29.7 Loss

Hector used the tip of his knife to poke his finger, then held the knife point down over the small plate he had ready for it.  Nothing happened so he ignored the confused smirk on Liz’s face and shook the knife a bit until a drop of blood fell and landed more or less in the middle of the white plate.

“Okay, so I don’t usually get this specific about how my power works but I figure you deserve to know.” he told her.  “Anytime there’s more than one thing I want to do at the same time, a new me splits off.  Anything I’m carrying or wearing is split off too.  It’s not a matter of duplicate or original, both forms are being actively maintained by my power.  Got it?”

“Mhm.”  She giggled a little.  “So… when one of your bodies ‘dies,’ it disappears, along with whatever it was wearing?”  Hector nodded.  “Thought so, otherwise the city would have been full of corpses after… well, you know.”

“Yeah,-” he grimaced at the memory, “-but it doesn’t have to be death.  You’ve seen the way I keep those bags close to me all the time, at least most mes do.”  She nodded.

“That’s why I made the paramedics take them.  I didn’t realize they’d go poof if we left them behind but it didn’t seem like a good idea to leave your combat gear and stuff sitting around, plus whatever’s in the other one.”  Her tone rose a bit at the end of the sentence, an implied question that Hector chose to ignore.

“Once they got far enough away that my power didn’t recognize them as being in my control, they’d have… ‘gone poof.'”  He grinned at the term.  “Thing is, the process isn’t all at once.  Stuff I’ve duplicated kinda… decays is probably the best term.  The smaller or more complex it is, the quicker that sets in.  Biological material is pretty complex.”  Hector gestured at the blood on the plate.

“Huh.  It looks… paler than I’d have expected?  Maybe, something’s wrong with it, I’m sure of that.”

He nodded.  “Exactly what happens varies but for a tiny bit of something as complicated as blood, or… any other biological material in the human body, it stops being functional almost instantly.”

“And the same thing happens to… I don’t know, gold bars or whatever, right?”  Hector smiled in agreement.  “Okay, I’d wondered why you were wasting your time with the Citadel instead of just living in luxury as the world’s richest man or donating blood and kidneys all the time.”

He winced.  “Yeah, that last one would be really bad.  Based on what happened to the dog, even if I stayed really close by, eventually enough of my ‘donated’ material would be considered ‘not mine’ that it would start dissolving.  Thing is, that’s after the recipient has started integrating it and… well, it’s ugly.”

“You experimented on a dog!?”  Liz didn’t sound happy, at all.

“I was just a kid!” Hector tried to defend himself.  “The Citadel has a whole set up for this sort of thing, one that I’m more or less constantly active with, but I didn’t know any better back then.”

Liz’s face relaxed a bit, then went mischievous.  “So, is this your way of telling me you don’t need to wear one?  Cause I gotta say, it beets the hell out of ‘they just don’t feel comfortable.'”

Hector’s face flushed.  “No, I… um-” he rubbed the back of his sheepishly, “-I will if you want, whatever makes you more comfortable.  It’s just that there’s not much point.  I can get sick, or at least a given body can, but I’m never contagious and I can’t get a girl… y’know.”  Hector was blushing hard now, and not just the one in Liz’s apartment.

Liz was just laughing now.

“I haven’t been in a serious relationship before and- well, I like you.  A lot.”

Eventually, Liz stopped laughing and events proceeded from there.


Jason knocked on the door.  He could have used the intercom system, or simply called her, but the whole point of this visit was to do it in person.  This felt… more appropriate.

“Hello?” Jenny said as she opened the door.  Her face lit up when she recognized him.  “Oh!  Jason, it’s good to see you.”  She stepped back and opened it further.  “Come on in.”

He did.  Her room was similar to the one she had had during training.  Little decoration, the only things that were clearly hers were a few clothes on the bed or draped over a chair, as well as the familiar gaming system connected to the TV.  Jason smiled when he saw it, remembering the first time they had played A Hero’s Craft together.

“Thank you Jennifer.  I realize that you must be busy-”

“Yeah, no kidding.”  She let out a rueful grin.  “They’ve transferred almost half our people to other city’s and we lost two to Monster.”  Her face took on a momentary solemn caste.  “But we’ve managed so far and I’m sure, as long as we work hard enough, we’ll keep on doing it.”

“I will not take up much of your time then.  I… I simply wanted to speak with you alone.”

“Hey, if a teenaged girl can’t spend some alone time in her bedroom with her boyfriend, then what are we fighting for, right?”  She grinned.  It was likely a joke, though Jason did not find it funny.

He removed his sunglasses and looked directly into her eyes.  She did not look away, did not move at all, just stood there as if frozen.

“Jenny.  I said this to you earlier but I wanted to make sure that- that wherever you are in there, you heard me as best you can.  I will help you.  You are not alone.  I… I’ll do whatever it takes to get you out.  There… there are things I am trying, have already tried, but it is difficult to know how to proceed.  I am certain… there is one thing that I am sure will work.”

