Spectrum, or Jack apparently, introduced Shane to the other Interns as soon as he saw him and Rikki get back from their tour of the gym.
“Shane, Rikki, I’d like you to meet the rest of the new recruits.”, Jack swung an arm toward the tall flying woman, who Shane could now see was surrounded by warped air, not unlike a heatwave.
“This here is Gadreel, her Mentor is already on the way, so we won’t have to wait much longer”, she floated to the ground as the aura of distorted air around her faded away, her combat boots squeaking slightly against the floor.
“Hey, the name’s Vanessa.”, she greeted in an accent most of the people in the room couldn’t quite place, and stepped aside to let the stocky young-man walk past before leaning against the wall.
The leather jacket wearing fellow walked forward with a confident stride before speaking. “You guys can call me Samshiel, and my civiy name is Greg”, he said in a light southern accent, before four balls of what looked like mini-eclipses appeared around him in an orbit. “I’ll be your resident ranged-combat Hero.”, he finished with a practiced smile.
The last of the trio stepped forward in an almost regal manner, her posture straight and immediately made eye contact with Jack, Hugh, Rikki, and Shane in quick succession. “And you can call me Simikiel, my real name being Amy.”, she reached out and gave the team’s leader a firm handshake. “By now I’m sure you’ve noticed the theme between all of us–We’re named after angels from certain mythologies. They obviously don’t perfectly reflect what our abilities are, but we picked what we thought would fit us best.”, she finished with a genuine smile.
Shane was impressed by the obvious leader of the trio, but he also noticed that she was the only one who had not given any indication of what her power was, “My name is Shane DeSoto and you can call me Styx while we’re in the field. Sorry if the mythology I picked doesn’t mesh well with yours”. He decided not to try and press the issue, he could respect playing things close to the chest. “And I suppose I’ll be the newest scorched-earth Super on the team.”, there was, however, some merit to selling yourself a little.
All three pairs of eyes widen a touch at that, but before any of them could question him the main door slid open again. What came through was a cloud of gleaming black shards; It flowed through the air before stopping in the center of the room. Now that it was closer Shane could see that it was less a cloud and more like a swirling mass of connected shards that “pulsed” rhythmically. After a few seconds the cloud slowed and settled into the shape of a featureless humanoid form. But the numerous interconnected shards that made up its body still writhed and shifted, making it seem less solid than it actually was.
This was the fourth and final member of the Pristine Strikers, “Obsidian Wraith”, their most senior member and resident Strong-woman.
The shards stilled suddenly, compressed, and lost their texture. A rather tall woman was left standing in its place, with dusky skin and short braided-black hair. She had a grey featureless mask in her right hand and wore the black bodysuit of a shifting Super. She immediately started toward the gathering of Heroes and Interns with a wave and apologetic smile. “Sorry for being late everyone, needed to take care of some thugs on my control.”, she said with an obviously Brooklyn accent.
“It’s fine Elizabeth, they all just got here a minute ago, and we’ve already taken care of introductions.”, Jack turned on his heel towards the door that lead to the gym, “Now that we’re all here we can get to the demonstration part of the Intern admission process. Enjoy it while you can kids; It’s going to be the most exciting part of your day.”
They all turned and followed the senior Hero through the door, down the oddly technical hallway, into the expansive space of the Pristine Stricker’s gym. It’s smooth concrete floor, dozens of sets of weights of varying sizes, and myriad of other work out equipment making it an impressive sight indeed. Although a more observant person would notice the almost hairline-cuts along the edges of the floor from Shane’s sparring with Rikki.
After they had all entered, Jack pulled out a small remote from one of the pockets in his costume. It had a sleek black case topped with a series of buttons in different shapes. He pointed it toward the far wall and pressed a square button. To the Intern’s surprise, a section of the wall extended outward and formed a stand of metal bleachers, big enough to house at least a dozen people.
“I’m going to be starting things off the same way it was done for me when I interned here. Vanessa will go first since her power is the hardest to explain out of the three of you.”, he put the small remote back into his pocket before settling down onto the middle of the bleachers. All of the other Heroes following suit, apparently already aware of what he had planned for them. “Next will be Amy, then Greg, and finally Shane.”, after that he motions towards Vanessa. “Go ahead and get changed into your costume, the changing rooms are on the far wall.”, he finished with a wave towards a small door across from the bleachers.
Amy opened her mouth to say something, but Vanessa beat her to it. “I would, Jack, but the costume company the DVA employs had an ‘accident’ with mine. They say I won’t be getting a proper one for the next few days.”, she explained, her lips turned down in a tight frown.
Jack let out a short sigh before replying, with Elizabeth looking similarly put-out from the news, “Well, you wouldn’t be the first Hero who’s had to go out and fight crime in regular clothes.” He points at the nondescript grey mask currently on Elizabeth’s lap, “Luckily for you, we have several standard issue masks that can at least keep your identity a secret.”
He might’ve said more, but it was then that Shane decided to step in, he wanted to get to know these people, and it was always good to start things off with an act of good-will in his, admittedly limited, experience. “Actually, I have a spare costume she can use.”, he lifted up his duffel bag and shook it for emphasis, “It obviously doesn’t have any specific designs, but it’s definitely better than running around in jeans and a shirt.”
