Heroes Save the World

Sunlight, ch. 10: Simon Martin

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Monitoring: Simon Martin
Vienna, Virginia, USA

6:10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
22:10 Coordinated Universal Time
Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Rewind–

“So, Simon,” his mother says, twirling spaghetti around her fork, “how’s, um, your project going?”

They’re in public, eating out at the Olive Garden, but his mother would probably be as reticent to directly address his work even if they were at home. Still, the conversation has fallen to a lull twice so far, and as much as she dislikes at least some aspects of what he’s involved in, she also wants (or needs) to know more.

Simon has not been exceedingly forthcoming. Which he is fine with, by the way, even with the memory of today’s appointment with Dr. Denham and the way that the man has seemed determined to make Simon feel guilty over hiding things from his mother. It’s not like this is something that she could help him with, though. Hannah’s okay, Hannah knows what it’s like (in more ways that one), and he never feels like he’s putting more on her shoulders than she can bear. He’s not one of her siblings. Hannah will tell him when she can’t handle anything more.

He doesn’t get the same feeling from his mother. As bad as she might feel from knowing that she isn’t getting the whole story, it’s still better than knowing that a couple of days ago her son found out what it feels like to get his eyes get pecked out by an impatient crow. How is he supposed to comfort his mother after he tells her that?

“Oh, don’t worry. That was nothing, really. I’ve gone through worse.”

Not a chance, and she knows that, and he knows that she knows, and so on, but she isn’t willing to push the matter. Silence falls for a few seconds, broken only by the occasional scrape of utensils against their plates or the conversations of other tables, and then Simon tries to speak again.

Repeat until the meal is done.

Simon knows that he’s running away, that it would be better if he just explains everything. He could say everything that Denham would say, if the doctor were here. How is he supposed to do it, though? How does he tell his mother that the world is probably ending?

He still remembers what Akvo said, how the most probable outcome is nine out of ten people dead. How is he supposed to tell her that?

After dinner is finished, Simon excuses himself as they wait for the check to come. He walks to the bathroom, washes his face and hands, and he sees the waiter pass by as he exits.

The decision is made quickly, with hardly any thought behind it. It’s an impulse, really, but Jack has been making a lot of jokes and he’s been attentive and he seems nice, and Simon has a thought, or a question, or a desire to know: Whether “nine in ten” means Jack.

He brushes Jack’s hand, taps into his power and reaches for the vision…

Ten seconds later he’s on the floor, eyes up, looking at Jack the Waiter. His lips move, his voice speaks, assuring Jack that he’s alright, that there’s no problem at all, he just got a little woozy.

Simon is responding halfway on automatic, though, speaking without thinking, his mind more focused on what he has seen, and what seems stuck in his mind’s eye even now. It has been burned there so fiercely that Simon suspects he might remember it with clarity even had he not been practicing with Dr. Denham.

First, he saw himself, a few years older, with facial hair, but undeniably Simon. He is shaking, his right fingers struggling to keep their grip on the gun in his right hand. His face is full of tears.

The sight lasts for only the briefest moment before a piece of paper is shoved in front of the waiter’s eyes. Behind it, Simon hears his future self apologize, stuttering and breaking over the words. Pressed against his head, the waiter’s head, he feels the cold weight of the gun. But most important of all is what the paper says:

Palatinate is compromised.
You remember them mentioning Michael Williams?
He can jump bodies.
He’s the CIA Director.

You need to get out ASAP.

His plan got screwed in this timeline, obviously, since I couldn’t get visions anymore, but he was using–and will continue to use–our visions to secure an “acceptable casualty rate.”

Acceptable ≠ lowest possible

I don’t know why. No Visions means losing a lot of info and apparently all the other prcogs precogs are dead.

China/India turns bad 6 Jan 2016

Recruit other kids. Start with Olivia, grab Joe Jones next

247 Wakefield St. / St. George Utah

Diana Martinez

Rio Missouri No. 500 Villa de Alvarez
Guadalupe, Nuevo León (Mexico)

Not sure how much more you can memorize.

