All rights to the material contained within belong to the author of the original work, which can be found at www dot parahumans dot wordpress dot com (strange formatting had to be used to unbreak whatever the editor is doing to the link)

I am only having fun playing in Wildbow's Universe, I have no claim of ownership, past, present, or future on any character or literary element here, including characters or literary elements that I create myself.

*********Fifth & possibly final Draft (I do welcome suggestions - it's been 25 years or so since I took English classes)*************

"I am an idiot. A complete idiot" I thought to myself as I took one last walk through the house to make sure the coffee pot, lights, stove, etc. were off. Walking in the faraday suit was a bit awkward, but after roughly three decades walking in similar suits, it was awkward in a way that I automatically countered, sort of like walking around on a boat, I guess. I checked my belt, and both of the suit gloves were attached. The suit helmet was on the other side. I grabbed the spare boots by the door and a small bag of toiletries, underwear, and socks.

"Never go on a trip without some spare underwear and socks.", my mother used to say, as my internal dialog continued. She also used to say "Don't be an idiot." And she told me to not be an idiot a lot more often than she told me about carrying spare underwear. But here I go, carrying underwear on my way to being an idiot. I shook my head, as I locked the door, tossed my bag in the passenger seat, and the spare boots into the passenger side floorboards. Then I put the gloves and helmet in the little space between the seats behind the storage divider.

"Begin recording." I said, and the smartphone indicated it was recording.

"Last week, if you had told me I would ever be a cape, I would have laughed at you. This week, I am still mostly shell-shocked and getting used to seeing things from two perspectives at once when my biological half is awake. I have had to start carrying a blindfold for when the headaches start. My familiar really isn't separate from me, he has no thoughts of his own, so at least I'm spared thinking double as well as seeing double. He also can't hear, smell, or taste. More little silver linings I guess. I can tell when he interacts with something, but it's strange when I feel what he feels, kind of like pins and needles when your leg falls asleep. There's really no depth to the sense of touch, it's just pins and needles, no matter how he interacts. I'm getting ahead of myself here, so let me back up a week."

"Pause recording." Backed the truck out of the garage. Hit the garage door opener to close the garage door again. Scanned external house lights, all were off. started backing down the driveway. "Resume recording."

"It was just another post disaster cleanup when it happened. When I started work as a lineman thirty years ago, there weren't Endbringer attacks every few months. Those bastards have really made life hell for linemen, on top of the hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, windstorms, and other natural disasters that have always made life 'interesting' for linemen. I guess I should add capes to the list of things that made extra work for us, though to be fair the capes probably help us enough to balance out the damage they do. It is amazing how much work a line crew can get done with the right capes helping. The good ones know how important power is, and are normally quite willing to help after the fighting ends, if they can."

"Pause recording." I stop and check my mail out of habit, and smile to myself as I toss a couple bills in the seat. One good thing might come from this if everything else goes bad. Freedom from bills. I put the truck back in gear, get myself on the road, and start to drive. "Resume recording."

"Last Thursday after Hurricane Monroe hit Columbia, I was out with my line crew working with a cleanup crew and setting right what the fallen trees, branches and other debris had damaged. We, the line crew, would make sure lines were depowered, the cleanup crew would do their cleanup to make it safe for us to work, then we would make repairs. Rinse. Repeat. Well, it was rinse and repeat until another line crew working nearby finished a repair and turned on their power lines. This wouldn't normally cause any sort of problem. My crew had disconnected & checked that all the lines we were connected to were unpowered, and verified none of the buildings that we were connected to had batteries, solar or co-generation.

"What we didn't know was that one of the buildings was Tanker's lab at one point, and it hadn't been discovered and deactivated after he was put in a coma during the Simurgh battle in New Orleans a couple months before the storm. Tanker had apparently purchased the building knowing that it was at an intersection of two power grids, and had rigged hidden connections to the building from the other grid. So both grids were connected to the power handling equipment underground, and only the grid I was working on had obvious connections.

"I was told that what they found in the investigation afterwards was that the other line was actually the power line that fed the bridging equipment for the facility. When the other line went active, the bridging equipment went active in turn, and failed due to storm damage - resulting in the lines I was working on going live. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but the bridging equipment was tinker tech, and the power was not only line power from the other line, but also magnified significantly in some way that just doesn't make sense in the non-tinker electrical world. The drain earth clamp we had installed failed, allowing the lines I was handling to go live while I was working on them. I was wearing protective gear, a faraday suit. It was almost enough, I wasn't instantly killed, but I had a front row view of what by all rights should have been my own death. When the power hit, enough power was passing through my hands to cause them to clamp onto the lines like vices, and I could not pull away."

"Pause recording." Gripping the steering wheel a bit hard here, need to center a bit. Four way stop coming up. Look both ways, nobody else on the road. I stop anyway, then accelerate again through the intersection. Take a deep breath. "Resume recording."

