Jason did his best to avoid gagging as he watched Tyler stir his witches brew. The “brew” was in fact a mixture of air gel, silicon, carbon nano tubes and various bonding agents. It smelled awful at first, but once cooled it had no noticeable odor. The material stayed liquid for approximately 30 minutes after being removed from the heat, then it hardened into a kind of cement-like material, lighter, more flexible, stronger than traditional concrete “aircrete”. Aircrete could be “tuned” to luminesce in different colors with a small electric charge. It would be used to provide wireless lighting throughout the basement layers (used like drywall). It contracted slightly as it cooled which allowed one to lay pipe or other fixtures inside that would come free creating internal pathways and moulds allowing for a level of customization unavailable with normal poured concrete or cement. They had built a set of wall pieces with stairs built in, reminiscent of the old spiral stair cases in stone construction. These would fit together into the elevator shaft-walls and the stone walls of the xorn bored column directly, requiring no mortar or hardware. As they were lightly and more flexible than traditional concrete or stone, they would likely out last the rest of the building whatever the traffic. They would need about two hundred of these wedges, each a stair, to reach the old ash basement Jason head used as a containment cell for himself. From there a traditional metal stair would reach a secret trap door in the sauna.
Once the first batch was made and adjusted to fit properly, Tyler grew bored and Jason was alone to do the grunt work. He did marvel at the fabrication device. It was one of four Tyler built. The first was little more than a 3-D printer, the kind you can buy at high end distributors. But he had modded it with various lasers and other gear to make hand crafted electronics and computer equipment. Our comm0links were manufactured in this device. Another was a large-scale version of the same. Tyler could engineer a device and this machine, fed the proper ingredients, could fabricate it. It frequently took several steps, one for each ingredient, but despite that it was remarkably fast. The one he just recently used was a mould maker, basically a 3-D printer for ubiquitous carbon-polymers that formed the basis of nearly everything larger than a toaster. He used those to make the moulds for the “aircrete” used in the construction around the base. The fourth one Tyler never used around Jason and when he tried to explain what it was, Jason’s grasp of the chemistry was soon exhausted. He did get the idea that that machine could handle much more caustic, hot, or volatile substances. And frankly, he didn’t want to know more.
He had made about a dozen or so when he thought it might be a good time to try them out. He picked up a couple. They were heavy but not beyond his ability, and he started to move to the loading dock when the door chimed. He rested for a moment and heard Denny announce someone. He went to his phone, asked her to have them wait 5 minutes, and snuck in the back way through the residential section. He quickly cleaned up, put on a fresh shirt, and hoped he didn’t reek too much of chemicals and sweat.
He trotted down the stairs and saw a plain-looking woman with dissheveled hair, and two kids probably 8 and 10. The woman’s face was flushed and her eyes were red from crying. The kids had bored looks. He put on a cheerful expression.
“Hello. I am Doctor Duncan, you’ve met my assistant.. Madge…. Margery. " He corrected himself as Denny glared at him reproachfully.
“My name is Joan Camp, and this is Fred and Ginger,” she added somewhat cautiously.
Jason held his tongue.
“My husband was… is a big dance fan,” she added by way of explanation.
Jason took note of her language, body spoken and unspoken.
“Mrs. Camp, maybe Margery can get your kids a snack and you and I can speak in my office?”
She nodded, and bent down to speak to the kids.
Denny spoke up, her voice and expression bright. “Hey kids want to meet my WiiX-pets?” and she switched the monitor in the lobby to her game console. The kids sprang up, their eyes glued to the screen as Denny pointed out the various mutant creations in her collection.
Joan seemed relieved and followed Jason back to the consulting office. He offered her a chair and tissue.
“Tell me Ms. Camp. What brings you to Power Analysis?”
“It’s my husband. He… he thinks he has powers.” She paused. “But…”
Jason waited not wanting to interrupt her. After a few moments, and some look of consternation on her face, he spoke up. “You don’t believe him.”
