Chapter 7.

12 Feb

Quio and Oba, seeking to rest and recover from their ordeal, went into a downtown juice bar and ordered refreshers. Seated at a side booth, they had just begun to sip from their tall containers of bayaberry julep when Shan Dene of Psychonews stepped up to where they sat. The newsman wore a coppery red sports jacket and a yellow jipijapa hat.

“That was shameful!” he began. “I have never witnessed such an outrage. The tumult was by no means a spontaneous outburst. There was plenty of evidence of prior planning. I believe you have the legal right to bring action against Damo Absum and those who did his bidding.”

Quio invited the newsman to pull up a chair and sit with them.

A server appeared and took Shan’s order for a checkerberry tonic.

“I shall see to it that an accurate picture of tonight’s scandal is given out by my agency. The people of Velvet will know the truth about the origin of this disgraceful show.”

“But no new supporters were won over,” said Oba. “They killed our message with their completely closed minds. There was no chance for us to gain adherents.”

Dene turned toward her. “I believe that the public will have new sympathy for one so shamelessly silenced as Quio was. He was the victim of terrible unfairness and injustice.”

“I intend to continue the struggle for the truth,” said the overpowered debater. “It was only the beginning tonight, believe me. I will not stop what I am doing.”

“But there is another front on which advance can be made,” averred the journalist with promise in his voice. “I have talked with several chemists I know who work for Azote Products, the major producer of agricultural fertilizers. There are compounds they are familiar with that might possibly have potential as fuels. The science is very complex, but I believe that there exist certain candidates for what we want.”

“What can we do to find a definite solution for voidal travel?” asked Quio, his spirit suddenly soaring with new hope. “Is there any prospect of winning cooperation in that quarter?”

“The chief research scientist, an azotist, was a schoolmate of mine. I have contacted her and she is curious about what I revealed of your ideas. She is eager to learn more than I could tell her. Can I inform my old friend that you will see and talk with her?”

“Certainly,” replied Quio, his spirits flying upward. “What is this woman’s name?”

“Sagaza. You will find it pleasant and easy to converse with Sagaza Encre. I will set up an appointment to meet with her. You will be surprised at her knowledge and familiarity with all areas of material science, especially nitrology.

Quio had to take a magnetic train to the suburb of Lix to reach the laboratory offices of Azote Products. He asked several persons before finding the suite of the Chief of Research.

A young man who worked as her amanuensis led the visitor into the large, commodious chamber of Miss Encre.

Beauty and brains converged in the tall, willowy woman in silvery satin who approached him from behind a long holmwood desk. She welcomed him cordially, offering her hand for him to shake, then guiding Quio to a chair across from where she then went to sit down.

“Shan Dene made a superb recommendation of you when I communicated with him telesthetically last evening,” she began. “He thinks a great deal of your personal character .”

“I am deeply beholden to him for thinking and saying so,” grinned Absum.

Zinc gray eyes looked over at him from her oval face. He noted her flax hair, so long and gleaming. She was an entrancing individual, that was evident at once.

“He said you are interested in advanced azotic fuels that can meet certain exotic, neoteric purposes on the cutting edge of our technology. I was not told what those goals are, but that you are going to describe them for me, aren’t you?”

Quio beamed with joy. “This may sound wild, but I need a fuel and engine system that can carry a flying vehicle into the empty void of space. Such a substance does not at present exist on the chemical market. Is it possible for me to find anything like that?”

Sagaza fell into deep thought, cogitating seriously for a brief time.

“I don’t know for sure, but my hunch is to say that it is possible. But what the content of that fuel might be I cannot now tell you. The problem has to be studied with careful attention. So, the best answer to your inquiry would be that there is a possibility, though not yet a probability.

“I must make a thorough investigation of the matter, Mr. Absum.”

He nodded his head. “Very well, then. I shall return to Tinok and await word from you on the course of your research. Patience on my part will be needed.”

The woman behind the desk pursed her mouth. “Since you are aware of what you want, could you not stay here in Lix and help oversee what we do? I take it for granted that you possess technical expertise.”

“I have studied and worked in aerial engineering,” he informed her. “My professional experience has been concentrated in that area.”

“We will find you comfortable accommodations,” promised the Chief of Research of Azote Products. “Your contribution to the effort will be central to its success.”

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