Chalal I



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Scene Title Chalal I
Synopsis Hebrew. lit. space, void, cavity; connotations of commencement, beginning and of piercing, wounding.
Date April 9, 2019


Stars glitter amidst crystalline darkness as Hana Gitelman rolls to her back, opening bleary eyes. That darkness stretches horizon to horizon across her view, wholly swallowing the landscape: no city lights alleviate its gloom. Her ears pronounce her alone, enveloped in silence save for the faint soughing of a cool breeze.

At the most visceral of levels, that breeze smells like home.

Sitting up, she licks dryness from her lips, getting a mouthful of grit for her trouble; spitting it all back out proves a noble but futile effort. Easier by far to scrub the rest from her face, hands, clothes… though the skin of her hands is stiff, its surface cracking and flaking in a manner she recognizes. Blood. Dried blood.

The important part is that the blood isn't her own.

Her attention moves on to the clothes, which feel at once both familiar and odd — a linen robe, full-length yet cool, fabric seeming pale against the dark. White or khaki, perhaps. Too cool for the night air, but it'll be comfortable when she's up and moving… and during the heat of the day she instinctively knows will follow.

Hana finds herself expecting a pashmina to come to hand. None does.

Neither does water, or any kind of gear. There's only herself and the clothes she wears.

That will have to be sufficient. For whatever.

Physical environment evaluated, Hana turns her attention elsewise, intangible reach stretching toward the sky. Her awareness touches the ever-present hum of GPS satellites at their tireless work, the system answering technopathic query precisely as designed. One point of the data provided comes as no surprise: her location in the Negev. In Israel. But the other…

Seven years. Somehow, some way, she has lost seven years.

Shock spikes through her veins, rapidly transmuting to ice — or to steel, the hardening of cold and furious purpose. Whatever had happened to strand her in a desert halfway around the world, seven years later —

Not later. Forgotten.

There is a difference between still and motionless, most especially the flavor of motionless that communicates immediate and deadly threat. There are no onlookers here to take warning from the lioness staring into the dark. Technopathic perceptions surge in the direction whence those comments were sourced — which is apparently nowhere at all. There is no infrastructure she can connect to, no presence she can sense.

Only on second, more deliberate inspection does Hana realize there is in fact nothing cyber about the communication received, no routing, no protocol… no metadata possessed of meaning anywhere outside the uncanny context of a technopath's mind.

Someone has a direct link to her.

Who are you? She sends no out-of-band data with the query, no subtext, no emotional encoding. It doesn't matter; the blunt words are inherently antagonistic.

…I do not know. The stranger's reply is equally barren of context, intonation, emotion. The slight hesitation could be reluctant honesty… or a ploy, a gamble for sympathy.

I don't believe you, is nigh a whipcrack in the speed of its retort, overtly hostile in implication.

I don't expect you to.

Wherever it is, whatever it is, the stranger delivers to her a bundle of data. Once again, the package itself carries no digital markers — but the information within was clearly sourced from the wider Internet. Analyst instincts suggest interesting implications might be gleaned from the associated timestamps, but Hana leaves their contemplation for later, focusing instead on the what within the bundle.


All public information, too broad and internally coherent to immediately disdain, too sparse and impersonal to substitute for her own recollections — or, as is proven in short order, to even draw those recollections forth.

Either you did those things, the stranger appends, entirely unnecessarily, or you have a double.

In some respects, that isn't really an improvement. A seven-year hiatus would simply be a void — perhaps with a few bureaucratic hassles to overcome, but nothing remarkable. Seven years' lost memory — or doubled existence — brings with it unmet expectations, unexpected complications. A life of the wrong size to fit into comfortably.

Like a whole paramilitary unit she's never even heard of, with her name apparently at its head.

Resentment bubbles under Hana's skin, irrational yet pervasive, impossible to shunt aside even did she try. She doesn't. Shoving off the ground, she clambers to her feet, testing the tread of the boots she wears against sand-scoured stone. They'll do. Even if absolutely nothing else about this situation 'does'.

Complications on the other side of an ocean, she resolutely bins as a problem for later. So, too, her uninvited 'guest', at least until she figures out how to track it back to its source. Here and now, she has a desert to trudge her way out of… and, perhaps even before that, a puzzle to solve.

There is a target for her vindictivity out there somewhere, someone who dumped her in the desert to die alone.

With nothing but herself and far too many miles of wasteland around, it's into old and comfortable channels that Hana's simmering vexation settles. After all, she's been abandoned in a desert once before…

…and, almost unsurprisingly, holding Noah Bennet at knifepoint is the very last thing she can recall.

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