A Period of Silence: Terminus

-(KP)-

September 7, 2071

I look at the paper in my hand and feel like I should be trembling. I'm not. I've never felt like that before. I don't think so, anyway. Paper is so old fashioned now, I had to buy it in a specialty store. But if there is anything I'm going to say on a day like today, it's going to be: "The old ways were good too."

So much of the world we grew up in is gone now. You could hardly believe it's only been eighty years. Certainly you wouldn't think it looking at me, but that's just my original sin covering up all manner of wrongdoing. It was easier to see on the face of my beloved, though she endured it gracefully. Well, until this morning.

The boy in front of me clears his throat in an obvious manner. He's getting impatient. Screw 'em. I don't move on anyone else's schedule anymore.

"Is that the obituary?" asked the boy. He is dressed nicely, in the rustic slate and deep greens that's popular in the autumn. Trendy. What a waste of time. I call him a boy but he's probably older than my grandson. There are no rings on his hands. No apparent bondmarkings. I bet he thinks his work in media is more important than a personal life. He's very wrong.

"Yeah," I finally say, and hand the slip over to him. Three paragraphs on one side with a picture from our trip to Mars paper-clipped to it. It's old – comparatively – but she'd never looked better.

-(KP)-

Four Years Earlier

The man speaking on the stage was a pompous asshole and I could see the flinches on Jules' face standing beside him as the speech ran into dangerously speculative ground about aliens and rayguns. He was the President of the Mars Colonies and he – arguably – had a right to be here today, commemorating the man who made his home possible.

The problem was that he was about as ignorant about science and engineering as an orangutan.

"You're crushing my hand, sweetheart," said my princess. She reached out and patted me on the arm gently.

"This guy is an idiot," I growled quietly so that not too many of the people sitting around me heard. As many of them were affiliated with the Science Center, I saw a few conciliatory nods after my grunt.

"It will be over soon," she said with a giggle. I don't know how she does it. Her work has her run head long into ignorance so frequently I find it hard to believe she can have faith in the world. And yet, still, after all this time: cheerful. I don't deserve her.

"Jules looks like a vein is going to pop out of her temple," I said, looking at our youngest daughter.

"Well, she has your temper," she said. "Who'd have guessed?"

"At least she has your brains," I said with a sigh.

Then suddenly everyone was applauding. Finally! The idiot was stepping aside and was letting our daughter speak. Instead of relaxing, I felt my muscles tense. It was silly. She's 54 years old, I shouldn't worry about her humiliating herself with public speaking. I guess in my mind she'll always be the awkward redhead who nearly decided to build her date to the prom.

"Show him up, darling," I heard a whisper say to my side. I looked to my left to see Audrey, our daughter-in-law and Jules' wife, watching intently with a smile and her hands held tightly together. She was immaculately dressed and perfectly primped as always, but was fidgeting in her seat and giddy as a schoolgirl to see her wife speak. Even after over twenty years of being together, she still adored Jules. It was very cute.

I looked back over to Kimmie and sighed happily. I know how it feels.

"Thank you," said Jules up on stage and I turned my attention back to the proceedings.

"My grandfather was a visionary," she started. "But not because he saw how his rocket designs would carry the first terraforming devices into the stars, or how the short-travel transport would someday need to be improved to allow easy commuting between the Solar Colonies, or even because he prefigured the breakthroughs in intra-lunar shipping."

Jules smiled and looked down at us. Me and Kimmie. Her wife, Audrey. Her sister Cassandra and her family, Lionel, Becky, and Gasper. Her friends at the Science Center. Her lips stretched ear to ear.

"It was because he saw the potential in all of us," continued Julie. "He knew that the future of his dreams was just another engineering problem. Not just the right people with the right motivations, but all people, trying their best. He had the vision, sure, but he couldn't do it on his own and he never tried to. Instead, he saw the value in inspiration, in leading people who might be too timid on their own to succeed. He wanted us all to live our dreams, not just his, and he did everything in his power to make that... well, Possible." She laughed and much of the congregation did as well.

