31.0 Practice

“I want to thank you for this.” Hana said.

She and Jason were watching as the thirteen ‘Awakened’ from the Lodge underwent the early portions of their Registration.  Nurses and doctors were interviewing the men and women while others took blood samples, collected saliva and performed various medical exams.  Jason noticed that several of the doctors performing the interviews were visibly having difficulty restraining unusual facial expressions.  One of them laughed while the man he had been speaking to scowled.

“I am pleased that Hector and I able to assist, but it was simply a part of our responsibility as Citadel Operatives.  No thanks are necessary.”

Hana smiled.  He thought it was probably appropriate to call it ‘wry.’  “First, that’s not how it works.  You helped me out in a big way so you deserve a thank you.  The reason why you did it doesn’t really play into that.”  She waited until Jason nodded before continuing.  “But what I actually meant, was agreeing to participate yourself.”

She sprayed something from a small device onto his arm.  It felt cool, at first, then quickly evaporated.

“Ah, that.  Well, I have found myself more and more interested in the lives of many of your patients and the work you are doing here.  How could I refuse when you asked me to help?”

With quick, practiced motions, she traced a square his skin with a scalpel.  The blade cut easily and, less usual for Jason, the injury it left behind did not fix itself.  In moments, she had slipped the edge of blade in and, assisted by a pair of tweezers, lifted the piece of skin as she trimmed its connection to his arm.  It hurt, though not badly.

Jason stared in fascination.  “Remarkable.  This is the healing suppressant you developed for B?”

Hana’s expression was… somber, he thought.  “Yes.  It wasn’t strong enough for him but it works just fine on anyone with a lesser power, even some that are fairly formidable.”

He sniffed.  “It smells like alcohol.”

“That’s just the suspension medium.” she grinned.  “The actual chemical has something like sixteen syllables.  Also, I’m afraid that it actually inhibits the healing response to such a degree that a wound like this won’t even start to visibly heal for a couple of weeks at least.  You’ll need to keep a close eye on it for infection, just to be safe, but I think your power should help keep that from being an issue.”

Jason nodded.  “I keep more than a hundred thousand plant lives in my reserve at any given time these days.  It should not be an issue.”

“Okay, then with that out of the way-”  Hana was cut off by the one Lodge member that Jason had actually met before.

“Excuse me, Dr. Lizborne?” Sister Dawn said.  “The nurse said that you’d need to do the next part yourself?”

“Of course.” Hana answered.  “Please have a seat.”

As she did, the woman also set down the large package she’d been carrying.  It looked… something like a book but one that was grossly oversized.  It had many thousands of pages between two heavy leather covers, bound together with three leather straps, almost like belts.

She continued to speak as the doctor rolled back the sleeve of her robe and disinfected her arm.  “I want to say, you’ve been very professional.  Some of your colleagues-”  They all turned to watch as the same man laughed again.  Jason had no difficulty identifying the mockery in it.

Hana scowled.  “Yes, I’m sorry about that.  I promise, steps will be taken.  That sort of behavior just isn’t appropriate.”

Sister Dawn winced.  Jason could not tell if it was from distaste or because Hana had just lifted the first corner of the skin sample.

“No, it’s… not fine, I suppose, but no more than I’d expected.  Outsiders, especially the ‘well educated’ ones, don’t usually understand our viewpoint.”

Hana shrugged, the motion not disturbing her cutting in the slightest.  “Sister, even aside from my MD I’ve got four degrees.  That includes physics, biology and philosophy but I couldn’t begin to explain how Empowered do what they do.  Everything we do here… it’s mostly just analyzing what they do.  As far as I can tell, magic is as good a hypothesis as anything else we’ve come up with in the last century.”

There was something odd in Sister Dawn’s expression after that.  Her other hand, the one not resting flat on the arm of her chair as Dr. Lizborne bandaged her fresh wound, touched the over-sized book then returned to her lap.  The oddly dressed woman gave a slow nod.

“And that does it.”

Jason furrowed his brow in confusion even as Hana asked, “What?”

“I… accompanied our people here today because there was something the senior members of our Lodge wanted to ask you.  I assume you know we do research of our own, attempting to understand the nature of Awakening?”

Hana nodded.

“Yes.” Jason said.

Dawn jumped a little, seemingly startled for some reason.  Luckily, Hana was done, Dawn’s skin sample resting in a small box next to the one that held Jason’s.

“Oh, um, I’m very sorry.  No disrespect intended, Operative, but this is something that I need to speak to the doctor about… privately.”

Jason shrugged.  “Very well.  Is there anything else you need from me Dr. Lizborne?”

Hana pursed her lips for a moment before answering.  “If… if it’s not too great an imposition, would you…”

Jason looked at her expectantly, though his sunglasses likely ruined some of the effect.

“…would you be willing to ask your fellow operatives to come in and participate as well?”

He considered for a moment.  “I do not believe that involving Operative Robert would be safe.  His blood is simply too dangerous.  But I believe Operative Hector would be likely to cooperate.  I do not know if you will be able to get a useful sample from him though.  The nature of his power makes such things difficult.”

Hana smiled.  He thought it could be described as ‘eager.’  “Please do.  I’m certain I can manage.”

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11 comments on “31.0 Practice

  1. Shit I was expecting Jason would be the one to notice something is wrong since his healing is instantaneous… Maybe Hector will be the one? What if when Skinthief take the skin sample all the Hectors suddently have a patch of skin missing? Or maybe Analyst Hive will be like “what they have a healing suppressant like that? Why aren’t we using it as a weapon against regenerators?” and he’ll do some research and discover that there is no such thing.


  2. 1. Surely Hector and Jason, having been briefed on Skinthief back in 26.1, will find the ongoing sample collection (for what I can only assume is some sort of Technicolor Doomcoat) a little suspicious?
    But of course, there’s the premonition that Hector got in the last chapter, so it looks like he’ll be losing a little weight the easy way.
    My own prediction is that the next 50 updates post-completion of the Infinity Onesie is just Skinthief killing everyone he meets until encountering Monster, who will get some of their skin stolen.
    His power will take control over Skinthief, and then the real violence starts.
    Sort of like Worm, but without the happy ending.

    2. I wonder, if Jenny has her exciting, upbeat “theme music”, then what is Monster’s theme music? Thrash metal? Ambient noises a la Hans Zimmer of Trent Reznor? Something even more sinister, like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woPff-Tpkns


  3. Congradulations, you are all going to die.

    Seiriously, twenty-some powers, including phantom fire, non-phantom fire, regeneration, death gaze and also regeneration, and possibly mass duplication? They are so very screwed.


    • Anna was there during a nationwide sweep rather than staying in Phoenix for a lengthy search. The doctor was on vacation outside of the city at the time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hunter teams are general, Nemesis teams are specific. Skinthief was one of several people on their list, though he was the highest priority. Nemesis teams don’t just hunt a specific individual, they’re made just for them.


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