In the Public Eye: Part 23

The next post is finally up. First one under the new theme…

“Not right? Letting these guys have our names isn’t right either,” Travis said.

“I’m not letting them,” Daniel said, “They figured it out for themselves. Future Knight has something in there that detects when people are lying to him. He caught something when he was talking to Nick and talking to Kayla blew it open for him.”

“Wait,” Cassie said, “what did Kayla tell him?”

“Nothing,” Daniel said, “she just figured out who you were and lied about it. That’s enough.”

Travis nodded. “OK Daniel. Why is it wrong?”

“Because it’s their brains. They’re trying to do the right thing. If I just erase today, I might erase a lot more than that. The brain’s not a computer. Everything connects to other things and I don’t want to turn these guys into vegetables by mistake.”

Travis raised his eyebrow. “Is that likely?”

I couldn’t help but think that erasing a day from Future Knight’s memory sounded a lot easier than what Daniel had done to my head. I didn’t say so though.

Daniel shot a glance at me and frowned. “No. They’ll probably be okay. It’s just that this isn’t just a question of whether I wipe a day from these guys’ minds. It’s a question of whether we’re allowed to do this in the first place. Your memories are who you are. I’m permanently changing them.”

“I’m not going to argue that,” Travis said. “But right now these guys are going to turn us all in first chance they get, right?”

I didn’t need telepathy to read the answer from Daniel’s face.

“OK,” he said, “I’ll do it.”

He turned around and walked back between the two unconscious men, sitting next to Future Knight.

“That’ll buy us some time,” Travis told me. “Maybe your bots will have time to get something good.”

“I hope so,” I said.

“Me too, because if they don’t, we need a backup plan. You should see if your friend at the FBI has anything.”

“Yeah,” I said.

Almost everybody left after that. Daniel floated the bodies down the coast a few miles, escorted by Jaclyn. Cassie and Vaughn left together, followed by Marcus, Travis and Haley.

I sent a voice mail asking Isaac Lim to call me. He hadn’t been all that happy with me the last time we’d talked, but it had sounded like he wanted to help.

I stood up from the command console, thinking that I should shut everything down for the night. Isaac would call me at home if he wanted to. Then I began mentally running through the lights I should turn off and tunnel doors I should lock.

Adrift in my head, I did a double take as I realized that Haley stood only a few feet away from me.

“Sorry,” she said, “I didn’t mean to scare you.” She hesitated for a moment on the word “scare.”

“I’m not scared,” I said, ” I just thought you were already gone. I thought everybody was gone. I was going to turn things off.”

“I wanted to ask you something,” she said, “so I came back.”

“Sure,” I said, “go ahead.”

“You’ve seen me when I change,” she said. “It doesn’t creep you out, does it? The claws and the fangs?”

“I didn’t know you had fangs.”

I looked at her mouth. It seemed normal–except where it was quirked in an expression that might have been annoyance.

“I don’t right now,” she said.

“Sorry. No, I’m not bothered. I mean, it’s what you do, right?”

“What I do,” she said, “is turn into some kind of weird, half-human thing.”

“It must be nice to have powers all the time, though. As it is, I’d need to have someone following me in a van if I wanted to change quickly.”

“I don’t want to change at all.” She stopped talking, paused. “Well, that’s not true. I like the change. I don’t like looking like a refugee from a horror movie when I do it.”

I felt like I should say something. I felt sure that someone who was actually good with people would pull out a line that would help her see things in a new and positive light.

Can you tell my dad is a psychologist?

Unfortunately, nothing came to mind, and I realized suddenly that she was looking at me as if she expected me to say something.

What I felt like I should be saying is, “You don’t really look like a refugee from a horror movie.” Problem was, she actually did. I just couldn’t think of which one.

“Well,” I said, “at least you can turn back, right?”

9 thoughts on “In the Public Eye: Part 23”

  1. Can you tell I my dad is a psychologist?

    I don’t think I belongs.

    So, does Haley have a crush on a certain someone?
    The new theme is pretty cool, just a little dark on the comment boxes. It’d be fine if the text came up white here as well.

  2. I went back and reread the story from the beginning in celebration of the new theme and my thoughts keep circling back to how very much I like Nick, and how very thankful I am that you summarize his technobabble so that only the other characters have to listen to it. I suspect I’d find it far less hilarious to watch them try to stay awake if I had to listen to him explain heat sink problems as well.

    Regarding this chapter, I’m going to ascribe to the Haley has a crush theory too.

  3. Charles: Thanks… I’m not sure what to blame that on, but I’m sure I can come up with something. As for the comment boxes, I agree. I’ve got to do something about that when I have the time to mess with the css/html.

    Wysteria: Thanks. Summarizing the technobabble is the best option for so many reasons. The best reason is not to bore people. The reason that reflects less well on me is that if I did, I’d want to get the science/engineering right and that would be a lot of work.

    Others: Wysteria writes Tapestry. Click on her name and read it…

  4. To be honest, if you’re in any kind of technical profession, I think it’s easy to be oblivious to that. I know I can be sometimes. With Nick being as focused on technology as he is, it would be easy to lose track of what common knowledge is (and easy to overestimate his ability to explain it).

    Or to put it more succintly, “Yeah. Me too.”

  5. By now this has probably been revealed one way or the other, but from here it looks like Nick is something of a ‘mad genius’ when it comes to inventions and it’s becoming progressively more dominant. After all, Reed Richards’ greatest super power isn’t being like rubber, it’s his mind.

    And uhm, a typo in the 6th paragraph: “Everything connects to other things and I don’t want turn these guys into vegetables by mistake.” needs to be “…I don’t want to turn…”

    I really love the story so far. My one great fear is that you’ve stopped writing it and I’m too chicken to jump ahead to find out.

  6. Jerry… Thanks for reading and for pointing out the word I skipped.

    As for the story… No need to fear that I’ve stopped writing it. It’s continuing, and this section got wrapped up quite a while ago.

  7. I really like the fact that Daniel has this self-imposed ethical restriction. I find it quite believable (and interesting) that as a teenager his ethical framework is a but shakey and some peer pressure can push him to change it. But given his life experience he has surely encountered this exact situation before; I would expect more arguing before he gives in.

    1. Well, it may be that he should have argued more, but on the other hand, it’s hard to argue when the stakes are high and the argument basically makes sense.

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