28.0 Stasis

Mitchell had a problem.  That wasn’t anything new.  Lately, Mitchell’s life was full of them.  Luckily, he had a method to solve them.

His dad had had a temper.  The guy wasn’t a drunk or an addict, nothing that might excuse it.  Instead, there was a simple process.  Mitch comes home with a C on an English paper?  Twenty minutes of yelling.  Mitch doesn’t make the team?  Five minutes of yelling followed by a few slaps.

Mitchell knew other kids in school that had it worse.  He usually didn’t even get bruises.  How could he complain about it when there was a girl in Algebra that wore long sleeves in September and a guy who sat out Gym three days a week.  Nobody talked about the reasons why, but people knew.  Still, that didn’t stop him from getting frustrated.


Monday, he’d told Dad he wanted to try out for Track.  Dad thought that was stupid.  Said that if Mitch couldn’t play football, there wasn’t any point in going for something else.  Besides, he wasn’t good enough to make it.  Try outs would just be a waste of time and an embarrassment.  He barely raised his voice, didn’t even give a hint of violence.  Mitchell was good at spotting those.  Even so, it was just one thing too much.

Mitchell threw a punch.

It wasn’t a good one.  He’d never been in a fight.  The stuff with Dad didn’t count.  Mitchell never fought back.  His balance was off, thumb inside the fist instead of out, anything you’d care to name.  It wouldn’t have surprised him a bit if his Dad blocked or ignored the blow then beat him black and blue.  Even as his arm moved, Mitchell was already flinching away from what he expected to happen next.

Mitchell threw a punch and his Dad didn’t move at all until it hit him in the chest.  Mitchell watched in awe as his dad’s crumpled body flew back and through the wall of their house.  He just stood there for a moment, watching.  Eventually, the young man walked forward to examine what he’d done.

There were pieces of wood and plaster hanging in the air and a cloud of dust.  None of it was moving, just… just hanging there.  His father’s… his father was lying in their yard.  He’d- he’d killed him.

What now?

He didn’t- didn’t regret it, didn’t understand it either.

His dad was dead.

He didn’t want to go to jail.

Mitchell just stood there and thought about it until he knew what to do.  The whole time, there was a piece of wood, a little sliver of his house, hanging in front of his face.  By the time he was done, it’d moved about an inch, twisting as it fell in slow motion.

An hour later, Mitchell was at the school gym.  He’d spent fifty nine minutes of that hour on the treadmill, just jogging at a slow pace.  It had taken a deliberate effort to keep himself from accelerating but that would have ruined all the work he’d put into the first minute.

The school’s principle, Mr. Whitewater, and a pair of police officers came in.  They explained that his father was dead.  An Empowered serial killer had murdered seven men, all in their forties, with receding hairlines and glasses.  Their best guess was that the killer, they were calling him Spree for now, was a combination Speed and Strong type.  The men had been killed at almost exactly the same time and in the same way, their chests crushed by a single blow.

While they told Mitchell his Aunt Jan was driving in from Vegas to pick him up, he tried not to smile.  They told him they needed to ask him some questions but it could wait till she got there.  He wished he could have made himself cry.  That would’ve been perfect but the best he could do was to hold his face in a picture of shocked confusion.


Tuesday, Mitchell woke to find that his aunt had made him breakfast.  Well, she’d bought breakfast for him from a fast food place.  They hadn’t gone back to her place in Las Vegas yet- the police still wanted to do an interview with him- but they weren’t going to stay at Mitchell’s house.  Crime scene, bad memories or hole in the wall, take your pick.  They’d spent the night at a cheap motel instead.

After a quick shower, they made small talk, just mumbling at each other really, while they ate those weird scrambled eggs that came in a square and the TV played the news in the background.  After they’d finished, just before they left for the police station, the story changed.  The reporter, a slim black man whose name Mitchell didn’t know, began talking about Spree.

He started by reminding people about the previous day’s victims then moved on to tell them about the women who were killed less than an hour before.  Seven of them, all redheads in their twenties, had been found with their throats slit.  Best guesses put the times of death at about the same time Mitchell was waking up.  Aunt Jan tried to comfort him while Mitchell concealed his mouth with his hand.  He’d started giggling and managed to fake sobbing well enough to fool her.

