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[Fiction] Realization

David 'Dr. Troll' Smith

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3 AM New York, Rashoud facility. I already had 8 hours of sleep once this week; No point of more till next. It's time to review my decisions and options. Ignore how I got here, where do I go now?

"The Project is… interesting. Had I ever thought of it when I was a baseline, I'm sure I would have predicted a future here. They claim they want me. But… it isn't a good match. I don't look good in front of the cameras.' With that thought, I transform and look in the mirror. The world gets shorter, smaller, softer, and gains a green tinge. I make a fist and think, “No, let's be fair here. I don't want peace, they do. That would be a problem.”

I study myself in the mirror. This new self still looks strange, but oh how right it feels. I get the feeling that I will enjoy combat; it just comes with the package. PU won't want me representing them, but I'll bet DeVries would. Their address will be in the phone book. I'll go visit after I finish my PhD. I don't think my former self would have approved, but that is a different problem.

It's getting harder to relate to my pre-eruption self. I guess that was inevitable. It isn't just the muscles, I'm much smarter than before. In memory, every pre-eruption error now seems so obvious. How could I have thought that? How could I have believed that? How could I have decided that? The doctors say this is a common consequence of increased intelligence. I hope so. I haven't told them that it could also be the result of self-delusion. Is it a bad sign to question your sanity? Is this real or do I just think it is real? The crazy people you sometimes see on the street, do they live in their own reality? And if so, is their world like mine?

When I started smoking 10 years ago it was with the teenaged, arrogant certainty that “I” couldn't get addicted. And that arrogant delusion is now reality. The cigarettes are gone; big surprise there. I figured out today that Mox and Andies don't work either. Did I become immune before or after I learned they are addictive? Maybe part of me decided “once was enough”?

Life is almost a fantasy now. Walking without breathing hard. Not needing a smoke. Barely needing to sleep. Eating far too much without gaining weight. The promise of money. A six week PhD. And on top of all that, Power. If I snap my fingers I'm not small and weak anymore, I'm big and strong. The rush of being me is almost addictive. Nothing hurts anymore. Not breathing. Not walking. Not falling. Nothing. Hurts.

I'm changing. The mind and body are not independent. Totally alter the body and the mind changes as well. I'm more assertive and aggressive when I'm green. And I love it. But somewhere in the back of my mind I wonder if I'm going mad.

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  • 1 month later...

1) Um... Maam? Are you busy?

2) What is it?

1) We think we have a problem, low priority, but it definitely is your call.

2) Who?

1) You've heard of Dr. Smith? He just erupted a couple of months ago.

2) Smith? Green, hyper intelligent, muscle headed, predictable, comic book idiot? That Dr. Smith?

1) That's him. We..

2) (Interrupts) What could he possibly do? Run around yelling "Smith Smash?"

1) We think he's still fertile.

2) ...How so? We had him for several weeks, he took the drugs didn't he?

1) Yes, but when we examine his file, his power level and medical profile didn't change after he took either mox or andies. It looks like a lot of his power is devoted to self healing.

2) Normally that doesn't make a difference. (Sighs.) Ah well. Any chance he's gay?

1) We don't think so. Worse, the elite life style usually has lots of opportunities for reproduction. Everyone "knows" that elites can't have kids or carry disease so most don't bother with further protection.

2) I thought at the time it was a mistake to cure VD. He finishes training when, October?

1) We think earlier or middle September.

2) So, how do we deal with an inexperienced, band new elite? (Smirk). Let's give him an "easy" first job. He might want something ethical, use the standard cut outs to get him a job opposing those South American drug activities we were talking about earlier. It won't be hard to arrange for that drug baron to get some professional help.

1) And if he survives?

2) As I recall, he is already predicted to die in battle at some point. He isn't the only fertile nova around. (Shrugs). If he survives we will just monitor him for now.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Personal Log #1: September 24, 2012 (DeVries Compound, South Africa)

At the suggestion of my shrink Dr Kenner, I'm keeping a personal log to help me keep my head on straight. She claims it will have therapeutic value.

I just got back from my cherry run. It was supposed to be a simple anti-drug thing for (I assumed) the D.E.A. They said, "Go to a couple of unnamed South American villages/air-fields/etc, level them, and disrupt the drug trade". Unsaid but implied was, "you are relatively cheap but untested so we want to see how you behave in the field, do well and we will have a real assignment for you." As a trial run, I wasn't going to get much money (5 figures) and it would be a weeks work. I figured that it was a start, and it sounded pretty easy. There weren't supposed to be any other novas involved. There certainly weren't supposed to be four novas, three of them elites, waiting for me.

What a mess. I'm pretty sure somebody betrayed me (smart money would be on that idiot "contact"). My secret holdout power is now public, my client/contact is dead, I committed man-slaughter, came off looking like a howling animal, and as an added bonus, all of this will soon be on public op-net. No doubt N! will want to do an interview.

