Three Years Ago ... "Doctor Chin." "Doctor Quill." "I -- didn't know you were going to be at this conference." "Nor I you." "I'm surprised you had the nerve." "The Saudis are reluctant to enter into extradition treaties, for their own sovereign reasons. I assumed a certain level of safety in that, despite the efforts of you and your government to brand me as a terrorist." "Their reluctance to enter into international cooperation in that way applies to a number of countries. Why this one?" "Most are too weak or poor to host such scientific luminaries as ourselves. Those that are not would pose their own threat. Russia. China. Even I do not possess the resources to remain safe within their borders." "So you're on the outs with the Chinese government again?" "The current regime favors compliance over strategic alliance. They consider me a wild card, and, in their conservatism, would prefer to hold me too tightly to their vests." "Or perhaps they prefer not to allow a murdering fiend loose within their sphere of influence." "A technicality, and a calumny, Dr. Quill. My efforts have always been for the greater benefit of mankind." "Your track record says otherwise. Destabilizing governments, development of WMDs, arming terrorist organizations, human experimentation ..." "Are your hands so clean, then, Dr. Quill?" "I serve my country, and I serve humanity, Chin. What cause do you serve?" "You serve your tribe, Dr. Quill. Your perception of humanity is filtered by what your American sensibilities consider to be human and important. Vasty ideals, corrupted by profit and orthodoxy." "Orthodoxy. You've taken the shilling of one of the great autocracies of the modern era, Chin. How much human suffering has come from that? What worthy cause have you aimed for on behalf of humanity by your own actions?" "The highest, Dr. Quill, and the most proximate. The safety and security of my daughter. ... You are silent." "That's -- perhaps the most human thing I've ever heard you say, Chin." "Yes. The one thing you can relate to, perhaps. Your love of your son -- sons -- is high on your list of personal moral values. Perhaps we are not so different as you care to believe." "You're still a madman, and the world you would create with your work is nothing that your daughter --" "I do not criticize your child-rearing practices, Dr. Quill. Have the courtesy to show me the same respect." "The best thing that could happen to your daughter would be someone to take her --" "Stop. Do not begin this, Dr. Quill. We have, so far, focused our attention on one another, and, perhaps, our respective business associates. They are legitimate targets. To bring our families into this -- dispute between us, would have most dire consequences." "I'm not afraid of anything --" "Are you not, Dr. Quill? Should I turn my full attention toward the destruction of your loved ones, or use such a threat as leverage upon you? Do you truly believe you have seen me at my most ruthless, that I have kept no restraints upon my own actions, as you have upon your own? Are you that much of a fool, Dr. Quill?" "Are you saying you've never endangered the boys? Don't make me laugh, Chin." "No more than you have endangered them, by bringing them into dangerous settings. No, I know, you have had reasons, sound or otherwise, for doing so. But they have never been my targets, any more than my daughter has been yours. You, your Mr. Byrne, the organizations and governments you consort with, even your employees -- yes, the adults, they have been fair game, as you might say. But never your children, except as, perhaps, collateral damage. ... You are silent." "Antarctica." "Yes. We even cooperated there, to rescue them both. My aide suggested a number of opportune moments to remove you and Mr. Byrne from the picture during that operation." "But you didn't." "I am not so inhuman, Dr. Quill, no matter what you might believe. My daughter's safety and happiness are paramount in my designs. Nothing that endangers her directly is to be tolerated. Nothing that would have raised the chance of failing to save her could be allowed." "And afterward?" "Afterward I will confess to such relief as to her safe recovery that it would have seemed -- petty, to seize any advantage." "Yes." "Nor did you." "The thought occurred, but ... I was just happy to get Jason back, alive." "And Mr. Byrne?" "He suggested shooting you out of the sky. But that was a day for life, not death." "Indeed." "I still don't trust you." "Save in this one thing, you would be a fool to do so." "Yes. And -- likewise." "Indeed. Then consider this a further item to trust in. I spoke of collateral damage, but would prefer to avoid even that." "I have no desire to see your daughter harmed in any way. She -- strikes me as -- and you are clearly molding her to your own twisted ideals, but she's still a child." "She would take umbrage at hearing you call her that, but in this rare thing, I agree with you. Your son, sons, too, are but children. They do not understand the stakes we play for. They see the conflict in black and white, a morality play like that cartoon you so foolishly agreed to. They have the passion of youth, not the understand of the gray spaces of the world that you and I share." "Kids in a school yard, shouting at each other over who's the better candidate for President because