“I am not familiar with that term.” Jason said.
Hector shrugged. “Analyst slang. It just means a situation where lives are actually in danger. So, if there’s an Empowered that’s both got the ability to kill a couple hundred people and is actually trying to do it, that’d be a hard Class Three.”
Jason nodded in acknowledgement. If Hector hadn’t seen him literally practice that exact action, he’d never have guessed it wasn’t natural. Still, Jason was getting better about that sort of thing, even if his speech only seemed to be getting more stilted as time went on.
“Then, if I understand correctly, the Reaper was a soft Class Two?”
“Right.” Operative Grave said. “I called it a Class Two because he was trying to ‘conquer’ the city, at least in theory. Really, even if he’d beaten me and an Intervention team didn’t show up to take him down, there’s no way he’d have been able to take over.
“If I’d thought there was, or that he might go on some kind of rampage, I would’ve gone at him a lot harder. As it was, there wasn’t any point in wasting the resources.”
A funny thing about Phoenix, it didn’t have an Adama’s Coffee. Not. One. Not being a huge coffee fan, Hector didn’t mind. Still, it was odd. Most cities had at least one location where there were two Adama’s literally right across the street from each other. Hector had seen a few of the familiar green and white signs around, but the stores themselves were all obviously out of business.
Hector took a bite of his almond biscotti and followed it with a sip of cinnamon flavored hot chocolate. Adama’s may not have a presence in Phoenix, but Lux Coffee Bar more than made up the difference. He didn’t mind that at all. Family owned, especially the places that had been around for a bit, was almost always better than a chain.
A fear filled scream interrupted his meal. If there were any words in it, they were too distorted for him to understand. Regardless, anything that caused that level of panic was something he couldn’t ignore.
“So, if I understand correctly, you’ll keep a small group of your duplicates at home, sleeping in shifts, and they’ll send out others at intervals to handle matters throughout the city?” Operative Grave asked.
“Yes sir.” Hector answered.
Grave seemed to consider it a moment, then resumed speaking. “How long can you keep that up before it becomes an issue?”
“Indefinitely, sir. The only problem would come from housing all the extra mes and Jason can handle that.”
“Okay. My power will let me go without food or sleep as long as necessary. It’s not pleasant, but my last nap was eight months ago. I can go a bit longer if I need to.”
He turned to face Jason. “On the other hand, you need to follow a regular schedule, right?”
“I do. My own ability seems to treat hunger or sleep deprivation as an injury in need of healing. I revert to my most recent ‘uninjured’ state and, moments later, require healing again. It depletes my store of lives in short order.”
“Keep you well rested and well fed, got it. For the next… let’s say the next month or so, I’ll be on duty at all times. Hector will do the same and Jason can do twelve hours on, twelve off. That work for everyone?”
Hector nodded. A moment later, Jason did the same.
“Three in the afternoon to three in the morning work for your on duty time?”
“Then you’re free to go till then. I’ll meet you here and we can resume our tour of the city, even if Hector’s probably seen most of it by now.”
“Thank you sir.” Jason said. “I need to visit the bank and, I suppose, take a nap.”
Jason stood to leave and Grave turned back to Hector. “Well, if you’re going to be serving as our Analyst as well as our quick reaction force, there’s a few things I’d like to go over with you.”
Within moments, Hector was up and out of his chair. A single, long step got him to his bags. A new him knelt to pick up the one containing his standard issue gear and stepped outside with it even as a third him split off to replace the bag at his table and resume his interrupted meal.
The first Hector, armed with only his walking around gear set, was flat out sprinting towards the source of the screaming. He passed a scruffy looking man running in the opposite direct. Suspicious as all hell but not enough to justify action on its own. A fourth Hector split off to follow the man.
It was a woman, maybe a year older than Hector and bleeding from her arm, just below her elbow. Bad, obviously, but not usually too hard to deal with. He knelt down, took a hold of her arm, and looked over the wound while he tried to keep his voice as calm as possible.
