You little bastard! You had us all worried! When the newspapers said that you were “most likely dead,” we were all hoping that Bonesaw would pull out some sort of miracle. I’m glad to see that she did.
Just do me a favor and don’t trust her, alright? I know you, you’ll just let her do whatever she wants willy-nilly. She was a member of the Slaughterhouse 9. I saw some of the horrible things they did, and believe me, some people don’t deserve a second chance. Get someone else to double check her work. Someone that isn’t at that hospital. Not everybody there is reputable.
We’re all going ape now that word’s out that you’re fine. I got to be the one to tell Mike the good news. Lemmie tell you, for such a quiet guy, he sure as hell can belt out the Halleliuja chorus.
I don’t know how much I can really say. We’re all thriled of course.
Oh! I was going to write you a letter thanking you for your present! As soon as I opened the crate and saw what was inside, I knew immediately who sent it. You and your sister are crazy for going there, but you have no idea what you’ve done for everyone here. There’s a group of us who meet up twice a week now. We even let the kids have a turn.
Not everybody wants a turn, though. Some people just want to watch, including folks who I never would have guessed would want to. It’s kind of nice, really, to have people cheering you on like that. One in particular
It’s funny. I know that I swore off relationships. I know that I said that after how the last one ended, I’d never go back. But… I don’t know so much any more. It isn’t like when I was a kid. It’s just really nice to have someone there. It isn’t passionate, but we just like being in each other’s company. I think I’m in love, but it’s a weird kind of love that I’ve never felt before. And I’m pretty sure it’s being returned.
I’m rambling. Sorry.
Let’s see. Steve has been in a funk since the news came out, but that isn’t your fault. If anything, you may have helped a lot of people out. I haven’t really taled with him, but rumor is that he found out that his healing may not exactly be what we thought it was. There’s word that he’ll be heading to the hospital to run some tests on how his power works here soon. Hopefully, we can get it all straightened out and he can get back to work.
I just wanted to let you know that we’re all pulling for you. We all hope that you triggered from that, but if you didn’t, that’s okay. It’ll happen soon.
Take care of yourself, big man. Give Sarah a big hug for me, and slap Chris on the back.
P.S. Work on your writing more. I could barely read the letter that came with the present.
Dear Mr. Jordan,
I would like to give my warmest and sincerest regards and congratulations on your recovery. Riley and myself are old friends, two enfant terrible who are misunderstood adults, and I rest assured that she will take the best care of you possible. You find yourself in the best hands in any Earth. She will see you safely.
It is through your efforts that I am not required to keep more than I already had to. The selfless work of yourself and your sister are to be commended. The cheers and accolades that you might receive are well worth it, no matter what you might personally believe. There is nothing more precious than life, and you have gifted it to those whom others may have written off.
I would also like to offer you my apologies. Had I actively participated in the battle, it would have gone far differently. Everyone knows it. I find myself torn over my lack of intervention, and am reminded of it through the accusing stares of others every day. I feel that out of all those who participated, perhaps you and your sister are the most deserving of an explanation.
When we first scouted Agamemnon, I found myself blinded by his radiance. His presence was simply blinding in a way that I have only experienced a handful of times in my life, and I know that I am not the only one. Chevalier was likewise afflicted, and most likely would not have ended up engaging Agamemnon directly. He would have lead through communication, despite how bitter of a task it would have been for him.
And yet, this is merely an excuse, one that I am urged to rely upon by others. As it was experienced by all who possess the Sight, crippling many of them so long as they witnessed Agamemnon, they inform me that it is something that I should claim in order to reduce resentment.
It is, sadly, a wasted effort. I will earn the ire of others simply through my existence. Despite my victories borne through blood, sweat and tears, I am feared. Despite my losses in battle, I am reviled by the erroneous belief that I am attempting nothing more than to seize control over the Wardens in order to increase my own powers.
