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

10 Mar

It was late evening when Atlas Cimera arrived at the palatial penthouse, above which stood only the night heavens. The two conspirators climbed a flight of stairs to the sky garden facing the stars and strolled about. In the west, Venus and Jupiter were still above the desert horizon. Blue lights from projectors above the plantation fields shone on the sandy surface below Gamara.

“I believe we shall win him to our purpose,” said Nessos Asriom to his friend. “There is one final factor we can add to clinch his acceptance of the offer made to him.”

“What might that be?” asked Atlas.

The smile of the other was visible in the starlight.

“The firing of Director Triton can be carried out immediately. Then, the position can be kept vacant until we receive a definite agreement from Hermes Tmolos. The act of throwing her out will be a guarantee to him of my seriousness in this matter, a preparation for his appointment as our new Director. It should be encouraging to him to see his personal enemy leave.”

Cimera thought that over a few seconds. “That makes sense, a lot of sense. It can serve as a pivotal consideration in making him decide the way we want. Yes, I think it is a smart thing to do.”

“Good. I intend to push it through the board of trustees at once.” Nessos smiled in the dim light from the sky. “He will see that we truly mean business.”

All next morning and until the afternoon, Hermes was unable to see Echo in private.

She was involved in work with Niobe at the Apolleon, then at several of the local missions in lower tier slums. Hermes worked all day adjusting and testing optical equipment. At last, their paths crossed at what used to be Niko’s Taverna. There were too many people about for them to converse as they both wished. Echo told him that she would soon be returning to the antique shop on the sixth level where she lived with Niobe.

Hermes arrived minutes before dark fell over the desert. It was Niobe who opened the back door of the office for him. She knew at once why he had come.

“Echo is taking a walk through the Central Park. She told me to inform you that she is waiting for you there on a bench at the main promenade.” A knowing smile came to her mouth.

“Thank you,” said Hermes, hurrying off to locate his sweetheart.

His immediate aim was to ask for her opinion on the offer made him by the industrial titan.

The reaction of Echo was certain to guide him at this crucial point of decision.

As he entered the park garden, he caught sight of her sitting on a bench of the main pathway. Her smile became visible as he approached her in the dimming twilight and a few small lights went on at places outside the park. Hermes took both her hands in his, bent down, and placed a gentle kiss on her smooth, silky cheek.

“Please sit down,” she suggested to him. When he had done so, he released her hand from his.

“I have important, vital news for you,” he began. “You must tell me what you think of a job offer that I have just received.”

“Job offer? What kind of job offer?”

“I can become the Director of the Light Institute if I accept. It would give me limitless resources for further research on spectrum light. But my decision depends on what you advise me to do. I cannot make the choice without your opinion included among the primary considerations.”

He proceeded to outline what his hopes were in the area of transilient rays of Echolight.

“Is that what you wish to devote yourself to, Hermes?” she softly asked, looking directly into the eyes that she could see waiting for her decision.

“If you will accompany me to the desert, yes. Otherwise, I think that I would refuse the post offered me.”

Neither of them said anything for a short while. But at last, Echo placed her right hand on top of his left one.

“Yes, dear. We are fated to be together. I shall give up my work with Niobe. You shall have time and equipment for the research you must complete. Let’s go back now and tell Niobe about this plan. She and our friends must all know of it at once.”

The twilight outside the tower of Gamara had become true night by now. Only artificial light from roof lamps illuminated the park that the pair were in.

Hermes and Echo rose and hand-in-hand headed back to the antique shop.

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