A couple of weeks ago I had a thought, "with this level of healing, I should be able to grow back fingers, but what about the fingers themselves?" I cut off a fingertip, and sure enough, it grew back. Then I held onto the tip and transformed. It turned green along with the rest of me. That meant that it was still alive. Then I poured juice into it. It was probably the hardest thing I've done, but as expected, it healed and transformed, producing a second Dr. Troll. (I understand my comic counterpart occasionally separated his various selves). The other Dr. Troll degraded in half an hour. I tried it again and it was much easier this time. I was able to absorb him before he died, I even got his memories. It's a misnomer, but my book on quantum theory claims this ability is called "Clone". I had really wanted to keep the "Clone" ability secret. I had expect that it would make me effectively unkillable out on the field. Send a clone out, if he gets killed claim the healing power brought me back. I still think it was a cool idea.

Anyway, I figured I was ready for field work. I wanted to start to pay some of my various bills, and this assignment would be a start even if the money was low. In theory, I should be immune to anything a baseline could do to me, but I had wanted to give that a field test. "Field Test" in this case means having a clone see if baselines are as puny as I figured. So I picked up some communications gear and a box of fingers, and off I went.

They flew me to South America and I met up with my "contact", who wasn't the same guy present when I signed the contract. The first guy was overweight and I had figured him for D.E.A. "desk jockey / middle to upper level management". Mr. D.E.A. had claimed his name was Eric Jones. If my name weren't Smith I'm sure he would have called himself "Eric Smith". The contact guy was even less impressive. Obviously local, he had the words, "expendable grunt" written all over him. I could smell alcohol on his breath when we met. He referred to me in Spanish a couple of times as an "overpaid ape" before he figured out from my expression that I was fluent. Maybe it was the alcohol or just his attitude but I really didn't like this guy. He called himself "Jesus Smith".

But OK. This was low budget and all I really needed from him was to drive me to targets. He had the foresight to bring along a mid-sized truck so I could hide in back if I was green. I figured the worse that could happen would be that he would drunkenly drive the truck over a cliff, and I would walk away. I was still impressed at how tough I was, and with that came a little arrogance. No, make that a lot of arrogance. Somewhere in the back of my head I had figured I couldn't be harmed. Off we went, just the two of us.

Our first target was an airfield next to a refurnished villa. The villa was pretty old, a small village (town?) had grown up around it. (Say, how large does a village have to be before it is a town?) It took about 30 hours to drive there (I assume this was someone's idea of sneaking in) and by the time we got close it was late and dark. We stopped at an abandoned house a few miles away. "Jesus" told me about the target as we ate canned food (yuck) that he had brought along.

This is the point where lots of people would have gotten food poison or 'zuma's revenge. My constitution dealt with it but in the future I need to think about bringing along food. Anyway, it turns out that my trusty driver also bought a crate of sometime he claimed was wine. I drank a lot more than he did but it affected him more (surprise). He went to sleep and I just stayed up. I was too keyed up to sleep, so some of the time I spent surfing the op-net with my wireless laptop, some of it I used to rewrite my thesis (I'll probably submit it for publishing), and some of it I used to bring up local maps and such. There's a site that sells satellite photos and I figured it was worth the investment. Stuff I found on the net made me less sure at the time that I was working for the D.E.A. There was a drug war of some sort going on and I could easily be working for one drug dealer against another. With the way it turned out I'm more convinced they were the real deal, but "Jesus" could easy have been working both sides.

I woke him up at 9 am. Neither of us wanted him along for the fight, so I gave him a half hour to get to the pick up spot with the truck. The plan, such as it was, was for me to walk in and level the place. The plan and intel was pretty basic. There weren't supposed to be any other novas involved, but without my ace-in-the-hole I wouldn't have felt comfortable doing business like this. As it was, I figured that the worst thing that could happen would be that the other Doctor would get killed and I wouldn't get his memories. Not a real problem, and I planed on watching him over a video headset.

Anyway, first I transformed. Then I took out a finger segment and got it to heal. It grew another me, and he had the same gear I did. That is an oddity, I haven't figured out how to attune my quantum signature to other stuff. Basic q theory says he should have been naked. He turned on his video head set so I could watch and listen in, and off he went. We didn't bother talking to each other. Since he was me, he knew everything I did. Logically I still think he should have only known what I knew two days ago when I cut off that finger. Odd it doesn't work that way. DNA contamination? Telepathy? Group Mind? Could this be related to eruption skill acquisition? Food for thought later.

He leaped up and landed just outside the main gate. It was wide open, there was only one guard, and then the guard started to talk. Zap. By the time the other Doctor Troll had figured out the "guard" was really well dressed, it was too late. His voice was... enthralling. I didn't get much over the camera, but it wasn't hard to figure out what was going on. A drug affiliated nova with really great social powers and/or outright mind control or maybe both.