During the interview he’d barely done more than mutter vague responses to the questions they asked.  It was pretty obvious that he wasn’t a suspect at this point, just one more innocent hurt by ‘Spree’s’ random acts of violence.


That brought him to his problem on Wednesday.  He’d decided that Spree should branch out, start hitting other cities.  Travel time shouldn’t be a problem.  Mitchell had tested himself as best he could and he was damned fast.  Hours of sitting still in front of a camera while in his accelerated state had yielded him less than a second of blurry footage of himself.

No, the problem was picking the city but he had a way to solve that too.

He threw a dart at the map of the Western States that his aunt had hanging on the wall of her guest room, his new bedroom.  The first city that turned up was San Diego.

“Nope.” he whispered to himself.  He wasn’t crazy enough to do this in the same city as the Hero.  Anyone that could take on Monster was someone he didn’t want to mess with.

The second city he picked was Boise.  A quick internet search showed it only had three operatives, Marsha Down, Greg Warp and Drew Stasis.  A little more research and none of them seemed too impressive so Boise it was.  On the jog over, Mitchell tried to decide what Spree’s victims would have in common this time.


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20 comments on “28.0 Stasis

  1. And Tuesday’s post is up.

    As you may have noticed, post times vary wildly. That’s gonna be the case through most of December, probably, but the pace should stay the same. If you want to know when a new section is available so you can read it right away, there is an RSS feed at the top right of the page and followers get notified via e-mail.

    On a completely unrelated note, I’m starting a new incentive. In the past I’ve released bonus updates in exchange for reviews but that’s not really an option now. I’m more or less at my limit.

    Instead, I’ll be adding a page for acknowledgements to the back of TRAINING IN NECESSITY. To get your name (or internet alias, etc) placed on it all you need to do is leave a review on Amazon. I’d prefer a positive one with a five star rating but that’s up to you. Anyone that’s already left a review or fulfilled a previous incentive without getting the payoff qualifies automatically.

    Oh, and leave a comment here or on the Early Access page. I won’t stick anyone’s name in there unless I know they want me to.

    Remember, no purchase is necessary (though those make me happy) since you can just leave a review regardless.

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  2. That’s an impressive power and a smart killer. Too bad he didn’t read up enough on the citadel operatives and picked the city with one of the best suited guys to take him on. Well or not. I guess Drew is more like, the best ennemy for a suspensful fight.

    Drew can stop time completely, that’s the best counter against super speed, but he can’t have an impact on the world while he does it. He can set up things though. But if he has to get out of the stasis for even a fraction of a second to move something… It’ll be enought for Spree to kill him, even if Drew moved to the other side of the city before getting out of stasis. Of course that’s only if Spree is aware that Drew is a threat and that he’s been spotted… well unless Drew fit the profile Spree decided on killing.

    I think the best strategy for Drew Stasis is probably to use Spree’s own speed to kill him. Personally I would use something like a very strong, very thin wire, tie one end thightly around Spree’s neck and tie the other one to something with a lot of traction, like a building, with no slack otherwise Spree might be able to stop before beheading himself… Actually I would tie another wire around every single of his limbs. Eck why stop here, tie several wires on each limbs. Tie a wire on every joint of his body and put several around his torso. And tie them to different buildings so he can’t just move toward the one to get some slack and escape. In fact tie a few to something heavy moving fast to limit the time he has to escape a bit. Even if he’s able to stop himself fast enough he won’t be able to move without hurting himself… And if he doesn’t move the wires connected to the heavy moving stuff will kill him. It might take a second of real time, which is hours for him but I don’t see how he’ll be able to get out of that even with a few hours to think about it.

    The result might be a bit gruesome but it’ll certainly put him down, unless he has regeneration. And Drew can even walk away so that Spree will have no idea who trapped him, in the off chance that he’s able to survive or escape the trap.

    Drew might not have what’s needed though, but I’m gessing since that time in the simulation where he failed to prevent the suicide he’s probably been carrying LOTS of tools, and probably has more tools, materials and “could be useful stuff” stockpiled somewhere accessible in stasis too.

