“What?” Jessica and Keanan said in unison.

Sophia just yawned, “it’s a lot less dramatic if we already know what you’re going to say.”

“Oh screw you, mom, it was for their sakes.”

Keanan and Jessica were both looking very confused, “I’m going to need more than that.” Jessica said.

“Oh come on, I know Keanan doesn’t know, but you were her team leader.”

“Medical files are private, Alecia. Not that you know what that means,” Bernard said.

“Right, the more Gaslight uses her powers, the more they push her to the mental state she was in when she got them. The closer she is to that point the more they grow. So I’m going to chop her dick off, stick her on even more hormones than she was on. With any luck, it will break the cycle, also therapy she’s going to need even more of it now.”

“Ooh, she’s transgender. That explains a lot,” Keanan said. “Why didn’t you just tell me.”

“You’re eight; I didn’t want to have the conversation. It would have been awkward.”

“You put the definition in my databanks.”

“I did?”

“I’ve got like four dictionaries in my head.”

“Oh right.”

While Alecia and Keanan bantered, Jessica leaned against the wall, it took most of her weight. “Why are you so calm about this Keanan?”

“You do remember I’m a golem right? This body,” Keanan indicated his childlike body, “is fake, just a disguise. I don’t understand gender, or associate it with people.”


“I think we broke her,” Alecia said.

“Too many revelations about people she thought she knew well,” Sofia said. “Pretty much everyone was keeping major secrets from her.”

“How did I not notice?”

“Well the frilly dress, the makeup, her being a kid, the very nice padded bra. All in all Gaslight did a very good job,” Alecia answered.

“Is there anyone who didn’t lie to me?”

“Cinder won a state science fair two years in a row and purposely started underperforming after getting his powers because they scared him. Justin and Adrian are Thread and Needle, uh I know I’m missing something. Keanan only hid stuff about me, and apparently so did my parents.”

“Sorry,” Jessica said sliding down to the floor. “It’s just been a -“

“A what?”

“Why am I apologizing? You’re a supervillain.”

“That’s the spirit, Jessica, turn that confusion and hurt into righteous anger. I’d offer to let you hit me, but you would probably hurt your hand.”

“We could get you a bat,” Keanan offered.

“Wouldn’t work,” Bernard said. “She could stand next to a claymore and let you trigger it.”

“Still wouldn’t work,” Sophia interjected “but with enough of them we could have her bouncing off the walls.”

“What is wrong with you people?” Jessica asked.

“We apparently all subscribe to the philosophy of not knowing how to deal with your feelings of betrayal, so we’re trying to get you to focus on something else,” Alicia said.

“That isn’t a philosophy.”

“Shush mom, do you have any better ideas?”

“Gods no, I let Bernard handle this stuff.”

“You broke her, you fix her,” Bernard said.

“Can you stop talking like I’m not here.”

“Sorry,” Alecia, Bernard, and Sophia said.

“You people are terrible, everyone out,” Keanan proceeded to shoo his family out of the room, despite their feeble protests. “I didn’t like all the lies either.”

“I know, sorry you shouldn’t have to deal with this shit, I’m the adult we’re supposed to protect you from this stuff,” Jessica said, “but here you are protecting me.”

“If it makes you feel better I think I was made to be more resilient than your average eight-year-old.”

“Not really, you know it isn’t the lies that bother me. Alecia not telling me, I get it. I hate what she was doing, but I get why she didn’t tell me. Gaslight I wish she had trusted me enough to tell me, but I get why she didn’t tell me. You don’t care do you?”

“My first ethics lessons came from my mom, she also taught me not to sweat the little things.”

“These aren’t little secrets, Keanan.”

“To me they are, Gaslight is still Gaslight, my mom is still my mom. I love them both, and that won’t change. I love you too.”

“Damn it, you’re too good for us Keanan. You know that right? Better than me, better than your mom.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Would you lie for your own sake?”


“Then you’re better than us.”

“When did you lie to us?”

“I didn’t, I lied to myself. I think that was the worst lie.” Jessica sat on the floor in silence for a while. Keanan proceeded to hover not quite sure of the best course of action.

He left after some silence and returned with another mug of hot chocolate for Jessica, who accepted it gratefully. “Why does she keep it so cold in here?”

“She liked the cold, and it was good for the machines, until recently I don’t think anyone has been here who could be bothered by it.”

“Could I go outside?”

“Sure, follow me.”

Keanan leads her into a side room and accessed a panel in the wall, “where do you want to go?”

“Somewhere without any people. I think I need to go for a run.”

Jessica felt the sensation of teleporting again if anything it felt even more unpleasant this time around. It was still cold where she ended up, but not as cold. Just an endless open plane of sandy soil as far as she could see. Keanan had taken her literally and sent her to some desert, but that was fine.

She started running in a straight line pushing herself to go faster, to go farther. The scenery was passing in a blur, rock formations rising on the horizon and fading into the distance. As the sun started to crest the horizon she saw something out of place and came to a halt.

It was a dome that seemed more an absence of light than a physical object, something that should not exist; she recognized it. Dutifully she reached for her communicator.

Bad link, do not click.

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  1. I’m guessing that the dome is Gaslight?

    And I was right about what her deal is. The ethics committee is a bunch of wankers.

    Jessica’s reactions to everything have been pretty funny, by the way. I like crazy, but The Only Sane (wo)Man is a necessary foil to really emphasize it.

    And finally, “First?”

    1. Also, I’m pretty sure it’s a typo, but:

      Keanan leads her into a side room and accused a panel in the wall, “where do you want to go?”

      Either Keanan’s words need to sound more angry and accusational, or you meant to say “accessed”.

        1. I couldn’t be certain. After all, he’s already threatened the kitchen, and it got results. I wouldn’t put it past Alecia to try something funny with the teleport controls, either.

            1. You reminded me of a scene from Errant Story (which I still need to finish):
              Person: *punches wall*
              Familiar: “All right! That is one wall that will know not to cross you again! Now go smack the end table around a little; it’s getting cheeky.”

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