Once at the Evarb Production Plant Justin was led, once again, to his father's office. He spent around an hour in there, answering questions his father would ask about what East America had been like and so on. He had even been allowed to use the computer in the office. There were a few games on it and Justin had spent some time playing them as well. And then, when he felt the time was right, Justin asked to go to the bathroom.
He once again went down the hall, away from his father's office and turned right. This time he did find the bathroom; it was at the beginning of the corridor were he had turned. Justin figured that he must have been so enthralled with the hallway the previous day that he had completely missed the bathroom altogether.
Justin took the note out of his jeans pocket and read it again as he walked toward the large mess-hall door. Even though he had no proof, Justin was positive that this was not a trick.
He arrived at the door and gave it a good, hard push. It opened slowly and he glanced to his right to look directly at Mr. Livel.
"Back again, Justin?" Mr. Livel asked.
"Yup," Justin replied, hoping that Mr. Livel would not ask why. He still wasn't sure if he was allowed to do what he was doing.
"Row seven, table five," Justin muttered to himself as he walked into the cloud of people.
"Row seven. Table five.."
He noticed that small numbers had been painted on the floor. They were placed in front of rows of tables and Justin walked down the seventh one.
"Table five," he repeated.
The tables weren't numbered.
How am I supposed to find table five?
Out of the corner of his eye he noticed something. A boy with light brown hair was waving at him.
He knew him from somewhere. He looked familiar.
Then Justin remembered.
He was one of the people who had bumped into him when he had been trying to get out of the mess hall. Perhaps he had put the note in his pocket.
He walked toward him.
Soon he was at the table. The boy asked him to sit down.
"Are you Sam Y-rr-on?" Justin had trouble pronouncing the last name for he had only seen it in writing and had never before heard it.
The boy smiled. "Yes, that's me," he said. "And you're probably wondering why I gave you that note, aren't you?"
Justin sat down. He was definitely at the right place.
"By the way, you say my name EE-RON, all right?"
Sam smiled again, his green eyes squinting.
Then Sam turned to look at a boy who was about Justin's age and was sitting next to him. The other boy had blonde hair that was sticking up in almost every direction and he wore a sour expression on his face. His head was rounded and the end of his nose was slightly turned up, making visible his nostrils.
"This is Gregory Motiare," said Sam. "But he likes to be called Greg."
Greg looked at Justin. There was a very powerful emotion in the boy's eyes but Justin couldn't really place it. Was it hate? No, not quite. It wasn't as intense as hate but whatever it was, it definitely was not friendly.
Sam was now looking at an extremely old man on his left. He was probably quite a bit older than Mr. Neporae.
"And this is Francis Dekard," he said. "Francis is one of the few First Generation Lunars left at this plant."
Justin's interest was stirred.
"What does that mean?" He asked Francis.
But Francis didn't even acknowledge Justin. He just stared off into space as he had been doing ever since Justin had sat down at the table.
Sam looked apologetically at Justin.
"Sometimes he does that."
Justin still wanted his question answered.
"But what does it mean?" he asked Sam. "What's a First Generation Lunar?"
Sam's eyes widened as if he couldn't believe Justin didn't know what the term meant.
"Well," he said. "First Generation means that he was an actual criminal. He was in the prison colony for a reason."
Justin was confused.
Sam took a breath and recomposed himself.
"All right. . . Uh. ."
He looked as though he were trying to think of a way to start a complicated story. Finally his face brightened and he resumed his explanation.
"A long time ago, at least one hundred years, America developed a. . .prison on the moon. I guess it was because they were running out of room in the country. Anyway, they sent up a whole bunch of people and they started to fill it up. Most of the prisoners were people who had committed really bad crimes like murder or something. Around that time, America split into East and West America and they recalled all of the guards that were up there. The prisoners were stuck.
"So around fifteen years ago, Mr. Evarb starts shuttling the prisoners down to his factories where they can work off their sentences making metal goods. The thing is, by then most of the people that were up there were the children of the prisoners, like Greg and me. So you've got the descendents of some pretty rotten folks being treated as though we were the ones who committed the crimes. Francis is one of the criminals. He was sent to the colony just before the Americas split when he was forty two."
Justin leaned forward in his seat.
"What was he in for?" he asked.
"Treachery," Sam whispered.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, when Francis was forty he worked with blueprints. He was very smart and years ahead of everyone else. Anyway, he goes on a trip to Africa and when he comes back he's accused of being a traitor to the United States."
"Why?" Justin asked.
Sam looked at Francis.
"Apparently, some very important blue prints had gone missing a few days before Francis left for Africa."
"And they thought he took them?" Justin added.
"That's right," said Sam. "So, a few weeks later the American government takes aerial photos of an African military base and it turns out that the Africans had been building something very similar to what was on those blueprints."
"But that doesn't prove that Francis did it," Justin argued.
Sam sat back with a content look on his face.
"They had a trial, of course. But Francis says that it was really vague and they were just looking for someone to pin the crime on anyway."
"So he thinks they framed him?" Justin inquired.
"Basically, yeah," said Sam. "Francis thinks that at sometime, someone made a mistake and to cover it up, they used him."
"So he may not even be guilty?" Justin asked.
Justin leaned back in his seat.
It didn't seem fair. His father had the innocent children of convicts working off sentences that they hadn't earned, and one of the few people left who had actually been sent from America to the prison was probably not guilty.
Justin looked from Sam to Francis. The old man was still looking away from them, his eyes fixed on a spot on the distant wall. Justin imagined that Francis had a right to do that. If he had been framed then he would probably end up dying in the factory for something he had not done. He deserved to stew in his own anger for a bit.
Then Justin looked at Greg. Greg was no longer staring at Justin but that look had not disappeared from his face. It seemed as though Gregory was confused, worried, and annoyed at the same time. Justin couldn't imagine why.
He looked back at Sam who seemed to want to say something more but couldn't exactly figure out how to do it. Finally he opened his mouth.
"Justin," he started but then looked from Francis to Greg. "We need your help."
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