Masks 33.6 - Dear Dad [Cutscene]

Dear Dad,

I’m going to put this to paper - or online - some time soon. Right now, I’m just kind of thinking through it all in my head.

I never know what to expect when you involve yourself in my life. Whenever you took me away, it was to show me something, or talk about something, or reveal more of your world to me. I think it’s time I told you what you were taking me away from.

Just yesterday, Aria - that’s my girlfriend, I built her at 16, I guess I should elaborate a little bit on this. Okay, so there’s a mathematical relationship between “agents” or “resources” in the minds, and configurations of neurons. I’ve been studying this for ten years. You know how proteins fold in a mathematically predictable way, but finding that folding pattern is a computationally hard problem, and misfolding is- this is probably too much of a digression. Anyway, plug neurons together this way, and you get a mental agent that works like that, a little instrument that just plays the same few notes in the symphony of your mind. There’s a mathematical model for agents, but they’re attractors, and they’ll “pull” other agents to them. The brain exhibits sexual dimorphism, but you can get a female brain from a male input if you work backward from a fully integrated agent map and compute a connectome based on that. So the short answer is, I got a girl who’s not me, but the foundations of her thinking are all based on my experiences, and long and short we broke up (fucking figures, who’d date me?), but then a lot of stuff happened, then she kissed me and we’re back together. And she’s the most perfect angel and soul mate I could ever hope for, and she doesn’t take any of my bullshit, and I’m so grateful for that. I want a partner, not a toy.

And there’s two of them now. That’s another story for another time.

Anyway, Aria thought my hair was getting too long, but I wouldn’t take time off from working on the Phoenix. She had just spent time working on the matrix transform equations to the prefrontal cortex to inhibit metacognition, so she was taking a break. So I was sitting there doing a blueprint for the inlet manifold and she got some scissors and started cutting my hair herself. She didn’t talk, didn’t distract me, just held my head still (she’s extremely strong, she can do that, she gives great massages too) and clipped and clipped. She did that thing that salon people do, ran her hands through my hair, took a line of it between two fingers, and snipped it away. It actually felt pretty good. I actually fell asleep during the clipping, and when I woke up, she was standing there with a hot wash cloth for my face. I don’t think I’ve gotten such good sleep in awhile. I wish I’d had more time for it. She’s amazing.

The other day, some kid came up to me at school and was talking about his inventions. I’d never heard of him, but he was clearly acting like I needed to know him, and I said sorry, and then he offered me money and I was like, whatever dude, I don’t even know you, and he got really upset. So long story short, that guy is named Pietro or something, and my lacrosse captain knows him, because he’s also a tech-based superhero and consults with the guy’s father, because his father is big in industry too. So we got into kind of an argument and I said that Pietro should probably mind his god damn business while I’m busy eating lunch, and Trace (that’s the captain) said I should be nicer to up-and-coming inventors, not everyone was as smart or cool as me, and I was like that’s some bullshit because I’m just some guy who punches people, and that made Trace really angry for some reason. So we kinda started shouting or whatever, and pretty soon the lacrosse team is telling me that they want me to be captain, because I’m a superhero. They don’t actually know Trace is one too (I’m not actually going to tell you this part, I’ll come up with some bullshit that makes sense), but I do. So I’m stuck, right?

So I tell the whole team, fuck you guys, I’m not being captain, and they’re like, why not dude, you’re a legend. So that’s some bullshit, the Menagerie is like the #8 teen hero team in the city and there’s only like 3 total. But whatever, like these guys have never seen a hero before, it’s only God Damn Gardner Academy where they’re mandated by law to attend. Fuckin’ A. So I tell them I’m built for boxing and power, right, but because the suit gives me strength, I don’t need any of that shit, I need long-distance runner tone and endurance instead of strength, lacrosse is where I do that, and I don’t have enough free time to be captain, keep up my physical training, be on a super-team, all that stuff. Then I tell them, if you guys didn’t like Trace before, why didn’t you vote about it then? And they don’t have anything to say, 'cause they just want a superhero in charge. They knew I had their number then, so I say, if you guys try to make me captain, I’m gonna quit. That called their bluff, 'cause they just got me, Trace is actually a good guy, I want to make him look good because he needs to stand out instead of being in his dad’s shadow.

You can imagine I have strong feelings on that topic.

Anyway, he and I still probably have something to say to each other, but I think the situation is stable for the moment.

So anyway, Otto’s also maybe got a girlfriend, and I’m happily seeing someone, and I’m in a good team, and this new school is pretty swanky and weird, but I like the people there and I really want to keep attending. Jason Quill has finally chilled the fuck out, I think seeing Alycia made him finally relax a little in some ways. Those two just need to start dating, though, instead of doing this god damn “no you admit your feelings first” dance. And I love everyone on my team. They really are family to me.

I know you realize this intellectually, but I left a lot of parents behind. If I thought you were really safe, behind bars, neutralized, for sure, I’d like to write them all letters some day, and tell them their son isn’t dead, he’s not in jail, he’s not kidnapped or whatever, he made it out okay. I want to thank them for those months they spent on me, and ask them if they were able to find another foster child, or if they went on without me. I want to tell them they made the right choices, said the right things, helped me grow in the right way. And would want to apologize to them, for endangering their lives and safety by being your son, by being a target. I’d want to tell them if I could go back in time and change all that, I’d build more Newman androids, and I’d put my younger self under their protection, have them raise me, keep their biological families out of harm’s way. I know some of them would front like “no, it was worth it, we loved you, son”, but honestly? Nobody needed that kind of stress in their lives.

I mentioned apologizing. Am I sorry? What does that even mean?

I’m not going to say “I’m sorry” to you, dad, not as an apology (there’s nothing to apologize for anyway), not even to say that I feel badly that you’re in jail. That’s where you belong, after all the shit you’ve done. But I don’t think you meant to hurt me, you were always just too blind to see that that’s what you were doing. Moving from place to place, changing schools, running, hiding, it was all awful. Now I have a place where I want to stay, and people I want to be around. I’m not sorry for that either.

I wish there was a word that meant “I’m glad we are here, but taking another road to get here would have been better”. Maybe that’s what regret means. Here I am. I don’t like the things it took to get me here. I wish another path had been available. But I don’t want to give up where I am. So if you ever threaten that, I’m going to stop you. Not because I hate you, though I hate what you do and what you want. I just don’t want to be part of that world.

If you ever decide you’d like to be part of mine, though, let me know. Okay? I’m not saying I’d welcome you with open arms and be like “daddy”. But there’s so much I could talk to you about, and probably stuff I’d like to hear, that only you and I can share. And I regret not having that chance. I don’t know if in your heart of hearts you really want money, fame, recognition, revenge, or what. Or maybe the fire of genius is just burning its way out through your skull and the only way to reduce the pressure is to do this high-tech super-villain terrorist arms dealer bullshit. I want to help you find peace. That’s the only way I can really keep you from hurting the world, in the long run. That’s all I can do for you as well, as your son. I hope it’s enough.


author: Bill G.