by bossfight1

Prelude, Part 3: Director's Notes, Compilation B

Subject 6043
Director’s Log:
11. 7/14
All the initiates in the New Hampshire branch have been transferred to the Vermont branch, after last night’s Purist raid (see the corresponding incident report.)

Joel played a major part in ensuring nobody got hurt; he evaded capture by using the ventilation shafts, rescued Lieutenant Joshua Clarke from sustaining further injury, and distracted the Purists in the training center, where they planned to execute the initiates via firing squad and broadcast the recorded executions to live television. Once Joel had caused sufficient mayhem among the Purists, the trainees quickly fled or fought back. It was during the mayhem that Joel found he was not affected by gunfire; he explained that his form ‘caught the bullets’.

Joel explained that he, reluctantly, invoked a Nightmare on Lieutenant Nathan Pierce, as part of causing a distraction; he undid the illusion as soon as he was able, but was remorseful nonetheless. He plans on not giving Nightmares to innocents in the future, if he can help it.

12. 7/14 (ctd.)
Joel’s family arrived at the Vermont branch, demanding to see their son. I allowed Joel to see them after he worked to don his human form, but his family demanded that he be allowed to return home after last night’s raid. They stated that they will no longer stand for their son being a target of the Purists.

Before I could explain that he couldn't leave, Joel beat me to the punch. He expressed a desire to fully grasp his powers, and use them to help people as best he could. His family was reluctant, but Joel’s father finally admitted that Joel is an adult and capable of making his own decisions. His family departed after some time, and Joel quietly returned to his room. I could tell he, deep down, dearly wished to return home to his family.

Joel’s fellow trainees spoke highly of him regarding his actions during the raid. Some of those who fought back against the Purists said they were 'inspired' by his actions. I reviewed the camera footage from the raid; I actually had to watch it three times before I finally noticed Joel slipping around the gym, and even then I needed to adjust the brightness of the footage. When he fully revealed himself he used the havoc he’d created to the best of his ability; he showed the capability to move quickly between opponents, the ability to disarm and neutralize them, and a surprising amount of strength, as seen when he tossed a Purist against the wall.

I believe once we’ve fully learned the capabilities of the Nightmare and its applications, we can safely move Joel onto Basic Training.

12. 7/19
The initiates from the New Hampshire Branch have been returned to their respective facility.

13. 7/21
Joel began his training today. We started out small by having him perform in Simulation: Melee Combat, Level 1. He went at the challenge with great enthusiasm, but when he defeated the first hologram the challenge ended as a failure; he’d formed his claw into what could only be described as a glaive and attacked his target in a method that, if the target was real, would have killed them. Joel then grasped that the targets were to be considered human, and resolved to adjust his methods as necessary.

There were a few more rounds that, to Joel’s frustration, were marked as fails, however; there were moments when Joel would either hit his target hard enough to rupture internal organs, or toss them in a way that would break their necks. It appears Joel gets somewhat over-excited in combat, put lightly. When he attacks an opponent I can hear him snarling, roaring, even—quite literally, as in, more of a beast than a man; it’s almost as if he wishes to make his opponents believe he is the monster he appears to be. An interesting tactic, but the first thing MHAs are taught is not to kill humans, and that they will face severe consequences should an innocent die by their hands, intentional or not.

Still, when he fights in a way that would not prove fatal to a human opponent, Joel is quite efficient; he strikes them in a way that either disorients them or knocks them to the ground, allowing him to move onto another target. He even shrugs off blows, though this is no surprise, since he was unaffected by gunfire during the raid on the 14th. Any punches or kicks that land simply sink into his mass; Joel began using this to his advantage, gripping the fist or foot and bringing the aggressor to the floor.

At the end of the day, Joel managed to achieve gold status on Melee Combat Levels 1-5, through trial and error in terms of combat aggression. He noted that each level simply came with more opponents, and wished to face something different. Given his performance and capabilities, I believe I can bump him up somewhat; as a formality, he’ll need to pass Level 1 tomorrow on some challenges he might find simple (Firearm-disarming, environmental awareness and the like), but it should see him to the more in-depth aspects of training.

