Jeffery was the first to set out. He was the least known of the boys, the one least likely to be recognised. Earth Watch Prime made up a cover story for him, and arranged for one of his employees to drive Jeffery out to the location of the prison.
"So, you're the owner's best friend's son, hey?" said the driver.
"Yes." said Jeffery. He grunted slightly has he lifted his suitcase into the back of the delivery van. He was trying to pretend it was just a normal suitcase with some clothes in it, and not a suitcase that felt like it was made from a block of concrete.
"Certainly good luck that you were in a need for a lift just as I had to deliver stuff out that way." said the driver.
"Yes, I'm very thankful..." said Jeffery.
He was dropped off in a suburban street. Sweating profusely from the exertion, he mostly carried but sometimes dragged the suitcase down the street, into a narrow alley between two blocks, and stopped just before coming out on another street. Before him was the road, then a chain link fence and behind that was an expanse of grass and car park, then a blank wall, ten metres high, that surrounded the prison complex proper.
[Ok, Jeffery. As you can see, just to your left is an enclosed high voltage electricity transformer, one of the ones that feeds the prison complex. Drag the suitcase up and lean it against the door. I might add that the implanting unit is fully insulated and not affected by high voltages.]
It did not look as if it was doing anything.
[Right now it's cutting a small hole in the steel door - It's now through, it's extending a tendril and looking for the cable way to the complex - OK, it's on its way!]
Indeed, the suitcase volume was shrinking. Soon it had sucked itself through the hole. It's last action was to replace the circle of steel it had cut out, gluing it in place so as to look like an undisturbed steel door.
Jeffery bent close and eyeballed where the hole had been.
[All I can see is a faint circle.]
[It'll do. Now you need to go back the way you came, walk a large circle through the residential area, then through the industrial area and finally through the nature reserve behind the prison. You need to get to the loading dock area but at the same time avoid being in direct view of the prison for the time being. We don't want any security cameras that look out from the prison walls to see you, at least not until I have compromised them all.]
He ended up at the back of the nature reserve, sitting between some rocks, watching the prison wall. At this location, there was an access road along the wall, and a cargo bay, currently closed. He forced himself to take a rest, lie back and close his eyes. Earth Watch Prime would rouse him when needed.
High above his head, the utility robot was loading itself into the delivery rocket, carrying Pink's new body. It would be arriving in a deserted industrial car park close by in half an hour's time.
Earth Watch Prime:
At about the same time, Blue sat himself into Charlie's police car, and they started on their way to the prison site. Followed, but not too closely, by James in Janet's police car. Neither police car had to stop at any check points, but their number plates would certainly be read. But their secrecy only had to last until dawn, anyhow. And finally a third car, driven by Rebecca's father. Reynolds’s car did have to stop, but there was only him in it. He followed in the path of the police cars.
Also during this time, Earth Watch Prime was busy extending his complete control over the prison security and communication and computer systems. The implanter unit snaked its way through pipes and ducts and cracks, and in a few cases it had to actually cut its way through obstacles. It went deeper into the prison complex, heading for the location of the girls. As it did so, it shed some weight. Parts of it broke off and moved themselves to different areas of the prison, and a network of repeater units were spread all over. Other bits of it attached themselves to any electronic devices, computer systems, communication lines that they found. By about the time the delivery rocket was landing, and the three cars were still moving, Prime had complete information awareness of the prison complex. He guided the implanting unit, now lighter, to the girl's cell, and let it wait just inside the small air-conditioning inlet.
The Three Girls:
'Click' went Pink's communications centre.
[Pink! How are you?] said Prime.
"Arrrk! You're back!" said Pink, waking both Rebecca and Teresa.
For the next ten minutes or so, there was much excitement in their cell. Safe from any prying eyes and ears, since Prime was overriding all of the surveillance cameras and microphones in the area, the three girls greeted their companions and parents over the radio link. Even Teresa got to talk to her parents, Earth Watch Primer just used those security cameras and mikes to do so, after all they weren't any longer being used for their stated purpose, were they?
Ten minutes later, "Sorry, Teresa, I can't let you say too much to your parents now, as we must get you out before our secrecy is broken..."
