FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update for 6/5/18: What THIS is All About.

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“This is up to KJ, Kate, and Dr. Green as much as it’s up to me.”

“Oh, we’re good, dawg.” Kate said as pretty much everyone else in the room nodded and shrugged in that way that shows agreement, not whateverment.

“Yeah, man—my hobby has been this sort of thing—I never imagined I’d get wrapped up in this.  I can’t go back to my normal life now. I already quit my job—so did Kate.”

“You quit your job, Kate?”

“Yeah, I mean, all this stuff we have access to  here is like stuff I could never access at my stupid corporate tech job. This is like DARPA stuff and whatnot. Beyond DARPA, really.”

“Is ‘darpa’ what you kids say when you think something is bad-ass?” Dot said.

“No, I don’t think so,” I said, smiling. I had never heard that word before. Jim either had heard it before or he was mainlining Wikipedia because he quickly explained: 

“DARPA stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Since its inception, the agency’s mission is ensuring that the United States avoids further technological surprise.”

I’m pretty sure that was verbatim Wikipedia right there. He quickly added: “Wow.  A ‘technological surprise’ sounds like me after a night of drinking!”

KJ eyed him awkwardly and quickly brought focus back to my concerns.  “No, man.  We’re good.”

I turned to Dr. Green and looked her in the eye. “Are you sure?  You seemed to be in a good position back on your–asteroid? I never got its name, but in the facility–you seemed passionate for your work and for healing people and discovering and generally being a good doctor and scientist.”

She smiled “I don’t understand what you said, all of it, but I do understand the meaning.  When I saw your DNA and understand what was done on it, I was sad but interested and wanted to learn and try to safe you.  None was you.  Even killed people, not you.  Not…not fair.  Can not leave… this.  Can not… not see end of path.”

I looked to everyone with one last question. “And what about your families?”

“The whole reason I’m here trying to stop this is because of you and Mom,” Jill said.

“Word–stopping this, whatever this even is, protects our families.”

KJ was staring off into space for a moment and then spoke. “And hey, man–ever since I we moved in with you two, I started thinking about us as family.”

I smiled and looked at the floor.  I had a weird feeling of tight warmth in my chest.  I felt honored to have these people here but also worried for their futures.  I killed before, I killed again, and I knew I might still kill.  What was even more was that I was sure there were worse things out there in the cosmos and in the Fire Escape Dimension than me, but at that point, I realized that we’ll be facing them together.