Styx used the shadow already wrapped around the homeless man to gently lay him down, noting how utterly malnourished the hobo looked. ‘Jesus, how is he even still alive?’, Styx thought before his mind started racing on about what he was supposed to do next. He wasn’t a healer, far from it, and the man in front of him looked like he needed immediate medical attention. Suddenly, he noticed that his mentor was saying something and was about to turn around when his ear-piece crackled to life.
<The nearest Hospital is two and a half blocks away due west. Quick but gentle transport via your shadow-platforms is recommended.>
“Thanks for the tip Dispatch, we’ll get right on it”, Spectrum responded.
The calm, accented voice of Dispatch and Spectrum’s reassuring confirmation cut through the Intern’s panicked thoughts. Of course; Dispatch had to have dealt with situations like this thousands of times over the years, notifying her should have been the first thing he thought of.
“Thank you, Dispatch.”, Styx said, silently admonishing himself as he unbound the sick man. He kneeled down and picked him up bridal-style. Ignoring the odd looks onlookers gave him.
“You sure you got this?”, Jack asked as he stepped up beside Styx and made a show of looking out for trouble, and waving off any pedestrians who got too close.
“Yeah, shouldn’t be a problem, especially not with such a short distance.”, Styx said as he easily hefted the sickly, and now sweating man and almost cradled him as he solidified the shadow of a near by building and stepped onto it. Spectrum following close behind.
After making one last check to make sure no one was in the way, Styx commanded the shadow to lift and stretch, easily covering the distance of the entire block. People below openly gawked and took pictures as the two Heroes rode the dark platform.
Then another building’s shadow solidified and rose up to their level, both Styx and Spectrum stepped on and checked their footing before the shadow was willed to move again. Two more transitions later and Styx was in front of the hospital, two Nurses already there with a gurney ready, having been notified of their approach. Styx gently laid the gaunt man onto the gurney, silently noting the man’s now labored breathing and feverish appearance. He’d been cold and struggling for breath only two minutes prior.
After answering some questions about where and how the homeless man was found they were back on patrol. Styx was more than a little relieved when he heard they had a Healer on staff for sudden patients in serious condition. Healers that could handle illness were rare, ones willing to work in regular hospitals even more so.
As they took more erratic twists and turns around town, Styx also realized he was all too happy that his first public act of Hero work involved peacefully rescuing someone and using his power for utility, instead of dismembering a criminal.
Not that he’d tell anyone that of course.
“Let’s get some lunch.”, Spectrum said midway through their patrol, near a particularly dirty and cracked intersection, traffic significantly slowing down due to the appearance of the two costumed law enforcers. He pulled out what looked like a flat-screen burner phone from his side pocket that displayed a list of restaurants. “Need to keep the locales we visit randomized, keeps us from being tracked easily and makes poisoning attempts a none issue.”, he said casually before pressing a twin-dice symbol and letting the wheel of restaurants whirl, never completely taking his eyes off the street around them. Styx acting extremely vigilant at his side, even looking at the various windows and balconies. “Aww, crap.”, Spectrum said as the phone settled.
Styx took a quick look over and saw that the screen had landed on what looked like a burger joint called… ‘Hot Buns’. “It’s got a bold title, I’ll give it that.”, he remarks.
“Unfortunately, that’s the only thing it’s got going for it, the burgers there are pretty meh.”, Spectrum said before sighing and heading off down the street until they were out of earshot of anyone else. “I know a shortcut through some of the alleys near here, won’t take more than five minutes.”
Styx was on the verge of cautioning about how dangerous that was in this part of Brooklyn and with only two people. Until he realized how stupid that would sound from someone who was supposed to be a Superhero.
He was soon validated in how dangerous he thought it would be at least.
Halfway through Spectrum’s shortcut they both started hearing shouting from an adjacent alleyway that lead into a more desolate street. Styx used his shadow-sense and let Spectrum know there were five people standing still as they both sped up and heard some more choice words being shared.
“You better back up before you get stomped faggot!” A gruff voice shouted as they just made it to the corner.
“What? You scared to come over here because your punk boss doesn’t run the streets anymore!?” Another, younger sounding voice blustered back.