The girls wiped away their tears, then get down to business.
Prime had a brief private talk to Pink. [Will Teresa be amenable to having a radio implant?]
[Yes, we have already discussed this.]
A couple of minutes later.
"Eeek! It's a snake!" said Teresa, as a long tendril protruded out from the security grill protecting their air intake vent. Both she and Rebecca jumped back. The snake coiled itself up on the single bed, and merged itself and became a pillow.
Forty minutes later.
[This is amazing, talking like this.] said Teresa.
Horatio had materialised himself. He had decided that his presence would be a calming influence to the girls.
"Here's the plan. You are currently thirty metres underground, in a side tunnel which is one of several off shoots from the main vertical shaft. The only access is the lift in the vertical shaft. Of course, the lift, and the shaft, and all of the side tunnels, are covered by a profusion of cameras and motion detectors, and continually monitored by humans and computers. Fortunately, there are no human guards below ground, and have I mentioned the little fact that I completely control all of the electronics of this place?"
At this, the door of their cell clicked open. "Naturally, I can also open and close all of the automatic doors."
"Your guardian is extremely useful to have around." said Teresa to Pink.
They walked out, down the corridor, pass some other, still closed, cell doors, through the corridor door and arrived at the lift.
"The complication comes when you get to the ground floor; where there are actual, live, humans walking around. At this time of the night, they are in their regular rounds. All I have to do is to watch them, and when no one is present, guide you one by one to the rear of the prison. You will be going out through the loading docks. Which are also heavily protected by three automatic doors and many cameras. All under my control, of course."
They went up in the lift and it came to a halt. But the door did not open.
"Damn," said the image of Horatio, "There's a lot of guards congregating in the docking area. Which, I have just found out, also doubles as an impromptu party area, for when one of the guards has a birthday."
"Oh" went the girls.
"You mean, they cut a birthday cake and sing happy birthday, while us prisoners languish in our cells?" said Rebecca. She sounded just a touch indignant.
"Well, remember, to them it is a job, and they all have homes and maybe families outside which they return to after each shift..." said Horatio.
"But, more to the point," he continued, neatly cutting off the further comments which he could tell Rebecca was getting ready to say, "we need to work on getting you out of here, so that you are no longer prisoners. It's going to be a little more difficult, you will have to go out one by one by the front entrance. There is a fifty-metre driveway from the public road to the front gates. It is stretching our luck to get any of the cars to drive down it and back, and you are all a little weak and out of condition from your enforced stay, so one of the boys will escort each one of you to the road."
At the moment, Jeffery was the only one present outside, the three cars had not quite arrived. So he had gotten orders to run back around the prison to the front. He ran just outside the boundary fence. This fence ran around the prison grounds and had an automatic gate for the driveway. The prison walls themselves were, on the front side, set back from the road by a fifty-metre expanse of grass. Normally this was all surveyed by security cameras and the front gate was locked at this time of the night.
So, Jeffery should have been seen as he ran around the boundary. And then, when Jeffery arrived at the front gate, he definitely should not have been able to stroll up to it, push them open slightly, slip through and walk up the driveway to the front entrance without hindrance. But, of course, the video feed from every security camera which could see him was being subtly modified by Earth Watch Prime, erasing any signs of the intruder. And Prime also controlled the gate.
"Ok, Teresa, you're first. I'm watching the guards, and when there is a suitable gap, the lift doors will open and I will guide you out towards the front entrance. Jeffery will meet you and help you out to the road, and Janet will come past and pick up the both of you."
"Ok, I'm ready - wait, did you say Jeffery? That Jeffery?" said Teresa.
"Yep," said Horatio, slight grin on his face, "That Jeffery. He's been slowly changing his way of thinking, one thing led to another, and he is now waiting outside. Say hi to him."
[Hello Teresa.] said Jeffery.
[Oh, right, hi, Jeffery.] said Teresa.
Horatio was allowing the other teenagers to listen in on this conversation. And the others were struck with the realisation: up until now, they had only experienced the radio link communications between people with varying amounts of friendship and/or love between them. For the first time they were hearing the results when two people who did not necessarily like each other were communicating via the link. The spoken words were fine. It was the contextual emotional exchanges that made things interesting. Interesting in a tense, what drama was going to happen next, way.
