Eric Roberts had been working with UNITY from the very beginning. When the Lassick Incident broke, no one knew how to handle a mentally unstable, highly-manifested metahuman. He was a psychologist specializing in anxiety disorders at the time He had an office and estate in New York state, paid for with his empathic abilities, telling people about how the world wasn’t the harsh and unforgiving entity they’d imagine it was. He convinced people to trust in the innate kindness of others, to believe that most people wanted to help others.
When he’d seen the Lassick Incident, he’d been comfortable saying those words while hiding his own meta abilities. He’d been comfortable telling himself that discretion was a reasonable route when so much of mankind was still coming to grips with the implications of metahumanity, all too aware of how easy it was for people to focus exclusively on the dangers life’s changes presented at the loss of those opportunities.
Stopping Lassick and saving his victims cost Eric Roberts more than a comfortable practice and a nice house, but now, after helping so many metas become bearers of that message, he didn’t doubt it was the right thing for him to do.
None the less, there were less rewarding days, like today, when an invisible metahuman walks into his office, stands on his ceiling, and asks to sign up for UNITY training.
“I assume that your abilities consist of enhanced strength and the ability to mimic the coloration of any toaster pastry.”
“Um, no. I can turn invisible.” The voice sounded nervous and serious; either too stupid to get the joke or too serious, “I can also fly.”
Young too. Anxious. He took a moment to chide himself for trying to turn everyone into nails for his particular specialty of hammer.
“I think I, um, might have a selective ability to channel fundamental forces around my Ehm-field.”
Roberts leaned back. Definitely serious. And anxious. Middle class. Male. Not stupid.
“That’s certainly a thought. How much do you know about Ehm theory?”
“Just a little bit. I, uh, read about on net-uh, the internet.”
Definitely middle class and smart, but he’s pretending not to be. He wants to be the type of average citizen that doesn’t use net-plus.
Not everyone liked UNITY. Some people didn’t like it because they didn’t like metas. They didn’t like the idea of individual people randomly manifesting super human powers, they didn’t like the culture of acceptance that had largely grown up around such different people, and they didn’t like the thought that it was now slightly more likely that the person next to them in line at the grocery store could incinerate them with their eyes. There were also people who thought metas were all fine and good up to being the saviors of humanity, but who didn’t think that UNITY should be the default organization for training them. While not as vociferous or violent as the others, they did tend to be tenacious about undermining UNITY’s credibility at every turn.
Up to, and including, putting a sympathetic meta undercover at a UNITY facility.
“Go ahead and tell me what you know and I’ll fill in the rest. You might save yourself a few days of class time if you know what you’re talking about now.”
Dr. Roberts spent the next five minutes listening and nodding while filling out paperwork on his terminal. Yes, Ehm Theory was named for Doctor James Ehm, an Australian researcher believed to be the first person to manifest seven years ago. Yes, He created the first map of trans-atomic biocircuit structures created by human consciousness and how they could potentially store and release energies according to preexisting neural pathways. Yes, almost every human had an Ehm Field, but it was only manifested metas who could control and project theirs. His young visitor did a remarkable job with the dates and technical names, forgetting about his not-so-smart cover story in an effort to impress his audience.
“I am impressed,” Roberts told him at the end, “I just need your name and I’ll have your file all set up.”
“Yes, if that’s not too much trouble.”
There was a slight pause as Doctor Roberts considered the possibility that his visitor spent weeks practicing his approach, studying UNITY, Ehm Theory, and perhaps even Doctor Roberts and the Denver facility itself, but had never thought about the pseudonym he would use.
“I…uh, it’s just that I’m…” he was faltering badly. Roberts was worried that he’d bolt, not because he was eager to take a malcontent into his charge, but because UNITY training was a massive boon to every meta who received it and every human they interacted with thereafter.
“Take your time,” he put on his best professional voice of patience, “you can use an assumed name if you like. Most metas do.”
“I just don’t like having my name in computers. I don’t want to be shuffled around in some electronic system.” He was rambling now, too busy stalling for time to come up with an answer or a next step.
“Look, you can make something up. No pressure.”