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Next of Kin, Epilogue: 87%

11/30/14

  10:51:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 772 words  
Categories: Next of Kin

Next of Kin, Epilogue: 87%

Epilogue, 87%

Chase took custody of Jim. ?I watched the confession as you broadcast,? he said. ?If the biometrics hold up, that should be enough for a conviction. Means you're a free man.?
?Not free,? I said. ?If anything, I think I've got a better understanding than ever of my cage.?
?Well, for what it's worth, at least you aren't going to be under public surveillance for much longer. That's at least something.?
?Much longer?? I asked.
?Once we've verified the biometrics,? he said. ?You were in a dead zone; who knows what kind of tech could have been interfering. Not that I think that's likely. But it's the first damned thing a defense lawyer will tot out, and if we can't plan ahead for that, than we all might as well toss in the towel.?
It was over. But I felt lousy. It didn't take much thought to figure out why that was. I called Jenel. ?Hey,? I said, when it stopped ringing.
?I didn't really ever expect to hear from you again.?
?Yeah,? I said. ?That would probably have been the smart move.?
?But I suppose I know you well enough not to expect that from you.?
?Most days I might have complained that was a low blow, but today, it feels more than deserved.?
?Easily,? she said.
?How are you holding up??
?Didn't sleep any,? she said. ?Pissed at myself as much as you, maybe more.? She sighed. ?I definitely know I let you make me a worse person. But maybe the point I should take away from that is that it's easy to be a better person in theory. It's tougher when you're faced with murderers and violence, and especially people who would use that civility against you. I'm glad Jim's going to pay for what he did. I just wish you wouldn't have needed my help.?
?Still friends?? I asked.
?Maybe. You do still owe me a meal. We'll see, okay??
?Okay,? I said. ?Bye.?
I was halfway to Tara's apartment, without ever deciding to drive there. I checked her location, she was home. So I decided to stop in. The moment I called through she ran through the front door and threw her arms around me. ?You're okay,? she said. ?After you left with him, I just thought,? she frowned, and decided not to finish. ?Is he?? she asked.
?He's fine. In custody, but fine. I had his pirate wares removed, and he copped to everything. John, shooting me, everything.?
?Why'd he do it?? she asked.
?He was so scared of losing what he had, that in trying to preserve it, he destroyed it instead.?
?I'm going to miss John,? she said.
?Me, too.? She realized we were still on her porch.
?You should come in,? she said, stepping to the side. Max was playing in the front room.
?How's he holding up?? I asked.
?Last night scared him. He's never been that close to a firing gun before. And Jim was... like an uncle. So he was scared even before you showed up, but.... I'm glad you did. Um, could I get you anything? Tea, maybe??
?Sure,? I said. ?Tea would be lovely?
She scurried back into the kitchen. I kept half an eye on Max, the other on my interface. The chat was already starting to clear out, virtually the only people left behind were the regulars, a few of whom were discussing the possibility of meeting in real life to commemorate the thing they'd all just lived through. For a fraction of a second, I contemplated stepping in, and seeing if any of them lived locally. But even though it had been my investigation that brought them together, I hadn't been a part of their community in any real way. I was the floor show.
I got a message from Chase. ?Biometrics confirm the story Archer gave you. Which means as soon as you're ready to lose your special advocate access, you can terminate it. The camera spores will fall off in the wash or whatever. So if you want to take one last moment to see if your neighbor has a history of getting parking tickets outside men's bathhouses. Or women's. Both can be informative.?
When I closed his message, a big blue button appeared telling me I could disconnect from the DCA with a push. I glanced one last time at the chat window, and brought up an input. I sighed, and put my hands over the virtual keys.
?Thanks, everybody, for coming along on this ride with me, and for your support,? I typed. Then I disconnected from the DCA feed.

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