For a moment, just the barest moment, Jason was sure he could see the real Jenny looking back at him, the Jenny that needed him and the Jenny he cared about.  Not this… this shallow caricature of a teenaged superhero.  Then the moment passed.

“But it is a last resort.  Please, do not give up hope.  It may take time but I promise, I will save you.  I don’t care about the cost.  I will save you.”

She didn’t speak until he replaced his glasses.

“Well, um, thanks Jason.  I get a lot of offers of help.  I know, deep down, that everyone wants to be a Hero, even if that’s not possible.  But… I think, if we all do what we can, as little or as much as that may be, that it’ll work out.  So, thanks for your offer, it means a lot to me.”

Jason nodded and turned to go.

“Good bye Jenny.”


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13 comments on “29.7 Loss

  1. So, not only is the Thursday post in before my midnight deadline, it’s actually in at a reasonable time today! Hurrah!

    This’ll be the last bit of Loss. Man, this was definitely one of those chapters that got away from me. Hopefully, the next (tentative title is Preparations) will stay a bit more under control.

    PS- still slots open in the incentive, so if you want your name in TRAINING IN NECESSITY just leave a review on Amazon (no registration necessary, or even purchase (though it is appreciated)) and let me know about it. If you review anonymously, you will need to tell me the name you want used.

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  2. Seems Jason’s fear gaze can shut down Awesome’s power in some manner. Hard to say exactly how, since it’s a finicky power. Might just mess with the trigger conditions and it’d still activate to block Jason from actually killing her.

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  3. Hector might still be able to have children. Maybe. I’m imagining in-vitro fertillization, with Hector literally holding the container for a while. On a cellular level, life works by copying. So once the zygot has divided a few times, there should be cells that have copies of Hector’s DNA, despite not being a product of his power. The cells with material from Hector himself would die, but that shouldn’t be a problem. After all, identical twins come when the zygot is literally split in half.

    The copies of Hector’s DNA made the normal should be stable. After all, if a Hector writes a letter, and then dies, the letter stays written. Provided that the paper and ink weren’t duplicates, of course.

    That said, testing this could be a bit unethical. If all the copy-DNA goes into the same cell during mitosis, there should be no problem. If it is randomly split… The child would have horrible birth defects, if it somehow survived to term. And I don’t remember enough of my bio classes to be sure which way it would go.

    The point of all this is that if Hector were really determined to have a child, I’m sure he could do it. Though it might require him to collect a couple of Ph. D.s in sciences.

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      • I was going on the assumption that so far as his power is concerned, he has no original body. It was his line, “It’s not a matter of duplicate or original, both forms are being actively maintained by my power.”

        Yes, Hector has a body stored in a coffin, and it might have special properties, but it might not. Maybe when he made his first copy, both of them became ‘half-real’. Maybe if he ends up down to one instance, that one instance could act like anyone else, even if it’s not the original.

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  4. I kind of feel like hearing about what happened to the dog would do pretty much the opposite of reassure someone about not using protection. I guess any embryos would be fairly isolated from the rest of the body so it wouldn’t be terrible when half of them (or… half of their DNA, I guess, since by mass they’d be about 0% Hector) dissolved.

    Actually it’s just kind of weird in general that he thinks he can’t get someone pregnant. His original DNA only needs to last long enough for copies to be made, and that’s very little time. It causing issues is like him drawing something, duplicating himself, and then someone copying his drawing and having the copy dissolve.

    Alternatively, Liz is going to have some complaints in a few months and he’s going to have to explain that he never actually tested this. Or they just used protection anyway just in case.

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    • It generally takes several hours. It should be pretty safe, but powers are poorly-understood and may provide an (un)pleasant surprise from time to time.

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    • The sperm would still need to travel all the way to an egg to fertilize it and the blood on the plate started degrading over the course of a few exchanged words, sperm doesnt move that fast.

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  5. Yea for explanations! So i was right he is a threat,not necessarily an extinction level threat (if he tried to spread food to everyone) but he could probably kill an entire city pretty easily by distributing food. Though I could see him making risky drug deals or something, where the drugs work when they are tested originally, they hand over the money and all of a sudden the drugs don’t work. Not the worlds richest man but people wouldn’t think it’s his power, just that he sold some bad drugs. He could never really be the worlds richest man but through scams, drug deals etc he could easily become very wealthy. He’d probably die a couple times but that’s what his power is for. I guess hector just doesn’t care about money much?

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  6. Unillustrated:

    Is there an e-mail address I can send a name for the book to? I wrote one of the earlier reviews (rated most helpful last I checked), but for probably nonsensical reasons would rather not post my name here. My wife suggested I try to saddle you with a Seymour Butts type thing, but I’ve decided to pass on that.

    As to these chapters: it’s great to have some more solid info. on how Hector’s power works, though I have to wonder if my zero calorie desert idea is still doable, as it takes some time to digest and make use of food.

    The meeting between Jenny and Jason strikes me as well written, but parts of it are very repetitive of their phone call. Maybe there’s no way around that, I don’t know.

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