Erin looked at the time. It was time to meet up with Phyl to eat.

Erin hesitated. She had wondered so many questions about the Academy for a while that following Kwier felt natural to her. He seemed to have answers.

Only Phyl was there. She couldn’t imagine saying nothing to Phyl and being in a relationship with him. Because for her, a couple should be based on trust. But at the same time, Phyl had just been promoted to dome overseer. Which would put him in a very ambiguous position.

It would depend on where his loyalty went. To his girlfriend or to the Academy. And deep down, Erin had doubts about the answer.

Frankly, she couldn’t see Phyl, so driven to get selected, so enthusiastic about what was going on here, so proud of being picked to monitor morale and the students, not saying anything.

And if she told him about it, it was going to cause her problems, she was sure of it. So Erin would have to choose. Either Phyl and the Academy or the stranger. And the stranger drew him like a magnet.

Arriving at the dining hall, Erin had made a decision; The best thing to do would be to break up with Phyl. Because deep down, from the start, she knew it wouldn’t work between them. And all she had done was hide her face and take Cerise’s advice.

M. Garceau was talking to Phyl at the other end of the dining hall. Him again ! They had to eat together! She got a touch of jealousy, then remembered that she was planning to part ways with Phyl.

- “Hello Erin, I was keeping Phyl company by the time you arrived.” As you can see, he is much better. A simple sprain and overwork, isn’t it? said Monsieur Garceau to him.

- Yes sir. Hello Mr. Garceau.

- I will let you. Phyl, can I see you later? Do we do as we said?

“Yes sir,” Phyl replied, listlessly.

Mr. Garceau got up and walked away, leaving Erin and Phyl alone. Erin approached Phyl, but the latter did not stand up.

- “Hello Erin,” he told her coldly.

- Hello Phyl, glad to see you’re doing well. “

Considering the coldness of the discussion, Erin was seized with doubt. Could it be that Phyl and Mr. Garceau are aware of his escapade on the network. But it wasn’t possible. Kwier looked confident. If she didn’t go over time, there was no problem. If she started to get paranoid that she was going to draw attention to her …

Phyl finally answers.

- “Yes, as Mr. Garceau said, just a sprain and a big fatigue. “

There was a big blank.

- “Listen Erin. I loved being in a relationship with you, it was a great experience, but let’s face it, we don’t look alike, we have nothing to do together. “

Even though Erin had said the same to herself, she didn’t expect Phyl to be talking about it.

- “Phyl, what’s going on? Erin asked.

- Listen, don’t make it more difficult for me, you understood very well. We had better go our separate ways, he told her.

- If it’s difficult for you, why are you doing it then? Erin asked.

- Erin. I didn’t want to talk about it, because the Academy wanted me to leave it out, but I’ll be frank. Here at the Academy, we don’t like the idea that I’m tied to someone. And especially to you. You are a little too “independent” for their liking. They are afraid that this will interfere with my role as overseer, and that I will give privileges or not watch you enough. They made it clear to me that I had to end this relationship if I was to have a future here.

- On your role of mole, you mean! The Academy is afraid that you won’t shoot me like you would shoot someone else if you’re with me! And you, like a brave sheep, you follow! “

Erin suddenly felt silly. She realized that Phyl actually preferred the Academy …

- “Listen, Erin,” he said. I just don’t want any problems happening to you.

- What kind of problems other than what you would tell them of your own free will? Unless I don’t really count for much. Maybe I never counted … she answered, a little angry.

- Erin, calm down. That night I heard from the doctors. They thought I was sleeping. The implant that we have in our head. It’s not just for virtual reality.

- Well let’s see … It’s the implant’s fault now.

- But listen to me! It would allow access to certain areas of our brain, to control them! It just takes a little while, but little by little, as the implant is accepted by the body, it gets to certain areas of the brain. I didn’t quite understand how, but apparently it’s all about learning. The implant learns how the brain works, and once it gets the hang of it, bang! We’re trapped, and we can be controlled. “

Erin was speechless. She expected a lot from the Academy, but not that.

- “The blackout I had yesterday meant the process was almost at an end. The implant is starting to gain access to my brain. In a short time, the Academy will have direct access. And since I don’t really know what that means, or whether I will stay myself or not, I would prefer to know you far from me, so as not to cause you problems.

Especially since Mr. Garceau doesn’t want us to be together… You know, he doesn’t like you very much. Besides, Erin, I don’t want the Academy to make me do things I don’t want and decide on our breakup by leaving me a spectator.

“But surely we can do something,” Erin asked. We’re going to make a scandal, tell everyone about it !!

- Erin, the area is under surveillance. We can’t tell anyone about it. And I don’t want them to shoot the rebellious students on sight, or make you disappear because you are too gene! Or anything else. I have no idea what they are capable of. Don’t talk about it!

Besides, it’s too late for me, but maybe not for you. From what I understand, the implant works best on the most enthusiastic and motivated people. It allows you to “resonate”, or something like that. “

Phyl chuckled bitterly.

- “Apparently my motivation played a trick on me for once. People had to be computer savvy and have some logic to make it work, hence this mock school around us. All I can advise you is to remain skeptical about everything that is done here, it should allow you to resist as long as possible, although it will surely be of no use in the end, since there no way out of here.

- And you ? Erin asked him.

- I intend to do well with the Academy. It won’t change too much from my ordinary. But forget about me, that should keep them from getting too interested in you.

- Thank you, she said simply.

- And then, personally, despite this, I still prefer to believe that the Academy could represent a chance for me. Maybe this implant isn’t all bad. I trade a little freedom for enormous knowledge, and a certain glory of being part of the pioneers. Since I can’t do anything about it, I’d rather believe it … But I know that’s not what you think.

- Yes, I will never agree to trade my freedom.

- Yeah, that’s what I was telling myself, and so we had better go our separate ways and I’d rather think that would never have worked out between us. It hurts less. “

Erin nodded, got up and left the dining hall, leaving Phyl alone. She wanted to cry. There was a difference between separating, and… That ?!

More than ever, Erin was determined to find Kwier and leave this damn place. She didn’t want the Academy to be able to use her as a puppet. Maybe she could save Cherry, too. Phyl thought he was lost, but if she could get out of here, she would fight to free people like him from the implant.