"At first the majority of the power was passing through the faraday suit, but the suit started to fail almost immediately as the power output of the tinker's bridging equipment started to heat the suit. I could smell the ozone, and feel more and more electricity passing through my arms. The heat of the suit was rapidly increasing. Within a second or two I realized that I was not going to be able to pull away, and the power was almost certainly not just a spike that would pass. I might survive a thirty foot drop onto a sidewalk, but I knew full well that I wasn't going to survive when the best path for electricity stopped being my suit, and started being my body. As soon as I realized this, I threw myself off the little platform between the lines, hoping that my weight would be too much for my muscles to support. It didn't work. I had a very clear moment of irritation, cursing the reality that gives electricians strong hands, wrists, and forearms due to all the lower arm work we do, which is exactly the last thing that you want when trying to escape electrical captivation."

"Pause recording." Reaching to the coffee cup. Bringing it to my mouth with a shaking hand, trying to be careful to also continue watching the road for deer and idiots. Did I really need a drink? No, but doing something with my hands that required a bit more control than driving helped. After a couple sips, the coffee cup stopped shaking and, I put it back in the holder." Resume recording."

"I ended up hanging in the air, hands clamped onto the lines, struggling and kicking my legs as well as I could with the little dexterity left to me while my body was being wracked by more and more electricity and heat as the suit continued to fail. I started smelling bacon, and realized that I was smelling myself cook, and realized rationality wasn't much good here and let myself go berserk. I knew my last hope was that my hands would be damaged to the point where they could not support my thrashing weight before the suit completely failed. At that point I had a blackout for what couldn't have been more than a couple seconds. Immediately after that, I started seeing double and fell thirty feet. I was very fortunate that I fell into a large pile of brush that had been collected next to the road for disposal by the tree chipper trucks that would follow behind the cleanup crews. I didn't break any bones, but I did get a few punctures through the suit, some from the fall, and others because I had to be pulled out of the pile quickly - the heat of my suit caused the pile to catch on fire. I remember that much before I passed out."

"Pause recording." Reaching for the coffee cup with shaky hands again. A couple more long sips. Do I really want to do this? Then I remember what my grandfather once told me. 'Sometimes you have to do something stupid to try and stop something terrible from happening.' He had lost his right arm halfway between wrist and elbow in World War Two when an enemy soldier had managed to get a grenade into his squad's machine gun bunker. He had picked up the grenade, put his arm through the bunker's firing slot and released the grenade, but before he could pull back his hand, the grenade exploded. The explosion blew off his hand and wrist, but killed or crippled the enemy squad that was attacking their position. Me going to do this isn't really any different from him grabbing that grenade. Except he knew exactly what he was trying to do with that grenade. I didn't have a clue what I was doing, really. Coffee cup back in the holder, look in the mirrors and along the roadside. Still no deer or idiots. "Resume recording."

"When I woke up, I was in a hospital room. I remembered what had happened and started talking to get attention from one of the medical staff. Knowing how severe the damage could be, I was very careful to avoid trying to move my arms and only used my voice to try to attract attention. Some people panic when injured, others get clinically detached and analytical. I now know what my reaction to severe injury is. I would have preferred to never have learned that lesson, but I didn't have a choice in the matter, I suppose. While a nurse went to go get the doctor, I started doing little exercises in my head, closing my eyes one at a time, counting from 0 to 20 and back to 0, saying the alphabet forwards and backwards, and basically testing myself for mental damage. The only thing that seemed wrong was that I had double vision whenever I looked to the sides, but when I looked straight forward, the double vision cleared up - in fact everything looked extremely clear when I looked straight forward.

"The doctor was very straightforward with me when I asked him why I was clear-headed, but still not feeling anything at all in my hands and arms, which I could see were still there under all the bandages. He told me that my hands and arms didn't have any sensation because I had some sort of tinker nerve block cuffs on my elbows. There was a resident nurse who had the ability to regenerate people, but she had been busy all day with post-operative healing. I was fairly high up in the list of non-life-threatening injuries that she would tend to, since both of my hands were pretty much cooked, but she had worked a eighteen hour day already and had gone home. I mentioned that I had been doing mental tests on myself and he asked what I had done. I told him what I had done for mental tests and mentioned my double vision.

"He checked my eyes with the little light, verified the medical monitors were properly connected, and asked me some questions about myself. He then made some notes on my chart, telling me that I might have a very mild concussion, but there wasn't any indication of it that he could see other than the double vision I was reporting. After that he explained that the nurse regenerator's ability would take care of my eyes as well – I would leave her care in better condition than I was before the accident, since her power also fixed teeth, eyes, nerves, removed scars, and pretty much made you exactly the way you would be if you had never been hurt by anything. He made sure that I didn't have any arterial stents, bone pins or plates, tooth implants, cornea implants, etc., as those would need to be removed before regeneration treatment or they would be ejected extremely painfully and slowly from the body.

"He further explained that the nurse's healing was slow acting, and after she treated me, it would take about a day based on the severity of my visible injuries, unless I had implants, cancer, or radiation poisoning or something of a similar magnitude wrong with my body that would slow the healing. I would also be absurdly hungry, so hungry that even hospital food would taste good."

