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  • Pat

    Which barriers is Patrick referring to?

    • Nathaniel Samuels

      The mental barriers that help him sort out his own identity from the thoughts and memories of others.

  • Olivier Faure

    Because as we all know all government agents are violent pedophiles.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      I mean, if they’re the type of government agents working in secret black ops facilities that abuse children. It kinda fits the same exact mold as them being pedophiles, yes.

      • Zinc

        Yeah, this is basically what Patrick is asserting here, as far as I understand it: “I know that nothing I can say will get me out of this chair because you’re the kind of people who engage in pedophilic prostitution in third world countries.”

        • Or are OK with associating with people like that?

          • Zinc

            My phrasing came out a bit clunky, but what I meant was that Dr. Moss’s moral fiber is (at least from Patrick’s perspective) likely representative of the researchers and managers of the facility. While (hopefully) not many of them share Moss’s particular vice, they probably all share similar levels of moral bankruptcy, i.e., they’re all his “kind of people”.

    • AdamBombTV

      Not all of them… Some of them could be necrophiliacs.

    • Tsapki

      Well, sort of the opposite end set-up to be honest. It’s more so that violent pedophiles who indulge their vice then to do so from positions of power, such as police, politicians, and priests. They are the exception rather than the rule, but they stand out because these are people who we hope would never achieve such heights of power to put towards such ends. The problem is that too many people have the idea that pedophiles, rapists, etc are universally stupid, coarse and that there will be some sort of physical clue to hint them into the dark nature inside.

      This is why a well educated, well mannered, handsome man like Ted Bundy could get so many kills under his belt.

      • Weatherheight

        The most “accomplished” social parasites are usually very adept at social manipulation.

    • UK’s worst ever serial killer, respected family GP.

      We just had a respected surgeon jailed for hundreds of cases of unnecessary surgery.

      Abusive doctors are a trope for a reason.

  • Gotham

    I’m sorry but this is straight dawdling.

    • I think you mis-spelled foreshadowing!

      • Dwight Williams

        Agreed on that point. Backstory/foreshadowing, not dawdling.

        • Gotham

          I was referring to what kid Patrick said himself to Alison two pages ago

          • Ah. Not the *author* dawdling, but either Patrick or Allison.

    • JohnTomato

      Indeed. Rough patch of story arc there.

  • Gotham

    Next page: what’s behind “the huge one” (wherever that is, not sure it was super well established in earlier pages) is everything referring to his parents. This is why even here, we can’t see them, and can’t hear their real voices.

    Because next page, Patrick’s mom (hereinafter referred to as “Pearl” because seriously) says ”if he keeps opening his mouth to say such things, hit the little freak harder.”

    • Zinc

      It’s certainly one option for why he would scratch his parents out. A few other possibilities that come to mind:

      – His parents didn’t abuse him directly, but betrayed him in their minds – his mother might never have called him a freak out loud and constantly told him that he loved him, but Patrick could still feel her fear of him and hear the labels she used for him in her inner thoughts. To Patrick there would be little difference between what she thinks and what she says, and such a betrayal from his parents would be greatly traumatic (and also, very reminiscent of Daniel’s backstory).

      – His parents really loved him and wanted the best for him, but naively believed that this research institute was it, despite Patrick’s cries for help and claims of abuse (kind of hard to believe if she had just walked on in on him being hit, though). Again, this would lead to deep feelings of betrayal.

      – His parents loved him and tried to protect him once they realized what he was subjected to; they were then “dealt with”, possibly killed. Patrick repressed the trauma of their loss by repressing all previous memories of them.

      – His parents loved him and tried, unsuccessfully, to protect him. They are still alive today. Patrick scratched them from his memories to protect them in case he ever found himself facing another telepath. While heartwarming, I admit such options seem rather unlikely, given Patrick’s apparent reactions to the scratched-out memories of his mother.

      • GreatWyrmGold

        I’m inclined to believe the latter three.

  • AdamBombTV

    It’s “Other Mother”, called it. She’s gonna see buttons on all our eyes.

  • Arkone Axon

    I… am starting to wonder here. Specifically, three possibilities.

