There was a roaring crowd behind Hank. Cheers. Music. She thought she could hear the voice of Susanna Moyer in the background.
“Oh yeah... about the Jewel. I’ve got it. I’ll be on a plane tonight.”
Jahan slowly put the phone back on the table. In a way she had it coming, but it's never a great moment when karma catches up to you.
“The deal is that they walk out. They are free. They have no pre-existing bonds to any of the corporations or to any government agency. Nothing. They... they just walk away."
"I expect they will need to be counseled, extensively, before they are ready to walk anywhere."
"We tell them as best we can what happened at Niantic and afterwards. We tell them what happened to them. We tell them about recursion...
"And how you’re going to try to get them back to their bodies?”
"I'll never stop trying."
“All this for nothing.”
“We go on doing what we do, you and I. They have a chance to walk away. They’ve given up an unimaginable amount. They’ve given up years. They are going to be confused and disoriented. They are going to have holes in their lives. We did this to them. We’re hitting the big ‘undo’ button.” Hank met her eyes.
Jahan looked at him. He was decided. There wasn’t going to be a negotiation. She thought of a hundred ways to try and work around them and knew that none of them would work. “We won’t be able to control the corporations.”
“The good news is that none of them know anything that isn’t three years old. If some of these folks want to return and continue research, they can do so, obviously. We are out of the way.” He smiled. “Do we have a deal or don’t we? And you don’t have the option of reneging on it. The Azmati pact travels with me now.”
If she gave her word, it would be her bond. In truth, 'controlling' the researchers at this point was a matter of semantics... they had been shaped by their time in the Portal Network.
He produced the Wind Jewel. The real one.
He traced the familiar Glyphs... it began to glow.
The portal opened. There, suspended in a place between the dimensions, they saw the Investigators laid out in the Abaddon Chamber. It was as unlike the 13MAGNUS Nest in Afghanistan as it could possibly be. Harsh. Scientific. Metal. Sterile. Gleaming and glowing with newness and every technological tool Calvin could get his hands on. But it served the exact same purpose.
There they were, laid out in a circle.508681705618641906192919497254845687
Calvin was amongst them.
“What are you going to tell them?” Jahan asked.
“Nothing. Calvin is. He’s going to tell them the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
"It's going to be an interesting day, Jahan." Hank looked down at the glowing spiral in his hands, then up at Jahan. He knew she could feel it too.
The Wind Jewel began to grow warm.
The energy was palpable, blinding. They shielded their eyes... Hank thought he felt the room shake.
Then, quiet and cold. The background hum of stubborn machinery.
There standing beside the long tables, some staring in confusion at 'themselves,' were the researchers.
All save one.33424b4e334245594f4e44f4e3342384a