"Pause recording." I saw Bob's Fuel and Seed shop on the right, and pulled in. I was smiling to myself as I recalled that last bit, because he had been right. Tuna salad and orange gelatin never tasted so good. Not even Grandma's, though you can be certain I would never have said that to her, even if she were still alive. I spent a couple minutes topping off the fuel in the truck, checking the oil, looking over the tires, and cleaning the windows, etc., more out of habit than out of need. Then I walked inside. Bob wasn't there, just one of his teenage employees who I didn't know. She sort of looked at me funny, and asked what the suit was.

I smiled back. "It's a faraday suit for working on high voltage power lines."

The young lady just said "Oh." and went back to counting stuff behind the counter, apparently doing some inventory of the tobacco products. I picked up a couple biscuits and a refill on my coffee, paid for the gas and the food, and headed back out onto the road driving towards the highway. "Resume recording."

"The floor nurse returned after the doctor finished making notes, showed me how to use my feet to activate the call button, and, umm, helped me take care of some biological needs. You never realize exactly how embarrassing life might be without hands, until your hands don't work.

"Shortly after I returned to the bed, I started to get a headache because of all the double peripheral vision. Things got really confusing when I closed my eyes, but I didn't stop seeing things. I also stopped seeing double when my eyes were closed. Let me rephrase that. Despite the fact that my eyes were closed, I could see, and my peripheral vision was no longer doubled. With my eyes closed, my vision was even clearer than it had ever been as far back as I could remember. In fact I was seeing things which I'm pretty sure no normal person could see. I was able to read an article on a newspaper sitting on a chair on the opposite side of the room.

"Everyone living in the world today knows about trigger events, so it didn't take me long to figure out that apparently I was now a cape, and could see better with my eyes closed than with them open. It was actually pretty cool, and I decided not to mention it to anyone. Super vision wasn't exactly be a power that would tempt me to take up a life of fighting crime, I figured, but since I'd be healed by the nurse, I'd come out ahead!"

"Pause recording." I was going to be needing to do some interchange navigation, and the onramp at this exit was extremely short. Working through the light traffic was no problem and I was soon on I-20 headed North towards I-26. I unwrapped one of the biscuits and ate it while trying to bring back some memories that were a bit less vivid. A couple sips of coffee to wash it down. "Resume recording."

"It was actually pretty fun looking around with my eyes closed. I noticed a couple things right off. I could read mirror images just fine, like they were normal. I would see them, recognize they were mirrored, and then they would sort of flip and I could read them. After one flip, everything I saw through the mirror was corrected, but if I looked away, then back again, it would take a bit of time for a new viewing at the mirror to flip. Apparently mirror-image correction for my familiar's vision is some sort of automatic correction for me, but it takes a short time, and at that point I didn't know I was seeing through my familiar's eyes. I thought I was seeing directly from my brain or something. This is actually still one of the most annoying things about my power, honestly. I don't want mirror images to "fix" themselves. Good with the bad though, at least first glances are normal mirrored images. So I can still drive and use mirrors in a vehicle properly as long as I keep my focus moving, and don't concentrate my vision on one mirror too long.

"With all the head turning I was doing with my eyes closed, it wasn't too long before a nurse showed up – apparently there was a motion monitor in the bed, and I had set it off, and they had seen my eyes were closed. They thought I was having a nightmare, and one of the nurses walked in and knocked on my door and asked if I needed something to help me sleep more soundly.

"Considering that I did have a few minor holes in me from falling 30 feet into a pile of brush, I was a bit achy, so I agreed to take some pain/sleep medicine. Since I have no known allergies, I just told them to surprise me when they asked what type of medicines I could take, which made the nurse chuckle. She still checked my charts to be sure I didn't have a documented allergy or addiction though."

"Pause recording." Unwrapped the other biscuit. Not really hungry, but not sure what the next few hours might bring, so I ate half of it anyway, and would eat the other half when I got to the field. Took a couple more sips of coffee to wash down the biscuit, a few seconds to organize thoughts, and continued. "Resume recording."

"After taking the medicine, whatever it was, I went to sleep. Or rather, I thought I did. It was really pretty strange. You know how sometimes you can be in a dream, and know you are in a dream? It's a bit like that for me now, every time I sleep. Except I don't dream imaginary things any more. My dreams are me living through my familiar while my biological body rests. I've watched my biological body sleep while I'm active in my second body, and immediately after I fall asleep, REM begins. I didn't know that then though, and attributed the odd perspective to some sort of drug induced hallicination. The odd thing was that being drugged had no effect on my thought clarity that I could tell, but I couldn't seem to smell or hear.

"I decided to see if I could move my body when I was asleep, and I could. That was when I noticed that even though my field of view had changed like I was sitting up, my body hadn't moved. I could see that my body was still prone. It took me a second or two to realize that I was looking down at my body from somewhere else. I was a bit shocked by that realization, had a brief moment of thinking that I was dying and was having an out of body experience. Before I realized it, I was laying back down again, in the same position as my biological body. When I lost my concentration, I snapped back into my body, like some sort of astral form in the comic books I used to read when I was a kid.

