24.3 Minutiae

The TV show was of little interest to Jason, an overly convoluted romantic comedy with an unnecessary framing device.  Supposedly, it was about a man telling his children how he met their mother however it seemed to dwell more on a series of foolish decisions the father and his friends made in their twenties.  Jason was certain that they would have all been much better off spending less time in a bar and more effort bettering themselves.  Regardless, an assignment was an assignment, at least he was done for the day.

He turned off the television and opened a program on his communicator.  Shortly, the device made a beeping noise and Jenny’s face appeared on its display.

“Jason!”  She was smiling, happy to see him.  He felt himself relax, a tension he had barely been aware of left his body.

“Hello Jenny.”

“I didn’t think you’d call so early today, what’s up?”

“Nothing of any consequence.  I have begun my regular duties here and this seemed like a good time to call.”

“Wait, you’re on duty now?” she asked.  “No offense, it’s always good to talk to you, but should you really be calling me on the clock?”

He nodded.  “It is allowed.”  Despite her difficulties, Jenny had always taken her responsibilities seriously.  It was one of the things he found admirable about her.  “I am unsure how such things are handled elsewhere, but I am simply on-call.  So long as I am ready to respond quickly in the event of an emergency, my time is my own.”

She blinked, surprised.  “Wow, yeah, that really is different.  They’ve got us running around all the time.  I mean, it’s not like we do patrols the way they show in comics or anything but there’s something for us to do.  Minor crimes, speaking at schools and stuff, consulting with companies about their security, stuff like that.”

“I imagine it is the result of our different personnel.  I believe that Hector is able to accomplish much of what you describe on his own while Operative Grave and myself are only required to act in the case that significant force is needed.” he said.

“Grave?  The guy with the blood and the…?”  Jason nodded.  “Yeah, I’ve heard of him.  Apparently he spent his first few months after training here in San Diego.  It… it sounded like things were pretty bad back then.  I don’t know if I’d be comfortable working with someone that had a power like that.”

“Yes, fighting next to someone with poisonous blood could be very dangerous without the right power.  I believe that is part of why Hector and myself were assigned here.  His individual bodies are expendable and my self healing would allow a short timeframe to remove the blood safely.  Well, I hope that is the case but would prefer not to test it.”

She smiled again.  It made him happy to see.  “Well, better you than me I guess.”

“How are you adjusting to your own new role?” he asked.

Her smile faded.  “It’s… well, it could be worse.  San Diego has a big Empowered population but not a lot of crime.  Mostly we just end up responding to the kind of thing that’d be routine police work, noise complaints, trespassing, domestic disturbances, no big deal if the people involved couldn’t fly or shoot lasers from their nostrils or whatever.”

“That is… not what I meant.  I am aware that the interview you did was shown first, and most heavily, in San Diego.  Has the increased popularity had an… adverse effect on your power?”  She turned away but not before Jason saw her face.  Hers was the only one he could reliably interpret and the look of bitter disappointment was unmistakable.

“Yeah, kind of.  It’s… it’s not too bad when there’s a crowd.  I guess all the conflicting viewpoints leave me with- with a sort of middle ground.  I end up acting like a generic ‘ideal girl.’  That could be worse.  My teammates…”

Jason felt himself glaring, not at her but at… something else.  “Have they hurt you?  Taken advantage or-“

“No.  Nothing like that.  It’s just, the whole thing, my popularity and the kind of stuff I was saying, it affected them as much as anyone else in town.  So now they’ve all got some image of me in the back of their heads and I’m around them all the time.”  She sighed.  “It means any time I’m alone with one of them they’re paying pretty close attention.  That… that seems to enhance the effect on my power.  How I act can vary pretty strongly based on who’s around and…  It gets pretty disturbing sometimes.”

“I’m sorry Jenny.  I imagine that must be very difficult for you.”

She gave a small shrug.  “I’m used to it.  The same thing happened with the different cliques in my school, a bit during training too.  At least talking to you still helps.”

He smiled.  “Good, I was concerned that the effect would be diminished by distance.”

“It’s… it’s not quite as good as having you here in person would be.  I think it’s better with the coms than it would be with a phone though, the picture makes it seem more immediate so you pay more attention.  At least, I think that’s the case.  I’ve got some time off coming up in a few weeks though, maybe I could visit?”

