3 DAYS AGO
“Hector, how familiar are you with Monster?” Operative Robert Grave asked.
“I’ve read the basics, the Protocol and its accompanying brief, what’s publicly available and at least some of the original articles, but that’s it.” Hectors’ voice was completely lacking its usual cheery confidence.
Rob nodded and touched a button on his communicator. “Analyst Bradley, can you authorize Hector for the full load?”
Moments later, a voice could be heard from his wrist. “Done.”
“While you’re looking that over, wherever you’re doing that, I’ll get us started.” Rob said. “Monster is basically the real life equivalent of the boogieman.” Under other circumstance, a line like that might have been enough to get a chuckle. Neither Jason nor Hector showed any sign of amusement. “No one knows what he wants, what he’s really capable of or where he’s going to show up next.
“Thirty years he’s been active and the only thing we know for sure is that fighting back, trying to stop him from doing whatever he seems to want at the time, only makes things worse. He’s murdered high ranking government officials, some of the country’s strongest Operatives, children and janitors. Sometimes he just walks up and sticks a knife into his victim’s throat. Others… other times he’s used weirdly elaborate chains of coincidence that we’d never have believed he could be responsible for if he hadn’t gone out of his way to make sure we knew it was him.”
“Just what is his power? Some sort of exotic precog?” Jason’s tone was thoughtful, almost distracted.
Hector shook his head. “No. Well, maybe, but probably not. There’s video of him… getting lost, essentially. He managed to get into a secure facility, no record of what they were doing so probably ultra-classified, and didn’t show up on any of the cameras, check points, etc. First sign was when he shoved a pen into the eye of a Dr. Redacted- really hope that’s a fake name, not an operative style alias. He spent almost half an hour wandering through the halls on his way out. I’ve found at least five, make that six, incidents where he stumbled or tripped in a fight.”
The duplicator had the slightly absent tone Jason had come to associate with his friend doing active research in the middle of a conversation.
“As a general rule, precogs just don’t do that, especially not combat capable ones.”
The room was filled with a high pitched shriek. Jason had, seemingly without noticing, twisted the armrest of his metal office chair into a tangled mess. “That sounds familiar.” he said.
Rob cocked his head while Hector raised a single eyebrow. “Jason- you mean Jenny, right?” Hector thought he had a rough idea of her power, a combination of combat instinct and an awareness of what to do in a given situation that might be ‘awesome.’ “I mean, I can see we’re you’re coming from. There’s… maybe a little commonality but… the kind of scope and subtlety he’d have to have, not to mention that there’s more than one instance of him doing things that are just flat out impossible.”
Jason nodded. “It was just a thought but if, as you say, his power is so far beyond anything she is capable of, I must have been incorrect.” If anyone else caught the deception, they gave no sign of it. “So what is our course of action?”
Rob gave a disgusted sigh. “We follow the Protocol. Keep a reduced presence and basically ignore him unless he’s an active threat to someone in our immediate presence. If he attacks you, it’s recommended you flee, evacuate any civilians if you can. If… if you fight back, and he leaves you alive, you won’t be disciplined. Even the Citadel doesn’t demand that level of obedience from its personnel. But I don’t recommend it. Historically, it doesn’t end well.”
There was a moment of silence, eventually broken by Hector. “Are you… are you sure about that? I mean, I know he’s… well, he’s Monster. But between the three of us… I mean, you have to have noticed the synergy, right? I can provide Jason with an effectively limitless pool of lives by duplicating his fly vials. If you… infect one of me, you’d get a renewing army of your- your ‘assets,’ and there’s a good chance I’d survive. It might even let you access my multitasking ability, let you really coordinate your army and actually fully utilize the Empowered runs. How much stronger would you be if your army wasn’t reduced to mindless, shambling things once you were controlling more than a handful? And, I mean, you know what I can do if you let me fully off the leash.”
Hectors’ hand drifted down and to his right, suggestively resting on the bag neither of them had seen him open yet.
“Have you read the file on incident seven A?”
“Read that one, incident thirty one and the ‘Oakland Report.'”
A few minutes later, Hector spoke very quietly. “Oh. I… I always thought that was some kind of accident, a Richards type experiment gone wrong. And- and really? How did he get William Power to retreat? I mean… the man’s basically immortal.”
Before Jason was able to ask his superior for clarification, the man gave it on his own. “Oakland. About a third of the population was killed. You can read over the full report if you want, I’ll authorize it for this, but it was the Gatekeeper. Monster killed his brother about a year earlier, then did his usual vanishing act. Gatekeeper Empowered when he saw a news report about Monster, one that gave his rough location.
He… he cut loose, took out a good portion of the city trying to kill him. We’re… relatively certain Monster was at the center of the effect but he killed Mayor Zelazney a week later. Gatekeeper’s got some much nastier tricks these days but, even so, no one should have been able to survive that.”
“So we do nothing.” Jason said, unsatisfied.
“We do nothing.” Operative Grave confirmed.
James hadn’t gone to the party last night. He hadn’t gone in to work that morning. Instead, the first half of the day had been spent on his computer, top of the line, doing research. Viewtube didn’t have any videos of Monster. Pretty clearly, the government didn’t want anything like that sticking around if they could help it.
Too bad for them, nothing short of another Turing type on Interruption’s scale would ever be able to really control the internet’s content. Luckily for James, the Citadel had killed the girl. With enough searching, in some of the net’s more… obscure locations, he found some very interesting things.
Fan sights. Who would have believed it? The most feared man in the country and there were fan sights. Videos, detailed descriptions and more theories than he could count, James found them all. There were even fanfics. Even by his new standards, knife-rape was… ew. Some of the theories were actually kind of funny though.
The Citadel used Monster to eliminate Operatives and Empowered they found troublesome. Monster was a Speed type, a reality warper geared towards making himself feared, a great hero- William Power and Jenny Awesome were the two most common guesses- driven mad and sent back in time. There wasn’t a real Monster, just dozens of imposters over and over again.
He laughed for a solid five minutes when he read that one. He’d already bought the extra parts he needed, knives, metal plates and some scrap to make the helmet. If this worked as well as he hoped, even if he got caught in the end, it’d just be more fuel for the conspiracy theorists’ fires.
James smiled. He couldn’t wait to see how this turned out.