Sep 23, 2020 9:44 AM
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Mehitabel reads a lot.

She starts calling herself "Tab", for short, not that anyone calls her anything apart from Kers. She writes suitably encrypted emails to Aelise about ideas for fixing the world - mostly she asks questions, to start, forming a picture of the exact problem she has to solve.

She misses her parents, but not very much. At least she got to say goodbye.

When her brain won't absorb new information, she bounces around in zero-g.

After six months, Aelise visits again.

Tab says, "Anybody you store up here must be important somehow. If I don't know about the other secret person, I won't know how to come up with ideas that work with them being important however they're important."
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"What do you want to know about him?" says Aelise.

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"Why he's up here. I don't know what way he's important until you tell me."

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"He is up here for complicated reasons," says Aelise. "I'm not sure what the best summary is."

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"You could tell me the whole story," suggests Tab.

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"Not while you're still seven."

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"You could tell me all the parts that are okay for someone who is seven and who is also me."

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"I could also just introduce you to him and let him tell the story himself," she says, "but I'm fairly sure that if he finds out Kers is up here he will find a way to kill her, and I don't know how good you are at maintaining that kind of information security."

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"I don't want Kers to die," says Tab. "It would be strange if somebody my age were up here all alone though, even if I didn't say anything."

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"Something tells me he won't think of that," says Aelise. "Besides, he doesn't have to know you live up here."

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"Should I just talk like I live back where I used to, then, if he asks me?"

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"That would be a good idea."

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"I can do that."

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"All right," says Aelise. "And there's a small chance he might try to hurt you, but Kers can keep you safe."

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"Okay," says Tab, who has already noticed the benefits of Kers's power just by walking around for six months.

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"I'll go see what he thinks about visitors," says Aelise, and that is the end of that visit.

Some time later, Tab gets an email that says she can visit section 214 whenever she wants, as long as she pretends she still lives on Earth, pointedly refuses to answer questions about how she got there, and makes sure not to imply she has ever met Kers.

And the name of the person living there is Harley.
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Tab emails back, asking if it's okay for Harley to know about her Gift.

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It takes about a day for Aelise to answer.

She says yes.
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Tab then hops into a vehicle and drives herself to 214.

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All of the airlocked doors dividing section 214 from the rest of the ring show the red 'no unauthorized access' sign, but they'll open for her.

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Tab giggles as she lets herself through. "Harleeeeey?" she calls.

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"Who the fuck are you?" a voice yells back from the distance.

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"I'm Mehitabel! But you can call me Tab if you want!"

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No response.

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"Aelise says I can visit you whenever I want!" Tab adds, skipping forward towards the source of the voice.

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"Good for Aelise," says Harley, at a somewhat more normal volume; he's only just around the corner now, and then he isn't. He is in a room in the section's living quarters, with a book open on the computer, lying in bed rather than reading it, wearing a pair of rumpled pajama pants in sky-blue dotted with fluffy white sheeps. He is maybe sixteen or seventeen years old.

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