Awareness of Space
Environmental Awareness: superior (rank 2)
Megaton had burst through the ceiling again. He would be in Somalia in less than an hour. I was already composing our apologetic letter to the UN in my head. Grey Widow looked to me.
“You think we should call him, or try to stop him, or something?”
“No. He will not be stopped and it would not be beneficial to do so anyway. In his defense, his actions will postpone the final outbreak of civil war; however I would prefer that he could manage it in a method less prone to collateral damage.”
“He’s going to hurt people?”
“No. But an air base will be destroyed.”
“Somalia has an air base?”
“Not for much longer.”
Widow began to walk back towards the door. I place a hand on her shoulder. I don’t often touch people; it takes her by surprise.
“Widow, before you leave, there is one thing which we must discuss.”
She looks back at me oddly. My face is filled with as much calm compassion as I can force.
“I thought you called us in to talk about the war?”
“I called Mega in to discuss the war, as he would be the one to deal with it. Since I was already taking the time for him, it seemed now would be an appropriate time to bring up the issue we spoke of last time we met.”
As I spoke the words Widow began to sit down, her hands gripping the side of a chair I had set out. I flipped a switch on the panel in front of me and the screens went blank. I sat down next to her and waited. It would be a few seconds before she would be willing to talk about it.
“So, is it good news?”
“I see;” she says “Has anything changed?”
“No, I am afraid it is still terminal. From what I can sense, things have only gotten worse. My projection puts the final date in under a little less than a year. There are no eventualities conceivable to avoid death.”
“Then why did you call me in here. To rub it in my face?”
“No, Rachel. You know me better than that. I take no pleasure in this.”
She sighs. She rubs her temples.
“I’m sorry Zen. It just… It just gets to you, you know.”
“Yes. This would be difficult for anyone. I understand... I called you here to talk about the contingency plan we discussed last time we spoke. I searched for an upcoming opportunity; I can arrange for things to happen as we agreed. In order to assure this you will need to leave back for London soon.”
“Why? What happens there?”
“I’m sorry Rachel, you can’t know. The progression of events requires that you not be aware of them in order for them to occur. It would disturb the chain of events. Just go about as you normally would, and things will happen of their own accord.”
Widow stands. She places her arms around me in a deep hug. I slowly reciprocate the motion. Tears begin to slip from her eyes.
“Zen… I’m afraid.”
“I know. All people fear the unknown, it is in our nature. But to lose that fear is a loss which should be mourned. I assure you, If I could return to living like you do now, in the present, if only for a day, I would. You approach a boundary from which no one has ever returned, you must go bravely.”
“Thanks Zen,” She wipes the tears from her eyes, “You need to promise me something.”
“You can’t tell any of this to Suki.”
I pause, calculating the outcomes in my head.
“That will cause some issues.”
Manipulation of Time
Super Speed: superior (rank 2)
Grey Widow had been dead for six months and a week. Suki had a woman’s head pressed against the inside of a cracked toilet bowl.
The woman had stopped struggling, her neck and head submerged below the rim. Suki lifts her leg high in the air. If something was not done, Dana Tan would drown to death in the smeared porcelain bowl of the Rio Vista motel bathroom.
I shift into the room; everything crawls by like glacial drift. There is no observable action at this speed. Only stillness and a silence; sound does not move fast enough to interact with anything at this speed.
I see them there, apparently frozen in space like wax figures. Even Suki’s normal agile motions look like pantomime or the motion of a clock. I can only tell that she’s moving by watching her eyes.
They slowly blink. As they begin to close, I casually walk around and grab her victim by the back of the head. Suki’s foot is inches from contacting the back of her spine. Her eyes begin to open again as I pull Dana’s head from the bowl. Once I hold Dana’s head safely in my hands I allow time to return to its normal state of flow.
Suki’s foot crashes into the toilet, shattering it with a lightning kick. She looks up to me when she sees that her target had been mysteriously moved elsewhere.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Saving a woman from being murdered.”
“She killed Grey Widow. She deserves this!”
Suki throws a kick towards the unconscious woman in my arms. I dodge left without trouble and her leg cuts through empty air. Her fist balls and slams towards me; it is no less then a half-inch away when I shift across the room. Her knuckles move forward and thrust themselves through the wall.
She rips them out of the hole, then turns to find me laying her target down on the floor. Dana was beginning to spit up some of the filthy water and would soon regain consciousness.
“ ‘Deserves’ implies free agency,” I tell her, “You cannot blame her for Widow’s death any more than you can blame yourself. However that is why you came here in the first place. You do blame yourself. You shouldn’t.”
“I don’t blame myself!”