Teresa remembered the embarrassment and pain of the confrontation.
Jeffery cringed and was contrite. [Sorry, I was a jerk. I apologise.]
Teresa took notice of the genuine apology and regret, and felt relieved at being understood, but still did not feel it was appropriate to forgive anything as yet.
Jeffery accepted this; after all she had been badly hurt. He felt guilty and miserable.
Teresa relented just a little and felt that maybe she would not judge him harshly, at least not now.
Jeffery was grateful for the respite, but his emotions were still roiling at the conflict between his remembered actions and his current perception of how Teresa felt.
And so on and so on. And both Jeffery and Teresa were beginning to get just a little emotionally exhausted by this continual volleying of feelings.
Earth Watch Prime had been following this exchange with extreme interest. But he had to finally intervene.
The image of Horatio spoke,
"How about we concentrate on getting you two home safely, then you can have it out with each other, with the support of your friends? You need to put your emotions on hold for a while and just deal with the moment to moment details."
"Ok" they said. With a certain amount of relief on both sides.
Horatio said "go" and Teresa stepped out of the lift.
[Run as quietly as possibly down that corridor, then open that door, step inside and close it.]
The room was small and empty.
[Ok, two guards have just passed. Now out again and...]
She stepped up to the final door, the outside security door, which should have been closed and locked and unpassable. It went click and gently opened, then closed behind her. Waiting outside was Jeffery.
[We need to run as fast as possible.] he said.
They started jogging. Within ten metres Teresa was feeling the strain. So, without saying anything, Jeffery took her arm and helped her along. For the time being, they kept their conversation over the radio link to a minimum. They ran out of the roadway gate which had opened before them and closed as they passed and, with Teresa panting heavily and Jeffery feeling a bit tired, jogged down the street.
[Janet will be driving up to you in just a moment...] said Horatio. [Oh, damn again. Run across the road and into that park between the houses!]
A Prison Guard:
At just the wrong moment, one of the prison guards had driven up and stopped at the front gate. He waited.
"Well, hurry up, open it. You can see who I am." the guard said.
Nothing happened. In exasperation, he looked around and saw two people scurrying across the road. One of them was wearing a prison inmate uniform.
"Umm, that's..." At this, he leapt out of the car.
"Hey, you two! Stop!"
The two did not stop. Without thinking about it, the man reached under his dashboard, and took out a handgun. He took aim, slightly down and to the side, aiming to miss the running figures. Janet had seen this; her car was almost up to the small park.
Prime, watching through Janet's eyes, had also seen this and he screamed a warning to Teresa and Jeffery.
[Get down, he's firing a gun!]
Teresa, exhausted and confused, collapsed heavily onto the ground, facing the way they had come. Jeffery, being slightly more in control of his mind, realised that she would collect any ricochets directly in her face, so he fell to the ground in front of her, hugging her face to his chest.
The gun fired, sending a bullet into some rocks and creating a spray of rock fragments.
"Ouch!" yelled Jeffery. His back was shoved hard as something hit him. They clutched at each other in fear and waited for any more shots.
Fortunately, by now Janet had driven and braked her car so that she was between the guard and the two teenagers.
And the guard suddenly remembered: he had not been given authorisation to fire. In fact he was using his own gun, which was not only illegal to do, but, he remembered some more, was also illegal to carry in his car while loaded.
Oh hell, I'm in trouble,. was his reaction.
He hastily tossed the gun into his car as he squinted at the headlights of the vehicle that had appeared before him.
Oh hell again, it's a police car.
At this point Charlie, who had been just behind Janet, also brought his car to a halt, just in front of Janet's.
[Teresa and Jeffery! Get into Janet's car!] said Prime.
The two got up and staggered over, as Janet held open the door for them. She shoved them inside and then drove off in a hurry, before slowing down to a normal speed.
"Are you two able to sort yourselves out while I get us out of this location?" asked Janet, both verbally and by the radio link.
"I, I think so." said Teresa.
