Welcome to the New Normal

Letting Off Steam

Jason on the Rebound

A Jason Duncan Story

Jason ducked as a medicine ball flew across the space of Lab #3, flew over his head, and smacked into the reinforced wall with a deep thunk. It was late at night, but he couldn’t sleep, so he was working out. He was trying our a combat simulation designed by Tyler. The automated sequence launched three more medicine balls, and several softballs. Jason was surprised by the volley, and one softball glanced across his cheek, and another medicine ball careened for his head. He leapt 3 meters straight up to avoid one medicine ball, twisting to dodge the next.. He met the third ball with his fist square into it, blocking the shot. The medicine ball exploded sending sand across the room. He landed in the gritty stuff, like a great cat. He stood and shook his hand to get the numbness out of his wrist.

That was when he heard the slow clapping coming from the far end of the room where the heavy doors stood open.

“Tyler let me in, I hope you don’t mind.” Reggie stood there smiling mischievously. She was not in her traditional smart business suit. Instead she wore a western outfit. A denim skirt over winter tights, a maroon blouse and faux leather vest. Her hair was in a casual pony tail. Her outfit made her look ten years younger.

Jason grabbed a towel. And wiped some the sweat off his body. He work gym shorts and an underarmor t-shirt. He went to the control panel and summoned a robot to sweep up the mess.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” He asked. He had a few ideas, mostly those put in his head by Cassie the other day, but tried to remain professional.

“Actually, Traveler suggested we talk.” Reggie smiled victoriously.

Jason wrinkled his nose at the thought, and pointed to the door.
“Let me shower off, and we can talk. You can wait in the control room, or upstairs, whatever you prefer.” He said walking towards the men’s locker room.

While in the shower he tried to make a game plan. Reggie was here on Cassie’s request. He knew that there was no love lost between them, so why would they be talking at all. Maybe it was more innocent than he was imagining. He would wait and see what she had to say. He finished soaping off and washing his hair, rinsed and turned off the tap. He walked over to where the towels were kept and out of the corner of his eye saw Reggie sitting on a bench watching him. From where she was sitting she undoubtedly saw the whole shower.

Regina Morgane

“What the..?” He called out.

“Oh settle down Jase, we were married, so I’ve seen it all before. Well. To be fair, I hadn’t seen you so… improved.” She said appraisingly.

Jason turned beat red which only seemed to please her more. He grabbed one towel wrapped it around his waist, and pulled another over his shoulders.
“Some people have some modesty Reggie.”

“Really Jason, you were never so concerned about modesty before. Do you remember that time we made love on the balcony over looking that block party. You knew people could see us.” She laughed. Jason turned even a deeper red. “Hmm. Maybe Ms. Sutton has a point.” She said rising and walking towards him.

Jason twisted defensively trying to keep himself covered.
“Can you leave and let me get dressed?” He asked.

Reggie extended a hand and with one finger wiped some water off his chest, bringing it to her mouth. “Fine.” She said turning around and heading for the door. Her hips swayed in her petit denim skirt as she left.

“Wait, what did she say?” Jason called out, but she was already out the door.
He dried himself hastily and put on his clothes, his thin skintight costume under his casual clothes. He walked out and found her gone. He checked that level, and found no sight of her. He went up the lounge, no sign. He checked the kitchen, the pool, the gardens. Eventually, he shrugged his shoulders and went up to his room to deposit his sweat gym clothes in the laundry, When he got there he found her sitting at his mother’s mothers desk. She was fiddling with something trying to unlock the roll-top.

“What are you doing?” He bellowed. His eyes flashing with anger.
She looked up and smiled wickedly. “I didn’t know you still had this thing. Just prying into your secrets Quotient.”

Jason strode across the room, grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her out of the chair. He spun her with enough force to send her twirling across the room. She ended up facedown on his unmade bed, laughing.

He felt his blood begin to heat, and he felt the transformation begin. He bit his lip, and held on to the wall, willing the transformation to stop. What was only moment seemed to take a long long time, but eventually he felt the tug end. He felt a little nauseous, and out of breath, but it stopped it. He looked over at Reggie, she was watching him intently.

“I thought for sure you would change.” She said.
“Were you trying to bait me?” He stared down at her. “Do you know how dangerous that is? You could have been killed, I can’t control the Brute!” He watched her face change from mischief, to contrition. For a moment she seemed to soften and give, but then she blinked her eyes and stared back in defiance.

“Actually.. "She said slowly correcting him. “Actually, you can. The first time I came back, I encountered you in your brute form, remember? You made some sexist comment, and propositioned me, as I recall. Does that offer still stand?”

Jason was a little taken aback, for some reason, he expected her to buckle to his personality, he expected her to give in to his commands. But she didn’t.

“No. As much as you might want to believe it, the Brute is not to be toyed with.” Jason looked down to ensure his mother’s desk was intact.

“As interesting as that might be… yeah. I think I prefer you a little more human.” She smiled. “But I think you gave up too easily. True, you failed to control the Brute, and someone got killed. Once. Once Jason. For god sake, how much practice did you have? Two months? Any one of your or the enemies could have done the same. It is a miracle so few people have been hurt in the crossfire. Don’t write some tragedy about your uncontrollable darkside without at least testing that hypothesis.”