    One possibility is that Patrick is making this all up. That these memories are deliberately falsified, that he’s created fake memories in order to deceive Alison, himself, or others (such as mind hopping memory thieves such as Gurwara might be). Simply because this backstory is touching all the boxes on the “tragic backstory cliches” bingo card. Loving dog. Cute childhood appearance. Suburban house with white picket fence. “Torture” consisting of medical care attempting to deal with an unknown condition where the treating physicians have no previous experiences or case studies to draw on. And now we’re seeing the evil lab coated science-fiend (who is also large and excessively masculine and white, like a Wilson Fisk or Lex Luthor) delivering physical abuse (and no doubt about to lie and get away with it) because his victim has discovered him to be guilty of sex crimes (specifically, the sort of sex crimes considered so heinous that to merely be accused is to suffer instant repercussions as friends, family, and employers immediately pass judgement). It seems… excessive.

    Possibility number two is… that the writing for the comic is becoming two-dimensional and bland, with Alison’s opponents being presented as excessively evil in order to justify her own actions. I’m heavily discounting the possibility of this one, because the last time I suspected that (when Max was presented as being stupid enough to spout Objectivist claptrap about Feral’s sacrifice) it turned out to be the setup for something far more nuanced (Max turning out to be a gender swapped “princess in the tower,” and Alison coming to realize she was the bad guy, her victim was exactly that – a victim – and that her rush to violence cost her both the future access to Max’s powers and the prospect of Max’s mother as a very dangerous and subtle enemy). Not to mention that this chapter has also shown Patrick being a jerk to Clevin, various aspects of Patrick being variously suspicious in different ways, and Gurwara popping up to be his usual mischevious self. So I’m not giving this possibility much credence.

    Possibility number three is that we’re starting to actually see just how bad the conspiracy is. We already knew they had no problems with casually murdering children. It’s also fairly obvious that the whole point of Mega-Girl and the other superheroes was as a cover, a big flashy diversion to keep people from noticing the other problems (I wonder if Alison’s world had an Ajit Pai shutting down Net Neutrality? And if so, whether anyone would have noticed over all the superpowered brawls taking precedence in the news?). It’s quite possible that Doctor Von Pedophile here is the nicest of the bunch. It reminds me of one of Robert Heinlein’s less famous stories, where some bright humans began to develop psychic powers, but the first time one of them tried showing off his telekinesis to a professor only to have the guy claim he didn’t see a thing, he scanned the professor’s mind and… found a dark, evil, malevolent presence there, and realized he was dealing with one of an ancient cabal devoted to keeping humanity from advancing for their own selfish gain.

    • Gotham

      The subverted trope where researchers experimenting on children with superpowers turn out to be nice people isn’t very interesting

      • Philip Bourque

        That depends on the writer and reader. In this case, the writer felt stereotype evil, abusive scientist was the way to go. What would be interesting is if all of this is Patrick twisting his own memories (which people do all the time) to justify his evil supervillainy and the existence of the conspiracy. I just don’t feel that the writer would do that.

        • Gotham

          See on my end of things, anybody who basically says “you know what? I’d like to know what the mad scientist was experimenting on helpless human beings for. Maybe they have a good reason. It’s time we explore these corners of fiction. Maybe sometime the abuse of power is justified” stops being invited to my New Year’s Eves.

          • Philip Bourque

            We’re not here to find out why the evil mad scientists actions and abuses of power are justified. They’re not main characters. They’re here to be hated and reviled by Alison and the readers. We’re here to find out why Patrick’s malicious and violent acts and abuses of power are justified. They are his memories after, self-serving though they are.

          • Gotham

            I… know.
            You were the one to say it could ever be interesting in another set of circumstances. Obviously it doesn’t apply here

          • Philip Bourque

            It doesn’t apply yet. If it were discovered that Patrick actually fabricated the memory of these people then we could get to examine the whole thing.But considering how formulaic this all is, it’s doubtful we’ll see any new ground tread.

          • Gotham

            Yeah that’s why your last comment is so weird, you’re saying not to all of that

      • Zorae42

        Sure it is. Although not when they’re doing this level of ‘experimenting’ that’s basically torture.