"That scared the crap out of me right there. I'm by no means a religious man. I'm actually a pretty militant agnostic when it comes to religion - to the point where I get angry when atheists try to claim that agnostics are in some way a subset of their anti-religious beliefs. What part of "neither believe nor disbelieve without proof" do the confused atheists not understand? Crap, sorry, off topic again.

"Back on point again. What started going through my head at that point was that maybe I was barely holding onto life due to some reaction with the pain medicine and that there really was a soul that was separate from the body? Then I realized that there was a possible alternate solution. I already has some sort of cape vision power, maybe I had other powers too? With capes in the world, the burden of proof for me to accept the existence of a deity had pretty much gone up to "personal visit from deity" rather than some sort of unexplainable miracle that affected me directly. Just to be sure, I offered up a silent invitation for anyone listening to my thoughts to come down and pay a visit if this was meant to prove to me that they existed. There was no answer. Barring a future visit from a being able to prove it is a deity or the representative of a deity, my religious status is still agnostic.

"If you listen to this, and I don't make it, I want to be cremated, and my ashes dispersed at sea. No religious funny stuff. I might be wrong, and there might be a deity, but I tried to live my life in a way that I didn't hurt anyone, and I'm about to risk my life to try and help save a whole bunch of lives. If that's not good enough for some deity, then I suppose I don't really 'get' what it means to be good."

"Pause recording." My concentration on the road had wavered a bit too much and I quickly scanned for idiots, since deer were rarely a problem on I-20. An idiot in a minivan blew past me at what must have been 100 miles per hour, passing on the right, weaving between cars, and startling several other drivers based on the way their cars moved in reaction to the idiot's passing, but nobody lost control. A blue light started flashing up ahead. Unmarked car. Good. The unmarked car was a sports car, and the officer behind the wheel proved he knew what he was going, quickly accelerating and pacing the idiot, who apparently saw what kind of car the cop was driving and decided that getting away wasn't going to be easy, if possible at all. The minivan pulled over, the officer behind them. Traffic returned to normal. A couple more sips of coffee, another scan for idiots, and I finished passing a school bus and got myself back in the far right lane. "Resume recording."

"By this point, if it wasn't obvious before, it should be obvious now that I know that I might die soon, and this is a verbal recording for posterity, and for my distant family, so they can know what happened to me. There's not a whole lot of time left before Dragon's transport arrives. Behemoth has been spotted, and I'm going to go do my part. Whatever part I can find to do.

"After I got myself calmed and realized that even if this was a deity-inspired event, it still wasn't proof of a deity to ME, I needed to start experimenting more to try to figure out what, if any, other abilities I had. The first thing I needed to do was see what my second body looked like, because if I wanted to keep a secret identity, the last thing I should be doing is showing myself to have two bodies on camera in a hospital. So I decided I needed to wait until the pain medicines wore off, so I could see myself without drugs, through my human eyes. The next four hours or so were crazy. I could NOT go to sleep. It was infuriating.

" Since then I have discovered that I literally can't sleep like a normal person any more, in the sense that my mind changed from a waking state to a sleeping state. I just switch active brains, or something. Maybe I only need to sleep like a normal person once a year, but when I sleep, I'll sleep for a month? I do enter a REM state when my intellect is fully contained in the second body. I've only been doing this a week, and can't even decide what to call my "other half" yet, so I'm not setting anything in stone yet about my new abilities. For all I know they will change again next week, or next full moon, or next sunspot cycle, or whatever. Sorry if I confuse you with references to bodies, biological body, familiar, second body, or whatever else I might call various aspects of myself.

"OK, back on topic again. After trying to sleep, and failing, I was able to at least figure out how to stop getting visual input from my second body, so I could finally turn off my vision completely. But I still couldn't sleep. I decided that it wasn't worth trying to force myself to sleep, and concentrated on seeing if I could hear anything, smell anything, or feel anything. The only sense I have other than sight in the second body, as I mentioned before, seems to be a tactile sense which is very crude. I was able to feel a difference where my second body's arms passed through the tinker devices, a slight pressure there. I also realized that when I sat up, I hadn't dislodged either of the monitor wires or the IV."

"Pause recording." I-20 to I-26 interchange shortly, then the I-26 to I-126 exchange, so I need to watch the road carefully. A couple sips of coffee and almost all my attention to the drive for a while. Driving's always been something I enjoyed doing. I almost took up driving a rig for a living before I started doing electrical work, I even took the classes and picked up a bit of debt doing it. My grandfather helped steer me there too, when I came to him struggling with the decision to become an electrician or drive a rig for a living. He never told me what to do, he just helped me ask myself the right questions.

I really wish he were still alive, more than just a memory, because I would really appreciate some of his questions right now. No matter how old one gets, or how confident, there's still a need for advice every now and then. A few minutes of memory lane later, and I was on I-126 headed into Columbia, staying in the right lane. "Resume recording."

"By the time my biological body had recovered from the drugs to the point where I could trust its senses, I was getting pretty impatient. I was extremely relieved to note that my biological eyes could not see my second body. Then I realized that some capes were able to be invisible to people but were still visible on cameras, so I needed to see if I could find a way to test and see if my image could see itself in a camera. This meant that I needed to get my second body to the nurse's station, because at least one of their cameras was probably facing the station itself, for security and oversight reasons.