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    • Probably mostly going to depend on how quick off the mark Drew’s reactive stasis for injury is. If it operates autonomously it may trigger fast enough that Spree just can’t kill him.

      I’m also seeing Greg Warp and his vast and nebulous mental illusion powers and an unknown operative with a name that may imply a Null type. Either they lack automatic-activation powers or Spree is going to die the most humiliating death of all time.

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  3. In an attempt to continue tracing causality, Spree has declined to attack San Diego because of Monster’s appearance there, directing him to Boise. Monster’s objective remains unclear. Spree poses no apparent threat to either Monster or Awesome. Status of man who bumped into a door after seeing James remains unknown.

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    • Spree seems too small-time for Monster’s retaliatory strikes, so we’ve probably got several dominoes left. MWBID may have skipped town to Boise.

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  4. While it wouldn’t have been a really pleasant experience for Spree, the thing is—I suspect if he’d gone to the cops and said my father started a fight with me, I tried to push him away and discovered I’d been empowered, oh God I’m so sorry, he wouldn’t really have much in the way of legal problems. In a world with unpredictable empowerments that sort of thing has to happen every now and then, and the Citadel at least seems to be very pragmatic about salvaging people with useful powers.

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    • Good point, he had all the time he needed to go open a law book or look up some similar cases. Even accounting for him panicking. And he did not panic, he very calmly planned his alibi, including the murder of six random people. He’s killing people because he want to.

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    • Completely true. I was thinking that Spree could have just carried the corpse to the bad part of town, and dropped him off in an alley near a bar. Sure, it’d be a tragedy, but I’d imagine the assumption would be that the father was in the wrong place at the wrong time, or picked a fight with the wrong person.

      For that matter, if Spree just ran away to the Eastern states he’d probably be safe. Given his level of speed, he could probably travel through the Battlegrounds safely. And who’s going to question one more refugee?

      AceOfSpade has it right. Spree is killing because he wants to.

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  5. Apropos of nothing: Hector really needs to start experimenting with what happens when people eat food duplicated by a self that then dies shortly after. If there aren’t any negative health effects, he might have the ability to provide calorie free food/desserts. Forget data entry or working in coffee shops, set this up in a wealthy neighrbood or 50 and watch the money roll in.

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    • Hector could even simplify the supply chain by selling soylent green. It wouldn’t be that much worse, considering the industrial quantities of him that would die every day for this.

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      • Lol @ Soylent Green. Biomass power, fertilizer, the applications are endless. Hector has a truly ridiculous power, which doesnt break the story only because many of the powers in this universe are quite extreme.

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        • It seems to me that hector can solve all the worlds problems. He can duplicate things he takes with him, why not just duplicate food or gold etc and become super rich and solve world hunger etc. He is supposed to be smart but there has been no talk of experimentation at all. Little things like this really distract from the story. I’m only on chapter 23 but it should have totally come up by now. There seems to be a distinct lack of exploitation/experimentation and a big focus on combat.

          Any one of these super powerful powers should have lead to extinction or solving most of the world (material) problems by now. How can an economy even hope to sustain itself with all these crazy powerful people running around? You’d think people desperately starving could have solved all food problems by now, but I digress.

          Great combat but the ramifications of a powers triggering like they do are just not thought through to their extremes. It would be different if their powers were more balanced or not so absurdly powerful but I don’t see how money would even matter at this point. All it takes is one desperate starving child or one jealous poor women to end material concerns for the world. Humanity is basically not extinct by now based on human good will, dumb/inefficient power wielders and pure luck. I have no clue if that makes the story more realistic or less.

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  6. The powers are wildly varying levels of convenient and applicable. Hector’s mass production capacity is severely restrained by how all duplicated material vanishes when the clone it was associated with dies. People just get the powers that they get and no one has drawn unlimited permanent matter creation. The fact that people could end material concerns with a different power set says nothing about the competence and intelligence of the people with the powersets actually in the story. A handful of people have gotten powers that could threaten total extinction, but they were either killed outright, aligned with the Citadel, or placed entire continents under their dominion and opted to stop expanding.

    Hector’s actual contribution is providing large numbers of perfectly coordinated trained personnel on demand, which they’ve been using extensively.