They turned the corner and saw a group of, what Styx assumed, thugs. Three at the entrance and two near the corner, the two corner ones wearing white bandanas around the bottom half of their faces caught Styx’s eye especially.
Until he chastised himself and quickly looked them over for weapons, of which he found none.
“If were talking territory, then these are technically the public’s street.”, Spectrum said in a conversational tone as he and Styx came in to full view of the gangsters.
Every single one of them jumped at the sudden intrusion, the two bandana-duo turning around with anger in their eyes, before seeing exactly who was behind them and promptly back pedaling.
Despite their prior argument the two small groups seemed to have no qualms with gathering together at the entrance as a singular group.
“W-why the fuck is you here!”, the shorter of the two obvious White Boar members called out.
“On patrol, obviously. Makin’ sure the streets are safe for regular folk and keeping people out of trouble.”, Spectrum took a moment to look all of them, making eye contact with each one. “You boys wouldn’t happen to be causing any trouble, would you?”
“Who’s the new guy?” A tall and lanky young man in the back called out, his pants barely hanging onto his waist.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have time for lengthy introductions. Styx, why don’t you take the lead?” Spectrum said, both ignoring and answering the question on all of their minds.
Styx knew an opening when he saw one. He started forward, back straight, and headed down the middle of the small group of scared gangsters.
At first, none of them moved, the taller White Boar member with a spider tattoo on his hand even looked a little defiant.
That lasted until they noticed the alleyway darkening as he got closer. Every shadow present elongating and creeping further along the walls and ground, slowly converging towards them.
As soon as the first one stumbled back the rest were quick to follow suit, pouring out of the alley and nearly sprinting away. The two wearing white bandanas sticking together as they went down the street while the three plain looking ones headed toward the alley across the way. And Styx saw that two other men joined up with them as they went further in.
“So, they had back-up? I guess we got lucky with our timing.”, Styx said as his mentor stepped onto the sidewalk with him. “Should we try following them?”, he asked. After over a decade of training he’d easily been able to spot the signs of them getting ready to start a fight, and neither group looked like the type to stand-down easily.
“Nah, couldn’t really charge them with anything anyway.”, Spectrum replied as he headed up the street, toward what Styx could now see was the burger joint. “If they’d taken a swing at us, pulled a weapon or powers, or had tried to block us from moving through; Then it might have been a different story.”
Styx nodded in understanding. Unless provoked or they saw a clear and present danger; Heroes mostly left regular crime to the regular police. But just to be safe, he kept his shadow sense especially sensitive in case any of them decided to try and double-back.
Shane took off his mask and relaxed into the comfy chair as he breathed deeply, letting all the anxiety of the day bleed away.
The rest of the patrol had gone well into the late afternoon before Spectrum let him know that their shift was over and they’d made it back to base in short order. Now he relaxed in the main meeting room with his fellow interns, Jack, Rikki, and Hugh. Elizabeth having gone off to start night patrol.
None of them looked particularly tired, but Shane noticed that Amy was carrying herself a bit differently than before. “Anything happen on your patrol?”, he asked conversationally.
“Things were going fine most of the time, but we ran into a speedster who was robbing a deli and I had to run her down.”, Amy said as she finally relented from trying to lean against the wall and took a load off in one of the chairs.
“I had to transport someone to a hospital and scare off some thugs, but that was about it”, Shane responded in kind.
“Same here; me and Obsidian mainly just scared off mooks whenever we flew over.”, Vanessa informed them from her seat at the front of the table.
“I only got to deal with a mundane fist fight and the police handled most of it after we called it in.”, Greg said with barely contained jealousy.
“Trust me, after a couple of months, you’ll long for the days when your patrols were mostly low-priority threats.”, Hugh says reproachfully. “And the main reason you didn’t see much today is because a lot of the gangs have started lying low during the day and only really stirring things up at night. The White Boars have really started making a mess of things, especially the black-market deals.”
“Oh, that reminds!”, Jack suddenly piped up in an all too cheery tone. “Shane, after you get used to regular patrol I want to see about putting you semi-regularly on night-shift duty. After all, you did mention your shadows are stronger the darker it gets.”
“Oh joy…”, Shane remarked with more than a bit of sarcasm and a little excitement that only two other people in the room noticed.