It is due to this misguided prejudice that I am forced to stay my hand, to sit idle and watch mournfully as noble souls fight and die when they should live. To watch in horror as a young man looks defiantly on an enemy he cannot defeat, his only ray of hope failing him. This, I tell you, is perhaps the most agonizing act that one must be forced into.
And yet, forced I am. I am not allowed to be one of the first to charge into battle outside of certain circumstances. I am not allowed to use my powers, not without bindings of rules and red tape. It is a fool’s folly, but one which I can understand and respect. There was a time when I was a figure to be feared, a name which one spoke of in whispered tones. The name itself may have changed, but the legacy remains. A legacy I’d rather be free of.
While I understand the necessity of it, it does not mean that I must like it. I have come to value the bravery of those like yourself, and do not wish to see it diminished by the cruelest of fates — a life ended before its time.
I do not blame those who stare at me with accusing eyes, who beg to know why I did not intervene in a situation earlier, who demand to know why others had to fall before I would lend my aid. What is there to blame? They cannot see the world as a whole, know every side to a story, to know the inner workings behind an action, or in this case, an inaction.
What I may do, however, is let those who strike a critical blow and live to tell the tale know why they were forced to do so. And for those who are injured, who are sent to stare over the dangerous cliffs of death, I may offer my sincerest apologies.
To think one such as yourself might be lost, beyond even my ability to reclaim, is a travesty. So it is with joy and jubilation that I might write to you this day, instead of composing a dirge in your honor.
There is little that I might say to thank you which you will not hear from many more. So I am left with a debt, no matter how minor it might be in your eyes, which must be appeased. Would we ever meet in person, I ask that you think of a boon that I might be able to grant you. No matter how minor, so long as it is within my power, and be of noble disposition, I will grant it gladly. Debts must be repaid always, and your critical strike in what may have been your last breath has earned one such payment.
May we meet, see one another eye to eye, without fear or prejudice. Until then, be well, and be strong in mind, body and spirit. May your wings allow you to soar.
Are you fucking stupid? Out of your goddamn mind? Scuttlebutt says that you knew that fucking teleporter was damaged. Trusting something that belongs in a Tinker’s hands after it’s had so much as a chip in its casing is the most retarded thing that I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing about. You know better! I know you know better! No. No more, do you hear me? I’m not going to let one of the less idiotic classmates get himself killed doing something so fucktardedly stupid. Especially when they know so much better that the only possible answer is brain damage. Something happened, didn’t it? What’s going on, Fuckface? It isn’t Christopher. Sarah? No, the interaction that you two had didn’t show an unusual level of stress towards each other. Your meeting with Alcott. What happened? What did she say? Get in touch. If she gave you low odds on something, I’ll help you figure out how to maximize those numbers. I still owe you for Troy Wilkinson. And if you don’t get in touch I’ll kick you in the nuts so hard they pop out your goddamn nose.
Warden Legal Department
P.S. Get well soon, fucker.
I was not the slightest bit impressed with the fact that you ended your session with Dinah Alcott early to charge into the Agamemnon situation. I would have been disappointed. To say that your final blow surprised me, however, would be an understatement.
I feel that your current condition is at least in some small part my own fault. I know that if I had reclaimed the teleporter sooner, you would not have been injured. When you reported that it had been damaged, I knew that we needed to take it back and see to its repair. Sadly, I got distracted with the other information you gave me.
I offer you two things as an apology. The first is a replacement for you to keep and own. I took the liberty of ensuring that my property was returned to me, but felt a small pang of guilt over the whole ordeal. I made sure that the casing of the new teleporter was reinforced using bits of the old one — I know how you mercenaries are about mementos.
Second, I offer you information, what I was able to discern from both your photographs and the debriefings that you gave. Very few people have heard these yet, so consider yourself lucky.
Scion was able to create a lock on the city by preventing the natural degradation of the atomic and chemical bonds. This was achieved through a combination of completely stopping their vibrations followed by a dimensional overlap. Natural entropy was stopped by creating a false entropy in these other dimensions. This explains why the various ares in the Saint Louis Zone are completely barren in the other dimensions.
