Sahara Light: a Novel. Part II. Chapter II.

7 Mar

The nocturnal sky contained only stellar light a great distance from the human illumination of Gamara. Two large camions sped over the desert toward the Light Institute. Ganymede had insisted on going along in a rear compartment with his brother Cadmus. Hermes sat in the front, between Ianon and the driver, an officer of the ergati organization of farm workers.

Echo and Niobe waited in Gamara for the return of the strange expedition to obtain and bring back the devices that produced a new spectrum of light and color. “I expect no opposition,” predicted Hermes. “But one can’t know for certain. The degree of risk we are taking is unforeseeable. No one can predict what dangers may lie ahead for this enterprise of ours.”

The physicist directed the driver to take a side entrance into the unfenced grounds of the Institute.  This proved to be an unguarded gate that night. The two camions slowly rolled up to the structure where Hermes carried on his light research.

The chromatologist told his colleagues which portal was the best one for the task ahead for them. The two vehicles stopped at the most convenient location for loading up. The men in the vans climbed out of them. Some of them carried break-in tools in case there had to be some kind of break-in.

Hermes went to an overhead door and unlocked it with one of his cards. The group quickly entered the building and the scientist turned on the light switches he was familiar with.

It took only a few seconds for the impulser, the fulminator, and the reverberator to to be pointed out and placed on large dolleys. There was no interference or questioning. The work was fast and efficient. The group was then about to exit from the laboratory when the unexpected happened.

Not a guard or workman, but Hebe Triton, the Director, appeared out of the darkness. She was dressed in a blue bedgown. There was a frenetic shine in her eyes. Her voice was high and strained when she began to speak.

“Hermes, what are you doing? What is going on? Who are these people you have brought here? I must know what is going on, I must. Tell me what this group of yours is up to. This is surprising and alarming to me. Explain what you are up to.”

Cadmus, standing next to the physicist, reached in his pants pocket and took out a piece of cellulose that looked like a check. He handed it to Hermes.

“I take it that this woman is in charge of the facility. Give her the payment we owe so that we can be off and on our way at once. Everything we do here tonight must be legal and acceptable to all authorities.”

Hermes took the financial instrument and walked forward to Hebe, placing it in her hand. She watched him with dismay, as if not trusting what she saw with her eyes. Her breathing grew fast and strenuous.

“This is in payment for the equipment that we are about to transport away from here. It is only what is needed to produce the new spectrum of colors. Nothing beyond that. I belief the amount being paid is sufficient. If not, more money will be transferred to the Light Institute. This operation is meant to be conducted according to recognized commercial law in all respects.”

She gazed at him with a pleading expression. “But this is illegal, Hermes. No one can just come in and take our property away with them. What will the trustees say, and what will they do? It is impossible for you to justify what seems to be going on here. What you are planning to carry out is highly irregular and unacceptable.”

“That is another matter for another day,” replied the chromatologist. “As of tonight, I quit. No longer am I an employee of this Institute. Good-bye. I shall never return. I am through with all my work in this place.”

Dumbstruck, Hebe said no more. She merely watched as the raiders boarded their camions and set off on the road back to Gamara.

The die is cast, realized Hermes. His future was with the Archers of Apollo and the ergati farm laborers. Whatever their fate was, so would be his own. Their would be no way of escape or evasion for him in the days to come.

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