By way of adding a little clarity, while things get sorted out... and re-edited, just because.

Epilogue: Trenton, NJ Underground, Level 5-

He'd stared at the images projected over DNC's pirate telecomm line, seeing the blackened ruin of a spaceship, still sparking slightly, and dangerously toxic. Endurance hung suspended over Times Square. One engine nacelle had fallen onto the street below, crushing a city bus. The other lay within the Tower, along with the rest of the ship. Civil Defense had half the borough cordoned off.

And the astronauts…? There were conflicting reports, multiple sightings, but nothing was yet confirmed. No one had made an official announcement yet. Not WorldGov or NASA, and certainly not International Rescue. That would come later.

But he'd monitored events obsessively, glad along with everyone else when Thunderbird 3, at the torn-fingernails edge of her range, was able to pull a few survivors from Kuiper. The Sea Base rescue was another close one; Thunderbird 4, with help from WASP and the US Navy, saving hundreds of people from certain death when the main dome collapsed.

Denice had taken him in, fortunately, for he had no where else to go. Not like this. She lived in a tiny room behind her shop, where she 'fixed' what you brought her, erasing watermarks and ID codes, no questions asked. She wasn't pretty, and she preferred to have her name pronounced like the masculine 'Dennis', rather than the more female 'Denise'. She had frizzy hair, and tan skin with dark brown freckles, and she was a good friend. Very patient.

Walking in from the front room, a day or two after his sudden appearance, shepulled his chair away from the computer deskand said,

"You ought to call them. Let them know you're alive, at least. They gotta be in hell, right now."

But he shook his head, merely taking the logic boards and disks she handed him.

"How come?" Denice persisted, putting a hand on his arm.

By way of response, he set down the supplies, then adjusted his clothing somewhat, to reveal the smooth skin at his right side.

"See the appendectomy scar?" he asked her.

She peered, then shook her head.


"Neither do I."

"Okay," growing exasperated, now, "so what? You healed up. What's that got to do with the price of…"

"Don't you f-ng get it?" he demanded, low and savage, pulling away from her hand. "John Tracy… their John Tracy… is dead. His body was destroyed, to get rid of an infection. The only way. Destroy the hardware, and start over." He lifted his arms from his sides a little bit, nearly brushing the walls of the cluttered living space, then let them drop again.

"This body's nice. I have no complaints, really, besides the fact that it's young…" Nineteen or so, he'd reckoned, making him younger now, than Virgil. "… but it isn't mine. It was moved here, from another reality, it's data wiped and replaced. Somewhere, some other time line is missing this guy. Wonder if they even realize it, or if even the memory of his existence has been erased."

He stared at the worn, mismatched carpet squares on the floor. Then, face like stone, voice quiet, added,

"I'm dead. Twice over. She did what made sense to her… it's not her fault… but I can't go back to them, claiming to be John Tracy. Not ever."

D.C., the bunker:

Someone finally came for him, but it wasn't International Rescue. It was, instead, a tall, muscular man, hairless, before whom locks flew open and computer monitors exploded. Shr3ddr could not have withstood his assault at the best of times, and certainly not now, at the red-black edge of collapse. He wanted information...