"Hmm, at one a day you might just out pace your removal paperwork, and if you are lucky I won't have had time to decide just what I should do to you and your associates various sisters. But of course, I might have a breakthrough myself..." his chuckling could be heard over the quiet line.
Nic was silent for a moment, then muttered, "Aww shut up." And flicked off the communication line
The next morning Dr. Smyrna proposed a new method of delivery for the gas-borne acids. "We could, much more easily, bind Red Rain with aerosols, tiny airborne dust particles, rather than the water itself. Water will still be needed as a the activator and to sustain the reaction via its amphiprotic nature, but using small solids might be easier than the rather vacillating nature of water."
Ephesus instantly liked the idea, and jumped over to the computer to begin testing. Nic was one stride forward as well, "In fact, if we could make it ride well on the radioactive decay products, it would be more deadly yet, with the speed those particles fly."
Dr. Smyrna didn't think that was quite possible, "Radioactive decay particles are too small to ride, but we could perhaps cause them to propel the acid molecules, at least increasing the immediate area of effect."
Nic was fine with that. "Great, as long as we get it done soon. Smyrna, you keep working on the next phase of creating bases that we can control. Ephesus and I will work on those options."
For twelve hours they sat by the computer, until finally they found a clever arrangement of aerosols, nitrogen, and Red Rain that would actually work and could be propelled easily by radioactive decay products. Nic was too tired to rejoice, especially since Dr. Smyrna was still struggling to create volatile bases that could be controlled.
"I am not going to call that starchy comedian again tonight. I don't need his help remembering the immediate threat to my sister or to your Philadelphia," he struggled to say the name without also screaming. "And by the way, when you come in for the night, make sure someone on the inside opens the door."
Nic retired to sleep immediately, hoping to preempt any further metaphysical discussions by being unconscious if anyone wanted to start one.
Dr. Smyrna was just filing away his papers and moving for the apartment door when Ephesus grabbed his arm. He motioned for silence.
"Dad, I need you over here. We're lucky he went to bed."
Ephesus pulled his father over to the computer, but it was not Ephesus' molecular modeling program that was up. It was a host of windows, including a few from the United government.
Smyrna was not immediately impressed, "What are you up to, Ephesus?"
"Are we really going to give the United Red Rain?"
"Are you really questioning the fact that we have to protect Philli?"
"I think we can avoid the first while still accomplishing the second, maybe... and either way, I am beginning to wonder which is our first responsibility."
"The government ordered us to make Red Rain. There's a responsibility to obey. They are threatening Philadelphia and Cea. There's a responsibility to protect. Do we care which comes first?"
Ephesus looked into his father's eyes for a silent moment. "Dad, you know it's not as simple as that. Would it be responsible for us to give them the weapon they need to do whatever they want? Is our responsibility to the world, to the rest of Christendom, not perhaps greater than ours to our sister, daughter, and friend?"
"I thought I taught you that family always came first."
"You never really had a chance to test your teaching against stakes like these."
"My principles don't change."
"But what if the United uses the weapon to kill us all. What then?"
"Then, as Nic would remind us, we all go to heaven."
"But to live is Christ. Doesn't that mean to try to save the world, as best as we little-Christs can?"
Smyrna sighed. "What does this have to do with the computer?"
"My plan for escaping from between the rock and the hard place we seem to be in."