Talk 4-II

Two Types of People

I stood frozen a few feet from my double, my brain going into shutdown. She was going to… going to…

“Whoa, okay, easy there," I said to myself inside my head. "C’mon, breathe easy. You can still be heard, remember?”

That wasn't helpful. At all.

“Well, do your breathing exercises, then, but try and be quiet. Gosh, do I have to do everything around here?”

No, the voice in my head doesn't swear either.

Once again, the tunnel vision slowly receded. So what do we do now? I asked myself, once I’d recovered enough.

“Well, nothing.”

What?!

“Can you think of anything?”

That’s your job! That’s the reason you exist!

“Yes, and so if I can’t come up with anything…” I couldn't come up with anything either. Darn it.

…sorry.

“Don’t apologize to me, I'm just imaginary. But seriously, I don’t think we can really do anything.”

But they’re going to start killing people!

“And we can’t do anything about that.”

We could sneak up on them or something, we’re invisible.

“One can teleport, one can shoot lasers from his face, and we have no idea what the last one can do. How do you think that encounter will go?”

…well, we could try and save the people they’re going to kill…

“Was that a question or not?”

We could try and save the people they’re going to kill, smartbutt.

“So butt is appropriate, but the a-word isn't? Sometimes I don’t like living in this brain very much. And just think through that idea for… oh wait, that’s what me talking is. It’s a dumb idea.”

Yeah, I sort of knew," I admitted, "I'm just trying to spitball. Maybe we could try and get out, warn the heroes.

“The heroes already know, remember? But it’s not a bad idea, except that we don’t know far we can get from the double, and if it’ll disappear or stop behaving like us or something like that.”

Oh. And we can’t experiment now, because if we screw up, they’ll notice and kill us.

“Careful, if you keep doing all the thinking yourself, you might stop needing me, and then I’ll disappear and you’ll have basically killed me and will therefore be a murderer.”

...I'm pretty sure that’s not how this works.

“Oh, because there’s a certified rulebook for imaginary head-voices as representations of one’s logical reasoning?”

Hmpph.

“Also sarcasm and libido, but you only have yourself to blame for those.”

I felt like burying my head in my hands. Please no.

“Fine, fine. But let me just say, you see the pecs on that guy back there? Nice.”

Just… just don’t.

“Hmpph,” I repeated. “Does the fact that I don’t like you very much say something about us?”

I think it just means you've expanded into self-deprecation too. Pretty soon it’ll be all you up here.

“Maybe then I’ll finally be able to swear.”

(I promise I’m not crazy. I have a certificate that says so.)

So what do we do then?

“Same plan as before. Observe, try not to be one of the ones they kill, and hope the heroes either give them what they want or kick their… butts.”

Gather information, got it.

“Well, no, that’s not quite what I-” But I was already moving closer to the man standing on the table, trying to get a closer look now that I’d manage to section away the panic. I was still cognizant of the strings humming in my core, as well the other... iteration, I suppose, of my self that seemed to be running in the back of my brain, one where I’d been hit by a flying fork, and would probably be killed if I tried to get off the ground.

All of my earlier observations about the man seemed to be accurate. His armor was red-tinged plates of overlapping metal, held by some means onto a jumpsuit of red Steelsilk, its unique patterns clearly visible thanks to the dye. The faceplate seemed to be another such plate, but I thought I could see something black around the edges. Insulation, maybe? Not all supers were immune to their own powers, and his laser had looked pretty hot. Perhaps the faceplate protected him from the heat.

Something wasn’t quite right with that, something nagging in the back of my mind, but I couldn't figure out precisely what it was.

But, nothing more to see here, no point in puzzling over it and spending more time near the supervillain. I moved away, trying to pad softly on the tiled floors, very aware of the sound of my own breathing. I was probably worrying about nothing, as there was a constant, worried murmur throughout the room as people tried to freak out without attracting attention to themselves. Really, it wasn't the breathing or footsteps I had to worry about, but the possibility of the teleporter running into me. But there was nothing I could really do about that except move slowly and carefully, and try not to bump into anything.

“2 minutes,” came a cry from the woman. “What do you think, kiddies? Are they going to give in and appear weak, or stay strong and let us kill a few of you?” She checked her watch, which I idly noticed she wore on the inside of her wrist, rather than the normal way. “Oh, it’s only one minute now. I'm starting to think it’ll be the latter, which is a shame; I would've liked this to be easier.” She paused for a second, tapping a finger to her chin contemplatively. “Not that it’s really going to be that much harder, but still. You wanna pick someone, or should I?” she asked the guy in combat gear, suddenly standing next to him.

He shrugged, then spoke for the first time, his voice surprisingly normal. “I’ll do it, I think. You recognize any important faces in this place?”

She spun around, looking. “Nah, no-one I recognize.”

“Hm. Then I guess it’ll be…” he pointed a finger at a random girl sitting near him, “her.” I didn’t know the girl, but her face looked familiar; I think she was in the grade below me. She froze, face ashen white, trembling in fear. “Sorry, kid,” the man said amicably as he approached, everyone else around her scrambling away. “It really is nothing personal. Hey, we’re in a school, so maybe think about it as a lesson: the Effectiveness of Terrorism 101.” He chuckled, and reached out for her with one hand, and I felt a sudden spike of terror, and shame. Why wasn't I doing anything? I was in the perfect position to help, barely ten meters away, and I was just standing there. I broke into a run, concerns forgotten.

Time seemed to slow as I approached. Maybe 8 meters, and the man’s hand was half a foot away.

6 meters, 3rd of a foot.

4 meters and he was barely 2 inches away.

2 meters, and I knew I wasn't going to make it in time, as his hand closed the distance and touched the pitch-black skin of her-

Wait, what?

The entirety of her arm had been encased in a sheath of solid black, a void that seemed to suck the very light surrounding it in. The man’s hand was touching against it, and he was looking at the girl with a puzzled expression, matching the one on her face, and probably on mine.

Did she... did I just witness someone spark?

“I’d thank you to not try that again,” boomed a voice from across the room.

"So no, then."