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The dreadlocked woman, Theodora Velazquez (a.k.a. "Theo"), showed Clair how to reload her pistol. When Clair thanked her, she just nodded. A quick search through the Air revealed that Theo suffered from aphasia, a brain injury that had rendered her unable to read or write, although she remained perfectly able to understand language. She claimed the injury was caused by d-mat, although a stroke was the more likely cause.

"Are you armed, Jesse?" Gemma.

"No," he said.

"You should be."

"Dad didn't hold with guns, so I won't either."

"That's all very admirable," Clair started to say, "but-"

"We don't know for sure Dad shot anyone," he cut her off. "I refuse to believe it."

"Godspeed, all of us," Arabelle said, ending the conversation with gentle finality. It was her and Ori's turn to leave. They were both wearing black helmets, as Ray had.

Gemma gave Clair a helmet and brusquely explained how it worked. Gemma tested one radio channel with her, possessing a range of barely a metre or two, then another with Jesse. Clair couldn't hear the second conversation, but I could. They discussed contingencies and codes they would use in the case of an emergency.

"Need to ask you a question," Clair texted me while they were busy.

"Of course, Clair."

"What's your name?"

That was a question I was unprepared to answer. Not because it was a secret, but because I didn't have an answer.


"Can't keep calling you 'q' in my head."

"Why not?" That was the one hundred and thirteenth ASCII character. That was my designation. "It works for me, Clair."

"OK." She sounded tired. Too tired to argue the point, perhaps. "Gotta go."

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