Audie walked out of the building and into the rain. He didn't mind it though. In his youth (the one programed into his memory) he had fought in rain, snow and so much more. It was just another element of nature he had learned to conquer. He noticed Jamil walking with a small, strange looking Brazilian. Falling in behind, he listened to their conversation. It seemed the Brazilian whom Jamil called Pedro did all the talking. "So, I have considered your words and have done some talking to a friend of mine."
"You had nothing negative to say I hope?" Jamil said flatly.
"No, actually he would like to meet with you." Pedro kept facing forward keeping his voice neutral. A drop of water slid from Audie's matted hair down off the end of his nose.
"Next week. I can't give you the details here and now. Meet me tomorrow after work at my apartment. It is number 23 at the Farlo complex." He looked quickly behind him and back to Jamil. "And bring your friend." He broke away from Jamil and walked out of the crowd.
Jamil stopped and looked behind him. Audie continued to walk and joined him. "You heard?"
"Of course. I assume that invitation was being extended to me."
Jamil nodded slowly. "I believe so, because I'll need someone to be there in case there's trouble."
"Let's hope there isn't."
Cynthia had returned home an hour previously. It was some time after Julion should have arrived home. It was strange for him not show on time. He had not mentioned a meeting that may run late.
She now worried that his paranoia was correct. She assured him all this time that he was just being silly. She told him the bots occasionally picked people at random to follow but for only a short time and nothing hardly came of it. Now, with him being this late, and knowing that he had to be there when they have the meeting later that night, something must be wrong. She decided do something to know for sure before she took any rash actions.
She paced a few more steps before he entered the room. Quickly he floated in stopping just in front of her. "Yes, Cynthia."
"Do me a favor, Larry. Julion still isn't home. Go out and see if you can find him. I'll go to the apartments and see if any of our friends have heard anything."
"You think something has happened?"
"I have my fears, but I want to be sure before I confront the Boss."
"You don't believe that the Boss has captured him?"
"I'm afraid so."
"Then let's not waste time."
Cynthia had gone through three of the five android's homes. She warned them of the impending danger. Each was eager to help in the search for Julion, but she knew it would be useless. She assured them, however, that when it came time to liberate him from whatever mess he had gotten himself into, they would be a vital part of the effort. Now she approached Audie's door. She knocked and it was only a moment before he answered. "Ah, Cynthia I was just getting ready to come see you."
"I'm sorry Audie but there's no time. Julion is missing. Have you seen him at all today?" Cynthia was dripping with water.
"No, I haven't. Do you need help finding him?"
"Just stay put. I'll come by later and let you know if it is safe to go to work tomorrow. However, after talking to Sergio, I think we should be very careful. There was a bit of an outburst at the Robonotics plant today."
Audie acted a little surprised. "I have to go to work tomorrow."
"Why?" Cynthia really believed that the androids were in danger of being compromised.
"Please come inside and I will tell you of a development." She did so and sat patiently as he recalled what Pedro had said.
When he finished, she nodded her head and stood to leave. "Only because of recent events am I allowing you to go through with this. We may need help rather quickly and if this friend of Jamil's can provide it, we will be grateful. However, I want you to take all necessary precautions. You and Jamil are going in this alone, and I don't want to lose you because of a mistake like this. Report back to me immediately after your meeting and good luck." She went back into the rain.
"Yes sir." Audie stood stiff and tall and nearly saluted. Cynthia merely shook her head and walked on.
Larry moved silently around the Robonotics plant. Being a security bot had advantages. Most other bots did not question his presence. Once inside the plant the security seemed somewhat relaxed where bots were concerned.
Using the security protocols Julion had programmed into him, he mimicked a security bot on patrol and had been through most of the plant not hearing a word about Julion. He attempted to go to the android laboratory but was denied clearance to the elevator.
Larry was just moving toward the manufacturing area when he heard a voice he distinctly identified as the Boss, the other, he recalled as the security chief whom he had scanned before. He maintained an inconspicuous pace behind them. Increasing the gain on his recording microphone he could hear their every word.
"We need to keep him somewhere where she believes she can get to him and help him escape."