As far as I can figure, this caused an imbalanced equation in natural physics. Since the natural effects of entropy had been heightened to such an insane degree, they won’t work in Bet. I don’t know if this affected Earth Aleph at all, though. I’m also not sure how long this effect will last; why it only affects some things and not other; or why various items, such as the chemicals you brought back or your reports of sugar, work the way that they were intended.
As for the residents, I do not believe that Scion killed them directly. I don’t I think that he used an entropy effect on them, either. Instead, I believe that they have been dissipated throughout multiple dimensions. Their individual cells were scattered throughout, perhaps, every dimension. At that rate, no dimension would even be aware of their existence. At worst, there would be a thicker layer of dust than usual that day, an event that would go unnoticed due to Scions multidimensional assaults.
I’ll admit, some of this doesn’t come from your debriefing, but also from getting to watch what videos Dragon was able to secure from the PRT building. Good job, by the way. I knew you would figure out what I needed you to do. Never let anyone insult your intelligence.
I agree with your assessment about the wildlings. Some of the photos that you show tell me that there are those breeds whose biology wouldn’t be able to sustain itself beyond a handful of generations. I’m going to say ten at most, but they would be devoured or otherwise wiped out well before then. They must be artificially created somehow.
That, unfortunately, is beyond me. I will say this, however — as Scion’s attack seemed to destroy all living biomatter even as it prevented any changes to the other materials, it’s very unlikely that wildlings are created there in Saint Louis. The amount of biomatter that would have to be shipped there so that it might support a created population that size, let alone the numbers seen in other locations and dimensions, would be staggering.
However, it is possible that they moved in as a natural ecology quickly developed, perhaps sped along by some well-meaning parahuman who sought to repopulate the city. (This last guess is pure speculation on my part, with no information by my power.) Though the city shows a strange symbiosis between wildling and flora, which further muddies the waters. My power is being less helpful there.
What it does tell me about the symbiosis, however, is that if we were to completely remove the local wildlings, it would be a complete collapse of the local ecosystem. Within a year, almost no new plants would be growing due to the lack of pollination, fertilization, blah blah blah.
It seems like the wildlings have supplanted all of those roles. While local wildlife would be able to slowly fulfill those roles once again, the more global effects of Scion’s attacks are going to make that hard. The insect population isn’t nearly what it used to be, nor will it be again for many generations.
I agree that your breed of wildlings are probably man-made. Most likely, they were created as defensive companions, protecting either one singular human, or perhaps a group of humans. However, when they lost contact with their creator, they would have been left rudderless.
I can’t tell you where they came from, if they predate wildlings in the city or moved in after wandering the ruins of Bet. Their designs are made for both durability and appearance. No, I’m serious. My power tells me that physically, their appearance was based off that of a pig, dog, cat, and rabbit, though their eyes were based off of a human’s.
If all wildlings are artificially created, I can’t say for sure that they aren’t created by the same person. However, the fact that other wildlings seem so haphazardly designed, I’d say no. Your wildlings had a purposeful design to their construction.
I can only think of one person who might be responsible for the haphazard design of some of the breeds you saw. I’m going to see if I can get one of my people to interrogate Nilbog. Perhaps they are a natural consequence of some of his “children” being left behind when Nilbog left his kingdom. I’m not sure, and I won’t be sure until I get access to the raw PRT data brought back.
I wish I could give you a more detailed report on what I’m figuring out here. I know that you thrive on details, on the technical portions of it, but my power doesn’t necessarily give me those things, or it imparts an almost intuitive grasp of the data that I need. It doesn’t hurt that I need more data. It’s sad that I’ve never actually seen a wildling in person. Perhaps I should change this some day.
I would like to be able to get you a copy of what the Wardens and Dragon’s Teeth are making of it all, but I’m not currently the most popular with them.
That said, I do have some information that you might find useful. Things that I’m not allowed to share to the population at large, and won’t appear in any textbook. Such as, what we learned from our last attempt on Teacher and his counterattack from it. Or Cauldron data that will probably remain classified forever, but I feel has become irrelevant in the modern day and age.
