“There’s supposed to be an anti-jumpfield here,” Hicks said.
He was very calm, considering that Mayu Nakashima had stolen his service weapon and jamming it into his neck. They actually made an interesting contrast, with Hicks’ greying hair and age-weathered face compared to Mayu’s unnaturally pale skin and pure white hair. Mayu’s mask-like smile was plastered on her face, and Hicks’ face was sour and unreadable as always. I noticed that both Hicks’ gray eyes and Mayu’s near white ones were both bloodshot, like they hadn’t been sleeping well.
“They don’t work on her,” I said.
“Really?” Hicks said.
“SHUT UP!” Mayu screamed, her face contorting into a mask of rage. Hicks made a choking sound as the muzzle of his Glock was drove further into his neck. A few drops of Mayu’s spittle hit me in the face. She saw the wetness on my extremely terrified face, then a look of confusion passed over hers. She blinked, then just as quickly relaxed. “I am sorry,” she said, bowing her head slightly. “That was uncalled for.”
“I apologize, too,” I said mimicking her head bob, “We shouldn’t have ignored you. Right, Agent?”
“Yeah,” Hicks said. He was terrified and out of breath, but he seemed to have a plan. I wondered if he realized I was trying to talk her down. “Any reason you’re visiting us?”
“Why,” Mayu said, “I said it already. I am here to lead you to the Messiah!”
“I was hoping,” Hicks said, giving me a meaningful look, “that someone could elaborate.”
“Mayu’s been a bit unwell,” I said. “She’s been in isolation for over a while and has some…”
“LIAR!” Mayu screamed, her face contorting with rage. Shit. What the hell had I been thinking? Hicks could tell she was crazy, she’d killed fourty-four people on his watch, five having been tortured to death. “I’M NOT CRAZY! I’M NOT CRAZY, YOU’RE LYING! YOU’VE SEEN HIM WITH YOUR OWN EYES! YOU KNOW HIS-” She halted mid-paranoid rant, her face lighting up with realization. Then she began to laugh hysterically. When she was done, she asked, “You haven’t told him, have you? You haven’t told Agent Hicks about Mubarak-kami, have you?”
“No, he hasn’t,” Hicks said, shooting me a rightfully annoyed glare. “Mind filling in?”
“Did he tell you about Mubarak-kami?” Mayu asked. “I bet he told you he was just a turncoat and a spy, nothing really special. Just some lowly, dishonorable coward.”
“He didn’t say anything like that,” Hicks said. “He only told me his name, that he was under the protection of the CIA and you were after him.”
“Look,” I said, “I’m not trying to throw Mubashir-”
“Show some respect,” Mayu snarled. I suddenly realized that the honorific that Mayu was using on Moob’s name was extremely strange. I had heard kami, the Japanese word for spirit or god before, but had never heard it used in that way. I wondered if it a sign that Mayu’s mind was fraying even more.
“Mubarak… kami?” I said making sure I had gotten it right. “Listen, the guy’s my friend and I’m just trying to protect him. If I tell Hicks he’s with the CIA, he doesn’t ask questions, and neither does the CIA.”
“So,” Mayu said, her face in its normal smile, “for you, protecting him means lying?” I hesitated, my mouth opened. She obviously was with it enough to trap me. “Well,” she said, her smile becoming so wide for a moment her eyes temporarily closed, “I think that says how much we can trust Jacobs-san, doesn’t it, Hicks-san?”
“Yeah,” Hicks said noncommittally.
“What you need to know about Mubarak-kami,” Mayu said, “is that he is God. He’ll fix everything.” That last word was said with such an intensity that Hicks and I flinched, even though it wasn’t angry. Then, she added so quietly I could barely hear it, “He’ll fix me.” She then reverted back to her normal smiling self. “That’s why I need you two. Jacobs-san, you know him. You can help convince him to use his power. Hicks-san, you helped the CIA with its informant extraction and relocation program.” At this, Hicks suddenly looked like the floor had fallen out from under him. “If you help, if you join me, we won’t have to kill anyone else.”
“Mayu,” I said, “There are a few reasons I’ve been uncooperative with you and Hicks.”
“Like he’s not really God?” Hicks said. “I figured that one out.”
There was a long silence. Finally I said, “The evidence,” I said, “actually indicates him being a God being a possibility.”
“What do you mean?” Hicks asked.
“You’ve seen it, haven’t you?” Mayu asked excitedly. “You’ve seen his power?” Suddenly, she got suspicious. “Why aren’t you worshipping him right now?”
“Can we talk about the things we’ll all agree on first?” I asked. Mayu nodded.
“Yeah,” Hicks said, glancing at where Mayu was pressing a gun into his neck. “That’d probably be safer.”
“This is a person,” I said, “who, in what appears to be a limited range,” or what I genuinely spent some nights praying was a limited range, “can make the laws of nature his bitch. If he… wants to, he can choose not to die if you put a three-round burst in his skull. If he wants to, he can turn someone into a fountain. If he wants to turn the immediate area into a cross between an Escher painting and one of those Scooby-Doo chase scenes where the doors lead into the hallway, he can. I mean, wants to is a strong word, but-”
“He can turn people into a fountain.” Hicks’ tone of flat disbelief was frankly expected.
“He can,” I said. “And I really don’t want the CIA doing their MK ULTRA crap on him. And don’t tell me that it’s stopped, or it doesn’t exist, or that they won’t try to do it to him. This is way too much of an opportunity for some of the people there not to take.”
“So,” Mayu said, “why aren’t you helping me?”
This was going to get me shot. I knew that as soon as I realized I had to say it. “Mayu,” I said, “Mu-Mubarak-kami isn’t who you think he is.”
“Yes he is,” Mayu said. “He’s the Architect, isn’t he?”
“Mayu,” I said, “the Architect isn’t some all-loving person. The Architect is a scared, traumatized kid with a split personality that controls his power.”
“What… what do you mean?” Mayu asked.
“Mayu,” I said, trying desperately to connect with her on some level, “ever since he was taken by Al-Qaeda, Mubarak-kami has been trying to kill himself. He told me this after saving my life for the third time, when I realized he’s the Architect. He’s not Mubarak-kami, here to usher in some golden age. He’s Moob, a kid from some Middle Eastern village trying to leave the past behind him. He’s Moob, a guy who has this power he literally believes is a curse from his God for thinking he could do a better job.” I took a deep breath and said, “Mayu, Mubashir’s not the person you want him to be.”
Mayu had been becoming more and more panicked as I spoke. Finally, she whispered, “Liar.”
“Mayu,” I said, “why would I lie to you?”
“LIAR!” Mayu screamed. She then aimed her gun at me again. This time Hicks grabbed the gun. I didn’t see because I had launched myself sideways. The gun went off, but thanks to my dodge and Hicks’ grab, the shot went wild and hit the mirror.
I heard something smash into the table. Hicks grunted in pain. Meanwhile, I tried to step through the handcuffs. As I tried, I heard what sounded like Mayu pistol-whipping Hicks and yelling. “You moron! I was trying to do this right! I was trying to save you! I was trying to save the world! Why do hate me? WHY DO YOU HATE ME? WHY DO YOU HATE MEEEEE?!”
This, I thought to myself, actually might be going better than I expected.
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