Heroes Save the World

Not Too Small, ch. 7: Hannah Johnson

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Monitoring: Hannah Johnson
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

4:55 p.m. Central Standard Time
Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
22:55 Coordinated Universal Time
Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Rewind—

“So,” Blank starts as they pull away from Austin’s house. He lets the word just hang there, solitary, maybe to let Hannah mull over it, maybe to invite Rucker’s thoughts before offering his own. Rucker, though, has to all appearances blocked out the rest of the world. Stretched out with her back against the door, behind Hannah’s seat, and one leg across the seat, her attention looks to have been quickly diverted into her tablet. Whatever it is that she’s working on or trying to figure out, Blank will no doubt hear about it later, but for now, it seems, it is left to Hannah to engage him in conversation.

“Are you sure that you don’t know what your future self was telling us?” Blank asks. He doesn’t take his eyes away from the road as he talks, which is one reason that he doesn’t let anyone else take the wheel when he’s around.

“Besides the part about where this mystery woman is going to be? I don’t know, maybe we should start looking for kids named Greg or something,” Hannah says. “I’m definitely not going to London anytime soon though. I’ll tell you that.”

“Hm,” he replies. Hannah waits for something to follow that but nothing does, and there is silence in the car until they reach the motel.

“We’ll be going back tomorrow,” Rucker says as she exits from the back. “Are you going to need anything?”

Hannah shakes her head, and Rucker shrugs. “Text me or knock on the door if that changes. We should talk over lunch.”

Hannah raises an eyebrow.

“Well, you are setting yourself up to be their representative,” Rucker says, and Hannah frowns and looks away.

“See you tomorrow,” Rucker says.

“Sure, sure,” Hannah replies as she retrieves her door’s card.

Hannah isn’t sure what to think about the motel. On the one hand, Hannah is sure that the CIA could afford better digs than this, but in many ways it’s better than what she’s had in the past. There aren’t bed bugs (or so it seems, at least), so it loses out on “worst experience ever,” and it’s quiet, and it’s always nice to have her own room. Maybe it’s because they had been scoping her out and they knew what she’d think about it, or it’s because of her age or something, but Hannah had been expecting to have to share a room with Rucker, and instead it’s separate rooms for each of the three of them. 

The room manages to be a reflection of herself, at least as much as is possible: Charging next to the bed is her cheap mp3 player, with half of its shell removed because the buttons don’t all work and she has to probe its innards directly to use the menus. On the table are a couple of composition notebooks that she’d brought with her to Florida. The rest of her stuff is in a storage facility in Virginia, probably–Hannah still isn’t in a mood to see Carol and Jeff again, even if it’s just to get her shit. She misses the kids, though, so she’s going to have to do that sooner or later.

For now, though, she’s on her own, and the only person that she can effectively worry about is herself. Soon, there won’t be anything to worry about, except in an abstract way, in the little things that could never be fought away: What if there isn’t time to get her siblings away from danger when it comes? What if the CIA is compromised? What if, what if, what if…

There’s both more and less cause to worry than she had the day before, thanks to that message that Simon relayed to them this afternoon. Blank and Rucker seem to think that something’s up, which is flattering, given the implication that they think she’s clever enough to send a coded message to herself, and annoying, given that it’s true and she doesn’t want them to know that.

First of all, there’s the thing that Older Hannah didn’t say: Shut up and keep your head down, because being pushy is dangerous. However it is that Older Hannah died, she didn’t think that the CIA had anything to do with it or have any other reason to advise caution, so Hannah judged that she was safe to be more aggressively demanding with Rucker and Blank. She might have just a party trick, but whether the CIA is playing it safe and hoping that she has something more, or they think she’s clever and worth keeping on that count, or she’s ingraining herself well with the others and they don’t want to upset that dynamic, the fact is that Older Hannah didn’t end up with a bullet in her head and thought that it would be safe for Hannah herself, too.

As for the rest… “London isn’t clean,” she mutters to herself. If it were totally clean, then she’d feel a lot safer. There were a lot of slightly-different versions possible, from “London is one-hundred percent clean” to what she got, and percentages all between them. What she knew now was that there was there was at least one person out there who could read her thoughts somehow. Had she gotten a report that London was clean, then there probably wasn’t anyone with that ability (but it wasn’t certain, because someone could have messed with her head afterwards), and if Simon had told them that London was, say, sixty-five percent clean then that would mean that she knew the powers of sixty-five people and none of them had mind-reading as a part of the package.

In retrospect, saying something like “London is three-percent dirty” could have told her that there were at least three people whose powers could be used to get information out of her against her will, but she hadn’t thought of that when she came up with the code. Older Hannah must have thought of that too, after Simon touched her, but she had already committed to using her code in that particular way. She felt uneasy then, and still does, about the risk of changing the code to impart extra information and taking the risk that the Hannah who had to decode it would make the wrong assumptions.

Regardless, the information is enough that she knows to be cautious, and maybe pretend to develop a germophobia or something. Nobody can read her mind if they can’t touch her, right?  

There were a few variations to “Greg has the package,” as well. As it was, it tells her that she can trust Austin and Other Kid, or at least that Older Hannah wasn’t aware of them doing anything to fuck her over. The package would have been red if only Austin could be trusted, and blue for Other Kid. If neither could be trusted, then there would have been no package. More thoughts in retrospect: It was a little weirder than “London isn’t clean,” and might have been what made Blank and Rucker suspicious, if they’re legitimately suspicious and if anything in particular was responsible. Still, spending too long to think about what sort of message to send might have gotten her in trouble in some other way, either by making it more obvious that she was thinking carefully about this or by giving the opportunity for someone else to volunteer.

Hannah wishes that she could have gotten more information, or even had more time to figure out exactly what things were most important to learn ahead of time, but if she failed then she didn’t fail too hard. She knows who she can trust, at least within reason, and she knows without doubt that she has to be on her guard, if not paranoid. There are seven billion humans in this planet, most of them interchangeable and only a few of them valuable or even indispensable, and to everyone but her, Hannah’s siblings are in the first category. If Hannah isn’t capable of looking out for them, then nobody else is going to even be interested. Even Austin might want to limit casualties, but when the shot has to be called and somebody has to die, he won’t have any reason to pick someone else over her siblings–and insofar as he wants to limit casualties, he has every reason to choose one hundred people over her siblings, if that were the dilemma that confronted him.

Hannah isn’t too sure how she’s going to solve that part of the problem, but she’s still attached to the CIA and her siblings have been assured some measure of protection, so she’s one step closer to whatever the solution is going to turn out to be. Now it just remains to be seen what the next step is.

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