Jason stood there for a moment.

“You don’t know what you are asking.” He spoke softly.

“I am asking you to prove that you are not your father.” She said matter-of-factly.

“Okay, maybe you do.” He softened. “But it isn’t going to happen. Not until we deal with the swarm and all that. I can’t risk it until then, if ever.”

“Actually that is why I need you to risk it.” She said in more business-like fashion. “We’ve assessed your power level in this form. And as impressive as you are, and really again, most impressive. It simply isn’t enough. In Brute form you provide some much needed fire power. In this form, well, you are a liability.”

“I’ve been training. I can be up to snuff soon enough.”
“And when your teammates need to take greater risks to save you because you won’t transform? When one of them dies because of it?”

Jason looked glum. It was a no win situation. She spoke some truth. He might be a liability to the team if the swarm were anything like the bugbots they sent. But if he he lost control, he might be worse.

“What do you suggest?” He said dropping into his office chair.

Reggie slid across the bed and propped herself up against the concrete wall. "Well, Traveler tells me you are exhibiting some signs you might have a new, different, personae. One with a… heightened sense of morality? Maybe we just need to find away to put it in charge of the Brute’s body. If it represents the Super Ego, it ought to enjoy bossing around the Brute. Isn’t that what the Super Ego is supposed to do.

“Freud was never really your strong suit.” Jason started."No the Super Ego… the Super Ego… " he started but he couldn’t quite remember where he was going.

“You mean embrace the super ego? Embrace the conscience? Use that power to control the Brute?” Jason wondered aloud whether it was possible. It sounded almost right, but not quite.

“Sure, if that is what it takes. " Reggie started. “We can have some training, maybe a little cognitive therapy in the process. With modern neural feedback, we should be able to create some pathways to help you maintain control.”

Jason looked dubious.

“Oh don’t scorn modern technology Jason. Your suit, your plane, your whole base is full of it. Neural Therapy helps people with autism, Parkinson’s, why not you?”

“Because it hasn’t shown any benefits to schizophrenics. Repeated trials are negative or inconclusive. "

“You’re not schizophrenic Jase, even I can tell that.” She rose up, and leaned forward.
Jason wasn’t convinced, but this was something, something he hadn’t tried.

“With that personae in charge, I don’t know how effective a leader I can be. My teammates are less disciplined than you might hope. They will be resistant.” He spoke ruefully.

“Funny, you’d think your personality would be more forceful, commanding.” She seemed genuinely interested.

“Well, they accuse me of being unyielding, unemotional, cold. Cassie left me, I think, for that reason. I’ve become… not much fun.”

Reggie sat there taking in this information. If Jason didn’t know better he’d think she was fighting some internal struggle of her own.

“So.. you need a pressure valve.”

“The Brute? "Jason answered. “No you don’t know how that works.”

“I wasn’t thinking the Brute, not every problem needs a power to be solved.” She replied. “Actually, I could use a pressure release myself. Despite not being a Power, I do have a fair amount of responsibility, you know. The President’s committee needs more babysitting that you might think. Then there is the president herself. She doesn’t trust them, so insists on separate missions with me. Then there are the Joint Chiefs, the PVF, and National Intelligence. And of course, you’re not so easy to manage either.”

“So what you are saying, is that there is a little stress in this job?”Jason laughed.

“In a nutshell.” She smiled, stood and approached. “So you and Cassie are broken up?”

“It appears that way.” Jason said nervously.

“Then maybe you can help me with my problem.” She pulled off her vest, and unbuttoned the top buttons of her blouse. “And I can help you with yours.”

Jason felt torn in a dozen directions. He loved Cassie, but she left him. He shouldn’t be doing this, but Reggie was so sexy, and so willing, so commanding. He could feel the ID and SuperEgo battling in his brain. He shut his eyes, and concentrated on his breathing. Reggie stopped arguing with his brain, and started convincing his body. With every touch the Brute gained the upper hand. His SuperEgo was silenced and shunted into the background.

“You don’t need to be afraid of me Jason.” Her voice was a purr. “You’re just helping me. We’re just letting off a little steam.” He could feel himself being led, blindly towards his bed. Her fingers wrapped under his shirt pulling it over his head. He gulped for breath and found her lips on his, her tongue in his mouth. They collapsed onto the bed, and into each others’ arms.

The Next Morning..

Reggie snuggled up against the sleeping form of Jason stroking his chest. I must have exhausted him She thought proudly. She was considering waking him up for another round, when there was a faint ding, as the security system of the base registered someone entering the building. It wasn’t the alarm, so the person must be authorized to enter. Reggie popped her head up, and peaked out the window. She spotted Cassie looking nervous as she walked into the garden-like atrium. Reggie ducked down, and scrambled off the bed. She looked around, found Jasons wrinkled shirt and pulled it on. She tiptoed out the room and down the stairs. She made a fair amount of noise busying herself in the kitchen making a pot of coffee. She could sense someone watching her. In the reflection of the stainless steel fridge she saw the distorted figure of a woman at the doorway. Paying no attention she reached up into a cabinet looking for something, and causing Jason’s shirt to lift off her backside.
She heard the faint noise of a teleport. She smiled. And set to work brewing the coffee.


Malificent Stephen_Scholz

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