Lexi followed Basil through campus. He seemed to be taking a circuitous route as they crept between buildings, mostly staying in the shadows and avoiding sidewalks.
He stopped suddenly, under a tree, and held out an arm so she would stop, too. They watched, hidden in the dark, as a couple of students walked by.
“Where are we going?” Lexi whispered.
“Why are we taking this crazy route to get there?”
“I’m trying to avoid sensors. I don’t want our movements tracked.”
A thought occurred to him. He said, “Do you have a neural implant?”
“Of course I do. Everyone has a neural implant.”
“You need to disable it. Now. They can track you with it.”
Disabling her implant was a deeply upsetting notion to Lexi, but the thought that SSI could find her with it was even more disturbing. She brought up her control panel in her mind’s eye and disabled it.
“I use my implant for everything.”
“I know. I haven’t used mine in a week, and it’s a pain. But as soon as they find out you’re part of this, they’ll come looking for you, and that’s the first place they’ll check.”
“Caroline didn’t say anything about losing access to the neural net.”
“I know,” Basil said, nodding. “We didn’t think this through at all. We didn’t consider all the ramifications. Come on, it’s clear.”
He led her forward again and they continued, keeping an eye out for people and sensors.
At last they came to Cedric Hall. Like the nightclub, it was an older building on the edge of campus. Basil explained its significance as they drew near.
“A lot of professors live here. They have a certain amount of clout, and were able to prevent any sensors from being installed inside or out. We should be able to get in undetected.”
The door was a simple affair, with several names floating on a panel to the right. Basil skimmed through them and found the one he wanted: Saul Chamberlain. He swiped his finger through the holobutton and they waited patiently.
Eventually, a voice came out from the panel.
“Yeah, what do you want?”
“Dr. Chamberlain? It’s Basil Garcia. And a friend. Came we come up?”
“You know what time it is, Basil? Come by the office tomorrow and we can talk then.”
“This is super important, Dr. Chamberlain. I wouldn’t bother you but . . . there’s trouble.”
They heard nothing for a minute. About the time Lexi had given up, the door buzzed and swished open.
They climbed the stairs, since Basil did not want to use the elevator, and moments later they stood before Chamberlain’s door. It swished open, and a grumpy old man stared at them. He had white wispy hair circling a bald top in a way that reminded Lexi of those old pictures of Albert Einstein. He also sported a brown beard, which spoiled the Einstein look, and a large potbelly. He wore shorts and a t-shirt and he had an annoyed expression on his face.
“What is it that can’t wait, Basil?”
Basil glanced nervously up and down the hall, wondering if residents in the other apartments could hear them.
He said in a quiet voice, “There’s been a raid.”
Half an hour later Basil finished summing up everything he knew to Dr. Chamberlain. Lexi stayed mostly silent during that time, taking in everything in the professor’s apartment as they sat on a couch drinking the orange juice he had offered them.
Saul Chamberlain was a professor of history and his specialty was Germany. Evidently he was interested in all things German, from their tribal origins to Germania’s battles with Rome, to the multipart states that were finally united in the 19th century, to the World Wars and the horrendous consequences of Hitler, to the post-war years and their rising influence in the European Union.
Chamberlain had various Germanic artifacts decorating his living room, including a replica of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses that had been nailed to the Wittenberg Door, and a first edition of Gutenberg’s Bible. Lexi knew a little something about the Protestant Reformation kicked off by the first artifact, and somewhere she had heard the Bible was the first book ever printed on a printing press.
Also on the wall he had propaganda posters from World War I, train posters from the 19th century advertising Alpine routes, and a curious child’s doll in a display cabinet.
She could not, for the life of her, figure out the significance of the doll. It was a little female figure with long blond hair that stared back at her behind the glass with a mysteriously seductive smile.
Chamberlain noticed her attention was fixated on the doll. He said, “That’s a Lillie doll, sometimes called a Bild Lillie. She was based on cartoons that ran in Bild Magazine after World War II. This is the predecessor to Barbie Dolls. They were quite popular in the 1950s when American toymakers discovered her and adopted the idea.”
“Oh. I, uh . . . didn’t know that Barbie Dolls were German in origin.”
Chamberlain smiled. He said, “So much of our world has Germanic origins. I won’t even begin to discuss the influence of the Bauhaus Movement. But now, to the issue at hand. You are both at risk.”
Basil nodded, suddenly looking miserable. He said, “We’ve disabled out implants, and we won’t go back to our dorm rooms.”
“It’s worse than that, Basil. They will comb the entire campus looking for you after they interrogate the prisoners.”
Chamberlain sighed and leaned back in his chair, looking up at the ceiling. Finally, he seemed to reach a decision.
He said, “I need to send a coded message and have you two extracted. I’m sorry. You probably thought that being part of the Resistance would just involve a handful of meetings. And maybe if your numbers had remained small, that’s all it would have amounted to. But this many students gathering together was bound to attract attention. Now they’ve cracked down, and unless you want to disappear like the others and be tortured to death in a holding cell, we need to get you out of here.”
He excused himself for a moment, leaving the two young people to look at each other nervously.
When he returned, he said, “A van will be picking you up. I’ve got a couple of visor helmets you can use. They’re not perfect, but they’ll prevent long distance facial recognition and iris scans.”
Lexi took the helmet he gave her and she felt her blood go cold.
She said, “Professor . . . I’ve got a project due tomorrow. I’ve got classes, I’ve got . . . The semester is nowhere near finished!”
Chamberlain frowned at her, but she noticed a touch of sympathy in his eyes.
He said, “My dear, I am afraid your college career has come to an end. From this point on, if you are ever noticed in pubic you will be arrested. You must go underground.”
She stared at him open-mouthed, as realization dawned on her. A single tear trickled down her eye.
“No! No, I . . . I have a life!”
Chamberlain shook his head, slowly. He said, “Your life now, whether you like it or not, is in hiding with the Resistance. It’s either that or suffer a horrible fate in an SSI torture chamber. They particularly enjoy raping young women, I’m told. Repeatedly.”
The blood drained from her face and she sobbed now, letting the tears flow freely.
“I just wanted to go to a meeting! I didn’t know!”
Chamberlain nodded patiently. He said, “These are the consequences we’re stuck with. Now, please put this on. I am not going with you two. You are going to exit the same way you came in, and you are going straight to the nearest intersection. A van will be waiting to pick you up. Get inside it and do whatever you are told to do. The people in the van will save you.”
Lexi nodded, sniffling. She finally took the helmet. Chamberlain handed another one to Basil. He was not crying, but he looked equally desperate.
Both students pulled their helmets on, the visors covering their faces.
“Can you see? Good. Get to the intersection. The van will be waiting.”
Basil turned as they walked out the door. He said, “Thank you, Professor.”
Chamberlain made a shooing motion with his hand and said, “Go.”
The door swished shut behind them as they headed for the stairs.