Friday, January 1, 2016

Realizations


Hank tried to clear his mind of anger toward Calvin before opening his mouth.  He knew the scientist, spook, corporate head and Anti-Magnus operative was going to be shockingly uninformative, because he too had recursed.  He’d lost all memory since the beginning of the Niantic Project.  He’d forgotten the experiments gone wrong...  Epiphany Night...  the deal he made with Ni...  the years of tumult that had followed the Niantic Project's collapse.

For Ezekiel Calvin the world ended somewhere in 2012 and picked up again in late 2015.  If Hank had gone to law school like his parents had wanted him to, he’d be wondering whether the recursion who stood before him was guilty of crimes that he could not remember committing, or most specifically, that his current recursion had never committed at all.

But he hadn't gone to law school.

If the look on Hank's face hadn't been enough, Calvin knew what was happening when he saw Jahan standing there.  The game was up.  Nowhere to run.  Seeing the realization set in was like watching someone rehearsing a role in front of a mirror.  Confusion.  Recognition.  Panic.  Remembering his training.  Finding self-control.  Reading the scene.  Finding a viable exit strategy.  Turning on the charm.  Preparing the attack.

Hank began the conversation, awkwardly at first, but steadily gaining momentum, then he handed things off to Calvin.

Calvin's rationalizations and justifications came pouring out like a litany.  It was for the knowledge...  To save and advance mankind...  To acquire knowledge and cure poverty, disease and war....  To fend off the Shapers....  You are now endowed with immortal life...  You should be grateful...  Only the chosen few could ever experience this ...  I had to lie to you, it was the only way...  National security...  You knew we were going past the cutting edge of science...  Everything will be made right...  

The researchers were more confused than Hank had expected, he had underestimated how jarring this would be for them and Calvin's stump speech wasn't helping.  For them, the betrayal that had stolen their right to self-determination, their bodies and three years of their lives was an abstract problem.  Something barely understood, and felt even less.  

Occasionally one of them would glance inquisitively at the striking, dark-haired women standing silently in the corner.  Jahan watched in silence.  Hank knew that someday soon she would approach them individually and try to take them under her wing, but for now she was simply observing.  Distancing herself, perhaps, from the foul taste this moment would surely leave in their mouths.

Hank filled the researchers in as best he could on the lost days, but there were holes in his knowledge.  There were a few questions, but most were practical.  Enoch wanted to make sure he could take his equipment.  Carrie wanted details about how she had supposedly died...  she inspected her arms and legs.  No tattoos.  Misty asked Hank how he had reconstructed his memories when he had recursed.  He told her about the Breadcrumbs.  She didn’t have any Breadcrumbs, she’d figure it out.  God knows who was after her now, and where would be safe for her to go.

Schubert, Lightman and Nagassa barely regarded each other.  It was strange.  Hank thought of them almost as a unit -- the three wise men -- but he realized that now they were almost strangers.  They would have a long record of their communications to go over if they chose to.8JgW5vtBN8xdqnF0P9j5z

The questions and answers seemed to go on for hours, then there was silence.  The confusion was slowly resolving into a realization: They were about to walk into the world with no idea what they had done for the past three years.  

Of all of them, Kureze seemed to understand the implications of what had happened the best.  He just stood there with a bemused look on his face.  His 'abduction' into Niantic had felt like just weeks earlier, but was in fact three years in the past.  Hank guessed that Kureze didn’t really live in time the way most people did, so he was probably the least perturbed.

For Devra, it was the most poignant of all.  All of it was erased.  The escape with Jarvis, Visur, the CDC, Shanghai, Australia, the 13MAGNUS Nest.  She wouldn’t remember Farlowe, her assassin turned guardian angel or 855.  She was shocked to see Hank.  She’d thought he was dead.  She hugged him.  He told her she'd understand, in time.  It went through her.  Truth is, she thought she was dead and this was some afterlife initiation ceremony.  She focused instead on what she could control, and that was to return to the familiar.  Her apartment.  Her office.  Her books.  Hank felt a deep sadness, the images of everything they had shared over the last three years kept flashing in his mind.  Meeting on the bridge.  Sitting on the bench in New York.  Those long conversations that could make time stand still and the world shrink into the palms of their hands.  She would never know any of those memories.  But maybe new ones would take their place.  So much had been lost, but Hank had hope for what could still be created.3wib7hsvhsvh26389 

He had expected a lot of anger, but he didn’t get it.  They were too confused and disoriented to think of anything but escaping this room, this facility, this moment.  Finding stable ground and a place to sort their thoughts in privacy and safety.

And nobody asked about where Roland Jarvis was.  Of course, they barely knew him.  Some of them probably didn’t remember him at all.

An hour later when the last of the cabs and black cars had pulled away, Jahan and Hank stood alone in front of the Niantic Facility.  

It was cold and a thin layer of moisture hung in the air.  The predawn light was just beginning to emerge and an intermittent wind whipped Jahan's long hair around her eyes, which were dark with the weight of what she had just witnessed and the possibilities that lay ahead.

There were a million things to talk about, a million things Hank could have said or questions he could have asked, but only one came to mind.

“You think there’s anywhere around here to get some breakfast right now?”



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