Echo, Part 16

Charles and Veronica sat in silence for a moment.  It was Veronica who signaled to Charles, with a wave of her hand followed by hooking her thumb back towards the house, that got them moving.  Charles understood immediately.  If they stayed in the car, the system would be able to read their biometrics and could see that they were under duress.  If they left the car, the two of them could speak more privately and would be able to work through their emotions without the system following along.  While there was still no reason not to trust the people helping them, the longer the whole situation dragged on the more questions came up about why they were helping and who was actually doing the helping that the voice in the car refused to answer.

Once they were back in the house, Veronica asked in a hushed voice, “What do you think?”

Charles didn’t like it and indicated as much with a frown.

Veronica followed her first question with another.  “Do we have a choice?”

Also whispering, Charles responded, “Probably not.”

“I’m not a fan of surgery under the best of circumstance.”

“Neither am I,” Charles agreed.

“These are not the best of circumstances.”

Charles said nothing.

Veronica continued, “There’s a huge difference, in my opinion, between trusting the system to guide us away from trouble and trusting another human to operate us.  From what the voice said, it sure seems like the removal of the chip will be far more invasive than having the chip initially installed.”

Trying to find something positive to say, Charles replied, “At least the rest of the plan seems okay.”

As suspected, their new living arrangement would be together, with their identities and back stories placing them as friends from school.  It was simple and plausible and that made it less likely to be questioned by any of their new neighbors should any of them prove nosy or friendly.  Given the plugged in and hands-off nature of the current world, that was unlikely but it was best to have a nice, simple story just in case.

“That is not enough,” Veronica said emphatically, though still quietly.

Charles held up his hand, “I know.”

“But?”

“But what other choice do we have?”

Veronica bit her lip in thought.  Charles let her be.  She would get there on her own.  Any pushing he did now would just prolong it.

With a sigh she said, “We have to remove the chips for us to have any chance of staying undetected in our new lives, temporary or otherwise.”

Charles nodded in the affirmative.

She looked away.  He knew it was not in her nature to be very trusting.  He had lived through days of her ranting about all the myriad of conspiracies she believe the government had perpetrated on society.  He had seen the reluctance in her every movement when he showed up to get her out of her house before the federal agents showed up to take her away.  It would take every bit of her strength, every bit of her resolve to agree to the current plan.  She would though.  Even if she never came around to trusting the system was truly acting in her best interests, going along with their plan was the best option for her to stay out of federal custody and that was a freedom she would not risk.

“At least we’ll be there together,” she finally said with a heavy sigh.

He put a hand on her shoulder.  “I’ll go first.  If anything looks amiss you can run.”

She laughed, chewed nervously on her bottom lip, and then smiled at him.

He was really growing to enjoy that smile.

“Are you ready?”

She shook her head no but then said, “Let’s get it over-with, though.”

And, begin:

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