"So I got out of bed, and my second body stumbled a bit as my mind tried to process seeing things from two completely different directions at the same time, while trying to walk on what felt like legs that had fallen asleep. I decided it was best for me to just pretend to be asleep in my biological body, so I closed those eyes, and things were much better. I looked at my second body with my second body's own eyes and I could see a transparency roughly human shaped. More thoughts of souls and whatnot threatened to take over my attention for a while but I got back to business. As I walked away from the bed towards the door, I noticed something odd, and stopped. Took another step, and stopped again. The room was getting bigger.

"After a few steps back and forth, and using the tiles on the floor for rough measurements, comparing my biological body to floor tiles to my second body, I figured out that the room wasn't getting bigger as the second body got farther from my biological body, it was my second body that was getting smaller, and it was some sort of geometric progression. At about a meter away from the bed I was around one-fourth my normal height. This was great! By the time I made it to the door, I was very small indeed. By the time I made it to the nurse's station across the hall from my door, I was about as tall as a prescription drug bottle.

"At that point I realized that apparently the drugs were not completely out of my system, because I had just done all sorts of things with my second body that would be visible to anyone watching on camera. So I already had my answer since nobody had said anything or noticed the antics of my other body, I thought, but needed to verify that I hadn't just been strangely lucky. I had a bit of a concern about being able to get up to look at the monitors, but decided I was going to try something first. I had figured out by that point that my second body was electromagnetic in some way, shape, or form, so maybe it was weightless, and could fly, or at least jump really well? Maybe I could pass through physical objects? It was obvious that I could pass through physical objects, because I didn't take the IV, sensors, or tinker cuffs with me in the second body but could I interact with them, or pass through them interchangeably? The answer (as you might know by now, if you are hearing this) is yes, mostly.

"Pause recording." Watch idiot doing lane changes and weaving between cars without bothering to even signal. No blue lights this time, unfortunately. They pass out of range for me to be concerned about. Sip of coffee. It's starting to cool. "Resume recording."

"My second body can interact with the real world, and it can pass through almost anything, even, as I will probably demonstrate later today, a faraday suit. Passing through an undamaged solid sheet metal container, however, is impossible. But I can put a hole in metal sheet just like you can with an arc welder. After experimenting some more with different mesh size screens, I found that the second body can pass through them without harming them, but I would have to do so carefully. The tighter the screen mesh, the harder it is to pass through it, and the more energy that is released when I pass through it. If I pass through a screen fast enough, I can simply melt the screen. I was rather happy that I was only a few inches tall and made a very tiny inconspicuous hole in the screen outside the window of the hospital room.

"That's when I realized that continuing to test myself in a hospital was stupid and dangerous, especially under the influence of whatever drugs I had been given, so I stopped testing myself, rang the floor nurse and asked for him to turn on my TV and put the remote by my feet. He chuckled, ducked out of the door and reached into his cart of supplies and returned to the room with a remote that was attached to the footboard of the bed and was designed for foot operation, and programmed it to talk to my TV. Amazing what you can find in hospitals.

"Pause recording." Huger Street and downtown Columbia traffic. It's after rush hour now though, and before lunch, so it's not terrible. After getting onto Huger Street, I don't see any problem traffic. I stay in the middle lane to avoid people needing to turn, and continue down towards Blossom Street. "Resume Recording."

"Two days later, I was released home fully healed. The nurse who did the regeneration for me was wonderful, even if she looked more like a frog than a human. I think I surprised her by not being afraid in the least, nor rude. She seemed very shy and it was extremely obvious that the very large and very observant orderlies working with here were not taking shit from anyone. Living in the south as a non-white person can be rough in some places. I don't want to imagine what it must be like living in the south as a non-white frog person. Her name was Dorathea, and since I have no immediate next-of-kin, I want all of my worldly possessions to go to her if I don't survive what's coming, and have made my will out to that effect. What she does for people deserves a greater reward than can possibly be paid with material things, but maybe she could use my material things to make her life a bit more comfortable if I don't need them any more. Of course I didn't tell her this - it probably would have creeped her out, no matter how I phrased it."

"Pause recording." I smiled, imagining Dorathea's potential good reactions. I am land rich, but not money poor. Between Grandpa, Grandma, and all the other relatives who had passed over the years, I had inherited well over 1000 acres of mostly undeveloped farmland, which I had used to trade, buy, sell, etc. and collect into one large piece of land in a single property around my home, which about twenty years ago I started to tend as a tree farm. Right now, about thirty acres per year were maturing to be harvested. In another ten years I'd have fifty acres per year of mature trees to sell every year, with minimal tending necessary except to watch for pine beetles , fires, and keep logging roads clear. I also leased out about half of it to a hunt club for enough money to maintain the entire operation, making the tree harvests pure profit.