“You believe that if you hadn’t left for revenge on Virgo, that there was something you could have done; that you could have stopped it. But you didn’t, and you couldn’t. You must know that leaving was not your fault. I allowed it to happen. It happens as all things happen. It did not happen because you made a mistake, or because Ms. Tan was unstoppable, but because I made a choice to set the pieces in motion long before you were even aware of the game, assuring that the outcome will be inevitable.”
She looks at me, her face is only capable of showing little anger, but her fists clench with rage.
“What are you saying?”
“I am the one who decided that she would die. I did more than ignore it or allow it to happen. I actively did things which assured she would die.”
There is silence for the briefest moment of time.
I shift us both from the room milliseconds before her fist would hit my jaw.
Manipulation of Space
Teleportation: supreme (rank 3)
The movement of time and space is really only one element. Timespace is a fluid, intangible, and unobservable, only proven existent due to the theories of some of humanities greatest minds. Going the step beyond the theoretical and actually shifting time and space to move between it, requires a higher level of genius beyond even them.
I shift myself on top of a pier on the other side of the city. I shift Suki just above the waters below. She drops in midair, her fist still held out from the punch she was aiming an instant ago. I can look down at her from the pier as she thrashes in the water for a moment, then swims towards a support beam holding up the pier.
The night’s high tide is coming in; a sweeping wave hits her and she briefly goes under again. When she surfaces she clings to the support beam and attempts to glare back up at me with her petrified face.
“Zen! Get me out!”
“I am afraid I cannot do that until you have calmed down.”
“Get me out now!”
I point towards the sandy beach not far away.
“You need a moment to cool down Suki. I will meet you on the beach in five minutes.”
She frustratedly begins to swim towards the shoreline. It wasn’t more then a half-mile so I don’t expect her to have any trouble, even with the waves. When she emerges from the cold ocean four minutes and thirty seconds later, I am there waiting. The crashing waves are the only sound, the moon’s light glimmers on the rough water. I hand her a towel. She attempts to punch me again.
This time I only shift myself, and only a few dozen feet away. I attempt to re-negotiate.
“Please stop doing that; any attempt on your part to instigate violence from me will not work.”
She doesn’t respond well. She attempts to charge me but I simply shift instantly from her path once more. I reappear far enough behind her to be out of reach.
“Suki, this is becoming futile and juvenile. You are very angry, very wet, and very cold, while I am becoming very impatient. And I am only trying to help.”
“You want to help me? Then let me punch your face in, you lying bastard!”
“Suki, If I were to fight you, I could shift you twenty miles into the sea, or twenty miles into the air. My pacifism is a choice, but that does not mean that I do not possess endless ways in which I could defeat you should I choose. Please, just let me explain.”
I hold out the towel. She snatches it from me then takes a seat on the beach. She presses it against her face then runs it down her hair. We stare at the sand for a moment while I wait for her to ask the question.
“You killed Grey Widow?”
“I did and I didn’t. It is… very complicated.”
“Damn it Zen, I’m sick of the God-Damn riddles and cryptic bullshit. It’s a very simple question, did-you-kill her?”
I sigh, looking up to the full moon.
“I try to be patient with you. I try to be patient with all of you. I remember what it is like to only understand the parts of the universe in which you exist. It is such a simple notion you all live by, it is so… linear. But I keep on telling you all… it is much more complicated.”
“Fine then, explain it. Tell me how it works.”
“I am afraid I cannot tell you anything. To fully understand, I must show you.”
I touch the side of her face and bring her into my world.
Awareness of Time
Danger Sense: superior (rank 2)
The eventualities are endless and infinite. It all appears like a divine version of the Observation room at the Sentinels headquarters; yet there is no room, no floor, no metal screens, only endless floating visions of worlds that were, worlds that are, worlds that may soon be. Suki stumbles amongst the constant flow of information whizzing by her.
There is a world identical to ours, Suki kills Dana as she would have if I wasn’t there. There is a world at war, filled with endless destruction and strife. There is a world of cities, cities everywhere, and a humanity that has expanded and burned out every resource available till they stagnate towards doom. There is a world stuck in the past; knights hunt demons through the streets of St. Francisco, helped by the presence of a force they believe to be God. They chase the demon until one of them falls through a portal and arrives on an adjacent vision in the modern era. Suki looks across and beyond these to the infinite other visions passing by.
“What am I seeing?”
I stare into the mass of time and space without looking to her.
“You are seeing what it is like to be me. This is what I see.”
“But, what is it?”
“In a word, it is… time. Everyone sees time, but only their version of it. I see all versions. Time is not a line, it is a branch. At every event, every eventuality no matter how small, it breaks in two, with one possible limb going that way, and another going this way. Both are true, but only one of them comes to pass.