She was sprawled across Jeffery. They awkwardly separated, the confined spaced in the back of the car making it difficult.
"Oh hell, there is a lot of blood on Jeffery's back." said Teresa.
She felt relieved that she wasn't injured, but guilty that he was.
"I don't think it's too serious." said Jeffery.
He was being gallant about his actions, but there was an undercurrent of fear and apprehension.
"Here, be still for a moment." said Teresa.
Teresa, not being frightened of blood, took at look at his back. His shirt was ripped, so she ripped it some more, tore off a piece and wadded it up and used it to sponge away some of the blood.
"You have a not very big gash, but it is bleeding." She pressed the wad against the wound to control the blood flow.
She was thinking:
He was holding my head to his chest, so if he hadn't been there, I would have gotten that directly in my face...
Feeling of horror, and gratitude.
Jeffery, privy to her emotions thanks to the radio link, even if he couldn’t hear her private thoughts, said
"That's Ok" He could not help thinking about the time he had bullied her.
Well, I suppose it all cancels out... thought Teresa. [But, but, I'm still don't really like you...]
"That's also Ok." he said. A complicated mix of emotions from Jeffery.
He tried explaining further. "I did hurt you. I now regret it, and have helped you in return. But, you are right; there is no reason why we should actually become friends, ah,"
[I mean, I don't hate you or anything...] said Teresa.
[Um, perhaps you two can just adopt an adult oriented stance here, lots of times two adults have to cooperate, say in work, and be affable to each other, then they go home and never even think of each other until the next work day.] said Janet. She was beginning to find the exchange a little exhausting herself.
[Ah, right.] said Jeffery. [And yes, this continual emotional feedback is wearing...]
[Horatio, could you turn it down a bit, please...] said Teresa.
[I will. I can see I need to re think a few things about the radio link.] said Earth Watch Prime.
He turned down the dial on the emotional link. Teresa and Jeffery found they were now almost alone with their feelings, with just a voice connection to each other, and the merest whiff of emotional overlay.
What a relief. they both thought. Privately to themselves.
"We need to talk this over when things have settled, Ok?" said Teresa to Jeffery, aloud.
Janet settled in to driving the car back the way she had come. And Jeffery and Teresa settled into the back, with Teresa getting out the car's medical kit, and putting a pad in place to stop the bleeding. They also each did some heavy thinking, without interruption from the other's.
While all of this was happening, Prime, having no problem at thinking about more than one thing at a time, had guided Rebecca through the corridors and out of the front door also.
"James, grab her arm and help her run as fast as possible to the gate. While the guard's attention is distracted by the two police cars, Reynold will drive his car to you, pick you up, do a U turn and get away."
While the two cars sped away into the night, Charlie strolled over to the guard's car. As he did, Horatio was filling him in on what the current state of play was.
[That guard saw Teresa escaping, so I might as well raise the alarm inside the prison. As soon as that happens, his mobile will ring with an automatic update about the escape. He fired his gun at Teresa, and I'm guessing that he must have used his own gun. Which would be illegal. Which means he is hoping you didn't see that. So as soon as he acknowledges the escape message over his phone, all you need to do is to suggest he continue inside to carry out his duties.]
"Well, in that case, you had better go inside. I'll stay out here, just in case." said Charlie.
The guard, looking vastly relieved, complied and drove his car to the prison car park. Charlie went back to his car and stayed where he was, waiting for the guard to disappear into the building.
Pink, standing by herself in the elevator lift, had slumped with relief, letting some of the tension drain from her muscles, when both Teresa and Rebecca were safely on their way home.
[That guard is going to be coming inside, so I might as well raise the alarm now.] said Horatio.
The sound of a siren became audible through the lift's door.
[I'm indicating that the escapees are from the top floor of the prison complex, as far away from here as possible. Which means the guards will be leaving their birthday party and thus leaving the docking area vacant, just for us.]
The elevator door opened and Pink ran out, turned in the opposite direction than the other girls had, and sprinted down the corridor. Through a few doors that magically opened for her and closed behind her. She came to the aborted birthday party area. She also came to a complete halt.