“It’s gonna be okay. I got this.” He got her to straighten out her arm, raised it, and squeezed, digging his thumb in to put pressure on her artery. “Tell me what happened, ma’am.”
She whimpered. Her breathing was shallow, quick and her eyes were pretty dilated. He didn’t know her normal skin tone but Hector was willing to bet she was way too pale. Shock then.
“He tried- He wanted-” She whimpered again when he used a bit of gauze bandage to clean the cut. No, that was a stab and Hector really didn’t like the way blood was coming out in pulses rather than a steady flow.
The Hector that was chasing the guy couldn’t see any sign of the knife but it was better not to take chances. He split off a new him and hit the magazine release on his pistol. Stopping his run while the other him kept chasing, he popped in the clip with gel bullets at the same time as he brought the pistol into a basic shooting stance.
There was confusion as well as fear in the woman’s voice as she saw the Hector with the bag arrive. He wasted no time, setting it down and pulling out a smaller roll of what looked liked the same gauze the first Hector was already using to slow her bleeding.
Hector popped off a single shot, careful to make sure no one -no one he didn’t want to hit, that is- was in the line of fire. The man grunted, stumbled and fell. Huh, that was actually pretty impressive. Non-lethal or not, Hector was pretty sure those hurt worse than the real thing. He should know, he’d been shot with both on more than one occasion. Most people would’ve been shouting after a hit like that.
Hector straightened the woman’s arm and removed the blood soaked bandage at the same time as the newly arrived him handed over the new one. He inserted the edge of the new bandage into the wound, using his index finger to drive it in as deeply as possible, then forced more and more of the material in, as much as he could manage. He got about half the roll. The woman screamed in renewed pain.
He kept his gun trained on the man as he split off a new him. The newest Hector stepped aside and holstered the pistol as he drew a stun baton, snapping it out to full extension in the same motion. He approached slowly, giving the other two hims time to circle around and keep their lines of fire clear. The man rolled over, a little awkwardly, and pulled a knife out of his belt. There was blood on it.
“Sorry about that ma’am. I know it hurts but it’ll stop the bleeding.” the him that was still removing materials from the bag said.
The woman looked up at him, tears in her eyes and streaming down her face, and nodded. “Why- It feels hot.”
Hector nodded. “It’s- do you know what a hemostatic agent is?”
She shook her head.
The newer Hector began cleaning off her arm with a small bottle of distilled water and yet another roll of gauze, the standard stuff this time. “Well, the short version is, it makes bleeding stop but it hurts like hell. I’m afraid you’ll need surgery to remove it safely too.” Good, it was holding and he didn’t see any sign it was bleeding through. He wouldn’t need to use a tourniquet. “Sorry about that but I’m pretty sure he got the artery and I didn’t want to take chances.”
Hector set his baton to its lowest level and lunged forward, stabbing with it like it was a sword. The man started convulsing as soon as the tip touched his arm. He made a lot more noise this time. Hector made sure to keep contact with the baton while a new him split off, stepping to the left. This him kept his baton ready but withdrew a set of cuffs. As soon as the current was cut, he stepped in, stuck his knee on the man’s back to hold him down and began restraining him.
The man gave a weak moan of pain when Hector put his weight behind the knee. Woops, apparently, he’d picked the exact same spot as his rubber bullet had hit.
Hector took another sip of his chocolate, letting it join the taste of the biscotti’s last piece in his mouth. Damn, that really was good stuff. He wondered if he could get the recipe? Two of him were waiting with the woman Thank you so much. I’m Liz. for the ambulance he’d already called while three of him stayed with the man who’d stabbed her. The police should be here first, about ten minutes he thought. Sorry m’lord, I’m sorry. I didn’t know she was yours. The man had begun babbling fearfully as soon as he saw the Citadel insignia on Hector’s chest.
Hector was torn. Two more of him were on their way back and he wasn’t sure what to order next. He thought the cheesecake for sure but maybe there was something large enough to split?