She cleared her throat demurely and turned to look behind the stage. "He wasn't a particularly vain man, and I think he got a little uncomfortable the way his name was being use everywhere. But then again, he never viewed the Possible Colony as his, or the Possible Rocket Labs on Earth, or the Possible Science Center here today. He saw them, instead, as promises. Anything is Possible, he often said. And if these places were going to use his name, then they had to meet that promise."

"Today, more than any other time in our history, anything IS possible." She gestured to the dim skies above. "And as we set our sights out there, beyond the Solar Colonies, into deep space, we must take that open mindedness, that courage to step forth into the unknown, and carry it forward into the galaxy to show to all that we may meet and see."

She then turned and stepped over to the tall structure covered by a long sheet and gave it a pull. The red cloth fell to the side revealing a tall bronze statue of Mr. Dr. Possible and Mrs. Dr. Possible staring up into the sky. He with a pencil behind his ear and a tablet in his hand, and her with a clipboard and a beaker. A plaque adorned the base listing their names and when each had been born and died.

"In honor of my grandfather, and my grandmother who made it possible to survive in space for long durations, we dedicate this memorial, as well as the initiation of the Possible Deep Space Missions. A program heralded by the Science Center here, under my care, and with the corporation of the Earth Space Authority, with the goal of sending our colonies out beyond the solar system to worlds unknown."

Jules turned and looked back at the crowd and bowed.

"Thank you... everyone."

We all stood to cheer.

-(KP)-

September 7, 2071

The boy looks at the photo and makes a face. If he makes a comment about its age I will rip his nose clean off.

"Do you have the original of this?" he says without looking up.

"That is the original," I say.

"Oh."

The boy looks over the page and nods. He raises his eyes to mine and smiles kindly. It makes me sick.

"Paper and a printed photo," said the boy. "How old fashioned."

I glower at the boy but he persists in smiling. Does he even notice?

"There's nothing wrong with old fashioned," I nearly spit with venom.

The boy is blissfully unaware. "Of course," he says. "After these are digitized for publication and I'll return them."

"Don't bother. I don't need them." I turn away and look out the window. Forty stories up in the heart of downtown Middleton. The city had done nicely for itself over the years. If she pinched the glass she could probably zoom into the distant, shining space port. As it was, she could barely make out the enormous mag-tower in on the horizon when she squinted.

"Is there anything I can get you?" the boy says. "A water or some skopa tea?"

I look down at the city below and the tiny streets filled with silvery cars as small as pinheads. So clean and orderly the city was. Did anything appear out of line anymore? Was this what she fought for? Years of heroism, decades of teaching law, even more decades of giving speeches. For this? A scene from Star Trek? A society so decadent they barely remembered their origins? A hole in my heart that looked like a pint-sized redheaded girl with too much bravery and too little brains?

"More time," I say. That's when I finally tremble. Because I have plenty of time. I may never die. But it may only be suffering without her.

-(KP)-

Thirty-One Years Earlier

I looked at Ann Possible, my mother-in-law, and shook my head. "Surely you have something better to be doing than this."

Ann flashed her radiant smile, untarnished even at the age of sixty five, and I was reminded again where my Princess got her charming looks. "Actually, with James working on the Venus and Jupiter colonies, and my research projects in the data gathering stage, I'm looking for some distractions." She sat down on a stool next to the examination table I was sitting on. "Besides, with the records recovered by the Department of Justice from GENOM, I was finally able to look at the raw data from your symbiote bonding." She flipped through a thick stack of papers in her hand. "Much of this stuff is simply horrible, unethical research but the data is fascinating!"

"They certainly held nothing back on my family," I said. "I'd just as well have destroyed everything if you hadn't said it could be useful."

"I appreciate your discretion," Ann said. "I've been meaning to pick up Dr. Hall's Genetic Symbiosis work since she passed, but... well, with the attention my cosmic radiation research has been getting, I've been fairly distracted. Sorry that it hasn't been a priority until recently."

