Many Worlds Chapter 39
The target of Jules’ “quest” this time was named Ernst McCaig, not that it particularly mattered what his name was. Though, Jules supposed it was good to remember that these criminals were still human. He looked over the report available. “The ability to create illusions? To what extent?”
Herbert, ever helpful, answered, “At his current level of skill, it is mostly the creation of unreal sensations- sight, sound, touch, and many others. He can create specific situations, or general scenarios. However, any illusions are limited by his personal experience. He could not create an image of someone you know unless he had seen them, nor could he call upon your greatest fear unless he guessed correctly or knew about it beforehand. He could project a feeling of ‘fear’, but without a source, fear isn’t as powerful. That is approximately the limits of his abilities.”
“That’s reasonably detailed, but why is it ‘approximate’?”
“I have not experienced any of the illusions personally, so I am not sure on the details of the experience. However, I do believe that a stronger mentality will render the subject more able to resist, and find flaws in any illusions. Since you have such attributes, and Ernst is not physically much of a danger, the difficulty of this missions is presumably relatively low. However, human factors can always cause complications.”
“That sounds ominous.”
“I am just stating a possibility. It should be noted that pointing out potential problems merely allows preparation for them, and has no causal link with problems occurring. Except in fiction.”
That didn’t particularly make Jules more confident, because there was a saying “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” It wasn’t really correct, but Jules knew things often went wrong. Thus, he still wore his new bullet-resistant vest, even though he wasn’t expecting to get shot at even a little bit. It also happened to be stab-resistant.
Jules walked out through the city. This time, he wasn’t in any hurry. Nobody was currently getting robbed, or even potentially getting robbed. At most, they were getting scammed out of some money. That was unfortunate, but nobody had any chance of dying. Jules looked up at the sky, breathing through his mask. He couldn’t help but think that Earth was terrible. However, it was still his home. Idly, he wondered aloud, “I wonder if the air will ever be clean again.”
Herbert replied helpfully. “20 years is the current estimate.”
“It’s been 20 years for a few sets of 20 years.”
“True, but perhaps this time it will be correct.”
“Wouldn’t you know? Don’t you have access to that kind of information?”
“I might. I can tell you that you will certainly know whether or not it’s true in merely half the time.”
“Because we’ll be no closer to truly clean air in 10 years.” Jules shrugged. Then he looked at the building he had arrived in front of. “It’s here?” It was some kind of basement part of a building, but didn’t look like it was officially in use anymore.
“This is the correct location. I detect Ernst is inside, along with several comatose buyers of his bootleg wristbands. Convincingly enough, they only “work” in this place, though they are likely just illusions showing people a similar experience to the game. They are unlikely to wake up, but caution is advised.”
Jules walked up to the door. It was locked, as expected. Jules couldn’t use a lockpick to save his life, but he didn’t particularly need to be able to do that. All he did was reach through the door and unlock it with telekinesis. The door creaked open to reveal a dimly lit hallway. Jules walked down the hallways, coming upon an open doorway to another room. In there, he saw several people lying on their backs, apparently asleep.
Upon stepping into the room, there was a clunking sound. It wasn’t an alarm, Jules had just kicked a carelessly placed bottle. However, he had stepped far enough into the room to see the only standing figure, presumably Ernst, who promptly swore and ran out a back door. By instinct, Jules chased after him. Outside the back door was just an alleyway. To the left, it was a dead end… to the right, it was also a dead end. Ernst himself was nowhere to be seen. However, Jules recognized something was strange. The wall to the right didn’t look quite correct, somehow. Later he would realize it was too clean. However, before he consciously figured that out, he felt that the wall wasn’t there, through a sense that couldn’t be fooled… unless it had been known about. However, it seemed that Ernst hadn’t been fortunate enough to come across telekinetic senses, or just hadn’t considered them in creating his illusion.
Further down the alleyway, there were turns, and Jules sensed Ernst going around one. However, Jules didn’t chase him beyond there. Instead, he only caught up as far as the corner, before extending his senses. Ernst was wearing the real Many Worlds wristband. It was, after all, the source of his powers, so he wouldn’t leave it behind. As Ernst was running in a kind of panic, he didn’t notice the wristband slipping off and falling almost to the ground. Once he was out of sight, Jules brought it to him.
Jules almost said that it felt too easy. However, he managed to avoid saying that until after he had turned in the wristband. “Why was that guy running from me?”
“You probably just spooked him. It’s a natural reaction upon being engaged in criminal activities and seeing someone in a creepy mask appearing in the room.”
Creepy mask? Right, Jules’ breathing mask was in an older style, which did make it somewhat creepy. “Still, those illusions didn’t seem particularly impressive.”
“What do you expect? It’s only been a bit over a month, and some people don’t have as much free time to devote to developing their powers as you. They would have fooled you long enough if you hadn’t happened to possess a sense he couldn’t predict.”
Jules nodded. He had even felt the wall as he passed through it, which was particularly unpleasant. However, knowing it wasn’t there hadn’t made it too hard to get through. Then, he thought of something. “How did this guy get his wristband unlocked? It’s not like he could illusion that into happening.”
“…I don’t know,” came the response from Herbert. “He definitely didn’t do it on his own.”
“That… might be a problem.”