Efficiency

Dammit. Again. He wasn't good enough. Goddamnit.

Another breakout, another villain back on the streets, another failure. Damn the Empire. Damn Kaiser. Damn the Protectorate. Damn himself.

Collin lay back on his bed, the vague whirling of machinery soothing his nerves. His powers didn't work if they didn't have time to fixate on any one thing. The myriad of inefficient thunks and grinding gears made this room one where he could relax. White-noise. It was soothing as long as he didn't try to think.

His arms were crossed behind his head, serving as a pillow, as he lay thinking. How could he become better? Improve himself?

His eyes flashed open. Mirror! I need a mirror!

He dashed out of his room, his helmet forgotten by his bed.


"He's in there. Don't know what happened, but he's in a bad place. Good luck."

The PRT-trooper left in a hurry. Hannah sighed. For all their effectiveness, the majority of them were still leery of parahumans. Ah well. They'd come around. Or not. Either way, it was no great loss.

Regardless, she had a job to do. She steeled herself and opened the door. It took her eyes a moment to adjust and the weight on her hip shifted. She elected not to use the flashlight, instead peering through the gloom. She stepped forward and something crunched under her boots.

She glanced down and saw the frame. A mirror?

Her eyes flicked up as something moved in the dark. Her eyes fully adjusted to the gloom, she saw the trembling figure huddled in the corner. She stepped closer.

"Colin?"

His head twitched in her direction. His eyes were wide, his face twisted in fear and revulsion. Hr glanced away again, but that look…

"What's wrong?"

He snorted. Of all things, she had not expected that. He started speaking, his voice rough, as if from unshed tears. "Everything. Nothing. I don't know anymore."

Hannah swallowed. That didn't sound good. She moved forward and crouched down next to him, offering him support, letting him know she was here. This close, she could see more. His eyes were transfixed on some point on the wall, his bottom lip split open as he chewed on it.

Was he burning out? He had pushed himself so hard lately, trying to bring in Night and Fog. And when they finally caught her, Kaiser had busted them out of holding within a day. He had to be taking it hard, but something in her protested. It wasn't that simple.

She mulled on the problem as the minutes grew long. Mulled, but grew no closer to an answer.

"Hannah? Has anything I ever tinkered with turned out bad? Like… being worse for its job in the long run?"

That was what was bothering him. She gave it some serious thought. The halberd, the armour, the touch ups on the elevators and computers. The modified vans, the more robust radios used in the field. The improved patrol-roster, the PRT shifts. Nothing sprang to mind.

She put her hand on his shoulder. She licked her lips and replied. "No Colin. Everything you worked on turned out better after. Don't know how or why, but-"

She stopped talking. His body was wracked by silent sobs. She didn't know what to do, so she went with her instincts. As she hugged him close, she could feel the wetness on her shoulder.


Colin looked over his helmet. Or what was left of it. The once-familiar helm had been gutted, wires jutting every which-way. Something in him rose in concern, but he shushed it with the thought that speed was more efficient in this case. His powers quieted down.

He looked at the helm, held between his hands. Could he do this?

His eyes caught a distorted reflection on the blue surface and his throat clenched in reflex. He swallowed and donned the help.

He fixed the strap under his chin and checked the last connection.

He flicked the switch and the light surged so bright it shattered.

It was the last thing he remembered.


"… leading to acute retro-grade amnesia. There was also some damage to the prefrontal cortex and various other parts of his brain. We can't know what this would lead to, not until he wakes up at least. But the most interesting part is his corona pollentia and gemma… I don't know why he did it, but it seemed to me this was the main target."

Hannah listened to the droning voice of the neurologist, but her eyes were on Colin. The shock had burned his hair and his smooth scalp looked wrong in a profound way. It had been a week and Piggot was close to requesting a healer. They needed Collin. He brought too much to the table to be left like he was.

He deserved better.


Armsmaster woke.


AN: Just a little something I wrote a while back for the SpaceBattles and Sufficient Velocity forums. Just thought I should cross-post it to here as well, seeing as the bulk of my stuff is still here.

Anyway, a bit of Fridge Horror inspired head!Canon regarding Collin and his messed up state of being,

Read, enjoy and review.

~GrinGrin

Written: 24/12/2014

Posted: 12/01/2015