I shrugged. "Eh, it's not all that important to me, really. I have full control over the little worm these days. I just wish we could have removed Raymond's before his accident."

"I'm sorry about him," said Ann. "But everything I've found points to a lifelong bond. It wouldn't have been possible to separate him from the symbiote without killing him."

"And the fool found a way to get himself killed anyway," I grumbled. I was still irritated at him after all this time. He took his Hego antics way too far on his own and ended up on the wrong side of a death ray. It was a stupid mistake. One that could have been avoided he'd just stopped and asked for help. I could have even helped him if it would have kept him living. We may not ever have gotten along but he was still my brother.

I grumbled a bit more and Ann pressed on. "As it turns out, though, I was able to validate some of my suspicions. And... I'm not sure how to say this."

I sighed, and felt my stomach twist. I knew there had to be another shoe to drop. Things worked out too well after I got control of the symbiote years back. Damn it. What will I tell the Princess? "It's killing me, isn't it?"

"Actually, no," Ann said carefully. "You're not decaying at all."

"Oh, well, that's good, isn't it?" I said. I'm not sure what the bad news is. She seemed so much more reluctant to talk that there had to be a big problem.

"It depends on your perspective." Now she was trying to be diplomatic.

"Come on, spit it out," I said. "I'm not a fragile girl, I can take it."

"You're not decaying at all, Lily," she said. "I've compared preserved blood samples from your childhood to ones I took last year and there's no telomere reduction, no change in cell volume or quality, no difference at all." She shrugged. "You're not getting older."

I stared. "What?" Yeah, I knew I was pushing forty and had yet to see a gray hair or a wrinkle, but... plenty of women were lucky like that. I was sure it would just catch up with me later on. It had to.

Ann picked up a tablet and ran her finger down the screen. "Your symbiote is repairing your body at an incredible rate, much more so than your brothers. Down to the cellular level DNA replication is perfect. The normal degradation isn't present. You aren't aging. I'm not sure you ever will."

"I'm... going to live forever?" I asked. That's... a little shocking. And unsettling.

"You have the ability to," said Ann. "You can certainly suffer shock, and I've seen you get sick. You just aren't likely to succumb to defects due to aging. You'll be twenty your whole life. However long that is."

This was a bit much to take in. I wasn't sure if I should be happy that I'll be young, terrified that I'm going to outlive everybody, or angry that Brian Mason took even more of my humanity away than I knew.

"The girls..." I asked, but Ann shook her head.

"They're normal," she said. "Without the symbiote Cassie and Julia have normally aging bodies. It's just you. And your brothers to a certain extent, although I think Wesley and William won't really see any real difference at all, and Jason will eventually get old, just probably at two-thirds or half the rate of the average person."

"And Raymond?" I asked. "He could have...?"

Ann shrugged. "I can't say. It was possible, you and he ended up having the strongest bond to your symbiote of your family. We'll never know now."

I sighed. I'm not sure this is altogether better than finding out the symbiote is killing me.

"It's not so bad," said Ann after a moment. "Many people would love to have a shot at eternal youth. And you aren't immortal, just long lived. It's a miracle."

I frowned.

"I'm going to outlive Kimmie," I said softly.

Ann smiled. "It's only possible. None of us really know how much time we have, not even you. This doesn't change anything. It just means of the multitude of things out there that could get you, this won't be one of them. Don't make it a big deal."

"She's already gone gray," I said. "How much different will we look in twenty years? Will she resent me for my youth?"

Ann got up and took my hands firmly in hers. "Not on your life. She's my daughter. I raised her better than that."

-(KP)-

September 7, 2071

The heavy footfalls behind me are the obvious signs of his approach. After so many upgrades, I imagine there is almost nothing of Allucinere left in him, but still he sounds like a battlemech wearing sneakers. Maybe he does it just for my sake, knowing how much I hate being snuck up on. I prefer to think he's just flawed. It makes the other aspects of his existence less troubling.

