“Parker’s not the only one who has me doing threat and neutralization assessments, you might recall,” she comments with a smile. “Of course, I’d have done so without prompting, but synergistic assignments are always nice.”
The smile fades a bit, as she sighs. “You’re also effective in controlling the conversation. Something I’m less strong in.” She cocks her head. “The only question I have is how much of that is deliberate – explicit disarming and redirection through selective emotional and rhetorical displays – and how much is just a reflection of your actual emotional state dominating the conversation organically.” A shrug. “Both are threats, but require different methods to address them.”
Alycia’s eyes trail down the hall in Bot’s path. “You’re not wrong. He’s a mess, all of what you said. But, then, so’s everyone else I’ve encountered or researched here. Jason --” Another sigh, trailing into a light growl. “Something’s very wrong there. Not just what he did, what he doing, but his behavior. I think. I – can’t tell if that’s legitimate observation, or colored by – denial, or something. I don’t want him to be the local science tyrant. It’s --”
She shakes her head again, looking around them at the worn shabbiness of the base, its air full of swamp and bodies and age and despair. “That this is – or was – a future of ours is deeply depressing. People broken, missing, dead. It was easier in the Sepiaverse – that’s a whole other dimension, even if the people looked like us. This – as far as I can tell, this was all just a few tweaks in timing, some bad decisions, a slipped pebble cascading to this avalanche of … badness.”
Alycia meets Leo’s eye. “This is just the sort of shit my father would have ended up doing. Maybe not in bed with a plutocrat like Rosa Rook, ew, but creating an outwardly positive, inwardly corrupt regime and society, where what resistance there is looks like --” She gestures around. “-- this. We need to fix this – and we need to make sure it never, ever happens in our timeline.”
author: *** Dave H.