Larry had proved very helpful. Had he not been with Cynthia while she was acquiring living facilities for all of her peers, she may have been refused. Yet the reinforcement of a security bot seemed convince the skeptical and allowed everything to go quite smoothly. She ran a few other errands to provide the others with the basic living needs.
Linda Aldin unwittingly paid for it all. With no trouble at all, Cynthia removed a large sum of money from Linda's account, and placed it in seven separate accounts. She knew it was traceable but as her friends needed a little extra income she had no other choice.
Cynthia watched the street now as a light rain fell. The small cafe seemed to be ignored by most who passed. The place was a small, tacky looking, themed restaurant named "Leo's Den." Even from the outside jungle sounds, birds signing, monkeys howling and lion's roaring, could be heard. She thought the place quaint, especially since no one in this half of Brazil had seen a forest in decades and what was left of the rain forest in Brazil never had any lions.
She noted there were few bots in the area and fewer middle class workers. Cynthia had been to this cafe a dozen times. Well, Linda had been there before at least and that's what Cynthia remembered. She spoke with the proprietor only a few times previously. She didn't believe herself to be on good enough terms with him to ask what she was about to.
Cynthia was afraid her current outfit might seem out of place, yet she had no other. From where she stood she saw only two customers inside and so this seemed the best opportunity. She took a deep breath. "Stay here Larry. I don't want to intimidate them too much."
She stepped inside. She approached the man named Leo who stood behind the bar and greeted her with a practiced, salesman's smile.
"Hi." She said with what she hoped was a friendly air.
"Can I help you?"
"Yes, I understand you have a small room to rent for meetings and the like. I was wondering if it's available this evening?"
He didn't seem overly enthusiastic about the possible business transaction. She wondered if she had read Leo correctly. In the past he seemed apathetic towards the government and even now to herself as a middle class worker. She decided to appeal to his sympathetic side.
"You see I'm getting married this weekend and we have a few friends we'd like to have a private dinner with and I was hoping to have you cater it."
His expression didn't change but he nodded once. "What time will you be needing it?"
Now Larry provided another guard function. Strangely Leo didn't question why there was a security bot floating outside the banquet door. It may seem unnecessary as no one but the anthropoids approached the door but he could also keep an eye on the patrons and perhaps learn something useful from them. At least that's what Cynthia hoped would happen.
The "banquet room" was at the bottom of some dark stairs and might have at one time been a wine cellar. Now it was a damp and dark hole. The few lights strewn about the place hardly penetrated the musty air. Cynthia was almost glad they weren't really having a party the atmosphere would certainly kill anyone's party mood, yet it seemed perfect for a conspiracy that was exactly what they were using it for. There was a table with a half dozen platters of food. She felt pity that it would all go to waste.
Julion arrived first as the Robonotics plant was closest. He quickly filled Cynthia in on the tedium of the day as he picked at the food. Then concluded with, "I'm a little disappointed that you let me in without caution. I hope you have something in mind to test the others."
"Well, this is a secret meeting. Suppose someone got wind of it and tries to send an impostor."
"That's ridiculous, Julion. First, they've only been out there two days. If someone wanted to impersonate them they'd have to know them much better than they could in that time and be able to create a flawless disguise. Second, how do I know you are who you say you are?"
"That's my point!" She ignored him as it was a rhetorical question.
"Third, you're right. We will create a pass code." He looked a little taken aback when she admitted he was partially correct. "Besides, why are you being paranoid all of a sudden?"
"Well, let's just say I've had to go into hiding before." She wasn't able to question him further as a light turned on in the stairway.
Cynthia allowed Julion to pull her to a dark corner of the room. A dark figure moved down the stairs cautiously. It wasn't until the person was down to the bottom of the stairs that Cynthia realized it was one of their own. She moved out from her hiding place to greet the newcomer.
Cynthia stared into the eyes of the person who looked like Alexis. Then she reached out and offered an empty hand. Alexis took it and shook it strongly. Cynthia increased the pressure in her grip to see just how much this person could take. She decided that Alexis would not bend under her pressure, thus must be the real anthropoid.
Cynthia looked to Julion with an expression she hoped he read as "there, happy now?"
