The comparative of telepathy is something that he knows. it's something he has experienced for some time now, the ebb and flow of conscious and unconscious thought from individuals around him that he has widely learned how to block out save for those rare occasions where someone manages to break the mental firewalls of his cybernetic structure - one part, his own mental willpower to keep people out of his own head and him outside of the minds of others, and the other, a highly complex system of bio-mechanical circuitry which lends itself to extended capabilities that, in the realm of his mutant counterpart, are a secondary natural; because while Nathan Summers hadn't been born with the techno-organic virus born of Apocalypse, he had certainly found a way to use it in his favor both to control it and to strengthen and hone what was genetically given to him.
But in the eyes of Nathan Prior, he doesn't know this - this new condition of such joint existence that has him staring at a screen for what seems to be hours on end, not moving and unblinking in a flood of information that has found an almost eerie place in his life in the day following the dream-like solar flare of a seemingly make belief camp, not that Nate had any reason to believe he wasn't a staff member of a camp in the middle of the California wilderness with jurisdiction over a number of super powered individuals - teenagers - who anyone would reasonably be scared of between the powers they exhibited and the rage of teenage hormones. Stranger things, he supposed, had happened, but something like this...
... this is something new.
It isn't new to see the information before him, legible in varying texts and fonts and pixel sizes, as he reviews everything from the international news to gossip columns to leaked videos from sources unknown who find the issue of transparancy something that should be available no matter what the circumstances, legal or illegal; but it is new to read it as he is, to pick between the lines of what is generally available to the public eye who has the ways and means to traverse the info-net for whatever it is they might be looking for. It is new to catch the discrepancies in the Hypertext Markup Language used and the Cascading Style Scripts meant to make it all uniform across pages. It is new to crack firewalls with such simplistic, yet complicated, a think as thought alone much in the same way he can tap into the minds of others with something as simple as a mental reach for those hidden synapses and bio-electrical pathways; and it is just as new to hear the transmission of radios waves bouncing to and from his peers at the Commission of Supernatural Affairs, something only complicated by unintended reaches into the human mind to separate hear wording from internal thought on top of the transmissions from the other end.
It is made for paranoia, the constant flow of information that seems to break through the strongest intention of telepathic willpower, his attempts to focus his efforts on cases at hand - namely the fallout of the finding and inevitable removal of the Reality Gem from the present dimension without the safety nets in place to make sure it didn't screw up the world in more ways than a virus so readily removed from existence despite all stall and complication there had been in stemming the growth of infection and expected re-infection - constantly mired in distraction. Every thought comes with a whisper. Every byte of information with a zephyr of thought. Every piece of information with an itch in his mind he cannot seem to scratch with any certainty it will be gone once he turns his head around to start his work once more.
And it seems it is more than he can handle as he corners himself in solitary confinement in hopes the flow of information stops; but it isn't so easy as that. It isn't so easy when the phone in his pocket, always active and always as the ready, continues to be a source of information; and those in the phones of his cohorts at the door, present if only to protect everyone else from what could be their mental undoing by a mutant out of control, provide the same; and the technologically-heavy airspace of the C.S.A. headquarters seems alight and buzzing, a living being of digital information that seems to breathe as the walls close around him - a reflection of the mind projected through perception that feels mired by all it's control system is being fed.
There is so much he cares about and there is so much he doesn't. There is so much he wants to erase, so much he doesn't want to see, and so much he could have continued his existence without knowing about just as there is so much he does and so much he feels is only helpful in future scenarios yet to prove true. There are so many theories and so much uncertainty and so many people who seem to have no iota of personal thought where as so many more who seem to have an abundance on top of the notion they think they should be heard by people who don't want to hear them. There is so much conspiracy and collusion, a counterbalance to the good in the world he reads of in such short quantities when reporting seems so one-sided in the quest for ratings.
There is so much he wants to block out, so much he wants to keep quiet, so much that he wants to burn away in a sudden flash of destructive power much like the one he can still feel in the phantom responses of a nervous system burnt to the core in such blinding light...
He isn't sure what happens next other than it feels like a hard restart, as if someone had pressed the power switch on his mind and body and he has come alive anew with a fuzzy mind and equally fuzzy memory that knows little more than adversion to the soft beeping of monitors and buzzing of medical equipment that all transmit their own radio waves to those keeping watch on not only one of their most successful agents, a number of merits to speak to such a standing, but a mutant, powerful and dangerous with such status tagged to the abilities displayed, not as an Omega, but something more as he picks up on the distant sound of fire alarms echoing through the complex and the implied quick type of keys that alter the contents of a dossier long set up by the organization.
