Continued from here
It’s remarkable how much intel there is on public websites. For example, when Alycia had split up from the group to “look for more enemy soldiers”, she was already pulling up the marine vessel tracking website. Barring accidents, ship routes are perfectly predictable.
That’s how she was able to parachute from the OZMA-9 AEGIS flight nearly onto the deck of this almost-automated cargo hauler. This is a bulk carrier, cruising at 14.8 knots per hour, at a heading of 309 degrees between Vila do Conde, Brazil and Veracruz, Panama. This craft’s photos online even helpfully include the Zodiac, replacing one of the closed lifeboat designs.
She has other intel, too.
SNOWMAN can jump out of airplanes. They’ll probably send him after me. Maybe immediately. My best strategy is to use him, until I can ditch him. I’ll have to do that before he reports my position and they deploy a pick-up team. They’ll know I’m heading back to Mexico anyway, but Mexico’s a big country.
She’s got seconds or minutes. She already formulated a strategy, now it’s just time to review and solidify it. He’s no friend of AEGIS, if I read Leo Snow’s personality correctly. He’s probably operating under duress, with Alex there to monitor and handle him in the field. I can play on his sympathy, as a fellow AEGIS detainee.
Sure enough, she spots the flare of jets descending from the sky. She watches him scan the deck, spot the Zodiac, make the logical connection. She watches him approach, stands up, readies her speech.
“I can’t let them take me in. I know you know what that feels like–”
He shoots her, almost as fast as her eye can process.
When she wakes up, she’s in the Zodiac. SNOWMAN is operating the outboard motor. The craft is skimming the waves, bump-bump-bump-bump. There’s an art to operating these things in ocean. Too slow and the waves take control of you. Too fast and you go flying. He’s not an expert with this, but he’s figuring it out fast.
She’s not physically wounded. He used some kind of non-lethal impact round. Very, very effective. Problematically effective. She was pretty sure he had a limited supply of them, but didn’t immediately feel like testing that limit.
“You shot me.”
“Not a very Leo move.”
SNOWMAN tilts his head. “I’m not Leo Snow. Not any more.”
That’s a very important bit of intel I need to factor in.
She thinks about Summer, about Aria. They were both the same person within the lifetime of the team, until - something - happened. They diverged rapidly. She has a cool working relationship with Aria Newman. Summer, on the other hand, has gotten uncomfortably far past her defenses, into what might riskily be called “friendship” territory. Leo seemed to understand that such rapid divergence was not only possible, but inevitable. Now he’s experiencing it for himself?
“So who are you now?”
SNOWMAN doesn’t answer.
She’s been orienting herself via the stars. The silence affords her time to put her conclusions together. They’re going back to Mexico. “What’s your plan?”
“Take you back to Mexico. Let you play out your hunch until you run dry. Take you back to AEGIS after that.”
She smirks. “That doesn’t sound like a very AEGIS move either. If you were one of their loyal foot soldiers, you’d just take me back.”
He finally looks at her, instead of the water. “Two reasons. First, if there’s someone running the old Chin operation, that’s not cool with me no matter what. Free supervillains are bad news. Like Rossum. 'Nuff said.”
'Nuff said indeed. “And the other?”
He narrows his eyes, looks away again. “'Cause maybe you do have a clone of yourself or something. That’s just as much of a problem.”
She leans forward, hearing a hidden emotion in his voice and finding opportunity there. That’s what he thinks happened. Maybe what he hopes. He wants to see it, learn from it. The divergence from a real Alycia to a copy. He wants to learn about how to live with himself.
“Make you a deal. Don’t shoot me again, and I’ll cooperate.”
SNOWMAN snorts. “You got a shitty foundation of trust going. How about cooperate, and I won’t have to shoot you again.”
She feels for the leverage she thinks she has. “You don’t have a chance of getting to the master of the new Chin empire without my willing cooperation.”
“Fine. Partners. We’ll play it your way, but no killing.”
It worked. “Deal.”
He changes topics. “What’s your lead anyway? Or do you just feel like parachuting into random situations?”
Honestly, I kind of do… She shakes her head free of that thought. “The lab that was attacked. The Chin operation was using it. But they bought space and equipment from a drug cartel. They had a deal with a cartel. I’ll find out which one, then infiltrate them or get access to their records.”
“Just like that, huh?”
She smirks with renewed confidence. “I’m only on the side of the angels. I’m not one myself.”
SNOWMAN goes silent. Alycia does too. For all her bravado, it wasn’t going to be quite that easy. But it was a plan, and for once she feels pretty good about things. Doing bad, in the name of good. Is that who I am? Then so be it.