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imprisonment

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Inside the building, Clair and the others were trying their best to keep their hopes alive.

Clair: "Q knows. I called her before we were locked in here."

Shannon: "Great. She'll help the others get us out."

Clair: "That's what I'm worried about. Instead of running while they have the chance, she'll bring them to us, and Wallace will be waiting."

Jesse: "Maybe it'd be better if Turner did some take direct action."

Shannon: "With us inside the building? I don't think so."

Clair and Shannon double-checked every metre of the walls. Jesse probed every socket and sensor. Internal nets flowed wirelessly, powered by magnetic induction. There were no vents: air was periodically refreshed through the fabber. The toilet had no pipes leading to the wall and kitchen waste was disintegrated into nothing. There was no way out, apart from the door. The outer wall was impenetrable.

Clair was puzzled by the rooms' apparent lack of purpose. Why the lack of view? What normally went on in there that required such vault-like security? And why keep people imprisoned when they could more easily be duped and sent back into the field?

Shannon was more concerned about the nature of their imprisonment.

Shannon: "I still can't believe Gemma did this to us."

Jesse: "Has she been on their side from the beginning?"

Shannon: "Turner thought someone was giving us away. It must have been her all the time."

Clair: "I don't know. Why would she have blown up Dylan's dupe, back at Jesse's house? Why would she have helped us escape in the airship? She was so mixed-up and damaged . . . and maybe that's it. Wallace must have tried to turn her a while back. Maybe they gave her a beacon then, but she didn't use it. Maybe she thought she'd be a double agent, spying on VIA for WHOLE. But she didn't do it until something happened, something that changed her mind."

Jesse: "Like what?

Clair: "The Farmhouse-when she saw how Theo and Arabelle had been Improved. She thought she could be fixed, too. That's why she activated the beacon."

Shannon: "'Fixed'?"

Jesse: "D-mat killed her baby, apparently. Do you think Wallace told her they could get it back?"

Clair: "I'm sure they did. It's the only way she would have turned."

Shannon: "I didn't realize Turner and the others were hurting VIA that much."

None of them did. And the truth was that WHOLE hadn't been. The strike at the heart of VIA unfolding beneath Clair at that moment was the most brazen attack on d-mat WHOLE had mounted for years. Since around the time of Jesse's mother's death, WHOLE had been more of an advocacy group than anything else, engaging in small acts of vandalism and the occasional public rally, but little else. Its early days of booth-bombs and targeted virus drops (the live kind) were long behind it.

Even as Clair and the others gave up and resigned themselves to waiting, the fight was coming closer. Thanks to my help, and fuelled in part by my determination to succeed against any conceivable obstacle, WHOLE was actually making ground.

Clair checked the fabber's menu and discovered that its memory contained no weapons, drills, radios or explosives. After that pointless search, she checked for more mundane things like food and drink. She ordered a pot of coffee and three mugs to share it around. Jesse asked her to show him how to make more.

Jesse: "You must think me a real Luddite."

Clair: "A what?"

Jesse: "Luddites are to history what abstainers are to now."

Clair: "Never heard of them. What won't they use-air?"

Jesse: "Beats me. They're not around anymore."

Clair: "Well, no wonder they're not around, if they all suffocated to death."

Jesse: "The Luddites are remembered as being anti-technology but they weren't anti-technology at all. Dad used to talk about them. They were making a stand against the changes new technology brings-and that's what George Staynes stood for, too. That's the thing everyone forgets, on both sides. Instead of fighting a war between new and old, we should be trying to make things better for all of us, using different kinds of technology in ethical ways only."

Clair: "Gemma's not fighting a war anymore. She's lost in No Man's Land."

Jesse: "Could she be a dupe?"

Clair: "I don't remember her going anywhere near a d-mat booth recently. Do you?"

Shannon: "Guys, come here-I can hear something on the other side of the door!"

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