"What about in the plant itself?"
The Boss snorted. "She wouldn't step foot in here herself. She's not that brave. And after what happened in the break room last night, it would not be wise to allow someone like her, who could encourage the people to cause trouble, in here. No, someplace that's accessible and easy for her to find but still secure." The Boss walked silently for a moment. "A friend of mine on the Council who owes me a favor has a summer home here in Brasília. Prepare twenty-five bots armed heavily. I want you to personally oversee the transfer."
The security man nodded. "It is believed that the androids can easily defeat several bots at a time. Do you think twenty-five bots will be enough?"
"You will place half of the bots in various places around the house. The rest will be to guard Julion himself." Estevez said. "However, knowing my friend as I do, he is immensely paranoid, so I imagine his house will have an impenetrable security system."
"He wouldn't be offended if I add some of my own, would he?"
"I'm fairly certain you will find his quite satisfactory." They stopped near the door to the Boss's office. "Go and make the arrangements. I will contact my friend and we will begin the transfer around eleven tonight."
Larry quickly left the plant and went to find Cynthia. It was nearly ten p.m. now, and he knew it would be difficult to round up all the androids to make an attack before they transferred Julion over. It sounded too dangerous to attack this house Julion would be imprisoned in.
Larry rushed straight back to their home. He believed Cynthia would be home and when he found she was not, he became somewhat concerned. He was beginning to go out to look for her when he saw her coming from the direction of the manager's office.
She did not appear to be in a good mood. Once inside the house he quickly informed her of what he had overheard. She began shaking her head halfway through his report.
"We have less than a half hour before the transfer would take place, and if all twenty-five bots were going at the same time, I don't see how we could free Julion.
"We can not help him yet." She told Larry.
"We must help him now, before they reach the house." He thought perhaps his message was not clear. "We don't even know the location of the house. By the sound of it, we would need an army to break in."
"That is exactly what I'm working on as we speak. I had left an anonymous message for Adora to meet me at Leo's Den at two a.m. If she really is related to a rebellion, she may be able to help, especially if Audie and Jamil's contact falls through."
"Are you sure that is wise?" He was concerned that if they miss this opportunity than Julion may be lost forever.
"If you would have asked me a couple of days ago I would have said yes. Now? I just don't know anymore. I can't be so sure of myself after letting Julion be captured." She sat down. Larry noted she appeared fatigued. He would always be a medical bot at heart.
"Is that the reason for your foul mood?" Larry asked.
Cynthia smiled and Larry took it as a good sign and since she had not yet answered he was hoping to aid her further in losing her bad mood. "You seem to have suddenly brightened up. May I inquire what brought about this sudden change so I may add to your happiness?"
"Yeah, stop being so polite." Larry couldn't process a proper response before she added. "Listen I have much to do before my meeting tonight. Do me a favor and keep your sensors on the manager's office as much as possible. Let me know if anything out of the ordinary goes on." With that she took her datapad and left Larry alone in the room.
Julion knew something must be wrong. He believed Cynthia must have figured out by now that he'd been captured. She surely would have acted by now.
They had flown for over an hour with no rescue attempt. Now they were at some large house. He feared she would not find him here. He wondered why she had not tried to save him. He would not believe he'd been wrong about her. She should at least have tried. What if she had and already failed without him knowing?
Julion had little hope for his future as they dragged him down a set of stairs and up another. By the time they zigzagged through the house, Julion had lost all sense of direction. Had there been any windows in the rooms that they had passed through, he could tell which way was north by the position of the stars.
After several minutes in a long shadowy hallway, they came to a stop in front of a pair of doors. The security chief ushered him inside. Estevez greeted him there.
Had Julion not been surrounded by twenty-some bots he would have jumped and tried to kill the Boss with his own hands. Even with the bots breathing down his neck, he contemplated just how fast he would have to move before any of the bots responded. Knowing the odds, he paused and glared waiting for Estevez to make the first move.
