I really don't know what to do about this scene. I have to pick which perspective to write it in... though maybe I will eventually do both. Philli has been resting for quite a time, so to add to the drama effect I have decided to take a try at writing this pivotal scene from Phil's perspective.
Nic took the boxes off from on top of the box, and, sure enough there was lift-able door on top of the crate. Opening it Nic just discerned the glint of the top wrung of a ladder. He got in and started climbing down, Smyrna just above his head with Ephesus there to replace the door. The boxes were empty, so Ephesus could just put them on the door and then carefully lower it in place and there would be no sign of their arrival. As he placed the door down he saw the lights of the stereo go off. All was dark and they climbed down the ladder.
I sat in the basement by the light of burning trash. Stanyard had come down and explained the lights needed to go off. The United might notice excess electricity being expended by their building. He had given me some matches and told me that was what the burn pile was for. There were vents in the ceiling, so it would be fine to burn if the fire was right under them
I didn't know if it was day or night outside by this point. I had decided it was day, so I had lit a fire since I couldn't stand a dawnless day. Cea still thought it was night; she was sleeping.
I couldn't bring myself to burn any of those books, even if I hadn't ever heard of them before. I was sure the were precious somehow. I sat there reading one of the shorter ones, The Song of the Troll, to the light of the burning R.I.U.N. manual. I had started with the blasphemous Ten Commandments. Then I had went back to the front.
The story was a strange one. It was about a strange man who had survived a terrible war. And now all he cared about was a little girl he met. He was so powerful and so smart in his own way, but all he cared about was that silly little girl. Then I heard his shoes clapping on the ladder rungs.
It wasn't Stanyard's walk. It wasn't Cea going up, even though I knew we weren't allowed to.
It was my daddy.
I heard his shoes hit the ground, and more coming down behind him. Ephesus!
I bounded over in the darkness, almost tripping over Cea, who was just poking her head up, and hugged him as the first man got to the ground.
Then I realized it wasn't my daddy. And it wasn't Ephesus with his lump over-stuffed coat. It was Daddy's shirt, but not him.
I paled. And then I started walking backwards. Cea had to catch me.
It was him.
"Running into me again, Philadelphia Smyrna? I thought you had said you'd be more careful."
I sat shaking on the floor, Cea holding my shoulders.
Silence reigned as the second man got to the bottom of the ladder. Cea let go of me and hugged her brother. I could hear her choked-back sobs. Her brother was out of prison. He was alive, and apparently well. Daddy came and scooped me up and kissed me lightly on the cheek. He was back, and he was alive, too.
And then Ephesus came down, and I was overwhelmed enough to forget who else was in the room.
My family had shared tough times before. When we had been told that Ephesus was dead. When Mira and Stanyard had run off. When we thought Daddy was being taken away. And every time we had coped with it together, holding each other close. We never held each other closer than that time in all the times I can remember.
I wept and I thanked God, all mixing with snippets of stories and prayers my daddy and brother were making. I didn't care we were in a smoky dark basement twenty feet below the ground. I wouldn't have cared if we were back on Mars in a basement. I wouldn't care if we were the last house left in the shrinking Street 17 containment camp. As long as we were there and we were together, I would learn to be content in all things. Back together and safe was all that mattered.
Nic led the descent down into the basement. He heard the crackle of flames, maybe a page turning. Surely this was the containment cell, then. One prison for the other for the other. It was ridiculous. Hopefully it was a big room or more than one so that he could have some privacy from the Christians that had been stalking him since he arrived in floor negative nine of Rott.
His foot missed a rung. That must be the bottom. Nic hopped off the ladder and looked into the room. There was small fire, casting very little light. There looked to be the outline of someone laying on the floor there, and...
And she had him around the waist. But she was too short and too smooth haired to be Cea.
Nic was not one to demonstrate his frustration violently unless his very freedom was being threatened. Since it was merely personal space violation, he as able to restrain himself to just a huff through the nose.
Then she realized her mistake. "Running into me again, Philadelphia Smyrna? I thought you had said you'd be more careful."
Nic would have gone on, in a sweet moment of irony and emotional vengeance, but then the outline stood up. Even in the dim light he could see those blonde curls that almost matched his in color. And even through the dark he could see that she had been through more than him. And even in the dark Nic could tell that all she was thinking about was him.
They grabbed onto each other simultaneously. Who cared if they were in the basement of some Christian's underground operation? They had found each other, and now the could go back to working together. Cea had been there as support for ever major event in Nic's life. Now the could start over again. Once they disappeared into the mega-country called the United they could be free again. Or go off to Mars. Nic didn't care. He held his precious sister close.
As the held each other more tightly Nic felt the microchip in his pocket pressing into his chest. And he remembered the other plan.