Just then from behind them they heard the whisper of his voice, "The scientist welcomes you to the indestructible carrot project." It was followed by the tap of Nic's feet.
"Alright, what are you two Unaccepted up to on the computer after I retire?"
With an expert hand Ephesus cleared everything off the computer screen. He and Dr. Smyrna stood in silence staring at Nic, who was quite sight with half-developed bedhead and untrimmed mustache. Then Ephesus saw what was in his hand.
Nic saw the glance and explained, "I was sleeping like a normal person when out of the blue I hear a ringing noise. It won't stop and seems to be coming from someone's trunk. So I opened the trunk and just as I did the ringing stopped." Nic tossed a small rectangle of metal and plastic at Ephesus, who caught it, his eyes wide. "It appears, Ephesus, that you just missed a call from one 'Caesar' whose phone number and name very much resembles that of my sister before the United recreated the phone system. I am dying to know what you are up to."
Dr. Smyrna stared at his son with as much surprise as Nic had had when he heard the phone ringing.
Nic sneered, "Why don't you call her back? Something must be important if she'd call you on your illegal phone while you're in custody yourself."
Ephesus stared back at his former boss blankly.
"Or maybe I should call her back? Your pass code is only four digits long. It wouldn't take me too long to get through it."
In a nearly dead voice Ephesus answered, "No, I'll call and see what's going on."
Ephesus opened his phone with the code 0712 and then with a few taps was calling "Caesar" back. She picked up.
"Hello, Caesar. I missed your call?"
"Yes, but this is quick. We're getting out of here in a few minutes. Going to the pizza place. We'll be gone soon, one way or another. Your sister loves you and your dad, and I love Nic." She hung up.
Ephesus put the phone down slowly.
Nic's anger was wearing off as his curiosity overrode him. "So. What did my sister want to tell you?"
"They're escaping from custody, apparently right now. The underground will be hiding them."
Dr. Smyrna appeared hardly surprised at the revelation of Ephesus' other hobbies.
Nic had one more question. "And what is this that I found with your illegal phone? An illegal micro chip?"
Ephesus smiled proudly just as Nic had done so many times when he had the Smyrnas at their disadvantage. "That, Doctor Nic, is a virus. A powerful one, a little more powerful than the one you had on Mars, and more powerful than the toy of one you recreated on this computer."
Dr. Smyrna asked his son, "And what is that for?"
Ephesus lost his smile and stared into space. "The only way to cut yourself off from a monster and avoid getting assimilated back in."