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

11 Mar

The ergati union organizer approached the arguing brothers. Cadmus turned to him for support. “Tell this aesthete that the day of decision is here. It is time for the plantations and the farmers of the desert to start paying their workers justly. They must be taught a lesson they won’t forget.”

Ianon spoke to the business man as if his brother was not present.

“The ergati wait for no one, Cadmus. What do the physicists call this force? Inertia, I believe. Who can deny the fact that the murder of the Pythoness has set the desert workers moving? The Archers of Apollo are going to the sandlands to agitate among their brothers against their oppressive conditions. The desert has to be reorganized into an area without exploitation of the workers. The time for thorough, total change has arrived.”

Cadmus turned to his brother, the painter.

“Do you see? Nothing can stop the storm of change. The people of the bottom levels are going to revolt against their enemies. There is no way to prevent it, even if we wanted to.”

Ganymede appeared to be on the verge of tears. “That is not what I anticipated. It will turn into a disaster for Gamara if the division turns into a physical collision.”

“The tower city itself is not directly involved,” said his brother, turning to Ianon. “Tell him how the Archers intend to keep everything they do within bounds.”

The organizer gave a nod with his head. “We will try to set strict limits to the scope of the strike that is coming. Everything will remain under strict control.”

In anger and frustration, the artist stalked away from the other two.

Incendiaries organized into arson squads met with strong resistance in the zone of truck farming near the Gamara tower, where lettuce, beans, and desert vegetables were grown by small-holders.

Armed teams of uniformed police attacked and dispersed the radical ergati out to damage the smallholders of this region of the desert. Small battles erupted at scattered points. Rifle shoots fired at the attackers forced them to retreat and then run away. First one, then several unarmed farm workers fell to the ground. One was killed, others injured.

At the Apolleon, a central headquarters served as the command post for the burgeoning rebellion. Ianon moved pins and markers on a giant map of the region around Gamara that lay on what was now an operations table.

The voice of a striker reporting from the desert sounded over an audio transponder.

“Three Archers have been killed, five laborers seriously wounded on the outer border of the garden zone, according to a report from organizing units…”

Cadmus consulted with the leader of the Archers of Apollo.

“What are we going to do, Ianon?” he asked him. “They are starting to shoot down our people!”

The little man with the ruddy face continued moving markers on the big map as he gave an answer to the entrepreneur beside him.

“What is there left for us but to fight on?” he grumbled. His eyes went up to meet those of Cadmus. “The ergati cannot stop now. They will continue what they are doing, because this is turning into more than only a strike. It is becoming a war against all forms of oppression. The workers of the desert now thirst for revenge against the killers of their fallen friends and comrades. Don’t forget all the emotional factors involved in what has broken out below.”

“Yes,” the developer was forced to agree. “You are exactly right on that score, Ianon.”

“The killing of Archers is a sacrifice to be both mourned and honored at all our temples and mission points. Members must be encouraged to call for retribution on our enemies. The movement now has its genuine martyrs. The blood spilt will arouse even more ergati to fight on to victory. There can be no going back to how things once were.

“Everyone must share the burning anger, everyone.”

Ganymede, listening from a small distance, kept silent and did not intervene in any way.

Atlas Cimera was extremely busy at Chronia News with the flood of reports being sent from the region close to Gamara. But he had to break away when a phoneline message came to him from one of the most powerful individuals in Gamara, the lamp manufacturer.

“Nessos, tell me what you think of this violent strike breaking out over the near desert? How can it be prevented from spreading further out to the big plantations and inward into the eight levels of the city. The strike that was at first limited in area is growing on all sides. The conflict is taking on the dimensions of a revolution.”

The magnate spoke calmly and to the point. “We will have to mobilize for defense, all of us. But I am calling now to ask specifically about Hermes Tmolos. He is part of the Apollo leadership group and they all have very close ties to the organizers of the strike. I understand that the outfit called the Archers of Apollo is a spearhead of the discontent and rebellion out there. You must find this scientist and order him to cease any work connected to these dangerous people. Do you understand? He must realize that his position at the Light Institute is at stake and that he could end up a big loser if he refuses wise advice.”

“I can try to locate him,” promised Cimera. “What his answer will be, I cannot say.”

“Tell him to separate himself from these mad fanatics. His Echolight should not be available for them to use for their purposes.”

“Yes,” meekly said the journalist. “I will try to get to him as soon as possible. He should be wise enough to comply.”

“Good,” said the industrialist, instantly breaking off their connection. He sat back in his soft office chair and drew a deep breath.

The ergati strike had to be smashed and suppressed before it evolved into something wider and more dangerous. There was no time to waste.

Would the forces that ruled Gamara be able to prevent all-out rebellion? he asked himself.

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