14. 7/24
It has been over a month since Joel arrived, and he’s made more progress learning his powers than most ‘late-bloomer’ metahumans. There had been some bumps—Joel still had trouble maintaining a non-fatal fighting style, but after a while he managed to learn the trick to 'pulling his punches'.

He relished the chance to face opponents that weren’t considered humans, though; when we unveiled Simulation: Titan Combat, he literally squealed with joy at the sight of the FENRIR Automated Mechs that stepped into the simulation chamber. Joel also used this simulation to learn how sharp his claws could become; he found that his bigger blades, while not strong enough to entirely cleave through the Mechs, still did considerable damage. He also discovered a viable method of combatting larger robotic enemies; he would throw his mass into the robot’s circuitry, seep inside and tear it apart from the inside, or even force the robots to move 'like synthetic puppets'. He couldn’t work out a way to make the robots fire their weapons while ‘possessing’ them, so he resorted to melee attacks against his opponents, or allowed them to destroy their possessed friend.

At the end of the day, as Joel and I left the sim chambers, Joel admitted to a ‘rush’ when in combat. It is not uncommon for a metahuman to feel a surge of adrenaline when ‘stretching their wings’, so to speak, though I do hope the rush is exactly that—a rush. I've read my share of reports on more feral metahumans that eventually succumbed to their primal sides.

15. 7/26
We discovered Joel’s weakness today. Joel is in recovery, though given his unique buildup we are unsure if there is anything we can do.

Fire. Joel’s form is weak to fire.

We dispatched PYRO Mechs as part of today’s training. Joel made to attack, but stopped. Joel called out to control, "Hold on a second," stood still and let a PYRO unleash its flamethrower upon him.

Joel began to scream in pain as the flames engulfed him. He withdrew from the PYROs and sped to the corner, his mass glowing like molten stone. He huddled in the corner and remained still, his cries slowly dying out. We quickly shut down the PYROs and dispatched a medical response team. I entered the chamber and found Joel, his form almost completely solidified. Only a claw and a portion of his tail remained unaffected. Fire appears to solidify Joel’s form like clay. The medical team managed to heft Joel’s form onto cart and bring him to recovery, but it is unknown if--

16. 7/26 (ctd.)
Joel is okay. It took time but his form slowly regained its normal fluidity, utilizing his unaffected essence in breaking off his solidified mass. He is unnerved but otherwise okay, though he doesn’t wish to face the PYROs again anytime soon.

Joel wished to call his family and inform them, but I advised against it; it is common practice for MHAs to keep any weaknesses, be they physical or social (loved ones, friends), to themselves as much as possible, so that no Malefactors may use that weakness against them. He dryly noted that the Department knows his weakness, but sighed and vowed not to give them a reason to use that knowledge.

17. 8/13
Joel has passed the physical aspects of training; it took a deal of trial and error on some tests, but, as Joel jokingly said, ‘no one makes the first jump.’

Joel got the hang of evading opponents armed with flamethrowers or similar weapons, working to disable the weapons or disarm the aggressors (Initially he worked to cut the fuel-lines on flamethrower-equipped opponents, but soon discovered that doing so just made a risk of igniting the environment.) In navigating a blazing environment, Joel simply extended his mass to move around and over the flames. Any burns he sustained were minor, merely solidifying and disabling the burned portion of his mass for a period of time.

A behavioral note regarding Joel; when he reached the simulation, Hostage Situation, there were a fair number of times he would ensure the simulated hostage’s safety before clearing out any threats, even though the primary goal of the challenge is to protect the hostages for a given amount of time. His mindset is understandable—stop a threat before it can hurt the hostages, rather than hover over the civilians and hope for the best. But I hope to teach him that he won’t be able to win every battle he fights—at least not immediately. Guardianship is one of the defining statistics of every MHA; the ability and will to protect the civilian population at any cost. There will be times where preventing casualties in the present is more important than preventing casualties in the future.

