Freedom or slavery
|She takes out a packet of cigarettes and a lighter|
Roberto's smartphone, lying on a parapet of the bridge, frames the star-studded sky.
Eugenio breaks the connection. In the lab, the three men and the woman are silent. Nobody has the courage to say anything. Then three pairs of eyes turn towards Mario, who has fallen to his knees. He beats his clenched fists and forehead against the floor and begins crying like a child, something he has never done in his adult life.
As his tears fall, the greatest love of his life dissolves, the trust he felt as he laid for hours in bed, talking while resting his head on Isabella's thighs, the dream of a union that nothing and nobody could ever separate.
Isabella settles into a chair, crosses her legs and rummages through her purse. She takes out a packet of cigarettes and a lighter, then lights a cigarette.
Mario stops crying. He gets up. The three men watch her.
“So?” the woman asks.
Isabella continues, smiling: “I was the one who added that message into the suicide procedure for Roberto. In fact, it wasn't so much for him but for you.” She smiles. “It was the easiest and simplest way for it to reach your prying ears.”
“And the video?” Mario asks.
“A nice way to blackmail our little friend Roberto, don't you think?” She smirks again. “And a little help in making things clear between us, my darling hubby. I've never liked mushy goodbyes.”
Her lips close around the cigarette filter. She inhales deeply.
|DataCom identified you years ago|
“Sweetie, don't look at me with those puppy dog eyes. You're a genius, you know that, I've always told you so.” Isabella throws the butt on the floor without extinguishing it. “Mario, without you it would have taken us decades to write that code. I sacrificed myself for it. Look, DataCom identified you years ago, and I had to make sure that you did your job. But if it's any consolation, our life together wasn't all that bad. I'll ask you one more time. So?”
“So what?” Lin asks, brusquely.
“We need you, Mario,” Isabella explains. “We might ask you to make a few modifications to the code in the near future. And as for you two...a good hacker is one of the best experts in security. So are you two willing to collaborate with us, or do you need a little encouragement?”
Eugenio interrupts: “Mario, let's stop here. What do you want to do with her?”
Isabella bursts into laughter. “Poor little hacker! Eugenio, this time I'm afraid that you didn't do so well with intercepting communications. More than two hundred men are listening to us, above and below us, even behind that door. They're ready to intervene.”
The woman enjoys the bewilderment in the eyes of the three men. “Listen, boys, maybe you don't like it, but now you know what's going on. Many need to die and many more need to be controlled. You choose which side you want to be on.”
|We will never become slaves to machines|
“No, Isabella! That can't be the only solution! Maybe humans are selfish, maybe they do act irresponsibly, but we will never become slaves to machines,” Mario responds frantically.
Isabella turns towards him and chides him like a naughty child. “Not slaves, Mario: allies. Not even DataCom can do it alone. We need to have a presence in the field. Unfortunately, we have to take a hard line with those who choose not to follow our recommendations. For the last time, are you going to come with us the easy way or the hard way?”
The three men remain silent. Isabella raises her voice: “Okay, you can come on in.”
A blast. The door falls to the ground. Police officers and DataCom men start streaming into the lab.