No Good Deed
Copyright© 2019 by Lumpy
Celia hung out for a few more hours, and I found I really did like her, now that she was not working on getting her next fix. I can see the girl that Megan became friends with, and why she stuck her neck out for her. By the time she left to head back to school, I was over my funk about being left behind by the girls.
I was looking forward to welcoming them back when I heard their car pull up to the house, but stopped as I opened the front door, surprised to see a second car following behind them. As they got out, Jonathan and Colonel Ron, who we’d hired to be our liaison with MilTech, got out of the second car. I hadn’t seen Ron since he’d left the Air Force and I’d offered him the job, which wasn’t surprising considering he was normally based out of MilTech’s offices,.
Ron had missed the round of changes the girls had done to office personnel because of that, and wasn’t in the know about our unusual family structure. Because of that, the girls just waved and went into the house, keeping the public displays of affection to a minimum in front of other people.
Jawarski veered away from the group and fell in behind me as I headed to intercept Jonathan and Ron, hand outstretched.
“I’m surprised to see you guys here,” I said, shaking their hands.
“I had some stuff to finish up here in town, and Ron heard you were on lockdown and asked if he could tag along.”
“Really? You’re going to be stuck here for the rest of the weekend?”
“No,” Ron said. “Jonathan needed to pick up his wife’s car, so I’m dropping him off at the garage they’re storing it at, and I’ll drive this car back tonight. I’d heard you were ... uhhh, grounded, and figured this was my best way of getting a few minutes to talk to you. I already spoke to Ted and Marcus, but both of them said I should talk to you, too.”
I could image that, from his perspective, it was still weird to report to a kid decades younger, especially when other adults suggested he talk to the kid about whatever it is he needed. To his credit, he rolled with it pretty well, probably because he saw everyone else doing the same thing.
“It’s a long drive for you back if you’re going tonight, so let’s go ahead and get to it then.”
I led the two men, trailed by Jawarski into the dining room. The house had everyone back in it now, and we were crowded enough that it was the only room where we’d be able to have a conversation.
“So, what’s up?” I asked as we sat down.
“Since you mentioned our new battery to Aaron, he’s been asking questions. We’ve been looking to see if our product would work in any of their systems, and sounding out the various branches for interest in it. While MilTech themselves didn’t have a use for it; after a few talks, the Army is very interested for some of their mobile command units. Currently, they’re running their portable units off of either diesel generators or what is basically a car battery. They like how much more lightweight ours is, and its storage capacity. I know we have that test with NASA coming up next week, so they can look at your newest prototype. They want to have a rep - and a MilTech rep, I guess - present to see it.”
“So we’re going to test it with them, but MilTech is still going to handle the sale and take their cut,” I asked skeptically.
“They’ll still be doing all the legwork, Cas,” Jonathan said. “They’ll also do the production for the Army version, if we do move forward with the contract, out of their facility. Which means the auditors from the Army would go to their facilities and not ours. I actually thought it might be a plus to have them handle any NASA contract we may get as well. There are standards government entities require, that we aren’t set up for.”
Jonathan was very careful to add that last sentence to his statement, but I read through what he was saying, and he was right. Having inspectors inside our facilities was something we’d rather avoid. While Destiny, Inc. didn’t have any connection to studying or information on my unique biology, every step closer to us was one step closer to a larger entity learning the truth. It was one of the main reasons we separated out Alex and Mom’s project, since they were directly working with it. Jonathan, as with most lawyers, was fairly careful. So I knew he preferred to keep things as removed as possible. In this case, I couldn’t agree more.
“Hmm,” is all I said, digesting it.
“I actually agree with Jonathan here. It’s not just the government contracts. You’re not set up for larger scale production. All of your facilities are nice, but they’re pretty much all geared up for prototype construction. You’d need something significantly larger, and it’d have to be tooled completely differently. Your workforce would also have to be expanded. Since we are talking about proprietary tech, some parts of which will be licensed by the government, we can’t just hand it off to some outsourced manufacturer, and we definitely can’t have it produced overseas.”
“So you think it should go beyond just anything purchased by the Army?”
“Yes, I do. I’ve seen a lot of military contractors, and some commercial ones, while I was doing procurement for the Air Force. I can say MilTech’s setup is top notch. You’ve also apparently sold Aaron pretty hard on yourself. That guy thinks you walk on water, and everything I see says he’ll deal honestly with us. Considering everything, I don’t think I’ve seen a better manufacturing partnership.”
“Do they have the scale to manufacture for us if we go outside of government contracts?”
“Non-military contracts, yes. Non-government contracts, maybe not, but we can work with them at that point. We don’t actually know where we’re going to go with these, anyway. If we do end up making a commercial option (which is going to be harder than you think if we also have government contracts on the same product), we can make a change, then. It gives us some time at least.”
“I hadn’t considered that. Do you think the government would block us selling the battery outside of the military or groups like NASA?”
“Quite possibly. If they think it gives the Army a military advantage, they might decide it’s strategically important and classify it.”
“What does that mean for us?”
“If it does become classified, it makes it harder for us to sell, but it also makes it worth more to those who can buy it, and we’ll be able to charge more for it. Either way, it’ll work out well for us.”
“Well, you’ve certainly thought this all through. If Ted, Marcus, and Jonathan don’t have a problem with it, then count me in, too.”
“Great. I’ve gotta get heading back. On the drive here I thought of a few more things I wanted to talk to Douglass about before I make a call to the guys over at MilTech,” Ron said, standing up and stretching out his hand, which I shook.
