Chapter 23

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December 28, 2035. 11:13. Bastion Lab.

Hellish journey through Pacific Northwest finally over & have returned to Bastion Lab to disseminate & examine research. Cure to Doom could be mere months away.

Originally wanted Regan's help in lab but am glad she is distracted w/her new friend. Wild-Child can barely pronounce her own name let alone prepare samples & would be a detriment to progress. Regan perfectly happy to organize Charlotte & lab (both a mess due to the chaos & our absence plus events in Bastion over past few months - will describe separately further down). Regan sees this activity as opportunity to "teach" Wild-Child. Our opinions differ on expected level of success.

Opinions also differ on significance of Bastion's declaration of independence from Novamerica. Regan sees this as reason to celebrate. Called her out as naively optimistic. Due to ideological differences btwn Bastion & Nova's thinly-veiled militocracy, am certain Nova allowing Bastion to "peacefully" secede is precursor to further conflict. Leslie & team on patrol, rather than usual Novamerican Hummers et al., was first gut-feeling that something is going on behind scenes. Regan took offense to my comments that Leslie's appearance on the highway was a bad omen.

Hoping Bastion's spies can report further but I am out of loop & not likely to be brought in -- how could a scientist possibly have political acumen? At least I am not alone in my suspicions. Had good convo with Leslie, Dahteste & Cyril about concerns & events during my absence. Would perform own recon if cure not so pressing. Wish I had lab further away from trouble.

Hindsight, should have stayed on island and used lab facilities where research was found. Price of giving in to emotion.

December 29, 2035. 00:59

Ruminating after day of preparing lab.

Should have told her everything a long time ago. Hard to. She will not forgive, I think. Journal will suffice, after I die. A coward's way to do it, but selfish part of me wants to hold onto her for as long as I can. Or go back to when she was little. When I was hero and not villain. Already I am losing her, as any parent does, to adulthood. Differences of opinion, assertion of independence. Boys. Friends. Or more than that...Wild-Child is hard to read; could be idolatry or sexual attraction.

There is the difference between us, I think. Optimism vs. pessimism. Regan looks at Wild-Child and sees her own life, had I not been there, and she sees what WC could be, given time and knowledge. She sees in her friend what she sees in all things: potential.

I see only dark pasts and darker futures.

Taught her. Showed her what was, before Doom. All the anxieties of a civilization on the brink: ideological conflicts between broken socialism and broken capitalism, between religious zealots from a modern-day Rome in Decline and a land in perpetual conflict since the days of Gilgamesh. Unflinching narcissists whose empires were built on the backs of everyone else, steering the planet uncaringly toward bloody proxy wars and hundreds of millions of souls displaced by rising oceans. Venus in the making. Fruitful multiplication until there is no more fruit. The dark truth of humanity finally laid bare in the information age as we understood what needed to happen but never would: the prudence of sustainment, instead of the allure of growth.

She was taught all this, but it is like a storybook to her. A lesson, no more. She did not live it. Instead, Regan digests this 21-st century Morality Play but believes in the brightness of the reset button. Novamerica does not frighten her because war has always been small-scale. Tribe on tribe -- the modern Athens vs. Sparta. But our Xerxes will force his march soon & I fear we do not have a Thermopylae or a brave 300. The ghosts of our past are soon to return and haunt us, and they will be flying fighter jets and driving tanks.

Maybe it was my own optimism that created this. Should have killed Marshall years ago. Tried to believe the best in people, after Doom. Failing.

Must take care to protect the cure. Sharing it freely could have disastrous consequences.

15:02

Once I was the teacher, the guide, and she was my little shadow, emulating, growing from sweet child into capable woman. She has countered my expectations in two ways: her optimism, and her defiance. If I told her a new space program wouldn't likely emerge for centuries, she would build a rocket tomorrow.

Already Wild-Child is adapting remarkably to society. Regan got her talking and now it doesn't cease. I am reminded of Regan when she was two: what's this? how does it work? why? why? why?

I kicked them out of the lab for impairing my ability to concentrate. I can't be too annoyed, though. I thought I would always be the mentor, yet Regan has become the teacher, as I learn that what is does not dictate what will be.

Somehow, despite my best efforts to ruin her with my jaded view of truth, Regan turned out to be a better person than her father, and now others are pulled into her orbit, satellites hoping for a brighter future.

I have not failed her. A single regret remains in this unexpectedly long and complicated life of mine.

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