“So, what’s our plan?” Cole asked, about halfway through the drive to Carnegie. “Sneak in and find them, then sneak out? Go in and cause a scene?”

Rylee shook her head. “Fake prisoner shenanigans. Always works. You’re still in the Conclave’s database as one of its agents, so you’ll be able to get in easy. Take me in as a prisoner, and they’ll lead you right to where Maphira and Vai are. Then, you’ll betray them and we’ll all escape.”

Cole nodded. “Good plan. You sure you trust me not to just hand you over to them and reveal that I was on their side the entire time?”

“If you’re anything like the original Cole, you won’t do that.” Rylee looked over at him, watching as he drove toward Melbourne. “I trust you.”

The drive hadn’t been as unbearable as she’d expected. Some of Cole’s stories about utes actually turned out to be pretty interesting. One, in particular, about a ute half canopy installation gone wrong, had been particularly amusing.

In all honesty, it was good to get her mind off what they had to do for a little while. As easy as she made the plan sound, there was a lot that could go wrong. For one thing, given that Cole was a robot, the Conclave of Mechanists may have been able to take control of him. If that happened, this would all be over, and Rylee would just be handing herself over to the enemy for nothing.

No use thinking about that, though. She asked Cole for ute story number seven to distract her, and he started going on about how the best ute trays in the Melbourne area are never where you expect to find them. She found it amusing, to say the least, given that the real Cole had never been this into ute trays or canopies. He’d liked them, for sure, but not to this extent. The Conclave of Mechanists had turned that personality trait up to ten, when it had only been about a six with the original.