[D]EBRIEFER: Are we ready to continue?
[C]HARADE: Yes, thanks.
D: Are you feeling all right, [C]?
C: Fine, fine. I’m just kind of … tired. It’s been a long couple of days. There really wasn’t a lot of chance to sleep over there. We were busy. And the place smelled like – ugh.
D: I would have thought your training program would have dealt with odoriferous places.
C: Well, yes, of course. I didn’t run screaming from the swamp base that smelled like ass. I simply didn’t enjoy it, and it didn’t encourage casual napping.
D: When we broke off, you had just contacted your peers in the Sepiaverse.
[RECORDING of C: Hey, guys, Dr. Infinity is here, top that!"]
C: I was a bit peeved.
D: Of course. What did you do then?
C: I was about to go into more detail, when I remembered something.
C: I remembered playing tag in Chichen Itza with [J], around age 10, maybe 11, and I remembered a starfish shape, the same as I had just encountered in the alternate timeline Sepiaverse.
D: You realized you had encountered Dr. Infinity before, whilst playing games with [J].
C: No. Or, no, not really. I realized I now had encountered Dr. Infinity there. But before, I could remember that it never happened.
D: You did not encounter Dr. Infinity then.
C: Yes, I have now encountered Dr. Infinity when I was 10. But I didn’t do so before.
D: You … don’t remember doing so.
C: No. I know my memories. I’ve had reason to examine them carefully, and I know what I remember. I did not meet Dr. Infinity when I was 10 before. Now I have.
D: Your memory has … changed?
C: The event has changed. I have both a memory of what happened, and a memory of what my memory previously told me.
D: Time travel. [REDACTED]
C: Tell me about it.
D: And that visit. What happened?
C: I was asked a question. It captured me, stopped me from running, held me – [LONG PAUSE] then asked me a question.
D: Which was?
C: I don’t remember.
D: [C], you were just touting your memory –
C: Memory isn’t a video disc. It’s not data. It’s a series of correlated data, of information. When data cannot be correlated, when the observer doesn’t understand what’s happening, there’s no effective memory, no information, just disparate bits of data.
D: You didn’t know the answer to the question.
C: No, the question made no sense. I didn’t understand it, what it meant.
D: So you are … aware of Dr. Infinity … changing … time?
C: Yes. Changing time. Changing my past. My. Past.
D: Did Dr. Infinity – are you aware of other … changes?
C: Age 13. Caracas, Venezuela.
D: That would be your assassination of [REDACTED]. [PAUSE]. Is that right, [C]?
C: After … I was observing the target, when Dr. Infinity’s drone appeared. I note this was again not part of my memory beforehand. I attempted to shoot the drone, to no avail. It asked a question. I don’t remember, in that instant, what the question was.
D: That’s … an interesting qualification.
C: I know the question from a later … intrusion.
D: Will we get to that?
C: I certainly intend we will.
D: You sound angry.
C: I’m always angry.
D: Movie lines, [C]?
D: Never mind. You’re – irked regarding Dr. Infinity’s – intrusions.
C: She fucked with my memory. She changed my past. How should I feel?
D: Given Dr. Infinity’s predilections, it’s likely that she’s changed all our pasts in one way or another.
C: And you’re okay with that?
D: No, I most certainly am not. but … I don’t dwell on it.
C: Has Dr. Infinity shown up in your memories, [D]? Personally?
D: Only in my nightmares, [C]. Only there. Shall we go on?
C: Two, two and a half years ago. Stockholm, Sweden. Nobis Hotel. Up in the middle of the night watching the coverage of – Father’s reported death, alongside Dr. Quill and both their bodyguards.
C: The drone appeared on the hotel TV. Asking a question. The same question. And it’s – I remember that not happening. I remember it happening – and as it did, remembering the earlier appearances. God dammit. This is driving me – ugh.
D: Focus on the details, the facts, [C]. You can emote on your own time.
C: Thanks, Father.
C: After my infiltration at the Quill Foundation was complete, and I left, I encountered the drone in an alley four blocks west of the Quill Block, the one [REDACTED]. She – it caught me. Again. I couldn’t … but this time, this time … I know what she was asking.
D: What’s different?
C: I have context. Dr. Infinity was asking about a name. I had no idea before then what the name was. This time, I knew the name. I didn’t know it as I know it now, but I was monitoring [J]'s contacts. I knew the name now.
D: The name?
_Who is Charlotte Palmer?
_It’s funny. Dr. Infinity is an Omega-Class Threat. She is a hyper-intelligent time-traveling artificial being, power level oozing out of her artificial pores. I’m just a human being with guns and an above-average intelligence. She could wipe me from existence with less thought than I would put to swatting a fly.
_But I know something she doesn’t. I know that she didn’t sense the presence of Ghost Girl there in the future Sepiaverse. And I know she didn’t know who Ghost Girl was.
_Today? I’d come up with a much more clever answer. Or maybe not. What I came up with was – and I say this without any sense of ego – inspired. _
D: You told her what?
C: That [G] was an agent of the Halcyon Heroes League. Possibly a child of a member. Oh, and, a bit of gratuitous flavor text, that she was perhaps associated with Hecate.
D: And … what was your rationale for this particular bit of yarning?
C: If Infinity could somehow detect lies, a simple denial that I knew anything about [G] would be counterproductive. Deflecting into something that would take the heat off of [J] seemed the best course.
D: But driving Dr. Infinity toward the HHL –
C: Who better to stand against Dr. Infinity? And … in fairness, I believed at the time that the HHL was a tool for the hegemonic status quo, and deserved any trouble it received.
D: I see. And your current evaluation of the HHL?
C: I believe it’s more productive to concentrate on what happened in the context of when it happened.
D: Of course. And --?
C: That’s it. No other memory fuckage.
C: Dr. Infinity [REDACTED].
D: Any other evaluation or professional analysis?
C: [REDACTED]. My memory is my own.
D: Yes. Let’s continue.
[to be continued]
author: *** Dave H.