that's who their parents are voting for." "Precisely." "Though I clearly believe that my position is the right one." "As do I, and I trust to my daughter's wisdom to accept that once she is old enough to make that decision. But even I do not assume her doing so now constitutes an informed consent to the risks of my lifestyle and actions. "No. Jason and Amir -- they're good boys. Obedient. They'd espouse my views out of loyalty, whether they understood them or not." "Though your children -- and even more so my daughter -- are far more intelligent than I think even we give them credit for. Their willingness to blindly obey may come to an end sooner than we might think. Then, if we have done our jobs well, they can make informed choices. And ones we can be proud of, whether we agree with them or not." "I'm sure the boys will make the right choice." "So you have found a way to defy the greatest force in nature? Teen rebellion? Even your own father could not manage that. Perhaps you are a greater genius than I knew." "The truth always triumphs, Chin." "And people accuse me of talking in platitudes. Your view of the truth is no guarantor that your children will hold the same opinion." "And if your Alycia turns against you? Will you treat her like you would a disobedient servant?" "I will do what is necessary." "You'd actually attack your own daughter?" "Would you do any less if your sons became disciples of my path, Dr. Quill? But, no, not attack her. I would simply ... cut her off. She knows much about my operations, but not so much that I could not shut her out, close down the bases she knows of, cut off her system access. She would want for nothing, but shoe would not be in a position to be able to harm my plans. And you?" "Should Jason -- or Amir -- turn against me? So long as they did nothing illegal, that would be their choice to walk away. If they did break the law -- well, justice would need to take its course." "You are a harder taskmaster than I am, Dr. Quill." "Perhaps. What's so funny?" "An amusing thought, nothing more. Perhaps all our children will turn against all of us. They would be a formidable force on their own." "It won't come to that. But --" "Yes?" "If Alycia were to come to me, I would take her in." "It seems highly unlikely, Dr. Quill. But I would extend the same courtesy to your Jason or Amir." "Unlikely indeed. Chin -- perhaps --" "Yes?" "Perhaps the playing field, if you will, needs to be cleared more intentionally." "Go on." "Sooner or later, if we continue bringing our children out on these missions, one of them is going to get hurt. Not by our intent, but --" "And, at some point in the future, they will be able to make their own choices. And teen rebellion aside, it is most likely they will continue our battle. And even if they do so willingly and of an age --" "That still can't be allowed. If I were to lose Jason, or Amir ..." "Or Alycia. So. What do you suggest?" "We -- wean them away from our operations. I've been thinking that Jason should learn to lead a more normal life. Perhaps I could send him off to school, in Halcyon, most likely." "And the other one?" "Amir? He's talked about joining the military. Perhaps, after Jason has settled down, I can work out something there, too. I can't do it at the same time -- they'd catch on." "Indeed. I, too, have considered a more cosmopolitan education for Alycia before. This life -- it is not without rewards, and the joy of the struggle is always worth the pain, but it is not a natural one for a young person. I have treasured our years together, but perhaps it is time my daughter had a chance to taste a more normal life, have friends, perhaps meet a young man ... you laugh?" "I was thinking it was time Jason had a chance to meet a young lady." "So. We shall have to take care, then, that they do not attend the same school." "Amen." "You realize, Dr. Quill, that this changes nothing between us." "Of course. I will oppose you, Chin, and your efforts, and your bloody, destructive plans, with every breath of my body." "And I will strive to tear down the unholy world order you have labored so hard to erect and impose upon an unwilling globe, Dr. Quill, for as long as I live." "I wouldn't have it any other way, Chin." "Nor I." "I'm late for my next session. Contraterrene Matter and Chronometric Distortion Patterns at Olympus Mons. Dr. Bilderbeck seems to have made a serious breakthrough." "And I am late for a meeting with the Pakistani ambassador. He is a difficult customer, but, I suspect, an ultimately rewarding one." "I won't keep you any longer, then." "Very well. Good day, Dr. Quill." "Good day to you, Dr. Chin ... and thank you." "Of course. I am an enemy, Dr. Quill, not a monster." "I don't know about that. The things you've done, have tried to do, qualify as monstrous. But I know you're also a father. And ... well, thank you." "My thanks to you, as well. You represent all that I despise about your country and its hegemony over the people of the world. But you, too, are a father. It will be ... a comfort to remember that." "Perhaps that will help keep us from becoming worse than monsters." "Perhaps. Ah, I see your partner approaching. I will go now." "Your bodyguard just showed up, too, by the revolving doors, giving me the hairy eyeball. Until next time, Dr. Chin." "Until next time, Dr. Quill."