Chapter 70

                As the fog swallowed his team, Alex’s mind raced through the possible options they had for dispelling the dense white mist. Roy was useless: muscles weren’t going to help with this issue, and the same went for Vince. Unless the fog was flammable his energy attacks wouldn’t matter, and if Vince did set it aflame then they’d have much bigger concerns. Mary and Alice both had abilities that could, in theory, effect fog so long as it had some mass, but the power would impact the team long before it managed to clear away the mist. Which only left Alex himself to try and do something about their predicament.

                Were this their junior year, he would have become nearly overwhelmed by doubt and anxiety. Being the second-tier telepath in the class and failing to carve out many wins had left Alex unsure of how useful his abilities sometimes were. But that was an Alex who had not yet seen what happened when he truly failed, who didn’t understand what it meant to have people depending on him. The doubt and fear were both still there as Alex reached deep inside and concentrated his focus; he just paid them no mind. He couldn’t, his team couldn’t, afford for him to fail. Do or do not, there was no try.

                Even Alex didn’t entirely understand how he did it as the fog was driven away, a circle of unobstructed air that started from Alex and rapidly radiated outward, clearing the eyes of both his teammates and their opponent Sims. The best way he’d eventually think of to describe it was that he focused on moving the fog, and just the fog, which somehow worked. Pushing out one element selectively was something he’d never done before, but as the mist cleared Alex made a mental note to start adding this training to his drills. It seemed like one that could come in quite handy.

                Around him, movement could be heard as suddenly the other Supers could see their targets once more. Heavy footsteps signaled a fresh charge from Vince and Roy, and Alex was almost certain he heard the sound of something whooshing through the air, probably Alice getting into position to launch a gravity attack. It was hard to tell, because the fog was demanding so much of his attention. More of it kept pouring up, though now Alex could see the hidden vents along the landscape explaining how the Sim’s “power” was spreading so rapidly. Fast as the fog rose, it was no match for Alex, who continued driving it off until it was out of their way, where it slowly began to dissolve. To anyone looking in from the outside, it probably seemed like a giant white bubble had simply appeared on the battlefield, but so long as his friends could see that was all that mattered. Even if the effort pulled him out of the melee, that was fine. He trusted his teammates, and, deep down, Alex suspected that taking on this role might have made him more useful than he’d have been in actual combat.

                Unfortunately, Alex was concentrating so hard on clearing the field that he wasn’t able to properly take it in. Otherwise, he’d have noticed the Sim with acid dripping from its hands that had circled around and was sneaking up on Mary.

*             *             *

                “Heart rate is steady; blood pressure is elevated, and just from what the system can tell there are several broken bones.” Dr. Moran read from the screen monitoring Jill’s, and every other student’s, vitals, into a communicator that fed directly to Dean Blane and Professor Fletcher. While the dean was standing in the room with almost all of the watching Heroes, Professor Fletcher was tucked away in the shadows of the cityscape, ready to step in at a moment’s notice if called upon.

                Though they’d never made a point of broadcasting it, the student uniforms were designed to do more than just mark the passage of years and each student’s class; every one also had basic health monitoring technology woven into the fabric. It was a feature designed exactly for moments like these, so that the staff could decide whether or not to make a forced extraction or allow the students to handle the issue themselves. That was also why the monitoring capabilities were kept secret, it was better if the kids didn’t know about the safety net. Experience taught the educators that their charges made smarter decisions when they thought they might have to live with the consequences.

                “What’s your recommendation?” Dean Blaine asked, not quite whispering, but still keeping his voice low.

                “The impact didn’t appear to center on her head, but without examining her I can’t be certain,” Dr. Moran replied. “Were Jill on one of the other teams, I’d say she needs to be pulled immediately, just in case. However, with Camille on the scene, she might be able to heal Jill faster than Professor Fletcher could bring her to me. We’d have to cut through all the tech on her suit as well, and I’m assuming Will can do that more quickly.”

                Dean Blaine was silent on the line for only a few seconds, he understood as well as anyone else that time was of the essence in these moments. “We’ll give them a window. One minute, or until her vitals start dropping. Carl, be ready to get Ms. Murray to the good doctor as soon as I give the word. But as long as Jill is stable, this is a good opportunity for them to learn about healing on the battlefield.”

                To an outsider, the decision would have likely seemed cruel, but Dr. Moran made no protest. She was the one who’d pointed out that Camille might be able to respond faster, after all. And besides, Dean Blaine wasn’t wrong about the training opportunity. Healing in a nice, clinical setting was a lot different than trying to patch people up while dealing with enemy attacks. If Camille Belden wanted to be a healer in the Hero world, she had to be able to perform in moments like these.

                Otherwise, she’d end up the one who needed saving.