JANUARY 29, 2412

It was an overcast day in Nekomikoka, which was unusual for that time of year. Even more unusually, it had been a bright and sunny day until about two in the afternoon.

At two-thirty, a black car had pulled into the three-story house’s driveway, and four people had disembarked from it and, after knocking, entered. It was uncertain as to why the woman, the two priests, and the tall man in military fatigues had traveled together, but they were allowed in.

The house was filled with people, unsure if they were sitting a vigil or preparing for the worst. Lloyd Bateau sat on the couch with Konoko Kokoromi, looking a little uncertain as to what to do. Brothers Neo and Ghost were kneeling in a corner with Sister Destiny with eyes closed, presumably praying. In the rest of the living and dining room, Diana Prince, Max, Saya, Lain Iwakura, Makoto Kino, and Penance were in their own states of mind. The sounds of cooking could be heard in the kitchen, presumably by Mike Sounders, apparently restraining his simulated emotionalism. All of them (except the ecclesiastics) glanced from time to time at the phone, wondering about when a call would come.

The call did not come; instead, it was the deep growl of a motorcycle, followed closely by the rattle of an antique car. Moments later, the door opened, admitting Logan, the Griffins, Kurt Wagner and (perhaps a bit surprisingly) Keiichi Morisato. Logan looked around as if taking a headcount, then nodded.

"OK, good, you're all sittin' down. I got good news and weird news, which is the kinda thing being in the X-Men orbit gets you. First, what do you guys know?"

Everyone tried to talk at once, sounding like a babble. Diana let out a loud whistle, and took the lead.

"Geoff was nearly killed, and no one knows what’s going on. I heard it was a GSW with a large gun, but we don’t have the full story from anyone."

"Awright," he said, as the others all moved in closer, "here’s the whole deal..."

I have a message from another time...

Eyrie Productions, Unlimited

Undocumented Features Future Imperfect
Fable Of The Reconstruction

by Jen Dantes
with Benjamin D. Hutchins

© 2023 Eyrie Productions, Unlimited

JANUARY 29, 2412

Geoff Depew was having another one of those "this is not going to go well" kind of days. Thankfully, he wasn’t alone, as Logan had stopped by and they got stuck in it together, which as far as Geoff was concerned was pretty reassuring.

It was pretty rare for Hydra to operate that openly in New Avalon, especially considering that they were apparently trying to kidnap someone and decided that any witnesses were just a bad idea. The Canon had taken out their car, and now they were trying to get a large strugging bag down the street, being chased by the two Lensmen. One of them was peppering them with covering blaster fire as the Hydra team ran down the street, which people had thankfully emptied.

Hunkered down behind a car, Geoff looked over at Logan while changing clips in the Jackal. "I think we’re going to have to go head-on for this one."

Logan nodded sagely. "You wanna cover me while I get in close, then move in when I’m distractin’ them?"

"Sounds like a plan." Drawing Stormwind from the hip holster and leaving the Canon in place for the moment, Geoff nodded. "When you’re ready."

Logan popped his claws, then went over the hood of the car. Geoff slid over to where Logan had been, then stood up and started firing.

Logan had gotten five feet when something passed him, and there was a meaty thud, and then a splatter and a couple of thumps. He glanced over his shoulder, and saw Geoff with a big hole in the left side of his chest. He’d dropped his guns and was clawing frantically at his left arm, where his armdeck rode. He finally slammed his hand into a red button, then collapsed. He jumped back over the car to check on his mentee.

Geoff was unconscious and there was a lot of blood. Logan could smell it, and it made him feel a little crazy. He bent his mind to his Lens, and contacted the IPO Contoller-On-Duty.

Logan, SA1. I need SA1 Depew beamed to the Trauma Unit at Boyce ASAP! Code blue!

Understood, came the reply, and Geoff shimmered and was gone.

When he saw the mess of chunky gore left behind, Logan’s vision went red. With the remaining control he had while berserk, he charged the Hydra agent with the big rifle, who was frantically trying to reload it with wide eyes and trembling hands as Logan came straight at him with a feral roar.

When Gryphon and Raven arrived at Boyce Memorial, the trauma treatment unit Geoff was in was absolutely closed to non-medical personnel, even to them. The Hoffmanite nurse was polite but quite firm on the matter of them not going in, so they found a corner to kneel and meditate in.

After nearly two hours, the door swung open. Gryphon opened his eyes to see BJ Hunnicutt walking towards him, looking tired and with blood-spattered scrubs. He was followed by Cath Willows, who looked grim.

"Grissom wants to talk to you," she said, and Gryphon nodded, then reached through the Lens.

Gil. Cath said you wanted to talk to me.

Yes, Benjamin. Once we heard what had happened, Sara rushed over to get a forensic swab and came back here to process it. It turned out to be a good idea, as it helped Dr. Hunnicutt with the treatment. It doesn’t look good.

Give it to me straight.

There was the mental equivalent of a tired, sad sigh. The bullet itself has a chisel tip to go through armor. Once inside, it has a small ECX charge, but that’s not the main effect. The main is to spread vizorium particulate suspended in RD-996 in the wounded area. Grissom’s voice, over the Lens, sounded very close to angry. This is designed to kill a Detian or someone with that level of regenerative power. And that Hydra agent had a second one.


Logan left a couple of them able to respond, and Captain Rogers is taking a personal interest in it. Cath is there at my request to relay information here. Sara is livid, and Greg is on his fourth cup of coffee.

...Why is Sara livid?

She says he can’t die until she gives him the punch in the mouth she’d owed him since their first meeting.

Ah. OK, that tracks. Anything else?

Nothing yet. It’s fairly open and shut, but we’re tracking the contents of the other bullet to see if we can find where it came from. I’ll send you a report if we get anything.

That conversation over, he looked up at BJ.

"Catherine gave me the information. We’ve got him kind of stabilized, and now we’re planning treatment. It’s going to be extremely difficult."