Estevez must have noticed his tension for he gestured to Julion to take a seat in a rather menacing contraption. It was mostly wood with a high back and some sort of straps on the arms and legs of the chair. Julion really didn't want to move anywhere near the thing, but the security chief pushed him straight towards it. Slowly, with a deathly stare pointed straight at Estevez, Julion sat. The security guard quickly went over and connected the metal bands across Julion's wrists and ankles. He attached small pads with wires to his bare skin on his arms, legs, chest, and forehead. Then the guard went over and stood next to a small panel on the wall.
Smiling Estevez stood before Julion. "There. Comfortable now?" He didn't let Julion answer, for he went on with his explanation. "You should feel privileged to be sitting in the last of the electrocution devices used in the twenty-first century before capital punishment was foolishly done away with."
"I thought you were the government."
Estevez appeared to consider it when a wide grin spread across his face. "You're right. Oh well, I'm sure the others wouldn't disapprove.
"You'll be unhappy to know that your death is certain. You're only alive to be bait. The moment she enters this room, they have orders to kill you. Even if they somehow manage to get past the bots, they can not save you. You see after I turn on this wonderful device, it will constantly measure your weight. If it changes by ten pounds, it will send a current through your body, upwards of ten amps. The same is true if your wrist or ankle cuffs are tampered with in anyway.
"Oh, and while the switch on the panel turns it on, it is inoperative after that. The off switch is purely under my control. Not that I would use it, mind you.
"I suppose someone would have to use it to get your melted carcass out of the chair, but you don't need to worry about that. So I will leave you in the capable hands of my security chief and await the arrival of your android friend. Good bye, Mr. Montclair."
He walked towards the door and just as if he was flipping a light switch on his way out he turned on the device. Julion and the security chief's eyes met. The chief just shrugged and smiled.
The restaurant was nearly empty, and to Cynthia that was not a good thing. She wanted to mix into a crowd. She did not want sit alone without anyone to hide behind. She ate here often enough to know the menu and that it was nearly always busier than this, even this late at night.
It worried her somewhat, but not enough to call off the meeting. She believed that she would be safe here. She overheard Leo earlier saying that the security bots had already been by and would not return this night.
Since she couldn't control the events leading up to this meeting, she could at least control the place and she figured this small café was the safest place for her. It was a neutral site and she knew if she needed to, she could always escape any trouble that came looking for her.
She sat fuming as she thought about Julion. She was angry at him for being caught. She was angry at Sally for betraying her and Julion, and at the Boss for using them all. Most of all though she was angry at herself. She was upset because she had been stupid enough to believe that she could pass Julion and the androids off for someone whom they were not. She was annoyed that she had not thought so far ahead what she would do if anyone would be caught. It was her own arrogance that had caused Julion to fall into the Boss's hands. She thought they were untouchable and she had been deadly wrong.
This situation put her in a position that she did not wish to rush into. She was still skeptical about Adora. She was after all a middle class citizen. If Cynthia was wrong about her being against the government, then that would be a mistake she would never be able to make again.
She wasn't even sure Adora would come. It was now 2:30 a.m. and Cynthia started to fear that she was wrong about the woman. As she was thinking about leaving, Adora appeared in the doorway of the café. Her large frame, not to mention her red and gray uniform attracted the attention of the few people in the room. It was unusual to see one middle class citizen here in one night, but two was very odd indeed. The patrons watched as Adora approached Cynthia.
Cynthia stirred uncomfortably as she felt the room's attention. Leo apparently noticed and understood her discomfort. He ran into the back room. He quickly pulled a young scantily clad woman out and helped her onto the bar. He then placed in a small disk in his stereo, and loud, seductive music began to play.
The woman, whom Cynthia recognized as Leo's wife, began to dance. Cynthia was pleased that Leo had thought of a distraction quickly for his wife now held the attention of the room. Cynthia's, however, was on Adora.
It didn't take her long to realize that Adora wasn't like most middle class people. Even as she walked past people that were engrossed in Leo's wife, she greeted them as if she had known them for years. She easily spotted Cynthia right away since she was the only other one in red. With a friendly smile on her face, she moved quickly to the back of the room and seated her plump behind across from Cynthia. She began the meeting, loud enough for Cynthia to hear her over the music, but not loud enough for anyone else. "So it was you my dear who left the note."
