“Thank you for making time to see me.” the Healer said.
Her voice had a… familiar monotone aspect. Hector found it a little unsettling.
“Would you prefer that I call you Operative Hector or Analyst Hive?” she asked.
“Just Hector.” He gave her a friendly smile and answered. “I’m here as Jason’s friend not his co-worker.”
She nodded and returned his smile with one that was obviously well practiced but, equally as obviously, just for show.
“If it’ll help him, if you think there’s even a chance that it might, I want to do whatever it takes.”
Jessica Healer closed her eyes and kept them that way for almost three seconds. When she opened them again, there was something… subtly off about the way she looked at him. Her focus didn’t seem quite right.
“Hm. I’d read the reports of course but… seeing it for myself, well, it’s weird.”
Ah. “Empath or telepath?” he asked.
“Empath. Receptive and broadcast.”
“Yeah. I’m told I come off as a one man crowd. Mind if I ask what you’re seeing?”
“I see emotional states as a collection of colors, varying in shades and brightness. You’re… it’s like looking at a kaleidoscope. Any other circumstance and I’d assume I was looking at someone with severe mental issues.”
She blinked a few times, rapidly, then seemed to settle down a bit. “Regardless, I asked you here for a reason.” He gave a nod, serious now. “You’re familiar with Jason’s emotional state?”
“He spent most of his life… not without feelings, not exactly, but without strong emotion. It left him with the illusion of calmness and rationality, with a maturity he hadn’t come by the regular way. Recently, I think it started during training but it’s been accelerating since we got here, that’s changed. Jason’s been experiencing wild swings in intensity.
“Far as I’ve been able to tell, they’re not unprovoked, maybe even not unusual for someone else, but he never learned any coping methods. He’s been… I guess trying to repress them, but that’s been as effective as you’d expect. Over the last week or so, he’s been… fixated, I guess, on the idea that something’s wrong with his girlfriend, Jenny Awesome but he’s started settling down about it.”
“Do you know why?” she asked.
“Not for sure. I mean, she fought Monster right after we had an impersonator show up. My guess is, he was afraid that she’d received some kind of injury that the Healers couldn’t fix. Maybe he blamed himself, thought Monster’s attack on that school was intended to show up James Cuthbert as a fake and that if he’d taken the guy out sooner Jenny wouldn’t have been endangered.”
Jessica shook her head. “Ah, sorry, that’s not what I meant. Why do you think his emotional state has been changing?”
“I don’t know.” Hector said.
“Impressive. I’m almost certain you just lied to my face but you didn’t give a single clue. I bet if my sight had still been up it wouldn’t have helped at all.”
“What do you mean? I- I just want Jason to get better, to help him.”
Jessica nodded. “I believe that last part, yes. Let me share a theory I’ve developed with you. Jason had his first Registration exam when he was a child. His emotional… lack was already fully in place. Given his age and the… lethal nature of his ability, the testing was not as thorough as it could’ve been. In fact, the examiners relied heavily on the assistance of his mother, once known as Mary Vector and a renowned biomanipulator. Well, perhaps infamous would be a better term, but I assure you her ability’s well known in certain circles.
During his admission to the Citadel program, Jason was discreetly examined by Support personnel. They didn’t do the full battery, he’d been through Registration after all, but they did verify the initial findings. Additionally, it was determined that he had a previously unsuspected aspect to his ability. If we’d thought that he’d deliberately concealed something like that, he wouldn’t have gotten in.
Luckily for him, he had no idea.”
Jessica paused for a moment, holding Hector’s gaze with her own. He swallowed but didn’t reply.
“What they didn’t find, was any reason for his depressed emotions. Well, not anything tied to his Empowerment. His brain chemistry is clearly abnormal, as is the function of various glands throughout his body.”
Jessica paused again. Hector sighed and closed his eyes as he answered.
“It was his mother. She knew about the area effect and… she had to do something. That kind of power in the hands of a child… The Citadel would’ve- should’ve– killed him. Maybe right away, maybe after he caused a massacre, but they’d have done it one way or the other.”
“Yes. She made the right decision.”
Hector started to relax before her next statement drove away any sense of calm he’d almost achieved.
“Then. Not telling him when he was older, when he was about to become an operative? That’s exactly the sort of judgment that got Mary stripped of her position. Trying to hide it not just from him but from the Citadel? Rank stupidity and incredibly dangerous. I am a little curious why you didn’t step forward with this information sooner.”
“It’s- I… I owe him, owe them both. Mary, she saved my mom.”
“Reversed the Chemo effect and assisted in her recovery, you mean.”
“Yeah.” Hector said quietly. “She did the same for Achala Juggernaut too.”
“That last part will probably buy her a bit of slack. He’s well regarded, especially amongst the Citadel’s senior staff. In that light, I can understand why you didn’t come forward. Even a cursory reading of your record shows that you’ve put a great deal of effort into helping and protecting Jason. You realize, this wasn’t helping him, right?”
“Yeah. I get that now, have for a bit. I tried to bring it up a couple times this month, both with Grave and Jason himself, even sat down and wrote out a brief for Director Dione. But… I just couldn’t do it. I’m not even sure why, it just seemed…” Hector shook his head. “I knew it was the right call, for Jason and for everyone around him, but I deleted the thing without sending it, kept my mouth shut.”
“Oh.” Jessica said. “I… think I see.”
“Is… Will this hurt Jason?”
“It already has.” Hector winced. “However, we’ve made surprising progress in just a few sessions and I think he’ll adapt. I suspect his own power is helping maintain equilibrium, resetting him to a ‘base state’ when he strays too far but I can’t be certain of that. We know that Healing immediately after combat can prevent the onset of Super Shock and this would, presumably, be similar.”
“Thank God.” Hector breathed out in relief.
“Your own position is less clear.” she said. “However, that’s not my decision to make. I simply needed confirmation of what Mary had done. Thank you for that.”