"Tell me," Gryphon said, steeling himself.

BJ took a deep breath, as much to prepare to speak as to steel himself. "Most of his left lung is gone, along with three of the rib structures on the dorsal side. There’s heart damage, some spinal damage, and fragments throughout his entire torso. The muscles are torn apart. There’s some impingement on the right lung, liver, pancreas... if he had been a normal person, they wouldn’t have made it long enough for us to get him on the table and into a tank. The most dangerous part is that there’s also damage to the Daodan, and I cannot tell you what it might mean to the process. We don’t understand it that well yet."

Gryphon considered. "How long can you keep him alive?"

"I could put him in stasis."

"What can I do?" Logan’s voice came from behind. He had half an eight-pack of Gatorade hanging from one hand by the plastic strapping, and his hair was still damp. He looked equal parts worried and angry, which wasn’t a usual expression for the short scrapper.

"For now, rack out," Gryphon said bluntly, then looked at BJ. "I need to make some calls. Do what you need to do."

With that, he rose, followed by Raven, who watched her master carefully. Once they were in the elevator, she finally spoke. "What’s wrong?"

Gryphon gave her a wan smile. "That obvious?"

"I can think of a bunch of people who could read it. Pretty sure Catherine did."

Gryphon considered his reply for a few moments. "I gave him a chance at redemption, and he rode it all the way to the station. He went from someone we’d classify as a serial killer to a Lensman. And now... he’s dying for it. I can’t help but feel a little responsible."

Raven reached out to touch him on the shoulder. "You gave him a path to choose. And Hydra chose to develop a Detian-killer. Not your fault." To his wan smile, she continued, "Besides, I’m not sure who you intend to call, but you need to be at your best."

"Gryphon chuckled darkly. "True. When you’re going to call the Chief Justice of the Zardon Justice Department, tell him you know about one of their black programs, and demand every file they have on it, you need to speak with as much authority as possible." Then, in an incongruously conversational tone, he added, "Also, righteous rage! I have plenty of that right now...""

When they returned to the hospital an hour later, Gryphon bore with him a bit of an attitude of smugness and a box with a bit of frost on it, the last of which he presented to BJ.

"Following a full and frank exchange of views between myself and the Chief Justice," he announced as he did so, "the Zardon Department of Justice was more than happy to assist us with our medical problem. They even provided this complete set of records concerning the development of the Daodan combat enhancement symbiont. You may be interested to know that its main developer, one ex-Doctor Jack Stewart, is currently spending life in the deepest part of the Iso-Cubes for violations of Zardon Medical Board ethics."

BJ whistled. "That’s impressive, in a horrible way. I’m going to see what I can find. As it stands, we’re still on the ‘pump 25 or 30 doses into him and see if that works’ trajectory."

"Well, it worked once..."

"I’ll be in touch." Carrying the box, BJ went from the waiting room into the ICU, and Gryphon went back to the corner and kneeled in seiza.

It was almost another hour later when BJ came back out. Gryphon rose, eyes opening, as BJ approached, looking uncertain.


"We had to debride the interior of the wound pretty heavily, but we’re pretty sure we got all the vizorium out, and Dr. Kohran’s treatment for RD-996 is in process. He’s on an external blood circulator, because we ended up finding significant kidney damage too. As far as the notes are concerned, they never tried to get the Daodan to regenerate itself, so we’re in unknown territory. We’ve got a bacta tank, an amino slurry, and the Miraculon feed set up."

There were footfalls, and they both looked to see Raven and Logan approaching. "I got this, Gryph," Logan said gruffly. "You got stuff to take care of."

Understanding implicitly, he clapped Logan on the shoulder and, with a nod to Raven, departed with her. Once he was gone, the mutant looked at BJ.

"What’s the chances?"

BJ took another deep breath. "Honestly? I have no idea. There’s no information about what might happen. He might be okay, he might die, something weird might happen. I’ve got Dr. Cameron monitoring, a stasis chamber ready, everything I can to be ready. But I can’t predict."

Logan tossed his last Gatorade bottle into the nearby receptacle. "I got the kid’s directives. It says that you can do whatever you need to, and if he doesn’t make it you can use him for research. So that’s clear enough."

BJ nodded absently. "You should come scrub up with me."

"What for?"

"You want to be here for this, right?"

"... Damn, you’re right."

The sides of the tube were frosted, which Logan appreciated. He knew that Geoff floated in there, blood being oxygenated and recirculated and purified by machine, a hole in him big enough to give even Logan a close look at being dead.

His Lens pulsed at him with requests for information. He just sent out the equivalent of "I’m busy, do not disturb" and it quieted.

BJ and Dr. Cameron consulted a bank of devices, then turned to a panel by the tank. "Dr. Cameron, please confirm the readings."

She checked one more time, and replied, "Dr. Hunnicutt, all of them are showing ready. 30 doses of Miraculon ready to enter the circulator at your mark."

The room seemed to hold its breath, and then BJ put his finger on a control. "Mark." He pressed the button.

For a moment, nothing happened.

Then the bacta tank seemed to boil. Readouts started shifting, and the two doctors continued to adjust.

"Protein/amino slurry feed is operational, but faster than expected, adjusting the flow rate."

"Circulator at equivalent of 140bpm. Adjusting O2 up 10 percent."

"Unit internal pressure rising, adjusting to compensate."

"Spinal neutralizer feed at redline, feeding in anticonvulsants."

"Body temp at 105 and holding."

"Catching a few vizorium fragments, increase filtration."

"Understood. RD-996 protocol was successful."

Just as suddenly as it started, the boiling stopped, even as the commentary didn’t.

"Showing ... wait, there’s calcium in the runoff?"

"Lot of weird chemicals in there, almost like hormones."

"Regenerative side effects?" "No data. Huh, biosensory data showing... that can’t be right."

"No, no, I see it too. Let’s drain the tank and do a visual."


