>> He is, with a young, not-Brigand corgi, standing (with a cane) by the front patio doors of the house as you roll up in the plane. This was an honest mistake on my part - I forgot Amir was unable to walk due to his injuries. That said, it's explained easily enough, and points to some interaction between Amir and the great Quill organization that wasn't making it onto Jason's radar (probably at Amir's request, while hinting at a brotherly squabble). >> Amir's eyes flit to Numina, a hint of confusion ghosting across his expression. Nothing Amir knows about Jason - and nothing anyone pretending to be Amir who would have researched Jason - explains Numina. It doesn't match any previous behavior, inventions, et cetera. (Of course it doesn't, as it's more reflective of Link in terms of inception.) Really recent video footage of the team might sometimes show Pneuma, so it starts to track, but again, that points back to Link, not Jason. Understandable reaction, either way you slice your Amir-paranoia. >> Brigand burrows his silvery muzzle under your hand and licks your fingers but, after a moment's hesitation and a tilted head, backs away from Numina, growling uncertainly, his eyes fixed on her torso, where Chin's repurposed assassin bot floats within Numina's hard-light shell. >> "Odd reaction," Amir murmurs, already sitting down. "Please, the host would like to rest his leg." Whatever about Numina put Brigand on edge - the Chin components, in this case - didn't ping Amir's radar. Not that they would, but they clearly didn't. --- As Jason noted, everything Amir said about what happened on 2015/7/4 checks out against what you know, and also doesn't include anything he wouldn't know (calling it the Sepiaverse or something, I guess). That said, somewhere during the flight to Halcyon, it would have occurred to Jason that the Dragonfly's cabin camera might have recorded much of the briefing Amir recounted, so it's POSSIBLE that all this is true... but Amir still is not what he seems. And yes, between Jason's aversion to investigating that event in any way, plus Quill Foundation's well-established "no AEGIS, you don't get to look at our stuff" position, it's entirely possible that recording has been gathering dust in the Dragonfly for 2 years. Or backed up on servers you never looked at. >> "You've been to the other side? Or your teammates have? Do you know -- " He closes his eyes, then speaks in a rush. "I survived. Is there any - do we know anything about Father and Rusty?" Hindsight analysis says: this is either Amir's honest reaction, or him trying to see if you know things that will poke holes in his story. >> "It seems impossible for it not to be related to the Veil falling," Amir says. "Ever since it happened, there was always some reason not to talk with you, some distraction demanding my attention away from working to find Father and Rusty, or some overwhelming resentment and confusion at my memory of your behavior toward me. Hindsight analysis says: this is either the voice of someone who's suffered through the same thing Jason did, or someone intimately familiar with whatever caused the effect. >> "for that matter, what did you do to bring the Veil down?" Totally innocent question, or an enemy trying to figure out how their work was destroyed? >> "Wait. She's alive?" >> For a half-moment, Jason thinks Amir is talking about Numina, which strikes him as being uncharacteristically impolite Several things here. Amir's assumption Jason would simply kill Alycia (or most people) out of hand was... a bit odd? The assumptions there seemed... off. Jason's brain (as personified by Li'lAlycia visualizing the buffer overflow) also noted that Alycia seemed unaffected by the no-investigation-compulsion and was also someone Amir thought was already dead, so I won't belabour that point. His general behavior with regards to Numina was ... you're not sure if it's off or not. He didn't treat her like a person, of course, though he wasn't directly insulting. I've been listening to how *I* talked about Pneuma and Otto in Session 2, however, when I thought I was being respectful, and if someone spoke about them that way NOW, it would be insulting, albeit unintentionally so out of ignorance, so maybe all that gets chalked up to ignorance. That said, while Amir had a lot of questions about specific things, he did not show the general inquisitive curiosity Jason associates with memories of his brother. For whatever that's worth. --- Appropos of nothing, I imagine Jason using finger-guns on Alycia when they finally talk (they have not done so, not once, yet, this whole game), as though it's supposed to mean something, and seeing her react with total confusion. --- >> The book. Warped Passages is, without a doubt, quite brilliant, and very readable, tracking the arc of scientific discovery from early twentieth-century physics to what would have been the razor's edge of modern scientific theory (circa 2005), paying particular attention to the thesis that more physical dimensions exist than are usually acknowledged. You're at first surprised, then not, to recognize in the book not one but several explanations your father must have cribbed and used to explain more advanced particle physics, string theory, and cosmology concepts to you and Amir, over the years. Dad seemed to have especially liked using Randal's analogies - many of which are quite clever and creative. (You were five or so when the book was first published, and it follows your father knew Valerie Randal when you were an age you'd remember, but you have no clear memory of having met her. Her face is familiar, in a vague kind of way.) Although it's nominally part of the 'publish so you can keep tenure' category of academic texts, it's really quite a fun read - a lot of what Randal theorizes about are things that in other contexts would still fall firmly in the realm of either science fiction, or the kind of "science" that only super teams run into. It digs into the most current debates on relativity, quantum mechanics, and gravity, and veers off for an extended tour through theories on alternate dimensions and the underpinnings of reality. Some of it - parts quoted anonymously from her sources - have (you suspect) been polished up to sound more scientific and less... mystical. The most charming thing about the work is how she almost revels in the uncertainties that underlie her life's work, including the possibility it may all be proved wrong one day. >> He's being very circumspect. He was. Jason had some theories as to why, none of which can be confirmed or eliminated at this time. In any case, Amir didn't seem comfortable going into much detail on this, for whatever reason. >> Too many secrets, Marty. The more you think on it, the more you think Amir just flat-out missed the reference. You honestly don't know if that conclusion is real, or just accretion of doubt. "By the way," says Li'l Alycia, "I don't mind being the expression of your memory and processing overflow, but it's not really fair to make me the voice of all cynicism and paranoia that happens to cross your mind. It's not fair to big-me, either." Then she sticks out her tongue and vanishes. >> "You always had a knack for invention." Nnnnno. You didn't. Not in the context he's talking about. >> Giving you custody of Brigand. You know... thinking of it, he crossed all way back across the room, sat down, then handed you that book, rather than the far more efficient path of walking right past Brigand to hand it to you on the way to the chair. Hell he never went very close to Brigand. Didn't pet him goodbye, either.