Even before she opened her eyes, she recognized the familiar feel of her dream library. That was good, as she had a lot to talk to her familiar about. She pushed her head off of the downstairs table as she opened her eyes, her expression of relief changing to confusion as she looked around the room. This wasn't right at all.
A familiar voice came from behind her. "Epsilon. Don't be afraid."
Despite the familiarity, she was still startled as she turned, relaxing only once she fully recognized the speaker.
"Nothing. It just changed, you know it can do that." He stepped from the shadowy corner, moving towards her.
"Yes, but those were little things, like a carpet or a table. This isn't even the same place, just look at it!"
She nodded. That night had certainly been traumatic enough. "That makes sense. It's just strange, being someplace that's so familiar, and yet so strange. Oh, I almost forgot. Thank you for taking care of Omicron, when I wasn't there."
Gregory inclined his head to her. "I couldn't very well leave him there. He never would have thought of the catacombs on his own. I'm just glad I was right, that the spirits there would take care of him. You might want to have a word with him about forgetting me down there, though."
Epsilon's jaw dropped, then she nervously giggled, quickly stifling the sound. "He never mentioned that! That's so like him, though. I'm sorry."
"Don't be. I got back safely on my own. Now, what's troubling you? You never dream unless you're troubled about something."
She opened her mouth to protest, then shut it, realizing what he said was true. And something was troubling her. "If I could help people who were in trouble, with the attacks and everything, do I have to do it? Even if it means abandoning the dreams I've had since I was a kid?"
Epsilon sighed. "You know what I meant. Do I have to, ethically? I don't want to, I really don't, but then I think about it and that just feels selfish. What if I could make a difference? If somebody dies because I didn't help, is that blood on my hands?"
"It sounds to me like you already know the answer to that."
As usual, he was right. She knew she could help. What the businessman had said, that she had a "brilliant mind," was true. She could comprehend the research, and move it forward. And it would be wrong not to, in a way, but didn't her own desires matter at all? Wasn't there an entire school of philosophy that said that sacrificing one for the good of many was morally wrong? She didn't know, philosophy had never been her thing. All she knew was that it felt selfish.
"I know." She smiled weakly. "Thanks."
He smiled back, waving her compliment away with a hand, then glanced to the right. "That's a curious painting. Do you know that woman?"
Epsilon looked over. "No I've never-" she stopped, frowning. That wasn't true, the woman in the painting was incredibly familiar. But why? Epsilon was sure that she'd never seen her before. "Wait." She stepped over for a closer look.
"Her portrait appeared in your dream realm, that doesn't happen by chance. Or, I should say, I've never heard of it happening by chance. I suppose there is a first time for everything."
"It's unlikely. I just wish I could remember."
The room fell silent as they regarded the solitary portrait. Who was the woman, and why had it appeared now?
When Epsilon knocked on the door to Alpha's house, she found it to be ajar. Worried, she pushed it open, and was greeted by the sight of one of her nieces waving up to her from the living room floor. She stepped over and picked up the toddler. "Hey, Marsha. What's going on? Where's your mommy?" Of course, she didn't know how to talk yet, so she couldn't answer that question. Epsilon tickled her, prompting the little girl to giggle happily.
"The door was ajar," she said, pointing to it. "Probably a bad idea, with toddlers and all."
"Oh, my god." Alpha frowned. "I swear I'm going to kill Allen. He keeps doing that! I'll break up with him if he doesn't get it together, and learn to shut the door when he leaves."
Epsilon put Marsha down on the floor, then greeted her half-sister with a hug.
"Me too," Epsilon said. "But it's everybody else that I'm worried about."
"What do you mean?"
"Let's say, hypothetically, that I had a job offer. Something that could save lives. Am I selfish for declining that offer, and pursuing my own goals instead?"
"The technology that saved my life. I have a chance to work with it, and develop it. The girl whose project it was died that night, but there's at least one company that's willing to fund the research, and I've been offered a position on the team. But it would mean abandoning medical school, everything I've been working towards since high school started."
"And yet," Alpha prompted, looking into her sister's eyes.
"...and yet," Epsilon finished for her, "it could save lives. So I don't know what to do."
Epsilon nodded. "A little. I know I'm not like him, not inside, but that was always his thing. He put himself over everybody else, even his children. Hell, he pretty much left you to raise Omicron and me, sacrificing your own future."
"My future wasn't sacrificed," Alpha said, gesturing around the room. "I've got it here. I don't regret anything, and don't think that you owe me one just because I helped to raise you. Everything has worked out in my life, even Niki and Marsha. I didn't necessarily want to be a mom so fast, especially a single mom after Mason died, but it got me out of the military, with the best timing possible. They've been calling in the reserves, I don't know if you heard. But since I have the twins, I don't have to report."
"I know. I don't really know what to say for your situation, other than don't be Dad. If you feel that you have to do this in order to not follow in his footsteps, then maybe you should. You know your own feelings better than I do. Do whatever feels right."
Back home, Epsilon stood in the empty kitchen, staring at her phone. To call, or not to call? Shadow and Epsilon were both right - she knew what she should do. She just had to work up the nerve to do it. Before she had a chance to second-guess herself, she punched in the number, holding the phone to her ear.
~ * ~
So, about the library. I accidentally deleted the save that had the library set in it, and didn't want to reconstruct it because it wouldn't look right. So I just started over. Gregory had to be remade as well - I thought I'd had him saved in the CAS library, but that was actually Shadow the cat, not Shadow the wizard. So I did the best I could, please just ignore minor inconsistencies. And yes, the change is plot-relevant, because I WILL make the best of my mistakes damn it!
New library, new song. A little more heavy mystery and a little less childish wonder suits grown-up Epsilon and the new library. Check out that guy's youtube channel if you like the new song, I've enjoyed writing to a couple of his compositions since I discovered it. Song titles are a bit over the top(I think english isn't his first language), but the music's beautiful.
Alpha's kids are adorable, even if she has a bit of a problem with getting knocked up and then staging shotgun weddings(she has another kid on the way in my game). I hope Epsilon's smarter than that. This being a legacy, though, birth control is naturally less than effective. ;)
I would just like to say that I have four different plot lines working their way out this generation(yes, four - I worked it out during a particularly simplistic example that the professor spent way too long on during my mathematical modeling class today). Two are sort of the same plot, but as seen by two different groups of people, therefore requiring two plots worth of screen time. Expect this generation to be long and complicated, but I figure you guys are overdue for some answers, and I can't just keep spawning antagonists. At some point, I have to take at least a few of them down. I'm not sure yet if this generation will be that point, but it's at least setting the groundwork for the eventual victory.