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

9 Mar

A week after Apollo Day, an enormous crowd filled Niko’s Taverna for the sensational presentation that Niobe and Hermes carried out together, one of them with words, the other with lights and colors. Additional seating became necessary as more sessions occurred. Ergati streamed in to see and hear. Excitement soared ever higher. Nothing like this had ever occurred before.

Cadmus made a lease with Niko for the permanent use of the hall. It was renamed the Apolleon, the central site of the revival. The Archers of Apollo, commanded by Ianon, policed and kept order at this temple to their patron god. It became the central temple of the reborn cult of Apollo.

Hermes saw more of Atlas Cimera, who began to give him advice and make suggestions on the future course of the movement that utilized the miraculous Echolight. The journalist described a number of dream projects for Gamara that needed support from the growing numbers of followers coming to the Apolleon to see for themselves the new color spectrum that Hermes had discovered.

The discoverer grew ecstatic as he described his hopes to his new friend, the supposed reporter.

“Nothing is or ever has been as fundamental to human life as light. All of society and culture are constructed upon light. What will human beings become with this new kind of light that we now have? What direction will the future of Gamara take?”

Atlas made no answer, merely smiling warmly at Hermes the scientists.

Nessos Asreon operated at the summit of the lamp and illumination industry of Gamara. His Asreon Light Company was the dominant one, the acknowledged leader in the field. For four generations, his family had held majority control of the enterprise. They had perfected the now common boron gas lamps. Nessos had been instrumental in developing argon and xenon lighting for the tower city and he was renowned as a pioneer of the industry.

How should he react to the discovery of Echolight? the titan of lamps asked himself as the impact of the new form of lighting spread through Gamara. Nessos decided to invite Atlas Cimera to discuss this question with him. The corporate office of the Asreon firm was in the financial center on the seventh level of the vertical city.

Nessos, like his ancestors in the lamp business, was short and pudgy, with bushy locks of jet black hair. His azure eyes contained a strange whitish clarity. He seemed to be able to peer deeply into objects in front of him.

“Sit down, Atlas. Make yourself comfortable. I watched the reports on the new type of lighting used by this Apollo cult. It was most interesting, but I wish I knew more about this phenomenon and its implications for our society. I am hungry for more information. My hope is that you can help me on this.”

The visitor saw the opportunity presented by the opening made by his host.

“I have met the man behind the discovery, Dr. Hermes Tmolos. He is an interesting person. The light show that he gives at the taverna now called the Apolleon is to be only the first step in a future series of developments. That is what the man indicated to me when we spoke.”

Asreon appeared to grow excited on hearing this. “He has more in mind?” he inquired.

“The man is consumed with curiosity about the nature of light. I find it impossible to mark out any limit to his scientific zeal. He has what so many of our leaders lack, an imagination not bound by either the past or the present. I find an inspiring enthusiasm in this amazing man.”

Nessos lowered his voice as if he feared being overheard. “I wish that my company had him working for us. Perhaps I should make an offer to him to see whether he might accept it. That might win him over to our research team.”

“He used to carry out research at the Light Institute out on the far desert, but left in a bitter dispute. The Director, Dr. Hebe Triton, tried to control him but failed. He is very independent and the two of them could not work together, so that he left on his own.”

Nessos Asreon then began to think and calculate out loud.

“Few people know, but I serve as one of the trustees of that institution. Yes, the Director is a stubborn person. From what I have learned, there was intense animus between the two of them. That caused serious division that meant the loss of the new Echolight to them and everyone else except for the Apollo movement. What a misfortune!”

Atlas now understood why he had been invited here. “You obviously want to bring him back into the fold.”

“You are able to read my mind. Yes, that is the plan I have conceived. But it is not something I believe I can accomplish on my own. Not with money or anything else.” He looked intently at Atlas as if expecting some solution to the problem from him.

“I think that there may be a way of bringing him into the company. If you went out to the desert laboratories and talked to this Director, you would be able to set the bait that could hook the desired fish. What I mean is an offer to this discoverer that he cannot turn down because of how attractive it is. It must be something impossible for him to refuse.”

“I already have some notion what it might be,” confessed Atlas.

Nessos looked surprised. “What are you talking about?”

Cimera leaned forward and whispered. “Long range transmission of the new Echolight as light energy.”

“Is anything like that possible?” asked the industrialist.

Atlas grinned slyly. “It would be up to him to find out whether he could do it. I think that the proposal to put him in charge of a well-funded program to attain that goal would be accepted. The idea would be difficult to turn down, at any rate. His mind and his services would become available to my company as a result of his recruitment.”

For a time, the two exchanged blank looks.

“Why don’t you accompany me to the desert facility, Atlas?” proposed the lamp manufacturer. “We can learn more about this man from his former chief. She might reveal important secrets about the inventive scientist who is accomplishing so much.”

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