Keep looking for others

Tell Palatinate about Daniel Hernandez before you leave. He’s in bad trouble.

Simon makes it back to the table where his mother is sitting. Jack mentions nothing, but takes the card that’s been set there, returns it a few minutes, and leaves for good, with two more jokes but nary a hint that even seen Simon walk by, let alone seen him collapse. Jack would make a good mob lawyer, knowing what to keep discreet without even being told.

The next morning, Simon decides that he has to talk with Akvo. There are lots of things about the man in green that disturb him. Basically everything about the man disturbs Simon, honestly. How it is that another version of himself decided that he was trustworthy is a question that Simon can’t answer.

But he has to get it answered, all the same. Akvo might be the only one who knows what to do.


Vienna, Virginia, USA

4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Friday, October 24th, 2014
20:00 Coordinated Universal Time
Friday, October 24th, 2014

Fast forward–

Simon has spoken with Akvo, trying to figure out whether he can trust the man. Results: inconclusive. Akvo is still a serial murdering son of a bitch, and his interest in convincing Simon of his good intentions seems only matched by his interest in fucking with Simon by supplying ambiguous or outright cryptic responses.

At the end of the day, Simon is going to have to trust that when he got a vision from another Simon, saying that Akvo was on his side, that the information was correct. He’ll have to trust himself. If he hadn’t already trusted himself, though, would he have been willing to just ask Akvo where the man’s loyalties lay?

He could second-guess himself all year long. It won’t change anything. He has to take a chance.

Simon walks. It isn’t true that there’s nothing else for him to do. That’s patently false. There are plenty of things for him to do. But they’re all awful nasty things that threaten to make bile rise up into his throat, no matter which way he turns.

What it comes down to this: He can do nothing, or he can try to get more information.

Doing nothing is not an option. A future version of himself, some “hypothetical” Simon, as Denham has encouraged him to say, thought that this was important enough to commit murder over, and unless it was all an act, that wasn’t an easy thing for Hypothetical Simon to do. If Simon is going to trust his hypothetical self, which he’s got to do if he thinks that he can trust his present, real self, then he has to act under the assumption that this was worth killing someone over.

Even if that person was just another hypothetical like the Simon who killed her, it’s important enough that he has to give it weight. It wasn’t imaginary to the Simon who did the deed.

What else, then?

Figure out what more Akvo has to say, of course. He already wanted to talk about this, if the vision of that bloody message about “your masters” was anything to go by. The surveillance in Akvo’s cell, though, means that simply approaching him is a poor idea if Simon wants to keep the details of their conversation secret.

That leaves just one other option: use a hypothetical timeline to speak with Akvo.

All that Simon has to do, in the here and now that’s real, is touch somebody and receive a message from a history that will never happen. In another timeline, assuming that they exist at least until the vision is sent back, Simon will touch that person, receive no vision at all, and know that he’s in a soon-to-be-hypothetical timeline. With this confirmed, he can go back, speak with Akvo, find one pretense or another to leave the premises, and…make sure that the message is delivered as planned. That history will (hopefully) unravel, however that is supposed to happen, and Simon himself, the real one, will get that message as soon as he touches his target.

And all he has to do is be willing to kill someone in a version of history that may or may not actually cease to exist after the vision is sent back, but which definitely won’t be the history that he experiences. Sort of. The Simon who will have to do that is going to be thinking the same thing, up until the point where he touches his target and doesn’t receive a vision.

It’s sort of like downloading your mind into a computer or something, put like that. Somebody can go into it feeling fine with everything, sure that it’s going to work out, and the thing of it is that there’s a version of that person for whom that’ll be true. They just have no way of knowing, before it happens, whether they’ll wake up in a silicon chassis or in the old failing meat body that they’ve always worn.

As much of a coin flip as this is going to turn out to be for him, it feels weird to not get Hannah involved in this. Simon knows how she would decide, though.

