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“Speaking as a research team lead, the project staff has prerogatives both contractual and career oriented.” Arys Steinman was among the researchers gathered who had ties to the Incident. “Not only are we hired to do this thing… some of us have been looking forward to it, for our own part, in some way for possibly our entire lives. I lost a brilliant colleague to the event of the Dragon’s hatching. I didn’t do a lot of work with Hydraia, but the work we did was sound. So I understand the presence of hidden struggles.

“I believe that I’m willing to work with this Dragon, for what I and we can achieve with our collective interests in mind – with very little if any mean-mugging. Yeah, some of us are quite eager to exit a political deathtrap, but many of us are certain that the best way out is through. This has been a topic of discussion the entire time we’ve been under threat. People haven’t wanted to leave when weighing against the cost of failure. A possible traitorous designation might be different than noble injury or death at the hands of ideological nutjobs, but from here it’s a fine distinction.”

Marian Waters, marine biologist, stepped up. “I lost my military boyfriend in the catastrophe. You’d think we couldn’t recognize the Elemagnetic Generational Gyre of a dragon we’d never seen before, when we’d never even seen one before. Apparently they’re probably never the same. I ended up learning a lot about the biological side of what happened, mostly how much we didn’t know and still don’t. We were tampering with the EGG. I have more sympathy for eggs than most, despite my grief.

“With him gone, what I have is my work. This is the most important that my work has ever been – we have the Cup of Mystery within arm’s reach, and these are the kinds of things seekers of the Cup face at the point when they’re looking right at it. My babe would tell me to get it, and get it big. If we do every last thing we can do on our experiments here this time – I mean, Make It Happen – we’ll all be ready to leave the crossfire. I’ve seen it work that way, when a joint project wraps up. Suddenly, we all know we’re done. We’re almost there. From the start, we each of us decided to go under the Immeasurable Oceans for this. I’ll take all the dragons we can get.”

“For a long time, my mental faculties have been dedicated to keeping us alive down here,” smiled Arjun Woollibee, First AIDD, “since before we were down here. The tendency continues even when the topic crosses outside of my field. We just hit the pressure point where we had to make our findings publicly tradeable. The benefit and danger of that, is that we’re being protected by a collection of companies invested in results. We may inwardly defy the profit motive and yet still decide in its favor, because our lives are at stake. Not that results matter if we can’t deliver them, but right now science may be moving faster than politics, somewhere on the upward curve of an exponential function. If we can manage it, our science might even change the politics, perhaps those that would condemn us. Would that the light of our torch may dispel the shadow of danger.”

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