Julion nodded to her, and took Alexis's hand but Cynthia noticed he didn't dare to squeeze it because she would squeeze back.
Julion said to Cynthia. "I guess you're better suited to be the welcoming committee."
Cynthia stood just out of sight of the stairway silently.
With in the next fifteen minutes all the anthropoids had walked down the stairs and passed Cynthia's initiation test. Now it was time to get down to business.
The meeting was short. First, Cynthia had handed out the keys to each apartment. Not one complained their new accommodations would not be as luxurious as that where Cynthia and Julion lived. If it was in their programming to become upset, they did not show it.
Cynthia learned there were only rumors of an underground movement with no solid evidence. Everyone of their suspects was very tightlipped and for good reason. She instructed them to continue their surveillance but to not take any action without her knowledge. If they believed it necessary, they were to contact Julion immediately. With no new business apparent Cynthia informed them they would meet again in a week at a new location.
They dispersed quickly. Larry constantly surveyed the area as he allowed everyone to pass through the door. "Any trouble?" Cynthia asked him softly.
"None, though the proprietor glanced this way often."
As they passed the man Cynthia thanked him and took hold of Julion's arm. The loving couple.
Cynthia, Julion, and Larry separated from the anthropoids. The anthropoids knew exactly where to go so their presence was not necessary.
After exercising a bit and with a small bit of a dinner, Julion retired to bed. Cynthia, though needing sleep, remained awake. She could not keep her mind off those anthropoids. Their lives would be a short one but they would make such a difference. That is if the people would listen to their message.
Her dreams had certainly come a long way from just stopping Estevez. She started to imagine the future, how it would be when a true democracy took over. A meeting of more than three people wouldn't require a basement in a rundown part of town. The working hours would no longer be ten to twelve hours, seven days a week. One could converse freely with others. There would be food enough for all and everyone would have enough money to buy it. And best of all, families would be reunited, for all breeding countries would also be free. She could only hope that Linda's parents were still alive. She would like to talk to them before it was time for her to leave the earth herself. Alas this was an ideal thought. If such a time would come Cynthia could only hope it would be half as good.
First though, they had to construct a way for the people to make it so. She spent the rest of the night outlining the course of actions they must take to bring a democracy back to the world.
Julion awoke the next morning a few hours before he had to go to work. He had noticed the light in the den on in the middle of the night but decided it would be best to leave her alone. Now though, he was a bit worried. She had not slept all night and the night before she didn't get much rest either. She may not be human but she needed her rest. Julion approached her from the front as to not startle her even though he knew she could hear better than he and would know he was coming either way. She didn't even look up from her work as Julion sat down across from her. He was unable to even glance at the datapad. When he had sat there for several minutes he finally spoke.
"I'm concerned. I haven't seen you eat or sleep in over a day."
Without looking up she responded, "I'm an anthropoid. I don't need to eat or sleep." She said flatly but there was still a hint of a mocking tone.
"Bullshit, you know that your body requires the basic elements of any normal human." He was not in any kind of mood to play games with her. His tone broke her away from the pad, if only for a moment. "Now tell me why you've been acting like this."
Her eyes drifted back down to the pad she was writing on as if she didn't even hear his question. "Cynthia," he asked as gently as possible, "what's wrong?"
When Cynthia didn't answer, he took the datapad out from under her nose and lightly took her chin in his hand and forced her to look into his light blue eyes.
"I'm sorry to have upset you." She said. "I'm just really not tired and I've been too busy to think about eating." Too busy? Perhaps she had been thinking a little too much about this business.
She stretched out her hand obviously waiting for him to place the datapad into it. He glared at her sternly unwilling to release the datapad. Finally her hand fell to the table and they sat there unmoving watching each other intently.
"I give up. Besides I've been working too hard on that anyway. Just keep the datapad." She sighed and Julion waited for her to show a sign of wishing to talk.
She finally broke down. "So tell me why did you decide to throw your whole life away and help me?" Julion knew eventually the question would come up.