"She wouldn't want you to do it," said Beta. What a stupid thing to say. Of course she wouldn't. What I say next is even stupider.

"What do you know?" I snapped and I felt like a moron for doing so. God, I'm so messed up right now. She would be so embarrassed.

"I know how hard it is to deal with loss," said Beta simply. Well, that made me feel better. I turned to look at him, ready to lay into him with years old tirades about computer chips and artificial sentience and the measure of a man. But as I looked at his face – his unaging, stolen, tireless face – I could see the grief. The sadness. I may one day forget much of my life with my beloved, but he would never.

He could, of course. He'd long since surpassed the core functionality that Allucinere built into him and could erase memories or rewrite basic parts of his personality at will. But he decided long ago that he would not; that he was who he was regardless of how he came to be. So he would forever hold a torch for Kim, and perfectly remember every minute he spent with the woman that came to be his beloved before she died.

He would also remember our shared sin with equal clarity.

My suffering may have started, but his has lasted his entire life.

My heart nearly broke again and I stepped away from the ledge of the Senior Junior Media Enterprises building to wrap my arms around him. He held on to me tightly in response, as if he was the one who was just on the ledge and not me. Oh, he was human. He was human in every way that mattered and I really never believed differently.

-(KP)-

Forty-Seven Years Earlier

My mind swam in the sensations of warm flesh pressed against me and cool breath against my thighs as our bodies locked together in mindless lust. Every inch of my skin was alive with fire and yearned to be clawed at and devoured. My hands raked across back presented before me and landed in a mess of hair I had to clutch in my fingers as the tension was rising.

Oh, god everything I was doing was wrong but it was bliss. I think that's why it was bliss. It had been so long since I had been a bad girl. This was why bad was so good. And we both knew it well.

There was a sudden slamming noise that startled me and the haze of pleasure broke instantly. I sat up on the bed and stared at the newly opened doorway. Two slim female figures stood against the light of the hall. The smaller, younger one with long, bright red hair gasped and put her hands to her mouth. The taller one with the severe expression and eye-patch made a fist with her hand and then spat.

"God damn it," said Betty Director in controlled fury.

Beta leaped up from the bed beside me and audibly gaped. "Betty!" he said.

There were some shouted words and I think a skirmish of some sort and then they were gone. I couldn't be damned to care because my whole world was trapped between the eyes of my Princess, who was looking at me with an expression I'd never seen before in thirteen years of marriage: revulsion.

This was why bad was bad.

THIS WAS WHY BAD WAS BAD!

God damn it! What was I thinking?!

"Pumpkin—" I said as I stood up but then she turned her head sharply away.

"Cover yourself," she said.

I quickly grabbed some sheet or blanket and pulled it against my chest.

"Princess, I—" I tried again.

"How could—" she interrupted then stopped herself. She was still facing away, so I couldn't see her expression, but my imagination supplied the worst. She took a deep breath.

"What do we tell the girls?" she said calmly, though that calmness hid an inferno my fire could never match.

"I-I was... W-we don't have—This d-doesn't... It's not...!" A billion thoughts flew through my head and I couldn't grasp them long enough to put them into words. My brain turned to paste.

"You'll stay here tonight, I think," she decided.

I felt like vomiting. "I-I'll... A-all right," I managed to say. My world never seem so tiny before.

"Tomorrow ... we'll talk about tomorrow," Kim continued.

"Oo-okay," I said through shaking lips.

She then looked down at her feet and I still couldn't see her expression. "Whatever issue you had with me—" she stopped and looked at the lights in the hall. "How could you do that to Betty?"

I couldn't even make my jaw move to reply. She wasn't even talking about us anymore. It was as if she'd already written our life away.

God, had I? I did this? I just ruined everything!