Logan had stayed quiet, but was getting more and more antsy, and finally burst out. "What?"

They ignored him as the tank rotated to horizontal, disconnecting from tubs in the ceiling, then lowered to hip height. The two doctors moved to either side, and opened the tank’s doors. Logan, who had moved to the feet, blinked in astonishment.

Well, he thought to himself, at least it wasn’t drills.

"So that’s the last I saw, big ol’ changes, before I came over here," Logan finished, "So we’re gonna need to be careful with what happens next."

FEBRUARY 8, 2412

Geoff Depew did something he hadn’t expected to do: woke up. As vision cleared and focused, the realization was that this was a hospital room, and then memory flooded in. With a gasp, there was a grab... and then a scream.

A few minutes later, BJ Hunnicutt strolled in and gave a brief wave. "You’re probably pretty disoriented right now."

"Disoriented?" The voice was a clear contralto. "You bet I’m fucking disoriented! I’m also confused, weirded out, and apparently had a body switch!" Someone more slender fingers grabbed at the gown, which tore and revealed a pair of medium breasts on a hairless chest. "What the absolute FUCK, BJ?"

"Geez, geez, put those away!" BJ waved as he averted his eyes. Once the patient on the bed had composed herself, they took a deep breath.

"I repeat: What the fuck, BJ?"

"What do you remember?"

"Got shot in the chest. Felt like it blew up in my chest. Hurt a lot. It’s all black after that."

BJ nodded. "Traumatic amnesia. Makes sense. Well, that shot blew out most of the left side of your torso. A lot of damage. Logan got you here, we managed to get you stabilized. The Daodan was damaged, so we weren’t sure what would happen."

"You did the ‘dump in Miraculon, see what happens’ thing?"

"Well, Gryphon got information on the Daodan from somewhere, but it didn’t give us anything new. We prepped for a massive regeneration, and then pumped it in, and when it was done, the readouts should you here, so we went for a visual inspection and... well."

"How long have I been out?"

"A week and a half. Your housemates have been told what happened, and apparently there’s a bunch of people at the Monolith waiting for news. Gryphon’s at the office, but he’s been informed, and when you feel up to it we can let in visitors."

"BJ, I’m not sure it all went right. I feel really physically strange. The rip took me time to get a grip."

Dr. Hunnicutt frowned. "Why don’t you try to get out of bed?"

Geoff couldn’t. Got to a sitting position with trouble, then tried to stand up, and dropped immediately.

"What the hell?"

BJ called for a nurse, and they got Geoff back into the bed.

"We’re going to need to send you to a recovery facility. You’re going to need a lot of physical therapy." As Geoff started to protest, BJ held up a hand. "Your entire body has been rebuilt. Skeletal differences, muscular differences, endocrine system. You are not physically the same and you are going to need to re-learn a lot of things, starting with how to walk. Your body’s reflexes don’t work with it anymore."

Geoff put his – her – head back on the pillow. "I’m going to need some time alone, BJ."

The doctor nodded. "Understandable. Ring the bell, and the nurse will get me." Then he withdrew, to make some calls.

Geoff was able to hit the privacy button on the remote, and the door closed. Then she gave into all of the anger and frustration she had found building up during that talk. Cursing, blaspheming, slamming hands into the bedclothes, crying, yelling, before dropping into a fitful nap from the effort.

She woke up shortly after to a nurse coming in to check the monitors. When the nurse realized she was awake, she turned to face the patient. "Good morning, I’m Nurse Brancusi, and I handle this. Are you hungry? Do you want something?"

Geoff checked the relevant parts and admitted that she was, in fact, hungry, but wanted something simple to eat. With this order in hand, Nurse Brancusi left, then returned with a chicken salad sandwich and a bag of chips.

Hunger being assuaged, Geoff tried to get out of bed again. It was incredibly difficult, but she managed to make it to the bathroom. She found it necessary to use the nurse call again after making a mess of the gown. Nurse Brancusi returned, and took the time to help with the cleanup while Geoff burned with humiliation.

"I’ve got high clearance and I’ve been read into what happened to you," she said. "I’m here to help, and you’re one of three people on this floor right now. You’re going to have a lot of things to deal with, and I’ll help as much as I can. How many visitors do you want at a time?"

"I haven’t thought about it."

"We’ll limit it at first, although from what Dr. Hunnicutt said, the first wave may be kind of over the top," Nurse Brancusi mentioned, smiling.

Once back in the bed, it was indeed over the top. Not just Gryphon, but also Max, Logan, Konoko, Diana, Lain, Saya and Penance piled into the room, and Geoff started to feel a little overwhelmed at the sheet force of the personalities. Her mind was having problems processing, and Logan and Diana realized it quickly. They politely got the others out of the room (with hugs and promises to take her shopping), then closed the door, taking seats on either side of the bed.

Geoff was sitting in the bed, leaning forwards, with her hands on her temples. The Amazon and the mutant glanced at each other, and Logan nodded. Diana reached out to touch Geoff on the shoulder, and she started violently, eyes wide as she looked at Diana.

"What’s wrong?" Diana said softly.

"it’s so loud in here, so loud, why is it so loud, why?" she said, mumbling, and then slammed her hands against the side of her head. "nothing makes sense, i don’t understand, nothing’s the same, it’s like there’s so much noise in here stop it..." She pushed back along the bed, as she beat on the sides of her head, the voice getting more frantic. "make it make sense please nothing feels right nothing works right why"

The door pushed open, and Nurse Brancusi entered with a very calm attitude and a hypospray. Before anyone could react, she grabbed Geoff’s lower arm, pulled it away from her head, and pressed the hypo to her wrist. It released with a soft hiss, and Geoff collapsed bonelessly into the bed.

"I thought this was private," Diana said softly, and the nurse glanced at her.