[Prime! That last bit of exertion has frayed some hydraulic lines and a part of my battery pack has shut down to prevent thermal run-away!]
Prime already knew this, since he was able to monitor her body continuously.
[No worries, you still have the ability to walk along, well, more like shuffle.]
She put her hand on the main table for stability, and began shuffling. There were paper plates all over it, with slices of birthday cake.
"Oh, yummy, its Black Forest cake, with extra cream!" murmured Pink to herself.
[I'll buy you some tomorrow! Just keep going.] said Blue, listening in on everything that Pink was doing.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm still shuffling."
She shuffled across the docking area, past some storage racks, and almost bumped into a man, sitting on a chair and eating some birthday cake. Just their luck that he was in a blind spot as far as the security cameras were concerned.
Since he did not have any guard duties as such, and was just a lowly laundry bag sorter and packing case handler, this particular person saw no point in rushing off and helping the search. He had waited until everyone else had disappeared, then grabbed an extra large helping of cake, and settled in to a serious eating binge. Sadly, there was no alcohol (this was, after all, inside a prison) so it really was not that great, but he decided that he might was well make the most of the situation. He looked up when Pink had intruded upon his solitary feast.
They recognised each other immediately.
[The goon who tried to assault me!] said Pink over her link.
She put on a burst of speed, and shuffled at high speed towards the loading area. Earth Watch Prime obliged by opening the doors, just wide enough to allow a person to pass. There were three doors, an exterior chain link gate, an exterior weatherproof door, and the internal security door. Pink, anguished by her current lack of health, stumbled and collapsed at the first internal door.
[Crawl through it and I can close it to block the guard!] said Prime. He also did his best to adjust some of her internal systems to improve her ability.
The goon had jumped back, hitting the back of his chair and falling over. His cake went flying, bits of cream and jam splattering across the floor. He cringed, and was about to get up and run away, when he realised:
"Hey, she's ill or something! She is not moving properly. Why, now's my chance!"
She was crawling across the floor, moving erratically. The sudden exertion had disrupted some more minor hydraulic lines, and she was really feeling it. The internal door started to close behind her.
"Oh no you don't!" said the goon. He jumped up and leapt through the internal door just before it closed.
There was a long gap between the security door and the exterior door, long enough to accommodate a small truck. Pink was already half way across, and would have been panicking, except that Prime had carefully overridden some of her emotional reactions. So she was able to devote her full attention to getting out. She got up on her feet, ran a few steps, stumbled, curled herself up in a ball and rolled like a hoop out of the last two doors, before collapsing outside on the tarmac. The goon, being faster and much better coordinated, managed to just slip through the final gate before it clanged shut behind him.
They were now both outside, in the night's darkness. A thin moon lit up the exterior docking parking area, plus the wall of the prison behind them. Inside the prison there might have been the confusion of the guards reacting to the prison break out, but outside was silent. The wind stirred the nearby trees; there were bushes and rocks surrounding the parking area, with a single access road leading off into the dusk.
And the goon was standing there, self-satisfied smirk on his face, confident of his physical powers. Pink lay sprawled on the asphalt, twitching slightly, and trying to stand but not managing.
Even with her emotions muted by Prime, she was still in a bad way.
"Prime! Blue! Get me out of her! Hurry!" In her confusion, she said this aloud, as well as via her radio link.
"What a shame, there's no one else here except just you and me." said the goon.
He was confident that she was incapacitated, he was feeling very pleased with himself.
"So, no weird little tricks and electric arcs this time, hey?"
He knelt down and reached out a hand to touch her. She crawled out of reach. "Stay away!"
He smiled. It frightened both her and Blue, who was looking out through her eyes.
[Blue is five minutes away and running, but the delivery rocket robot is within reach. Hang in there, Pink!] said Prime.
Indeed, Pink, and Blue through her eyes, could just see the shadowy form of the articulated robot, making like a greyhound. As in, Prime had arranged its limbs and extensions so that there were two long legs forward, and two back, and a long flexible body bridging the two. The part in the middle was also holding Pink's replacement body, currently wrapped in a black cover to protect it from dust and debris and minor collusions with branches or other obstacles.
And Blue had a sudden inspiration.