"It took her so long to trust him," she said. "So long to just let herself feel love. She's so painfully isolated it was a miracle they got together at all." She turned her head slowly to look over her shoulder at me. She wasn't angry, she was sad. Tears were still falling from her eyes as she tried to look at me. "This will destroy all that's left of her."

Each tear that fell from her cheeks felt like a hundred bullets piercing my chest.

"How long?" she asked me.

I found the strength to swallow. "Not long." I felt my face burning but I couldn't look away.

"But not just tonight," she said. It wasn't a question.

"No," I uttered, somehow.

She shuddered and looked ready to burst into more tears. Then she turned her back fully to me.

"I love you!" I spouted, but even I felt like the words were hollow.

"Don't come home," she said back.

Then she left.

-(KP)-

September 7, 2071

I pulled his forehead against mine and then kissed him on his cheek. It was soft and comforting and I could feel my body warm to his touch, but then it was over and we were hugging again. I needed to feel him close in that moment and I wouldn't let go, but this was all that could happen. There was fire between us once – oh, god yes, as much as it embarrassed me to admit it, there was – but now all that remained was solace. The quiet footsteps of two lonely soldiers who would walk unchanged through the world forever.

Maybe not entirely unchanged.

I pushed Beta away gently but held onto his hand. He looked like he was crying. Oh, so human.

"Will you come to the service?" I asked.

Beta shook his head only a fraction of an inch. "I couldn't. I'd be a mess." He took a deep breath and then sighed. "It's still like I fell for her only yesterday."

"And me?" I asked with a small smirk. He returned with a warm smile.

"I'm always falling for you, Shego," he said. "But—"

"You don't have to say it," I interrupted. I then squeezed his hand to make sure he knew I understood.

Beta nodded. "So what's next?"

"Cassie and Lionel offered to stay with me for a while," I said. "I say 'offered' but they wouldn't let me decline, so I guess I have company waiting for me at home."

"After the service?" asked Beta.

"Yeah," I nodded.

"And Jules?"

I shook my head. "She and her wife live on Mars, and they can't get a flight back in time for the memorial. I told them to stay and I'll come to them before..." I bit my lip, realizing I said too much.

"Before?" He looked serious all of a sudden, as if he'd already guessed my scheme. He couldn't have, of course. Unless he's installed Betty's spy network in my brain, what happened this morning was between me and my beloved.

-(KP)-

Twelve Hours Earlier

I heard her stirring in the bed and I opened my eyes to look. She was awake again, looking casually around, before her bright green eyes settled on me and she began to smile. With an outstretched hand she silently summoned me, so I got up from the couch in the hospital room and crossed to the chair at her side.

"You should sleep," she said to me.

"I was," I lied. Of course I wasn't. She was dying. I wasn't going to miss a second.

"Don't feel guilty," she said to me.

"I don't."

"Shego..." she warned, raising an eyebrow at me.

I looked down at her hands, with their slack skin and liver spots, resting on my smooth, porcelain-looking ones. "I don't want this," I said, feeling the lump in my throat rise.

"You don't get a choice," smiled my beloved. "Your symbiote is interested in keeping you alive a little longer."

"I don't have to let it," I let my voice give words to the thoughts I'd been having.

She immediately looked at me with a nasty expression and I regretted it entirely.

"Don't you dare," she said. "Your life is precious to me."

I shook my head. "But what do I do with it without you?"

"Enjoy it," she said, lightening a little. "Find a new story to tell."

I swallowed. That seemed terrifying for some reason. I know there was a time when I was a loner, but that was over sixty years ago. I don't remember how.

"It's not a curse," she said, strongly. "Don't feel guilty. It's a reward."

"A reward?" I couldn't imagine what crazy angle she was tackling this from.

"You still can do more," she said. "Make more change, carry it forward."

"This was your crusade, not mine. I don't have your moral compass. I had you."

"You have everything I have and more," she said. She coughed briefly and took several deep breaths through her nose. "You're just rusty. You were a hero once too."

"My family were heroes," I said. "I was the one who turned."