"I’m half-Betazoid. P3. I picked up the panic, grabbed some sedative." She kept her voice low, and gestured at the two to come with her. At the nurse’s station, she got the story from them of what happened, and filed a report. "Dr. Hunnicutt figured we’d need a psychotherapist in here, too. We’re moving her to a recovery establishment outside the city in a few days. I’m ordering minimal visitors until then," she said as she typed.

"Do you have that measure of authority here?" Diana asked curiously.

"I’m head nurse for the Special Cases floor. I have the authority to kill people if needed." As it to prove it, she indicated that behind the desk was a blaster rifle.

"I hope," said a voice from down the hallway, "I may be allowed to visit and not to be shot." The three turned to see Sister Destiny coming towards them. "Sister Mary Destiny, CG. I’m Agent Depew’s... spiritual advisor."

"I think you’ll be okay," Nurse Brancusi said with a nod. "She was just sedated, so she won’t be needing much advising for a while."

"Understood," the android nun replied. "Thank you." With a nod to Logan and Diana, she entered the room, closing the door behind her.

BJ Hunnicutt looked up at a knock at his office door. "C’mon in," he called. The door opened to reveal a tall, broad saurian in a lab coat.

"Dr. Hunnicutt? I’m Curt Connors, pleased to meet you. I was told you were looking for some assistance on a biotech issue?" There was none of the stereotypical saurian hissing in his voice as he spoke.

BJ had heard of Curt Connors, and his expertise. He pointed to the table behind him, where the files on the Daodan still say. "That’s what we have. I’m convinced there’s something there I’ve missed, but I’m not a biotechnology specialist."

Connors smiled toothily. "I’m more than happy to help. Chief Gryphon called me at NAIS and gave me some of the information. I’m no Lensman, but I have consulted with the IPO before. May I see the patient files as well?"

"Sure." BJ typed codes into the second terminal, the one on the table, and brought them up. "Anything you can tell us will be a help."

After about an hour, Connors made a snuffling noise, then said, "Ah-ha."

BJ turned around. "Find something?"

"Oh yes. This guy, Stewart? Total patsy. All his supposed 'work' was fed to him from someone else, and I know just the someone. After the work I’ve done, the old Nazi’s fingerprints are as obvious to me as my own snout."

BJ put some pieces together, then tilted his head. "Arnim Zola created the Daodan?"

"Oh, yeah. The genetic signatures are like handwriting, and his is obvious. I used to run on the not-so-nice side of biotech and I got to see his a few times." Connors shook his head. "There were rumors that the Justice Department had a black science team that wanted to make a ... I guess you’d say a super-Judge, and didn’t care much where the information came from. I guess Zola thought it would be an amusing challenge, and used this Stewart guy to feed it to them. Well, playing footsie with Nazis makes you one. But anyway, what questions did you have?"

"Well, the person with this had theirs damaged by a massive gunshot wound, and we didn’t know what might happen, but we punched 30 standard doses of Miraculon in –"

"THIRTY? Holy Hannah."

"We’ve done it before for massive damage, so we thought it might work again. Anyway, we did it along with an amino/protein mix to use for tissue rebuilding, but it also caused a pretty widescale somatic change. We’re still reviewing, but it looks like a complete gender swap occurred."

Connors’ snout shifted in what probably was a wince. "I’ve seen something like that before. You want to make sure they’re on some calming medication until their brain adjusts to the hormonal shift if they weren’t already oriented that way before."

BJ sighed. "Yeah, well, right now they’re sedated due to a breakdown, their priest is with them. Is there a way to reverse it?"

Connors shook his head. "I don’t think there’s a way. I mean, there are the usual reassignment techniques, but if it’s that complete, they’d need a full biotank, and the Daodan might try to revert at the first chance. It’s apparently got some kind of template that it works off of, so something like this might have happened eventually? But who can tell? At any rate, it would probably be better long-term to have this worked out psychologically instead of biologically."

"Okay. One more thing: the patient is saying they’re feeling uncoordinated and having problems with motor control. Ideas?"

"Looks like there was a lot of skeletal alteration in a short amount of time, musculoskeletal shifts, muscle mass changes."

"That’s what I figured – nothing from the regenerative process except some exhaustion, more having to relearn movements."

"Almost certainly. Their body is completely different than it was, and they’re going to need to relearn a lot of movement. It’s going to take time and work." He paused. "On the other hand, the Daodan might have patterns stored in it, and the patient just needs to start moving to wake them up in the muscles. I’m not familiar with this particular bit of meat, so I can only speculate.

"They’re going to a rehab facility, so hopefully that’ll be better for them than here."

"Please let me know what you can? I’m interested to see how it goes. It’s been a pleasure, Dr. Hunnicutt."

"An absolute pleasure, Dr. Connors," BJ said, then watched him go. Once the door closed again, he tapped the terminal and called the 9th floor nurses station.

"9, Brancusi."

"Hi Gloria, Dr. Hunnicutt. How’s Depew?"

"Still asleep. The nun is there too."

"Okay. Let me know if there’s a change. I’m working on the facility transfer."


FEBRUARY 22, 2412

Geoff Depew walked around the track, one hand on the fence surrounding the exterior, for the fifteenth time that morning. As she reached the starting point, a figure was leaning against the fence.

She raised her other hand in greetings to her psychiatrist, Dr. Grace Foley, who smiled as she approached.

"Good morning! Taking a walk?"

"I’m just glad I can," she replied, then leaned against it as well. "Time for my session?"

"Nope, but I’m not doing stuff on a schedule. I came out here to get you for a very important visitor."

The doctor refused to say more, but lead Geoff to the indoor pool area. Waiting there was the Chief Technologist of the IPO, Skuld Ravenhair, who had a gaily wrapped box with her.

"How’s things, Professor?" Geoff greeted her.

"I’m fine, but you’ve had some serious weirdness, so I figured I’d come along to check one thing out here." She pulled a jeweler’s loupe (or something that looked like it) out of the case, and peered at Geoff through it, then nodded.