"Shelob the spider from Lord of the Rings!"
There was just the briefest of delays from Earth Watch Prime. He looked up the reference, worked out why Blue was making this connection, and set up his plans. Between one stride and the next, the articulated robot began to change its form. By the second stride, it had moved its limbs and body segments around, in some cases disconnecting and reconnecting them. In mid flight, at that. Prime had to momentarily devote quite of bit of his computing resources to manage the dynamics of this. By the third stride, it was a spider. Three metres long, with eight two metre high legs. Admittedly it didn't have enough spare limbs and segments to make the last two legs complete, so they were just mere sticks. But in the shadows, they could be made to look like two full legs. The robot also had some general-purpose nanomachinery onboard. This was hastily re-purposed to form a bulging head, with two glowing red eyes and a collection of mandibles and feelers.
[Good one, Blue!]
"Actually, you're frightening even me." said Blue in return. He could see the spider through Pink's eyes, and he could now also see it, just, in the distance, with his own eyes.
"I think she's beautiful!" said Pink.
The Goon: He really should have stayed inside and finished that cake
And what did the goon think of it?
By now, the spider was up to him and Pink. The goon was engrossed in his little fantasies as he moved forward, grabbed one of Pink's hands to immobilise her, and reached out with the other to...
The spider tapped his shoulder with one of its front legs.
The tap felt - strange. The goon slowly rotated his head - and found himself looking at a monster spider, one leg holding his shoulder; red eyes glowing, mandibles moving in ways that gave him the creeps, drool dripping from the spider's mouth.
"Ugh" He was not able to manage any more in the way of words.
"Why, thanks, Shelob. This - specimen - was beginning to annoy me." said Pink, doing her best to sound relaxed and confident.
"My mistress, I'm so pleased to see you again after all this time." said Shelob. Or rather, slobbered Shelob, sending a spray of fake saliva into the goon's face.
The goon began to tremble.
"What shall I do with him?" said Shelob. As the spider said this, she moved her head forward and opened her mouth a little bit more.
"Ah, well, now, let me see." Pink was at last beginning to get her feelings back to normal. It could not be said that she was enjoying some schadenfreude, since, after all, she had been prejudged by Esmeralda and was supposed to be above such things. Well, maybe she was enjoying just a little, she was human where it counted, and it had been some time since the prejudgement, enough time for some tiny flaws to creep into her morality.
"How're your babies coming on?" Pink asked.
"Oh, my mistress, it is so nice of you to ask!" blubbed the spider.
The goon had given up on trembling and was moving into clinical shock territory; he was watching the spider, watching its red eyes, and the mandibles moving around her mouth...
"But they are always so hungry! The sides of beef you have supplied us didn't last very long."
"Well, just as a favour to you, how about you feed them this goon?" said Pink.
"Why, that is so nice, my mistress. It's such a rare treat, giving them live prey to feast upon. I'm sure they could make him last at least a full day!"
By now, the goon's face was showing some very interesting expressions. That is, interesting if you are into horror movies, where the first person to leave the group and becomes alone is the first to meet a grisly death.
Reynolds, driving sedately with James and Rebecca in the back seat, was being fed a summarised version of these events.
"Err, Horatio, remember that us humans can actually die from shock..."
Earth Watch Prime replied just to him, and to Rosanna.
"Yes, I'm aware. That's why I put a small chunk of nanomachinery onto his neck, to monitor his vital signs. Here, I'll show you.
The surgeon and the doctor were each presented with an unobtrusive medical display, showing the goon's heartbeat, blood pressure and the various other indications which were much beloved by the medical profession.
"Right, they all seem to be still within nominal ranges, at least for the moment." said Rosanna.
Pink and Blue: Together again
As Blue ran up to Pink on one side of the spider, the spider turned away to the other side and dragged the goon to the bushes. Not wishing to extend the charade any further, Prime had the spider dump him on the far side of the closest big rock. By this time, Blue had run up to Pink and was cradling her in his arms. The articulated robot started back. Within three steps, it was back to its normal form, the one optimal for swapping over Pink's bodies.