Phoenix Force: Confirmed.
The reaction is instantaneous as the fire sprinklers in the building are kicked into overdrive at, first, the presence of smoke and, then, the fire that followed, licking at the seal liquid-filled glass bulbs manufactured to respond to the sudden temperature change and triggering the downpour of water from the device and the pipes built within the wing to transport water throughout. The deflectors shower everything in the vicinity in a vain attempt to put out flames which seem to decide not to listen to such natural commands of elemental balance, far more inclined to melt the metal casing in what seems an almost purposeful attempt to stop the artificial rain while operatives respond in time - some escaping the flames as they made a rush for the exits were the safety of sealed doors could contain the inferno while others valiantly fought the blaze that had seemed to strike up from nowhere with fire extinguishers which were just as useless as the sprinklers had been.
It was all that could be done to seal the room against such a living force of nature, the heavy thud of industrial security doors a soft, but heavy echo through the rush of hot air and hiss of flames that whipped and whirl about its center point that seemed untouched and calm - the eye of a firestorm that could destroy multiple worlds with a single though; that could eat life in the cosmos as it deemed necessary; and that could, upon a supposed death, rejuvenate itself to rise from the ashes much as those who came after its onslaught did.
But why now?
Why now of all times to show up like a flaming bat out of Hell?
The feed from the info-net seems to be to blame, the Phoenix Force an involuntary response to those things in the world that, despite the manipulations of the Reality Gem to take out one troublesome part of a never-ending equation that never seemed to balance out for all its intrusion, didn't work. The compounding information and the stress to befall the mind containing it seems to play a part, tapping and tapping and tapping against the metallic armor of what was to believed a trained mind, level-headed in even the most trying situations, until there was a crack; and once it was laid it grew and grew and grew, opening one up to thoughts, to feelings, to memories of others that once carried such light, and even a handful that still did, dancing along mental links known and unknown.
He can't help but question just what it might mean to have so many of them in one place, whether or not such a concentration of cosmic power in one place may bring around attention - the wrong kind that serves not to put out the fires born of the Phoenix's wake, but exterminate those who, through one machination or another, voluntary or not in such ways and means of finding that spark, have found themselves host to it. It wouldn't have been the first time such disaster had befallen the Greys and to the tune of repetitive history, to the uncertainties of the universe when knowledge was so unreachable without control, it probably wouldn't be the last.
Its the when that proves a more problematic question, one even the time traveler can't pinpoint with all his vast ability to jump into the time stream ever since he had been taken into the an Apocalypse-ridden future that made for his inevitable return even if it went against the Askani wishes. For all she saw, the Mother Askani who had cared for him all those years in ways only such advanced technologies and deeply cosmic ability could, and for all she knew by segmenting herself through time, he had to briefly wonder if she had ever seen this.
It's the who with unconfirmed presence of the Shi'ar in a universe that seems to have turned on its head more times than one can count in such amalgamation of the multi-verse found in San Francisco. Do they know? Are they deep in the vastness of the universe waiting for a sign to act, completing the work they had all but completed before when they slaughter the Grey Family to eradicate that gene the cosmic entitty took to, attached itself too, leaving only Rachel and Nathan alive?
It the what that could happen because of it, a thought ill-developed when something hits him and the chaos subsides, simmering down to leave only destruction in its wake as he wobbles on his feet, taking a hard step forward as he dropped to a knee, trying to fight not only what exhaustion had finally hit him, but the dart of a specific build, tranquilizer filled, which causes everything to sputter - the fire, the panicked thoughts of those around him still alive to have them, the information pull from those invisible communication waves that swam around non-stop in emergency frequencies.
One Phoenix was bad enough...
... but what happened when there were three?
The time unconscious is a welcome one though it does little to stop the bio-electrical impulses of a mind firing on all cylinders - not necessarily because of telepathic or cyberpathic overload, but because it doesn't want to sleep, that omnipresent force of nature that has seemed to find some stronghold on a weakened and stressed state of mind. The flames flick at compartmentalized segments of his mind as if to break them open, burning open doors and melting down blockades that he only knew existed in part. They were the barriers between one being and another as they existed in the multi-verse, the veil that rested between Prior and Summers and hid the actions of one from the actions of the other, making thoughts and memories a collision of two universes that could only be simultaneously viewed by those who, for one reason or another, through one way or another, had found themselves in such convergence.