“I’ll meet you out there in a second, there was something I needed to mention to Caspian real quick.”
“Sure,” he said and gave another smile before heading out of my office.
“I got a call from Ronald, he’s out at the new desalinization plant. He thinks they are nearing one-hundred percent, but asked if it is possible for you and Ted to make a trip out there sometime this summer. Apparently, you’ve won over several of the officials, and to them, this kind of thing isn’t official until the boss on one side comes by and breaks bread, or whatever, with the boss on the other.”
“If it’s this summer, I don’t see why not. I’ll have to clear it through Mom, but I think we can arrange something.”
“Good. You talk to her, and I’ll let Ronald know to tell them it’s in the works.”
That night I explained everything to Mom, and she also didn’t see a problem with it. The next week went by fast, since after that it was spring break, and the school year was winding down. The more I thought about it, the better I liked the idea of graduating early. I didn’t particularly have anything against school, really; I just had so many things going on, that having the bulk of every week taken up by school, made everything more complicated. I wouldn’t say it out loud normally, but I’d realized that there was very little school could teach me at this point. Not that the teachers were incapable of teaching me something new, just that the school system wasn’t set up for people like me and the girls. Of course, considering we were some kind of step forward in evolution, there wasn’t any reason they should be set up for it.
In the short term though, the prepping for testing out of two years of school was one more thing to juggle. The main issue was that, while our ability to retain information and work problems was exceptional, these tests weren’t designed to show capability or readiness. They were designed to meet specific lists of things the student was expected to know. It was more a test to memorize requirement lists than a sort of actual knowledge, but that’s what you get when you design a test by committee. Especially when that committee isn’t made up of teachers.
Since we had friends coming, Mom convinced me to treat spring break as a vacation, letting Ted and Jonathan handle things. I wasn’t crazy about that, since I’d already been pushing a lot of things on them since the offices moved. Ted reminded me that he’d been running a business all by himself before I came around, but I was the one determined to change the world, it taught me that I had to then pass that off on someone else. The girls had the same problem, but they’d always planned on having a manager run the center. There were also four of them although Tami had made it clear she was a supporting member of the team.
So our first day off of school found me and the girls at home studying when we heard a car pull into the driveway. We all set down our books and rushed towards the front door, only to come to a nearly crashing halt when Jawarski blocked the doorway to the front hall.
“If you think you’re just going to run outside at the sound of a car, you’ve got another thing coming.”
“But it’s just Charlie and Sandy,” Zoe said.
“Sure, and it was just Judy the last time, and look what happened. You can live with the extra two minutes waiting for them to come to the door.”
Zoe looked annoyed but didn’t say anything. A minute later the doorbell rang, and Jawarski pulled the door open. Standing on the other side was Charlie and Sandy. They both eyed Jawarski nervously as she stepped out of the way to let them in, her eyes looking at each of them in turn.
“This is Beth Jawarski, she’s in charge of our security, and she takes it really seriously.”
“Why do you need security? It isn’t anything from last summer, is it?” Charlie asked.
Jawarski looked over at me, an eyebrow raised.
“We had some trouble in Mexico during our summer vacation,” I explained to her, before looking at our guests. “No, it’s nothing like that. Those gangs don’t operate outside of the city they’re in, let alone into the US. She’s here because of other issues.”
“Going around rescuing too many people, making too many enemies?” Charlie said with a grin.
“You’re not that far off,” Vicki said under her breath.
“Don’t worry, you guys will be safe. It’s just a precaution. We’re overcautious.”
“Let’s stop standing in the hall,” Zoe said. “Let’s drop your bags in the room you’ll be staying in, and then we can catch up.”
She led them up the stairs to the room we’d set aside for Tami, but had cleaned out so they could use it.
“Where’s Eddie?” I asked.
Charlie shrugged and said, “He couldn’t get away. He’s started volunteering for a shelter out there, and since a lot of their volunteers are college kids, they are short-staffed this week. He agreed to stick around and help out.”
“Good for him,” Tami said.
“What about you two? You were pretty gung-ho about volunteering last time we saw you.”
“We volunteer there, too,” Sandy said. “But Zoe’s been telling me about the center as it was getting set up, and I’m excited to see it. Plus, she mentioned that, maybe, we could do something like that.”
I looked over at Zoe, who read my expression and shrugged and said, “It’s a good idea. What we want to do isn’t going to happen with one center. We’re going to need a bunch of them if we’re going to make it work.”
“It’s not a bad idea, but maybe we should talk about it first?”
“That’s what I’m doing now,” she said with a smile, as Charlie and Sandy dropped their stuff in their room.
I just rolled my eyes.
“Are you two hungry? Maybe we can get you something to eat while we talk about Zoe’s idea.”
“I could eat,” Charlie said.
As we all trudged down to the kitchen, I turned to Zoe and asked, “So what were your thoughts?”
“I hadn’t gotten much beyond, ‘we’re going to have to expand at some point.’ I thought that when we do, it’ll be good to have people we know and trust out there running things, or at least as eyes on the ground.”
“From the way you sounded, I’m guessing you two are hoping this happens sooner, rather than ‘at some point.’”
“I mean, I hadn’t thought about it,” Sandy said, “but yeah.”
“Ok. I agree with Zoe, actually. It’s a pretty good idea. But there are some hurdles we’re going to have to face.”
“We’re going to need funding,” Zoe said as we got to the kitchen.