        But subverting it when they’re doing much less horrible things is fine. Look at the second season of Stranger Things. The subverting of the “evil government scientist” trope was a nice contrast to the one that was played straight the first season.


    • Zinc

      Proposed variant to possibility one: The memories that Alison is visiting now are in a neglected area of the hall, heavily infested with Component, the nature of which we still don’t fully know. Supposing Component degrades memories and changes the details, it is possible that what Alison is being shown are not fake memories he made up to deceive her – but fake memories he made up to deceive *himself*, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I certainly imagine it should be easier for a person, especially a telepath, to become a supervillian and commit atrocities safe in the knowledge that he is that way due to his deeply tragic background, rather than simply due to being an egotistical sociopath.

      The same logic could be applied to Patrick convincing himself of the existence of the conspiracy, in order to be able to rationalize his evil as done in the name of a Greater Good. Following this train of thought, we might conjecture that Gurwara could be the personification of Patrick’s unconscious self-delusion, swiping and moving memories around the hall to create false recollections. As other biodynamic individuals, Patrick recently experienced an increase in powers, allowing the Gurwara construct to “manifest” outside Patrick’s mind, and apply his delusions to others as well.

      (Mostly playing Gurwara’s advocate, here. Honestly, I don’t think it’s particularly likely that these memories are faked, for whatever reason – purely for the reason that it seems counter-productive for the comic to spend so long on the *fake* memories and background of a major character.)

      • Zac Caslar

        I suspect that if there’s anthing like a Professor X around SFP it’s Gurwara.

        • Arkone Axon

          I take it you refer to the twisted retconned perversion Marvel started making after Fox refused to sell back the movie rights to X-Men? Because the Professor X I remember was not in the habit of doing “evil for the Greater Good.” The closest he came to that was when his dark impulses manifested during times of extreme stress. Otherwise… he was truly deserving of respect and loyalty from his X-Men.

          It wasn’t until (relatively) recently that they started retconning things. “Here’s an entire team of X-Men that Xavier sent to their deaths and then mindwiped everyone so they’d forget about it! Including a third Summers boy! And not even their father remembered about him, and it’s totally canon now and you should hate Xavier! What, you still don’t hate him? Okay… he was lying to Rogue about being able to control her powers all along! Also, when he found out the Danger Room computer had become self aware he immediately enslaved it and tortured it into continuing to serve, which is totally in character for the guy who welcomed an adolescent techno-organic like Warlock into the New Mutants back in the 80s! Canon! Accept it! Now if you’ll excuse us, we have to go retcon Peter Parker’s marriage away!”

          • Weatherheight

            Bad writers don’t need excuses to do bad writing.
            Marvel is apparently in the midst of an editorial emergency and it’s really showing – it would never have occurred to me that any editor would try to take Jim Starlin to the mat regarding how to write a comic book, but that bullsh*t went down in the last week or so.

            The lack of respect for the works of previous writers is an ongoing thing – it took foothold in a major way with Rob Liefield in the 90’s and little by little every character had been affected.

            Speaking of disrespect for Xavier – murdering his twin sister in the womb…? Proof positive that Grant Morrison can’t hit the pitch every single time (also, the explosion of maladapted mutants with no compelling explanation).

          • Arkone Axon

            Yeah, the twin sister would be another example… and yes, I agree. I truly believe that Disney regards Marvel as a “loss leader.” They willingly allow Marvel to pour millions of dollars down a hole, as long as they can go on making billions of dollars at the box office.

          • Blub Blub

            the thing is the movies are somewhat based on early ultimate universe and some stories of the main one. like the new one has some planet hulk in it.

    • Weatherheight

      If nearly thirty years of GMing has taught me anything, it has taught me that no matter where I expect the plot to go, the players will take it in directions I never expected it to go.

      I suspect the process of writing will bring up unexpected vectors in the plot as well…

      • Nicolas Gagné

        My experience with writing tells me that you never truly know your characters until the story is over. And even then, some things are not revealed to the writer.

    • GaryFarber

      Digressively, I don’t recognize that as a Heinlein story: what’s the title of the story? (It’s sort of vaguely in the neighborhood of “Gulf,” but none of these things is quite right.)