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    • Also, with the progressive collapse of political organization, increasingly large segments of the planet under the control of Tyrant, other Empowered, or non-human entities, the Citadel has quite sensibly decided that military defense takes priority over civilian applications.

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    • “Hector’s mass production capacity is severely restrained by how all duplicated material vanishes when the clone it was associated with dies.”

      I didn’t read that so far but if that’s the case he could still solve world hunger at least. All he has to do is make sure that group of clones survives a month so all the food can be digested and then repeat the process. Sure there are concerns with keeping those hector clones alive but he should be able to duplicate a lot of rice per clone, more than it would take to feed that clone. He could at least be able to duplicate stark/richard made stuff for military applications. They could keep a bunch of duplicated hectors that make guns and ammo under guard at all times and cut their military budget in half easily.

      What his limit on what he can duplicate? Whats the duplication range? What does wearing something even mean, can he wear a ton of gold then duplicate it? If he had even half the inclination to become rich he could duplicate precious metals and keep those clones alive for as long as possible. Does melting non duplicated gold with duplicated gold stop it from disappearing? Does duplicated food have caloric value?

      So many questions which we won’t get answers to. I realize this is not the type of fiction that focuses on finding exploits, but I still think it should be explored more. This story is doing well with what it really means to have superpowers, it’s not just a lighthearted romp like many others, but it still hadn’t gone all the way. Going all the way might infact mean there would be no story though.

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      • The Citadel is extremely reluctant to become overly-dependent on any single individual given the existence of mind control powers. Given events, that would appear to be an extremely wise policy on their part.

        Odds seem very good that the newly-created atoms will disappear on the death of the associated clones, so combining them with other materials will probably result in holes in the final product, and likely thoroughly horrific consequences if used to duplicate food. Also, the Citadel would probably crack down on selling any non-permanent material as fraud, since people are unlikely to want to buy anything that may unexpectedly vanish and it would probably be sold under false pretenses.

        Even if they could use Hector to mass-produce food without severe drawbacks, that would not solve world hunger. International travel has been significantly complicated by political collapse, rogue Empowered have and continue to tear holes in distribution networks, and flying from coast to coast requires either traveling over the Battlegrounds or through Bug airspace, with the former being extremely dangerous and the latter tightly restricted. And that’s where Citadel HQ is; it appears likely that the rest of the world is even worse off, and all travel within 3000 kilometers of the arctic circle is flatly impossible. Except Europe, but Tyrant is just going to have to solve his food problems alone except for his hundreds of millions of slaves.

        The Citadel does have Gatekeeper, but there is some limit on his ability to produce gates such that the Citadel has reserved them for inter-base transport and use as a superweapon. Or possibly psychological issues, but they’ll just have to put up with whatever issues he’s got because they don’t have anyone else.

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        • Yes it’s wise to not rely on hector, tbh I’m more surprised hector even bothered with the citadel, if he was cautious with his duplicating he could have become super rich. Not many people can really kill him. How far does the duplicated items disappear thing go? If they use the food to build new cells do those cells disappear or only small parts of them ? Your entire body is made out of new cells every seven years, would you still be effected after seven years?

          Also if hector had half the inclination if his power worked to kill cells from people that eat duplicated food then he could easily duplicate food to basically the entire world population then kill his clones, leading to billions of deaths. If it works like that he IS an extinction level threat. Can citadel just ignore that? Do they think its better to never even discuss it and hope hector never experiments with his power too much? Also how has hector not changed his world view at this point, thousands of clones everywhere doing everything and he seems the same as when he started. He has thousands of years of experience at this point, shouldn’t he be jaded with the world in some way by now?

          Even if it was found out hectors duplication power doesn’t result in possible extinction or solving world hunger that’s fine. I’m more disappointed in the lack of experimentation than the results of experimentation. This is why I said humanity has survived on dumb luck and uneducated/dumb/ inefficient power users. How messed up would the world be if there were more people that really experimented with their powers and pushed them to the limit. How many like the invincibility guy never even bother to try and figure out what their powers do. This is why stainless is so powerful I think, he probably doesn’t even have a power, he’s just smart, cunning and logical.

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          • The Citadel assuredly has multiple redundant methods of killing Hector should the need arise. They’ve got them for everyone else.

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