42.4 Procedure

Bettie stood with her back to the street and craned her head up to get a better look.  The Shady Leaf may have been a tall building but Dauntless was right next to her and he seemed to just… loom in a way that she found weirdly comforting.  Less comforting were the civilians, practically flooding out of the building, escorted by Support personnel in black and grey with very ‘we’re being polite but we might stop so do what we say’ expressions.

“So… um, what do we do now?”

Dauntless made a little noise, definitely deep and thoughtful and not just clearing his throat.  “Nothing.  Analysis claimed full custody on this one so security’s their responsibility now.  They don’t have enough combat capable Field Analysts to do it every time but the ones they do have tend to be… nasty.”

Bettie could believe that easily enough.  As soon as the ‘Smiths’ had made their announcement, a sort of golden ring thing- as tall as a man and just as wide- had appeared in the air.  At least a couple dozen Support had come pouring out and started the ‘temporary evacuation’ of the apartment building.  Bettie didn’t know what excuse they were using and didn’t want to.  Probably a gas leak or something.

Mixed in with the Support had been a handful of men and women in plainclothes, Analysts.  Their faces had been-  Their eyes-  It reminded her of when she’d met Dauntless last year, the one time she’d seen him really serious.

No, not quite.  They’d been scary.  He’d been terrifying.

“Oh, um… no.  I meant, like… what do we do for the rest of the day?”

“Foot patrol, no specific route.”  He gave a tight little grin and started walking away at an easy pace.

“Wait, really?”  She looked after him for a second, too surprised to follow, then did a little power-assisted half-skip-hop thing to catch up.  “Is that normal?  I figured we were just doing it yesterday for introductions and stuff.”

“Nope.  Long as you’re in Frisco, it’ll be a regular part of your day.”

She took a moment to think it through, worried she might be missing something obvious.  Bettie could feel the warmth in her thighs and calves from walking uphill, brought on faster than it should’ve been from stretching to match Dauntless’s stride.  It seemed kind of silly but she’d found herself missing the sensation during training.  Everything at the Hub had been so… flat.  “There’s only about a dozen operatives in the city, right?”

“Nine, not counting your or Operative Jordan, but our Senior Operative doesn’t usually get involved in field work.”

“I don’t get it then.  What’s the point?  We can’t possibly provide any kind of useful coverage that way and it can’t do anything for our reaction times.”

Dauntless gave a casual shrug in mid-step.  His white shirt was fairly tight and it was completely obvious that he didn’t have any concealed weapons or armor above the waist.  “True enough, but you’re not taking it far enough.  We’re actually badly undermanned for a city this size.  Unless every one of us was a Speed type, teleporter or high-speed flyer we shouldn’t be able to do our job.”

Given that she wasn’t walking through some kind of devastated wreck like Phoenix or a Battleground city, there was obviously an explanation.  If Dauntless wasn’t just telling her he must want her to figure it out.  So what was it?  “I know Kelly can do flying forms like birds and stuff and you’re more than strong enough to jump a few blocks at a time but I don’t really know the other operatives in town.” she thought out loud.  “Well, other than Jordan I mean.”

“You’re right about Kelly but, unless I don’t mind taking out a car or maybe some random pedestrians that’s not much of an option for me.  Higher strength to weight ratios mean most Strong types can do short bursts of high speed but we can’t usually think at the same rate.  That means we can’t react either.  It’s the thing you have to watch out for with Speed types.”

He turned to face her and nodded when he saw she was paying close attention.  “They’re fast.  Obvious, I know, but it’s not just the movement.  If a guy’s running around quick enough to be just a blur on a regular basis, his mind is moving at the same rate.  You can’t count on out-thinking something like that on the spot.  You’ve got to plan ahead, prepare.”

Bettie wasn’t sure she could do that.  She’d never been good at planning, which he should know since otherwise they’d never have met.  Oh well.  With a shake of her head, she pushed the thought out of her mind.  That’s what Analysis was for.  “What about the rest of the operatives?”

“Hm.  Well, we mostly work in pairs.  Kyle Lightshow and Petra Flicker.  His empowerment is some kind of limited matter to energy conversion, usually coherent light.  Pretty straightforward in practice, he’s a blaster but a strong one.  She actually is a teleporter but short range only and she has a limit to how many hops she can do in a given time period.”

