Chapter 7: Nick

12/30/07

I sat in the copilot's chair next to Natasha as the sun rose above the horizon, illuminating the Saharan coastline out in front of us. Neither of us said very much, Natasha kept her eye's locked straight ahead, only occasionally glancing at the various readouts and lights that flickered around her. For my part, I fidgeted with the black blade Natasha had given me in England. My room, the one in the Trunk World, had given me a sheath the day after I received the blade. I woke up and it was on my dresser. I've noticed the room adapt like that before; since I took up smoking, there has been a pack of cigarettes on the beside table every morning. There is a bottle of Jack Daniel's in the medicine cabinet, and some Prozac. I almost feel insulted, the room clearly doesn't have a high opinion of me.

"Why was Joshua in the Labyrinth?" I asked, breaking the silence. Natasha's eyes flitted to me for a second.

"He's Jacques Rousseau-Lambert's son. He was the first living being to undergo artificial Oktoberism. His sister was the second."

"Oktoberism?"I asked.

"The process someone goes through before gaining unnatural abilities. Superhuman abilities that is. Like Renard's ludicrous luck. It's a biological process, typically triggered moments of severe stress in 'primed' lifeforms. Those who are predisposed for Oktoberism."

"How does it work?"

"Well, since JRL was the only human to artificial induce Oktoberism, until recently that is, we haven't ever actually observed the process. Only the before-and-after snapshots. It seems as though the process of Oktoberism completely rewrites the brain structure of the subject. The roles of different parts of the brain are reassigned, and some roles are marginalized. For instance, the parts of the brain responsible for handling fear, or the instinct for self-preservation, are reduced to a speck on the frontal lobe. I'm not clear on the details, research wasn't my area back at Rousseau International. From what I heard though, the research department was completely unable to comprehend the process. It broke a lot of established laws of biology."

"So why was Joshua imprisoned though? Was he flawed or dangerous because he was a prototype?"

"No, he was imprisoned for the opposite reason. He was perfect, a Type-IV, same with his sister. They were a hair short of being gods. Rousseau International didn't like that, it scared the hell out of them. So they set up a trap for Joshua, and turned his own powers against him. They didn't trap him in the Labyrinth, the Labyrinth is his only creation, his own world, made from his own powers, turned against him. Somehow, our stumbling in disrupted the status quo though. We created a backdoor for him to escape through."

"What was his power?"

"JRL made his children masters of time and space. Joshua became the master of space, and his sister ruled time. Joshua could be anywhere in the world, he could be everywhere in the world. His sister could do all that, and more, however. She could exist throughout time, she could exist outside of time. She was the truly dangerous one... Of course, she could never be caught."

"So she's still out there, then?"

"She'll always be out there, but we know that she did ultimately meet her end. A few years ago, she came to us. She came to Rousseau International, ready to die. God knows how long she had been alive for, but she still looked like the little girl she was when her father did that horrible thing to her. She was bored, she was a shell. Her voice was flat, and she said very little. She had seen all of time, lived through all of it. She said she saw how it ended, and she had tried to change it, but no matter what she did, the fate of reality was inevitable. She told me she had seen enough of time to know death was nothing to be feared. The last time I saw her... she told me about the end."

"What did she say?"

"... She told me I wouldn't like it."

I paused for a while reflecting on the information Natasha had just given me. For a long while, we said nothing. I itched to smoke, but, being on an airplane, and with the pilot no less, I repressed the urge. Natasha still gazed straight ahead, unmoving and stoic. I like to think I'm good at reading people, I was a journalist after all... Natasha though, whatever lurks behind the shade of her eyes scares the hell out of me.

"Why doesn't Joshua go after Midas now? Why doesn't he just... pop into Midas' office and splatter his brains over the pristine mahogany desk I'm sure Midas has?" I asked.

"Because he's still human. He doesn't know where Midas is, where his office is, or the layout of the office. Suppose he just guessed, and 'popped' in, only to find himself occupying the same space as a wall, or a chair. Or a pristine mahogany desk."

I cringed at the thought.

"Joshua explained what it was like inside his head to a team of Rousseau scientists once..." Natasha said, "He told them to imagine knowing the location of a single molecule, no matter where it was in the universe. Knowing where it was, where it was going, what it was made of, what was made of it, each atom, each slight movement, each contact. Constantly. Always knowing every single fact about that molecule. Then he told them that was how he experienced every, single, molecule in existence. He told them he has to block that information out, repress it. That's the reason he doesn't constantly know the location of every person or item on the planet. If he starts to let a bit of that information in, the floodgates would rupture and it will all come crashing in. He'd go mad."

"So he has to focus on not knowing what he innately knows every second of his life then..."

"He says it's the worst suffering anyone can experience."

A flicker of sadness sprinted across Natasha's face.

"Have you ever met Joshua?" I asked, she shook her head.

"He was imprisoned long before you and I were born."

"... What do you think is calling us for?" I asked.

"He's not calling us, Nick. He specifically sought to contact you. I don't know why either, it almost concerns me." I frowned, and even though she wasn't looking at me, she quickly apologized. "No offense, not that you're... useless or anything. What concerns me is actually the opposite, clearly Joshua knows something about you that you don't even know, and if that is true, then there is a chance Midas knows it, and that could be a very severe impairment for us..."

We were flying southeast over the Sahara, so the sun was rising much faster for us than it was the rest of the world. As I gazed out over the sepia landscape, I thought for a moment about what Natasha had told me about Joshua. If what she had said was true, than Joshua would know a lot more than just the movements of atoms. He would understand physics on a base level, through pure observation. His brain would be bombarded constantly with information our greatest scientists couldn't even fathom. He would know every planets, every star, and every bacterium on every planet. He could know the emotions of every person on the planet, the impulses their brains were sending to neurotransmitters. Even in his own body, he'd be aware of every breath, every blink, every beat of the heart. He'd feel the blood circulating in him, the cells dying and being born.

He would literally know everything.

I would be driven mad in seconds.




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