Well, shoot. I was disappointed, but not really concerned. My first thought was to just pack up and leave my other self there. I'd go to the pick up spot, get "Jesus", and we would skip this site. The other Doc would degrade and then I'd come back during the night and throw rocks at his hanger or maybe airplanes at his house. Then things got worse. Mind-Control guy and my other self walked up the driveway and I could see Jesus' truck. And Jesus himself. And three other novas in costume. One was a really good looking blond woman, one was a really big red headed man, the other was a feral looking man. I recognized the trio as some of a group whose name translates as "the Fires". The big bonfire symbol on their chests was a clue. They are French(?) elites. Not big time. Not in the top 100, but one or two are close. This was getting serious. The big guy was something like "Fire Giant", the other guy was "Fire Claw" and they both did pretty much what you'd think. The woman was holding a BFG and I couldn't remember what she did off hand. Some baselines with guns were coming out of the villa.

The Mind-Control guy was talking about how him and I were such friends and how unhappy I was at DeVries and how I needed to send them a message. Then a couple of guys walked out of the house with op-net cameras. It hit me in a flash. In a minute or so I was going to go on the Op-Net, renounce my contract to DeVries, say that this guy had made me a better offer, and then kill "Jesus" to seal the deal. Not good.

I was still big and green. I walked out of the house thought the doorway. I lost my communications gear there, and left a sizeable hole. I was almost in a panic, but a plan presented itself. Make more clones and send them to the villa. Deal with the situation. Things started to fall apart right about then. I had never made more than one clone at a time. I had realized that it was harder to think when I cloned but... I don't know, maybe it was denial? I realize now that somehow my clones share my intelligence. We don't seem to be mentally linked, but it gets harder to think the more clones I make. I had figured that the degradation of intelligence would level out at about an IQ of 100. Wrong. I now know that my/our IQ roughly halves, for all of us, for each clone made. My current IQ is 500+. With one clone the two of us are brilliant baselines. Three and the four of us can make simple sentences ("Troll Smash"). Four and the five of us are pretty mindless.

I made three more clones. Our IQ must have been around 40. A human shouldn't be able to function, but we still could (stamina?) Basically we were a quartet of lizards. But we still had an overwhelming sense of urgency to move to the villa. So we did. All four of us jumped, which meant that my personal ass was now on the line along with the clones. We landed just inside the compound. Clone #1 and the mind-control guy were half way to the truck. In person, we could see a couple of airplanes. After we landed we just stood there, since we didn't understand what to do. The other elites came up to #1 and the smooth talker started into speech while walking towards us.

I'm sure he was convincing. I remember that part. But, we didn't understand English, or any other language at that time. What he needed was empathy, or maybe he just didn't realize what the problem was. We knew we didn't like him. First #2 grabbed his left arm and shoulder. Then #3 tried to do the same. Violence comes so much easier when I'm green, even to each other. Neither of my selves yielded. There was a brief tug of war, and the smooth talker ended up to two pieces.

I have the memories from both #2 & #3. They didn't mean to kill him. They just wanted to pull him close and shake him. If I were left handed, that guy would still be alive. That thought has bothered me. That is such a... small... thing to get killed over. If #2 had grabbed his right arm, #3 would have grabbed his left arm, and the tug of war would have cost him an arm, not his head.

The Fires were not happy. Neither was #1, after all we had just killed his friend. I have his memories, I know that he was going to come over and beat the stuffing out of us. But "Fire Claw" acted first. His fingers grew four foot long lines of fire, and he attacked #1 from behind. He almost cut him in half. Fire Giant got much, much bigger and the blond flew straight up and started to get her BFG out. The guys with guns opened fire.

It gets real confused at this point. I remember the whole mess from four viewpoints and through the minds of four idiots. My clones and I were unhappy to see #1 abused and started forward. #1's injuries healed and he swung a massive arm which Fire Claw dodged. Fire Claw hit #1 four or five more times with his claws before #1 got a single punch in. That one punch crushed most of his ribs and slammed him through the villa wall. #4 attacked the baseline guards. Most of them ran away. Then he jumped after the blond. She shot him a number of times, she shot the rest of us a few times, I think she ran out of ammo eventually and fled the fight. I don't know because #4 became separated from us and I never got his memories. I doubt that she killed him. Fire Giant pounded on us for a while and... we beat him to death. I suspect that we just hurt him real bad and then he died of his injuries when he shrank, but I don't know that for a fact. "Jesus" was killed by a bullet, I think from the BFG. Later I heard that Fire Claw actually survived and will be out of the hospital in a few months, maybe the blond flew off with him.

After the elites had left or died, we were still pretty riled up. We leveled the villa, and trashed the airplanes. At some point the fuel for the airplanes caught fire and exploded. #1 remembered that he was pissed at us and attacked me. I absorbed him and we all got a whole lot saner. Then I absorbed #2 & #3 and fled.

I called DeVries, they picked me up and I now I'm back in South Africa. I think they are still trying to figure out whether I did a good job or a bad one. I heard a rumor that one or both of those guys with cameras survived. I'm guessing I have about two days before it hits the airwaves.

So, how do I feel? I feel awful. I killed several dozen people and two novas. I feel great, I proved that I'm not a comic book joke. I feel afraid... because... on some level... I enjoyed it.

God help me.

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