“However occasionally, both things come to pass. Two alternate reactions, happening in the same time, yet they cannot occur within the same space. This leads to an almost infinite excess of times, all existing simultaneous to each other, a theory of alternate dimensions in work. This is how I see the future, I observe these alternate reactions, these alternate dimensions of time, and base the actions of this world, this dimension, on what result most benefits us. Those other eventualities are still real, they happened as fact, they merely didn’t happen here and now, but then and there.”
Suki stares into the glorious stretch. Her eyes widen as far as her muscles can allow. It is too much to take in.
“I don’t,” she mutters, “I don’t understand. Time, dimensions, eventualities…”
“I apologize. I know you don’t, it is hard to comprehend at the large end of the scale. Even I can get lost in the complexities from time to time. Let me narrow the focus.”
I wave my hand and the spinning visions come to a halt. The space dims as they fade away, one by one, like molecules exploding. Only three visions remain, I gently pull them closer and they circle us. Suki looks to each vision, finding herself reflected back differently in each one. The first is a vision of her burning the Rio Vista motel to the ground.
“Time works with infinite probabilities, but for individuals only some outcomes are possible.”
I pull one screen closer than the others,
“In this space, this dimension of time, you are who you are now. You take revenge on Virgo, and end up killing Dana Tan in vengeance. You live a life of hate and pain… Yet there exists a parallel possibility.”
I wave the vision away and pull up the second. Suki sees herself sitting in a large college classroom. She can hear her own laughter with the boy sitting next to her. Her face looks the same as everyone else’s. She is utterly normal.
“In this possibility, you are never captured by Virgo. You live a normal, mostly happy life. You will eventually get married, have children, and live for some time in suburban bliss… In another possibility—”
“I don’t want to see any more.” She yells. Her eyes are attempting to weep.
“Please,” she says, “This isn’t why I’m here, I don’t want to see myself…”
“I am sorry, you are right... You wanted to know why I manipulated Grey Widow’s death. I can show you that now.”
The visions fade away and two others emerge from the dark to take their place. The first shows Leicester Square, it is filled with noise and explosions. A half nude Dana Tan lets loose a black hole which collides with MegaTon and begins to rip through the street. Grey Widow is unwillingly sucked inside the black sphere; it explodes with an earth shattering crack. Nothing remains.
“This is how she died because of what I did. This is why you blame me for her death… yet this,” I move towards the other vision, “ is how she died, in a possibility where I did nothing…”
The second vision is eerily quiet. Only the sound of a heart monitor beats in the quiet hospital room. Grey Widow lies on the stiff cot. She is not wearing her costume, but only a hospital gown. Her hair is falling out in patches. MegaTon and Zen were alone with her in the room; Suki was nowhere to be seen. She looks away from the vision, towards me.
“What happened to her? What would happen to her?”
“It wasn’t what happened, or what would have happened, it was what was happening. She had a tumor half the size of a golf ball in her breast, it was spreading to her lymph nodes. She would have died about half a year after Dana killed her. The last few months would have been agony.”
“But you saw this all,” she says, “You knew about it in advance. You could have just stopped it.”
I look to her and sigh, tired and unhappy.
“Suki… Don’t you think I thought of that? Chemo, radiation, new age therapy, all possibilities. None would have worked. They only slow it slightly, stretching out her pain from months to years. I can do a lot of things Suki, I can see the outcome of every game before its played, I can know more about someone than they do about themselves. But I can’t save everyone, there are some outcomes that cannot be avoided.”
“So what then, you get to kill her for her own good. You see everything, so you can appoint yourself God?”
“Suki, if I were God, I would have cured her cancer. I understand your self-righteous anger, but it was never my decision to make. I told Widow a year before her symptoms would emerge.”
I wave my hand again and a new vision emerges from the void. This one envelops us, Suki and I can see Widow and I talking in the observation room. We hug and Widow is crying.
“At that first discussion she told me that she did not want to die like that. When I told her there was nothing I could do, she asked me if I could find an alternative, a contingency plan. A way she could die that would avoid all that; it was her decision all the way. This is when I told her I had found such an alternative; the assassin Dana Tan. She didn’t know it at the time, but it was her will in a way.”
The vision fades. Suki and I are left alone. The regular flow of time fades back. We return to the beach, although we had never really left
“That is why I did what I did to kill Grey Widow, because she asked me to.”
“But why?” Suki asks, “why did she never tell me?”
“She didn’t tell you because she wanted you to believe she died fighting for the Sentinels. She thought that seeing her die as Grey Widow, as a hero, would push you to take her place, to choose to follow in her stead. I did not have the heart to tell her how you’d actually react. She made me promise to not tell you, but I could not keep that promise. I suppose if she were here now, she would understand.”
