San Francisco, CA
February 29th, 2020 AD
Satori Asano's world was a tunnel filled with a glinting gold badge. Her hearing resounded with the squeaking of rubber-soled boots on linoleum and her heartbeat had her fingertips vibrating in the air.
Where had the security guard come from? What was he even doing here?
Crap. I'm gonna end up in juvie. Pam will murder me!
No. No she wasn't going to get caught. She had to calm down. He hadn't seen her yet. She was halfway invisible and the hall was dark.
All she had to do was back up.
Hands to the wall. Phase in.
Tori felt a tingle in her hands as the atoms in her palms avoided the atoms of the wall. It spread up her arms as she backed in until her whole body was alive with a subtle singing and she was atomically intermeshed with solid wood, drywall and insulation. Completely hidden. Also, completely blind.
She started to fall through the floor. Ack! Concentrate. Shift up. She caught herself in the sea of matter and and slowly brought herself back up to where she thought she had been. Then she held steady.
It was hard to hold position while phased. She couldn't relax at all.
A whole month with this talent and I'm still falling through floors.
The security guard squeaked toward her, oblivious.
Of course, Tori couldn't actually hear the squeaks, as the sound vibrations had to interact with her ears to be heard, but she felt them go through the space she occupied. It wasn't quite hearing, but it was almost as good and it would have to do while she was embedded in the wall.
The squeaking stopped right in front of her. What was he doing?
Please keep going. I can't breathe!
She tried to calm down again. It was hard with no air. Even phased she could breathe if there was air occupying the same space as her lungs, but that wasn't the case right now. Insulation foam was not air. She could hold her breath for several minutes, but she had to stop panicking to do that.
Calm down, Tori. It's okay. You'll be fine.
Move. Move, curse you!
The squeaking steps started again. They disappeared around the corner.
Tori stumbled back into the hallway and tried not to gasp. Of course she'd chosen an outside wall to phase into. Nothing but broad daylight and a million San Franciscans on the far side. Still, they probably wouldn't have noticed a ghostly girl falling out of a wall. They'd probably seen plenty of weirder things on a Saturday afternoon.
Tori glanced down the hallway after the security guard, making sure he was really gone, then went back to sneaking. She'd never really done it before, but she had watched five different spy movies that week to get ready so she thought she had an idea of how it went.
She still felt absurd stalking down the hallway in a half crouch. She would have preferred to do it completely invisible, but she could only half see when she did that and with the dim lighting it would have destroyed her navigation.
Two more doors and then the third one was the archives. She phased through the locked fire door and flicked on the light switch. The room couldn't have been much larger than her shared room at the Academy and it was filled with old steel filing cabinets and one creaky looking copy machine.
Who kept paper records anymore? Still, the computer at the reception desk had said the files would be in here, so here was where she would look. She thumbed the switch on drawer Al-Az and pulled. It was locked.
Tori pulled out a set of folding pliers she had bought at Walgreens. Pliers held in left hand she phased left hand and tool through the face of the file drawer.
The next part was hard. She'd been working on partial phasing ever since reading about it online in a talent-theory forum and she still sucked at it.
She closed her eyes to concentrate and phased in only her fingers and the pliers. She heard the files hanging in the drawer scrunch back as her hand became solid again. She pushed them further away then brought her hand back toward the lock.
Too far. The solid part of her hand hit the face of the drawer and phased out instinctively, without the pliers. She heard the pliers clunk against the bottom of the drawer.
"Crap." She huffed and put her hand back in, feeling around for the pliers.
There. She had them again. This time she brought them up very slowly until she could lock them around the bar inside the drawer that held it closed.
Clank. Clank. Clank clank.
The pliers would not fit under the locking bar. The angle wasn't right.
Tori growled and withdrew hand and pliers. She put the pliers away.
She really hadn't wanted to use plan C. It involved property damage.
Tori phased her right index finger in next to the lock, through the locking bar. The next part was something she'd discovered by accident while phasing her hand around in a window. She hadn't known safety glass only required a small break to disintegrate entirely.
It had been pretty spectacular.
With her fingertip interphased with the metal of the locking bar she concentrated until she was able to feel the iron atoms in their crystalline arrangement. She really had no words to describe it, but there was a distinct texture to the material.
She disrupted it. Just a little. Just enough to make it weak.
She heard a tink from inside the drawer as the locking bar fell off and hit the bottom.
Well at least she hadn't disintegrated the front of the drawer.
Tori pulled the drawer open and looked inside. The end of the locking bar glinted up at her from the bottom of the drawer, surrounded by a pile of shiny iron dust. The effect did not look natural. She would have to clean it up before leaving and hope no one figured the broken lock for a break in.
She left the mess and reached for the files.
Wait. She was forgetting something. Something from the movies.
Argh. Fingerprints. Stupid. She was not going to wipe down every file in the drawer. She pulled the pliers back out and used the tip to flip through the hanging manila folders.
