Many Worlds Chapter 34
Jules found himself inadequately prepared to deal with the criminal, Colwyn. He realized he didn’t have any way to fight in the real world… on Earth, except with telekinesis. Meanwhile, Colwyn had spent the levels he had managed to obtain upgrading his body, which was already better than Jules to begin with. If Jules had a gun, it wouldn’t have been the same kind of problem, but even if he did he wasn’t sure if he was willing to kill, or threaten to kill, a human. He didn’t believe… Herbert… was lying about the criminal nature of this person, but there was still a chance of that. However, Jules unwillingness to get involved in potentially lethal combat went beyond just the possibility of a mistake.
Not that Jules planned to get in any type of combat. Though Jules was aware that plans didn’t always or even usually work out, he did have some advantages on his side. Specifically, an alien AI who was aware of the specific location of his opponent, and that same opponent’s lack of knowledge that he was coming. Jules still knew that he was being somewhat foolish, agreeing to do something dangerous that he didn’t have to do. However, he also had a good reason. There were factors aside from his personal safety that he was considering. Colwyn had been involved in several muggings, and some of his victims had been hurt in addition to having their money stolen. Then there was Jule’s not-so-subconscious desire to be a superhero.
It turned out that, contrary to his appearance, Colwyn was rather technically savvy. He managed to unlock the wristband using modern technology, accessing the function to let it enhance people on Earth. However, that was also the least protected function of the wristband, since it was meant to be accessed, eventually. He either didn’t realize there was a tracking functionality, or didn’t realize its full extent. Jules thought it was also possible Colwyn thought it was worth taking the risk for the enhanced capabilities. Not that Jules had much information to go on to anticipate how this person thought.
Jules walked along the city streets. Although it was night, there wasn’t much need for a jacket. The solar panels up above stopped some of the heat from reaching the ground, but the abundance of people down below, as well as the climate of the area, kept it reasonably warm regardless. However, no matter the temperature, Jules still needed the mask to protect him from the air. It was breathable, but technically so was cigarette smoke. There were projections that in 20 years, the air would be clear enough that everyone could go outside without a mask, even asthmatics. Jules remembered his parents telling him the same thing was true when they were younger. 20 years wasn’t too long. However, if something were always 20 years away, then it was quite a long time indeed.
At various points along the streets, Jules looked up at the cameras. There were actually relatively few of them, but they still showed up many times along his route. That was another thing that made Colwyn quite technically gifted. He had a way to prevent the cameras from seeing him, and it wasn’t just avoiding the areas where they were. Jules suspected that the government knew and had counters for most of the ways this could be done, so he thought this was a special case.
Cars occasionally went by, but very few pedestrians. This became ever more true as Jules was guided along, but there were still some people out at this time of night. Jules knew there were definitely more people awake right now, but they were generally inside, either in their homes or in bars or clubs. “Just a few more blocks away. Be cautious.” The voice was very quiet as it informed Jules of Colwyn’s current location.
Up ahead, Jules saw a drunken man stagger down the very alleyway he knew Colwyn was hiding in. He hurried ahead to the corner, but didn’t move around it. Instead, he extended his senses. He could feel where everything was, the figures of what must have been Colwyn and the drunken man standing out. He could barely hear their voices. Colwyn had a gun pointed at the drunk, but the drunk didn’t quite understand what was going on. After a few moments of frustration, there was a loud bang, as Colwyn fired the gun. That slightly woke up the drunk, who threw down his wallet and ran away. Meanwhile, Jules still stood at the end of the alley, but it was not like he had been doing nothing. He hadn’t been familiar enough with the model of the gun to quickly disable it, so he had instead prepared something else. He had no way to react once a bullet was in the air, so his senses had observed the trigger finger, and when it started moving he threw up a deflecting barrier. It was possible that the bullet would have missed without his interference, but it was also possible it would have injured or killed the man.
Jules felt like he had done a lot more than usual, even though he had only briefly applied telekinetic force. The situation was much more stressful than a situation where nobody was in danger of death, even if he was now aware that the experience of death was quite frightening. There was some additional effort required from the distance, as well. Jules decided to take his chance. As Colwyn stooped down to pick up the wallet, Jules tugged on the wristband. He was able to pull it off… but it wasn’t subtle. It flew through the air toward the corner, and into his hand. Then, Jules started running as fast as he could.
Jules heard footsteps running after him, and in only a few moments Colwyn was around the corner. Jules didn’t look back, but if he had, he would have seen a man built like a football player. Instead, Jules concentrated on running… and regretting not spending the extra time to disable the gun. He wasn’t in any way a fast runner, so he would eventually be caught in a fair race, but he didn’t intend to make it fair. It was very disruptive to have sudden forces pushing against the front of your legs… or the back of your knees. Jules kept this up as much as he could, while also maintaining a deflective barrier. However, he wasn’t sure where he was going or how long he could keep it up. Hopefully, Colwyn would run out of ammo before Jules ran out of mental power… but that would be soon. Jules finally rounded a corner toward a main street, only to run headlong into something. Someone, actually. Someone large in a nice black suit.