Suki slumps onto the sand, and curls her head between her knees. I walk to her and place my hand on her shoulder.
“This is a lot to take in, I know. You are very tired. We should leave.”
I shift us through space into my under-furnished apartment on the other side of Khazan City. She sits on the floor in the exact same posture. She looks around the room. It would be a few hours before she could fully process all of it.
“I have to leave now. There is food in the refrigerator, but it has been some time since I have been able to get back here; much of it has expired. I must return to the Observation Room. In the time I have been with you many things have occurred which require my attention. You know where to find me.”
I shift out.
Tactician: superior (rank 2)
It had been six months and four and a half weeks since Rachel Hammond, Grey Widow had died. There was a lull in action that would last for about an hour before I would be needed again. It was five minutes to midnight.
I shift into my apartment. Suki is on the couch watching the match she recorded earlier that day. She had become accustomed to my comings and goings, shifting in and out without greeting. I was never one for etiquette. I calmly walk in front of the television and switch it off.
“I was watching that.”
“Machester loses. 1-2. I came her to talk about what you’ve been wanting to ask me.”
She straightens out on the couch and stands up. She looks me dead in the eye.
“Fine then. Lets talk, let’s not waste any of your precious time…Why did you let it happen? When did you know?”
“I’m sorry, you’ll have to be more specific.”
“Don’t play stupid Zen, that’s the one thing you’re not good at.”
“I knew, the day they took you.”
She steps forwards and moves intimidatingly close. I do not shift away.
“You saw it. You saw everything they did to me, you saw it since the very beginning. You saw what my life would be like if you stopped them… every torture session, every life I was forced to take, every freedom they took from me for seven years…and you did nothing. You saw my pain, and you did nothing to stop it.”
“Yes. But as always… things are far more complicated. ”
I wave my hand and show her faces, hundreds of faces, thousands beyond them. All kinds of faces, men, women, children, spanning out in all directions for all time. She recognized some of them as the girls she saved from Virgo’s second Kennel.
“These are the people whose lives your suffering will save. In her own way, Widow was right. You will eventually take her place in the Sentinels. The women you saved at Virgo’s compound, children you will save from a serial killer, assassinations targets you will prevent from dying, the people their actions will ultimately save, innocents you will escort out of war zones and terrorist attacks. It was because of them, for their sake, that I allowed what happened to you to occur so that you may become the person you are now.”
I snap my fingers and the people all disappear.
“I am sorry. I don’t suppose seven years of torment can be easily excused by saying that it was for the better good.”
“No. It can’t.” She yells, “I don’t care what you say; what you did, or didn’t do, was inhuman. How can you watch the things they did to me and stand back calmly and tell me that you meant me only good? How could you have watched all that, and not even felt pity for me?”
“Suki, I pitied you every second of every day you remained there. I saw your every torment for seven years. I could not make myself unaware, and inside I weeped… but I also saw every other torment imaginable. I saw every child who would step on a land-mine, every teenager’s suicide, every life taken, in every situation conceivable. I saw the torment of the lives that would end if you did not endure what you did. Their suffering pained me as much as yours, but theirs was greater… I cannot make these decisions with empathy, because there will always be people in suffering no matter what I do. I can only save some of them. That is why I cannot choose which actions to take, I only make the cold calculations which I can follow without erring. It is the only way this can work. I am sorry, but there was nothing I could do…”
Suki walks past me. She punches the wall hard, leaving a thick dent.
“That’s the best you can do for me? Sorry? You can see everything and that was the best you could do?”
“I am afraid so, yes. You give me too much credit Suki. If I had the power I would have saved you, I would have stopped everything bad to ever happen in your life… but I can’t. In the grand-scale my powers are feeble. I can see time, but I am no less freed from it than you are. We are all controlled by the eventualities that will happen to us, predetermined or not. We are all puppets, I just learned to see the string.”
“I’m not--” Suki says, “I am no ones puppet. Not anymore. I don’t care how you view the world, my choices are my choices, and I live up to them. I have no strings!”
“What?” she asks puzzled. I manage to look surprised.
“Oh, sorry, its what you said; Kabuki, it is a type of Japanese theater. They often used puppets as the characters, over time they were replaced by actors who acted of their own accord. Puppets without strings…. sorry, my mind wanders when I lose focus…”
She nodded and left, still angry. I shifted out, back to the Observation Room. It would be a few more days before the suggestion took root. She would join the Sentinels in time and become Kabuki a few weeks later.
I think some part of her is glad she didn’t kill Dana Tan that night at the Rio Vista. As for Ms. Tan herself, I have seen into her future. If she could see it, I believe she might have asked Suki to kill her quickly to avoid it.