"Don't take any wooden nickels from uh... Uncle..."
The first voice provided the response, "Dennis!"
Cea hung up the call.
After she hung up she sighed, "I guess I did ask for an insecure line we could afford to lose."
"That was... strange."
"Yes, but not to uncommon for the underground. There are a lot of weirdos who work with us."
"Cea, what exactly is the 'us' you're talking about?"
Cea smiled at me. "It's Christians and others who don't like what the United are doing, who will use any means regardless of legality to stop them."
"You mean, like, assassins and agents and..."
"Not quite like that Philli. We may be outside the law, but not amoral. We never choose death or destruction when we can avoid it. But enough talk for now, Philli. The guy who monitors our bug will be in soon to check on it, and he probably intercepted that last call, too. When he does, we have to be ready, but first I have to call one more number."
"What do you mean, 'be ready,' Cea?"
"I mean when he comes in we have to get out. Hopefully he carries a gun."
Guns. I did not like the direction this escape was going. "So we are going to shoot our way out?"
"As far as we need to. Mostly we are concentrating on the 'out' part and not so much the shooting."
She punched in a few number and then stopped. She was trying to remember the last few digits and all of her codewords for this contact.
"I'm not shooting anyone. I couldn't."
Cea set down her phone and grasped my shoulders. "Phil, what would your Daddy or Ephesus do if they had a gun and someone had a knife to your throat?"
It was awkward to say, but I knew what they'd do. "They'd shoot."
"And now Phil, the situation is reversed. The United has a knife to your family's throat, and against Nic. Only we aren't just standing by. We are the knife. We have to do whatever we can to get out of the hands of the United, even if that means stabbing them ourselves. Now you probably won't get a gun, but if you do and you need to use it, you must use it and without thinking. Got it?"
I couldn't answer her verbally. I couldn't shoot someone. I didn't want any of this.
She read my thoughts, "This is not about you, Philli. This is about your family. You know how hard your dad tried to make sure he could stay with you when he was being summoned to Mars? You know all the risks you and he took copying Bibles? It's time for you to do the hard thing and get outside your zone Philli."
I shook me head, "No."
Cea grew livid, "Philli. For years you have lived behind walls set up for you by the United as a blessing from God to keep you safe. For years you have been threatened with interrogation and electric pistols. Now you are outside those walls, and it's more than investigations and pistols and kidnappings that you have against you. I can't get you out of here if you won't give me everything you can do. Got it?"
I couldn't accept it. She went on. "Philadelphia, what does your name come from?"
I answered shakily, too nervous to explain as deeply as I could, "From a church in Revelation."
"In Revelation, the church is facing something a lot worse than we are. God promises them an open door which none can shut. But will you run through it? In Wing 74 you set off a bomb to save your family, and only Nic was hurt, and he got better. You may need to do more."
I resisted. "The world is a dark place, Philadelphia. For years you have enjoyed hiding away from it. No one was watching you and you didn't need to expose yourself to the darkness. Now they're coming for us, and you need to be strong. God called Joshua to go out with the javelin and strike down the enemies. You might need a gun. You might need a knife. You might just need to run. But you need to do all you can. Okay?"
I nodded. "But Cea... it doesn't make sense."
"Life doesn't make sense. Blame sin for that. The gospel doesn't make sense. Thank God for that. Your situation doesn't make sense, now follow God's lead and run for the open door."
I lifted my head. I could do it now.
Cea tapped in the last few numbers, and the tone beeped out of the phone as the call went through.