If Dorathea had any desire for a restful, relaxing place surrounded by nature, and something bad happened to me, she'd have it. I made sure to write out a very detailed description of how the current operation worked, so there would be no confusion about what was planned, but of course she would be able to do whatever she wanted with it, if she didn't want the land. I had even included a buyout offer from the hunt club, while warning that it was a lowball number, in case she were to want to simply sell the place. I also gave her a letter of recommendation and introduction to give to the real estate agent that had helped me collect about 200 acres over the last ten years. Jackson was a good friend of mine, going back all the way to grade school, and in that letter I explained to him why Dorathea might be coming to him. He would work in her best interest.

A lot of satisfaction, with a little worry, but I remind myself there is no need to worry, really. Either the land would stay mine, or I wouldn't be in a position to care about it any longer. I shook my head and looked at traffic again. No worries. Sip of coffee. "Resume recording."

"To shorten a long story a bit, since I went off on a tangent again, no, a standard video camera or webcam can't detect me in my basic second body. Experimenting at home with a IR and UV camera, voltmeter, some crickets from a local bait shop, and various other materials, I discovered that my second body is really good for sneaking and hiding, is always visible in UV, and that I could go about 100 feet away from my body before I snapped back, but whenever I interact with animals, I shock them. I could pick up crickets, but it was very obvious that they were extremely unhappy. However I was unable to feel my second body shocking me when I carefully touched the BACK of my real body's hand. Electrician's trick that. Always test an unknown potential shocking source with the back of your hand if you don't have a tool to test with, and you are confident that there isn't enough power to simply smoke you. This led me to discover two things in turn.

"The first thing was that my skin is now incredibly conductive. It's not a superconductor, but after a lot of testing, it seems to be about as conductive as gold. With a voltmeter I could see that I was being shocked by my second body - grounding from it's hand through me into the ground, I just couldn't feel it. It's not just my skin either, the inside of my mouth, and, umm, various other orifices that I tested VERY carefully, were all conductive at a level roughly that of gold. I even went as far as very carefully cutting myself with a razor on both forearms and testing subcutaneous tissue. Either my entire body is conductive as gold, or my skin and blood is. I didn't have the tools to be more precise. All this conductivity without any discernable difference in the feeling of my body that I could tell, and apparently it hadn't been picked up by the hospital monitors or the healing nurse either.

"The second thing is the reason why I am recording this today. I noticed that when I pressed half a dozen 9 volt batteries against my skin, my second body actually became barely visible to my naked eye. As I progressively started testing with more and more power, my second body became easier to see with the naked eye. It also got bigger. But I could feel no difference in the second body itself, it still felt the same way. After I tested with a five amp 120 volt circuit, when I picked up a cricket, it sizzled and cooked in the palm of the second body's hand. The vaguely scary thing was that I couldn't even feel the power flow from the five amp, 120 volt circuit, no matter where I connected leads across my body. More testing revealed that the power doesn't need to pass through my skin to feed my second body, it just needs to pass within a few inches of my skin, and my second body could absorb it, no matter how far from me the second body was.

"After noting that my second body was starting to leave smoldering spots on the carpet, I stopped testing and sent it into the garage and tried to figure out how to depower it, so I wouldn't burn down my house. I also made sure to look and see what features I could make out on the second body. It doesn't look like me at all, really. Roughly the same build, but the hands and toes don't have digits, no appearance of hair, and the face is featureless, no nose, mouth, ears, and only a couple dimples where the eyes would be. Imagine a guy in a full body spandex suit, including the head, wearing long underwear, socks, mittens, and a hockey mask underneath to break up the definition. I was particularly annoyed at the lack of thumbs.

"Pause Recording." Double check traffic, move to left lane. Turn left on Blossom Street. Signal to the right, and let the idiots making illegal left turns pass me before I move into the rightmost lane. Sip of coffee. "Resume recording."

"It didn't take long to figure out one way to use the power I fed the second body. Give the body power to feed it, and fry or melt things to drain the power. It actually acts as a power multiplier if my rusty physics calculations on power requirements for melting copper are accurate. The five amp 120 volt power source fed into me, could melt about a pound of copper house wiring scraps in a steel pan held by my second body, in about ten seconds, with the whole mass starting at room temperature. In another ten seconds or so, the steel pan starts to glow like the heating element of a stove. That was when I decided it was time to get a truckload of firebrick brought to my house, and I built a crude kiln for testing my second body in. I also discovered that I am NOT immune to heat. After the first test with the steel pan and copper wires, I tried to burn myself with a match. It hurt just as much as I remembered burning matched hurting years ago before I quit smoking. I'm conductive to electricity, not heat. My other body, however, does seem to be immune to heat.

"I learned that my second body could change size, and that the more power I fed it, the farther away it could be from me at any given size. The size, power, and distance from my biological body to the second body are all related. The second body will always shrink to a speck in size before snapping back to me without my control, but the more power I give it, the farther away it can be before it must snap back. The smaller it is at any given range, the denser and more precise its power is. However I discovered that the body is a lot less responsive when it is very small. I never lose control over it, but it gets slow, heavy, ponderous feeling if it's very small. When the body is very large, it becomes too fast and erratic to easily control. Keeping the body at any size other than it's default size for it's range and power is a balancing act, and I don't have a whole lot of experience balancing it, but I can say that if I keep it at human size, after powering it from a five volt 120 amp circuit overnight, it can travel 10 miles from me, and interact with inanimate objects and crickets without damaging them severely.

