“Sablestar you can credit to Concord. You folks apparently did the heavy lifting on this mission, so thank you.”
She claps her hands into a light clasp. “Teamwork, right? And you’re team leader, so – well, leadership theory says the leader takes the blame, the team gets the credit. But … credit where credit is due. There are ways you could have done this more easily. You didn’t. You took a chance to save someone who was one of us. Kind of. Someone who --”
She releases the hands, waves them vaguely. “-- you know.” She rolls her eyes. “Sorry. I’m being unprofessional, I know. I’m – it isn’t even my Jason.” Her eyes roll again. “‘My’ Jason. As if. And, hell, it is the Jason who I knew, growing up. I was sure there was something dodgy about what was going on here.”
A deep breath. “I’ll have to talk with him. And he’s been involved in --” She shakes her head. “I’m sure, however it was you subdued him, we’ll get to the bottom of things. Help him --” She shrugs.
Leo rubs his hands together. He’s not proud of this part, but it has to be said. “In a way, you could credit Summer for disabling Jason.”
Alycia cocks her head, a bit surprised.
“When we did the Victory Merge, to restore memory damage on you two, back when Vector attacked, she operated the machine. On remaster, she should have also removed the connectomes from the Heart Factory. She didn’t. I should have specifically told her to. I didn’t think to. It’s so automatic for me.”
A furrow crosses her brow, as she tries to catch up with the gear change.
He gestures at the Heart Factory behind him. “Sorry. Context. I loaded a 17-year-old Jason Quill into old Jason’s mind during the battle, via his nanobots. I gave him back all his lost memories, and some new ones besides. When he wakes up, that guy is going to have dreamed of lives and loves he never had.”
The furrow eases off, largely because her eyes have gotten wide.
A callused hand pats the machine. “Yours are in here too. He didn’t get any of that, though.”
“Well,” she says, “that’s – that’s g-good. I – I wouldn’t --” She trails off. A gulp of air. “I --” Another gulp. She squares her shoulders, closes her eyes. “After I encounter Doctor Infinity’s drone, after I – fled, it, she, it came after me. Through time. Visiting me at – points in my life. Moments I remember. Asking me a question, then leaving. Infiltrating – polluting – my past, my memories. Me. After Father – after he r–” A beat. “-- twisted my emotions, stripped them, left me – changed. Less.”
Her eyes snap open. Bright. Wet. “You fixed that. What Father did. I – trusted you. I mean, playing with my brain, with my memories and emotions, what can go wrong? But Jason trusted you, so I trusted you. And – you did what you said. You, as much as was humanly possible. You fixed me. I --”
Her eyes close again. If it leaves her blind, she doesn’t seem to notice. Unless she does. “But now you – you tell me you’ve weaponized this. Using minds to overwrite others, just maybe kinda-sorta like this Jason did… And now you also tell me you still have my connectomes – by ‘accident’ – in that box of yours. And I’m supposed to be happy you didn’t use them against this Jason? Or trust you didn’t?”
She looks at him, and it’s hard to tell from her expression if she’s more sad or hurt or angry. “I came here to tell you you’re a leader and hero, that I was all in. That I was part of this victory.” Her jaw works a moment. “Dammit, Leo.”
author: *** Dave H.