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I had Hibby push the door closed, climb up it, and reseal the hatch. From there, I told him to get to the apex of the Visitor Center dome. A perfect place to stay out of sight. He climbed merrily up the side, finding a convoluted but effective path of handles and grips he could reach. It took him two minutes to reach the top.

I put him in power-save mode and re-holstered the remote. I looked back to the dome of the Visitor Center and couldn’t even see the apex from the ground. Perfect.

Phase Two complete. I spent the rest of the tour checking out the Eagle. It’s amazing to think people actually landed here in that thing. You couldn’t get me to do that for a million slugs.

Well, okay. I’d do it for a million slugs. But I’d be nervous about it.

Dear Kelvin,

Sean fucked up.

I love the man and he makes me howl in bed. But my God he can be stupid sometimes.

He got ahold of some pot—bought it off a tourist. We needed a place to party. Problem is, around here, if you smoke you’ll set off fire alarms. So where would we go?

I had the perfect solution: Dad’s new shop!

Dad’s expanding the business right now. He leased a second location. He’s bringing in new equipment, interviewing welders to staff it, the whole nine yards.

It’s not up and running yet—half the equipment hasn’t even arrived. So it’s just this big, mostly empty room that I know the lock code to. And hey, smoking in a fire-rated workshop is the responsible thing to do! Protecting the city from fire and all that. So I offered it up.

We had a party. Nothing big. Just a few of Sean’s friends and me. We got good and stoned. Then Sean and the guys started playing with the equipment. I should have stopped them, but everyone was laughing and having a good time. I didn’t want to break the mood, you know?

Anyway, turns out Dad had filled the acetylene tanks that day. So while Sean and his idiot friends sword-fought with the torch handles, the gas-feed lines were actually live. Someone must have rolled a knob or something, because when they clashed the metal on metal it made a spark.

The whole room caught fire, the alarms went off, and it automatically sealed itself off. We were trapped in there and we barely got to the air shelter in time. We all crammed in and waited for the fire brigade.

Long story short: No one got hurt, but the room was trashed. Rudy (the nosy Mountie asshole) wanted to have me deported, but the fire destroyed all the pot, so he had no evidence of illegal flammables.

Dad was PISSED OFF. He yelled at me like never before—went on and on about how much money he’d sunk into that location and how it went up in flames because of me. And that just got me mad, because, you know, I could have died. The least he could do is ask if I’m okay, right?

We really got into it. He said I had to stop seeing Sean. As if he got a say in my love life! And then he went off on that same tired shit he always slings about me wasting my potential.

I am so fucking sick of the word “potential.” I’m sick of hearing it from Dad, from teachers, and every goddamn “adult” I meet.

I told him he had no say in who I date! He kept banging on about how I could “make a difference” with a mind like mine, Sean’s a waste of my time, blah, blah, blah. It’s my life, I’ll do what I want with it!

I grabbed some of my things and got the hell out of there. I’m staying with Sean for now. So much nicer than Dad’s place. Sean’s only twenty-three and his place has its own bedroom and bathroom. He doesn’t work his ass off just to barely survive like everyone wants me to do. He’s a bookie and he covers all his own bets. He’s saving up to buy a table at the Starlite Casino. It’s in Aldrin Bubble!

I’ll find a job and stock up enough money until I can afford my own place. Or maybe not. Sean and I might just keep living together.

Dear Jazz,

I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had a falling-out with your father. I know you’re mad, but please consider reconciling with him, even if you don’t want to live in his home. There’s nothing more important than family.

In other news, I got a job at KSC! I’m just an assistant loadmaster and I weigh cargo pods all day, but it’s a start! After a provisional period, they say they’ll train me in payload balancing. It’s very important that a payload be properly secured and balanced or the launch could fail.

If I work my way up to loadmaster, I’ll be able to afford trade school for my sisters. Then, once they are all trained in skills, the four of us will be able to support our parents. Mom and Dad will finally be able to retire. It’s a long way off, but my sisters and I are working hard to make it happen.

Dear Kelvin,

Sorry for the slow reply. These past two weeks have been pretty hectic. Sean and I got in a fight but then made up (I’ll spare you the details, it’s all cool now).

Congrats on the job!

Some Saudi guys dropped by the other day and told me they’d set me up as a welding apprentice if I wanted. There are at least five master welders in town who want me in their shop. The Hungarian machinists also dropped by. They figured welding and machining are similar in that they both involve metal. I don’t follow their logic. Anyway, they think I’d be good at that.

After that, the word got out that I’m available or something. A bunch of tradesmen have contacted me. Plumbers, electricians, glassworkers, you name it. I’m suddenly the belle of the ball. Yes, I have a reputation for being good at whatever I set my mind to, but this is ridiculous.

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