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The Meaning of Pain (Sensorum Intro Post)

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Post by Sensorum July 22nd 2015, 12:44 pm


Pain was the connective tissue of all living things.   It was the one thing all creatures had in common.

He had not always understood that.  

Back before he’d become Sensorum, when he’d just been Sanjay, a doctor at Central Hospital.  He’d thought the common thread of all living things was growth, or reproduction.  Something affirming, bright, and cloaked in the loving essence of the creator.

He hadn’t become a cynic.  He still believed in love, in good things, in growth and the multiplication of life.  

His experiences as a vigilante hero had simply added to this perspective.  Not all living things were growing.  Or multiplying.  Some were barren.  Some were in the final part of their lifecycle, groping towards death.  

But pain?  They all felt pain.  Pain was just a word for perceiving damage.  Every multicellular creature had a mechanism for it.  

And why?

Because the moment they started living, they started taking damage.

Sensorum climbed out of the wall.   The pain wasn’t too bad, all things considered.  The suit he wore shielded him from broken bones.  It was a white and blue ballistic-fiber marvel of the modern age.  A new suit of armor for a new kind of knight.   Or at least, he liked to think of it that way.  It was a romantic notion.  Something noble and chivalrous, lifted above the dirt and damage of the streets.   Lifted up from a world of pain.

Pay attention.   Here he comes again.

The brute was swinging a big axe, now.   He must have gotten it from somewhere in the room while Sensorum had been ruminating on the meaning of life.   Since when did lumberjacks live in these slums?  Who was this guy?  

Sensorum could feel everything this man was feeling.  He could feel the soft fabric of his washed-thin cotton t-shirt.   The rougher texture of his cargo pants.  The moisture of sweat as it beaded on his skin.  The heat of exertion, of rage.   He could feel the grain of the axe’s wood handle as he gripped it in his hands.  The weight of the axe-head.  He could feel muscles flexing, jaw tightening, teeth pressing hard together.

But none of this told him about who this man was.  

None of it told him about the man’s damage.

The axe was swung, and Sensorum moved out of its way.   He was good at that.  It wasn’t magic.  He got caught sometimes- usually because he shut off his power.  That’s how this behemoth of a man had managed to send him across the room and into the wall.   It was necessary to disconnect his special perception before clobbering someone, or else he’d feel the pain of his punches landing on a target.  In that instant of disconnect, a wild burst of unanticipated action could catch him unawares.  

But generally?  It was an immense advantage to sense an opponent’s body from the inside.  To feel muscles tightening, his weight shifting from one leg to the other.  To see the focus of his eyes.    Sensorum generally knew where a blow would land before it had really ever been launched.   He was inside this man, now.  Feeling everything he felt.  The thundering heartbeat roaring in his ears.  The rapid breathing, like a racehorse chasing a mechanical rabbit.  The frothing saliva on his lips.  The dryness in his throat.

None if it gave him any real understanding of who this man was.  He didn’t know why this man had been beating his wife and kid.  What had happened to him to make him so angry?  What had broken down the familial bonds, allowing him to bring such force upon his own flesh and blood?   What early traumas had damaged his mind, making him a barely-contained hulk, lashing out at those he was supposed to love?  He was mad, that was clear.  Oh, not just angry, but mad.  Out of his skull.  Well-adjusted people didn’t go into murderous rampages.   Insanity was the pain of a damaged mind, and it was the one pain he couldn’t tap into.

On the floor nearby, the broken bodies of this man’s wife and son lay in pools of blood.   Sensorum had been called here by their pain.  It’s what he did: driving through the city until agony reached out to him and demanded attention.  The pain had been so severe that he’d nearly crashed his bike.  He’d been forced to shut off his perception of their pain.  It was too terrible.  He only knew they were still alive from the activity of their nervous systems.  He knew that he hadn’t been too late to save them.  That was enough, for now.

