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"When the bombs went off," I said, then something welled up in mychest, something painful. "When the bombs went off, there were four ofus caught up by Market Street. For whatever reason, the DHS decidedthat made us suspicious. They put bags over our heads, put us on a shipand interrogated us for days. They humiliated us. Played games with ourminds. Then they let us go. "All except one person. My best friend. He was with us when theypicked us up. He'd been hurt and he needed medical care. He nevercame out again. They say they never saw him. They say that if we evertell anyone about this, they'll arrest us and make us disappear. "Forever."I was shaking. The shame. The goddamned shame. Jolu had the lighton me. "Oh Christ," I said. "You people are the first ones I've told. If this storygets around, you can bet they'll know who leaked it. You can bet they'llcome knocking on my door." I took some more deep breaths. "That's whyI volunteered on the Xnet. That's why my life, from now on, is aboutfighting the DHS. With every breath. Every day. Until we're free again. Any one of you could put me in jail now, if you wanted to."Ange put her hand up again. "We're not going to rat on you," she said. "No way. I know pretty much everyone here and I can promise you that. I don't know how to know who to trust, but I know who not to trust: oldpeople. Our parents. Grownups. When they think of someone beingspied on, they think of someone else, a bad guy. When they think ofsomeone being caught and sent to a secret prison, it's someone else —someone brown, someone young, someone foreign. "They forget what it's like to be our age. To be the object of suspicionall the time! How many times have you gotten on the bus and had everyperson on it give you a look like you'd been gargling turds and skinningpuppies? 141"What's worse, they're turning into adults younger and younger outthere. Back in the day, they used to say 'Never trust anyone over 30.' Isay, 'Don't trust any bastard over 25!'"That got a laugh, and she laughed too. She was pretty, in a weird,horsey way, with a long face and a long jaw. "I'm not really kidding, youknow? I mean, think about it. Who elected these ass-clowns? Who letthem invade our city? Who voted to put the cameras in our classroomsand follow us around with creepy spyware chips in our transit passesand cars? It wasn't a 16-year-old. We may be dumb, we may be young,but we're not scum.""I want that on a t-shirt," I said. "It would be a good one," she said. We smiled at each other. "Where do I go to get my keys?" she said, and pulled out her phone. "We'll do it over there, in the secluded spot by the caves. I'll take youin there and set you up, then you do your thing and take the machinearound to your friends to get photos of your public key so they can signit when they get home."I raised my voice. "Oh! One more thing! Jesus, I can't believe I forgotthis. delete those photos once you've typed in the keys! The last thing wewant is a Flickr stream full of pictures of all of us conspiring together."There was some good-natured, nervous chuckling, then Jolu turnedout the light and in the sudden darkness I could see nothing. Gradually,my eyes adjusted and I set off for the cave. Someone was walking behindme. Ange. I turned and smiled at her, and she smiled back, luminousteeth in the dark. "Thanks for that," I said. "You were great.""You mean what you said about the bag on your head andeverything?""I meant it," I said. "It happened. I never told anyone, but it happened."I thought about it for a moment. "You know, with all the time that wentby since, without saying anything, it started to feel like a bad dream. Itwas real though." I stopped and climbed up into the cave. "I'm glad I fi-nally told people. Any longer and I might have started to doubt my ownsanity."I set up the laptop on a dry bit of rock and booted it from the DVDwith her watching. "I'm going to reboot it for every person. This is astandard ParanoidLinux disc, though I guess you'd have to take myword for it."142"Hell," she said. "This is all about trust, right?""Yeah," I said. "Trust."I retreated some distance as she ran the key-generator, listening to hertyping and mousing to create randomness, listening to the crash of thesurf, listening to the party noises from over where the beer was. She stepped out of the cave, carrying the laptop. On it, in huge whiteluminous letters, were her public key and her fingerprint and email ad-dress. She held the screen up beside her face and waited while I got myphone out. "Cheese," she said. I snapped her pic and dropped the camera back inmy pocket. She wandered off to the revelers and let them each get pics ofher and the screen. It was festive. Fun. She really had a lot of charisma —you didn't want to laugh at her, you just wanted to laugh with her. Andhell, it was funny! We were declaring a secret war on the secret police. Who the hell did we think we were? So it went, through the next hour or so, everyone taking pictures andmaking keys. I got to meet everyone there. I knew a lot of them — somewere my invitees — and the others were friends of my pals or my pals' pals. We should all be buddies. We were, by the time the night was out. They were all good people.

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