"OK, that’s good. What happened to you is not something I had data for, so I wasn’t sure if it would affect your Lens, so I wanted to do an aura assay. It should adapt automatically. It's a Lens, after all, it only magnifies what's behind it, but still, data is data. I’m fixing your guns, making you a new armdeck, and when you’re ready, you’ll have all your gear ready. There’s a care package for you from home, and here it is!" She picked up the box, and handed it to Geoff. "Take your time." Then she bowed, stepped onto the hot tub, and with a flare of light fell through the surface.

"Well, open it," Dr. Foley said.

Geoff put the box down on a nearby picnic table, then opened it. Her eyes went wide, and she shook her head gently, then started emptying it. Within were a pair of sports bras, three replica pistols (one each for the Canon, the Jackal and Stormwind), a small hinged box, a bag of gummy Coke bottles, and a letter. She picked up each of the pistols in each hand, then did a mix and match with the grips.

"Your physical recovery is going very well," Dr. Foley observed. "Why were you holding onto the fence when you were doing your walk?"

"I had some worries," she said, and then stopped, turning her head to look at the psychiatrist.

"I’m just going to ask again," the older woman said with a small smile, and Geoff bowed her head in defeat.

"I keep wondering what’s going to happen, and I’m worried about this body. It’s not what I expected, and I’m feeling like things aren’t quite right. I mean, I don’t know if some of the things I could do before are things I could still do. Did this burn out the Daodan? Do I still have my ability to boost myself with it? Or am I just normal? And if I’m unable to do it, what does it mean for my being SA1?"

"So without the Daodan... you would just be a first-class pistol shooter with at least one gun that would break the arm of most people trying to shoot it and one that was constructed for you personally by the Chief Technologist of the International Police, training from some of the best gunfighters out there, and the trust of the Chief of the International Police? The leader of an IPO Special Team?"

Geoff sagged and leaned against the pool room’s wall. "I know, it sounds ridiculous, but the number of times it saved me..."

"You mean the number of times it kept you from dying when you were about to sacrifice yourself."

"That’s not fair."

"I’m not fair. I’m blunt. You’ve got your faith telling you sacrificing yourself for others – martyring yourself – would be a good way to go, and your belief that there’s one more person you can save before you go, and they’re straight at odds. One of them’s got to go, or at least hop into the back of the van instead of fighting for the wheel!"

A burst of rage surged through her, and letting it out with a roar worthy of Logan, Geoff spun, took a step, and rather than punch the doctor, punched the wall with all her strength. The cinderblock dented slightly to the sound of multiple bones cracking. The pain shot up her arm and she dropped to her knees, unable to even scream around the pain. Dr. Foley moved forwards, then stopped. "Look at your hand."

Geoff pried open her eyes, and looked. The hand was surrounded by a familiar purple aura, and the fingers were straightening out as she watched, the knuckles returning to their shape. When the glow faded, there was no sign the fingers had even been damaged.

"Three minutes," Dr. Foley said. "to heal. I think your question about the healing is answered, and the question about any boosting should wait."

Geoff nodded absently, flexing the hand. "Yeah, maybe."

"You’ve got a session coming up. Do you want to do it here instead of going inside?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I think I do."

The next morning, Dr. Foley came out to see Geoff was not on the track. After consulting with the Shrublands AI, she found the obstacle course was in use. She walked over to find her patient running it. Sweat was pouring freely from her, but she seemed in top form as she leapt, climbed, swung and tumbled through the various obstacles. At some points, she would draw the replicas as if preparing to shoot, then reholster them, all at full speed. Finishing a run, she pulled up to Dr. Foley.


"Morning. You seem better."

"What you said made a lot of sense. I thought about it a lot. Wondered how much of my problems with recovery were entirely mental. Figured I’d try to use some of my Ignatine training to shut everything out and just... be. And once I did that, it was like my body just started working the way I think it should be. I was thinking maybe I could go outpatient soon, work with you on what’s inside my head. For some more of the things I need to do, though, I need specialized facilities."

"Like the IPO building basement?"

"Yeah. Just like that."

"Let me make some calls."

It took three days and a doctor’s examination to be allowed a day back in the city from the rehab center, but when the car pulled into the IPO HQ’s underground, Geoff Depew opened the door and got out, waiting for Dr. Foley to hop out from her side, and they approached the door. As they did, Geoff smiled fondly at the Bentley Model C near the door. He was about to use the palmscanner to open the door when it slid open by itself.

Logan gave one is his rare smiles. "C’mon in, kid. Let’s see ya in the Danger Room."

Geoff smiled more broadly. "Let’s."

Dressed in an IPO bluesuiter jumpsuit, with the replica pistols in place, she entered the room to stand in the middle of it.

"Okay," Logan’s voice came over the speakers, "we rigged the reps with triggers, and the room’s gonna respond as if you actually shot stuff with it. It’s starting at level 1, and it’ll jump levels at random times. You good with that?"

"Let’s do it." She took a deep breath, and quietly recited to herself the Kyrie Eleison, bringing her into the mindset she knew she’d need.

In the control room, Logan nodded, then hit a button on the console marked MODE SELECT, then tapped a switch for the microphone. "I hope you got your popcorn and snacks, people."

The room sprang to life, holograms filling it with the shapes of a street that had been nearly destroyed in a riot with rubble and some overturned cars, and she let her mind fall into the rhythms.

"I Want My Tears Back"

Level 1 was a street gang, and she blew through it without even any real effort, like a basic stretch. She barely noticed the transitions through 2, 3, and 4, only feeling the number and ability of the opponents change. Level 5 was Big Fire Black Hoods, and her smile grew a little cruel as she sped up and took them apart. Level 6 put her against ninja of the Kempu Clan, and she had to switch to hand-to-hand techniques for some of them, feeling some cuts from their swords, but ignoring it. Level 7 was simulated Section 9 commandos, and it started getting harder. This was about the time she would hit the Miraculon for the Daodan boost, and right now she didn’t have the Miraculon – if she still had the ability to boost at all.