I’d be more than happy to share all of this with you, if you’d like. Perhaps you can help us fill in some gaps that we have concerning Scion and his mate — your education says that you should be qualified. And don’t worry about your grades; I have plenty of experts on hand, but I find that people with a more broad education can make them think in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t.
I look forward to seeing you.
You’re a little shit, you know that? Look me up the next time you’re in New Brockton, drinks are on me. Maybe the three of us can get a job togther again.
Hey Jordie! How’s it hangin’?
Everybody and their dog is probably telling you congrats and good job and get well soon and all that stuff. I’ll skip that. It probably gets old after a while, am I right?
You’ve been all over the papers, you know that? I don’t mean just the New Brockton and Burlington rags, I mean every single one. I don’t know how far out, but at least New Omaha has had a few articles on you. The Wardens and Dragon’s Teeth have been cooperating with them, too. I know you’re cool with dealing with folks, but I wanted to let you know. It’s one thing when you are the one telling folks stuff, but another thing when people are blabbing about you without you knowing it. You might want to tell them to knock it off.
The folks who know you have been going ape. I’ve gotten a lot of people trying to guess the kinds of books you buy. I’ve been pushing them in the right direction when I can. Don’t be surprised if you get a ton of reading material. Sorry if we didn’t get them buying the right stuff. I know one dude bought you a romance novel. Not your thing, I know, but I didn’t catch him in time.
Also, I talked to the bossman. Drop by the bookstore when I’m working, not him. He wants to get a quote or something like that out of you, but that doesn’t feel right, you know? But if you drop by, we’ll get you whatever you want at cost. Let me know if there’s anything you’re actually looking for, and we’ll do our best to get it for you.
You’ve probably got a million notes and letters and cards, so I’ll keep it short. Take care!
Its funny. I sat down to write this letter, and now nothing wants to come out. I can’t even begin to tell you what I’m feeling right now.
I’m angry. I’m worried. I’m happy. You’re finally doing it. I’m
I’m married now. No kids, though. I don’t know if I ever want to bring any into this world. I’m part of a dance troupe. It’s good. The money could be better, but that’salright. The travel alone is worth it.
It was weird seeing you in the papers. I had a hard time explaining for a while why I was crying when you were hurt. But now they say that you’re O.K., so that’s good. I
I’ll throw in one of our schedules in here. It’s only until the end of the year, but it should give you an idea. Come by and see us perform. I’d like to catch up, if we could. Show the letter to one of the ushers, they’ll make sure that you can get back stage. I’ll introduce you to everyone. If you’ve kept it up, maybe you and I can go through a routine.
I miss you, Jordan. I miss a lot of things. Five years is a long time, but I guess you never forget your first love.
Come see us.
On behalf of all Dragon’s Teeth, I’d like to offer my congratulations on your survival and deepest wishes for a speedy recovery. I know that you have been through a lot recently, and am glad that you finally have a chance for recovery. I strongly urge that when you’re released from the hospital, you go home and simply rest.
Your work in Saint Louis was amazing, giving us more data than we imagined. To be honest, I was against the operation, but I’m proud to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong. However, I also know how much stress that puts on the body and mind. When you returned to Twain, you dove right into PR. And when you returned to New Brockton, you remained busy. Following that, you dove right into fighting Agamemnon.
These things put a level of stress on a person, Jordan. Please, hold off as long as possible before leaving. I know that Mother’s Hospital has a few therapists on staff; take my advice and speak with them. You may be healed, but scars of the mind run deep and don’t always present themselves.
I’ve spoken with the troopers in Twain, and they had nothing but good things to say about you and your sister. There’s a surprising number of officers here that seem to know you, or who were aware of you before the Saint Louis excursion. Most of them are junior officers, but the fact still remains. Know that you have nothing but admiration within the Dragon’s Teeth.
