“What’s the plan?” Bruno asks, climbing out of the front seat to join us.
“Whoa, man,” I shout. “Don’t you think you should keep flying?”
“Haven’t you ever heard of auto-pilot, kid? We’re headed in the right direction, we’re at the right altitude, and the likelihood of us coming up against anything else up here is nonexistent, outside of some birds. Oh, yeah. Speaking of safety. Give me your earpieces.”
“What?” Eve asks.
“He’s got one too,” I reply. “I guess it’s standard Agora tech. The Geek’s going to have some explaining to do when I get done rescuing him.”
“Okay,” Eve says slowly. “Why do you want them?” she asks Bruno.
“Since they’re Agora tech, I think it’s easy to assume they can listen in on them, even with the encryption you’ve got set up on yours.”
“That reminds me,” I interject. “You were talking to me on mine. How did you do that?”
“That’s part of the problem. You see, your brother, or whoever made these for him, set yours up to be linked with a heavy duty encryption. But the thing is, these are still open to link up with any other ear pieces. So,–“
“English please,” I say with a frown.
“Right, sorry. Basically, they’re all connected. I can talk to you through them. You can talk back to me. Somehow yours is set up with an encrypted link to other pieces, so I can’t hear those when they come through, but everything you say could be heard if someone else linked themselves in.”
“Still not sure I understand.” I frown even deeper.
“Do you really care?” Eve asks.
“No, not really. Sounds like they’re not too safe though.”
“Not really. Anyone could hear what we’re saying right now even. I’ve got a lead box we can put them in. It should be enough to keep them from transmitting out.”
“Why do you have a lead box?” I ask.
“Smuggler’s number one rule: Always be prepared,” he answers while taking the ear pieces from me and Eve and placing them within a cavity in the floor. “Alright,” he continues as he shuts the door to the box, “what’s the plan?”
“I can’t say I have much of a plan,” I begin. “Yet. We don’t have many choices available. But I guess we should go over the situation as it stands. The government wants us to stop, but they’re obviously terrible, or at least that’s what everyone keeps telling me. The rebels are ready to have us die in order to do whatever they’re trying to do. And from what I’ve gathered, their end game is pretty terrible. And The Agora, well, let’s say I’m not all about helping anyone who kidnaps kids to get their way. None of these folks are giving me any reason to believe I should do what they want me to do.”
“I’m with you, Cy,” Eve agrees.
“Really?” I ask in surprise.
“Yeah, of course. Look, I know I’ve worked with the rebels for years, but you’re right, they’re up to something. Something far from what I signed up for. We have to stop them. All of them.”
We both look to Bruno.
“All I’m interested in is getting my Maya back. If you two can come up with an idea which involves getting her back, I’m in.”
“So, you won’t rat us out?” I ask, suddenly aware of how Bruno’s technically working for the other team.
“Hey, I may be many things, but I’m not a rat. They hired me to help you to the drop off point. They didn’t say I had to tell them what you were up to on the way there.”
“This still begs one really important question,” Eve says, sitting forward. “How in the world do you suggest we go up against three of the strongest groups in the nation? Keeping in mind one of them is holding our loved ones hostage in case we do anything they don’t like.”
“Like I said, I’m only in as long as we can keep Maya safe,” Bruno agrees.
“Don’t worry,” I reply. “I want The Geek out of there as well. We’ll have to be smart. It probably doesn’t hurt anything that we have an invisible plane though, right?”
“It could help, but we don’t have much else,” Eve says sadly.
“That’s not entirely true,” Bruno disagrees. A sense of cheer crosses his face.
“I’m listening,” I reply with excitement.
“You remember the camp I took you to? Camp Pewakee?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“It’s a lot more than an old summer camp,” he says with a grin. He climbs back into the driver’s seat.
“Yeah?” Eve presses. “What is it?”
“You’ll understand once we get there,” he explains. “The place used to operate as a smuggler’s headquarters, as well as a number of other things.”
“You mean like for The Agora?” Eve scowls. “Then it’s probably completely littered with tracking—“
“No, not for The Agora. The group which ran out of there was different. Separate. We worked as a sort of alternative to the other options.”
“I thought you worked for the rebellion,” I say with my most accusing face.
“I did. And I didn’t. Look, I had a family and the rebels have never really been known for their competitive wages.”
“Get to the point already,” I urge.
“This is the point. I found another option, another group which knows how to move around the country quietly and quickly. And they were based out of Pewakee. And they have some amazing tech.”
“So, your plan is to bring more people in?” I ask. “That’s not a plan, it’s a liability. We need to keep this on the down low. We don’t even know what we’re trying to do here, much less how we’re going to do it. You think– “
“Hey,” Bruno cuts me off, “I’m saying maybe we can find something there which will make this all worthwhile. And besides, they were known to keep an eye on The Agora. Maybe they know something we don’t about this whole mess and can give us some ideas about what we’re trying to do here, you know, seeing as all you’ve got is how you want to make a stand.”
“Bruno’s got a point, Cyrus. We could definitely use some inside information, if anyone has any.”
“Fine,” I say crossly. I hate not working alone.
Go to Chapter Eleven