A minute later, the articulated robot was rapidly scurrying out of sight, towards its delivery rocket. And Charlie at last appeared, driving his police car. Two minutes later, they were off. Blue sat in the back seat, holding Pink's still body.
She twitched, opened her eyes, and looked at Blue.
"I'm back! And it feels so wonderful!"
They hugged each other and cried.
And the goon?
As soon as Charlie's car had disappeared, Prime had raised another alarm in the prison complex, one that indicated that the back loading doors had been opened. There was soon a small squad of guards outside, sweeping the area. They rapidly found the goon. He was lying on the ground, twitching with terror.
As soon as he saw the other guards approach, he crawled over to the closest and clutched his legs.
"Don't leave me! Don't leave me alone with that spider!"
"She was going to feed me to her little babies!"
The guards looked at each other.
"Just what the hell has this bloke been smoking?"
"It had glowing red eyes and was three metres high!"
The most senior guard sighed. "You, take him and dump him into the infirmary. The rest of us will continue our search out here."
The Girls make their escape:
Various people were listening over the radio link.
"Serves him right!" said Martha.
"Well, it must have been terrifying to see a two metre spider like that." said Molly. Remember, she had been prejudged. Her morality was a good as it could get and still be human.
"Hmpf!" said Martha.
[Actually, it was a brilliant idea of Blue's,] said Horatio. [Now, instead of talking about a semi-plausible articulated robot, he is going to be babbling on about a mythical spider. No one is going to take him seriously.]
The three cars drove though the night, taking a wide loop around any checkpoints. At a convenient point, Reynolds and Janet parked their cars in the same car park. Reynolds had a look at Jeffery's back.
"Hmm, nasty little flesh wound there, is it painful?"
"Not too much. Prime is keeping it under control.”
"Well, I'll just put the bandage back on. It's not life threatening, and we can go straight to the hospital where I will fix you up properly."
They continued driving.
Sometime in the small hours of the morning, Teresa and Rebecca were reunited with their respective parents. They, and Pink, were eventually in their rightful beds, tucked away by their loved ones, catching up with their sleep.
And Earth Watch Prime, after some discussion with the adults, started sending out messages to the public at large, informing them of the girl's rescue.
[This is where the shit hits the fan.] said James's father
Earth Watch Prime:
Early the next morning, as everyone was getting ready for the day, and before the repercussions started, Earth Watch Prime made an update announcement.
[Due to various reasons, I've had to make a small change to the radio link agreement. It has become obvious that having total emotional transparency every time you talk to each is something that is, shall we say, a little difficult for humans in general.]
Both Teresa and Jeffery, in the privacy of their own rooms, nodded their heads at this.
[So, the radio link now comes with a sliding scale. You can select what level of emotional communication you want, from zero to full. But I will still be monitoring the communication, of course, and any dishonesty or deception will be reported to the other party regardless of the requested level.]
[So let's try this arrangement, and see what you think of it.]
[Oh, and also, for the adult couples on the radio implant network, I've managed to add another, very special, mode. You might like to try it at an appropriate time...]
The adult couples took careful note of this.
Rebecca and James also took note.
[But it's still not yet, buster!] said Rebecca.
Jeffery and Teresa decided it was a shame that this was not, yet, of any use to them.
Pink and Blue could not see its relevance to anything, and ignored it.
Prime had also attended to a small task that needed doing.
The prison supervisor got up in the morning, and somewhat nervously turned on his computer to check the news.
He was immediately presented with a message box saying:
"Thanks for the information. I have erased all trace of your message, both from your machine and from any other computer system that it went through. It will be best if you pretended that you don't know anything about how the girls escaped - Signed: Pink's father."
After ten seconds the message box vanished.
Oh, right. And what program generated that message?
He checked his email out box.
No signs of the message anywhere. Well, that's something to be thankful for.
He went and had breakfast, feeling somewhat relieved. Until he had the thought:
Wait a moment, I didn't know Pink had a father around. And how was he able to access my machine like that? Not to mention delete all traces of the email on any other system.
Hmm, I wonder if Pink got her pink coloured hair from her father?
When he got to work and was filled in with the full details of the escape, he was even more perplexed.