I’ve spoken with Commander Van Dorn as well. Together, the two of us have that it would be wisest to place a three man team in Burlington for the time being. Not just for your sake, but for your family. More specifically, your brother. With the incredible work that he’s doing now, we need to make sure that he stays safe. Fortunately, command agreed.
I don’t know how long they’ll allow the squad to remain there for free, however. I’ve reached out to some Thinkers to help us come up with a way to ensure that the squad stays there as long as possible, but I can’t make any promises. I won’t make any promises — you don’t deserve empty words right now.
I would also like to offer you the chance to come and visit HIGHCOM after you’ve had time to rest. We’d like to give you a tour, let you see tax dollars at work. No public relations, no press. Visit any Dragon’s Teeth office and we’ll set you up. I figure that you’d enjoy a ride in a transport craft, anyway. Feel free and bring your siblings, if they have the time. Your brother might take interest in it.
Take care of yourself, Jordan. In both mind and body. We don’t need any more dead heroes.
Commander Elizabeth Schluter
Dragon’s Teeth Recruitment
Come home some time. They’d get a kick out of seeing you.
You don’t really know me, and that’s fine I guess. We only met once, and we didn’t hit it off on the right foot. But I just wanted to say thank you.
I chewed you out for trying to give all of us orders. With everything that’s happened, you might not remember it. I don’t know. I don’t know a lot of things right now.
Why didn’t I step up and give orders myself? I would have done things differently, but nothing that you said was bad or wrong I guess. You weren’t there for the meeting, where we got told what was going on. I was. I was standing right there, simply worrying myself half to death. I don’t worry as much as then when I’m on a capture team, when I hear that someone nasty is coming for the village I’m assigned to. But there I was, frozen.
I should have given the orders that you did. Every night since then, I’ve just gotten more and more pissed at myself for not doing my job. At all of us, since none of us did our jobs. We were just going to lob at it with no coordination, no way of knowing what anybody else was doing. Nobody stood up and did the thing that we all knew that we should have been doing.
I think that’s why I’m so pissed off. I was waiting for someone else to take charge. And when someone did, I rejected them just because they weren’t a Warden, just because they weren’t wearing this sash.
I don’t think I deserve to wear it. I didn’t choose to fight Scion. I tried to run, to hide. Khepri didn’t let me. And after that, after Doormaker died and her power no longer had a grip on me, I was neck deep. It didn’t matter if she was directly controlling me or not, I didn’t have the courage to run any more. I just did what everyone else was doing.
And here comes this guy out of nowhere, doing my job for me. And I tear into him because he’s… I don’t even know. Is it because of your age? Because you just came from some big thing that got your name all over the news? Because you were volunteering when I was just doing my job, or was forced into it?
I wasn’t thinking about any of that stuff. I don’t know why I snapped at you. But I did. And I can’t go back and change that. I can’t change the fact that I yelled at a person who was probably just as scared as I was, but was doing what needed to be done.
I wish that I could go back and at least accompanied Ted when he returned your weapons to your brother. Or have been the one to tell Tim and Tabby. I was too angry, and I don’t think I was actually angry at you.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I can say it a thousand times, and it still won’t be true enough. I keep on replaying it all in my head, all of the mistakes I made, all the bad decisions I made, and what I regret the most is taking it out on you.
I won’t ask for forgiveness because I don’t deserve it. I own my mistakes, because sometimes they’re the most valuable things we have to our names. This was my mistake, and one that I can’t take back. And one that I can’t promise that I won’t make in the future.
The Wardens have consultants, therapists. Most of us with the sash don’t like to see them, not after a bunch of folks got taken off active duty. I think I’m going to make a request for them to visit, though. Spend a week with one, then have them drop by every month or so. Or, if I have to go to New York for more long-term therapy, I’ll take it.
Is it bad that I kind of hope that they do pull me off active duty?
Anyway, I hope that you are well. I hope that Bonesaw fixed you up right and proper, without anything you don’t want inside of you. I hope that we can fight side by side again some day, only without either of us yelling at each other.
And thank you, for giving me the push that I needed.