"And turned back," she reminded me. "You know what you need to do. Find those who need help the most and go to them. Give them what they need."

"How?" I asked. I really couldn't ever remember doing this alone and it frightened me.

"Who are you most worried about? Who do you think right now is in danger the most?"

I held my breath and tried to think. "You."

She raised a hand to my cheek and I felt it caress my face. "You can't help me anymore. There must be someone else, someone else who is in danger right now."

I closed my eyes and tried to think. Kim had been such an influence on the people in our life, they all had learned to pick themselves up and fight. None of them needed me after her. None of them were missing that influence.

Well, I suppose that's not right.

"There is one. But after what happened between us, I can't give him anything that will help."

Her brows briefly furrowed and then raised in what I assume was understanding.

"Oh my dear," she said. "He does need you. And can help."

"But after I—"

"Shhh," Kim cooed and gently pulled me closer. She wrapped her hands around my back and held me. "I forgive you. I forgave you long ago. Even Betty forgave him. Stop hating yourself." She squeezed me. "This heart has always been bigger than you gave yourself credit."

She was wrong. So very wrong. But I couldn't say it. I just can't forgive myself. She was my savior. My hero. I betrayed her. I can never be forgiven.

"Stop," Kim said loudly as she felt me shake. She pushed me to arms length. "No more. We make mistakes and live with them. Nobody is perfect. If I can convince a nation to do it, I can convince you: give up this guilt, and go to him. Help him find meaning."

I turned away, I couldn't bear this. Not now. If there was any other time... but of course, we were out of time. There was no more time to delay.

I looked back.

"I was angry at you," I said, feeling the pain of each word between my lips. "I wanted you to be angry too so I didn't feel so... alone." I squeezed my eyes shut. "You got shot by that wacko in Cambodia and I just... I couldn't... YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE SAFE!" I balled my fists impotently. "How could you go out and do that speech? Right in the middle of everything! Did you even think of me? Of Cassie? Of Jules? I couldn't understand. I just was so angry at you for being so reckless! I needed you to be angry back so it wasn't so... unfair."

I started to cry. I couldn't help myself. Forty years of guilt just broke through my stoicism.

"It wasn't love, it was... an attack," I finally said between sobs. "I stabbed you in the back for being yourself. So, no, I can't be forgiven. Never."

I turned away, I couldn't look at her. I expected her to send me away. I was ready to leave. I wanted to leave. I didn't want to cause her any more pain.

I felt her hands on my sides and then they wrapped around my belly. Her head was resting on my back. I had no idea what was going on.

"I know," she said hoarsely. "It's okay."

I turned in her arms and looked at her, because there was honestly nothing else that I could do. "You know? How could you know?"

She looked at me. "I forgive you."

"No, explain yourself!" I said.

"It was reckless, what I did," said Kim. "I knew it when I saw you at the hospital. I just didn't realize it until then. I saw your pain. I knew I had overreacted to that priest's letter to that poor child. I was being enormously selfish. I knew you were hurt."

"But that was just... it doesn't excuse-!"

"No, it doesn't, but after time it let me forgive you," said Kim. "And I don't resent you for it. We are emotional people, we sometimes overreact." She pressed her head against me. "I feel guilt too, you know. But my love for you is stronger than that."

I felt my insides twist and pain raced through my chest. "Please!" I burst when a new wave of tears arrived. "Don't forgive me."

"Shhhh," she cooed again and held me tightly. "Let it go. I love you. I will always love you. Even after I'm gone, you will never be without my love."

I cried in her arms until there was no more tears and then whimpered until I was exhausted. I laid there, head on her lap as she rested on the bed, until the sun came up.

-(KP)-

September 7, 2071

I looked up into the afternoon sky. I hadn't made a decision, not really, but as I thought about her last words this morning, I realized there wasn't much that I knew about eternal life. There were no examples to follow, no precedent. I had to start making bold choices.

"I don't think I can carry on here anymore," I said with as much finality as I could muster. "I'm not sure I want to."

