Chapter 7: Flotsam

Aaron was too astute in his new mental faculties to dismiss the valid fear gnawing his gut. Sometimes he missed being blithely unaware, as Kenneth had often been. He instantly compartmentalized his emotions, an instinctive habit, that Outcome training had drilled into him. Marta, however, was stricken.

"Hey, it's my fault I didn't realize sooner that the operative in Manila wasn't Outcome," Aaron confessed, his eyes scanning the horizon. Marta dropped her hands and looked back at him blandly.

"Really," he assured her as his mind calculated the distance between the land he had spotted and the boat. "It was my mistake. I assumed he was a surviving agent of Outcome, kept active only for clean up, then terminated on mission accomplished."

"You only assumed that, though, because I didn't inform you that I didn't recognize him from the program. Am I right?"

"I should have debriefed you," he shrugged. Of course, he had been passed out and next to death at the time. "It doesn't change the scenario anyways. We're being relentlessly pursued by Byer's killer assets, period. That's nothing we didn't already know."

Marta's eyes challenged him. "I saw your expression before you could mask it. This is worse than you thought." Her shoulders drooped. "I've hindered you already."

Aaron shook his head. "We're only a bit worse off than I thought we were a few minutes ago." He looked toward the peninsula jutting into the ocean again. "We'd better step up our diversion plans and head for land now, though. I'll go talk to the captain while you round up our supplies."

Marta slid from his lap and stood before him, her arms crossed. "Only a bit worse off, hmm?"

Aaron rose and looked like he was about to reply but abruptly pointed towards the ship's bridge and began to walk towards it. Marta watched him, catching a ripple run the length of a muscle in his back as he left. She had soothed that tension not long ago, but he was taut and strained once again. Marta shivered as if the ripple had overrun and overtook her as well.

Aaron instructed the captain to drop them off at the nearest dock on the peninsula with a phrase in Filipino equal to "step on it". When he could feel the engines churning faster and the boat had swung towards land, Aaron felt a little better. He scanned the sea and the air once more, both visually and with the ship's limited instrumentation.

Aaron was anxious to get off and get moving before the inevitable did come into view. His senses were on alert to pick up any additional sound or movement. He almost hoped to hear a drone bearing down on them. It would be a lot better than what he knew was more likely: another super-agent or two. Because if Bourne was beta, and Aaron was alpha, then the Asian was omega. An omega program to Outcome would be more advanced, more lethal. Its operatives would be faster, smarter, stronger and unbelievably ruthless.

Aaron took a deep breath of the ocean air with his eyes closed and held it as long as he could before slowly releasing it. His nerves set like metal as he exhaled, grimly preparing to head back to Marta. Better to assess their situation accurately, he reminded himself. They were f***ed.