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  • Mars Date/Time:  Year 001, Sur Two, Monday, Sol 40 (001.2.40)  13:13 NST
  • Earth Date/Time:  Thursday, 14 April 2016  2:00 PM PDT 
  • Distance traveled:  173,936,232 kilometers   Time Delay:  4 mins 18 secs
  • Distance to Mars Rendezvous:  218,473,520 kilometers

All morning Megan had been dealing with the impact of an 6.4 earthquake that hit directly under ESEP’s Kumamoto Center in Nippon. It hit after nine PM, and the Center was in night shift for the mission. Enough damage was done that it demanded an ESEP crisis team to be sent in to assist with to restore operations.

But now Megan had a few quiet moments to herself, and that wasn’t always a good thing.

“Ma’am,” Miranda tentatively said. Miranda was Megan’s new personal assistant, and she was trying to get her boss’s attention. Megan appeared to be in a trance. Miranda tried again, “Ma’am.” Megan blinked and said, “I’m sorry. What do you need?”

Megan had just experienced another flashback. This one was the glimpse she had of Emily entering the room as the assassin turned her over on the table. Emily had been totally focused on the assassin, and there was a look on her face. Emily was not scared…she was pissed. Megan had never seen Emily pissed. The assassin had no choice but to deal with Emily. The look would have frightened anyone…even a cold, professional, FSB assassin.

Miranda said, “I didn’t mean to interrupt, but I’m trying to follow through on the list of tasks that Emily had on her tablet, and I don’t know who this person is.” Megan held out her hand and said, “Let me look at.” Miranda handed her the pad.

Megan looked over the list. She was amazed. Emily’s management of Megan’s personal life was much more extensive than she was aware. Megan considered herself to be a detail person bordering on obsession, but Emily took it to a whole new level. She had no idea that Emily was consulting with ESEP top nutritional consultant, nor did she realize that Emily was arranging ‘casual’ time with Megan’s friends. Emily would suggest to Megan, that “maybe she should have dinner with so-and-so tonight,” when Emily had already scheduled it a week in advance.

Megan suddenly realized that had Emily asked her if she wanted to have dinner with a friend next week, she would have said, ‘no’ because her first priority was to be available for ESEP, and the dinner would be cancelled if any issue came up. By arranging the dinner, and then suggesting it to her on the day of the dinner, she would be more likely to do it. Emily was manipulating her, but she was brilliant in making it look like a casual idea.

As Megan looked down the list she saw the item that Miranda wasn’t sure about. It said, 

“BD present 4 Jeffrey – 4/14”

Megan didn’t recognize the name. She handed the tablet back to Miranda and said, “I don’t know who Jeffrey is…maybe she had a boyfriend.” Miranda said, “Okay, thank you,” and headed out of Megan’s office. Suddenly Megan said, “Miranda! Wait a minute.” Miranda turned and came back. Megan said, “I would have known about a boyfriend…let me check this out.”

Megan called up Emily’s file. She saw that Emily had a sister named Kelsey who lived in San Jose. The sister was married and she had a son. Without hesitation Megan called Kelsey. Megan first offered her condolences to Emily’s sister, and talked about how significant Emily was in her life, then she asked, “Is your son’s name, Jeffrey?” Kelsey answered, “Yes.” Megan then said, “Is his birthday today?” Again Kelsey said, “Yes.”

Megan then made arrangements to drop by their house when Jeffrey got out of school. On the way there, Miranda was tasked with picking up a birthday present and a cake. At three PM five SUV’s pulled up in front of Kelsey’s house, while four other SUV’s blocked the street at both ends. No one was taking any chances with Megan’s life.

Kelsey and Jeffrey, who was eleven today, came out with wide eyes. Megan followed by Miranda and the rest of her security detail, walked up to them and said, “Hi. I’m Megan.” She then looked at Jeffrey and said, “You must be Jeffrey. I had the pleasure of working with your Aunt Emily.” Jeffrey said, “Were you Aunt Em’s boss?” Megan smiled and said, “In many ways, your Aunt Em was my boss.”

They all went inside and Megan answered questions about what his Aunt did at ESEP, and about her job, and if she knew Jenna Wade. At that, Megan said, “That’s funny you should ask. She’s waiting to talk to you.” Jeffrey’s eyes got wide again and he said, “To me?” Megan said, “That’s right. Let’s give her a call.” Miranda set a laptop and Megan positioned Jeffrey beside her and spoke to the laptop, “Director Wade, we are here with Jeffrey and his Mom and we are ready for you.” Megan turned to Jeffrey and said, “It will take four minutes and eighteen seconds for her to get our message, and then another four minutes and eighteen seconds for Director Wade to reply. Why don’t we open your birthday present while we wait?”

He opened several presents including models of the ESS Sagan, and ESS Queen Elizabeth II. A little over eight minutes later, Miranda reminded Megan of the video call. Megan said to Jeffrey, “Director Wade’s message should be coming through very soon. Let’s get ready.

Seconds later Jenna appeared on the laptop and she said, “Jeffrey! It so great to meet you! I understand that today is your birthday! We wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday, so a few of us want to sing to you.” At that point, ten of the crew members came into view and they sang Happy Birthday to Jeffrey. He was bouncing up and down and his Mom was in tears.

After singing, Jenna said, “We would like to invite you and your parents for a tour of our Center in San Jose this weekend, if possible, and I would like to talk to you and your parents again. I hope you have a great birthday! Nice to meet you!”

The video message ended, and Jeffrey sent a thank you message back, showing off the gifts he’d received. Miranda then took Jeffrey out to see the SUV’s and say ‘Hi’ to the Security team. All of them knew that Jeffrey’s aunt gave her life to allow them to save Megan, and they were happy to chat with him.

Kelsey said to Megan, “Thank you, so much. Emily meant so much to Jeffrey, and her death coming so close to his birthday was devastating. He loves…loved to talk with Emily about her job and the Mars mission and he begged her to take him to work someday.”

Megan looked at Kelsey and said, “Emily sacrificed her life for me. She worked for me for about a month, and her job was to manage my life so I could focus on work, but when the moment came that someone got through my protection, she protected me like a Mama bear. I can never repay her for what she did for me, but I will do everything I can to make sure her nephew has an Aunt in his life, if you’ll let me. I owe her, and your family that much.”

Both Megan and Kelsey hugged and cried. Megan had found a way to repay her debt to Emily.