Everyone looked a little surprised at the sudden declaration, the two exceptions being Jack and Amy, but Vanessa ended up being the one who broke the small silence, “Well that’s nice and all, but I doubt your clothes exactly fit me.”.
Shane shook his head in the negative, “The main pieces have either straps or zippers for adjustment and has the stretchy material of a shifter’s suit; it was made to be form-fitting and adjust to most above average and fit body types.” The suit was a gift given to Shane upon graduation–one of the many perks of having the DVA Head as your Grandfather.
Vanessa turned her head towards Elizabeth with a questioning look, but her Mentor simply gave an approving nod and gestured toward the changing room, “Don’t look a gifted horse in the mouth. Go on and get dressed, can’t keep talking all day now.”
Five minutes later; Vanessa strode out of the changing room and into the sparring circle in her new hand-me-down Hero costume.
The suit had a rather dull white and grey color scheme, with sections of thin and flexible body armor covering vital areas. The mask was a standard full-face model, sufficiently hiding her identity. The cuffed forearm length gloves and boots that reached halfway up to her shins were the only thing indicating it was meant to be a Hero suit.
“Alrighty then, show and tell us what you’ve got Venessa.” Jack said, as his, and everyone else’s, full attention was now on her.
Nodding her understanding, Vanessa braced herself as the air around her became hazy. Not wasting anymore time, she leapt clear across the room, landing directly in front of the bleachers.
“My ability is Energy Empowerment.”, she did a small jump and hovered several feet off of the ground with seemingly no effort. “The energy I use is generated from within and I can use it to give myself the speed and reflexes of your average speedster.” Suddenly she shot forward, moving at impressive speed, before suddenly changing course straight up and doing lap of the entire room in one second flat. “But I’m most known for the strength and durability I get.”, she let herself drop all the way to the floor with a thud, not even bothering to bend her legs on impact. She picked up two of the two-ton super dense weights and twirled them around in both hands before placing them back on their racks. “And then obviously there is the flight, I don’t know exactly how my energy lets me fly, but I do know it’s my most draining ability. Any questions you need answered?”
“How long can you maintain this state before needing to recharge? And how long does the recharge take?”, Jack fired off immediately in his crisp, almost raspy, tone of voice.
“For eleven hours-straight If I dial it up all the way and effectively unlimited if I keep the intensity low. But that’s while standing still. If I’m fighting at full strength and using all of my abilities in rapid succession then I can last for a little over 6 hours before I need to rest.”, she didn’t even hesitate before replying, as if she’d known this question was coming. Or she’d had experience answering similar questions in the past. Shane was impressed by the answer itself; several hours with that level of power was more than enough for most any Super fight.
“As for the full recharge time; one hour if I keep the intensity of the enhancement low. Twenty five minutes if I shut off my power completely and 10 if I’m asleep.”, This was obviously the part of her ability she didn’t like to share or let others know considering the noticeable lack of confidence in her voice.
“That’s fine; two more questions. How much and what kind of damage can you take?”, he asked, almost imperceptibly leaning forward out of interest. This was the most important aspect of a strong-man’s power that a leader needed to know. Her role would be to go in and tank the hits others couldn’t and it would be imperative to know exactly how much she could take and for how long.
“I’m… resistant to most conventional forms of damage. Physical force, fire, cold, electricity, etcetera. You know, the works.”, she hesitated a little at first, Shane didn’t know if was because she hadn’t been prepared or was about to say the word “Invincible”. An infamous taboo in the Hero world. “When I’m at my strongest most tank rounds send me flying, but cause very little damage, and it drains my reserves in tens of minutes. I haven’t had the opportunity to test against anything of higher power. But my biggest weakness is that I have no defense against mental attacks. Gases and poisons can still be dangerous to me in high enough quantities, my defense isn’t as effective against things that don’t cause immediate physical damage.”
“Okay then, last one. You mentioned that you can change the intensity of your enhancement; go ahead and tell us the range of power you’ve got.”, Jack had visibly relaxed during her answer on defense, satisfied that she measured up to his expectations of a strong-man on his team. Not that he had been too worried, he trusted Elizabeth’s judgment after all.
“I’d be happy to!”, Vanessa blurted out in a gleeful tone, before visibly composing herself and marshaled her words. “At my lowest level, I can shrug off bullets, lift half a ton, and move at 60 mph.”, she still had more than a little hint of pride in her voice however, “If I go full boar; I can withstand tank rounds, strength limit is five tons, and my speed shoots up to around 400 mph.”
Jack’s face split into a happy grin before he responded, “Okay, if what you’ve just told me is all on the up-and-up, then you’ll make a great new member of the team. And I don’t exaggerate when I say you could rival your mentor in a few years if your power continues to improve.”
Vanessa felt her spirits lift a little at the praise; It wasn’t everyday that the leader of a professional and renowned Hero team commended you.
“Alright, now it’s your turn Amy. I heard from Rikki that you’re no slouch yourself, why don’t you get down there and show us how you measure up.”