And suddenly, people didn't quite appear to his mind's eye as they had once been. A preferred gun shop customer was no longer a woman coming in to employ some tender loving care for this pistol, that rifle, or another; a internet personality of which he had all too recently become aware of in the information stream that had preceded his sudden snap into fire was no longer just that; and a woman once missing, nearly drowned in the Bay, and a girl once lost to wide open spaces thanks to someone born of his own genetic structure, however not the same in the way he was raised, found validation in his urgency to find her time and time again.
They weren't just faces in the scope of his life as he had known it anymore, sitting on the outreaches of weeks of mental benders that seemed to black out with what limited knowledge he had from the other side. They weren't strangers despite how little he actually knew about any of them beyond what facts had been established through one mutual connection or another. They weren't a handful of ships passing in the night without certainty of who they might have been on the other side of the veil many of them wore.
They were important - to him, to mutant-kind, to those who had no business injecting their affairs into their life, but did so anyway without regard.
They were his family.
The bright white he seems to open his eyes to isn't comforting in its emptiness or the heat it seems to radiating as if Nate had found himself in the heart of the cosmic beast, but even confusion doesn't dissuade what pleasant atmosphere he feels as if a part of him - the part of him he can only assume the Phoenix is holding tight to - belongs there, welcome among such a being. It is a dimension that feels nurturing almost as one's mother, a nexus of creation and inevitable death that he supposes all beings leave as they're born and see in their final moments when they return to their maker; but it is far more complicated than that in the twists and turns that had brought them all to this point.
He may not have known her at first - the mutant Jean Grey as she seemed to appear to him now in multiple forms, those he had known throughout his life under her care, as her son - but she had been the spark, the one carrying the flame of life to another in her rejection of the Phoenix Force, one rung on the ladder of creation that had allowed him to exist; and in turn, she - the clone, his mother, Madelyne Pryor - had become her imprint, allowed to live, allowed to love, allowed a family until the strain became too much, until the original had returned, until something far more sinister presented itself; and all at once the white peace of the void around him was nothing more than an inferno.
He could see her now as she had been, much in the way he had Jean, a kaleidoscope of her place in time and space that crossed his existence. She had been a failure, an experiment to write off until the cosmos had decided that wasn't meant to be. She had been a loving wife, stuck in a one-sided marriage thanks to the lock of one's heart - the mutant, his father, Cyclops - on another until an ultimatum had to be given. She had been a mother, a loving one at that, who south out nothing more than to save him who had become lost only to become lost herself to the demons that stirred in the shadows of abandonment, of loss, and when the smoke cleared around him, no one remained.
No one except a sister from the future who, long ago, had vowed to protect him no matter what. No one except the Mother Askani who, long in the future, would see him to his potential. No one except a hound who, timelines skewed, would be trained to hunt them down until the chains were broken. No one except someone he wished he could see now for guidance, but remained an ever-missing piece of the puzzle that was a life born in one time only to be raised in another perhaps no one could fathom.
They were his family - the Summers-Grey Family, believed by many to be heroes and by others villains or simply obstacles in their way, and powerful beyond at times comprehensible measure.
And they were fragmented.
All of them.
His own segmentation was no surprise as the landscape seemed to change again to a complicated mess of organics and alloys, of flesh and metal, of veins and circuitry, all of which tangled up in a future born and bred by the mutant Apocalypse - the very same that had forced his father's hand if only to save him, sending him away from the only family he thought he had into the arms of a stranger who promised they could save him; and with it had come the timelines, the alternates and the clones, the timelines that had been eradicated and the ones that had been saved, all in a constant cycle of uncertain existence that ran the scope of evil clones and megalomaniac horsemen to manipulative prophets, all born from lost youth, simply trying to find their places in worlds they weren't meant to belong.
But maybe it was time to make roots, maybe it was time to reconnect, maybe it was time to be something other than the strained, suffered, and segmented beings they had all been - if not in forms once known, the disjointed and convoluted, but the ones they knew now as they intersected with universes unknown, far different from their own. Maybe this had been it - a sign from the cosmos in fiery form that sparked life and strew death in ash, and Nate was there to listen to such whispers from beyond.
He appeared to them now as he might have in another life, a projection scarred and battle-hardened, young despite the experienced disposition, uniformed and ready for a battle not yet on the horizon with a flame in his eye that flashed like fire and a voice that echoed through what mental strings he could pick up in lieu of stronger mind links yet to be established.
How do we feel about family reunions?