The system announced, "Level 8", and surprisingly the door slid open, with Konoko charging into the room, pistols out and shooting. Dodging and using the cover the room had created as part of the illusions, she got up close to Konoko, forcing the other woman into unarmed combat, which Geoff had been the superior at. That seemed to have changed, because Geoff was hard-pressed to hold her own, taking gun-reinforced punches to her jaw and her torso (some of which really seemed to hurt more than they should!), until Geoff managed to get her gun up next to Konoko’s head. Konoko blocked the pistol-whipping, but recoiled in pain, dropped her guns, and clapped her ear as Geoff fired it right next to her head. Geoff brought her other fist around in a cross, and that was Konoko down. She shimmered and disappeared, and Geoff looked around, gasping a little and dripping with perspiration.

"Level 9."

The door slid open again. Sister Destiny and Makoto Kino stepped through it. Both took their preferred combat stances and faced her.

Shit, was the only thought, and then it was the fight. Makoto was actually the easier of the two – she was still training, and a couple of shots took her down.

(She was so into the process the fact that these were replicas that had no bullets in them had been forgotten and the fact that they shouldn’t actually do that to either Makoto or Konoko didn’t enter her mental equation.)

But now she had Sister Destiny to face, and that was the real danger. Destiny was faster, stronger, and overall better than Geoff, which meant that Geoff had to be luckier. A bullet creased her upper arm, and the pain shot through her. Her rebuilt nervous system still wasn’t used to it, and she felt more adrenalin flood into her body as Destiny approached for the coup de grace.

["Wait, what, did you see that?"

"I AM seeing it! Did we plant the medical sensors in the suit?

"Yes! I’ve got the data coming in!"


A violet glow surrounded her, and as she spun back to look at Destiny, it seemed to flood her eyes as well. Abruptly she sped up even more, cartwheeling backwards, kicking Destiny in the chin, then firing three shots from each pistol into her center torso. The android stumbled backwards, and disappeared in a transporter shimmer.

"Level 10. Repeat. Level 10."

The door slid open one more time, and Geoff groaned. Brother Neo, Brother Ghost, and Gryphon stepped into the room and arranged themselves. Her clothes were soaked with sweat, she was panting, and ...well, this was a level 10 exercise. She drew herself up and let the hymn run through her mind.

She never stood a chance. The Chief didn't even have to do anything. Neo and Ghost shot her before she could even move, and the world went black.

When she woke up, she sat up fast as the mental shock set it, clutching her chest. She was in completely different clothes, skin dry (and smelling kind of nice, actually), and in one of the recovery rooms on the Danger Room level.

There was also a strange noise, which resolved itself into cheering. She looked around, and found her housemates, her team, the two Ignatine brothers, Diana Prince, BJ Hunnicutt, Dr. Foley and Gryphon standing next to the rest bed.

Konoko, not looking at all put out, was grinning wildly. "I wish to hell we could release the video, but damn, you made me a hundred credits! It was great!"

Sister Destiny said piously, in reply, "Gambling may be a sin, but I honestly thought at that point I could win it. I may need penance, Brother Ghost."

Ghost shrugged. "The loss of a hundred credits seems penance enough," he told her good-naturedly, then turned to Geoff. "You’ve improved your skills. I’m impressed."

"Thank you," Geoff replied. "Who took care of me?"

Saya gave a wave and a smile. "Lain and Mike helped. For the honor of the regiment and all that. You are freaking muscular, I gotta tell you." Geoff felt her face go red. "I don’t know about you guys, but I’m thinking our team lead should be OK’d for duty. What do you think, Doc?" she continued, elbowing BJ.

"Well, I for one am OK with it, as long as said lead wears a medical monitor so we can keep an eye on things for a bit, but I think the Chief’s the one to answer that one, so... Chief?"

Gryphon chuckled. "Well... I'll approve a provisional return to duty. I need more details from the doctors before I'll send you back into the field, but at least you can come back to the office. I’ll talk to Skuld about your gear."

"Hey, before all this... I mean, my name doesn’t fit me anymore." The crowd quieted. "So I’m going to need to take some time to find a new one. If anyone has an idea, let me know."

Lain spoke up, completely deadpan. "You need to keep your initials. They’re monogrammed on your favorite towel." Then as the entire room broke up into laughter, she gave a wicked little smile.

The next week was taken up by more checkups with BJ, a couple of therapy sessions with Dr. Foley, shopping with the team and Konoko to replace the wardrobe (the new physiognomy would allow her to keep most of her jeans, t-shirts, and coats, but everything else needed replacing, starting with shoes and underwear). She drew the line when they tried to drag her into Victoria’s Secret, though.

Laden down with bags on one of the first shopping trips, she’d also picked up a book in Chapters that she’d heard about but never read, and it became her preferred book for reading before bed.

There was also time spent with Brothers Neo and Ghost, who passed on a message from Brother Partridge that he was "impressed" with the situation, and allowed them to train her in some Ignatine techniques she hadn’t been allowed before.

Finally, she went in for a full physical with BJ.

"How are you feeling?" he asked, as he ran a medical sensor over Geoff’s torso.

"A lot more settled. Some mental weirdness, and I’m still getting used to how to use the bathroom, but otherwise, pretty good. Been sleeping more, but I think that’s recovery."

BJ nodded. "Good, good. Well, this week’s monitoring shows your biology and biochemistry is now fairly stable. You still have the Daodan, but it’s now fully integrated into your body. I can hearby declare you completely fit for duty, and express that I don’t really want to see you in here for a while. It’s like once a year, we have to put you back together and I don’t know how long we can keep doing this before declaring you a class Humpty-Dumpty and not being able to do it."

She picked up her t-shirt and pulled it over her head. "I’m going to try that. I’ve noticed that I’m physically weaker, but I’m faster than I was, so maybe instead of taking the hit and hoping I live through it, I can dodge things better."