"I also learned that I can safely burn off power by accelerating the body rapidly. The second body can't do super speedster speeds, but in a moment of fun one night I went to the motor speedway during a competition, powered up the body enough so it was visible at human sized, and carved "Race? Clock me?" on a rock. According to the race announcers, my top end speed seems to be about 120 miles per hour, and I get to that speed almost instantly. It costs a LOT amount of power though. I also melted foot shaped holes in the asphalt while running. Flaming footsteps for real. The news was funny that night and the next day, fortunately the speedway's insurance covered the asphalt damage I caused. The track owner was kind enough to announce that insurance had covered the damage I caused, while at the same time asking me not to return and run any more races - unless I was in a car."

"Pause recording." Sign for Owens Field up ahead. I pull into the parking lot for a gas station, and put my helmet on, then drive the last few hundred feet to the entrance to Owens Field. There is a small crowd there. Also a couple police officers who are turning most cars away into a large parking lot, preventing them from entering the fenced area with a couple cars and a shuttle parked inside.

I roll down the window and one of the officers looks at me as I stop next to him at the direction of another officer. "You going to fight Behemoth, or just dressed up and coming to watch the heroes?"

"I hope to help against Behemoth." I stated calmly.

"Please demonstrate some aspect of your cape ability? I do not recognize your costume."

"I'm new. One second." I figured that I might get challenged to demonstrate power, so I already knew what I would do to prove I had a power. I set the brake, made sure the truck was in neutral, pulled the hood latch of the truck, and got out. The officer looked confused. "I need to get out of the truck and get power from the battery before I can show you proof that I'm a cape."

The officer nodded. "Be quick about it please."

"It won't take long." A crowd was beginning to gather, but not too closely. I finished unlatching the hood of the truck, sent my spark out and had it stand next to me, and put my forearm over the two posts of the battery, not quite touching. The spark slowly began to focus in front of my eyes. The crown mumbled and ooh'ed and aah'ed a bit, and a few smartphones were obviously recording me, and panning over my truck. One person was obviously moving so they could see through the open door of the truck and record what was visible there.

The officer looked between me and the spark. "OK, head on through." He keyed the radio extension clipped to his collar. "White older model two door compact pickup, verified cape. Think it's the one from the race track that ran races and burned the pavement."

A female voice responded. "Thank you officer, I'll activate the gate now."

"Thank you." I said as I dropped the hood of my truck, then collapsed my second self carefully back through the suit.

The gate opened. The officer keyed his mike again. "Roger that Dragon, he heard you and is moving."

I quickly pulled through the gate and parked near to the other vehicles. A man in armor or a robot or something walked over to my truck. "Do you need assistance carrying gear to the shuttle?" The female voice that I heard before said.

"No, but do I have a couple minutes to finish up a recording, some coffee, and a biscuit before we go?" I asked.

"The head cocked sideways at my mention of coffee and biscuit. Sure. Five minutes. There was a problem with the fuel truck they sent, and my other remote is repairing it now."

"Thanks." I got back into my truck, rolled up the window, and ate the rest of my biscuit, then a sip of coffee. "Resume recording."

"I have considered how to try to use this power benevolently, and I can only think of a few ways. It's too dangerous for me to be around humans when my other self is powered up to the point where it would be an effective combatant, but if I regulate the power level and distance from me, I can do very effective recon. I went out into the woods nearby two nights ago and was able to move slowly and quietly enough to sneak up on deer and give them little static electricity sparks to their tails, which was hilarious, if a wee bit cruel. The second body apparently has no mass to speak of, and in a low power state can walk on top of leaf clutter without disturbing it. Unless I try to pick something up - then the body has the weight of whatever it picked up. As for the deer, no harm done, I had to test stealth on something, and deer are very cautious animals, who won't report stalker capes to the police like humans would do.

"Right now this basically relegates my potential roles to scout, or brute force combatant where collateral damage is not of significant concern. And I'm really not so sure how much brute force I can really apply. I can't safely test myself like that. I would not be able to forgive myself if I fried somebody innocent in a fight, but if it came right down to it, I could easily see myself trying to track down the Slaughterhouse 9 in scout form, then powering up and melting them. But I'm enough of a realist to understand that I do NOT have the experience to even think about going against that bunch yet.

"Which leads me to today. Either scouting or brute force combatant if I can find enough power to let me fight from very, very far away. If there's any Endbringer where I'll have a chance to test myself up close, without having to worry about others also getting close around me, it's Behemoth. Apparently he is really brutal up close, and can kill most capes instantly if they get close. I'm pretty sure that he can't hurt my other body, but I'll have to ask if there's any way to test to see if that's true. I have arranged for a time delayed email to be sent to the Columbia Parahuman Group if I do not survive. It will be from account Arcnspark , and will establish my identity. Hopefully it will not be necessary for anyone to listen to this recording."