      • Arkone Axon

        I went looking through a list of his stories and found it for you:


        The two things I remember about it that were very interesting and indicative of changing terminology (and the importance of looking to a person’s meaning, rather than getting caught up on whether or not they can avoid “trigger words”), were Heinlein’s descriptions of the leaders of the two groups. When the three initial protagonists learn about a place where they can go to study and develop their abilities, it’s a mountain refuge run by a… chinaman. Not exactly a term you hear much today, unless you’re quoting old racist literature from the days of “Manifest Destiny.” Then you see their encounters with said “chinaman,” and how respectful and affectionate they are towards their wise Master (it’d be like Captain America noting that he’s working for a negro, even as he continues to treat Nick Fury as a friend and as a leader worthy of respect).

        The antagonist’s leader isn’t even described as a human being, but as a “thing” on the chair during the meeting with his fellow evil elites. It’s not really established whether he was deformed from mutations or birth defects that also led to developing powers (it wouldn’t be the only story Heinlein wrote where mutations, deformities, and/or defects coincided with potent telepathic ability), or whether the deformities were the result of the wielding of power and/or extending his lifespan to the point of looking like a twisted mummified corpse still moving. Nor did it matter. The important thing about him was that he directly encouraged a less-than-loyal subordinate to take his best shot – but only after they’d dealt with the conflict with the protagonists. Simply put: he was that powerful, and that intelligent and capable a leader.

        In both cases there was plenty of use of words and terms that people today would find offensive… but it was a lot more respectful and fair-minded than a lot of literature today that uses the “right words” to get away with slipping in bigoted beliefs and statements.

        (Heinlein was pretty good about that, usually. I still love what he did with both “Starship Troopers” and “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls,” where you’re most of the way through the book before you find out the protagonist is NOT caucasian. Great way to challenge the attitudes of his era)

    • 3-I

      So this entire comment essentially boils down to you objecting to the choices being made in this story, because you have read sci fi stories before.


      • Arkone Axon

        Wow… you read through my comment, focused on possibility #2, ignored how I discounted that option as the least likely, all so you could mock me and feel intellectually superior.

        Let me ask you something (and I’ll be copy/pasting the question if your responses ignore it). What were you attempting to contribute to this discussion? Weatherheight made an observation about GMing, Zinc proposed a variation on possibility 1, and even GaryFarber contributed with an inquiry about the Heinlein story (I’m not listing Gotham because I have them blocked, so I only know that they posted something because Phillip is arguing with them about it). What were you trying to contribute to the discussion?

  • Herwood

    POOR PATRIC! I feel so bad for him! ;(

  • Herwood

    I feel like Patric would be the perfect lawyer, psychiatrist, therapist, basically anythings where you need to deal with people…

    • Kid Chaos

      Except that dealing with people means reading their minds, whether he wants to or not. From what I’ve seen so far, that’s not a pleasant experience. 😵

      • tygertyger

        Word. Being highly empathetic is bad enough. Having other people’s thoughts, feelings, and memories shoehorned into your brain unasked has got to be a thousand times worse.

      • Herwood

        I guess…

    • Arkone Axon

      Lois Bujold wrote an excellent story, “Ethan of Athos,” where the protagonist meets a telepathic operative on the run from his (extremely scary) government. Dr Ethan Urquhart promptly gushes about the practical applications of telepathy. “You could communicate with babies still in their uterine replicators! And with children too young to communicate, finding out where it hurts. Not to mention what you could do with people trapped in paralyzed bodies or in comas… you could be a miracle worker!”

      The telepath blinks at that. “…Usually, the people I talk to about this tend to see me in more… espionage related activities.”

      “Were they mostly in the espionage business?”

      “…Well… yes…?”

      “There you go, then. We see you doing what we imagine we’d do with your gifts.”

      • Weatherheight

        Evil Overlord Rule #12: “One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.”

        Donkey’s Corollary: “I will also hire a group of advisors who are gamers and game out every idea they offer. What the kid misses, they’ll catch.”

