Nic looked up, surveyed his surroundings, and said, "We had best avoid using our names. I'll be Paul."
Smyrna smiled to himself, thinking, "I hope so." Then he said aloud, "And I'll be Stephen."
Nic looked blankly forward for a second then muttered, "I am not sure how to take the implications of that. Either you hope to die or you anticipate it happening anyway, neither of which is an encouraging sign." As Smyrna began to respond Nic cut him off, "Well we're here. The tallest tower in the province. The great Unity Peak."
Smyrna mumbled, "Seems rather lame to me."
"And to me, too. If I ever get to use Red Rain, I'll dump it on here first."
"And while you are at it why don't you just call me by my real name, if you are so comfortable dropping code words audibly."
Nic shrugged and walked toward the tower. Smyrna followed by example. They did their best not to glance at the men who were standing still or loafing nearby the doors. They weren't guards, just watchers. Almost more deadly than guards with machine guns were the idlers with pistols and ears. The United preferred to slowly constrict on a target than to jump them with big guns. It was less messy and made a quieter display of supremacy. Just enough for newspaper pictures and banners on the internet.
Smyrna pushed through the revolving door into the large lobby. Nic paused outside to read the inscription. "A Tower into Heaven. If any god should be offended by this tower, let it come and prove itself. We are the United, and cannot be divided."
Nic sneered and whispered, barely parting his lips, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
Nic did his best to slam the revolving door, ignoring the impossibility of the attempt. He passed into the lobby and spotted Smyrna waiting for him. As soon as Nic got near Smryna began walking away, and Nic followed him into the men's bathroom.
Ephesus was there, too. Nic never knew how those two had arranged to meet in a bathroom.
After they had each finished their business, or at least pretended to, they returned to the lobby and sat down together around a low table. All hunched over the table, Ephesus asked, "Do either of you know exactly what this building is for? What goes on in here?"
Nic sounded off, "When I was young this building was the honors high school. They sent us young geniuses there."
Ephesus raised his eyebrows, "Did they teach you humility?"
Nic returned, "They tried. When I learned that humility was only useful if you needed to disguise your ability, I learned to have it selectively."
Smyrna interjected, "Why do you ask, Ephesus?"
"I need to know if it is safe to make a call in," he whispered.
Nic shook his head, "Found that out the hard way, on a legal device even."
Ephesus continued, "Well we have pretty much no time until they have us nailed, if they haven't tracked us already. They may only be waiting to make the grab for when there are cameras to see it."
"Are they really so vain?"
"Well, Stephen, they know they can always drag us into the temple later. Once they have spotted you there is no losing you, so they may as well maximize dramatic affect."
Ephesus made one glance at his father and at Nic. "And you are?"
"Paul. John Paul Jones. I just go by the middle name."
"Somehow I would have expected Benedict Arnold."
"We can't all have the same name can we, Benny?"
Ephesus rolled his eyes, but accepted the new designation.