"I see you have no problem with being seen with lower class citizens. But tell me where are your bots?" Cynthia arranged it with Leo to keep Larry in the back, just in case.
Adora did not react. To most middle class citizens, it would have been an insult to infer that one was in need of the assistance or security of bots. Both women knew this was not the nature of the question. There had been no security bots with Adora when she entered and there appeared to be none outside.
So it was a mere question of if Adora intended to turn Cynthia in or help her. Just her presence was not enough to convince Cynthia that she was on her side.
"I didn't believe they would be necessary." Adora finally said.
Cynthia felt it to be a neutral answer. Fairly certain that Adora wouldn't be able to physically force Cynthia under arrest herself, she took a chance and took the statement to mean that Adora was on her side.
"Listen, I'm going to cut to the chase." Cynthia said. "I wouldn't have contacted you if I didn't need your help. Julion has been put under arrest by my Boss, Horacio Estevez, who is holding him until I turn myself over."
"I'd like to help, child, but who's Julion?"
Cynthia could have slapped herself. In all the confusion, she forgot she never told Adora that they weren't who they appeared to be. "He's Sid, my husband, well, actually he's not my husband, and I'm not Greta. My name is Cynthia Aldin, and to be honest, I'm not even a middle class citizen." She thought saying that she wasn't even human was pushing it a bit far. Especially, since Adora was already beginning to look skeptical about her story. "Okay, I know it's a little confusing, but I need your help."
Adora stared at Cynthia, and dared her to show signs of weakness leaned forward. "Not that I believe you, but for the moment, dear let's say what you are telling me is the truth. Why would the most formidable man on the government council want you? Especially, if you're not even middle class?"
Oh, the dreaded question. She wondered just how much of an explosion Adora would cause if she told her she was an android. Knowing that she could exit fast enough if Adora changed her mind, Cynthia decided not to lie.
Taking a deep breath, she quickly filled Adora in on what has been happening with Estevez and the androids. She kept to the facts that led straight to Julion's arrest. When she finished, she was quite surprised by Adora's reaction. Which was practically none at all. Cynthia wondered where exactly she had gone wrong. She figured Adora just didn't believe the whole thing and was sitting in shock. "What I told you is true." Cynthia was ready to plead her case to make Adora believe.
She didn't have to. Adora sat calmly and just said, "I know."
"Yes, what I didn't find out from the security bots, I learnt from Leo over there. He's an old friend." She nodded over to Leo. He nodded back. That would explain why she was so friendly with the customers. "I don't come into these meetings uninformed you know, deary."
That's it then. She was working for the government if she could get information like that from bots -- it was the only way. Cynthia thought despairingly. Of course, that would mean she was wrong about Leo too. There was only one thing that bugged her. "If you knew all that, why didn't you know who Julion was and why Estevez would want me?"
"Well, I knew why Estevez wants you but I just wanted to hear that from you, deary. I wanted to know how much you trusted me. But I really didn't know about Julion." Adora sat back more comfortably. "You see, my dear, Estevez sent his bots to every housing complex in Brasília. Not a small task. I knew from the moment you stepped into my complex you weren't the normal middle class citizen and the bots confirmed it. After a little tinkering, I accessed their databanks and found they weren't looking for just any person, but an android. When I received your note, I immediately called Leo and he filled me in with all he knew. Your secret's not so well preserved as you thought, hmm."
Cynthia sighed heavily. Nothing Adora said told her if she would help Cynthia. Finally she asked. "Will you help me or not?"
Looking a little annoyed but still holding a broad smile on her face she said, "I told Sid, I mean Julion, about a 'picnic' we will have. Perhaps you should attend that first."
Cynthia too was becoming annoyed, but she was acting out of desperation. Who knew how long Estevez would wait before he decided to kill Julion?
"I don't have time to wait until this weekend, he could already be dead!"
"Can I ask you something, darling? What's more important your friend's life or the lives of all the working class people?" She stood. "Ask Leo for the time and place of the picnic. Come with your androids and I'll be your escort." She left before Cynthia could say anything. She realized she had radically misjudged this woman, and it would be a long three days until the picnic.
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.