        • Arkone Axon

          That’s a problem I’ve found in video game design. Sometimes the solution to the problem set before the player is to do something that is NOT obvious. Like smash one secret area in a wall when you’ve never had to do that before, or jump blindly into a seeming abyss after every other such jump led to instant death. This pretty much caused the collapse of the point-and-click adventure game genre back in the 90s, with some of the insane puzzles players were expected to figure out (they’ve recovered somewhat as a niche genre, though), often being reduced to randomly combining items and touching things in the hopes of figuring it out by chance.

          It’s also a problem with education. Hell, I remember when some scientists tried to teach a chimpanzee how to create flint knives. First the chimp learned to throw flint onto the ground and shatter it into little useful blades. Then they tried forcing the chimp to learn how to shape a large piece to make a proper knife, by padding the room with carpet. The chimp… learned how to rip up the corner of the carpet so he could smash the flint. Technically that WAS a solution… just not the solution they wanted the chimp to reach.

  • Herwood

    I feel so bad for little Patric, but is there really NOTHING you could say that gets you out of there? I refuse to believe that someone like that couldn’t be relatively easily manipulated into letting you go.

    • Kid Chaos

      Give him a break, he’s just a kid. He hasn’t learned the time art of lying yet. 👿

      • Herwood

        I guess, but he doesn’t necessarily have to lie. Just threaten to tell his superiors about something and provide the proof of it. Or just appeal to his humanity, even the worst person still has feelings and a little empathy, and Patric can read minds, he could empathize perfectly with the man and gain his sympathy.

        • Kid Chaos

          He needs to read “How To Win Friends and Influence People”. 😎

        • palmvos

          true- but all of these are long term games- they have to begin in the blind dark. what young Patrick is seeing is no visible lever- the situation is so bad that the only way out is to somehow create the notion in the doctors mind that there is a way to release this child. then use the levers to get himself released.

        • HanoverFist

          You really think they will believe a patient and care enough to act? That’s not how mental treatment for minors works in the real world.

    • HanoverFist

      You have never dealt with an abusive therapist have you? Doing that is “manipulative behavior” and will invite punishment.

      • Weatherheight

        I hate that this post is so true, but truth ought to be upvoted.

  • Siras13

    Is it any wonder that this kid turned evil?

  • Zerilan

    Next we find out that the guy’s hobby is kicking puppies and beating his wife.

  • HanoverFist

    I think that shadow will turn out to be our old friend Dr. Rosenblum.

  • JohnTomato

    Could the shadow being actually be Paladin? Wouldn’t that put a banana peel down on the sidewalk.

    What version of evil doctor hangs his sheepskin inside the torture chamber?

  • Young Patrick’s face: I told her not to look and she wants to know anyway.. *sigh*

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    random thought on whether his mom is the congresswoman we saw last time (max’s mom)

    • Kifre

      That would explain sooooo much.

  • Gotham


    Didn’t little kid-tortured-by-pedophiles Patrick get it wrong?
    He doing that witty comeback trick where you respond to a stupid question with another question whose answer is the same and also, importantly, obvious and known to all. You know, the classic
    “Why didn’t you wake up a bit earlier?”
    “I don’t know, why don’t you give out one of your kidney to people in need right now?”

    But the answer to the question he’s asking would be something like “because obviously I have to lie”, not what I figure he intended “because it is the truth”.

    By structuring his own question as such, he’s implying that his response, that nothing he could say will get him out, is also a lie. That’s in the same category of things we say to divert from a far more shadier truth. Which cannot possibly be the case.

    The way he could have asked a question so that it would go the way he intended would be, like,
    “I don’t know, why would an innocent accept the prosecutor’s deal to bring down his pedophile ring in exchange for just ten years and no public record?”

    Here that one was free Brennan call me any other time you need help proofreading your script

    • Tylikcat

      Why would it surprise you that little kid Patrick gets stuff wrong?

      Knowing a lot of stuff isn’t the same thing as having the acumen to use that knowledge in a useful way. He does great when he can pull things out of another person’s mind, but when it comes to constructing a plan and using it in a sophisticated way… he has a way to go. I mean, he’ll get there. We know that.

  • Lostman

    Wow… now I understand why he wanted to rule the world now.

  • Tylikcat

    …I totally rescind my earlier comment about a traumatic experience with Rhine cards. Damn.