“What does it say?” she asked.
“It’s a power of attorney that gives the company the ability to act on your behalf during the transfer of ownership. It is also a non-disclosure agreement that says you will discuss nothing you learn in your new capacity as interim CEO until you have received final approval from the board.”
Lily signed the documents by keying in her access code and placing her palm on the display.
“What's next?” she asked.
Bruce examined the signed documents and tapped several times on the display.
“I will let your father take it from here,” he said, sliding the iScroll in front of Lily. “I am going to step out while you watch this. Push play when you are ready and call me back in when you're finished.”
Dylan stood and walked to the kitchen door. “This way, you can use my office.”
“Thanks.” Bruce picked up his briefcase and followed Dylan to the study.
Dylan returned and sat next to Lily she he could see the display. Evan was sitting on his office desk with his hands crossed loosely in front of him.
Lily started the video.
“Hi, sweetheart. I wish I was there with you and I am sorry I can't be with you to help you through what comes next.”
Evan stood up and walked toward the camera. “But you are strong and I am confident that you will see things through.”
He paced back and forth in front of his desk. “I'm ashamed to admit it but I've been keeping a secret from you. I didn't have a choice. You should have known, but I was afraid of what you'd say…of how you might feel.”
Evan stared at the camera. “Your mother wasn't cremated…her body is in cryogenic suspension and, since you are watching this, so am I.”
After dropping that bombshell, Evan went on to explain that there was a secret division of Telogene that reported to him with little, if any, board oversight. He called it "Project Second Chance" and its purpose was to identify and develop mechanisms to preserve human DNA indefinitely. Over the last three years, the team had significantly improved Telogene’s cryogenic suspension technology—and it was now possible to freeze human tissue without deterioration or damage.
Evan briefly reviewed the backgrounds of the key personnel before sharing details on the various locations involved. The main research lab was in Hong Kong but a network of limestone caves near Kansas City served as the primary cold-storage site. There was an air of pride in his voice as he described the storage facility's geothermal power source, which he expected would generate power for hundreds—if not thousands—of years.
He concluded with an explanation of his goal for Project Second Chance.
“By now you will have figured out that preserving DNA is only the beginning. That technology has important ramifications for medical science and I envision a day not too far off when we will take a sample of every person's DNA at birth, preserve it and use it to sequence genetically targeted cures for all kinds of diseases. Heck, we can use it to clone whole new body parts if we need to.”
He resumed pacing.
“And if we can create parts, then there is no reason we can't create entire bodies. Of course, cloning a body is just creating another person. They may have the same genes but they would have their own brains and would develop as unique individuals as they matured—like identical twins.”
Evan stopped mid-stride and leaned against his desk.
“Ethical issues aside, what I am really interested in is extending human life and perhaps even...”
Lily paused the video.
She knew where her dad was going and she wasn't sure if she wanted to hear it. Dylan, to his credit, didn't say a word. He took her hand in his and gave it a tight squeeze.
Lily tapped Resume.
“...the complete elimination of death. That wasn't my main goal five years ago when I started this project but it became my goal when your mother died. She left us too soon, and she had so much more to offer the world.”
He walked around his desk and sat in an oversized brown leather chair; taking a deep breath before he continued.
“We are also working on preserving the brain. Not only the tissues but the knowledge and memories locked inside them. If we can make it work, we will give new lives to the hundreds of thousands of people who live with perfectly healthy brains trapped inside diseased or broken bodies. Or who are being slowly killed by their own bodies—like I am.”
Evan clasped his hands together as if in prayer. “I want you to promise me you will continue this work. I believe you have what it takes and I am confident that the team will make the breakthroughs needed to make this technology viable under your leadership.”
Her father stood up from his chair and walked around his desk toward the camera. “Lily, I want you to promise me you will bring us back. Give your mother and me a chance to see our grandchildren grow-up. We both worked too hard for too long and we deserve to see what comes from our life's work. This is a big ask and you will probably need time to think about it—I understand. Just know I love you and I believe in you. Bruce is a good friend and trusted confidant. He will help you if you let him. Goodbye, Lilypad, I miss you already.”
Lily took her hand from Dylan's, wiped her eyes and stood. She walked over to the kitchen door, took a deep breath and called down the hallway.
“We're ready for you Mr. Wagner.”
Bruce returned to the kitchen and took his seat at the table.
“So, what do you think?” he asked.
Lily's face turned red as her anger overwhelmed her.
“I don't think much of it all, Mr. Wagner,” she answered. “In the last twenty minutes, I've learned that my dad died, that he's a liar and that my mom's remains are in some freezer a hundred feet underground. Oh and let’s not forget that my dad thinks he is God and can bring people back from the dead. Even worse, he wants me to promise to carry out this mad scheme of his...which I guess means he thinks I am God too! Honestly, I am tempted to resign right now.”
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