"That would be nice. Any ideas about a new name?"

"Oh, one or two..."

Her next stop was the 39th floor of the IPO building. Lu Durgo smiled up. "Hey there. Need the Chief?"

"Actually, I wanted to ask you a question first."

Lu’s eyebrows went up. "Little ol’ me? I’m just a secretary!"

Geoff gave her a look. "You’re an executive administrative assistant. Back in Big Fire, we’d say that the Magnificent Ten directed the organization, but the EAs actually ran it, and messing with them was more dangerous."

Lu laughed out loud, and the door to the Chief’s office opened. "Who's out here having fun on company time? Oh, hey, Geoff, what’s up?"

"I was just going to ask the person who really runs the IPO a question, then you showed up." She gave a wicked grin. "But while you’re here... how hard is it to get your name legally changed?"

Lu raised her hand, then said, "I can do it in five minutes, two if Vision’s not playing an MMO. Do you have an attorney?"

"Two, actually. For civil matters, Matt Murdock of Nelson & Murdock, downtown."

"Oh, good, I know him," said Lu. "They do some work for us, so their systems are already tied into ours. This'll be easy!" Cracking her knuckles, she began typing.

"What did you pick?" Gryphon asked curiously.

She smiled. "Genevieve Marie Dantes. Keeps my initials!" she said as Gryphon opened his mouth to ask a question, then added in, "I think I’m going to go for ‘Jen’ for the short form."

Lu looked up. "Even your last name?"

"My family, everyone in my past, is dead. Working with Dr. Foley showed me I still associate that name with Big Fire. So I’m taking the chance to remake myself completely."

Gryphon raised one eyebrow. "Dantes?"

"Well," she said thoughtfully, "I read The Count of Monte Cristo recently, and this is a time of remaking and rebirth, looking for justice... plus, you know, a little bit of the spiteful revenge towards Big Fire." She shrugged. "I mean, I’m not that rich, but if it’s in a good cause I can probably get help from the IPO, yeah? Lensperson and all."

"Okay, but Jen? I don’t even know the normal short form for Genevieve. I mean, I can hear it, but I don’t know if it works out linguistically. You know how the French are about their language!" he added with a mischievous wink.

"I don’t actually care," she said, "it’s basically for convenience."

"And done," Lu said, handing over two cards (an IPO ID card and an Avalon County driver’s license). "Vision’s filing the paperwork with the Justice Department over on Zardon, so you should be good there in the next couple of days. BJ updated your biometrics, too, so, uh, happy birthday!"

"Thank you, Lu."

"Oh, hey," Gryphon added, "let’s head downstairs, get you geared back up, and then have lunch."

"Sounds good! Konoko wants me back on Tomodachi to go clubbing tonight, so I might need some of that."

"Oh god," Lu groaned, "I made that mistake once. That girl can drink like a Ishi Tib."

"Well, I’m going along to make sure she gets home, since I have no idea of my ability to handle alcohol and will be remaining sober."

"Good," Lu said, looking a little sick just at the memory.

Fitted now with her Lens and with a briefcase holding her guns, Jen and Gryphon had lunch at the Movenpick with Brothers Ghost and Neo.

"We’re on our way out of the system," Neo said as he munched on a fish sandwich, "but we wanted to see you before we headed out."

"Thank you kindly, Brothers. I appreciate your support." She bowed her head. "And I’ve sent a message to the archivist on Barsaan so they can officially update my status, so everyone should be updated soon about my latest bit of weirdness."

"It is what is needed at the time," Ghost said, serenely tucking into a bowl of noodles. "We will see what it is needed for in time, I am certain."

"It’s going to be interesting, at least," Jen mused.

They made their farewells, and Jen and Gryphon returned to the building. Gryphon headed to his office, and Jen to the Stargate. Waving to the techs on both side, she headed to street level, where she caught a cab home.

Unlocking the door, she heard the happy ruckus from the dining room that indicated a game of Fluxx was going on. "I’m home!" she called, and headed to the stairs, and to her room.

The room itself was decorated sparely, with a full bed, a desk, a table, a nightstand, and the door to a closet. There was a mirror on the closet door, and Jen looked at it thoughtfully. She closed the room door, then undressed to her underwear and looked at herself in the mirror.

She’d done this before, but now, with her identity solifidied, she did it again. What had been strong features had softened slightly, her brow ridge gone and chin narrowed, but cheekbones still prominent. Her hair, still uncut, went to mid-back. Her body, always toned by exercise and Daodan, was still toned, but where there had been mostly muscle, there was now a litheness accompanying it. The parts of her body visible, except scalp and eyebrows, had been cleansed of all hair (and oh, had BJ told her the tank techs had complained about that). Her hands were narrower, as were her shoulders; her hips were relatively wider compared to the rest of her.

Jen did some quick warm-up exercises, and was gratified to have this body responding properly to her demands. She’d have to get Logan to run one of his "training courses" for her to give her a proper wilderness chase workout, but...

Yeah. She could do this.

There was a knock on the door, and then Konoko called out, "Hey, dressed yet?"

Jen opened the door, still in her underwear, and before she could say anything, Konoko (dressed for a rave in a pink belly shirt, white shorts, and white sneakers) raised an eyebrow and said, "I mean, we’re going to a rave but you’re going to need more than that to go over there."

Jen looked upwards and muttered in Latin, then said, "I don’t even know what to wear."

Konoko barged in and started opening drawers. "Well, the underwear should be okay, you just want to be comfortable. Yeah, this should work." The commando tossed a t-shirt (teal, with the IPO logo in the breast pocket position), a pair of shorts (grey), and a pair of short white socks to her housemate. "Then a pair of sneakers, and we’re good."

Shaking her head, Jen dressed, then pulled on a pair of new Chucks, tying them and standing up. "How do I look?" She glanced at herself in the mirror, and realized just how short the shorts actually were.

"Girl, you look awesome. Oh, hey, what did you bring in the briefcase?"

