member of the Protectors, after all! Ebb Tide was a princess from an entire undersea kingdom! And Brass Ring... Here was a man who had no super abilities at all, save for a brilliant mind and the will to always strive to be better, and to make those around him better. Those people were legends - and deep down, Joey always sort of felt that he was just along for the ride.
"That's just it," he finally says, reaching up to comb his fingers through his messy mop of blonde hair. "My grandfather was the original Airman. I just... I just took his name. I..." More images scroll across the monitor banks, depicting scenes of chaos and confusion relating to the incursions. Joey's not certain if the feeds are live, or if they're recorded. He hasn't paid a lot of attention to the phenomenon before now - and he suddenly realizes that he should have. This isn't something that's going away, and it's not something that he can ignore. It's big, and Erana's right. Sentry needs to be there to help, and there needs to be more than just two or three members. And with that realization, Joey wonders if perhaps the silver-haired heroine is right about other things, too.
If he were more perceptive, Joey would see that the speech that Era is giving him, the motivation and the inspiration, is exactly why *she* should be leader, and not him. That her foresight in recruiting new members, that her understanding of the need for Sentry are indicators of her leadership abilities. But Joey's not that perceptive, at least not right now - and just like Lady Locomotive talked him into taking his grandfather's name in the first place, Joey's also always been a sucker for a really good pep talk. "I... I don't know if I can either," he finally states, taking a step forward. His voice starts out a little unsteady, but grows in confidence as he continues, his back straightening just so. "But... if you think I can do it, then I'll give it a try. I guess I owe it to Sentry. And... I owe it to Will. I'll do it," he states then, and he can't help but offer a sort of sad, strong smile as he finalizes the moment, quoting Brass Ring's rallying cry in a quiet note of hope and determination. "I'll do my best."