"End recording. Consolidate all recordings from last 'Begin Recording.' to last 'End Recording' command into file 'Readme' Rename chip in slot A Readme. Write file Readme to chip name Readme, then eject chip name Readme. Copy File Readme in email to Arcnspark. Schedule forwarding of Readme from account Arcnspark to Columbia Parahuman Group three days from now, with alarm reminder to be sent to this phone after two days." A small memory chip popped out of the phone, and I put it into disconnected chip storage on the phone.

I take a deep breath, shake my head in wonder that I'm actually doing this, and then grab my coffee and drain what's left. After opening the door of my truck, I put on the faraday suit gloves, and grab my spare boots in one hand by their laces, and the small travel bag with the other hand.

I get out of my truck, drop the bag and boots, hit the lock next to the window with my elbow, check for wallet and keys in my jeans through the access slots in my suit. I pick up the bag and boots again, realize I should have closed the door of the truck with my hands when they were free and then shrug to myself, bump the door shut with my hip, then walk to where Dragon's transport is waiting. I got some curious looks from people with real costumes. One, a slightly overweight middle height guy in a SWAT suit carrying a huge pack marked with a red cross looked at me and asked "Is that a faraday suit?"

"Yup. About the closest thing to a costume that I have right now. If I make it through this, maybe I'll get something better", I said, feeling a bit self-conscious. The cape that addressed me noticed something in my body language and immediately said "Most of us were in your shoes once, don't worry about the suit. How long have you been a cape?"

"Not long", I replied. "That was me at the Speedway, two days ago, testing myself, if any of you keep up with local cape stuff."

"Oh! I remember seeing that on the news, but I thought you couldn't speak, and your shape seems completely different now than the other day?" He said skeptically.

"That was the other me. I've never been a big follower of the cape scene, but as far as I can tell from the power classification system, I seem to be a master, and my other self is either a striker or a stranger, depending on circumstances. I imagine that we can talk on the way there though. Behemoth won't wait for us. I also have to leave a small package with Dragon in case I'm unlucky today."

"Fair Enough. What should we call you?" he asked.

"Arc is what I've settled on. How about you?"

He looked a bit startled, maybe he was surprised that I didn't recognize him, but he recovered almost instantly. "You need to learn about local capes if you're going to be one. My name's Red Cross, I'm a medical equipment tinker" he said with a chuckle as he tossed the huge backpack into the transport, then slapped the cross marking, before pushing it across to where someone else grabbed it and tied it down.

"Good to meet you, Red Cross."

"You too. Folks, meet Arc. He's new. Master Striker Stranger. We'll talk about what you can do on the way there, Arc, and Dragon will be listening. We'll also need to know what sort of power level you can operate at, if you can think of examples of what you've done that has been stressful or difficult. None of the rest of us here are going to be fighting Behemoth directly, but we've all been around the block a few times, and you're a greenhorn."

"Arc, I heard you mention that you had something to give me?" said Dragon from the speaker system.

"Yes Maam, I would like you to hold this recording for me, and access it only if I am severely injured and unable to communicate, or dead." I replied. "I'm new to this whole cape thing and this details how my will can be found if Murphy catches up with me, and should establish the legitimacy of the will." All three of the capes looked at me a bit funny, then two of them looked at a third, who shook his head.

"That might be a bit of a legal sticky point, you realize, if it hasn't been electronically notarized?"

"I hadn't considered that. Can you electronically notarize it?"

"Not without reading it. Will you allow me to read it now?"

I had to think about it for a second. But only a second. If I couldn't trust my secret identity to the most powerful Tinker in the world, the person responsible for the day to day operation of the Birdcage, then I might as well have no secret identity at all. "Yes you can read it now provided that any personal information about my life is not provided to any other person unless I am severely injured and unable to communicate, or dead. The descriptions about my powers, and how I have tested them can be shared with any capes that you feel will be able to use the information and help guide me to where I can help the most."

The remote that had approached me earlier stepped out of an alcove in the shuttle, and held out it's hand. I passed it the chip, which it took to the control panel of the shuttle and fit into a connection there. Then the remote returned to me and handed me the chip again.

About two minutes passed - during which time Dragon did a thousand other things while pretending to spend two minutes accessing the recording and notarizing the document, rather than the few milliseconds that it actually took her to accomplish the task. "Arc, I have notarized the document. I need you to notarize it as well. A voiceprint matching the recorded document will suffice. There are legal loopholes for capes in costumes for this sort of thing."

"I notarize the document. Thank you, Dragon."

"You're welcome, Arc. I am in discussion with others that are on the way to the site. We will arrange for a power supply for you to feed your other body with. You indicate that you have not felt any stress with the testing you have already done. Is that the limits of your testing, what is in this document?"

"Yes Maam, I've never felt the slightest stress or strain, but I haven't tried to handle commercial grade power sources, never mind whatever a tinker might dream up."

"Testing during an Endbringer fight isn't normally a good idea, but we can certainly manage to make room for your other self with the scouts, if you can't feed your other self the power it needs to let them fight Behemoth directly."

"Understood. I'll let the more experienced capes call the shots. I didn't even have a cape name until about thirty minutes ago." I said with a chuckle.