Saharan Light Part I. Chapter V.

2 Mar

Once back in the porch of the upper tier luxury apartment, the group discussed what they had witnessed down below in the slums.

“Those who were arrested will have to spend a quiet night in that deck’s hoosegow,” smiled Cadmus. “That should cool down their heated heads some.”

Niobe spoke next. “The drunken troublemakers should be sobered up enough to take the siderotrains out to the desert plantations by dawn, I hope. Their families will need whatever earnings they can bring back to Gamara. What a life these people live! Drinking all night, being arrested for fighting, sleeping in jail, then out under Helios again, and another day of hard field labor. That can become an unending cycle for them.”

Ganymede laughed loudly. “Why don’t we save and liberate them, then?” He suddenly realized how what he had said sounded. His face became hard and serious. “That is a fantasy that can never happen,” he then muttered in a hollow, lowered tone.

Cadmus gave him a cold stare. “What are you getting at, Gany?” he asked his brother. “Are you referring to the attempt to organize the ergati into a union movement?”

The painter looked him directly in the eye and made an attempt to explain and justify his words.

“The lower order of desert workers lead lives that are unstable and precarious. They have no one who speaks for or represents them. What do they have to look forward to? Their personal existence is chaotic and disorganized. No wonder they welcome anything that can displace that meaningless disorder.

“The ergati look forward to their celebration of Apollo Day and drinking themselves numb. But the belief in Apollo is surrounded with the superstitions brought along from Old Greece by their ancestors. Centuries have passed since the Great Migration, and a layer of superstitions has been added to the original cult of Apollo. Why can’t those beliefs be cleansed and renewed? Why isn’t a better system and organization created out of that part of popular culture and ethnic tradition?

“What I have in mind is a formal institution centered on the Apollo idea. This could provide some shape and form to ergati social life, I don’t doubt. There would be definite benefits to both the desert workers and Gamara in general. Does what I say make sense? Would it be of benefit to the poor laborers?”

Everyone sitting on the porch stared at the artist with the silver hair. Niobe was th one who replied to him.

“You are spinning a fantastic dream, Gany,” she said with a laugh. “Give the ergati their beer and they will forget their worries and even who they are. I don’t trust or like that class of people.”

The painter frowned at her, as if bewildered. “It could be done,” he countered with unexpected vehemence. “I’d be happy to design a temple for an organized Apollo cult, Niobe. But you will have to agree to be its high priestess and act as the connection to the divinity. How about it? What do you say?”

Quiet laughter broke out from everyone present. “I’ll serve as the treasurer of the new cult,” joked Cadmus. “The ergati will flock to join up by the tens of thousands and each one will have to make regular contribution, be they ever so small. The money will accumulate and need experienced handling, that’s for certain. The desert workers are not ready to hold it for themselves, as everyone will surely realize.”

Echo looked at Hermes with playfulness on her face and in her eyes. “Perhaps you and I could find useful roles to carry out. Who can tell?” She smiled at him with a catlike expression.

“Hermes shall be our priest of life,” suggested Ganymede, extending the game that had begun. “We can place him in charge of all the solar rays that Apollo rules over, as well as the exitron and polaritron lamps that the desert plantations apply to their crops to make them grow fast and to greater sizes. Yes, Hermes will be the person in charge of Apollo’s agricultural equipment and devices. Does your laboratory research take you into quasiparticles and their use in controlled photosynthesis? You must have deep knowledge of super-powered desert agricultural and the photonic methods of augmented photosynthesis.”

It was clear to Hermes and the others that the artist wanted to switch to another subject of discussion, one that appeared more serious.

“I am not directly involved with crop enhancement,” said the scientist. “But I work every day with exitronic generators and projectors. And I study them from a different, more theoretical angle. Eventually what I do may have practical applications and consequences, but not at this particular time, not yet.”

A feeling of tiredness grew in the group on the porch.

“You must stay in my module tonight and leave for your Institute in the morning,” proposed Cadmus. “We all experienced an exciting evening, didn’t we?” he said with a grin of satisfaction.

The party soon ended and broke up, all but Cadmus and Hermes leaving for home.

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