The axe came again, and Sensorum sidestepped it.   The apartment was small, and the maneuver brought him close to the broken front door.   He glanced at the area near the doorway, wondering if there might be a weapon there.  Many people kept baseball bats or other implements near their doors, improvised weapons to strike at unwanted visitors.   He spotted an oddly shaped mount on the wall, and realized that’s where the axe had come from.   What kind of man kept a giant fire axe as a self-defense weapon?

Another swing.   Another dodge.  Sensorum’s eyes fell on some framed pictures hanging in the short hallway that led into the bedrooms and the bathroom.  Wife.  Kid.  Firemen standing in front of a truck.  One of the firemen was familiar.  It was this hulk with the axe.  

He ducked under the axe-head a third time, dancing towards the kitchen.   A recycling container was here, filled to the brim with crushed beer cans.  

So this guy was an ex-fireman.  An alcoholic.  Something had happened to him.  Lost his job.  Not due to injury.  There was no pain in this man’s back or knees.   The only damage was in his mind.  Had drinking cost him the job, or had he started drinking when he lost the job?   Hard to say.

And at this point, it didn’t matter.  Mad dogs had sad stories, but it didn’t change what had to be done.

The fourth swing embedded the axe momentarily in the kitchen counter.  Sensorum shut off his perception and stepped in close.   The flurry of blows was competently delivered.  He lacked the power of a professional boxer, but speed made up for a lot.  The titanium-reinforced knuckles in his gloves also helped make up for his shortcomings in brute force.  Rib, Solar-plexus, chin.  The brute must have weighed nearly twice as much as he did.  When he went down, it was thunderous.

No room for mercy, here.  He knelt down and delivered finishing blows.   A half-dozen brutal punches to the face.   He punched until the light of consciousness went out of the eyes.  There was danger in this.  Concussion was certain.  Coma was possible.  There was even a chance of death.  You couldn’t go around beating up people for a living without risking a terrible outcome.

But there were worse outcomes.   Two of those worse outcomes were suffering in the living room.

He’d called for an ambulance before breaking down the door, and now the distant sirens could be heard.   He went to the woman and child, kneeling beside them.  He reached out to them, whispering softly.   “Let me take your pain,” he said.   He could override someone’s natural sensations if they opened up to him.  They could always assert their own experiences if they wanted to.   Eject him from their nervous system.  It was a natural response.  Sensation was intensely personal, and the intrusion could feel like being probed by aliens if you weren’t open to it.   It took a conscious act of will to allow someone into your neural network, to allow them to feed you something unreal.

At least, that’s how it was for him.  There might be more powerful metas who could force themselves upon the unwilling.   He didn’t know.

But he felt this pair relent.  They were only barely aware of him.   Perhaps they mistook him for an angel.  Or a doctor.

The kind of doctor with a medical license.

Whatever the reason for their trust, they let him in.   He tinkered with their neural feedback, slowly tuning out their pain.  He turned it down till it was a distant ebb, a quiet pressure easily ignored.   He was tempted to replace the pain with something pleasurable, but decided against it.   Pleasure had a connotation of intimacy, even outside the context of sexual relations.  They might easily feel violated in retrospect.

“Help is coming,” he assured them, “it’s almost here.”

The sirens were loud, now.   He looked towards the window.   He could feel the ambulance driver.    She was parking the vehicle out front.   The EMT’s were disembarking.  Rushing inside.  Bypassing a broken elevator.  Hauling their gear and a stretcher up the stairs.  

Sensorum waited until the last possible moment, and then he broke for the window.   He burst through, catching the frame with one hand and swinging about.  His feet planted on the side of the building, and then he ran down the sheer brick wall like an impossible cartoon character, his boots clinging to the vertical surface with technology borrowed from the Gecko, one of nature’s great climbers.  A short sprint, twenty feet, and he was on the ground.   Then in the alley.  And on his bike.  Racing away.

No supervillains tonight.   Just a drunk domestic abuser.

Still, he’d made a difference.

There would be a little less pain in the world, now.

A little less damage.


Status :

Quote : "If we could feel each other's pain, surely cruelty would cease to exist."

Warnings : 0 Warnings
Number of posts : 8
Location : In the desert, riding Shadowfax
Age : 48
Registration date : 2015-07-21

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