For over 25 years, the Wild Cards universe has been entertaining readers with stories of superpowered people in an alternate history. “Long is the Way” by Carrie Vaughn and Sage Walker sheds light on what people will do to escape the sins of their past, and whether anyone can find redemption.
Zoe Harris is a marked woman: in hiding for decades because of her connection to a terrorist attack on Jerusalem almost twenty years ago. One determined reporter, Jonathan Hive, stumbles upon a lead that takes him to the south of France to discover the truth. What he finds out is a lesson in how life can bring about the most unexpected miracles.
Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light. —Paradise Lost
Jonathan Tipton-Clarke—also known as Jonathan Hive, also known as Bugsy, and probably also known as a lot of other things that no one actually said to his face—drove up the impossibly picturesque country road with decreasing confidence that he was going the right way. The direction app on his phone had been silent for too long, which probably meant he’d lost the signal. The road grew narrower and narrower, curving through one tiny Provençal village after another, until the villages ran out, replaced by hillsides covered with olive groves and vineyards, and the soft, golden light that had given Impressionist painters ecstatic fits. He ought to be enjoying this. The assignment—track down and interview a “person of interest” who might or might not have been involved with a terrorist attack on Jerusalem almost twenty years ago—had been an excuse to spend time in the south of France on an expense account. He didn’t expect to actually find Zoe Harris.
While he might have had romantic spy thriller notions about chasing down leads across the Middle East, the task had been bureaucratic and dull. Old-fashioned detective work, poring over records, asking the right questions, offering a bribe here and there to get a look at files he maybe shouldn’t have seen. He hadn’t even had to use his ace, much. Fortunately, Harris had spent a lot of time in countries without strict HIPAA requirements. He started with her last known location—Jerusalem, 1994—and her last known associates. The problem was, most of them had died in the disaster. The sheer scale of it—five thousand dead from a biological attack, a weaponized version of the Black Trump virus that killed any wild carder who came in contact with it—meant records were spotty. A lot of people disappeared. But Harris popped back into the record once or twice over the years. A couple of arrests, a couple of hospitalizations—she’d apparently had a rough go of it…
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Original Fiction from Tor.com • Illustrated by John Picacio