“That… um, that doesn’t seem strong enough to make her an Operative.”  Bettie didn’t mean to interrupt but everyone knew operatives were the best.  She’d heard it most of her life and seen it first hand.

Dauntless laughed, short and sharp but not in a mean way.  “It’s not just the power, kid, it’s what you can do with it.  But really, she’s a lot more dangerous than I’m making her sound. After them, you’ve got-”

“The Senior Operative.  It’s him, isn’t it?  That’s why you said he doesn’t do field work.  He’s got some sort of power that let’s him plan perfect routes or- or…”  She couldn’t think of another good power for it but she was suddenly certain it was a mental thing.  Jordan had been in the military before joining the Citadel so that had made him the guy with the most experience with this sort of thing in their training class and he’d practically never shut up about how dangerous anyone with mental abilities could be.

“She.  Senior Operative Susan Matters, one of the incredibly rare Operatives with precog abilities.  It’s pretty weak, really, just hunches about when something’s important.  But we all send her our planned walking routes for the weak.  Sometimes she makes a change and sometimes she doesn’t.  Some patrols, nothing comes up.  Others… well, let’s just say it’s a rare Empowered incident in San Francisco that doesn’t happen to have an operative nearby when it goes down.”

Bettie couldn’t help herself.  She looked back at the Shady Leaf.  “But, what about-”

“I said it was rare, not impossible.  Operative Matters is good but she’s not perfect.”

Bettie didn’t say anything else for a while and neither did Dauntless.  It would’ve been nice if it was a comfortable silence between valued and respected comrades but it wasn’t.  It was just… quiet.

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31 comments on “42.4 Procedure

  1. *checks date of promised end to hiatus*


    *checks date of previous update*

    *winces harder*

    Uh… yeah. Sorry about that. I’m back?

    PS- Wish first update after… that could be a bit more exciting but I’m afraid this segment was always gonna be a bit of an infodump and not much more. Next scene should be sort of cool though! And it’s got Kelly and Jordan!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Lmao, I commented on the other chapter wondering why I’ve received an email about an update but I just realize it’s about this chapter ! Still really loving you though


  3. She actually is a teleporter but short range only and she has a limit to how many hops she can do in a given time period.”

    “That… um, that doesn’t seem strong enough to make her an Operative.” Bettie didn’t mean to interrupt but everyone knew operatives were the best. She’d heard it most of her life and seen it first hand.

    You, um, should ask what she gets to teleport and what happens when she attempts to teleport things into solid objects.

    Though really, even if the answers are “herself” and “catastrophic damage to teleported object” being able to do a pinpoint teleport while holding a monomolecular knife is still the kind of thing that solves problems.


    • They stumbled onto a piece of Richards tech that grants powers, and set off its automatic security feature, which gave them uncontrolled pyrokinesis powers, and they were promptly burned to death by their own abilities.


      • It’s currently unclear why the investigators weren’t also affected; possibly the initial responders recognized power-related trouble when they saw it and didn’t step into the danger zone, just sealed off the area and called in Support, and then they were protected because they’ve already got powers and to date there’s been no evidence it’s possible to get powers twice.


  4. Im super glad you are back, this was my favorite web series for a long time and i was really sad to see it abandoned like this


  5. Unillustrated, what’s happened? You returned, to everyone’s delight, and then disappeared again. I hope that all is well with you and yours, and please continue the story when you can, because it’s a story worth reading and I want to read more.


  6. Figure out if this is something you really want to commit back to again, and don’t tell us – or yourself – any day now if your not sure. Its cool. Your not obligated to do anything. Its a lot of work. Just be realistic with yourself and with us. Seems like you haven’t been thus far. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Delighted you’re back – just finished rereading both of the first books, and enjoyed them even more on round 2!

    Now, a quick typo fix: ” But we all send her our planned walking routes for the weak.” Assuming you mean a particular interval of time, that last word should be “week.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I hope everything is well with you. I consumed all of Citadel across a day and a night because some 5 or 6 people voted for it at TopWebFiction and now I’m sad I’m caught up. I hope to see more of this, but I know how life gets in the way. Even if you don’t come back to it, thank you for the great story.

    Liked by 1 person

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