"My guns." Jen popped the lock on the case, and found all three of her pistols, in holsters, with the proper strapping, and a slender cylinder about six inches long. "What the hell is this?" She picked it up, and found an activator, but Konoko waved her hands to get her attention.

"That’s a Covenant plasma sword. Do not use it in the house!"

Jen very gingerly put it back in the briefcase. "Yeah. Good plan. In favor of it. Why do I have one?"

"I dunno, maybe they thought you needed something for close in?"

"Yeah, I’ll ask later. Let’s get to the car."

The two of them went down the stairs, and from the dining room, there came a chorus of whistles and catcalls from Saya, Younger Kitty, Alex Summers and someone she didn’t know. Diana just gave a forbearing smile.

"Yes, yes, thank you. If you’ll excuse me, I have to drive Konoko to her school dance." She gave a prom-queen wave as they headed towards the garage.

"You’re blushing, you know."

"I am NOT."

"You ARE."

Jen unlocked the Bugatti and then hit the button to unlock the other door. Konoko slid in, and buckled up. The garage door opened, and the car pulled out onto the street and made its way to the rave, where Lain was DJing (which is how Konoko scored her invite).

At 3 AM, the garage door swung open on an empty house, and Konoko and Jen stumbled in, giggling.

"You are just as fucked up as I am," Konoko said, trying and failing to keep her voice down.

"I am not. I am a good Catholic girl and we do not get fucked up. I just am tired and off balance."

The lights went on, and Sister Destiny looked down the stairs. "Do you two need help?" she asked, eyebrows raised.

"I believe we do," Jen said, trying to keep her composure, then breaking into giggles again. "I may have taken something improper," she added.

Destiny rolled her eyes, and got them both to bed, thanks to her mechanical body’s strength and their general trouble with staying upright.

Both of them remained in bed until noon the next day, due to painful, incapacitating headaches.

"So," Destiny said at dinnertime, which had been ordered in and consisted of a large pizza and a 2-liter of Hassy Cola, "how are you feeling?"

Jen took a moment to assess herself, mentally and physically. There were things that needed to be done, things to get used to, things that would happen later, but in general...

"You know," Jen said, "I think I’m going to be fine."

MARCH 14, 2412

Jen Dantes crouched on the roof, next to the warehouse skylight, and glanced through. They never look up, she thought. Below her, Hydra goons scurried hither and yon preparing for yet another terror action. She activated her throat mic.

"This is Hellbringer. Status report," she subvocalized.

"V, ready."

"Cipher, in their systems."

"Thunderbolt on the front door. Penance is with me."

"Oni on sniper watch."

"Boom Robo hangin' and bangin' in case I'm needed!"

Jen smiled. "You know the plan. Let's make it happen."

With Lain having messed with the alarms, Jen was able to pull open the skylight a crack. She pulled the pins, dropped in three flashbangs, and when they went off, hit her armdeck and went over the edge.

Back in business, she thought with satisfaction as she plunged into the chaos, face pulling into a grin.


undocumented features

The Fable of the Reconstruction
A Tale of the Future Imperfect

has been

An Eyrie Productions, Unlimited Production

The Cast
in order of appearance
Lloyd Bateau
Konoko Kokoromi
Thomas "Neo" Anderson
Sister Destiny
Diana Prince
Max Guevara
Saya Otonachi
Lain Iwakura
Makoto Kino
Mike Sounders
Peter Griffin
Katherine Griffin
Kurt Wagner
Keiichi Morisato
Geoff Depew
Hydra Special Cell 242
Benjamin D. "Gryphon" Hutchins
BJ Hunnicutt
Catherine Burroughs
Gil Grissom
Gloria Brancusi
Dr. Curtis Connors
Dr. Grace Foley
Skuld Ravenhair
Luorno Durgo

and introducing

Genevieve "Jen" Dantes

written by
Jen Dantes
with Benjamin D. Hutchins

Target on my back
Lone survivor lasts
They got me in their sights
No surrender no
Trigger fingers go
Living the dangerous life

Hey, hey, hey
Everyday when I wake
I'm trying to get up, they're knocking me down
Chewing me up, spitting me out
Hey, hey, hey
When I need to be saved
You're making me strong, you're making me stand
Never will fall, never will end
Shot like a rocket up into the sky
Nothing can stop me tonight

You make me feel invincible
Earthquake, powerful
Just like a tidal wave
You make me brave
You're my titanium
Fight song, raising up
Like a roar of victory in a stadium
Who can touch me cause I'm
I'm made of fire
Who can stop me tonight
I'm hard wired
You make me feel invincible

I feel, I feel it
I feel, I feel it

Here we go again
I will not give in
I've got a reason to fight
Every day we choose
We might win or lose
This is the dangerous life

Hey, hey, hey
Everyday when I wake
They say that I'm gone; they say that they've won
The bell has been rung, it's over and done
Hey, hey, hey
When I need to be saved
They counting me out, but this is my round
You in my corner, look at me now
Shot like a rocket up into the sky
Nothing can stop me tonight

You make me feel invincible
Earthquake, powerful
Just like a tidal wave
You make me brave
You're my titanium
Fight song, raising up
Like a roar of victory in a stadium
Who can touch me cause I'm
I'm made of fire
Who can stop me tonight
I'm hard wired
You make me feel invincible

I feel, I feel it
I feel, I feel it

You make me feel invincible
You make me feel invincible
Shot like a rocket up into the sky
Not gonna stop

Feel invincible
Earthquake, powerful
Just like a tidal wave
You make me brave
You're my titanium
Fight song, raising up
Like a roar of victory in a stadium

So feel invincible
Earthquake, powerful
Just like a tidal wave
You make me brave
You're my titanium
Fight song, raising up
Like a roar of victory in a stadium
Who can touch me cause I'm
I'm made of fire
Who can stop me tonight
I'm hard wired
You make me feel invincible

I feel, I feel it
I feel, I feel it