He goes to a McDonald’s, orders a medium fry, and nearly fails to hand over his money when he reaches across the counter. The fear of what he might have to do, of what some version of him will have to do…

But there’s nothing useful there, just another death like so many that Simon has seen before, and after Simon returns to the present he allows himself to be guided to a nearby table. It doesn’t make any sense, what he saw. Simon went here because he should be able to count on seeing the employee again, if not today then tomorrow, or the next week or something. The cashier wasn’t just a passerby, but Hypothetical Simon was nowhere to be seen.

No. Hypothetical Simon chickened out. It’s one thing, apparently, to murder under whatever circumstances the first time occurred under, but it’s another one altogether to work up the nerve to do it again, especially when this Hypothetical Simon didn’t have the benefit of, well, of whatever the first one had been forced to experience up to that point. It couldn’t have been easy, whatever path led to finding out that the CIA had been compromised.

But none of this is about what’s easy, Simon knows. It’s about what’s necessary, and if Simon can’t work up the resolve to do this just one more time, then… Maybe he’s better, if that’s the case. Maybe whatever that other Simon experienced had made him a worse person. But it could also get a lot of other people killed.

Somebody put a set of plastic utensils in his bag, even though there’s no point to them when all that he ordered was a fry. Looking at them, however, and more specifically looking at the knife, he wonders what sort of person that other Simon was, and what sort of person he’ll turn out to be if he does the same thing.

He wonders, and then he removes himself from his table to try again at the Burger King a few buildings down the street.

Small vanilla milkshake, two dollars and change, brush of the hand, and–

He doesn’t see himself in this vision. The message is already being held in view. Simon can hear the muffled sobbing, though, and see how the paper trembles in the other Simon’s hand.

They’re watching. Not supposed to interfere.

This is some sort of baptism by fire; some kids get superpowers, and if the species is mature enough then some of us survive and we get more powers. If not, well, we don’t.

Akvo doesn’t have a choice in the matter. Won’t say what they did, if they’re to blame for inviting or attracting attention, but they got co-opted into this role. Colors represent disagreements–some think they should flip the table and spite power-givers. Green means something different: we’re vulnerable right now, with our powers so limited, and Green means keeping us safe until we don’t have to worry about armies and bombs, even if the rules have to be broken. But basically, people with superpowers > people without them, to Akvo.

There’s something else you need to know.

We were made.

We’re all pretty good kids, it turns out. We’re going to disagree on things but nobody’s selfish or insane. We all look beyond ourselves. That’s how they wired (rewired?) us. Like Akvo, but younger (maybe with fewer psych problems too, hopefully).

The rest of humanity is going to have to learn to live with us, but we’re going to have to learn how to cooperate. Caring about things other than ourselves is supposed to make it easier than if we were heartless sociopaths.

Other Green agent in NA is Sinjorino Forton. Talk to her about getting out somehow, putting an ocean between you and Michael.

4140 Elliott Ave, Seattle WA
20 February 2015 give or take

Tell Akvo “Sunshine Boy.” That means “Michael Williams” apparently?

Tell him “Four.” Then wait that many days before you hightail it. Unless he closes his eyes for a long time, then wait six days total. He’s apparently put some thought into how to communicate with hypothetical selves and what he’d say in this situation.

Simon returns to the world, and the woman is standing over him. He mutters an apology and reaches for the vision again at the same time that he reaches for her hand, to get it one more time and catch anything that he might have missed.

She’s a lot more worried after he passes out for the second time, but that’s okay. Forgoing a third attempt, he manages to convince her to let him sit at a table and wait fifteen minutes to prove that he’s alright. Also, eat the hamburger that he ordered. She’s convinced that Simon needs to get some food in his body.

That’s fine. It’s all fine. Simon knows what’s going on, and where to go, and everything is fine.

Hopefully.

Wary of making too many visits, too quickly, Simon waits till the next morning. Then he returns to PALATINATE, descends to Akvo’s cell, and in the middle of another conversation he works in the words “Sunshine Boy.” He probably does it sloppily, all things considered, and PALATINATE will figure out that he was speaking in code at some point, but Simon isn’t practiced at this sort of thing and they only have to overlook the conversation for a little while.

Before Simon leaves, he says “Four,” and Akvo closes his eyes.

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