Jason’s answer was interrupted by a knock at his door.  He checked the time then stood up to leave as he answered her.  “I would enjoy that.  Please excuse me for now, I need to help Hector with something.”

Jason and Hector shared an apartment.  They each had one bedroom.  A third had been converted for equipment storage, primarily Hector’s but Jason had a small incubator with a number of his fly vials inside.  The fourth was more specialized.

The plastic sheeting crinkled beneath his feet as Jason followed Hector in.  There was already a group of a dozen or so Hectors waiting, crowding the relatively small room.  They nodded politely as Jason approached and turned their backs.  Quickly, efficiently, he reached out to each in turn and snapped their necks, careful to sever the spinal cord so that their physical suffering would be minimal.  Once that was done, he stacked them neatly beside the pile of corpses already present.

He’d begun just before watching his assigned television program and interrupted it approximately every twenty minutes as new Hectors came ‘off duty’ and approached him for disposal.  The earliest ones were already beginning to visibly dissolve.  Good, this would work better than he had feared when his friend mentioned the idea.

Finished with the tedious but necessary task, Jason left the room to see what his friend had prepared for dinner.  He had been smelling what he thought was fresh baked bread for some time now and was very much looking forward to trying it.

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16 comments on “24.3 Minutiae

  1. Well, that answers why he needed Jason. Didn’t really expect him to use his power to do it, given how ominous that almost was before. Amorality will do in a pinch. Or a snap, Crack, thud as the case may be.


        • or maybe not but there is too much of a risk to actually test it. Tough they maybe got some intel on it the same way the citadel discovered that Jason using his power on Dragon-Kerry doesn’t kill Kerry.


          • Since they knew fairly early on that Hector and Jason would end up working together, I am surprised they didn’t use that ‘savepoint’ power to test the theory. Savepoint on, deathglare, reverse it if all Hector die.


        • Since Hector figured out he isn’t actually a hive mind, just a collection of clones that share the memories of every other clone in real time, I don’t see any reason why Jason’s death glare would kill more then the Hector he actually targeted. But, seeing as how there isn’t any easy way to test that theory without risking his life, I guess they simply aren’t risking it.


  2. We know that Jason’s ability to experience emotions is returning/will return, and I think a number of readers saw his fight with Jenny as demonstrating that they really were starting to take hold. But here, despite Jenny expressing a trait that Jason is able to find “admirable,” it seems like Jenny is still getting some relief in talking to him. I wonder if the fact that he’s communicating by skype or whatever doesn’t actually make a difference, and it is changes in him that Jenny is feeling. I guess he can’t have slipped too far, though, given his apparent indifference to snapping Hector’s necks.


    • We only got jenny’s actions not thoughts, it could easily be that Jason thinks it’s cool that talking to him comforts jenny


      • Or it could be that Jason decided that, given the somewhat precarious situations that he often finds himself in, it would be better for him to feel less emotion and thus he put himself back on the medication that his mom had him on — was it medication or was it a power of hers?


    • Remember that Jason spent most of his life learning how to be a sociopath. Mom’s powers or not, emotions or not, he is a (possibly recovering) sociopath. I suspect that unless someone tells him that it wrong, it won’t occur to him.


    • Call me crazy, but I don’t think simple emotional recovery will cause Jason to have any trouble ‘disposing’ of excess Hectors. Since Hector himself is okay with it, and the killed Hector’s are easily replaceable, I don’t see anything morally wrong with Jason’s task.

      Then again, I actually remember when I started grasping morality on a deeper level than “will I get punished if I’m caught?”. It was when I understood the Golden Rule. Now, I’m sure Jason would not like having his neck snapped, but I think you see where I’m getting. Hector’s request might seem odd, but all Jason is doing is helping out his friend.


  3. Yessss! I was waiting for the big reveal of how Hector efficiently disposes of his unneeded selves, and the calm and perfectly nonchalant image of them lining up for slaughter was exactly as I hoped.

    Casual monstrosities are one of my favorite things. Please continue down this path of apathetic horrors!


    • I feel like it’d be more straightforward to just get a batch of suicide pills. And that would also let him avoid getting instances captured.


  4. Wait, I thought Hector’s selves were always in communication with each other without electronic aid. Also, didn’t Jason use his power on a Hector once to save himself?


    • He didn’t actually do that; he was considering it when Jenny’s power tripped and made one of the other trainees kill that Hector to stop Jason.


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