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To avoid thinking about what might be on Jill’s mind, I focused on the biggest reason for me not wanting to walk away: “More than any other reason, though, is Wise. We may be living in a living manifestation of a pause button, but he’s still suffering. He’s still lying there on that asteroid…”
My words seemed to hang in the air after I said them.
“Lying there on that asteroid…” KJ repeated.
“I hear what you were saying, Kage—it’s easy for us to ignore things and move on with our days but when we stop and think about it, it’s hard to ignore suffering when you know it’s going on. Least it is for me at this point. Even if he is frozen in time all quantum and what not. Let’s go get him. If for no other reason than to stop our worrying, you know?”
“So, who were those thugs?” Jill asked.
“The ones that were trying to kill Wise? I have no idea. They were pretty human looking, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t Double-Oes, I guess.”
“But they were using a Fire Escape you said,” KJ said. I nodded and Jill spoke. “So, that means that they had access to our tech or they were Double-Oes.”
“Question: is Uncle Julio on our side, Jill?” Jill took a deep breath and let it out with a big sigh. “Yeah, maybe? I guess? You know, Uncle Julio’s always been on Uncle Julio’s side first and if he could help other people he’d be on their side, too.”
I thought back to my days with him and I could definitely see the accuracy in what she was saying.
“The last we saw of him, he was getting attacked by Double-Oes in the Fire Escape Hub.” KJ said.
“What’s this now?” Jill was intrigued.
“Is that not what you call it? That place where all the static Fire Escapes are? A kind of network hub?”
“You guys found that–awesome. I’m not sure why that’s there, but it’s like all the traffic through the Fire Escape dimension goes through there. I was ecstatic when I found that place because it made this tech make so much more sense.”
“So, how do we find where those thugs came from?” I asked.
“When you fell through the Fire Escape in your workplace’s bathroom, it was connected through the hub to where ever the thugs came from—which was this asteroid, but how did they get there?”
“Asteroids… damn…” KJ said randomly.
“And how do we go back there to get Wise, dawg? Asteroids have no atmosphere. We can’t breathe in space? Jake almost died trying to breathe in space!”
“This one did,” I said. “It was cold, but not absolute zero cold. I think what ever atmosphere was there just didn’t have any oxygen in it.”
“What was in the air, then?” KJ asked.
“Whatever it was, it was like trying to inhale solid rock. But once Wise exhaled that oxygen into me, and put that circle triangle thing on my hand, it wasn’t seconds later when I could breathe for a sec.”
“Did that thing tweak your body’s ability to breathe things other than oxygen?” Jill asked. I shrugged.
“Wise could speak—that was another clue that there was an atmosphere on that asteroid.”
“So, if you can breathe whatever air was on that asteroid now, does that mean that the way you breathe air here has changed?” Jill said.
“I think I may have made a discovery that could relate to the problem at hand,” Jim said.