Teasers & Deleted Scenes
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 06:58:57 -0700
From: Solomon Todd <email@example.com>
To: SSA Stephen Reyes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Greetings from scenic Los Martires, TX. It's like Fred, only dustier, not so urban, and fewer trees.
Just as many gammas, though. What is it about this damned state? Is the mothership parked under Denton? Didn't I say I was never coming back here?
Retirement is treating me well, thank you. I think I've been through every ancient library and dusty newspaper morgue in the Lone Star State. If these people were any worse at throwing things away, they'd be Vermonters. Which suits our purpose pretty well, but if they recycled, I could have been home with my feet up by now, planning a trip to Cancun.
Anyway, you wanted to know what I got. What I got is a whole lot of inconclusive. I did get my hands on the papers of one Jared Martenson, a town doctor in Arlan, which had been willed to the local "historical archive" (whatever you're picturing can't possibly do it justice; mostly, they seem to be archiving packrats) and it turns out he had taken an interest in Howard McCain's traveling road show one of the times it came through. Based on his investigations, one woman with liver cancer experienced a three-year remission after the elder McCain laid his hands on her, but eventually died of the disease. Another, a kidney stone sufferer, was pronounced cured, and at least never sought medical attention for the complaint again. Another, an asthma sufferer, showed no improvement.
I did score some old newpaper photos of the elder McCain. They're just as grainy and pixellated as you'd expect, but they do not show a man who you would call particularly gaunt--or heavyset. Meanwhile, in the younger generation, you have Edgar, who was roly-poly, and Clemson, who was raw-boned but too large-framed to be called skinny.
But we can no longer use extreme gauntness as diagnostic, in the wake of Susannah Greenwood and Simon Talliwell, with their apparent ability to use others for sustenance. (Can a vampire gamma be far behind? Yeah, I know, pretend I didn't think it.) Suggestive, sure. But not diagnostic. Edgar could have been sucking the life out of his victims ^h^h^h^h^h^h^h patients in exchange for healing, right? Or just eaten enough of that fried chicken and potato salad that if he hadn't been a gamma (or a beta) he would have been a six-hundred-pounder. It's not like it's impossible: it would just have required _dedication_.
So, as I see it, these are our potential scenarios:
Howard and Edgar are con men (Edgar possibly even duped into believing his own press); Clemson is a supervillain.
Howard and Edgar are both betas, Clemson is a gamma.
Howard is a beta, Edgar and Clemson are gammas.
Edgar is a beta, Howard and Clemson are gammas.
Howard and Edgar are both gammas, Clemson is a gamma. Gammas all around!
Howard is a con man, both his sons have superpowers.
Howard has superpowers, Edgar is a con man, Clemson is a gamma.
...Yeah, my brain already hurts.
So given what we know about betas (Chaz, Hafidha, Mitchell) we know or suspect that two of the three had a gamma parent. (In Chaz's case, pre-breakthrough, but obviously if he was not capable of passing it on already, he and Chaz somehow acquired it in the same place at the same time.)
Hafidha's background is a subject for further investigation (Don't people think of posterity?), but she's a unique instance, as status beta in her case seems to have been transitional. And unlike Mitchell and Chaz (and potentially Edgar, if we can trust Clemson's hearsay evidence that Edgar was identified by their father from birth as being special), she did not convert as an infant.
So I can't conclude that Howard or Edgar were jammers, but I can't rule them out, either, And if Howard was a jammer, and his kids were--well, that's an interesting corrolary to what you and Chaz learned about the DNA.
Or, short form, yadda yadda correlation =/= causation, but this does support the teratogen theory, at least for betas. A teratogen that could be passed from parent to child. Which is, after all, how teratogens work. But if Edgar was a beta because his dad was a jammer (or potential jammer) then where does that leave us with McCain? Was he just another beta who happened to be a serial killer? If so, why did he show no evidence of genetic damage?
I think we have to say he was likely just a run of the mill gamma, and Edgar was a fraud.
Yeah, I know you know all this. Think of it as a student paper. I'm laying out my material so I can see it all in one place.
I think you're right. We still don't know how the hell you get from alpha to gamma, except repeated intense stress and exposure, but we know how to breed betas. And breeding is exactly it. First, take one anomaloid, juice, and--
Well, anyway. Tomorrow, I'm off to Portugal (Texas) and after that Plano. What I really need is something unambiguous, such as somebody who personally regrew a severed limb like a lizard's tail after being manhandled by Edgar or Howard.
yrs, in appreciation, etc,
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 08:09:45 -0600
From: SSA Stephen Reyes <email@example.com>
To: Solomon Todd <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Another potential answer is that Patient 01 was not Howard McCain's biological child. Would explain his animousity towards his mother, and how he managed to not be a beta if his brother was, and we're right about how you get betas.
Which would be suggestive on the contagion theory, as well.
Have we considered the possibility that William Villette was resistant, like Hafidha? If he went through a status beta phase, maybe he was already an active jammer when he fathered SA Villette, but he hadn't gone full-bore gamma yet?
However, the plural of anecdote is still not-- well, you know.