"You have a family," said Beta. "And they love you very much."

"And I love them too, dearly," I said with a shake of my head. Then I turned to look back at him with a small smile as I realized truth in words I said long ago. "Just as I love you. But, just because I can linger, I don't think means I should. Cassie and Jules have had lives for a long time now, they have kids of their own and soon there will grandkids for them. Their lives are full. They don't need me anymore."

"They would never ask you to leave," said Beta.

"That's why I need to leave on my own," I said. "Not immediately, but the Possible IV Deep Space Mission is looking for volunteers and I think, given my condition, I might be an ideal candidate."

Beta's jaw dropped and he looked at me like I was insane. "That's a fifty year mission!"

"Blink of the eye for someone like us," I said.

"No, it'll be about fifty years," said Beta, insistently.

I smiled. I could get angry, could accuse him of being presumptuous, but if I was going to do this, I'd have to endure much worse before leaving. It was natural, I guess. I was talking about social suicide. Maybe actual suicide, depending on how the mission goes.

There might be some perks to it, though.

"How did you know I was up here?" I said, trying to prove a point. "I haven't seen you but twice since Betty died."

Beta stared at me with a frown as if trying to craft a reply. I knew it was an act, he thinks twenty times faster than me.

"I'm always watching," he finally said. And I nodded, because I knew he was.

"Just me?" I asked.

"A lot of people, but you and Kim especially."

"Aren't you tired of it?"

He opened his mouth to reply but hesitated and then closed it into a thin line, staring at my face. He looked guilty, suddenly, and I hadn't spent sixty years with a hero for a wife not to know why.

"Yes," he said softly. "But the work has to get done."

"No, see, that's what Betty never really understood," I said, knowing I was on thin ice brining up the late doctor, but pressing on all the same. "You have to let your darlings run around in traffic every now and then, or they'll never learn to keep themselves safe. You don't have to do this anymore. Someone else will pick up the mantle. You can also retire."

"What would I do then?" he said, looking desperately sad. "Betty came by and swept me up when I was searching for meaning after Alluncinere. Ever since she passed on I don't know what to do with myself."

I smiled. "Why not come see the galaxy with me?"

He looked at me with surprise. It's good to know I can still do that.

As he mulls it over – much slower than I expected for a machine - I realize can still do a lot. The hole will never fill in completely, but maybe the pain won't last forever.

"I'd—" Beta starts, then stops as he runs through a round of further consideration.

We are nearly alone with our conditions, he and I, but if we have each other, maybe we don't have to be lonely.

"I'd like that," he finally says.

I'll make her proud. I will.

And that way, she'll live on as long as I do.

-(KP)-

[[ S.J.M.E. NEWS / OBITS. ]]

RENOWNED ORATOR, PHILOSOPHER, AND ACTIVIST KIMBERLY ANN KEDAR (NEE POSSIBLE) DIES AT 84

Kimberly Ann Kedar was a teenaged hero, which is a shame, because what she did for five years in the 2000s has overshadowed the much more courageous heroism she engaged in for the rest of her 84 year long life, which concluded Tuesday morning at Middleton Memorial Hospital as a result of congestive heart failure.

Kim was the first child of famed neurologist Ann Possible and rocket scientist James Possible who raised her to believe anything was within her ability if she wanted it. In a failed crusade to prove them wrong, as a child Kim offered her help to every family in Middleton, grew up to fight beside many law enforcement agencies against violent criminals, earned several degrees to speak to millions on the need for law reform, shared her views with many public figures on international relations, and was a vocal human rights activist especially on the topic of discrimination.

In her private life, she was just as distinguished. She leaves behind her two daughters, writer and philosopher Cassandra Tyler, and engineer and futurist Julia Kedar, as well as her loving wife of 59 years, Lily Kedar. She may have shied away from the title of 'hero' in her later life, but she never gave up the ideals that made it such a proper fit. She believed everyone had the ability to be heroic, and only ever asked that we try.

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