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Jun 21, 2021 1:26 PM
A Mica is useful to science.
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"See you."

Well, he's already up, it's probably farther to go sit back down than to go find Alyssa and see if she looks busy. So off he goes.

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Alyssa is drinking coffee and looking bored at a stack of documents. She grins when she notices Vance.

“Vance! Got something for me?”

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"Why doesn't that kid with the wings have internet access?"

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“Oh, you met Mica? He’s a sweet kid, but don’t let him distract you. Who says he doesn’t have internet access?”

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"He did, sort of, by implication. Does he?"

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“I don’t see why he wouldn’t.”

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"Okay, good. Thanks. Do you happen to know which computer he uses, is there someone letting him borrow theirs...?"

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She shrugs. “I’m not really in charge of him, I just try to keep an eye out. What did he say?”

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"That he doesn't know what a website is. And then when I tried to explain he seemed confused about the internet and computers and phones."

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She tilts her head for a long confused moment.

”Ohhhhh. Okay. I didn’t even think of that. He hasn’t said very much about it but we know he was isolated for a long time before we found him. I guess that extended to computers, too.”

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"I can get him a phone and show him how to get online. Then he can read Wikipedia and be less confused. Thanks!"

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“Yeah, go for it, if Liz or Dylan give you any trouble tell them I okayed it, they owe me one. Remind him not to talk about anything he sees here, though, okay? If he hasn’t been online then it probably hasn’t come up since he got here.”

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"Yeah, of course. Probably won't take much convincing anyway, he's so quiet."

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“Yeah. Poor thing.”

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"Well, we've got him now."

He gets back to work. Hopefully Mica's off doing something fun somewhere else.

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If getting poked with needles is your idea of fun, sure. Mica is still, and Mica is patient, but Mica is not comfortable and definitely not having fun.

But at least it’s better than before.

The next day, he goes looking for Vance.

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Vance is also looking for him!

"I got you a phone." Vance holds it out to him. "Let's go sit someplace and I'll show you how to use it."

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“...Okay.”

He’ll follow Vance if Vance has somewhere in mind.

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He does.

"So, first, Alyssa wanted me to remind you that anything you see here is secret. It would be bad if you let anyone you met on the internet know things about our work. You know why that is?"

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“No. But I won’t tell anyone anything.”

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"Well, that's all I need from you but you deserve to know why the rules are what they are. Or I can just get on with this and you can get online faster."

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He shifts uncertainly. It’s not a trap. It’s not a trap.

”I want to know.”

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"So the things we do here are really, really important. And they mostly involve figuring out how to make things. Mostly things that save lives, sometimes just things that make people stronger and healthier and more capable. The thing is, we spend a lot of time and money on figuring everything out. We can only afford to do that because we get paid after we're done. If we didn't, then even though all of this is important we'd have to go get other jobs pumping gas or killing people or something, just so we wouldn't starve to death. But sometimes, a company will wait and not do all that expensive work, and then spy on some other company that did do it. Then if the spies can find out about things that are almost ready, they can race us to try to finish them and sell them. Then maybe they get paid instead of us. And if that happens too many times, then we can't do this. And then people will die. And even if you don't explain how to make our stuff, maybe you say something totally innocent like 'Vance needs a rhododendron, a naked mole rat and five bottles of Evian water' and because they're really smart they figure out why it has to be that plant and that animal and that brand of bottled water. So anything you tell anyone about us could get people killed. Does that make sense?"

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He nods; his eyes are appropriately wide but that’s how they are all the time. “Can the...the internet tell people where I am?”

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"Some of them, sort of, sometimes. The people who put up websites you visit will definitely know that someone is looking at the site and what city you're in. You can use a proxy, that's where you have a third party look at the page for you and show you what it says. The most important thing is that you can tell people where you are by accident. If one day you tell them it's sunset where you are, then they can tell you're not any of the places where it isn't sunset right then. If you talk about visiting a store, they can tell you're near that store - even if you only mention big chain stores, not everywhere has every chain. And if you post pictures, they can come with metadata - that's a hidden label that says when and where the picture was taken. If you post a picture of someone who works here, someone could recognize that person. And then there's - some sites will keep records of how often the same person visits and which pages they read and which links they click, sometimes ads know who's looking at them... don't click ads, by the way."

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