Somebody and Nobody


hana_icon.gif mallory_icon.gif

Scene Title Somebody and Nobody
Synopsis The 'somebody who is nobody' gets in touch with somebody she encountered once before.
Date November 7, 2008

In the space between computers

Mallory has set up in a library again; Brooklyn, which is where she did some of her untangling. Legs drawn up, the toes of her sneakers curl around the edge of the uncomfortable plastic chair in her study carrel. For lack of a better thing to do, she pings the PARIAH video again. She's gotten a free email address from hotmail - griproller21x - to sign up for a YouTube account. The name comes from the closest thing she has handy; a Bic pen. A GripRoller pen, even. After a moment's thought, her fingertips dance over the keys to leave a comment: knock, knock.

The delay in Hana's response is long only as technopaths count time; by anyone else's measure, the reply is rapid. With her attention elsewhere, it takes a moment for the signal from triggered tags to penetrate. Another moment is spent in contemplating the triggerer — the computer at the library. A guess at its user's identity. And in what might be called a fit of whimsy, Wireless replies: Who's there?

Mallory's lips curve up into a faint, faint smile. Bingo. The somebody who is a nobody working for calm waters. A man with no friends, a bird, and a tiger walk into a bar. What do they have in common?

Riddles are not Hana's interest, nor her strength. She prefers direct action, or at least direct observation and analysis. Fortunately, with unknown lengths of virtual road lying between them, Mallory is spared the woman's scowl. They don't try my patience with riddles, is the blunt reply she gets.

Pardon my caution when dealing with people accused of terrorism, is Mallory's reply. I don't particularly want to get caught talking to you. What's the difference between Pariah and Phoenix, and why am I being followed?

You won't be, Wireless assures the girl. Unless you let someone watch over your shoulder. There's a slight pause as she considers the rest of Mallory's remarks. PARIAH looks to change the world by force. Phoenix prefers persuasion; their interest is justice rather than fear. She chooses to leave out the nature of her relationship with Phoenix — the less this stranger knows about the Ferrymen, right now, the safer they likely are. As to you being followed, I haven't the least idea.

Mallory wiggles her toes in her sneakers, nose wrinkling. I wish your left hand knew what your right hand was doing, then. I don't like being followed. Mallory hovers her finger over the ENTER key. Can you tell them to stop? Send.

They're neither of them my hands. A brief pause, as Wireless considers. I can pass the message, but I cannot promise any particular result. I don't know who is following you, and I can't tell them very well who to stop following, either. 'The somebody who is a nobody' means nothing to anyone else.

…I need to think about this. You're the only one I know who's like me. Are there others? Mallory asks.

Others like us? I've met a few, Wireless answers. None still nearby.

What's physical distance to us? comes Mallory's reply after a few moments. And then, How did you get so good? What did you do to control it? How do you sort all of it out, how do you know when someone's poking your territory or whatever it is?

Sometimes it matters, is Hana's counter. Another smile, this one thinner, but equally unseen. Some of it, I just do. But I also have many years of experience — and the benefit of training.

There are people to train this? Mallory asks, lips pressing together. She fidgets again, extending one hand, rolling it at the wrist. Her mouse hand. Nobody likes carpal tunnel. People you trust? How did you decide who to trust? Sometimes distance matters, yeah. It means you can be a little vulnerable without having a person in front of you. Anonymity behind text is good for that.

I decided very poorly, Hana replies, also taking advantage of that remove. I learned discipline from the Mossad, and that was one factor. I learned my ability from someone else, people who don't officially exist… people who deceived me about everything they stood for, and left me to die. She follows that statement with a moment of silence to let it sink in; then she continues. No. I don't trust them, and I would suggest you learn from my mistakes.

But could you do it on your own? What you're capable of now? Because what we can do is scary. Have you been tempted to use it on banks and things? Abuse it, I guess?

I don't know. They pushed me until I broke, and then pushed harder. What would have happened otherwise… Text offers little in the way of emotion, but the pause that follows is the equivalent of a shrug from Wireless. For personal gain, you mean? It's a pity the electronics can't carry tone, because Hana's would be fairly mystified. She just doesn't work that way. Perhaps some of that sentiment comes across nonetheless. I do what is needful. Most of all, I watch.

Mallory is silent for a while; maybe a minute, or almost a minute. It's power. It's great power. With great power comes great responsibility. You sound responsible, at least.

In Mallory's silence, Wireless is also silent. Waiting. Some might disagree. Depending on the connotation of 'responsible'; 'reckless' can also be used to describe Hana Gitelman at many times. But I understand what you mean, and I think those who matter would concur. A pause of her own follows, although far shorter than Mallory's hiatus for thought.

If you are willing to trust me…
…I can try to teach you what I know.

More silence on the bandwidth, before, You told me to learn from your mistakes. Is this an offer you'd accept if you were me?

Unlike you, I know who I am, comes Wireless' reply. If I were in your shoes, had made the contact… yes. A very slight pause, just enough for emphasis. You reached out your hand to me. Are you surprised that I would reach back?

Yes, comes the immediate answer. Then, No. I may not be as good as you, but I'm still something. Another pause. Yes to reaching out in a way that wouldn't be an attempt to exploit my abilities. But I need to know, and you know that, don't you? I need to learn, so I will trust you that much, at least. Will you trust me?

I don't need your abilities, Wireless states, blunt and to the point. If you were to ask what I get from this — perhaps nothing that would matter to you. One less person they can coerce into their service. Maybe, someday, one more person to aid me and mine. But I don't expect any such commitment from you now. This is between you and me. Personal, and that alone.

Another pause, this one longer. Time for consideration? Maybe. Maybe it's meant only to emphasize what follows.

I am often called Wireless.
My name is Hana Gitelman.

Mallory. Maybe the trust isn't complete, 'cause there's a long pause. Wireless could probably find her anyway, right? Allistair.

Wireless could probably have found her at any point, if she'd wanted to look closely enough. Having the name freely given, however, is much more useful. A positive sign. It's a pleasure to meet you, Mallory. In person, that statement would have been less formal, and just a little satisfied. As it is, there's nothing but text. I will ask Phoenix to stop following you. I hope it's one of theirs; I have no connection with PARIAH.

Thank you. I should go. I have to make dinner tonight.

Next time you want to talk, send a message to Wireless. You don't have to come looking for the video to find me.

Works for me. And she blinks out.

The following message was received by Helena immediately after these events:

I ask that whomever is shadowing Mallory Allistair cease doing so.

November 4th: For Lack of Zombies
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