Nic froze. He went on, "Her name is Cea, and from my reports, she's in no small amount of pain already! And with what will happen to her if you don't deliver, that would make Philadelphia's future sound like living in a rose garden!"
Nic switched off the communicator. No more of that business.
Dr. Smyrna sat stock still as they all stared at each other. Nic broke the silence, "Well. Back to work everyone. We now all have stakes in this situation, and I think we can lay aside our difference for our common cause."
Dr. Smyrna silently returned to his paper, scribbling down decay chains, looking for that one ion with the right charge. They were less than half-way, less than a third, and now the pressure was on. He didn't have access to an accelerator, so he would have to get all his science right for sure on paper. Ephesus could try to create a computer model for speed.
Nic went to the massive digital chalkboard and began work on some of the larger ends of his theory. Energy would be needed to switch around the nature of water as an amphiprotic compound, and then the second generation products of the acid-base reaction would have to avoid oxidation. Ephesus went to modelling each successive chemical structure on the computer. They worked late into the night.
When at last Smyrna could not turn his pen or divine decay chains in his head he turned in for the night.
Nic sat nearly panting over the main work table. Sweat had filled his mustache and his hair, even though the room was completely temperature controlled.
Ephesus whirled his chair around. "So. Allow me to understand this. You have double duped everyone into believing you work for them. You have dragged us here so that we can go down with you. Why?"
Nic looked up slowly, his breath coming at the same rate. He spat, "Freedom, Ephesus, is the ability to do as one pleases. I have just a breath of it here, summoning whom I will and designing what I like. Hacking the kitchen gives me whatever food I want. You and your father are always fun to banter with, and you aren't too bad at science either. Red Rain has meant freedom to me, and if you and your sister must fall under for me to get it," he pounded his fist into the table, "then let it be so."
"Well that sounds ethical."
Nic raised his eyebrows diminutively. "Ethics is a field of study for those that would deliberately put restrictions upon themselves. I am none such person."