“He says he can leave his body and… fly around.” She sounded embarrassed just to say it. “Invisibly. He claims he can fly around and journey to other places, says he is doing important things. But he’s there, he just sort of zones out, and becomes unresponsive. He just ignores me…sniff..” She blows her nose. “Once I pinched him so hard he cried out. He said my pinch pulled him back.” She gave out a few more sobs. “I looked it up, Astral Projection, some swamis or something in India are supposed to do it. But I don’t know. What if he is just ignoring me, and the kids… his family?”
Jason smiled inside. It was only a matter of time before people would start using Powers, their own or someone else’s, to excuse their own behavior. If that is what he was doing.
“Your husband isn’t here, I assume he would not consent to be tested?” Jason asked.
“He said he didn’t want to be arrested or cut open. He says he is afraid to tell anyone but me.”
“So you want me to determine whether he has powers or not?”
“Yes.. can you? I mean, if he does turn invisible… He says he helping people, like a superhero, like that Paragon. Is it me? Am I being selfish?” She looked in need of validation.
“It isn’t my place to say. Whether or not your husband has powers the two of you need to communicate. I can recommend a number of couples’ counselors and therapists. He tapped his screen to print out a live-list. I am afraid, however, that I don’t do what you are asking for. I don’t check up on people just because someone is interested. Now if your husband wants to come in, on his own or with you, that is another story. If indeed he has powers, he might want to learn more about them or talk to us about what that means, but we can’t make him go. At least not unless the authorities were called in, but it doesn’t sound like he has committed any crimes.”
Joan looked pretty distraught. “What do I do? Leave him?”
Jason was sympathetic, but was stuck. “I can’t say. If you are not in danger, I would recommend that you seek counseling, with or without him. Perhaps….” He paused for a moment trying to decide whether advice was appropriate at this stage.
“What, Doctor?” she begged.
“Well. If he hasn’t exhibited symptoms like this before, perhaps it is a symptom of some circumstantial depression or something. A mid-life crisis, that sort of thing.”
She looked a bit cross at that suggestion. Jason tried to assuage her.
“I am not saying it is, but if he feels the need to ‘leave his body’ and ‘go out and help people’ perhaps for a bit humoring him would not be dangerous. That is a big if. I still think you two should see a counselor and he should seek therapy. Suppose you give him a chance to “fly away and be the hero” for a bit, show some interest, ask him what he has done. Maybe he will open up a bit if he is telling the truth, and be receptive to doing it on a schedule to accommodate your needs as a family. If he is telling the truth, he will appreciate that, then maybe you can bring him in. If this is something else, well, I hope that your sincere interest in supporting him and working through it might cause him to feel the need less often. Maybe, eventually, he won’t need to at all."
Joan looked skeptical.
“I know it isn’t a perfect solution. First, ensure your safety and that of your children. Second, if his behavior is intolerable, then explain this to him clearly and directly. But if you can manage, and want to try to work through it. Well, no harm done. At least not much. If he shows other signs of delusions or other unusual behavior, you should stop. And all of this should be in conjunction and under the supervision of a licensed therapist.”
She gave him a resigned look.
Jason gave her a serious look.
“In the past, we would have talked about an involuntary commission to a mental institution, but today. Things are more complicated.”
Joan looked a bit sheepish. “Doctor Duncan, could you… Could you be our therapist?”
Jason sat back for a moment and thought about it.
“Our insurance covers mental health, outpatient care…,” she added.
“I will… until we can establish whether he has a power or not. After that, if he does not, then I think you should look in to more conventional approaches… but until then….”
“Oh, thank you, Doctor!” She got up and gave him a hopeful hug.
He patted her back, and escorted her to the lobby.
“Margery, can you find a good time for Mrs. Camp and her husband, if possible, to come in, weekly. And handle all the insurance etc.. ? Thanks.”
After that was done, and Jason returned from delivering his stairs to the base, Denny caught him before he went to shower.
“So.. you think she has powers?” she asked quietly.
“No.. It is her husband, and honestly… I kind of doubt it. But the people without powers far outnumber us. And they can be as affected by us, or those like us, as we. I don’t want to get in the mindset of us being a special class of people, us versus them. And like it or not, some people will need help dealing with the fact that Powers exist. And that is our mission, too.”