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Many students were meeting their mentors in classrooms, the auditorium or nearby, the library, or various somewhat-private spots out on the ground, etc, no one had "laid claim" to the Doom Room. Not publicly, anyways; yet, days before the scheduled Mentor Day, the Room had nonetheless been booked for several hours. No names were in the system, just a letter: R. 


Everyone who cared could intuit what it meant. 


When young Calliope Summers walked into the room, it was the bare metal and grids of power lines and projector nodes of the actual Doom Room. Gleaming and shining in the too-bright lights. Standing directly in the middle, with his back to her, stood the current Raven. His armored cowl was off of his head and held under one arm, and he was seemingly staring at nothing in particular as she approached. When Callie was about halfway between the door and the Raven, he spoke. Only then would she notice that the observation room's windows were completely darkened and polarized, and Alek had been watching her in the reflection from those windows. 


"Glad you could make it."


He turned around, his cape naturally flowing in a way that other heroes found maddening to replicate, and that Callie knew was thanks to the materials and weight of the multi-purpose "accessory". 


"So. Today, it's just the two of us. Your father, your older self, Charlie, everyone else, they're busy with other things. Even the alternate of your father; I think he's in the Rookery poking that suit of his."


Alek's tone is neutral. He's not one for mind games, but he will occasionally test the younger heroes who work with him. He had already made it clear to Callie, more than once, that he did things the way he did for a reason, and they were always his own reasons. 


"I feel like, by and large, I have a good sense of your abilities, your skills, and your style of fighting. We get practice on that every week, if not every day. I'm certainly willing to talk about that, if you'd like. But my interest today is more fundamental. Callie..."


Only now did he take his cowl and place it on his head. His hands came off of the sides, and even as the tiny armor plates clicked and moved into place, his voice was automatically altered and masked.


"Why do we do what we do?"

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Madame Raven
Callie knew Alek well enough to know he wouldn’t do anything obvious, but she’d not been sure what it’d be replaced with. So she dressed in a comfortable but practical crop-top and sweatpants, something she’d wear regularly but could also be used for a good workout.


Still the question caught her out, so whilst she tried to figure out a good answer she stalled a little.


Do you want the cliché answer about how most billionaires are idiots that don’t use there money to help others? Or should I spin the tale about gaining revenge on my dead mother?”


Both were sort of true, but Callie knew that wasn’t what he was on about, but how he responded would tell her if he knew how he wanted her to answer. With the Raven’s it was always about wheels within wheels.

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"Putting aside the broader economic debates about the ethics of the existence of billionaires at all, which I should note none of us are thanks to how much we divert to charities, tax payments, and the wages and pensions for our employees, we both know plenty of super-rich people doing actual good with their resources. Not necessarily the majority, but we're not the only ones.


He shrugged his shoulders, and the cape that had been at his back moved in a way that Callie had seen Alek practice in the Rookery. The result was his entire body being shrouded in the cape, with only his neck and head rising from the indistinct black form. He began walking a lazy, irregular circuit of the room, his gaze focused either ahead of himself, or nowhere in particular, as he continued to speak.


"Is revenge what drives you, Callie? I am truly asking. If it is, then we need to talk about that. But I meant more than just you in particular. We have an entire operation, at this point. Your father and older self, helping back at base. You, Charlie, your father's alt, and myself, in the field. Knowing our luck, probably even more later on. Not a singular hero, but a team. A family. You know I know a little something about found and adopted families, after all. So. Why does the entire Raven Family do what we do? What is the purpose that drives us? If you had to sum all the speeches we've all given before into one to two sentences or ideas, what would they be?"

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Madame Raven

Callie thought for a second on how to answer, it was a confusing mess of logic and emotions that even she hadn’t fully untangled yet. Best she could do was come up with some sort of analogy that they could understand.


Imagine your walking along and you find a little raven that’s fallen out of it’s nest. Being a good Samaritan you pick up the baby bird, the whole scene thing is obviously untrue, and you carefully return it to the nest. Not an easy thing because ravens keep there home well out of the way. Doesn’t matter if mama or papa Raven know what you did, that little raven is back safe with her brothers and sisters.”


She took a breath to center herself before getting to the real important part.


Well this little Raven has been returned to the wrong nest! Don’t get me wrong I love my new found family deeply, but I need to know what and why this happened to me. If I’m younger version of elder Callie than obviously I won’t be able to remember all this, and if not I need to decide who exactly who I want to be.”

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The Raven stood directly in front of her now, staring her straight in the eyes. The white lenses Alek used in the field were retracted. He wanted her to see his own eyes, shadowed that they were by the shape of his cowl. 


"So you're doing what you're doing to find answers? I can help you with that, if you want. I won't force it. And if you truly are my mentor's younger self flung forward in time, I will do everything in my power to ensure that your memories are time-locked, and not erased. We would need to protect the time-stream, but I will never be party to the true removal of someone's memory."


Callie had had full access to Alek's file; he'd made it clear from the start that his past was not classified to her. She knew what he'd been through and why the concept of memory erasure would be touchy to him.


"If you are not, then I will be here to help you determine who you are. Whatever that journey entails. But."


He leaned in. 


"Why does the Raven Family not only take in strays, but go out, night after night, to defend the people of this city, this world? Why do we, collectively, actively fight against crime?"

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Madame Raven

I do appreciate that, and I almost feel sorry for older me getting all my memories.” she allowed herself a quick smile.


Then back the question at hand, she wondered if she was overthinking thing looking for a trick answer to an apparent simple question. Screw it why not try the simple answer for once? Sometimes you needed to take a few simple hit to tell how the other person fought.


Because we have the ability to do so! We have the power so we have the responsibility to help those that don’t.”

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  • 1 month later...

The Raven nodded sagely at young Callie's response in regards to her memories. Nothing else to say there. He instead focused on listening to her response to The Question. Her response caused him to smile slightly; Callie could tell it was one of pride in her answer and not the slightly-smug smirk he'd offer a criminal who just wasted a bullet on his armored suit. 


"An excellent answer. At its root, that is the motivation of each of us. We all have our own additional reasons, though. Your father experienced tragedy early on. Charlie had the desire to help and a belief that the Raven needed a Nevermore. I had a determination to prevent other children from experiencing what I did. Do you yourself have any additional reasons you do this? Things that burn in your heart as your driving purpose behind that mask?"

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Madame Raven

Raven’s are always a bird of ill omen it seems, Human or Avian!” Callie mused as she put her thoughts together, she wondered if he’d seen her theapists note or was just that good at judging Summer’s


I’m in a strange kind of position, when Calliope was sixteen she found out about my Grandfather and lost my mother. But I didn’t, haven’t, have all I know is that one day I might end up back there and I want to be ready for that moment.”

she shrugged


I know it doesn’t quite work like that, wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey and all that, but it’ either that or just pass the time hoping that it all works out.”

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