Other than that, though, he seems to have gotten quite comfortable with his new form. His almost instinctive abilities in combat have sharpened enough that I feel confident he won’t accidentally kill anyone, and he’s mastered the Nightmare well enough that he only invokes the visions if he wills it. With a few more days, Joel should be ready to be shipped off to the Moore Metahuman Academy for more advanced training. He is excited to work with other metahumans, yet seemed sad when he realized he was leaving; he’d made plenty of friends at this branch, even before the Purist raid. I told him that he may see them again at Moore, which cheered him up somewhat.

18. 8/20
Joel has been transferred to the Moore Metahuman Academy facility in Montreal. I wish him the best of luck, and hope to see him again as a Metahuman Agent.

19. 9/23
Received a concerning status report on Joel at Moore; whilst working in teams in certain simulations, he had been noted as prioritizing the neutralization of any threats before handling the main objective, regardless of any attempts at a plan by his teammates. He was quoted as "giving [us] some breathing room", or yelling for his teammates to focus on the primary objective while he dealt with the opponents. This rhetoric led to a fair few successful sims, but there had been reported failures in which he was too busy combating opponents to notice his teammates being unable to complete the primary objective without his help. He still has the issue of prioritizing; again, his ideals are sound, but in more time-limited challenges—the disarmament of bombs, for example—this could be a very risky prioritization.

20. 11/24
Joel has been improving in terms of teamwork, in that he actually learned how to learn any stratagems set by his teammates, and then acting on them. I'm glad to see him realize his capabilities qualify him for more than mere combat, but I'm still concerned that he may hold a near bloodlust. He hasn't 'killed' any living opponents in his sims in months, but there were incidents where he seemed to be 'pushing it', breaking bones and the like. Some telepathic Moore staff reported that, while observing his brain patterns in the heat of combat, he is fully in control, with no risk of going feral—it seems he simply has... fun. Joel learned of these concerns and stated that he is rather brutal on the opposing holograms, "because they're exactly that: holograms." He plans on pulling back somewhat when he faces human opponents, though his instructors and I took that with a grain of salt; we've seen far too many good MHAs become fearsome Malefactors out of deeply-buried capacities for violence.

21. 7/13/2027
After nearly three years of promising progress reports, Joel contacted me and excitedly told me he’d passed. He told me that he wouldn’t have gotten this far without me, that he owes me a great debt. I eagerly await the graduation ceremony on the 24th.

22. 7/24/2027
Joel Nelson has been officially designated a Metahuman Agent, assigned to the New Hampshire Metahuman Task Force. He has chosen the codename ‘Dread’, which seems fitting enough. He is to primarily work alongside fellow graduates ‘Smite’ (Capable of erecting solid fields of pure light), and ‘Trauma’ (A class-4 telepathic).

Since communication between Task Force members is key, and Joel is incapable of carrying the smallest available earpiece, we commissioned a gift for him; a transmitter, the same size as a single grain of his mass, made of a very special metal that is attracted to the magnetic field that holds Joel together. With some assistance from Trauma, we were able to ‘sync’ the transmitter with Joel’s consciousness—or his soul, depending on how you see it—allowing him to communicate with his team telepathically. Joel opted to keep the transmitter hidden inside his mass as much as possible, to protect it from damage, but we assured him the transmitter could be repaired, even replaced.

In addition to being a neural transmitter, with some help from Illinois MHA, Scale, we were able to also equip the device with the basic workings of the MHA standard-issue PDA; with Scale’s size-alteration technology we managed to allow Joel a connection to the local DMHA office, access to various files, and the MP3 player petitioned by the MHAs back in the early 2000’s. (Joel noted he was eager to utilize the last feature to play ‘epic music’ while in combat.)

I’m eager to learn of Dread’s exploits as a fully designated MHA.