"I'm not throwing my life away. I believe I'm improving upon it. Ever since I was a kid I've seen how the government's been run, and I've always thought they could do a lot better. I was in trouble a lot, never really had any friends. Sure there was the gang but they weren't really my friends, just some kids to hang around. The government there in New Zealand wasn't as strict as it is here in Brazil, but they always tried to put me to work. I had many jobs. I was either kicked out or I didn't feel like going so I didn't. The government would catch up with me and put me back to work.
"Finally they thought a change would be good and they sent me here. I've had the same job since I got here until I was transferred the other day. I didn't really like it much, I've even tried to get out of it, but they catch on quicker here."
"What about parents? Did you know them?"
He shrugged his broad shoulders. "What I did see of them, I don't remember much. My dad was a middle class manager in a flit manufacturing building. That's where I learnt about repairing them. Mom, heaven only knows what she did, probably drugs. I remember that she was always kind of spaced out. Dad never had time for me except for when he showed me how to fix the flits. There were gangs all over the city blocks. I got involved with them when I was in middle school.
"That's when all the business with the jobs came about. I became real fed up with the government, especially when they sent me to work with you. You realize that I had no intention of helping Linda infest our society with you things."
"Oh, really?" There was a hint of whimsy to her voice.
"Yeah. Now here I am helping you to pass more androids, sorry anthropoids, off as humans. Do you want to know something?"
"What?" She leaned her chin on her palms feigning interest.
"I would do it again, a million times, to screw this government over."
"What about girlfriends?"
He could understand why she'd ask about family but what real reason could she have to ask him this? He felt sure that she is attracted to him but he didn't wish to encourage her. Not after what he's been through. He decided it might be best to laugh it off. "Oh them, I've got about five going right now, but they might get in the way so I'll probably share with Audie, Jamil, and Sergio."
"I'm serious Julion. Isn't there something you wish to tell me?"
"I'm serious too. They can't keep their hands off me." He smiled warmly hoping she'd believe him.
"Okay wise guy. What about Linda?"
"What about her? She's a bitch."
"You weren't interested in her?"
Why was she asking about Linda suddenly? He wondered. "No." He put his brain to work trying to place himself in her shoes. "Wait, you're not thinking that because you're designed like her that I would betray you too?"
"Because if you're worried about that, don't. You're not her, not exactly. I don't hate you that much."
"Thanks." She sounded a bit downcast.
"I didn't mean it as an insult or anything."
"Just drop it okay."
They were silent for several minutes avoiding eye contact. This went on until Cynthia broke the silence.
"Julion, have you ever wanted something, so bad that you can taste it? Yet you know you can never have it and it's always there just beyond your grasp, but you don't give up trying for it?"
He caught on quickly. "Like this rebellion. Of course, I know just how you feel. I can see that it's really bogging you down though. Just don't give up and I promise you, we will winů" While he spoke Cynthia stood and began to pace. He wondered, exactly what it was that he had said that triggered this. "Cynthia? Are you all right?"
She looked back to him but didn't say a word. He sat there unable to think of anything to say. Slowly she stepped forward. This time her eyes did not drift from his. The moment was intense. He could tell she wanted to speak and yet nothing came out. Julion stood too now and took her by the hand.
"You're tired." He led her into her bedroom. "Get some sleep and I'll see you when I get home." He laid her down, kissed her on the forehead and walked out of the darkened room. When he shut the door behind him, he gave a deep sigh of relief. She would never realize how close she was to finding out the truth.
Julion moved quickly pushing his way through the crowd at the entrance of the Robonotics building. He reached the outskirts of the lot and was just starting towards the stairs when he saw her. The small oriental woman was unmistakable for there were no other people moving for the laboratory elevator. Julion had no where to run. He could go back and become lost in the crowd, but that would look suspicious. However, if he continued Sally might recognize him and report him then all would be lost.
He decided it was worth the risk of looking suspicious but not recognized. He quickly turned and walked swiftly, holding back the urge to run. He moved toward the center of the crowd and watched as Sally avoided the crowd entirely by walking near the back wall and towards the elevator. She occasionally glanced into the crowd as if she were looking for someone. In the end she walked into the elevator and the doors closed on her. With a sigh, he worked his way back through the crowd and up the stairs with no further incidents.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please send me any comments you might have, good or bad. Copyrighted 2008 by Christine Schnell. Go ahead and share it with others just keep my name with it.