She was with Nic when they grabbed her and took her away. We never knew where she went." She stopped.
This time I was able to finish the story, "Or if she lived."
Cea stifled a little cry. "Yes."
We both sat in sad silence for a few moments until Cea waved on to the next picture, after their graduation. It was Nic and Cea again. Cea had been a cheerleader in college apparently. Nic had his arm around her, but still there was no smile.
The next one she showed me was Nic in his lab coat, hair parted and mustache full, receiving what looked like a diploma from a fat man in a suit. Cea explained, "That was his 'Certificate of Achievement' for his first major breakthrough working for the United. He developed a battery for the electric pistols." My eyes went wide. Those were the favored weapons for controlling Christians. Cea smiled, "After he got that, he walked out to the lobby of the building, and before they let the reporters in he stuffed the certificate deep in a garbage can. He only worked for the United because he like science, and the United owned everything."
I could tell that Cea wanted to relive the memories of her brother. It was just like when she had helped me remember Ephesus back on Mars. My brother had been alive and in prison, and now hers was. If he was still alive. I asked, "What got Doctor Nic to Mars?"
She laughed, "His own cunning stupidity. He was caught meddling in United files, looking for Rachel." I guessed that that was the girl cropped out of the picture. "They questioned him hotly if he was a Christian, and he just laughed and said, 'If I am, isn't it interesting that I am not also backwards as you say they are?' I loved him for that."
"But he didn't end up in a camp, and neither did you."
Cea smiled against the few hot tears on her cheeks, "Nope. They couldn't just throw him away, so they convicted him to exile on Mars running a base. He said he'd never be mentally stable unless he had me with him. They didn't want a mad scientist on their hands, especially not one who was great with experimental weapons, and didn't ask questions. They just sent us away."
She flipped to the next picture. I saw Dr. Nic at the window of a spacecraft. She explained, "That was on our way up to Mars, when they stationed us at 9.6.11. He was so successful there his base started getting all the new projects, all the money, and all the scientists. That's how Ephesus and then you got there."
I examined the picture. Dr. Nic was smiling in that one, but it reminded me too much of that smile he had when he caught me watching the security tapes and told me to keep my head down.
I reached and flipped the next picture, and it just went back to Cea and Nic as children. Her smile faded away. "He never would take good pictures after that. Besides the secrecy of his projects, he lost a lot of his kindness. His principles stayed, believing in freedom and tolerance and all of that, but his kind execution of them changed."
I tried to comfort her. "He didn't seem all that bad even to me. He was just rough on the edges and distracted with his science."
Cea corrected me, "No, Philli. He was consumed with his science. He obsessively hated the United and everything it did and stood for. Red Rain wasn't just about freedom from them. Oh, he said it was, and he probably even thought it was, but I think that if he had had that weapon, he would have used it. He would have burnt away everything the United ever did, even if all he could replace it with would be radioactive ashes."
I looked out toward the living room, where Cami was sleeping. I remembered when she had said she hated the Outsiders. Aid's words returned to me. Cam, hate's evil. That's what got us contained in a camp.