Asa. Asad. Asadoorian. Where's that from? Asai. Asakura. Asan. There it is. Asano.
There were three folders starting with asano. She looked for the one with a Haruka after it.
She put the pliers away and pulled the folder out with both hands. With no place else to set it she went straight to the copier and laid it out on the closed top.
Tori moved to open the folder and her heartbeat filled her ears again. This was it. This was where the answer had to be.
Please. Please. Let it be here.
She flipped the cover back. There on the top was a medical form with her mother's name at the top. Haruka Asano. The date next to it was March 12th, 2006. About nine months before Tori's birthday on December 5th. There was also an address, but it was old, from her mother's first apartment with Pam out on Turk Street. They had moved three times since then to get to the townhouse in Pacific Heights.
Tori missed her room in the townhouse. She only got to stay there on breaks now.
She really missed the view out over San Francisco Bay. The Evers Academy for Young Ladies was stuck up in the Palo Alto foothills with no view of the sea, just trees. They weren't even nice trees.
Tori scanned the rest of the page and saw that it was all medical information on her mother. However, most of it appeared to be in Pam's sharp scrawl.
She flipped to the next page.
A doctor's report on her mother's physical. Three pages of doctor's report, all very boring.
The fifth page was an approval form signed by the doctor. There was a space that listed the selected sperm donor by number, but that was all.
Tori flipped to the sixth page and her heart stopped. The right donor number headed it and the page below was filled with information.
She scanned down. It seemed the page listed all the unimportant stuff first.
Hispanic. That explains the tan.
6 foot 0 inches. No wonder I'm tall.
168 pounds, brown eyes, so on so on.
Notes: Confirmed talent, class 5.
"Holy crap! Class five?" Tori stared at the four-word notation. Class five talents were very rare. Most of them worked for the Federal Special Tasks Agency guardian teams, but even those were mostly made up of class threes and fours. Class five meant she had probably heard of him.
Birth date June 8th, 1973. That meant he would have been out fighting when the Eagle was still alive. If he was a fighter. Not all class fives were.
She hoped he was.
Where is his name?
There was no name on that page. Just more medical information. Tori started to panic and flipped to the next one. More medical information. She flipped to the next one.
Come on. Come on. Please…
Andrew Rascon Hernandez.
It was the authorization form, with the donor number printed at the top and her father's name printed right after the word "I" and just before the words "do authorize". It was signed and dated for 2003.
Tori had his name, his birth date, and she knew he was a major talent. She could find him now. Assuming he was still alive.
She scanned further down the page and stopped when she saw the words "Do you authorize Bay City Reproductive Services to reveal your name and contact information to any child born using your donated sperm sample when such child turns eighteen years old?"
He had checked the box marked, "I do not."
He doesn't want me to know who he is.
She barely bit off a scream as that tiny detail hit home. She threw a punch at the wall and cursed when her hand phased through it instead of smacking against the concrete. She'd come all this way and…
"No." No, no, no. "I am not going to freak out now."
Tori took several very deep breaths.
"I have the info. I can figure out who he is and where he is and if he's even still alive and then I can figure out what to do." Tori paused and took another deep breath. She let it out slowly.
Copy the files. Wipe everything down. Clean up the mess in the file drawer. Fly back to school.
She could do this.
The flight back did a lot to calm Tori down. She flew high above the coast, out over the forested parklands where there weren't many people to see her. She stayed solid so she could smell the sea and feel the sun. That kept her speed down to about sixty miles-per-hour. Any faster and she would freeze in the chill Pacific air.
Not really. Her metabolism seemed to keep the chill from doing any real damage, but she still hated feeling cold and it was a beautiful day. She wanted to enjoy the end of it.
If she could.
Tori's hand drifted up to her surplus flight jacket, pressing down over the copied files folded safely in an inner pocket. Immediately she felt the air tug at her arm and her course drifted a little. She almost lost orientation and started to roll left.
Tori straightened out, dropped her hand back to her side and went back to flying bullet style: head forward, arms and legs straight back. Flying was definitely harder than it looked. Especially when she had to contend with air flow.
This was her fourth time making a long flight and, coincidentally, her second time making the trip back from San Fran. The first time there and back she had visited the Army/Navy store where she got the jacket. She would have gotten a motorcycle helmet too, but the jacket had drained most of her allowance. If she wanted to have any spending money she would have to go without head protection for now.
Tori slowed to a stop and pulled her phone out of a breast pocket with cold, careful fingers. If she lost it up here she wasn't sure she would be able to catch it again. She pulled up the GPS and checked her position on the satellite maps.
Right. From where she was it was a straight shot over the mountains back to the school. Hopefully no one would notice her walking back onto campus without a car anywhere in sight.
As she put the phone back the setting sun caught her eye. She watched it sink into the Pacific, red and gold centering a purple-blue sky with a few pink-tinged cirrus clouds glowing up high.
Tori relaxed. This she could always enjoy.